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Time is Change, Air is Change, Sound is Change.

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I stand watching the ocean and become aware of the sounds happening all around. I notice there is ringing in my ears, but instead of judging it, I just listen to it with gentle curiosity. Noticing how it keeps changing. How sound is change. How sound needs time, it can’t work without it.

We can preserve an image in a moment, but not sound. Without time, sound doesn’t work. What is sound? It is waves of vibrating air molecules hitting the eardrum, which then creates a sense impression in the mind.

I notice the sound of seagulls and feel the breeze and the cool air all around and within me. It feels invigorating, uplifts my mood, and my attention becomes centred on the air element.

Thoughts continue in the background like whispy white noise, and I notice how similar they are to the ringing in the ears, constantly changing. I feel grateful for the freedom to be able to disengage from them, to stop identifying with them. To be able to absorb my attention into something else instead, something more tranquil. Just that in itself can feel like freedom. It is no fun being caught up in the head. Constant thinking can be tiring and feel like torture.

I keep the body still and upright, enjoying the solidity, the weight, the feeling of the earth element grounding me. I feel the earth below spreading out boundless in all directions, and this helps to steady the mind and bring some composure.


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Asoka

The Five Precepts

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023, 21:08

Upāsaka means male lay follower. A female lay follower is called an Upāsikā. We make the determination to follow the five precepts.

These (in no particular order) are:

  • To refrain from false and harmful speech.
  • To refrain from taking the life of any living creature.
  • To refrain from taking what is not given.
  • To refrain from sexual misconduct (misconduct here is defined as infidelity or sexual abuse).
  • To refrain from consuming intoxicants that lead to careless behaviour and breaking the other four precepts.

They aren’t vows or commandments. They are training rules and guidelines that one strives to follow to live a moral life and maintain peace of mind.

The precepts are important for two reasons. First, by keeping them, you are no longer causing harm in society. This means you become a person that others can trust. Which is important. We all know stories of spiritual people who tarnish the reputation of spirituality by behaving in immoral ways.

The other reason is for one’s own benefit. By taking the precepts, one is training the mind to abandon unwholesome tendencies that lead to suffering (both for ourselves and others). By not engaging in immoral activities, one does not become stressed by the unwanted repercussions that come back at you (like a boomerang).

The precepts cover roughly a third of the noble eightfold path (right speech, right action, right livelihood).

The five precepts will also reveal the mental dispositions that keep causing us problems in life.

For instance, my biggest problem was with intoxicants. It was a long, hard struggle for me to become free of those. I used to be an addict and have had problems with substance abuse since I was a kid. I won’t go into details here because it will make this article too long. But I may perhaps share more about that in a future article when I am feeling braver.

Without a foundation in morality, one will struggle to make much progress on the spiritual path. Morality is an important component for developing peace of mind.

Without it, one will also struggle to meditate. Regret and remorse will prevent one from entering the deep states of absorption known as samādhi.



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Asoka

Not Holding On

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 18 Oct 2023, 11:22


Instead of letting go or not clinging. I prefer the term 'not holding onto' that seems to work for me. Just let things be without holding onto them. I can still enjoy things then, and live, but if I don't hold onto them, then I don't have to worry about letting go of them later, because I never became attached. 

I've done some pretty stupid things in my life and made some poor choices. When I try to let go of the regret I feel for that, it doesn't seem to work for me. I find that although I seem to let go for a moment, I find myself clinging again the next moment.

When I think instead about not holding onto anything, then that makes it easier. I don't know why, it means the same thing as not clinging, but a different use of wording has a magic effect on the mind. 

There's nothing to hold onto, everything changes from moment to moment, this moment is already gone, and the next, and the next... and everything and everybody is destined to die one day. I don't mean that to sound depressing. On the contrary, it is a relief to know this. Nothing matters then. One becomes like a peaceful life stream just flowing from one moment to the next without stressing.



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The idea of being a person is a mental construct

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 14 Oct 2023, 18:38

Sometimes, I notice the tendency of the mind to take things personally when things go wrong. Quite amusing really, how the mind assumes everything is about itself. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I sometimes hear people cursing the weather, as if it is a person. Or thanking the universe. This human tendency we have to personalise things.

Anthropomorphism: the attribution of human characteristics or behaviour to a god, animal, or object. -Oxford Language Dictionary

The other animals do something similar I’ve discovered but coming from their perspective. For example, our pets don’t see us as human they attribute feline or canine characteristics to us.

Identifying with things and taking them personally can cause us a lot of suffering. A lot of psychic energy is bound up in the story ‘I am’. When that psychic energy is released. It becomes unbound, limitless. No longer restricted by the rigid boundaries of an identity. Freed from those constraints. It becomes boundless.

Deathless.

A state of mind difficult to define and put into words. To define it is to attach conditions to it, and it is the unconditioned. Words cannot go there. They can only point to it.

...


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Fatigue, Machine Learning, and Mass Extinction

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I feel unwell today. And the body is creaky. Fatigue is challenging. It often defeats me. I really didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. It can be a mission sometimes. Cooking felt like a chore. Did manage to rustle up a meal in the end. It is always a relief when I get that out of the way. I don’t have to worry about cooking again or eating for the rest of the day. I try to eat before 3 p.m. and fast until the next morning.

I am studying machine learning at the moment. Did a recap on Python programming, got lost somewhere in arrays and tensors, and the many ways these can be accessed — before I had to stop and have a rest. I will try to manage it in small doses. Learning new stuff can be painful, especially when it comes to computers. 

There’s a lot of hype about A.I. in the news, but it isn’t what we think it is. We like to attribute human characteristics to it, but it is just a machine, an advanced autonotom. It gets fed lots and lots of training data, and if it makes mistakes, it adjusts itself according to some set parameters. It keeps doing this until it gets better at what it does and makes fewer mistakes. But it takes a long time to get there and a lot of training.

The scary thing is people are giving power to these machines to make important decisions. AI is very efficient at specialist tasks and can do them really fast, but only those specific tasks, and it still can make mistakes, it isn’t 100% right all the time. 

If an AI was to try and live a day as a human being or even as an earthworm. It would struggle and fail. It has no experience of what it is to be a human.

 I guess hype sells. It is the next Silicon Valley gold rush. 

While AI does have the potential to be a useful tool, to become dependent on it to run society would be a huge costly mistake and a disaster waiting to happen. Not because AI is evil and wants to take over the world, and not because it wants to destroy humanity, it has no concept of good or evil. It just obeys instructions and does what you ask it to because it is a mindless machine. 

It’s the way it solves problems that may be dangerous. The solution it comes up with may be unexpected and not what one intended. A.I. has no experience of being a human or what it feels like to have a body. So its solutions can be a bit quirky, and unlike anything a human would have thought up. 

It may also worsen social inequality due to inherent bias in the data it is trained on. As well as hallucinate and make mistakes. Not to mention the huge amount of electricity that is needed to run these machines, and the materials used to make them, how that is harming the environment. The truth of the matter is they are designed to make corporations wealthy, not really about making society or the planet better. 

AI is not what we imagine it is when we interact with it. It is not like us, it’s a bunch of algorithms and artificial neurons, and nowhere near as advanced as a human being.

Maybe one day it may get that advanced, who knows, but it is not there yet. 

There are computer chips now in development that use human lab-grown brain cells, called neuromorphic chips, which could have the potential to become sentient. They are being designed because they are more efficient at using electricity. But it is rather creepy, and I am surprised scientists were even allowed to do this. If these part biological machines do become sentient, it would be cruel, as the corporations that made them will claim ownership over them and of course, deny they are sentient. It raises all sorts of ethical quandaries.

Still, humans may not survive long enough to see really advanced AI, especially with the way modern consumerism is consuming the planet. Greed is insatiable, and all this industrial pollution is not just affecting the wildlife, it is affecting us too, our biology. We are part of the natural world, what kills ecosystems, also kills us.

 ...


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Asoka

Grasping Karma

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If someone does evil, don’t feel you have to punish or hate them. That will only hurt you. The universe has a way of balancing things out, and those who do wrong will eventually face the consequences of their actions. Either in this life or a future one. Nobody escapes their karma, not even those who are enlightened.

The difference between the enlightened and the unenlightened is that the enlightened don’t add any more to their karma. They do not hold onto the greed, hate, or delusion associated with it. By not holding onto it there is nowhere in the mind for it to land and take root. And the karma ends right there, in that moment because the enlightened being does nothing that will cause it to rise again.

Everything we do has an effect on the mind and leaves traces on it. The tendencies we indulge in become our karma. They grow and gather a momentum of their own, whether they are good or bad. 

Knowing this, a wise person cultivates wholesome tendencies. 


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Duck 'em

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 11 Oct 2023, 19:56


Be like a broken gong when it comes to the opinions of the world. The words may strike the mind but they don't have to reverberate inside. Let the opinions of fools be like water falling off a duck’s back. 

Perceive the voice of a worldling as if it is the wind blowing through leaves, or the strange vocalisations of a creature that arises and ceases. Just sound, nothing more.

One doesn't have to follow the herd if it's going in the wrong direction. Choose your own way.



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The Effects of Kindness are Incalculable

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 7 Oct 2023, 10:55


We may not be able to change the universe, but we do have the capacity to change ourselves. We can direct our thoughts and actions. Which means we can make informed choices. And if the choices we make are based on the right view of things, which is that there are some actions that lead to good outcomes, and other actions that lead to bad outcomes. Then that becomes a condition that can bring about the end of suffering.

In a nutshell, greed, hate, and delusion are what lead to bad outcomes; and generosity, kindness, and clarity are what lead to good outcomes.

When we become more aware, we start to wise up and notice the recurring patterns and cycles that lead to unhappiness. We become more aware of our triggers and how we respond to things; aware of how our reaction can either lead to more suffering or can lead to peace. We can then choose (intend) to react differently to our circumstances, guided by wisdom and discernment.

Unfortunately, the world is dependent on conditions, it is uncertain and changing. We can’t do much about that. But we can change the way we react to it. Choose to be kind, and not let the darkness take away our light. Then our peace remains unshaken by things outside our control. We don’t have to go along with the stream of the world and do what others do. We can choose to be different. This is where our power lies.

A Zen teacher told a story about a lady on a checkout who went out of her way to help a customer. He was in the queue watching her kindness, and it touched him deeply. It moved him enough to talk about it in a dharma talk, which I and many others attended. And now I am writing about it here in this article. The person who performed that act of kindness created ripples that she is completely unaware of. This is why the results of any act of genuine kindness are incalculable. Who can predict where they will lead, what changes they can make, and who they may affect? By changing ourselves, we can change the world without trying to change the world.




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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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Writing, Medium, A.I., Dhamma, Art, and not Living on Fresh Air Alone

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 5 Oct 2023, 21:56


Have been writing a lot on Medium. I like it that they have decided to set the default flag to 'no' for allowing A.I. to train on the site's content. 

I don't know if putting writing behind a paywall also helps to protect one's writing from being fed into a large language model, but I have decided to do that now. I put my best polished work on there.

Medium encourages one to work hard on their articles, which is good, and the financial incentive does work as a carrot on a stick to work harder at carefully crafting my articles, especially when submitting to a publication (magazine) on there. The editors of publications I have got feedback from have been really helpful in me improving my writing.

I don't think it is fair that A.I. companies are just hoovering everyone's content off the Internet to train their machines without asking permission or compensating authors for it. Especially as these companies are for-profit. Using people's hard work to make money, without acknowledging them or sharing any of the profits with the artists whose work they've used is wrong.

Another thing that concerns me, is if enough of your content is fed into the machines, they can start to mimic your style. And that could be used by people wanting to market and promote stuff, (stuff you might not agree with), and to create propaganda, and deep fakes. That gives me the creeps. We are entering a world were noone will know what is true anymore. People will be smeared by deep fakes that look real, and those who are not victims of deep fakes will claim to be, when something true is reported about them that they don't want people to know. It is a very disturbing and troubling world we are heading towards. One were critical thinking will be invaluable. 

The sad thing is we are all conditioned to believe what we see on a screen. So one is going to have to be very careful about what they trust in the future. Now in fact, the future is already here.

I am about to study A.I. for the next module on this degree. I am not sure I am well enough to work in an office again, or do long hours, or if I want to work for companies that steal people's data to make money. I am hoping to make a livelihood with writing, as that's where I feel passion when it comes to making a living. But it won't hurt to learn about how A.I. and machine learning works, and I also may be able to make a living writing articles about it in the future. So studying this will not be a waste of my time.

I like writing about dhamma mostly (dhamma means truth), even though it isn't that popular, I feel that others may benefit from it, even if my writing just helps one person it's worth it.

Also a few Buddhist friends and a Buddhist monk encouraged me to write, so I will do it for them as well.

And because of the love of it. Because I find putting things into words cathartic. Attempting to articulate things helps me understand them better.

I also want to write more poetry, and more about the environmental catastrophe facing the world, the sixth mass extinction event we are currently living in, and the disturbing social issues of today; but in a way that doesn’t come across as a rant or judgemental. I don’t want to put readers off, I want to connect with them.
I want to find a way to write that helps this world in some way.

Money is helpful though, don't get me wrong, I can’t live on fresh air; but if I use money as the motivation it can kill my ability to write and make art, I don't know why, so I have to pretend I am not bothered about money, even though earning feels very nice. But I have to be careful as it gives Mara, the dark side of the force, a foot in the door to wind me up and upset the balance of my mind.

I shouldn't worry too much about it though. For all I know, my time here might be short. It would be a shame to die without having at least tried to share some of what I know. It might help someone else out there.

Peace and love to all beings.

May we all be serene and boundless.



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The Heart of the Matter

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 4 Oct 2023, 21:56


The world judges by outward appearances.

But it's what's on the inside that counts.

...

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Asoka

The Sea is Dying

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Sunday, 1 Oct 2023, 14:16


an abstract painting depicting sea spirits
Ocean Spirits. Painted by the author, Asoka

The Sea is Dying

A poem — In memory of the weird and wonderful creatures that once inhabited the ocean here.

Marine life has all but disappeared.
Once this ocean was teeming with it.
Now it’s like a watery desert.
A graveyard.
Holding the Spirit memories of
a myriad creatures 
that once inhabited it.

The curse of
Over-fishing
The industrial trawler.

Dredging and
salmon farming.

Pollution
of mammon.

Hungry seabirds die
with stomachs 
full of plastic waste.
Their feathers and bones 
wrapped in rotting seaweed
and tangled up fishing line.

Shellfish are dying, and the
numbers of molluscs grow fewer.

I place my hand on the water
and channelling the aliveness within
I wish the ocean well.
For life to thrive in her again.

An abstract painting of someone placing their hand on the ocean
Painted by the author, Asoka

Weeks later, I felt hope.

Schools of baby fish swam next to the seawall.
Mackerel, an eel, some dogfish, and a flounder, too.
I saw a hermit crab and a starfish — haven’t seen those in years.
Excited, I went there every day to watch them.

But weeks later, 
They’re now mostly gone.
Many are dead.
And my hope with them.

Why does this modern world 
have to cause so much harm?

Why can’t we live
with care and respect 
for the other beings
we share this planet with.

This rare precious 
jewel of life 
Spinning
in the cosmos.

It’s their home too.

-Asoka


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Sickness Became my Teacher When I Changed my Perception About it

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 30 Sep 2023, 22:24


They say the body is a temple. I contemplate this as I sit here in stillness, connecting with the aliveness within. This mysterious vibrating energy. This interdependent flow. It's a causal stream that's different from one moment to the next. Physics tells us that energy is neither created nor destroyed. It just changes form.

A crow 'caws' in a nearby tree. And some jackdaws 'chack' excitedly. A pigeon coos. And a neighbour drives past in their car. All these are different expressions of life.

The air feels cool and refreshing. Each breath an intimate connection to the air element and also to life. Without air, we soon die.

I am sick today. The body feels weak and fatigued. There's a fever, and a thorny bush in my chest and throat. And I notice that wishing for the illness to go away just makes things feel worse. It adds mental suffering on top of the physical.

---

"When touched with a feeling of pain, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person sorrows, grieves, & laments, beats his breast, becomes distraught. And he feels two pains, physical & mental. Just as if someone were to shoot a man with an arrow, and right afterward, the man shoots himself with another one, so that he would feel the pains of two arrows; in the same way, when touched with a feeling of pain, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person sorrows, grieves, & laments, beats his breast, becomes distraught. So he feels two pains, physical & mental." - SN 36.6

---

I can't do much about physical suffering, but the mental suffering I do have some degree of control over. I have the ability to change the way I talk to myself about the experience. Doing this can have a powerful effect on the mind. The stories I tell myself have the power to alter my perception. And perception is the bridge between the physical and the mental.

I can tell myself not to let this experience be a problem. There's not much I can do about it anyway, so what's the point in adding more suffering on top of it. I can just let these unpleasant feelings in the body be as they are and not take them personally. Choose not to feel any hostility towards them. I can choose to be compassionate towards myself instead and show kindness to the body. It is nothing personal. All living beings get sick. It is a dhamma that is largely outside my control.

---

When you can't do anything to change what is happening.
Challenge yourself to change your response to what's happening.
That's where your power is. '
- the Buddha

---

I can choose to let that which is sensed be only that which is sensed. Without labels, without the story. It just becomes sensations and feelings then. And I can go into a flow state just sitting here and watching them arise, persist for a time, and pass away. Like someone sitting serenely on a riverbank under a tree. Watching the contents of the mind flow by like a river. But not jumping in and getting involved with it, not getting swept away by the current.

Being sick is not my preference, but we're seldom given those in life. We have to work with the hand the universe has dealt us. And most of us get a pretty average hand. But still, we have to make choices. Life is the game that must be played.

Some people's gardens are rockier than others, but rock gardens can be beautiful.

We each have to do the best we can with what we've got.

And those who are given much have a great responsibility to use what they have been given wisely.

Be careful what you wish for.

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Be your own Guru, your own refuge

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 25 Sep 2023, 15:09


It’s been a weird few days, man, not being feeling quite myself. Got a bit of a low-grade fever and no medicine. Practising the way of managing painful feelings without taking them personally or getting caught up in the longing, irritability, and delusion about them. Just letting that which is sensed be that which is sensed without adding more to it than what’s already there.

I think making a livelihood out of writing is going to be difficult, a long uphill journey, but I will persevere. One day, it will mature and bear fruit, I am sure.

Sometimes people can be a bit offish with me, and I don’t know why. Sometimes Christian friends get a bit weird with me, I guess, because they feel mistrust because I am a Buddhist. The thing is, Buddhism is just a path that leads to the end of sorrow and suffering, to the end of greed, hate, and delusion. Whether you are theist or atheist, you can walk this path. Indeed, there are many Christian Buddhists out there.

Whatever helps you to row your boat up the stream (-:

I used to be a Christian long ago. But I lost faith in that religion. I disagree that one has to put all their hope into a saviour. People then become less inclined to put in the effort needed to become a Christ themselves. Believing some supreme being will do the work for them. But doesn’t the word ‘Christian’ imply they are to be like Christ on Earth?

I don’t think depending on another being to be your saviour is how this universe works. I think God helps those who help themselves. In Buddhism, one very much has to pull oneself up by their bootstraps and make effort, noone else can do that for you. You can be a theist or an atheist and still be a Buddhist. A belief in a supreme being is not part of the path. You learn to become your own saviour.


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White feathers

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 21 Sep 2023, 20:45


I am enjoying writing and reading on Medium, and I have joined a publication on there called: 'Mystic Minds' that publishes articles on spirituality, and a story I wrote was published there today. I feel quite chuffed about it (-: My first article in a publication. 

I know it will be a long journey, and I am only just starting really, but I feel like writing is what I am meant to be doing. I find writing cathartic.

I keep seeing pristine white feathers on the path in front of me everywhere I walk. People kept telling me to look out for signs after my Dad died. I didn't have clue what they were talking about. But I wonder if these white feathers are my Dad telling me I am going in the right direction with my writing, I don't know. 

I feel my Dad's presence sometimes, it feels like he is with me. I miss him so much. I had another bout of tears earlier, and just now actually writing this wee article; but it is reassuring to know he is okay. I feel his support in the spirit world. And whenever I do something kind or generous I try to remember to dedicate it in his memory, and say a little prayer for him.

I feel blessed at the moment. 


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New blog post

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 21 Sep 2023, 08:35


Dhamma isn't that popular, the vast majority of people don't want to get enlightened, there are a few that do, but most don't. I have little passion for writing about much else though, the world just doesn't interest me anymore. The elephant in the room when it comes to worldly success is: Death.

One works hard for what? In the end all that one has achieved gets taken away. Sometimes quite suddenly, people can die unexpectedly both young and old. For me, death, is the most pressing concern. It renders everything else meaningless.

The world also changes quite rapidly and things one worked hard to learn years ago, are no longer relevant now, automation makes learning skills feel pointless. The ups and downs of the economy mean banks and countries can go bankrupt. Placing all your hopes in a career or finance is a risky bet, and in the end the house always wins, Mara (death) takes all. Even our memories get taken away from us, or change.

The only thing that I really like to write about is dhamma, and connection. But even friendships don't last, these too are impermanent, friends come and go. People change, relationships break. Placing all one's hopes in connection is also a risky bet.

The only thing that feels like it is worth making effort for is the dhamma. That's why I work so hard at practising it. For me it is the only thing that matters now. Life is uncertain. But if I can get enlightened then I will have found something secure, something that can't be taken away by Mara.

Death comes for all, and when it comes for me, I will take refuge in the dhamma.

 

...

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Iluminating wisdom

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 18 Sep 2023, 22:06


I am learning to become more aware of the mental dispositions that cause sorrow and suffering. With repetive practice, not giving up, being knocked down and getting up again repeatedly. My awareness is getting stronger, and I am becoming less ignorant of these tendencies of the mind. I think as I become less ignorant, I will wise up to them more, and as I wise up to them, I will feel less inclined to go along with them, which will make it is easier to let go of them.

I have encountered a few situations today that would normally make me angry, but I was mindful and even though I felt the anger arise in me, I saw how it would lead to suffering in the end and chose not to go along with it, to just drop it. The same can be done with longing and conceit. 

Not saying it is easy. I think it is like a muscle that gets stronger the more you use it. It takes many hours of practise to fully uproot ignorance. It can be done in one lifetime, but it can also take many of them. There will also be many failures on the way. 

Another thing I am learning is it is very easy to have a profound meditation experience and think you are enlightened afterwards. Sadly, this wears off, and then when a difficult life event happens, one soon discovers just how unenlightened they are. 

It is a very humbling experience when this happens, but it can also be a great teacher. Never punish yourself for making mistakes. We all do it. There isn’t a single human on Earth who hasn’t made them. Even the Buddha himself made some daft mistakes on his journey to enlightenment. 

The difference is, as awareness grows (with practise), one learns to look at mistakes differently and develop from them, making them part of the path. One learns how to turn something bad into something good. Our failures then become the fertiliser that ripens the fruit. So don't despair. We can learn from it all. 

 Dōgen defined a Buddha as someone who has great realisation of delusion.

...

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Trying to work out a way to make an income with writing

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 16 Sep 2023, 19:00


Decided to have a go at writing on Medium. Have joined it as a paid member, it costs a fiver a month.
I get paid a small amount of money when other members read my articles for longer than 30 seconds. Some people on there make a good income from it. But not sure I will make much money from it, still I thought I'd give it a go, no harm in trying, I need to generate an income somehow.

I think it takes a while before one generates a decent income on it, perhaps a few years. I haven't got much stuff on there yet, and the articles I've posted so far are ones I've also posted on here.

I am working on writing exclusive content for it though, and that will go behind a paywall. I don't feel comfortable about putting my articles behind a paywall, but I am sick of being skint.

Quite a few people have encouraged me to have a go at making an income via my writing, so I am going to try.

Anyway this is the link: https://medium.com/@richiecuthbertson

I have also created a 'buy me a coffee', page so readers of my blog can buy me a coffee if they want to;  although I may not spend the money on coffee (-:

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/sorrowless

I will of course continue to post stuff on here, just some articles will be exclusive to medium.

Stay tuned...

peace and love

May you all be safe, well, serene, and happy!



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The Revolutionary

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 15 Sep 2023, 11:33


This world is not easy. Poverty is hard. It is so challenging to make ends meet these days. The cost of living is high, and finding a way to generate an income feels impossible. Every door I open seems to get slammed in my face. Especially when suffering with health problems, it is hard to put in the hours needed to survive. The gig economy is a joke, working for peanuts, and the competition is fierce.

Many who do find work are exploited and dehumanised. Society is broken. Greed has destroyed it.

And then there’s the heartbreak of watching the natural world go extinct. I have watched it here. The decline of insects. Species of wildlife have disappeared. The sea here, just over a decade ago, was full of life. Now it is like a watery desert.

Then there’s war, refugees fleeing the horror of it, only to be greeted by coldness and hostility at the places they seek sanctuary, the places where many of the weapons that destroyed their countries are manufactured. Many dying on their arduous journey to get there.

What a Hellish world we’ve created. Economics is a joke. It is no longer fit for purpose. The wealthy don’t understand what it is like for those in poverty. They patronise us and tell us to work hard. Clueless as to how hard people are working to keep them seated on their perches while they shit on us.

I long to escape this madness. Is one of the things that drives me to seek enlightenment. I never want to come back to this world again. It is a slaughterhouse. A horrible place full of cruelty.

Sorry to be so negative and to rant. The problem with this world is greed, hatred, and delusion. That is the destructive force behind it all. And it doesn’t come from outside ourselves, it comes from within us.

The goal of Buddhist practise is the uprooting of greed, hate, and delusion from the mind. This the Buddha said is the end of suffering, the end of sorrow, the end of stress, grief, and emotional pain. Nibbana/nirvana, the deathless, lasting happiness, perfect peace, and Buddhist enlightenment is what is left behind when the mind is liberated from greed, hate, and delusion.

To strive for this is a noble act, especially nowadays when there’s so much poverty and inequality, when much life on this planet is going extinct. It is a compassionate thing to do for ourselves and others, including the myriad beings we share this planet with. And perhaps the most compassionate thing we can do for future generations who will inherit this Hell we’re creating.

We are not completely powerless. We may not be able to change the greed, hatred, and delusion out there in the world. But we can change it in ourselves. This is where our power lies.

And as each of us changes ourselves, we gradually change the world around us. It becomes a domino effect. For the evil currently destroying our world is dependent on causes and conditions.

This is what gives me hope. All conditioned phenomena are interdependent. Including our economic system that is causing so much harm not just to society but to the many other beings we share this planet with. If enough people choose to overcome the greed, hatred, and delusion within themselves, the world will change for the better, this is the real revolution.

...

Music video by Tracey Chapman "Talkin' About A Revolution"



...

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Bad beat

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 13 Sep 2023, 19:53


Life can be unpleasant
Dark times happen
whether I like it or not

Exams are cruel.

I woke up sick
Struggled.

I am not sure I will pass.

Not just the academic exam.
But the exam of life.
I failed in every aspect today.

Got angry this morning.
Couldn’t let go of it.
The horrible mood was sticky like glue.
And the body felt like shit.
A fatigued mind.
With all lucidity gone.

The thirst for non-existence was strong.

I burst into tears at one point.
This world can be harsh.
I hate money
Hate economics
Hate poverty.

I can’t get my head around it at all.
I long to escape.


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Mind Storms

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 12 Sep 2023, 22:37


It has been a dark few days within this fathom length body.

This morning I was once again pummelled by the dark forces of the kilesas (greed, hate, conceit, and delusion). They have become my relentless teachers these days. They hit me with everything they got today. Brought me to tears if I am honest.

Revealing to me just how much work there is still left to do on this mind.

I attended a dharma inquiry this evening that really seemed to hit the nail on the head of how I was feeling. I left seeing things more clearly.

I now understand this Buddhist practise is not just about the intellect, it is as much about the heart. Both work together. Complement one another.

Cool head, warm heart.

Friendship is important, as challenging as it can feel at times to relate to others, it teaches me things I miss when practising alone. I think I am a mix of classical Buddhism and Zen, although not the authoritarian kind of Zen. The friendly Zen (-:

I am not really into the Bodhisattva vow, though I respect it. I just feel uncertain about vowing. 

I have decided I want to go for full enlightenment, and if I reach that, it will be impossible to help all beings then; but that does not mean I don't feel love for them, I feel compassion, and when wise enough I will try to keep the true dhamma alive for future generations, if I live that long. I want to help as many beings as I can. But not proselytising,  not conceited, just living from the heart, and out of compassion teaching those who ask, and only when asked.

But I am getting ahead of myself, I still have much to learn before I realise that lofty aspiration.

I have a three hour exam tomorrow on the topic of cyber security. I am not looking forward to it. Wish me luck!

May all be safe, well, peaceful, and 😊




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Happiness more spiritual than the spiritual

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" And what, bhikkhus, is happiness more spiritual than the spiritual? When a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed reviews his mind liberated from lust, liberated from hatred, liberated from delusion, there arises happiness. This is called happiness more spiritual than the spiritual.

~ S 36.31 (Bhikkhu Bodhi trans.)


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The four roads to psychic power

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 11 Sep 2023, 22:39



Four Bases of Psychic Power (satara iddhipada)

Desire or zeal (chanda)

Effort (viriya)

Mind (citta)

Investigation (vimamsa)


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Like a tusker in the wild

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I am going through another dark night. I feel this oppressive vibe crushing down on my mind. I am trying not to take it personally. It felt like some people were being a bit off with me today, but I am determined not to let other’s moods affect mine.

If other people judge me, well that’s their problem. I know I have been far from perfect in the past, but that is the past. It is not who I am now, I am not the same person I was back then.

I have done my best to learn from past mistakes but reliving them over and over is not going to help anyone. The best thing I can do is resolve never to make those same mistakes again and move on, keep persevering on the noble eightfold path. Turn something bad into something good. That’s how I make amends and put right the bad kamma from the past. But I won’t punish myself anymore for mistakes I made when I was younger. I was ignorant and didn’t know any better. It is cruel to punish oneself for the past. Noone can go back and change it. What good does it do to continually relive it. I am not that person anymore. I’ve changed.

I will just allow myself to be misunderstood by others without worrying about correcting them. I know what’s in my heart and where I am in my spiritual development, as do my deva friends. What others think of me is their business. I don’t have to take on board anyone else’s negativity. I am not responsible for what others think. I am only responsible for what I think. And I don’t want to think negative thoughts or feel ill will.

I remember something a Buddhist teacher said once, that when difficulties like this arise, remember it is just the Buddha testing you, to see how far gone you are (-:

I have been here before, and the dark night usually happens just before I am about to make a sudden transition and make progress. It often feels darkest just before the light returns and becomes brighter still.

The dark night can be a sign one is making progress on the spiritual journey. I am getting familiar with this pattern. What I must do is try very hard not to react to it. No matter how uncomfortable and agitated I feel. I must not say or do anything I will regret later. Try to find some stillness and equanimity.

The truth is that I am the cause of my suffering, no one else is. It is the craving within me that causes my problems. The greed, hate, delusion, ignorance, and conceit. It isn’t something outside the mind, it is something within it. And that means I have the power to change it.

 If I react to the dark night, it will only increase the tendency of the mind to react negatively to it again in the future. But by choosing not to react, to patiently endure the unpleasant feelings and practise the four right efforts. That negative tendency of the mind gets weaker, and the power of right effort and mindfulness gets stronger.

This world can make you feel ashamed to be alone. But it is okay to be alone. I can be my own best friend. My own teacher, my own refuge. There’s great power in seeing that.

The noble eightfold path goes against the stream of this modern world, and the further one gets on the path, the lonelier it can feel.

 It has always been that way though, only the minority of people search for the higher paths and fruits. The majority just want the world and are content to spend their days chasing after sense-impressions and never going beyond that. But I no longer find excitement in the world. The things I used to enjoy; I have lost interest in now. I hunger for higher things. For nibbana, for liberation from craving, relief from the pain of wanting.

And this spiritual hunger is not a bad thing. Some people criticise me for having the desire to liberate the mind. But the Buddha encouraged it, he talked about right desire, he called it chanda. If one does not aspire to realise nibbana, one will never make effort, and if one never makes effort, one will never realise the paths and fruits of enlightenment. Effort is fuelled by desire. It’s what keeps you walking. It is only when the work has been done, that one lets go of the desire for liberation.

Do not be afraid to be alone. Sometimes solitude is the wisest course of action to take when the world is on fire with greed, hate and delusion. Sometimes solitude is the only way to make progress on the path.

In the words of the Buddha:

If you find an alert companion, a wise and virtuous friend, then, overcoming all adversities, wander with them, joyful and mindful.

If you find no alert companion, no wise and virtuous friend, then, like a king who flees his conquered realm, wander alone like a tusker in the wilds.

It’s better to wander alone, than have fellowship with fools. Wander alone and do no wrong, at ease like a tusker in the wilds.

[MN128] 

https://suttacentral.net/mn128








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The Buddha's teaching to Vaccha

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Sunday, 10 Sep 2023, 18:07


Vaccha, “speculative view” is something that the Tathāgata has put away. 

For the Tathāgata, Vaccha, has seen this:

 “Such is material form, such its origin, such its disappearance.
Such is feeling, such its origin, such its disappearance.
Such is perception, such its origin, such its disappearance.
Such are mental formations, such their origin, such their disappearance.
Such is consciousness, such its origin, such its disappearance.”

 Therefore, I say, with the destruction, fading away, cessation, giving up, and relinquishing of all conceivings, all musings, all I-making, mine-making, and the underlying tendency to conceit, the Tathāgata is liberated through not clinging.

~ M 72.15 (Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli & Bhikkhu Bodhi trans. With the word 'excogitations' changed to 'musings' by Upasaka Asoka.)






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