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Asoka

Gradual incline

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The reason Buddhist teachings are often in the form of numbered lists is because at the time of the Buddha things weren't written down. The Buddha and the monks couldn't read or write, so they memorised the teachings. Making them into numbered lists made them easier for memory and recall. Then on their own, a person would contemplate and reflect on their meaning, unpack them, investigate them, fill in the details through their own practise and experience of life. 

 The reason we can't go straight to the deathless, why we need to study and practise, is because the concept of letting go is easy enough to see intellectually, but we are all conditioned and have formed habits that get in the way and make it hard to let go. That's why one must undergo training to decondition the conditioning. Then old habits gradually fall away, and new ones develop that help us to realise the state of non-clinging, or non-attachment. The end of suffering.

 The intellectual thinking part is also important as it helps us understand where we are going and what the teachings are for, why we are practising and what the practise is leading towards. Another translation of right view is right understanding.

But it is a gradual process. Which involves making the five aggregates into a path, the noble eightfold path. The robe of liberation. The Buddha likened the path to the continental shelf of India, that gradually slopes down, and eventually reaches a point where it suddenly drops off into the abyss. That's what the path does, it gradually leads us in the direction of nibbana (the end of suffering). And when the path factors are sufficiently developed, there comes the sudden insight, the Eureka moment, were we see something we cannot unsee - that's the drop-off point, enlightenment. From there, there's no going back, one will never see things the same way again. 

It doesn't mean one is separate from the world though, it just means one stops clinging to it, stops yearning for things. The pain of wanting is gone. Craving is extinguished. Conceit is seen through, and the involuntary movements of the mind cease - which brings profound relief. A peace and happiness not dependent on conditions, independent of the world. And because it is not dependent on conditions, it lasts, and doesn't end. 

But love and compassion for other beings is still there. Friendship and connection are still there. That doesn't go. If anything, it grows. Loving-kindness becomes unlimited, immeasurable, abundant.

Without the ego placing limitations on it, one's compassion becomes boundless. 

The whole process is illustrated nicely in the ten Ox-herding pictures in Zen.

...

 


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Asoka

That moment

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When good music hits the spot
I like that feeling a lot
How it makes my spine shiver
Like a beautiful colour
Making me feel alive
And on some level we jive
Your vibe
like the
Touch of a breeze
Setting my energy at ease
Fills me with zest
And I feel blessed
By something real

That’s how you make me feel.

-Asoka




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Asoka

The wishing jewel

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If there is to be just one desire, just one wish, let it be this:

May all beings be free from suffering. Free from sorrow.

Me included. I also am a being.

All of us wherever we are.

Every being in every direction.
Of all different kinds, shapes and sizes, in all places, in all worlds.

If I was to be granted only one wish.

Let it be the wish that all beings be happy.

May we all be free.
May we all have peace of mind.
May we all be safe.
May we all be well.
May we all be at ease.

May we all feel loved.
May we all be golden.
May we all be radiant.

May every single being everywhere experience bliss.

May we all be serene
May we all be boundless.

Free of sorrow and unhappiness.

- Asoka.

That is my wish.

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Asoka

Connected

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 9 Aug 2023, 20:54


I feel your love still.
Coming at me from afar.
Is it really you?

I am sorry I doubted our connection.
That I got things wrong.
I love you too.

I will always be your friend.
I care for you.
That is real.
And I'm sorry things have been shit.
For us both.

I feel your vibe within me.
Like beautiful magic.
Lifting this heart to lofty heights.
That I did not know it could reach.

Your energy pervades this being.
Is like I'm walking on air.

Your loving energy touches,
Lighting up my scalp
My neck.
Making me tingle with joy.

Phoenix fireworks of love.
Bursting 
With happiness.

Is this all in the mind?

If so, why does this heart feel so bright?
So clear
So calm.

Within it burns something new.

I think it is you.

...

..

.


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Asoka

Metta magic

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I often think of you.
I am sure I feel your energy at times.
A part of me says it is all in my head.
That I am deluded.

But the unmistakable warmth in my heart says otherwise.
Tells me it is real.

I am grateful.

There have been dark times where I almost gave up.

Then I felt such love coming from you it melted my heart. Opened it wide like a window letting in a Spring breeze.

The joy returning.. 

...


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Asoka

Goodwill

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Here's a beautiful sutta I came across today (-:

'Devoid of covetousness, devoid of ill will, unbewildered, alert, mindful, one pervades the first direction [the east] with an awareness imbued with good will, likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth. Thus above, below, & all around, everywhere, in its entirety, one keeps pervading the all-encompassing cosmos with an awareness imbued with good will — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, without hostility, without ill will, just as a strong conch-trumpet blower — without any difficulty — can notify the four directions."

-SN 42.8

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Asoka

Prepping

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Preparing myself for another all night sit under a tree at the next full moon. I think I will try to make it a regular event every full moon, to go and spend a night of meditation in the wilderness by myself.

The all night sit I did in May really helped improve my meditation practice. It was an interesting experience. There's something about being alone in the woods at night which creates a sense of fear. But if one centres with the dhamma, practises metta bhavana (loving-kindness meditation), and samhadi one feels safe and the fear goes away and the mind becomes confident and at ease. So one keeps practising for that reason. When sitting at home alone one can find excuses not to meditate, and books and devices can become a distraction; but being alone at night in the woods really enhances one's mindfulness, because if it slips one becomes afraid and then the mind starts conjuring up all sorts of nonsense, and you start believing your erroneous misperception of things. But mindfulness of the dhamma (Buddhist teachings) keeps you safe, it makes you feel fearless. It is an interesting experience.

I must find a way to repel insects though as some carry diseases and this is a very real danger I need to find a way to counteract, especially when it comes to ticks. Lyme's disease is no fun at all. I am wondering about trying some essential oils on my clothing to see if that puts off biting insects.

I will continue to have a flask of coffee or tea with me to get me through the night, and not feel guilty for that. Very much a believer in practising the middle way, and having a cup of coffee really helped warm me and gladden the mind at times, and I was grateful for the kindness to myself in packing the flask. 

To be honest, the biggest fear of being alone in the woods at night is encountering other humans. I am far more afraid of people than I am of animals, insects or spirits. The devas will be with me though and the psychic energies of my friends will also be with me, so I shouldn't be afraid. If I stay centred with metta I will be safe. Wherever I am in the world, being mindful of metta will keep the mind clear of the hindrances.

No matter what someone does to me, even if they kill me, if my mind remains centred in metta, I will be fine, a consciousness filled with metta leads to a good rebirth.

It isn't loss of life that one should fear, it is loss of peace of mind. The defilements within (greed, hatred, and delusion) are far more frightening to me then anything else in this world. They are the real enemy, and they never tire, they're always waiting for me to show a moment of weakness. I have to be careful not to let my guard down, because if they enter my heart, they start to suffocate it with craving, and drag me down into the darkness. The impurities of the mind are no joke. They are far more dangerous than anything else out there. This is where wisdom, morality, mindfulness, right effort, and the stillness of samhadi becomes one's protection. They help prevent greed, hate, and delusion from taking over the mind and leading one into suffering.

I am debating with myself whether to pack some headphones and a device so I can listen to a downloaded dhamma talk. Sometimes if things get difficult it is good to be able to listen to the voice of another, as they can talk one out of a negative state of mind and encourage one to keep going.

This is okay for me as I am a lay follower, not a monastic, so I can do this if I decide it would be beneficial to do so. 

...




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Asoka

Psychic alchemy

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 22 May 2023, 22:02


Feeling a wee bit better today. Was in such a dark place for a while. These cycles seem to happen every now and then. My mind goes into shutdown, like when a computer updates its operating system. It can feel slow and frustrating, and there's an element of restlessness there on top of the fatigue, and that bossy part of the mind always tugging at me to do things. Reminding me of deadlines and things I should be doing.

 I kept reminding myself that I don't have to be bossed around by that part of the mind. After all it's me! And it isn't helpful, it can be so bossy and overly-critical. The inner tyrant. A real problem many of us have in modern day society, we've been conditioned that way.

 Actually when one is like that, the best thing to do is to do nothing, just be still, be silent, endure the restless feelings and don't react to the mood. Keep choosing not to get involved with any negative thoughts. They are mostly nonsense anyway, we often create delusional stories in our heads that are not in sync with what is happening in reality when our mood is low. But balance this by also forgiving oneself for having those thoughts, be gentle with the mind when one catches oneself absorbed in the negativity. Don't punish yourself for it, or be judgemental. Just be grateful you noticed, and then stop paying attention to the negativity. Look in a different direction, like you are turning away from a sight that you don't want to see. You don't have to pay attention to negative thoughts. Choose purposely to pay attention to something else, the breath, the feet, some part of awareness that is neutral and helps to calm and centre the mind. And give yourself permission to do that. You are allowed to.

The inner miser might say: 'I don't deserve to be happy, I don't deserve to enjoy myself.' that is just crap, don't listen to that. You are allowed to be happy, you are allowed to feel joy. Cut yourself some slack, one of the enlightenment factors is joy. It is part of the training. So stop listening to the miserly one within who tells you that you can't be happy, that you don't deserve it. And don't be content with just a little taste, ask the mind for more, until you couldn't ask for any more.

We've all done crappy things that we regret. Many great saints and noble people weren't always that way, some were rascals. Everyone on this planet is a mix of good and bad. We make amends for our past mistakes by training our minds now. It is the most compassionate thing we can do for ourselves and others is to train the mind.

Take comfort in the knowledge that the inner critic is entirely a mental construct and not real. It is a phantom. There is nothing substantial there. When one stops paying attention to it, it gets weaker and eventually subsides. It is merely a sankhara, a tape loop from the past, a conditioning that can be unconditioned. It isn't permanent, it isn't self, and it can be changed into something better. And all the psychic energy that went into that sankhara can then be freed up, and with some clever dharma alchemy become something more friendly and supportive on your journey. 

Turn that inner critic into a sankhara of inner friendship. When one becomes a good friend to oneself, one will then naturally become a good friend to others. Friendliness makes one less judgemental, less selfish. Love dissolves the separation between self and other. And without all our inner angsty wanty needy stuff getting in the way, one can properly listen to others and be there for them wholeheartedly. It doesn't make you a doormat though, always at everyone's beck and call. You still assert your boundaries, you don't have to associate with the foolish, the toxic, and don't let yourself be taken advantage of. You have to take care of yourself too.

But when you feel comfortable in yourself, secure, it is easier to be with others and be a friend then, to be a good listener, because your insecurities aren't getting in the way.

It takes work though, a lot of work. Like learning to be skilled at any craft, it doesn't happen over night. When learning any new skill, it is consistent daily repetitive practice that gets you there. Perseverance, endurance. The mind is also lazy, it doesn't like to change habits and make effort. Even if the behaviour is killing us, it prefers to stick with its grooves and keep things the way they are. We can get set in our ways because change feels uncomfortable, unpleasant at first. But the thing to keep in mind is it is possible, these unhelpful habits can be changed. And done without straining the mind, a gentle kind effort that doesn't burn you out is what's needed. Tuning the energies so they are balanced. A middle way, avoiding the extremes. Not too energetic and not too lazy. Be kind to the mind, this is how we train to be friendly, by being a friend to ourselves, which is another meaning of the word: metta, friendliness. Becoming mindful of kindness, or as Ajahn Brahm puts it: kindfulness.

It is a lot about how we talk to ourselves, this is what changes our perceptions of things, and reprograms the sankharas (mental formations).

The mind is an immensely complex, mysterious and powerful thing that we all have, but hardly any of us know how to use it properly. How to train it, how it works. We allow ourselves to be driven around by it. For many of us it is wild and chaotic, not unified, contradictory, pulling us this way and that. A monkey swinging from branch to branch. The mind can be a lot like a wild animal and rebellious, and sometimes it won't play ball and be deliberately difficult, resist the training. It takes patience. In fact there's a set of pictures in Zen called the Ox-herding pictures which puts across this idea of training the mind really well.

There's some beautiful bird song at the moment as I write this. 

I was reflecting on how music is all about change. I do like music. Sometimes if my energy is low I put on my headphones and listen to some music, and that can help uplift me a bit. It Is interesting how music has that effect on the mind. Sometimes when I get an earworm after listening to music, I will meditate on the ear worm and it grows clearer and more otherworldly. A bit like when one pictures a sight they've seen in their mind's eye and it becomes more sharper and colourful. For any readers who are wondering what an earworm is. An earworm is when a piece of music keeps looping over and over in the mind after one has listened to it often. It is not an actual worm that lives in the ear. It is a metaphor for when you can't get a tune out of your head. Although why a worm is used as a metaphor for this I couldn't say for sure.

I have decided to keep writing my blog. I also feel like the devas (shining ones/angels) are encouraging me to keep writing it. It seems to help me. Something about attempting to articulate what I am learning helps me remember and understand it better and absorb the knowledge.




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Asoka

Vesak day

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I am planning on meditating all night tonight, by myself under a beautiful old tree in some ancient woodland. In honour of the Buddha, and to celebrate Vesak day which happens to be on my birthday this year because of the full moon. So it feels like an auspicious night. Fifth day of the week, on the fifth day of the month, on the fifth month of the year.

 A wee bit afraid because the woods can feel a bit spooky in the dark when you are by yourself, also I haven't spent all night in meditation before. I will practise metta (loving-kindness meditation) to start to help bring good energy to the area around me. It is a lovely quiet spot with a good vibe, no sound of cars, no people, lots of pleasant breezes, no biting insects, or dangerous animals. I feel very fortunate to live near such a tranquil place.

It feels like a golden opportunity, and is just one evening of my life. Losing out on some sleep is worth it I think. Many Buddhists in different parts of the world will be celebrating tonight, remembering when the Buddha himself sat under a tree in May on a full moon and got enlightened over 2500 years ago. So I imagine there will be good energy from that. I will sit in honour of his memory, and make a real effort to practise samhadi this evening. And dedicate the practise to all beings everywhere, with the wish for all of us to be free from suffering, free from sorrow, to know peace of mind, serenity and wellbeing wherever we are.

I also feel inspired by stories I've read of others in the past who spent all night meditating under a tree and gained liberation from suffering. I will think of them all to help keep me going. And I will think of my friends, and imagine their energy like a protective loving circle around me, keeping me safe.

I have no expectations, and I'm not attached to any outcomes. But I will have a go, give it my best shot, without straining the mind. 

Whatever happens tonight, I think it will be a good learning experience for me. 

May all beings be safe, well, happy, and peaceful.

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Asoka

Kingdom of heaven

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Sunday, 30 Apr 2023, 22:22


I will live filling this whole field of experience with feelings of love, empathy, and goodwill.
Above, below, all around, without limit – I will suffuse this entire field of awareness with beauty.
May it uplift myself and all beings everywhere, in all directions and dimensions, across all of time and space.
I will abide in this dwelling, make it my home:
A kindness that is abundant, exalted, immeasurable.
A blessing that is without hostility or greed.

I will abide filling this entire field of awareness with equanimity.
Above, below, all around – pervading it with a bigger view.
Hold it without clinging, without suffering or preference.
With clarity, wisdom, balance and composure.
May it bring calm to myself and all beings everywhere.
I will abide in this dwelling, I will make it my home:
An equanimity that is abundant, exalted, immeasurable.
A blessing without resistance to what is outside my control.


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Asoka

Kiss the leper

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Asoka

Watching ourselves and others

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 15 Apr 2023, 14:08


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Asoka

Unworldly feelings

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 14 Apr 2023, 16:59

Feel much better today, although fatigue is still prominent and if I overdo things it is like being hit by a wall of tiredness and I have to lie down. But my health is definitely much better now.

Kundalini feels like an energy that has a mind of its own, she speaks to me in tingles along my spine, or other areas of the body. The scalp and neck can be quite active at times, it is a very tactile experience for me. She feels intimately connected, but very kind. Sometimes she makes me laugh. If I start getting a bit conceited and arrogant, or if I become the opposite and become overly down on myself, she makes my scalp tingle in a mildly burning unpleasant way, enough to make me stop and become aware of what my state of mind is, and then I will stop holding onto it and try to generate something more wholesome in its place. When I think nice thoughts about myself and others, such as friendship and loving-kindness, wanting the best for all beings, she makes my scalp tingle in a very pleasant way, like a hint I'm going in the right direction.

Reader be aware this is my subjective experience. I promise I am not going through a psychosis.

But aye, people should be careful when it comes to meditation. If it is not done in the context of the spiritual path, such as the Buddhist noble eightfold path, it can blow up in your face and send you into a psychosis. Sooner or later Mara, the shadow self, the dark side, whatever you want to call it, will arise, and you will have to face it. And many spiritual traditions will have practises and supports in place that help to deal with this. 

As a rule of thumb, the practice of loving-kindness (metta) can protect one from the darkness. If you come from a place of unconditional love for all beings. It is an effective way to navigate the spiritual path.

Not always easy to feel like that though, it takes many hours of repetitive practice to develop a mind of loving-kindness; but if you can do it, it will keep you safe and also be of benefit to those around you. Just the silent presence of a being filled with loving-kindness or serenity can help raise the vibrations in the world around one. It is also possible to go into deep states of samhadi through the practise of loving-kindness, and the cultivation of metta (loving-kindness) can take you right to the doorstep of nibanna. All you need then is the key that unlocks that door, the realisation of the wisdom contained in the four noble truths.

Many of the ancient meditation techniques are designed to get you enlightened, they have been carefully tweaked and adapted through thousands of years of experience and practise from one generation to the next, and designed deliberately to be effective tools for spiritual awakening, they are not designed for material purposes. They lead you in the opposite direction of worldly things. And if one is practising them for material gain or to do better in the world, then problems will arise, as they were never created for that purpose.

Getting a solid grounding in the noble eightfold path under the mentorship of an experienced teaching monk and having a community of friends who I regularly sit with online has helped me stay sane. All the members of my sangha are online.

Unfortunately, I don't have spiritual friends here where I live in the physical world around me, so I am quite alone in that sense. But I do sit regularly with spiritual friends from all around the world on Zoom, both in discussion groups and meditation sessions.

It is good to be part of a spiritual community, online or offline, because inevitably unwelcome problems can arise in the human psyche during the spiritual journey, and it can lead to odd behaviour if one isn't mindful. Good spiritual friends can help point these things out, and help you stay centred and not lose your bearings. They can also be supportive when you are going through a dark night or a trying time in the purification process, and make these challenges feel easier and less lonely. 

Like someone wise once said about the spiritual life: 'We are all friends walking each other home.'



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Asoka

Sorrowless

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 23 Mar 2023, 15:20

We etch patterns

On the island shores
Of one another’s minds.

And here, on this island far away
I see you sorrow

Hold you in my heart.

And in my mind,

With warm karuna 

I reach out across the land
Across the great sea.

To hold your hand.

Reach out 

Like a gentle breeze

To lift you up.

May you feel supported.
May you never feel alone.

May the devas, the angels protect you
And always keep you safe.

May you feel loved.

Comforted 

At ease.

May your heart be filled with a golden peace.

And may this metta wave

sweep away
all your sorrow and grief.

– Asoka


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Asoka

Metta

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Love one another, and we can make it all right.
If we're friends with one another, then we all live right.
Metta changes darkness to a boundless golden light.
And with hearts full of friendship, we all shine bright.

Metta is a Pali word often translated as loving-kindness, benevolence, or friendliness. It is derived from the Sanskrit word 'maitri', (which has the same meaning). And this is derived from the word 'mitra', which means 'friend'.

Metta can be used effectively as a meditation object, which can lead to a blissful samhadi and sublime states of mind. It can also be cultivated in everyday life as we go about our business in the world, wherever we are. It brings many benefits and good karma to the one who practises it, and it can change the atmosphere around one.

It is a powerful blameless magic, and one can be imaginative and creative with how one cultivates and works with this energy. It has the power to transform the mind and make it more divine, happy, friendly, golden and peaceful. When the mind is full of happy peaceful thoughts it makes it easier to settle into meditation.

 Metta works as an effective antidote to greed and hatred, and its cultivation can lead to fortunate events in this life, as well as a fortunate rebirth in the next one.

Metta can have a healing effect on the body, as well as a healing effect on others when we send metta to them.

It is also protective and can make one fearless.
Friendliness towards other beings enriches one's life.
Brings good energy wherever one goes,
So that one never feels alone.

May all beings be friends.


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Asoka

Forgiveness

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I doubt there has ever lived a human being who has not made mistakes. We've all thought, said, and done things we regret. There are things in our past we wish we'd done different. We have all hurt other beings either intentionally or unintentionally through our thoughts, words, and actions.

A beautiful truth is how forgiveness emancipates the heart. Frees one of the sickness of hate and resentment. Opens up the prison of regret and remorse. And reconnects us to the divine.

Saying the following phrase regularly really has helped me through some dark nights and helped me connect with the energy of metta (friendliness, loving-kindness). 

' I ask the forgiveness of all beings I have wronged either intentionally or unintentionally. I am truly sorry. I offer to share the merit of my spiritual practise with you. May you be safe, well, happy, and peaceful. Serene and boundless. Happy and contented. Comforted and blessed, free from sorrow.

I also forgive all those who have wronged me either intentionally or unintentionally. I offer to share the merit of my spiritual practise with you. May you be safe, well, happy, and peaceful. Serene and boundless. Happy and contented. Comforted and blessed, free from sorrow.

This is my wish for all beings everywhere, all around me, within me, above me, below me, in all directions of time and space, in all worlds, in all dimensions. I offer to share the merit of my spiritual practise with you. May you be safe, well, happy, and peaceful. Serene and boundless. Happy and contented. Comforted and blessed, free from sorrow.

May all beings be at peace.

Metta is a beautiful energy, it really can heal the heart and mind and bring the light back.


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Asoka

The subjective experience

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 1 Feb 2023, 12:17

Seem to be getting back into writing again, not really feeling the painting at the moment.

I think I have some deva (spirit) friends who hang around with me which is comforting. I can't see them, although there have been times in deep states of meditation where I have seen them in my mind's eye. I tend to sense their presence, and feel their energy around me, and sometimes within me. Some are people I have known in this life who have passed away now. One is my Gran who I was very strongly bonded to as a child. She is a being of light now, like an angel. In her human life she was very kind to animals and to me. A person who was very in sync with nature, which led to her generating good kamma and she was reborn as a deva. She regularly comes to encourage me when I feel stressed and alone.

There are other spirits too, and they often reassure me when I feel weak and afraid. They fill me with peaceful fearless energy, and they tell me all sorts of things. Such as where a being who has recently died has gone. And how I can best help others who are suffering. They teach me about meditation and how to manage my failures. They recently said to me very clearly not to worry about money or finances when I became very stressed about the cost of living and the possibility of future poverty. They said they would take care of me and ensure I always got what I needed to survive if things got desperate. I often feel their gentle encouragement to keep practising the noble eightfold path and develop meditation further, to develop wisdom and emancipate the heart, so I can be a light in this world.

I have helped some spirits too. One's who experienced something tragic when they died, or ended up in darkness and became suffering angry ghosts. Upon encountering them, I felt compassion and I offered to share the merit of my spiritual practise with them, and it worked! It did help them find the light again and they sometimes come to visit me and support me with their jovial good energy, especially when I feel downhearted, or unwell.

There are beings who were wild animals in this life who I helped and prayed over when they were dying who are devas now, and I feel happy for them and glad they are doing well. 

The devas sometimes reveal things to me I can't know with my limited human senses which has been helpful in my practise. I doubt I would have got this far without their help, and I am really grateful for their support. It makes me realise that the sangha is truly great, composed of many different kinds of beings, and taking refuge in the sangha goes beyond just the human realm.

None of us are ever really alone, there are beings of all kinds around us (-:

This may sound crazy to those who hold the annihilist view that there is no existence beyond death of the physical body, but my experience is different. I have no way of proving that spirits exist, nor do I want to. But I have a strong conviction that reincarnation and rebirth is real. And the seeds of karma, the mental tendencies we nurture in this life are what we carry over into the next and they will sprout and grow into a new being.

This may well be my subjective experience. But it is our subjective experience that matters, as that is where we live. We do not live in the objective experience. For example if you are trying to lose weight and you step on the scales, some days you may feel lighter like you have lost weight, even if the scales, (the objectice experience,) tell you your weight is the same. The subjective experience is different, and it is this subjective experience that feels real, as that is where we live, that is where we come from.

There are a lot of stories in the Buddhist suttas about psychic powers and miracles performed by the Buddha and his disciples. Such as flying through the air and teleportation. And there are two ways one can look at these, and both ways of looking at it are correct. The first is that these miracles really did happen, and after experiencing some profound states of mind, I now believe such things are possible. The other way of looking at them is they are describing the subjective experience of being enlightened. The sense of freedom from suffering can make you feel like you are flying through the air, even though objective reality is telling you your feet are on the ground. Time also feels different for an enlightened being, so the subjective experience of moving from A to B may feel like hardly any time has passed at all, as if you have stretched out your hand and instantly gone from one geographical location to another. That is how the passage of time can feel subjectively for an enlightened being.

Another example, is sometimes after practising loving-kindness meditation (metta) it can feel like everyone and everything is my friend, even inanimate objects feel friendly and warm towards me. And when I stand next to the sea, it feels like it is happy to see me, each wave coming towards me like a friendly greeting. That is my subjective experience and there is nothing wrong with this, it can be a very beneficial and heart opening experience.

Part of right Samhadi, the eighth factor of the noble eightfold path is about playing around with our subjective experience of reality, and making it into something beautiful. We all have these beautiful spaces within us that can enrich our lives and the lives of those around us. But some of the circuits that activate these spaces are located deep within the mind, and meditation can teach one how to connect with and activate them. How to become still enough to reach the divine states of consciousness.

We modern humans spend a lot of time stuck in the pre-frontal cortex, it is a useful and important part of the brain, but it is only a small part of it. And it can feel unpleasant and limiting being stuck there all the time. This is why I think humans enjoy intoxicants so much. Intoxicants relax the executive functioning and inhibitions, and allow us to go beyond the boundaries of the prefrontal cortex and connect with the rest of the mind. This can bring a sense of relief and freedom. And it can feel very rewarding and enriching to connect with the deeper parts of the mind. It can refresh our view of things, help broaden our perspective, and see things differently, see everything in a new light, help with problem solving and creativity. The experience of connecting with the rest of the mind and body can bring a feeling of wholeness, of joy, of purpose, peace and oneness.

It is our subjective experience of reality that matters, it is how we feel that is important. If you feel like you are walking on air then you are (-: 

In Buddhism the question is how do I feel? Am I suffering or not? The goal of the Buddhist path is to realise the end of suffering, and this is a subjective experience. The objective experience is not important, it is how you feel within that matters. If you feel lost then you are lost. If you feel free, then you are free. The way to tell if you are making progress in Buddhism is to notice whether the practise is bringing a decrease in suffering. If it is then you are on the right track (-:


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A metta wave

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May everyone feel safe, well, happy, and serene (-:

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Judith McLean, Friday, 28 Oct 2022, 15:00)
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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 June 2022, 14:37)
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Tranquil metta

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Wishing,
longing,
craving for things to be different.
Like a downcast elephant in the corner of the room.
Won't budge
So I gave up trying,
sat with it as a friend.
'Ah! Sadness be at ease.'
And relaxing,
letting go.
It was gone
transformed
into joy.


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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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Right intention

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 22 Apr 2022, 17:28

What is intention?

Does intention come before thought, like a wordless impulse?

For me it feels like that, but thankfully one does not need to understand what it is to any great depth. Basically what we need to remember is: intention is the generator of kamma. Our intentions lead to actions, and repeated actions become habits. From intention comes speech and action -- our behaviour. What we think about reflects our intentions, and we can change our intentions by changing our thoughts.

Changing our thoughts can also alter our perceptions. For example, Ajahn Sona in a talk during a mindfulness retreat (available both as a podcast and on YouTube), talked about how as a monk one of the first things they are taught is to break the body up into the five parts we are most attracted to and memorise them. This becomes a mental tool one can use to help free the mind of lust and attachment to one's body. These five parts are: head hair, body hair, nails, skin, and teeth. When you separate them by themselves, they are not that attractive or appealing really. Our perception of them changes. There's something else interesting about them as well, they are also the dead parts of the body. And isn't it odd how we are not attracted to the live parts of the human body? The squishy inners underneath the skin, we find the living parts of the body repulsive and horrifying. One never praises one's romantic love's kidneys or the shape of their pancreas, or finds the real beating lump of their heart that appealing. When you break it down the whole thing about attraction can be turned on its head and one's perception can be altered.

During the talk Ajahn Sona likens skin to being like a leaky spandex suit. And I carried out a thought experiment with this whilst I was watching a movie with my family, and as I looked at the Hollywood actors and actresses on the screen I kept thinking: 'Leaky spandex suit', and you know what it worked! My perception was altered and the human body suddenly became quite repulsive to me, I even excitedly shared this with my family, who looked at me strangely lol. Alas they do not share my enthusiasm for the spiritual life.

Anyway to return back to topic, right intention is the second factor of the noble eight-fold path and is guided by right view. These two folds of the path are known as the wisdom faculties. They come at the beginning for a reason, because they act like a compass to steer one in the right direction. They are also at the end of the path after right samhadi and grow deeper and wiser as one's practise of the noble eightfold path develops. The noble eight-fold path cycles, and one's understanding of it grows deeper on each iteration. The eight path factors also support each other outside of the numbered order. I.e. the work of right intention is supported by the four right efforts, which in turn instruct right mindfulness.

Luckily the Buddha simplifies what one needs to remember to just three right intentions. These are: the intention of renunciation (letting go), the intention of non-illwill, and the intention of harmlessness. These are the three directions one should steer the herd of thoughts towards.

It doesn't have to be a stressful exercise, and one does not need to be an enemy or control freak with oneself. I sort of imagine it as a sailing boat following a course bearing. And at times I might go off course, but once I am aware I am going in the wrong direction, I simpy correct course and bring the herd of thoughts back in line with the three right intentions.

I don't judge myself for going in the wrong direction, I don't punish myself, or feel I have to tie up any loose thoughts I was having. I just simply interrupt the thought processes, let go of whatever it was, and simply steer the herd back in the right direction without an iota of judgement for having those thoughts. The Buddha is kind in that he gives us a 'get out of jail free' card which lets us out of the dungeon of guilt and shame. We are allowed to not ruminate over our mistakes. Gleam what wisdom one can from them and let them go. They were done by a younger self and are not who you are now. So let go of aversion towards oneself. Try to be a friend to the mind instead, don't fight it, train it gently with kindness, and it will be a friend back to you. It will become your best friend (-:

In fact metta practice (metta means friendship and loving-kindness) can help weaken the mind's tendency towards aversion, which is helpful for bringing into being the three right intentions. So metta can be part of the practise of right intention also.

It can help also to think of right intention as being like guiding a herd of cattle, when one notices the thoughts are going off course, one imagines oneself to be like a cowherd steering them back in the right direction. This metaphor comes from the Buddha in the Dvedhavitakka sutta - Two sorts of thinking (MN19).

The Buddha also mentions in the sutta that excessive thinking, even about good things, can be tiring after a while. And encourages one to quieten down the thought energies when one is tired and rest in Samhadi. This lucid stillness refreshes the mind and brings relief to the body, which helps with the work of right intention, so the eighth factor: right samhadi is also supporting it.

Calming thoughts down is not always easy though, the habit of thinking can be a hard one to shake, especially for us modern humans. We are conditioned by this industrial world to live constantly in our heads, and the constant thinking becomes a torture. Which is why it feels such a relief when one can let go of the thought processes for a bit and just dwell in another consciousness outside of speech. It feels freeing, refreshing.

To be able to stop thinking when I want, and to only think what I want, when I want. To train and master the thought processes. That is the noble aspiration here with right intention.

The Buddha says that training one's thoughts to follow the three right intentions will lead one to helpful kamma that is conducive to reaching the goal of realising nibanna. Whilst allowing them to wander about untrained in the opposite directions of: craving, hostility, and harmfulness will lead one to unhelpful kamma. 

The three right intentions:

Intention of renunciation.
Intention of non-hostility.
Intention of not causing harm.

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Sublime abiding

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 5 Apr 2022, 13:42


Chest beat a surging flame of worry
I sit and meditate to chill me down
Breath centres open wide
Odd mix of pleasant unpleasant
I calm the energies to a hush and
Let go of the spiky aversion
Greet with love instead
Love does not ask for anything in return
It is its own reward
For it makes one's mind and home
A pleasure to be in
even when
The dark side approaches.


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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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Metta for spiders and insects

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 31 Jan 2022, 17:20
Busy cleaning out my room today. Going to make it into a hybrid zendo of sorts. It is an epic task. As I have been neglecting it rather. I have thrown out my bed as it was no longer fit for purpose and giving me a bad back. I had been using the underneath as a crazy storage area, and it was jam-packed full of all sorts of junk, which I have now binned. And underneath all that I discovered life had made a thriving eco-system. There were centipedes, cupboard spiders, woodlice, earthworms, and some other insects whose names I don't know. I didn't have the heart to hurt any of them, and I felt guilty as I must have seemed like a giant destroyer of worlds to them. So I made a part of my room into an insect sanctuary, and piled some compost, soil, wood, cardboard boxes, and old cloth there for them.Then I moved them all gently to their new home. It was rather time-consuming and sometimes hard to get the insects to cooperate, but I managed to move them all in the end without harming any. I like insects. And I can talk to spiders and they will trust me and climb on board and let me move them to another location. I seem to have a good relationship with spiders and feel lots of metta for them. Although no-one else in my household shares my love for them.They are horrified.
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