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Pain, the power of intention, and Samadhi

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 6 Oct 2023, 21:17

Quite fatigued today. Lots of rain here. I have a sore shoulder, the pain is unrelenting, it has been like this for weeks, I have no idea what I’ve done to it. I probably should see a doctor, but I really dislike using phones and making appointments and don’t feel up to the traveling, so I keep putting it off.

Whilst sat in meditation today I remembered the Buddha say that he suffered from backache almost constantly, and that the only time he got relief from it was when he went into samadhi. So, I tried that, but couldn’t get into samadhi. So, I turned to face the pain instead. Felt it throbbing in my shoulder and noticed how it spread down my arm with a buzzing sort of pain.

I tried to just see the pain as sensations without the perception of like or dislike. Exploring what happens when I move the breath energy through that area, using the breath to bring ease to it. Sometimes that worked and other times it didn’t.

It was hard to sit still for long as my arm kept needing to be moved into different positions as it got very uncomfortable. It was hard practising walking meditation also, as the movement kept jarring the shoulder. But there were moments where I stayed centred with the meditation object and remained there for a good while, and I did seem to enter a momentary samadhi and yes, the pain did go away. But maintaining that state was not always easy.

The mind would sometimes show a lack of inclination to practise, and thoughts about doing something else grabbed my attention. Then I remembered that this is one of the five hindrances, and I don’t have to follow these impulses or thoughts.

(n.b. the five hindrances are: greed, hate, sloth, restlessness, and doubt)

I have the power to choose, to set an intention. I can consciously choose to continue meditating and stay with the object of mindfulness. That’s where my power lies, in choosing. So, I choose to do so each moment, making that choice over and over instead of going along with the hindrances. That worked for a bit, but sometimes a loud noise would pull me out of it, and I had to start again. 

Samadhi is not easy, but it is a very important part of the noble eightfold path. That unification of mind is essential. I notice the difference on the days I don’t practise. It definitely helps. 

Movement is exercise for the body, and stillness is exercise for the mind. 

A mind that keeps wandering and has difficulty become still, is a sign that it is getting out of shape. Learning how to bring the mind to stillness and steadying it, strengthens the mind, it does it a lot of good.

Even if the meditation seems like a waste of time. One can learn a lot about how the mind works from the simple exercise of attempting to keep it centred on one thing. It reveals a lot about what makes us tick, what our desires are, our angst, our delusions. Can be very interesting.

 


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Asoka

Grief

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Death’s hard to bear.
It feels cruel.
Not fair.

Grief is lonely.

Dad was a good man.
Loved by many.

Lots of different people
attended his funeral.
His life affected them all.
It was beautiful.

The world feels a lesser place
Now he has gone.
Just isn’t the same.
Feels wrong.

He made things better.

Why did he have to die?

Dependent origination.
That’s why.

I’ve read that the wise do not grieve.
But still the tears fall.
Perhaps that means
I am not wise at all.











Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 31 Aug 2023, 22:06)
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Asoka

Dark night IV

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 3 Aug 2023, 21:00


I felt a sea of sorrows today.
The kilesas hit me hard.

Every dark desire within this mind.
Came out in force to attack me.
The demon armies of Mara.
Defeated my resolve.
Pummelled me to dust.
I fell hard,
broken-hearted.
Shattered.
Ripped to shreds.
Torn.
Almost dying from the intense struggle.
It was fierce.
They were strong.

Compassion failed me.
Love felt impossible.
Chaos reigned.

The hate was like poison in my veins.
An all-consuming fire.
Burning me as it burned the world.

With thoughts tangled up in the net of craving.
Consciousness spiralled into darkness.
Visions of Hellish worlds unfolded.
Countless suffering beings.
I felt overwhelmed.

My heart withdrew.
But there was no escape from the torment.
No relief.

'This practise isn't easy.' I said out loud. "I give up. I can't do this anymore. It is too much. I'm done."

Then the rain fell outside the window.
Washed the Hells to tranquility.
I heard the green of the leaves
As the water trickled down them.

Brahma devas smiled 
Golden coloured clouds.

'Asoka' they said.

And I remembered.
I let it go.
Released it.

No longer clinging
to its fuel.
The fire went cool.

There was an upwelling of relief.
The heart rising like a phoenix
from the ashes.
...



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Asoka

Resilience

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Sometimes we make poor choices. Bad kamma happens, some of it delayed, some of it instant. It is painful.

One has to just bear it up. There's nothing else for it. The past can't be changed. Take responsibility for your actions. Learn from the experience.  See what mental dispositions led to the suffering and abandon them.

It comes from within us. The greed, hate, and delusion comes from within. It is not something outside us. We ourselves are the source of it and the end of it.

Resilience is important. Because one will fall over time and time again whilst learning how to walk. 

 It is important to not give up. 

To pick oneself up after failure and keep going, this too is part of the path. Learning how to fall. Because greed, hate, and delusion will not go easy on you. 

Just remember we're all human.

We all make mistakes, we all make poor choices that lead to bad kamma. 

 Part of the journey is learning from our mistakes. Seeing what led to them. Reflecting wisely and growing from them. 

Some of our most potent spiritual lessons can come from humiliation and defeat.

Be kind to oneself. 
It is important.
Hate is poison.

Don't be afraid.
You are not alone.
There is grace out there too.
Friends who support you.
Both human and deva, ancestors too.
But they can't do the work for you.
Only you can do the work.
None but ourselves can free our minds.

 ...

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Asoka

Nothing personal

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Pummelled by negative thoughts.
Sickness often makes them worse.
Creaky joints and muscle aches.
A clumsy fatigue,
And the humidity bakes.
But it's nothing personal.

This body
Where did it come from?
It just grew by itself.
From a sperm and an egg.

I didn't make it.

Am I the body?
This bag of flesh.
Fated to age and one day die.
And when it becomes a corpse,
Is there still an 'I'?
What is it that animates it so?
When the body dies where do 'I' go?

I watch the myriad sense impressions.
Detached
Choosing not to
like or dislike,
but still feeling love.
Metta for the body (-:
May it be well.

These changing sensations.
Not who I am.
Nothing personal.

I brush the delusional thinking aside
The inner critic.
Just rubbish
Nonsense
I know that now.
I don't have to pay attention to it anymore.
Not self, not me, not I.
Just conditioned loops from the past.
Sankharas
They don't last,
They arise, persist for a time, and cease.

I don't have to listen to these negative thoughts.
They're not me
Not self.
So I just let them be,
While I centre with root energy.
The sensations in my feet
As I walk down the street.
Each step a beautiful connection with Mother Earth.
The ancient witness of every birth.

Where does perception come from?
Our memory and
Recollection.
Recognition and
Association.
An interpretation
Of the past.

The mind gives it all meaning
And falls for its own interpretations.
Believes them to be true.
Becoming our opinions.
And the stories we weave in our heads.

We conceptualise our perceptions
Elaborate on them
Identify with them
Make assumptions about them
Assign significance to them.
But their nothing personal.

And consciousness where does it come from?
Is it a product of the brain?
It contains everything.
Yet I don't know how it works
It keeps changing.
Sometimes it isn't even there
When I'm asleep and not aware.
Does it still exist when there's no sensations?
No perceptions?
No thoughts?
No memory?

Who is this 'I' anyway?
This person I cannot find.
Is it just a construct of the mind?

All of this
Where is it happening?
The world.
Life.
The universe.
The mind.
What is it?

Nothing personal.

...


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Asoka

The second arrow

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 17 Apr 2023, 18:18

Working with fatigue and a sore back at the moment. It isn't my preference, but I am going to see what I can learn from this. Life as it is, my teacher, my sāsana (spiritual practise). The good and the bad. 

Meditation was challenging today. It was not easy sitting with a bad back. And going for a walk was unpleasant, almost every step was painful. I have a disc in my lower back which is pressing on a root nerve, and sometimes when I take a step it feels like when you bash your elbow on the funny bone, only in the lower back and it goes up the spine, and definitely not funny.

How do I make that which is unwelcome, welcome?

I observed how the pain and fatigue kept pulling my attention away from being centred, away from the mindfulness of loving-kindness and the breath. So I decided to explore why this is. Noticing how it was affecting my mood, my thoughts, how it made me feel restless and stressed. This is suffering.

I investigated and saw how the three aspects of craving where present. The desire for the pain and fatigue to cease, to change, to not be there, to not exist. The desire for pleasant feelings, for happy feelings, for some intoxicants to ease the pain. And there was also the desire to be a good spiritual practitioner. To handle this pain and fatigue like an enlightened being would. To become a Buddha. 

So I was watching all this, how it proliferates into stories, and how one keeps adding more to it. How the mind creates imaginary scenarios about it, how it worries, how memory can also come into play... and before I knew it I had created these complex delusions just from the discomfort I was feeling. These stories were not helpful, and they were distorting reality and making things worse. I was adding mental suffering on top of the physical. And it's tiring, all this wishing, this worrying, this disliking, this longing, this identifying, this clinging - it is tiring.

So I observed what happens if I switch all that off. If I stop talking to myself about the pain and fatigue. If I stop thinking about it. If I ignore the perception this is painful, I am tired. It all became sensations then arising and passing away in the here and now, just feelings, movements of changing energy, rising, flowing, fading. Nothing personal.

I am not the sights that enter these eyes. I am not the sounds that hit these eardrums. I am not the smells, the tastes, the tactile sensations. Nor am I the thoughts and ideas that enter this mind from the world.

What happens if I stop holding onto the six senses, if I stop identifying with them, stop trying to change them? If I just rest in awareness and knowing, without the story. Allow things to arise and cease but without any of it taking root in the mind? Who am I then?

This line of inquiry and investigation did bring some relief. The physical pain is still there, the fatigue is still there, but mentally one can be okay with it.

Is this what the Buddha means in his metaphor of the second arrow?

...




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Asoka

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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Asoka

Emotions

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Having another crack at this assignment, only two days left to complete it in, and I feel like I am getting nowhere, my head is just going round and round in an unhappy loop of constant misery. I just cannot seem to get anything done at the moment. I will persevere though. Once this assignment is done I will then concentrate on tidying this place up a bit as I have been neglecting it of late and the mess is getting me down. 

My mind is in so much pain just now, sometimes I wish there was some way to switch my emotions off, but then if I did, I would just be like a robot or a zombie and what is the point in living if you don't feel anything, you might as well be dead, it is the emotions that create art, that appreciate the beautiful, that feel compassion and empathy, that colour our existence. There are times when I do feel nothing, where I become a cold apathetic spineless sludge of unfeeling, but it is not a satisfactory experience living like that, it is empty and doesn't feel like relief. So being emotionless isn't a solution; we need our emotions, I just wish mine would shut up sometimes and stop torturing me.


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Asoka

Pearls of wisdom

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 11 Dec 2021, 16:13

Still cannot do this assignment, I just can't get my brain to engage with it. My short term memory feels all shot to Hell. I sat there staring at the questions and I just couldn't get my head round them. I used to be good at maths, but now I just can't seem to understand it anymore which is really frustrating.

I am however finding a tiny bit of solace writing on this blog. I am sorry if my posts of late have been a bit depressing. I am someone who believes in not covering up how I feel. The idea that we should all be heroically juggling balls and feeling happy all the time is nonsense. I know that despite all the smiley faces, happy families, success stories, congrats, and holiday snapshots on social media, that everyone else also has their dysfunctional tearful crazy moments. It is just they don't post those, because it is frowned down on in society, stigmatised, people don't like to remember that life isn't always sweet-smelling roses out there, that sometimes it's thorny as f#ck.

But those thorny moments should not be rejected. Those painful memories if reflected on and learnt from, and understood are like an oyster making a pearl of wisdom. Painful but perhaps become one's greatest treasure of all. As it is both the ups and downs that make us whole, that create the depth of our being, that make us wiser, make us shine brighter and cause us to grow.



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Asoka

Abandonment

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 15 Dec 2021, 18:05

Abandonment is hard. I have trouble with communication and human relations. I make friends only for them to abandon me because they can't handle my mood swings and delusions. This has happened to me numerous times with people I thought were good friends. I think they have to cut me off for their own sanity, because I can get a bit intense sometimes. I feel regret for that. I don't judge them, although I did judge them at the time, hated them for it in fact, being cut loose and abandoned by others feels cold and painful and just reinforces all the negative beliefs I hold about myself. But I also understand why they did it and there's nothing I can do to change what happened, it sucks, but I have to let it go. I can't force people to like me or be my friend. 

I wish I didn't lose friendships like this, it hurts a lot. So I think for my own sake, I need to practise some self-care and just not bother making anymore connections. I'll stay solitary I think, it is less painful that way, rejection is unpleasant and triggers me, makes me go on a downer, and I get depressed and I start feeling the self-loathing and wishing I wasn't alive, and that isn't a good way to be. I figure if I just keep myself to myself from now on and avoid connecting to others then I will avoid that trigger (I hope). Although loneliness is hard, but one is only lonely if they think they are lonely. And I am making friends with non-human beings, both seen and unseen, so I am not completely alone, just alone in the sense of not having many human friends/companions.

Still there are some good people whom I do still have a strong heart connection to, who haven't abandoned me or misunderstood me, and they have seen me at my worse over the years, and they still want to know me and be my friend. I am grateful for those people, they warm my heart and make me want to carry on living. And although some of them don't live close by, it doesn't matter, the connection I have with them in my heart is strong and cannot be broken. They help me feel fearless and remind me that I at least matter to some people out there.

My inability to connect with others is painful.

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Asoka

Sadness

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 15 Dec 2021, 18:06

A playlist about sadness, enjoy:

https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLodJ_OuDCKlduVJ5RGQQzV8FKxBfKfc1B

I find melancholic music can be strangely soothing at times, like sonic therapy.

As Suzuki Roshi famously once said: 'What's wrong with sadness?'

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Asoka

Sour times

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 8 Dec 2021, 16:40

It is a horrible experience being alive. One is just born in a body with whatever genes one is given, and this body just grows by itself and life gets increasingly more complicated and one is stuck with whatever personality and DNA they are born with and expected to just get on with living in a cold and often cruel world. Noone gets to choose who they will be, what they will be good at, what kind of body they will get. No-one can help being who they are; and yet we get judged for it and made to feel guilty if we aren't up to the task of fitting into this bloody difficult world. Being a human sucks. Being any being on this planet sucks. Being alive sucks.

 I can only seem to meditate when I feel good. Meditation when depressed is not helpful at all. It just makes me feel worse. I am trying my best, but I keep failing catastrophically. I can't generate any joy at the moment, I am trying but it is like an engine that has run out of fuel and won't kickstart. 

I am also feeling broken hearted as well. Particularly for the local wildlife. So much life has disappeared at the local beach. Tangled up in the seaweed are the bones of seabirds that have starved to death from lack of food. The beach here used to be teeming with life of all different kinds, it was magical, but now it is like a watery graveyard, an oceanic desert. The sea here is dying and nobody else seems to notice or care. I read that now one in four species of bird in the UK are on the endangered list, and insects have been steadily disappearing, every summer there's fewer and fewer.

 Then there's refugees drowning at sea escaping all kinds of different horrors in the world caused by the greed, hatred, and delusion of the West; while the super rich just compete to be the first to reach outer-space so they can colonise dead planets, their rockets like penis extensions, ignorant of the poverty and environmental destruction their greed has caused. 

And the government is determined to vaccinate everyone, is obsessed with it; but if they really cared about saving people's lives why don't they help those who are now homeless in the freezing cold of Winter after been kicked out of their houses by banks who repossessed their homes after lockdowns destroyed their incomes. And why don't the government help the old people abandoned and dying alone in care homes and hospitals? I thought all this pandemic and vaxxing was to save their lives, but it seems to be more about destroying them.

I am sorry for the rant dear reader. I feel so unhappy just now, sometimes writing it out of my system is the only relief I get. (Albeit temporary.) I wish I could feel hope and write something uplifting, but I feel there is something terribly wrong with the world just now.

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Asoka

Knowledge of suffering

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 15 Dec 2021, 18:07


Feel the pain and grief.
And let it give you power.
The momentum to move forward.
To go beyond this empty world.
Beyond the tears of Samsara.
On to the other shore. To higher things.
To the deathless, and the freedom of nibbana.

Use the sadness to break the illusion.
To see through the delusion.
As Mara crushes your heart and mind.
Smile with equanimity at the rain, the pain.

Strength through adversity.
The first noble truth.


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Asoka

Broken wing

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 24 Dec 2021, 21:48


Is there a way to generate joy that doesn't depend on anything outside oneself? 

Without it I feel like a bird with a broken wing, who longs to fly but can't take off.
Held down by the gravity of a crap reality.
The pain of separation, of living in a world that doesn't give damn.
A dream within a dream within a dream. 

What is real anyway? 

Is it the world out there? Or the world within?



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Asoka

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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Asoka

New blog post

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Internal combustion broken beyond belief

Opened up the heart but still no relief

Pain, and a feeling of disconnection

Alone, but don't feel like conversation

So me go deep inside

 far far within 

away from this place

to another space 

where I forget who I am

and that's the best

to forget my self.



Permalink 3 comments (latest comment by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 13 Oct 2021, 15:17)
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Asoka

Exit

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 24 Dec 2021, 21:52
I don't care for your politica speak
people are dying

I don't care for your selfish corporate greed
animals are going extinct

seven times three
this is the 21st century

lose your last century crap
and self-centred ideology

World can't take no more fossil fuel

concrete jungle invasion 
grey bleak city cruel

no more poison
sprayed across the land
killing birds and insects
to satisfy supermarket demand

disinvent the trawler
sink them to the depths of the sea
scooping up all the fish
while sea-life goes hungry

and orcas go sterile from pvc

stop cutting down trees
leave the forest alone

open your hearts to one love
Altruism is better
for our survival

All life is interdependent

we are one

Aye-man 

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