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What is time?

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 19 Jan 2022, 10:16

I am practising regular meditation at the moment. And currently doing three sittings a day, one in the morning, one at noon, and one in the evening. Just for 30 minutes each time, although I am contemplating the idea of doing a 2 hour long sit on a Sunday afternoon, as I want to experiment with sitting for longer to see if it will help me settle into deeper states of serenity. Out of the three daily sittings, the morning one is the hardest, I often battle with drowsiness in the first sitting (even with coffee) and I was experimenting this morning with trying to remain lucid during the drowsy surreal states of mind that arise when one is on the edge of sleep. I sometimes experience what are known as hypnagogic hallucinations just as I am about to doze off which alters my perception a bit and things can get quite weird, so I practise staying still and being mindful during those experiences, which can generate some interest in what is happening and help me stay awake.

The easiest of the three meditations is the evening one I find, I seem to feel a much stronger connection between mind and body and a greater depth of stillness and can feel energy that at times feels otherwordly but profoundly peaceful, with some interesting visual effects behind closed eyelids. The evening meditation also seems to go by the fastest, and I am often suprised by how quickly the time seems to go in the evening sitting. The morning meditation however seems to drag on, one minute can feel like ten and it can be very challenging to stay sat there. 

It is interesting how one's perception of time changes, and how the mind seems to be able to alter how slow or quickly the passage of time goes by, but only relative to one's mind, everyone else's perception of time is not effected by ours. I am reminded of how Einstein said that time is relative, that time can be a unique experience to us all. This goes quite deep when you think about other species of life. Plants for example have a completely different sense of time to us humans. Their world seems very slow to us, but to them it is normal. Birds apparently experience time seven times faster than we do, and insects even more so, to insects we appear to move very slowly. And there are apparently bacteria that live deep under the ocean floor that are as old as 100 million years and reproduce once every 10 000 years.Yet despite our differences in speed, to each species of life their experience of time feels normal.

An interesting thing that I experimented with one time in music was slowing down bird song, and when I did this it sounded like a human singing, and vice versa when I sped up the human voice it sounded like a bird singing. I saw one time on a documentary that when humans are sped up seven times faster than normal on camera their movement looks similar to the movement of birds.

Perception of time is an interesting phenomenon, time really is relative. But one thing we can all be sure of, is whatever species of life - time comes for all.



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Mental renovation

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 21 Jan 2022, 21:37

Fear is a strong emotion, not an easy one to work with. I got bitten by a large dog last night. It was on a leash and I was just walking past it on the street, when it suddenly turned after I had walked past and bit me hard on the back of the knee, drawing blood. The owner was apologetic. But dazed and in shock I just said: "What was that all about?" She looked worried and kept asking me if I was okay, and I saw the dog coming for me again and I just backed away and said again: "What was that all about?" Then turned and walked home as fast as I could. 

When I got home I cleaned the wound, which was quite nasty, with mouth shaped teeth marks, it looked like a shark bite. I put some antiseptic ointment on it and practised letting go of any feelings of ill-will towards the dog or the owner, and instead practised wishing them goodwill. Although I feel maybe I should mention to the dog owner next time I see her that a muzzle for the dog might be a good idea in case it bites someone else; as next time it could be a child or an elderly person. 

The incident has left me feeling somewhat anxious about going outside though, and I was brave enough in the end to go for a walk today, but didn't walk far due to my knee being a bit painful, and also I felt paranoid about any big dogs I saw about, feeling mistrust towards them. I was relieved to get home and shut the door. I think I was still in shock and kept wondering why the dog attacked me. I wonder if it is karma from a past life. I know that practising the spiritual life does not make you immune to past karma. I read that even enlightened beings still have to deal with negative karma from their past, even the Buddha himself did.

Reflecting on equanimity and dependent origination, I understand that unpleasant things can and will still happen to one, and being on the spiritual path does not take one beyond this.

I find myself facing yet another dharma gate. And find my courage is a bit weak suddenly, I feel a distinct lack of confidence today. I am trying to look at it as a spiritual test, maybe the Buddha is testing me. So I am determined not to believe the stories my negative depressed mind comes up with, I have learnt listening to these stories leads to erroneous thinking, so I can't trust those thoughts. I am realising more and more that our delusions come from the way we narrate our experience of life - how we talk to ourselves. 

The stories we tell ourselves about experience programmes our unconscious minds. So I am going to try and feed my unconscious mind clear information about reality and also feed it wholesome stories about letting go, clarity, loving-kindness, compassion, generosity and equanimity, so that this becomes automatic behaviour instead of the old unhelpful habits of the past. 

Reprogramming the unconscious mind is hard work and tricky, because it goes against the grain, its like trying to teach yourself to fold your arms in a different way, it feels uncomfortable. The mind does not like to let go of well-entrenched habits and clings to them even if they are not helpful. 'Neurons that fire together wire together', and once wired there's a strong resistance to rewiring them, but with enough repetitive practise, persistence and patience it can be done, one can change one's mind and automatic behaviour by telling ourselves a different story about reality, one based on lucidity and clear-seeing, and kindness towards oneself and others. 

I can't seem to stop the automatic thoughts that appear: delusions of grandeur, the inner critic, the low self-esteem, the strange weird invasive thoughts that remind me of how crazy I am, the self loathing; but I keep working at interrupting those thought patterns (gently and with kindness), encouraging myself to tell a different story, and it does feel uncomfortable and at times like asking the impossible, but each time I do I am training my mind, and it gets a little bit stronger, a little bit steadier, and a little bit freer. The new enlightenment grooves will slowly and gradually get more habitual. And by training myself to let go of the old negative conditioning when it arises, and replacing it with a new story; I will teach myself slowly but surely to not take personally the events caused by an impersonal universe.

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Nibanna

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 6 Jan 2022, 21:08

Knowledge and serenity practise are like two wings of a bird 🕊️

Nourished, well cared for and balanced they can take one to the liberating insight of nibanna. 

What is nibanna?

It is said to be a liberated state of mind that cannot be reversed.
Like what fire becomes when it no longer clings to its fuel.
The breaking of the 12 links of dependent origination.
Something permanent in an impermanent universe.
Something secure that cannot be taken away.
The mind freed from greed, hatred, and delusion.
A radiant samhadi.
Luminous with generosity, kindness and clarity.
A safe haven where one can finally know peace.
Emancipation from grief and suffering.
Final liberating knowledge here and now.
And the realisation of the eightfold path.

At least that's my understanding.

A seagull flying above some hills and the sea.

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Why I write this blog

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 30 Dec 2021, 23:07

Don't worry I am not trying to convert anyone to Buddhism by writing on here. There is absolutely no obligation to do that as a Buddhist; there's no door-knocking evangelical stuff in Buddhism at all thankfully. I just merely write about it because:

a) it helps me to write down my thoughts to see where my current understanding is by attempting to put it into words, and a personal blog is a good place to do this.
b) I really don't have all that much else going on in my life. I live what most would consider to be quite a boring life (-:
c) This is what I think about and practise most of the time so is naturally what I will tend to write about.
d) Some of what I write might be helpful to others and some may find it interesting.
e) The practise has enriched my life in so many different ways and I feel immense gratitude for it, it has been a real help for me and I feel a natural inclination to want to share the benefits of what I have learned with others, especially during these dark times that many are experiencing around the world just now; but I do so with the understanding that people can take it or leave it and I have no interest in trying to convince anyone or change people, or prove I am right or anything like that.

What people do with their lives is up to them, we are all responsible for our own actions, and it is up to each individual to make their own choices in life.

Of course if anyone does find any of what I write interesting and wants to know more, I highly recommend seeking out an experienced teacher of Buddhism and also a sangha to be a part of so one can learn about it properly and have some wise spiritual friends to support one. There are many different Buddhist communities hosting programs and events online at the moment that one can be a part of for free without needing to travel anywhere, it is amazing really. All one needs is a device that can go online and an Internet connection.

Wishing everyone well for the coming year. Hope it is an enriching time for you all.

Much love 

Richie

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Happy new year to everyone

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 3 Jan 2022, 13:50

Next year will be a bit different for me. I will be taking part in the Upasaka/Upasika 2022 training program under Ajahn Sona starting January 1st.

So it will be a new beginning for me as Upasaka Richie. And this post is like me wiping the slate of the past with the intention of being much more careful of what I say and do from now on. 

I have taken the five precepts which are:

No killing
No stealing
No lying or harmful speech
No sexual misconduct
No intoxicants that make me careless

They are not commandments. They are there to protect one, and to help one have a clear mind that is not plagued by regret or worry over past misdeeds. With a clear and peaceful mind one can then go deeper into spiritual practise and meditation. 

 I never thought I would actually get this far on the spiritual path. I am a bit nervous and will try hard not to let anyone down. Although I understand it is normal to make mistakes, and so will not beat myself up about my past errors, everyone makes mistakes, it is one of the ways we learn, and grow into wiser people. Noone is perfect, and if there are any perfect people in this world they are few and far between and they didn't get there without making a few mistakes themselves. Some of the Buddha's disciples did far worse things than any of us would ever dream of doing, yet they changed their ways and got enlightened - remembering that gives me hope. Thankfully there's a lot of forgiveness and grace on the path, and if one is trying their best then others can see that and don't abandon or judge you. There's a lot of support both seen and unseen in the spiritual life.

I am going to be training with another 108 people from around the world. And we are all just starting to get to know one another through email and discussion groups and I look forward to deepening my practise and growing with them in the coming year. This is a big deal for me to commit to Buddhism like this, I have always stood on the sidelines not wanting to plant my flag anywhere; but I feel the time is right now. And am looking forward to it. 

Wishing everyone else the best for 2022.

Upasaka Richie


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Everything changes

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Sunday, 26 Dec 2021, 19:43

I find this time of year a bit challenging. I feel depressed just now. Am a bit sick as well, no idea if it is covid, couldn't give a shit if it is. I am isolating myself just in case though as do not want to pass it on to anyone else, so just talking to family on zoom. It is a very mild illness, although my glands are swollen to Hell and I am a bit light-headed and weak on my feet. Some part of me doesn't care though. I honestly don't mind if I live or die, if I die now I will just see it as a mercy and try to feel equanimity instead of a negative state of mind. Mindstate is important at death as that is the seed that becomes your next life. 

It is getting harder and harder to survive in this world anyway. I am struggling to get anywhere with right livelihood and I can't work full-time due to my health problems and mood swings, it is tough to stay afloat and tiring trying to. I am not the only one, there are many of us who are feeling this way all around the world. It is a tough world just now and not getting any easier. Many are struggling to make ends meet at the moment, the cost of living has sky-rocketed. Food is twice as expensive as it was this time last year, and so are the utility bills, and the money coming in hasn't changed for many of us. And it is hard to feel much joy living like that. Anyway who wants to live and watch the world go to shit and more animals go extinct. I don't want to see all that. Although I promise I won't take my life, I have made a vow not to do that and will honour it. If I survive and live I will try my best to be a light in this darkening world, and show kindness and compassion to other beings that are suffering where I can. It isn't always easy to do this though. Sometimes my energy is too low, and fatigue gets the better of me, I feel like a weak battery that is unable to hold its charge at the moment. 

I think those who go on about how important it is to feel joy on the spiritual path and try to enourage everyone to feel the same aren't struggling with their finances, if they were I imagine they too would be finding it challenging to feel much joy. But nonetheless it is true what they say, joy is important and it is one of the seven factors of enlightenment, albeit for me the most challenging one.

I read an article that said the world economic output has reached $100 trillion for the first time in human history. What it didn't mention is how much of this belongs to the super rich and that most of us won't see any of that, it is being hoarded by humans whose minds are possessed by greed, hatred and delusion. The super rich continue to invest in their rocket-sized penis extensions, with the 'my rocket is better than yours' mentality; trying to be the first to colonise cold dead space, while they leave this rare miracle of a planet behind to die a bleak unhappy death in the aftermath of their greed and madness of mass industrial consumerism. Instead of using all that wealth and power to help this living planet; they dream instead of colonising a much colder smaller dead planet far far away. Strange logic, but delusion does that. The more greedy one becomes, the more deluded one becomes to justify hoarding such large amounts of wealth, and the more they hate others who criticise them and try to get them to share it with others. Greed, hatred and delusion, the three psychic poisons.

I was wondering today why do some young men kick the shit out of homeless people. I guess they are looking for someone to hate, to blame for their crap miserable lives. Homeless people are easy targets. I remember when I was homeless (many years ago now) and I met another homeless guy who had been beaten badly by the police of all people. I gave him all the money I had made busking and flagged him a taxi and asked the driver to take him to the hospital so he could get stitched up by the A&E as he had a large gaping bleeding wound on his head. Why do people beat up those who are homeless? Is it because they are vulnerable and don't stand a chance of being able to fight back against the attackers? Perhaps there is fear also, the knowledge that many of us are close to homelessness ourselves, some maybe only a paycheck away, and that fear becomes hate. I don't know. What horrible times we live in where this happens. Are we really civilised? It makes me sad. There seems to be so little love and compassion in the world at the moment. But I know not everyone is like this, there are still many good people out there, I just have to try to remember that, no matter how alone and depressed I feel. 

I am trying to see my depression as a state of becoming, with the understanding that it is better to retreat from the world when I am like this, as I often will say things I later regret, and if I am alone, that is less likely to happen. It is hard to do that at this time of year though, as everyone expects one to be sociable and happy. It was difficult doing a zoom call with family yesterday as my mood was low and it was hard pretending not to be, and everyone I spoke to was happy, festive, and enjoying their day, but I felt miserable. I felt like a failure after the zoom call that I couldn't enjoy Christmas day like everyone else or feel happy. 

So I am currently retreating from the world. I look at the depressed cycle now as being like a caterpillar in a cocoon becoming a butterfly, it is an unpleasant painful experience, a complete destruction of the self, like entering the womb again, and birth is painful, but when it is over one emerges as something new, a different person each time and hopefully someone who has grown deeper in wisdom and more developed spiritually. And when one feels renewed strength and energy then one can act and go out to meet the world again. In the meantime, I just have to be patient and try really hard not to believe the dark thoughts about myself or others. Try hard not to react to other people's energy in a negative way. And avoid what the Buddha calls unwise attention to the fault. That automatic critic that pops up iin the mind and judges others, perhaps because it doesn't like the way someone dresses or looks, the sound of their voice, the way they behave and so on. That's unwise attention to the fault. There's also unwise attention to the beautiful, such as desiring the happiness others are feeling, seeing pretty displays in a shop window, or desirable objects online, or lusting after someone you feel attracted to. That is unwise attention to the beautiful. And both unwise attention to the fault or the beautiful can upset the balance of the mind and stop it being centred.

One must also remember as well not to be hard on oneself when these things arise in the mind, none of us can help it, we all do it, it is automatic and outside our control, it happens so fast and much of it is due to DNA, evolution and past conditioning of the mind. One thing we can do though, is to try to let go of it as soon as we notice it and try to bring into being a more wholesome way of thinking, such as loving-kindness, compassion, joy-in-another's-happiness, or equanimity. Try instead to wish other beings well without wanting anything in return. It is hard, but we can persevere and keep trying.

 Depression for me is very difficult at times, and feeling any joy or pleasure is a challenge. But abiding in equanimity whilst retreating from the world can be helpful. I quite like focusing on change and impermanence at the moment, noticing how everything keeps changing. Some changes are immediately apparent, such as the constant information coming from the five senses of: vision, sound, smell, taste, touch. But thoughts are also always changing, and so is the time. Then there are the longer changes that one can contemplate, such as the body as it ages and eventually dies, the sense of self, the world, civilisations that rise and fall, the weather, the seasons, the sky, friends and romantic relationships, day and night, the tide, the moon, even this patch of space is constantly changing as the Earth spins around the sun. Understanding that everything changes can help with developing equanimity and with letting go and being patient. 

 'Everything I hold dear and everyone I love will become separated from me due to the nature of change.' 

There is not much else the ego can do, much of the process of awakening/enlightenment happens unconsciously in the deeper mind outside of one's awareness, and it can feel unpleasant as the rest of the mind processes the insights one gains through spiritual practise and rewires itself based on the new information it has received. One just has to sit tight and accept this state of becoming and try not to react. Be patient with it, let the process unfold in its own way, its own time, it cannot be rushed. 



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Mellow birds

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 24 Dec 2021, 21:58


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Hello darkness my old friend

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 22 Dec 2021, 10:35

keep waking up at 4am and not being able to go back to sleep again. Just lying there staring at the darkness. 

I don't judge the vaxxed.

 I just don't trust the governments, media or pharmaceutical companies. And I am annoyed with the media calling for the unvaxxed to be punished and the talk of mandatory vaccines and vaccine passports. It is all unnecessary and illogical. The jabs just protect the one who is jabbed and don't stop transmission of the virus. And the hospitals are not overrun by unvaccinated patients. Also there are now much better treatments for severe COVID than at the beginning of the pandemic, which makes the vaccines more irrelevant. I read an academic article that said using asthma sprays can prevent severe COVID, and so can supplements of vitamin D and zinc. As well as opening one's window regularly for at least 20 minutes a day to suck out all the virus particles, as the viral load in the air grows indoors which is why we get so sick in the winter with cold and flu viruses. 

I don't understand why they are being so pushy with these jabs? Something feels off about it. Especially when the pharmaceutical industry is making so much money from these jabs. I don't trust it when someone somewhere is making large amounts of money.

It is the government who is to blame, (not the unvaccinated,) for the current state of the NHS after years of austerity and deliberately and systematically weakening it. The Tories loathe the idea of free healthcare and want it to collapse under pressure so they can open the door to privatisation. They've been planning that for years.

I do not want to play a game of chance with an experimental medical procedure, these new COVID vaccines have killed people and caused adverse effects in others. However much we would like to brush that inconvenient fact under the carpet. (See the yellow card reporting scheme). There is a real risk of death or injury from these vaccines, and looking at the data, more so than the regular vaccines we have been using for decades. I think there's a good reason why vaccines take twelve years before they are approved as safe to use. It is the only way to know for sure what the long-term health effects of them are.

The idea of mandatory vaccines and punishing those who refuse them gives me the creeps and feels dystopian. It opens the door to governments and pharmaceutical companies being allowed to inject us with all sorts of experimental shit in the future. And there's also the danger they will add something to the vaccines to make us easier to control, perhaps make us more docile and obedient like robots, and I wouldn't put it past them to do that  either.

People's right to refuse a medical procedure should be protected. It is part of the Geneva convention on Human rights, created after the horrific medical procedures performed by the Nazis. This right is there to protect people from something like that ever happening again. 

That's why I am writing about this. Else I would have just remained silent. 

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Get ready

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 21 Dec 2021, 22:22


Opening to the higher states of consciousness:



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Endemica

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 24 Dec 2021, 23:03

Sadly I think we are going to have to cancel our Christmas plans of travelling down South. As I don't want to risk getting stranded or use public transport if they suddenly announce lockdowns. I also don't fancy wearing a facemask for six hours on the train. Plus Scotland is getting increasingly uncertain about what sort of restrictions might be coming, and it is possible it might be difficult getting over the border.

They should just let omicron go endemic and become the dominant strain as it is fairly mild. And also constantly vaccinating everyone means the virus will be more likely to mutate to evade the vaccines and then there's a risk of it becoming more deadly because of excessive vaccination. Apparently this has happened in the past with vaccines. Honestly, the unvaxxed are heroes and are doing everyone a favour if they catch COVID, as natural immunity is much better protection for the herd. Not that I am criticising anyone for getting vaccinated. I respect other people's decisions, I wish they would respect mine and not believe all the hype. People should have the right not to play a game of chance with their health or lives by being forced to have an experimental medical procedure. I firmly believe this. And I will be standing my ground on that, even when the Nazis of the Fourth Reich come knocking on my door to take me away to a concentration camp, just kidding, or am I?  

The truth seems to be that Big pharma doesn't want to lose the huge profits it's making from these vaccines. And all this stuff about protecting the NHS is bollocks. It's the government who are to blame for problems with the NHS, they have been systematically undermining and destroying the NHS for years, a planned demolitian job; there's now 50% less hospital beds than there was in the 1980s, and a much larger UK population in 2021. So don't believe what the government are saying, and don't blame the unvaxxed for the over-stretched health service, it isn't their fault. If you need to point a finger at someone, point it at Westminster.

Here's a not so fun fact: a third of hospital beds in the UK are currently being taken up by old people who no longer need to be in hospital but have nowhere to go due to lack of social care available for them. And also there are more vaccinated patients in hospital just now than unvaccinated. So the government and media is full of shit. It is just pointing the finger at the unvaxxed because they make an easy scapegoat at the moment. It is an old tactic, governments have always used scapegoats to distract, divide and conquer; and sadly much of the public seems quite happy to go along with it, almost everyone likes to have someone to point the finger at and blame for their problems, someone to hate. It is a political tactic as old as human civilization.

Anyway I am still standing my ground in this corner of the world, and will continue to do so. And if like me you are declining the vaccine and sometimes get a bit of flack (for what inmho is a sensible decision) and need a good factual counter-argument, then read this letter written by a law firm who have written to the government with proof the jabs are causing harm and are seeking an injunction. 

https://pjhlaw.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/letterMHRA.pdf 

The unvaxxed are well within their rights to decline these experimental injections, and in doing so are no threat to anyone whatsoever, in fact they are doing society a huge favour if they catch COVID as natural immunity to COVID has better and longer lasting protection than these experimental vaccines that you have to keep having boosters of. Those who have acquired natural immunity to COVID don't need booster jabs. And over-vaccinating the population can increase the risk that the virus will be forced to mutate faster to evade the regular boosters and as a result potentially become something more deadly. So unlike what the media and politicians tell you, the unvaxxed, (or refuseniks as the media likes to call them) are actually the unsung heroes in this pandemic. Hats off to them I say.

What threat exactly are the unvaccinated to society? 


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Cannabis is medicine

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 24 Dec 2021, 22:13


The research that says cannabis causes psychosis and schizophrenia is weak. It is just a modern day slant on the 'reefer madness' propaganda from the 1930s. The truth is cannabis can be helpful for people with schizophrenia and other mental health problems, the reason being it contains cannabinoids that are natural anti-psychotics (not just CBD, the whole plant is needed, as the cannabinoids work together synergistically). Which is why people with schizophrenia use cannabis a lot, and why there is a statistical correlation between cannabis and schizophrenia. It isn't because the cannabis is causing schizophreia, it is because many people with schizophrenia and other mental health problems are self-medicating with it as it brings relief from their symptoms. There was a tutor on a college course who had schizophrenia and he would have a spliff and it would make him feel much better and calmer afterwards.

Anyone who has done basic maths, knows that in statistics correlation does not mean causation. For example there is a correlation between high shoe sizes and intelligence, but it is not because people with big feet are more intelligent than those with small feet. It is because adults have bigger feet than children. Politicians and the media often misuse statistics to push forward bad policy. And one should always use critical thinking when it comes to statistics, especially now in this age of big data and data science.

 Cannabis is a damn site less harmful and unpleasant than the nasty pharmaceutical anti-psychotics that are pushed on patients. There's a good reason why people come off their meds and don't want to take them anymore, it's because they are fricking horrible, many decide they would rather have the psychosis than the horrible side-effects and locked-in depression that comes with prescription anti-psychotics. Rather than a treatment, these meds feel like a punishment. Not to mention how much harm these prescription meds can cause the body, something cannabis does not do, it is harmless on the body, in fact it is impossible to overdose and die from consuming too much cannabis. The only way cannabis can kill you is if a block the size of a piano was dropped on your head from a great height. 

 The truth is government scientists/researchers aren't really scientists at all, they are just paid 'Yes' men in white lab coats, whose job is to invent research and nonsense to fit a government's agenda and point of view, they use confirmation bias deliberately so they can justify dodgy policy to the public. And any scientist who goes against what the government wants to see in the research is fired by the government. If you don't believe me, research what happend to professor David Nutt for evidence of this. I ask you dear reader, how is this science?

 I know for a fact cannabis helps me. It calms me down, improves my mood, helps me concentrate better, helps my memory, helps me get my work done, helps me sleep, helps me get out of bed, helps me eat, gives me pain relief from chronic physical pain, helps me exercise, stops me feeling stressed and het up about stuff, and perhaps most importantly, helps me feel pleasure and joy again, something I struggle to feel without it. Cannabis greatly improves my quality of life. It is also fast acting, providing almost  instant relief, which is great for agitation. In fact I never feel suicidal on cannabis, it takes those thoughts and feelings away, but when I don't have it and go without, the suicidal thoughts come back. I think it is because life without cannabis is just too unbearable for me. I just feel like life isn't worth it without. I feel too much pain both emotionally and physically and it is frustrating knowing that smoking/vaping a bit of cannabis is all I need to do to fix this, and makes me angry as well knowing it is unfairly prohibited by an ignorant brainwashed society and jobsworths that keep denying me my right to this natural medication. It is cruel and unfair.

One thing I know is the mind does not work well when it is in constant pain both physically and mentally, it is impossible to get enlightened when one is in pain. The Buddha even said that, and he advised folks to take medicine for pain relief as he knew pain does not lead to enlightenment. He tried the path of trauma and pain for years, and it didn't lead to enlightenment, just brought him to the brink of death. It made his mind miserable and in the end he gave up on trying to get enlightened through deprivation and pain. Austerity and austere practises are useless, they just depress the mind and one cannot reach enlightenment that way. Here's a fun fact, cannabis would have grown wild in India at the time of the Buddha, and would have almost certainly been used as medicine, people back then would not have had a problem with it at all; the Buddha himself may well have used it on occasion, especially as he suffered from chronic back pain. It is only in these tyrranical modern times where it has been demonised and suppressed unfairly.

 Cannabis is medicine and I think it should be freely available to all who need it without prescription. And if people want to use it recreationally, so what? Let them, they're adults, we don't need a deluded hypocritical nanny state dictating what people can and cannot do, it is unpleasant living in a nanny state, we are grown-ups, let us choose; besides cannabis is the least harmful of all intoxicants.

 I am angry and fed up with these bad laws that criminalise it. Especially now other countries around the world have woken up to its benefits and legalised it. It is about time the UK did the same in my opinion. We are becoming more and more like a backward country.

 I also suspect the reason it is kept illegal is because of lobbying from the alcohol industry and pharmaceutical companies who don't want the competition. Alcohol is the most destructive drug of all (fact), even more destructive than heroine. Yet it is legal and even pushed and encouraged. When I am online I get  constantly bombarded with advertisements for it. And as someone who has had problems with alcohol addiction in the past this is not helpful. This advertising is an example of how these algorithms governing things can get things catastrophically wrong. Now I am not calling for a ban on alcohol, even though I know first-hand of its harms, I will never tell others what they can or cannot use, and I would never dream of stopping others from enjoying it. It is their life, they're adults, their choice. I just wish all the drinkers out there would also respect my right as an adult to choose to use cannabis, especially as it is much less harmful and medicinal.

 This brainwashed society is hypocritical and I am tired of the stigma, which is based on deliberate lies and ignorance. And is why I am speaking out. It is time things changed.

And change they will, the karma is ripening, and this government and any future government that continues to uphold this bad law will not last, their own karma and the energetic momentum of truth will bring them down. Legalising cannabis is one way for them to bring some good karma for themselves.

Free the herb!

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Melody Day

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 21 Dec 2021, 00:12

Melody day, what have I done? Ah
Now our hearts are locked up tight again
And when I pray it's all begun
And when you smile it melts away again.

Melody day, where have you gone? Ooh
All the hope I had has gone away
And what we had has come undone
And when you smile it melts away again.
" [Caribou - Melody Day]





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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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The metta sutta

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

Who seeks the good and has obtained peace.

Let one be strenuous, upright, and sincere.

Without pride, easily content and joyous.

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

Nor lay upon oneself the burden of riches.

Let one's senses be controlled.

Let one be wise but not puffed up.

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

Let one do nothing that is mean.

Or that this wise would later reprove.

May all beings be happy!

May they be joyous and live in safety!

All beings. Whether weak or strong.

In high, middle, or low realms of existence.

Great or small.

Visible or invisible.

Near or far.

Born or to be born.

May all beings be happy!

Let none deceive another.

Nor despise any being in any state.

Let none through anger or hatred.

Wish harm upon another.

Even as a mother at the risk of her life;

Watches over and protects her only child.

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

Suffusing with love the entire world.

Above and below and all around without limit.

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

Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down. 

Throughout all one's waking hours.

Let one practise the way with gratitude.

Not holding to wrong views.

Endowed with insight.

Freed from senses appetites.

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


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The metta path

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 24 Dec 2021, 22:09

Metta means: loving-kindness,friendliness, joviality, benevolence, altruism, goodwill.

Traditionally you start training by practising it for yourself. By becoming your own best friend and being kind and compassionate toward yourself. Which is not easy. Once you have got the hang of practising metta for yourself, you start practicing it for others, usually in this order: someone you love, then a neutral person, then an enemy, and then all beings everywhere, radiating the energy outwards in all directions. It is an energetic practise, the first of the four Brahma viharas.

There are lots of tricks one can use to get metta going. Sometimes the sea brings it up in me or the singing of a songbird, even fresh air and a nice breeze can do it. One can also use imagination to invoke the feeling, such as imagining a famous spiritual figure like Jesus, Avalokitishvara, Maitreya, a saint, or the Buddha.

The idea is to invoke the feeling of metta within and then keep it going. Cultivate it, strengthen and increase it.

Saying phrases can help, such as "May I be happy. May I be safe and well. May I be serene and boundless. May I be relieved of suffering. May I be at peace." (Obviously just replace the word 'I' for the name of a person or 'all beings' when practising metta for others). Make your own words and phrases up that help you generate it. In time you won't need words to invoke it, it becomes a warm sensation in the heart area that radiates outwards. 

Sometimes praying for those you love can invoke it. When I ask angels and devas to help with stuff, that can invoke it. Memory can invoke it, most of us have experienced metta at some point in our life, popping an ecstasy pill (MDMA) at a rave and feeling pure empathy and love for everyone is a memory that helps me invoke it at times. Metta (once it builds up momentum and gets going) can feel a bit like that in the first jhana (first stage of meditative absorption). And gradually settles, becoming more tranquil, serene and still, till it reaches equanimity.

The four Brahma viharas are: Metta (loving-kindness), Karuna (compassion), Mudita (joy in another's happiness), Upekka (equanimity).

Karuna and Mudita both come from Metta. Karuna is loving-kindness for one who is suffering. And Mudita is loving-kindness towards one who is happy.

For example, today I saw my crow friends when out walking, this brought up metta within me, I felt compassion for them so gave them some peanuts 🥜 this made them happy and I felt mudita as I watched them enjoy eating them. Then I continued my walk and feeling satisfied and content in the crow's happiness I settled into equanimity.

Metta and equanimity compliment each other like a knife and fork.

Metta, Karuna, and Mudita can take one up to the third jhana (third stage of meditative absorption). The fourth jhana is always equanimity regardless of the meditation object used, so it is said that metta, compassion, mudita can only take you to the third jhana, but to reach the fourth jhana you have to let go of them, as the fourth is pure equanimity. Well technically speaking it is mindfulness purified and born of equanimity. Equanimity actually begins in the third jhana, and the fourth is where it is refined and isolated by itself. In the fourth jhana there is neither pleasure nor pain. The fourth jhana is said to be the ideal state of mind to gain the liberating insight which leads to nibanna. But one does not have to wish for insight, apparrently from that lucid state of mind insights naturally arise. Then once one has fully realised nibanna there is no turning back and the liberation cannot be reversed and one never incarnates ever again in any world. Yet the mind still exists, it is like what fire becomes when it is no longer held captive by its fuel. The fuel being (greed, hatred, and delusion). 

Greed covers lots of stuff such as lust, craving for intoxicants, eating a little more than you needed to, to the extremes of hoarding wealth and stealing - there's many different levels to it.

Hatred also covers many things such as boredom for example which is aversion to the present moment, or aversion from lack of stimulation. Hatred also covers conceit, being boastful, as well as the more obvious extremes such as arguing, fighting and murder.

Delusion can also mean ignorance. It is a lot about the stories we tell ourselves about reality. The excuses we make to justify different behaviour. Or just believing in misinformation, disinformation or acting out of ignorance due to lack of information. The mind is a delusion generator. And delusion is the hardest of all to remove. Greed and hatred sprout from delusion. They also feed delusion. The four Brahma viharas can be helpful at weakening the power of greed and hatred, enough at least to be able to get to the root of the problem which is delusion.

When one has fully uprooted greed, hatred and delusion from the mind that is the state of mind known as nibbana and one becomes a Buddha (fully enlightened being).

 I chant the metta sutta sometimes to help me invoke Metta.

You can be creative with Metta, it is like a craft; and yes it can be a magical practise. For example, when walking along the street I will get focused while walking and invoke the feeling of metta and then think of Maitreya (Bodhisattva of metta and the next Tathagata) and as I do I become a channel and imagine multiple copies of Maitreya coming out of my heart in all directions, holding a bell shaped object that when shaken fills all those around with loving-kindness. I have a weird imagination lol.

But I am sure you can think of your own ways of radiating metta. Sometimes I imagine it as energy waves radiating outwards, and sometimes I don't need to imagine at all it just radiates out if I set the intention to radiate it to all beings and it happens. Different moments require different methods, you have to learn to be spontaneous and do what naturally feels right in each given moment. 

I have different mood cycles. And sometimes during the negative cycles there are days when I can't invoke Metta at all, I feel nothing. It isn't easy and equanimity and patience can help here, although they can be hard to generate too. Patience can be invoked sometimes by imagining the depressed cycle as me retreating from the world and being in a womb of sorts. In a state of becoming. Like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, or a nymph becoming a dragonfly. It can be very painful and challenging. And it may take a while and fill me with doubt and stagnation. Then when the cycle changes and I feel better energy arise and feel well again I am able to practise metta once more, but I find this time it has mysteriously grown deeper, like some part of the unconscious during the gestation period has been working things out and changing things, rearranging them, almost like the mind is rewiring itself. It is unpleasant and can really test one's endurance, shake you to the core, demolish your beliefs and perceptions. But afterwards one gains a new found clarity and freedom, and develops in the eight-fold path. This conscious part of me, let's call it the ego mind has very little to do in the process of becoming, you just have to be patient. Most of the growth happens outside of one's awareness in the deeper hidden mind. Another way of looking at it, is as being like pearls of wisdom. 

Also it seems from my experience that there is a malevolent outside agency that will try its utmost to deter you from the path, so be prepared for a bit of a fight. The sceptic can think of it as a trickster part of the mind. But my experience is there is both an internal and external enemy that will do what it can to make you lose your way. This energy is very tricky, and it can be oppressive as well as seductive. In the suttas this being is known as Mara. 

So don't despair if you can't do this right away, it takes years of practice, perhaps lifetimes for some. You have to persevere, pick yourself up after every failure, brush yourself down and try again. If you do this you will get a bit stronger each time and eventually get there. But don't burn yourself out, try to find a balance between laziness and over-doing it; look for a nice middle setting that works for you, and be prepared to be in it for the long game. 

Also remember to take refuge in the Buddha. The dharma. And the Sangha whenever you need to. These three are known as the triple gem and it is a powerful jewel. And  don't dismiss the power of doing this. There is lots of grace out there I am discovering. And I find whenever I take refuge in any one of these, (again depending on the moment and what feels right), helpful energy and support will come to my aid. I think there are spirits and other beings seen and unseen who are devoted to this practise, and like angels, will help when you struggle. The sangha also includes all Buddhists everywhere, and those who practise Buddhism in the deva worlds as well.

Metta itself is also protection if you can generate it suffiently enough, the good energy will protect you and make you fearless.

I am not enlightened yet, see my previous blog posts and rants for proof of this. But I will keep trying. 

This is the spiritual path I have set for myself, even if it takes me lifetimes to accomplish I will get there one day, although I am aiming to do it in this very life if at all possible.

Peace, metta and good luck on your own journey to nibanna.

The Metta Sutta

Alternative translation of metta sutta

The eleven benefits of practising metta 

Here's a great collection of talks and Q&As done by Ajahn Sona on the topic of Metta:

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


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New blog post

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The Buddha is helping me, he answered me, he always does. 

 I feel some energetic form of him is in my consciousness now and teaching me. He says though ultimately it is up to me to free myself, but he can guide me along the way. Mother Earth is with me too. Whether my enlightenment will help during these dark times I don't know. But when I become fully enlightened it will prove to others that it can be done and perhaps inspire them to do the same.

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I take refuge in Buddha

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Sacred herb

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Life is hard. I try my best, I really fricking do. It might not seem like it to others. To most I guess I am pathetic and weak-minded. I am always getting critisized, judged and misunderstood. But none of those people are living inside my head, they don't know what I am going through, what it feels like to be Richie. They just look at the world from their limited perspective and expect everyone to be able to see what they see, and cope as well as they do. But we aint all the same, and I am honestly fricking trying.

 I honestly don't know how other people do it, how they keep their head together in this world. I seem to be completely incapable. The only thing that really helps me consistently is smoking weed (a strain with a ratio of moderate THC levels and high CBD), it is medicine for me. It calms me down, helps me concentrate better, helps me meditate, helps me work and get things done, helps me see things different, helps me exercise, helps me sleep. Without it everything is unbearable, and I am not joking. I really cannot handle being straight,  I just fall apart. I don't know what normal everyday consciousness feels like for everyone else, but it is suffering for me, I can't stand it. It is full of unpleasant feelings and horrible thoughts that are hard to ignore, and I have been practising meditation for over two years now, and I still have trouble with my thoughts and emotions. Constant thoughts about suicide, pretty much every day at the moment (don't worry I won't act on them, but they are tiring nonetheless). I feel constant agitation, and anxiety. I can't think straight, my head is always scattered, even with all this Zen training and CBT (Cognitive Behaviour therapy) I still struggle. It is a mission to get anything done at the moment, to function, as this agitation is the wrong kind of energy, not a helpful energy at all. I can't sleep well, I'm lucky if I get a couple of hours a night at the moment. This mood I am in is really unpleasant, my brain seems to be constantly stuck on this setting at the moment. It is unbearable. I think this is why I constantly write on here as otherwise I am just pacing around my room, getting irritable at the slightest thing, with noises put me on edge, I can't think straight or think rationally, I can't get any work done, and  desperately looking to find some relief, but not getting any. I have been in this state of mind for weeks now and it won't ease up, the prescription meds don't help and I am tired of seeing doctors and trying different pharmaceuticals. I wish they would just prescribe me cannabis, I know that works and I would be fine then. 

It is hard to get enlightened when one's own brain is like this. Meditation feels impossible at the moment, and spiritual practise is a real battle. If I get some weed I know I will be able to meditate, and practise the eight-fold path. But without it I struggle, I seem to be incapable of practising with this agitation. The stuff I read in the suttas or have learnt from Buddhist teachers about dealing with agitation doesn't work, and the four right efforts are not working for me, they work for others, but I guess it is much harder to practise if one has a mood disorder unfortunatley. Although I miraculously find it all much easier when I have some cannabis, the whole path seems doable then, is strange I know. 

But then if I got enlightened whilst using weed, would it be real? Or would my mood deteriorate again once I went without the cannabis, and then it wouldn't really be enlightenment. Is it possible to get to nibanna when one is so dependant on a herbal medicine. I don't know. Buddhists do tell people to take medicine if necessary and not to suffer needlessly, and for me it is definitely a medicine I need to function. I do know that cannabis would have been freely available at the time of the Buddha. It would have grown everywhere, and would have been used as medicine for sure, possibly even by the monks and nuns at the time, although there's nothing written in the suttas about it as far as I am aware. So I don't know. Would the Buddha have been okay with me using cannabis? Did the Buddha use cannabis? Who knows. I know the sages who created kundalini yoga were all on cannabis, it was an essential part of the practise. And I do know it is bloody difficult for me to function without it, but the stigma in society about it is no help. A stigma created by this modern world and its ridiculous hypocritical war on psychedelics. Anyway I know I can never be a Buddhist monk as they would never approve of me using cannabis. Most Buddhist groups have the five precepts, and the fifth one is: no intoxicants, and I imagine most would class cannabis as an intoxicant. However I will be studying with a different Buddhist group next year and they have changed the wording of the fifth precept slightly to: I will refrain from using intoxicants that make one heedless. Which I feel does give me some wriggle room, as cannabis definitely does not make me heedless, if anything it makes me more mindful, calms my thoughts down, and I can meditate much better on it. For me it is meritous. It is medicine, and I am sick of hiding that out of shame and fear of persecution in an ignorant brainwashed society. I think it is a miraculous plant, a real wonder. It saved my life, it really did. I wouldn't be doing this degree if it wasn't for cannabis helping me get my head together. And I also wouldn't have even started practising Buddhism if wasn't for cannabis. So giving credit where it's due for this sacred herb.

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Gonna give hemp buds a go

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 16 Dec 2021, 20:29

Fuck it it is too risky buying regular cannabis online, too many scams out there, and I don't want to risk it.

Going to try hemp flowers out of desperation, problem is they don't have much THC (less than 0.02%), they just have high levels of CBD, but at least the supplier seems trustworthy, and it is a natural product, with buds and resins, plus there will be the other cannabinoids in them that are beneficial. Their squidgy black product looks interesting.


I'll give it a go anyway, I have tried the CBD oil products and teabags and they were shit, didn't do nothing, so I am going to try buying the buds and hash made from hemp flowers which have much higher levels of CBD in than the health shop tat. See if that helps, I fucking hope so.

Don't worry it is all legal in the UK. You are allowed to buy CBD products but only if the THC is below 0.02% lol. Fucking nanny state eh? It's bullshit as well with all the alcohol, it makes no sense that the most harmful drug of all (alcohol) is perfectly legal and destroys far more lives than all the other drugs put together. I also fricking hate seeing alcohol adverts, it feels like Mara trying to tempt me and make me fall. Grrr

https://gethemp.co.uk/


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The penguin

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 16 Dec 2021, 18:57

This world is shit, and I have seriously had enough of it.

 I am determined to get enlightened in this lifetime if possible. The thought of coming back here to this torture of a civilisation is unbearable. I do not want to ever come back here again. Being human sucks. It is a cold cruel world mankind has created. It seriously and monumentally sucks. The system is shit. Super shit. 

I am thinking of a story of a penguin, he was being observed by scientists, and he did a peculiar thing. He suddenly stopped walking towards the sea with the other penguins and just sat there doing nothing, and the other penguins walked around him and continued to the ocean. Then after some time he suddenly got up and turned and started walking in a different direction, one that was away from the nesting colony or the sea and continued going that way on his own. He walked for many kilometres and one of the scientists asked another if they should just bring him back, and the other said no, because he will just try to do it again. But the scientist could offer no explanation as to why he was going off alone in a direction away from the other penguins. It was a mystery. 

I feel like that penguin some days. It is so tempting just to drop everything and walk off on my own somewhere - go in a different direction than this crazy human world.

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Headache

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 21 Jan 2022, 21:38

Anxiety in the mainline
The anxed in the iety
Something for the laity. 

Opened up my mind
And what did I find?

A heaving can of worms
chomping each others tails
perfectly at war in a city of neurons.

Panic at the sight of nothing
On the edge of every sound
Everything makes my heart pound

This pound of flesh

booming 
kabooming
terrors looming

My head really hurts...

But this a tune
helps me feel the flow
of energy
memory

of who I really am
before all that
happened

Big mind.




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Pearl of wisdom

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 20 Jan 2022, 21:24

One cannot change the past, but one can honour it by learning from it and making it into a pearl of wisdom.


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When I'm alone

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


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



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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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Asoka

You're Original

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'Will it ever be the same again?

You're original.
Lived your own path.
You're original.
Got your own way.
You're original.'



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