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Right Action

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This is the fourth factor of the noble eightfold path, and it is about our behaviour and conduct on this earth. Our morality. Our ethics. How we treat other beings. Morality is an important part of any spiritual practise, without it one will find it difficult to settle into meditation and be at peace.

We want to aspire to pass through this world of myriad beings and cause as little harm as we can. As doing so creates less stress and negative consequences for ourselves and others. It can be summed up quite nicely by the phrase ‘Ahimsa’ which means non-violence.

The three right actions of the noble eightfold path are:

  • To refrain from taking the life of any living creature.
  • To refrain from taking that which is not given.
  • To refrain from sexual misconduct.

All beings value their lives. And all are trying to survive in this world. And most would rather live in peace and friendship with us than be our enemy. No being likes being wronged or hurt, just as much as oneself doesn’t like it.

Watch any insect as you approach and how it runs away afraid. How it tries to hide from you. That being values its life. Imagine how you’d feel if an advanced alien race came and started chasing you, you’d be just like that insect.

The idea that some beings are more important than others is at the root of much of our world’s problems.

Living in peace and friendship with other beings. One’s mind becomes less troubled and averse; more happy; more content. And when the mind is not harrassed by regret, remorse, or fear of retribution. It will find it easier to settle into the deeper states of meditation known as right samhadi (the eighth factor of the noble eightfold path). It is from the lucid stillness of right samhadi that wisdom naturally arises. Because within us all, there is a deeper wiser part of the mind that wants to talk to us, but we often don’t hear it because we are too busy chatting to ourselves about nonsense.


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Be a refuge to yourself

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There are moments and days when I feel flat, and wobble about in weakness and vulnerability. To rouse energy for meditation takes a lot of effort.

 Yesterday I was flying high, today I trudged slow through the tortuous harassment of sloth and torpor.

At one point I noticed aversion rise up in me in response to a mistimed moment of clumsiness. And I noticed that the anger arose because I felt like I was swimming in fatigue and malaise, and there are chores which needed doing and my energy felt like a battery unable to hold its charge, everything felt impossible and all I wanted to do was liedown and retreat from it all. I felt harassed! 

Which is another way of describing the five hindrances that stand in the way of meditation: greed, aversion, fatigue, agitation, doubt. These are the five harassments. When those five are gone from the the mind, one can easily settle into deeper states of meditation and enter a calm, lucid, steady stillness of attention and emotional well-being.

Loving-kindness meditation (Metta) felt impossible today. I struggled to get into it. Until it occurred to me that perhaps I should forget about sending Metta to others and instead generate some Metta for myself. Because right at that moment I surely needed it. How could I possibly hope to send Metta to others when my own well was dry. So that's what I did, I put my hand on my heart and said to myself: 'May you be well happy and peaceful.'

And it worked! 

We in the West are often critical and judgemental of ourselves and others, and also tend to feel guilty at the thought of loving ourselves. It is a curse of this modern age I am finding, and I am by no means the only one who suffers from this lack of self love. 

But it is wrong view. 

When one feels friendliness towards oneself then that will naturally radiate out to others. So do not feel guilty for practising Metta for oneself.

Being a friend to oneself is very important on the spiritual path. 

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 17 Jun 2022, 14:37)
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Go on singing

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Sunday, 24 Apr 2022, 16:58

a photo of cherry blossoms

‘ I hate a song that makes you think that you’re not any good. A song that makes you think you are born to lose, bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you’re either too old, or too young, or too fat, or too slim, or too ugly, or too this or too that.
Songs that run you down.
Songs that poke fun at you on account of your bad luck, or your hard travelling.
I’m out to fight those kinds of songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood.
I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world.
And yes it can hit you pretty hard and knock you down for a dozen loops; but no matter how hard it runs you down, or rolls over you. No matter what colour, what size you are, how you’re built. I’m out to sing the songs that will make you take pride in yourself, in your work.
The songs I sing are made up for the most part by all sorts of folks, just about like you. ‘

Rise up for the revolution.
A revolution of friendship and love.

Can you hear that?

‘ This grand shout of affirmation. To mark where we’ve been. To testify to what we have within us, what we can accomplish.

And yes in the end everything must finally fall to the universal fact of life. But be of good hearts. Our songs will all be silenced, but what of it? Go on singing. '



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kalyānamitta

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A good companion and honest friend.

A drawing done in colouring pencils

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A song for a friend

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 22 Jan 2022, 21:48


"All I ask of you is forever to remember me as loving you."


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The metta sutta

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This is what should be accomplished by one who is wise.

Who seeks the good and has obtained peace.

Let one be strenuous, upright, and sincere.

Without pride, easily content and joyous.

Let one not be submerged by the things of the world.

Nor lay upon oneself the burden of riches.

Let one's senses be controlled.

Let one be wise but not puffed up.

And let one not desire great possessions even for one's family.

Let one do nothing that is mean.

Or that this wise would later reprove.

May all beings be happy!

May they be joyous and live in safety!

All beings. Whether weak or strong.

In high, middle, or low realms of existence.

Great or small.

Visible or invisible.

Near or far.

Born or to be born.

May all beings be happy!

Let none deceive another.

Nor despise any being in any state.

Let none through anger or hatred.

Wish harm upon another.

Even as a mother at the risk of her life;

Watches over and protects her only child.

So too with a boundless heart should one cherish all living things.

Suffusing with love the entire world.

Above and below and all around without limit.

So let one cultivate an infinite goodwill toward the whole world.

Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down. 

Throughout all one's waking hours.

Let one practise the way with gratitude.

Not holding to wrong views.

Endowed with insight.

Freed from senses appetites.

One who realises the way will be freed from the duality of birth and death.


Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Gill Burrell, Sunday, 19 Dec 2021, 13:59)
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I take refuge in Buddha

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 21 Jan 2022, 21:37
I wish I could do the eight-fold path. And I am sorry I messed up again Buddha. I am really trying, but I feel like giving up. I am losing my strength and will. I am sorry for my stupid speech at times, such as writing these blog posts, social media posts and the emails to friends. I have tried, really tried to practise right speech but I seem to be incapable of not messing up. I say the wrong things, and no matter how hard I try it just keeps happening. I don't know if it is the intense anxiety I am always feeling, and that is what makes me impatient, irritable, restless and reckless. I think the agitation is so intense sometimes I just feel like I would do anything to get rid of it, and I don't think before I speak, I just dive right in, and that just adds more fuel to the anxiety, especially when I realise what I did hasn't helped things at all.

To feel this way days on end is like torture. I don't know what to do. I have lost several friends now. I could give up communication and be silent, but if I don't use these written forms of communication, being disconnected from others makes me feel more agitated and lonely, and there's no joy.

The breathing exercises don't help calm me down. They just aren't enough for me, they might help others no doubt, but they're not enough for me. I can't meditate at the moment because of this anxiety/agitation/depression, and therefore can't get enlightened.

I wanted to get enlightened to help this planet as it is going through so much pain just now, and I thought the best way to be of service is to become a Buddha and then I will see clearly enough to know what to do. I really want to help this Earth, I want to do good and be of service to others. But until I get this mood disorder sorted, I can't. I am unable to reach out to others when I feel like this, and if I do, I completely get it wrong and make things worse, and it would have been better had I never reached out. It is clear to me that I need to sort myself out first before I can help sort anyone else out. But as much as my heart wants to be a Bodhisattva I seem to be completely unable to live up to the ideal.

Many friends have deserted me now and I understand why, I would most likely do the same if I was in their shoes. I am too intense to be around at the moment and I can't seem to keep it together very long or let go, however hard I try it is like a clenched fist that will not unclench no matter what I do. However much I reason with it, plead with it. 

 I will keep trying though, and persevere, maybe I will at least reach stream enterer before this life is up.


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When I'm alone

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 15 Dec 2021, 15:04


I stare blankly at the mess in my room,
Stare empty at the sky outside,
At the failed paintings on my wall,
And at nothing in particular.
I stare forlornly at this computer screen.
Wishing I hadn't said what I said to you,
Wish I could turn back time and stop myself;
but alas I do not have that power, noone does.
So I live now with regret and an aching heart,
A sad unhappy mind,
And another lost friend.
I miss you.



Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 15 Dec 2021, 17:27)
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I take refuge in Sangha

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I tell you something I do love about Zen. Is the focus on friendship and inter-relational practise. We truly are all awakening together - stepping through those dharma gates together. It warms my heart. 

The feeling of Sangha is strong in the Zen tradition. And I am learning how taking refuge in the Sangha is a beautiful powerful thing. 

The best way to learn the noble eight-fold path is with good friends and companions (-: 

We learn and grow together. 

 To learn the path is to see it embodied in others and others to see it in you; we change and shape one another. 

The circle of practice ⭕


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Solitude

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 24 Dec 2021, 21:49
It is when you are struggling you discover who your real friends are. Those who don't care for you abandon you in those moments. 

Friendship is impermanent and subject to change just like everything else. One should learn to be fearless without needing friends by their side. I think the Buddha once said (at the time of his death) that we should become an island on to ourselves, we should take refuge in ourselves and the dharma. We shouldn't be dependent on anyone else, we should be our own teacher, our own guru, our own best friend. We should question everything, even what he says.

 Don't get me wrong, it is nice to have friends, but life and the nature of change can be a real bitch sometimes and the reality is people aren't always there for you, and there are shitty days where you will feel separated, disconnected and alone. Connections don't last forever, nothing does, and it is everyone's fate (whether we like it or not) to one day become separated from those we love.

 The only thing you can really depend on in this universe is that everything is changing, and it is up to you to free yourself from suffering. Friends come and go, but you will always be with yourself. So try to make a friend of your mind, and perhaps that can help ease the pain of separation. Besides one only feels lonely when they think: 'I am lonely'. It is just a state of mind, part of the story we tell ourselves. There are beings all around us, so noone is truly alone. It is all bullshit in the end anyway, none of it is real. At least that's what I am telling myself, I feel lonely as fuck just now, but I don't care anymore. 


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My spiritual practise is friendship

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 27 Oct 2021, 15:41

This is a nice practise I learnt in Buddhism. It is called sharing your merit with all beings. Merit being your attainments, virtue, knowledge, wisdom, benefits of spiritual practise, wellbeing... all the good wholesome stuff. And you share that freely with all the beings around you. Both seen and unseen. It can help bring a nice vibe I find, especially when out walking. I feel the presence of many different beings, and some I call Devas, (we in the West call them spirits.) I feel them all around me at times, and they bring good energy, and I have found they really appreciate it when we share our merit with them.

We of course lose absolutely nothing when we share our merit with others, what you give out energetically comes back to you exponentially. This means your merit will grow from this practise, and then you will have more to give, and the more you give, the more comes back to you, and so on, it grows and grows.

However, the intention behind giving is also important, as it is our intention that will be the flavour of what comes back to us energetically. What we reap is what we sow. As a rule of thumb, right intention tends to come from the belly or the heart, intentions developed in the brain and our thoughts can generate the wrong kind of intention.

 I think it is a blameless practise, that causes no harm and nothing bad can come from it. 

It has also helped me a couple times with grief. Where I offered to share my merit with loved ones who had crossed over this past couple of years. I felt their presence as I did this and that they really appreciated the merit. All spirits appreciate it when we share our merit with them, I think it can really help them out where they are.

 I think this practise is also a good training for the mind in developing  generosity, good will and friendship with other beings. It can be done silently in one's head, and nobody has to know that you are practising this at all.  You don't have to be wealthy, you can be in poverty and still practise sharing your merit. We have all had moments of genuine kindness, there's some merit right there that can be shared. Share your entire life's worth of merit with all the beings around you in all directions, and dimensions throughout all time and space.

Keep doing that as often as you remember to. 

In Buddhism this energy is known as metta or loving-kindness. It also means friendship, warmth and joviality.
Compassion is a form of metta, it is metta towards another who is suffering. 
Empathetic Joy is also a form of metta, this is where one feels joy in another's happiness. You could say (for anyone who has encountered object-oriented programming) that compassion and empathetic joy are both subclasses of metta (;

Equanimity is also very valuable, and compliments metta perfectly. Ajahn Sona describes metta and equanimity as being like a knife and fork. They work well together. 

Equanimity is welcome for times when generating metta feels impossible, when the grief is too much, and for the times when you make mistakes and fail, when things don't go to plan, for the things you can't change in the world. Nobody can solve all the world's problems, neither me nor you are responsible for solving the world's problems, that's an impossible task. We also should not suffer with other beings. That just leads one to sadness and the complete wrecking ball of depression, which doesn't help you or any other being. The best help we can be to other beings is to practise keeping our own minds bright and lucid, keep our spirits lifted up so we can offer support and friendship, compassion, and uplift others. This world is going to need that now more than ever. One can also radiate equanimity energetically, which can help bring calm to a difficult situation.

This practise takes a while though, lots of repetitive practise, lots of failures, but don't beat yourself up for those, just learn what you can, pick yourself back up and try try again.

 It is good to try and find something that invokes that feeling in you. Can be anything: a loved one, a pet, any person, a mythological figure, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, an animal, a tree, the ocean, something neutral like the snow, water, air, colours, can be something imaginary. Use anything that brings up that feeling of love within you. Even if you get just a finger snap of the feeling, that's good enough, it snowballs. And the mind will find its way back there again, and again, and get better at finding its way back there. And sometimes it will do it without you consciously invoking it. Once it gets the hang of it, the mind will get quicker at finding it, and the amount of time the feeling lasts for will also grow both in intensity and duration.

Remember that what we practise now is what we will become. A way I have found that can help to keep fuelling the determination to practise, is to imagine having compassion for my future self and others. It is a gradual training, much like learning any other craft or skill in life, but with repeated practise it can be done, and the beneifts will blow your mind. Your future self (and all the people around you) will be glad that you did (-:


Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Gill Burrell, Saturday, 23 Oct 2021, 20:31)
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Healing power of metta

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 21 Sep 2021, 14:25

This may sound crazy but doing metta practise for the viruses/bacteria in my body has helped to consistently turn things round when I have been sick, actually the last three times in fact. Generating unconditional love for the micro-organisms seemed to change their energy a bit, perhaps even effecting their consciousness. And now I feel like they are part of me, but in a more benevolent form. 

 Metta is an energetic practise and means unconditional love, kindness, jovial goodwill, warmth and friendliness towards oneself and all other beings (not just humans).

I told all the virus/bacteria in my body, that they were all welcome to call my body their home, and that my heart-mind has resolved to become a Buddha. I offered to share the merit (benefits/knowledge) of my spiritual (bodhisattva) practise with all the different beings who call this body their home.  All the different consciousnesses living in the body-mind, cells, bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites. I wished them all well and said they were more than welcome to call this body their home and join me on the path to Buddhahood.

I saturated my entire body with this energy and then radiated it out into the world. Offering to share the merit of my spiritual practise with all beings everywhere, wishing them all to be well and serene, and for everyone to realise Buddhahood and cross over to nibbana and be free from suffering.

Metta is a powerful practise and is a skill worth learning, but it takes time for the practise to grow. Equanimity is also an energetic practise that is worth learning as it compliments metta really well. They go together like a knife and fork.

Here are some talks and Q&A sessions from a virtual retreat led by Ajahn Sona I took part in last Christmas, they teach how to practise metta and I can testify that this energy is real and with practise it will  snowball and grow stronger and bring much benefit to one's life and those around.

 https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLodJ_OuDCKlexVt5B4exeYkiyM7sE8u5e


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