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Loose plan for right livelihood

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 31 Jan 2023, 20:04

Been slowly getting back into the swing of studying again after a lengthy break, which I needed. This time I will be studying Cyber Security. So far I am finding it interesting and after the painful slog that was 'Algorithms' it makes a refreshing change. It got me thinking that perhaps this would tick the box for right livelihood in the noble eightfold path. Noting how much of our infrastructure is online now and vulnerable to cyber attack. So learning how to defend it would be of benefit to others So feel this would be a livelihood that would not cause harm to other beings. It is peaceful and comes from a wish for others to be safe, well, happy, and peaceful. 

 I must also look after my health though, right livelihood is about not causing harm to oneself as much as others. So I must remember that it is in service to the noble eightfold path. It will pay the bills and ensure I can eat, stay warm and survive. But meditation practise is important to me, it is like food for the heart and mind, and I need to ensure I am in good health so I can practise that. So planning to work part time from home when I graduate; one of the plusses about the Covid pandemic was this ability now to be able to work from home. This has opened up opportunities for me that weren't there before.

I remembered a friend telling me I could perhaps make some money from writing, but wasn't sure how I could go about it. And then the thought occurred to me, cyber security is quite a confusing topic because there is a lot of conflicting information about it, and that if I get the hang of it, I could perhaps write about this topic and writing is something I can do from home, so perhaps I can combine writing and what I learn from my studies into a livelihood, and I thought aye that would be of benefit to others and myself, it would not cause harm, and I liked the idea (-:

This is just a loose plan, and like everything in life, it could change, but the looseness of it gives it some flexibility. And writing it down was a useful exercise, it will help me not forget, and I now have a general direction for right livelihood, which has been something that I have been stuck with for some time. 




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Inner wealth

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 22 Feb 2022, 13:00

Focusing on getting this assignment done for the module I am studying. Fatigue is quite challenging at the moment, I find myself reaching a point where I just have to stop and rest, because the body says: 'Nope'. 

I have been granted a four day extension for the assignment after emailing my tutor, although he didn't reply to let me know I have an extension. I only just found out by checking my assessment tab. He is probably really busy and that's why he didn't reply, either that or doesn't like me very much. I imagine I am just being paranoid with the latter conclusion. 

It is a problem I have where I often feel like others dislike me.I am trying to learn how to have the courage to be disliked, so it doesn't affect me anymore. The thoughts are challenging though, whirring away on loops reminding me I am crap and everyone hates me, I should top myself... blah blah blah, so tiring, and the more I try to stop them the worse they get, like some part of my brain is determined to make me feel miserable. It no doubt comes from past conditioning. 

Meditation has been somewhat helpful in giving me some ability to disengage from the thought processes and just let them happen in the background like any of the other senses without being particularly concerned by them. Maybe it is true that people don't like me much. But I give up trying to please others, it is a miserable existence trying to live like that. I try my best with this difficult mind I have, I'm not perfect, and doubt I ever will be, but I am trying. 

Pain and pleasure; wealth and misfortune; success and failure; praise and blame. These are the eight worldly winds.

Ultimately we are all alone, we are all islands, locked into our minds. I am trying to practise self-compassion and how to be a friend to myself, even when my brain seems determined to be my enemy. I will keep trudging forward and persevere.  

 Anyway quarantine certainly gives me plenty of time to hopefully finish this assignment, it is not easy and the materials are challenging. Still if I can get the hang of it, my career prospects may improve, although energy is a big factor causing me problems just now. Often need to liedown and sleep when the fatigue gets overwhelming. I honestly do not think I will ever be able to work full time again, many of the jobs in Computing and IT are fulltime, but I just can't work the long hours expected, so not sure where all this studying will lead in the end. 

There's not much I can do about it, other than try my best. It is a bloody difficult world at the moment for many of us. Economics is messed up and cost of living is getting ridiculous, perhaps we are heading towards a 'hunger games' society. It is not an easy world to survive in and make a living. But I don't feel like my life has been for nothing, I may not be a success careerwise, but I have discovered the dhamma and the Buddha's teachings in my lifetime, which is more than the majority of people do. And when I die those teachings will be with me, so I won't feel confused or regret for having wasted my life. I might be a loser by worldly material standards, but I very much feel like a winner when it comes to the spiritual life, when it comes to unworldly standards. So despite my financial struggles, my health problems, this life has not been wasted. It has been a turning point, a time of spiritual growth, which in the end is the most important thing of all.


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Wisdom of the sangha

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 14 Dec 2021, 18:28

This is a tough module I am studying (M269). Spent hours trying to understand and answer a question on the TMA. I tried so hard, but had to quit in the end and submit the assignment, leaving the last parts of the question unanswered, I will lose a lot of marks, but I did try my best. I am honestly wondering if I am going to pass this module, it may be that I'll have to resit it again next year if I don't. 

After submitting the assignment, I sat in Zazen over Zoom. I was feeling stressed about a lot of things during the meditation. And felt quite dark in mood while sat there. I was worrying about the assignment; but also anxious about the state of the world and all the crazy stuff happening just now. Sad and mad about seeing species go extinct, something I am witnessing with my own eyes. 

 Then there's the homelessness crisis, in part due to banks kicking people out of their homes due to missing their mortgage payments, not their fault either, these familes lost their income because of the lockdowns. The government is so keen to save lives by treble-vaxxing everyone, yet I can't help but feel if they really were trying to save lives, why don't they help these poor folks trying to survive on the streets in the middle of winter? Why don't they help the old and vulnerable dying in care homes due to staff shortages or dying in NHS hospitals because relatives can no longer afford to pay for their care. I feel afraid of the huge poverty that is coming from the fallout of this pandemic. Why are they doing nothing to help these people who are at risk of death from extreme poverty?

 I also feel so sorry for the refugees. it was horrifying to hear on the news about that large fishing boat that purposely put itself in the way of drowning refugees and the lifeboats trying to save them. How could they be so heartless and cruel. I cannot understand why people can become like that. 

And I am sick to death of all the happy clappy fake plastic smiley corporate advertisements. Sick of all the celebrity bullshit, blah blah blah so what. All this being broadcast while the Earth is in a major crisis right now. I wish the governments of the world would show more enthusiasm, effort and coordination over reversing the sixth mass extinction event than this mass-vaccination campaign. If they can put so many resources, logistics, academics and energy into vaccinating everyone, surely they could do the same for turning this terrifying mass extinction event around, and also help all those suffering from poverty and homelessness. The governments are so fake, them and the media.

I spoke of all my concerns with the Zen group today (one can stay and have a discussion with the group after meditation). They were all very kind and said a lot of helpful things to cheer me up and help me feel better. Reminding me there are lots of good people out there. And although it all seems futile at times, whatever small way we can help others means something to those we help. That one needs to fight back with compassion. They advised me to read about someone called Joanna Macy, saying she was someone who may be a kindred spirit for me in these dark times, and might help me feel some hope and rekindle love and compassion in my heart.

 I also stated to my friends in the sangha that I had made a vow to never take my life no matter how hard things get. After confessing to them that I had felt like doing so. Mainly because I couldn't bare the thought of seeing any more species go extinct, or witness any more refugees drowning at sea, any more war, poverty or suffering, I didn't want to live in the Orwellian, dystopian world we seem to be heading towards. They were happy to hear that I have made a vow to never commit suicide. I feel publicly making this vow and the painting I made to seal it is a kind of protection for me. Because the thoughts do constantly whirl around my head at times, but seeing my painting and remembering my words can help me stay alive I think.  

One bit of advice that stuck out for me was to try and see my negative mood cycles as like being in a womb, a state of becoming. A time to retreat, nurture and take care, not get too overwhelmed with the sorrow of the world, but care for it with a tenderness like one would a growing baby, and all that sorrow can give birth to something beautiful if one is patient and gentle with it. It can become love and compassion instead of anger and hate. The bodhisattva of compassion Avalokiteshivra has many many hands and eyes, and those who have taken the bodhissatva vow are her many eyes and hands in this world.

I was so glad that I sat with them today and that I stayed to chat at the end. I nearly didn't, my mood was so negative I didn't want to bring it into the online zendo, but at the last minute I decided I would sit with them. And it did help, not just me, but the other people there were grateful for the discussion we had at the end, as the words of wisdom shared by the different members of the group seemed to help everyone. 


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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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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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Monday morning

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 30 Sep 2021, 21:40

Got my window open, strong winds from earlier have died down now to a gentle breeze. In sky, seagulls glide by sailiing the air currents. A jackdaw I call 'Blue', because he has a blue sheen to his feathers, comes into my room and helps himself to some food I left out for him. It is cool, I don't mind, I've known him for years. It is like the garden is extended to my room (when the window is open). Helps my mind feel at ease, peaceful inside. Although it gets bloody cold sometimes, think I will go make a coffee to warm up my hands and then get back to the studying and thinking.

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