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A new day

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 20 Jan 2022, 21:36

Feeling much more motivated today. Started my Python revision and surprised myself by being able to get into it. Opened the window wide and tidied up my room a bit, much easier to do that now the weather's cooler. I am determined to make it into a Zendo one day! However long it takes. Even managed some painting. My paintings are taking me much longer than before, there's some I've been working on now for weeks, and they still aren't finished, consisting of more and more layers and changes to colours and shapes. The process is very much keep doing that until some part of me says 'Aye that's done now'. 

I am going to have a shot at selling the paintings themselves eventually. But will keep scanning them and sharing them freely online at the same time. I believe art should be for everyone, not just something hoarded by an art collector. Eventually I will have a website of my own where people can download the scans for free and print their own copies, and also links to where they can buy high-quality prints if they want. 

Also going to try and write a book, and have a go at selling that online when it's finished.

 I keep going for regular walks to stretch my legs and get some fresh air, sometimes the weather defeats me, so I will just stand on the porch and listen to the rain. I am lucky that I live near the sea, woods and some meadows, they are all within a short walking distance. Sometimes I like walking along the seafront, it is nice to see people about and I love the Victorian architecture here, it is magic. Even if I never say anything to anyone, I like remembering that I live in a community of other people. I try to remember to practise metta, and stay attentive to the energy in my heart area, wishing others well (silently in my head) as I walk passed.



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Backwards and forwards

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 28 Sept 2021, 01:58

Backwards and forwards and backwards again, 

Feel like I am going round and round in circles,

Starlight glistening around the edges of despair,

Stomach a writhing mass of twisted hissing knots,

I feel alone, broken and utterly bereft.

Buddha I need your help,

I can't see a way through, 

I am lost in the jungle,

Can't meditate, can't study, can't work, can't sleep, can't eat,

Not a feeling of metta in sight,

Just a feeling of hopelessness and doubt,

The spiritual path suddenly feels so empty,

And like asking the impossible, I just can't do it,

I don't know what is happening to me,

I want to be free of this .
I can't bare it anymore.
I am knocking at the door.

Is nibanna real? Why is it so hard to find?
I just long for some peace of mind.
To never feel like this again.




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Humble and not conceited

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 25 Dec 2021, 14:48

Nobody gets to decide about what kind of human being they will be in this life. It is not like you go to a store before you are born and decide on the kind of body and personality you'll have on Earth. You don't get to choose. Nobody gets a choice with any of it. You are just born into this world, a blind needy crying bundle of flesh. And you have no control over any of it, what kind of body you get, what natural talents you get. Your body just grows all by itself, completely outside your control. It gets hungry, gets tired, needs to go to the toilet, needs to be exercised, and gets sick sometimes.  And as you get older things get more complicated and you are expected to learn different skills and adapt and survive in what can often feel like an uncertain world. And through it all, the body continues to grow and age, ageing till it aches and gets stiffer, and harder to move and starts falling apart, and developing problems that are outside your control. Like me, my hair is falling out, my bald head a potent reminder of impermanence when I look in the mirror. Eventually the body dies. And all that remains is a rotting corpse. What was that all about? What is life all about?

 We don't get a choice about who we are and what abilities we are born with. Nobody on the planet can be good at everything. So there is nothing to be proud of really. Whatever talents you have were given to you by nature, and one day will be taken away by nature. You might be smart, you might be attractive, you might be good at maths, might be good at playing the system and gathering wealth and assets, maybe you are good at sport, maybe you are strong, charming, good at communication, or an artist. But so what? None of it is really who you are, you don't own your talents, and when you die they will all disappear.  So don't get conceited and proud about who you think you are. Be humble.

One thing we do take with us to the next life is our karma. So whatever talents you have, use them wisely, try to be kind and peaceful. Benevolence makes us and other beings happier and puts you in a better state of mind. Don't feel you have to punish or hate anyone, you have no control over what others do, or how they behave. People who do evil will be punished by their own actions, either in this lifetime or a future one. Noone escapes their karma, not even an enlightened being.

 So use whatever you have got, do whatever you can, try to cause as little harm to yourself and other beings as possible; without judging yourself or others in the process. Keep striving, keep moving forward, picking yourself up from failure over and over if necessary. Persevere and keep trying your best to create good karma for yourself, and use this mind as an opportunity to liberate yourself from samsara and find a freedom that doesn't cease. Then you will never have to come back here and go through all this again.

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Mind and matter

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Listening with the body while others speak. I feel tingles and energy flows. Discover that I can be paying attention to my feet and still understand the words being said and perfectly follow the conversation; but without the thoughts about the inner story getting in the way. This feels like a whole new dimension of being, to listen with the body.

Loneliness if left untreated becomes anger at separation and disconnection. But does a Buddha ever feel lonely? Or is a Buddha as happy by themselves as they are with others?

Mind empty, there are thoughts but they are not the mind. There are sensations and feelings, but are these the mind? There is this body that ages, gets sick and dies, is this the mind? Where is my mind? What is mind?

When the inner critic surfaces and begins its judgement I discovered moving one's attention away from the head to the heart area or the belly seems to  counteract its energy a bit and help bring into being better intentions.

It feels good when one can place attention where one wants and keep it there. Listening with the body, one can be with any part of the body and stay with it as long as one likes, thoughts just like any other sensation just continue in the background, but one does not have to pay attention to them.

Sometimes my attention likes to be a bit out from the body, aware of the space around it. This feels comfortable and peaceful and after meditation there is a luminous visual affect, like a glow which seems to cover the entire body and at times one sees this luminous quality in other beings, like an ethereal glow.

In my heart centre there is a luminous warmth that spreads throughout the entire body, saturating it with bliss. In the belly the warmth feels more solid and grounding. In the neck and spine, lots of tingles, head feels luminous and at times trippy and otherworldly. Rushes and tingles in the scalp and temples, and then a warm flush in my face and neck.

 Pleasant energies circulate throughout the body. It seems to me that these energies are good for one's health. It feels rejuvenating to saturate one's body with them. Are they a mind-generated phenomena? I'm not sure, but then isn't everything we see, hear, smell, taste and touch just a mind-generated phenomena? The world we encounter out there is built by our mind. When you see something, where are you seeing it? Where is that sight taking place? Out there? Or in your head? Or both? How do you know?

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Metta bee

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 24 Dec 2021, 22:15

Found a bumble-bee struggling on the road earlier today, wasn't moving and seemed barely alive. I put my open hand next to it on the ground, and to my amazement it clambered on, and I carried it home.

 I was taking part in a meditation and writing retreat with a Zen group via Zoom. So I sat in Zazen meditation with it cupped in my upright hand. Where it just rested and warmed up, and over the course of the meditation it perked up and started cleaning itself and stretching. Then began crawling from one hand to the other, seeming to become more and more alive, its feet tickling my palms. At the end of the meditation (30 mins), the group leader on Zoom rang the bell, and the bee started buzzing excitedly and I got the sense it was ready to leave me. So I went back outside and stood on my doorstep, felt it vibrating as it buzzed on my palm. And from my open outstretched hand it took off perfectly, and flew away, seeming to be in good health and happy. I wished it well. 

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A wish for all beings

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 20 Jan 2022, 21:17

There is a place on the edge of consciousness where angels fly, where devas meditate and dance.
 Where my feet make complex interweaving patterns on the floor.
The ground and colourful shapes pulsing with each footstep like a graffiti beat on the street.
Within my heart is a luminous orb, with many swirling  moving rings circling it, going round and round,
each one containing a neverending chain of orbs, like fractals.
I imagine those swirling rings expanding  beyond my body,
swirling off in all directions,
through all dimensions and time and space,
with the wish that all beings be free, happy and peaceful.


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Disillusionment is OK

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 20 Jan 2022, 21:38

Am disillusioned with this world, not much passion for anything just now. Career, painting, technology, science, books, music, films, romance, intoxicants, pleasure, pain. I no longer care for any of it, it all feels so unsatisfying. Politics is a load of crap, same old story of the wealthy shafting everyone else and the planet. Victims of greed they hoard and hoard, and never feel happy or content, there's always that niggling feeling of dissatisfaction in the background, and to fill this they automatically grasp for more wealth and power, but they never fill that emptiness within, never cure that feeling of how unsatisfying everything is, why? 

This modern world we live in is fuelled by greed, hatred and delusion. And all of it is doomed to end, nothing lasts, all things are being constantly chomped away at by impermanence, everything is in a state of entropy. Is why I just stick my paintings to my walls with masking tape, I don't give a shit, I know they're impermanent and I am not attached to them. I don't even know who paints them, it doesn't feel like the Richie tapping away at the keys here, some other geezer and we are both impermanent, empty, and always changing.

Is it possible to feel happiness on the spiritual path? The happiest memories I have are the days in my youth dancing at rave parties high as a kite feeling connected to everything and feeling free. Those were the best feelings I ever had, nothing else I have ever experienced has been as liberating as that was. Full of immense love and empathy for everyone around me, and they also feeling the same way towards me, all of us one, smiling and expressing our good nature, a feeling of unity, of oneness, being completely at ease with everyone and everything. In that place I forgot who I was, forgot my story and didn't care a jot about it anymore, It didn't matter who anyone was, nobody cared, we were all the same, no judgement, no shame, no exclusion, just goodwill, friendliness, and a shared feeling of connection and space to be who we are. Those beautiful  memories stay with me, even now at the age of 46, and they remind me that deep down, all of us, whoever we are, have a good nature underneath all the layers of shit. We all want to love and be loved, to live in peace. I believe that our original mind before it is tainted by the world is good-natured.

It makes me think of the spiritual practise of metta. Metta means unconditional love, kindness, friendship, warmth, benevolence, and jovial good will. Metta also has a good-natured sense of humour, which can help one to not take things too seriously or personally. Metta is the Pali word, but there isn't really a satisfying equivalent that captures it in the English language. So I just use the word metta, as it is easier than listing all the qualities it embodies. It is a nice feeling, and there have been times when practising metta where I thought I came close to how I felt at a rave party (but without the dreaded comedown). Equanimity is also a nice state of mind, and very useful. It is the best one to look at reality with. Not a cold dry dead equanimity, it is alive, warm-hearted and kind, but doesn't take the suffering of the world upon itself. With equanimity one no longer clings to anything, no longer chases after anything, and one doesn't get shaken or swept up by the random nature of things, one is centred. With equanimity one remains calm in a crisis, unshaken and unsuprised by the changing nature of the world, in that lucid state of mind one can look at reality with clarity and see things as they are.

A Zen teacher said that my feelings of disillusionment with the world are a good thing, they are the first noble truth. Disillusionment means one has seen through the illusion.
The second noble truth is to see it is my attachment to the illusion that causes me suffering.
The third noble truth is to come out of the trance and let go of the illusion, stop clinging to the inner story of self.
The fourth noble truth contains the practical instructions on how one trains the mind to let go of and go beyond the self-centred dream. To (through the gradual training of the noble eight-fold path) reach a state of mind that doesn't die, doesn't suffer, and experiences a profound freedom that remains and never ceases - nibbana.

Peace and metta




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New blog post

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 20 Jan 2022, 21:17


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Reptilian brain

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Sunday, 10 Apr 2022, 23:03


One of the three brains in the 'Triune Brain' model. The reptilian brain is the oldest and largest of the three brains and still retains a parietal eye, known as the third eye or scientifically as the pineal gland. (Some lizards still have a parietal eye today.)

The reptilian brain regulates the bodily functions, and is responsible for fight or flight, feeding, reproduction, automatic behaviours and survival instincts. It governs the language of the body via sensations and impulse.

The other two brains which rest on top of it are the mammalian brain which is responsible for our emotions, feelings and unconscious memory. And at the very top, the homo sapien brain which is responsible for executive functioning, thought and verbal communication.

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Compassion's way

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Sunday, 3 Oct 2021, 18:36

The Buddha once asked a king, "Suppose there are armies coming for you in all directions, crushing and killing everything in their path. There is no hope of escape from this impending doom. What would you do?"

The king said, "I would practise generosity, give, and be kind."

The Buddha praised his response, saying that was indeed the wisest thing any of us can do in that situation. Our deeds generate our karma, and that's what we take with us to our next existence.

For the king it was easy, but for some of us we don't have wealth or possessions to give away, so how do we give?

What is compassion's way? Is a question I have been mulling over and reflecting on for this past week or so.

Perhaps sometimes compassion's way is to remember the spiritual practise, other times to help another being in need, to get up and be of service to others, to practise loving-kindness and radiate that all around as you go about your day, maybe it is to be kind to yourself, to let go of something, maybe it is to have a moment of stillness, when we meditate we are not causing harm and this can be a way of giving, a Zen teacher said to me he thought my paintings were a way of giving. I had never thought that before, and that gave me something to reflect on.

How can we practise generosity and kindness? It seems there are a myriad different ways to do this, and when one thinks about it, one can find a way that fits with each moment.
 It got me thinking of all the different ways we can give. That's what matters in the end, the choices we make in each moment, and despite what the world does, how crazy and disturbing it gets, when that doom comes for us over the distant horizon, we can choose to be kind, to give, despite it all. This includes being kind to yourself as well, no room for judgement or shame, you are a being too. Unconditional love for all beings means just that, all beings. Be a friend to yourself as much as to others. 

The world just now feels a lot like the one in the story of the Buddha and the king. But whatever time in history, there is always an impending doom coming for us, we are all dieing after all, a doom none of us can escape, every body has an expiry date. Death is natural, when we die we should remember our good deeds, not the ones we feel shame for, so we should feel good about ourseves, happy that we learnt from any mistakes and grew. We should focus on our acts of giving, of kindness and love. We should remember the friendships and that both the good and bad times created the depth of connections we have. We want to die with a warm, loving, kind, generous, serene heart, as that is what will be the seed for our next existence. 

The hardest part sometimes is to remember. The word mindfulness means to remember, to keep something in mind. 
The five wise reflections are something the Buddha recommended people chant regularly to help them remember what really matters in this life:

The Five Wise Reflections

"I am of the nature to age; I should not be surprised by old age.

I am of the nature to become sick; I should not be surprised by ill health.

I am of the nature  to die; I should not be surprised by death.

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

I am the heir of my karma, owner of my karma, born of my karma, related to my karma, abide supported by my karma. Therefore should I frequently recollect that whatever karma I do for good or for ill, of that will I be the heir."

We can also practise compassion for our future self. 
What we practise now we become. 


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Abandoning the story

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 21 Sept 2021, 10:57

Whilst meditating in the garden, I reached a place of lucid stillness and became just a bunch of energetic processes happening moment to moment, and I forgot completely who I was and I didn't care. There was this otherworldly peace, and time slowed a bit and my awareness was perfectly in sync with everything happening around me. The boundary between external and internal seemed to dissolve for a moment and the world and me changed into this complex interwoven dance of energies. My inner story about who I think I am and what will make me happy, was meaningless - and I really just didn't care about it anymore. It felt good, it was a nice state of mind to be in. 

These nice states of mind are hard to keep going however. Not long after this I found myself getting stressed about something and I realised I was once again caught up by the things of the world and reacting to the push and pull of wanting, clinging, and aversion. But I did notice this time I no longer felt so attached to the inner story, like its hold on me had weakened somewhat and it is getting easier to drop it, (when I remember to practise).

Metta and equanimity


(https://vsual.co/listing/wlUIMQmBmh)

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Healing power of metta

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 21 Sept 2021, 14:25

This may sound crazy but doing metta practise for the viruses/bacteria in my body has helped to consistently turn things round when I have been sick, actually the last three times in fact. Generating unconditional love for the micro-organisms seemed to change their energy a bit, perhaps even effecting their consciousness. And now I feel like they are part of me, but in a more benevolent form. 

 Metta is an energetic practise and means unconditional love, kindness, jovial goodwill, warmth and friendliness towards oneself and all other beings (not just humans).

I told all the virus/bacteria in my body, that they were all welcome to call my body their home, and that my heart-mind has resolved to become a Buddha. I offered to share the merit (benefits/knowledge) of my spiritual (bodhisattva) practise with all the different beings who call this body their home.  All the different consciousnesses living in the body-mind, cells, bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites. I wished them all well and said they were more than welcome to call this body their home and join me on the path to Buddhahood.

I saturated my entire body with this energy and then radiated it out into the world. Offering to share the merit of my spiritual practise with all beings everywhere, wishing them all to be well and serene, and for everyone to realise Buddhahood and cross over to nibbana and be free from suffering.

Metta is a powerful practise and is a skill worth learning, but it takes time for the practise to grow. Equanimity is also an energetic practise that is worth learning as it compliments metta really well. They go together like a knife and fork.

Here are some talks and Q&A sessions from a virtual retreat led by Ajahn Sona I took part in last Christmas, they teach how to practise metta and I can testify that this energy is real and with practise it will  snowball and grow stronger and bring much benefit to one's life and those around.

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


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Yogi mind

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Sunday, 3 Oct 2021, 18:51
Lovely day, but still in quarantine so can't go for a walk. Feeling much better, less achey, coughing a lot less, although head feels like it spent the night in a tumble dryer. 

Meditated for an hour, it took a long time for the mind to settle, but eventually it did and there was a blissful moment of stillness. Was captivated at one point by a robin singing in the branches of the bush next to my open window.

Life doesn't always play ball with our preferences, so it is good to develop some equanimity towards the world, towards pleasure and pain.

Sometimes it is a relief not to think, to just silently pay attention to the sensations of the present moment as they rise and fall in the body. If you do it for long enough, you can let go of liking/disliking and get very still and unattached and feel like you are just a flame burning in each moment.

The Buddha said that Nibbana is not the end of the mind, it is what fire becomes when it is no longer held by its fuel.

 




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Undercurrents

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 20 Jan 2022, 21:40




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Sea Nimitta

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Sometimes when meditating and one becomes still enough, a nimitta will appear. Nimitta is a Pali word that means: sign. A sign you are getting into a deeper state of concentration/samhadi and close to absorption. The nimitta is a mind generated phenomena, and varies in appearance and behaviour depending on what is being used for a meditation object . It can involve any of the senses, but for me mostly appears as a visual or tactile sensation. Once the nimitta is clear and strong enough it can then be used as a meditation object itself, which can then take one into even deeper states of stillness. There is often an otherworldly feeling that accompanies a nimitta and they can be very weird but in a good way, and certainly nothing to be afraid of. These deeper states of stillness feel very freeing and healing and one can encounter what is known as original mind which is beautiful beyond description.


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Red Alert

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 24 Dec 2021, 21:42


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Rockpool

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 20 Jan 2022, 21:18

 I am finding words increasingly dissatisfying to use, it feels good to be silent and just observe phenomenon without the internal commentary. It is so easy to get tangled up in thoughts and our stories about what we think is really happening (which are often wrong). It can be difficult to untangle oneself from them.

Words are good to start with, if one can get some degree of control over the thinking process and keep it directed towards just one thing, it can be used to talk oneself into a more subtle state of mind that goes beyond words, and using the breath as a tool as well to help energise and relax the body, one can glide on the momentum into deeper states of mind.

 To switch off thinking feels very good, in fact I wonder if most of the suffering we all feel comes from thinking too much, the brain is always trying to analyse everything, solve everything, do this, do that, the wanting, whether that's something you desire, or wanting things to change, the guilt, the chasing, the pain, the suffering -- belieiving that which you are wanting will make you happy and your life isn't complete without it.

Thoughts and words can be tyrranical, and keep us imprisoned in our heads, yet thoughts aren't all there is to the mind, the mind is much bigger than our thoughts. It feels so good to switch them off and go somewehere beyond the internal dialogue - fly free from all the wanting.

An abstract painting of a rockpool.



Prints available at: https://lnkd.in/drPth84D


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Mother Tree

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 24 Dec 2021, 22:03

Still studying and learning about computing, just completed and passed a Java module with the Open University. I guess realistically getting a job in computing is my best chance of earning an income, but painting will always be my first love.


https://www.ArtPal.com/richie?i=216964-5&r=216964

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Painting

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 20 Jan 2022, 21:40

Have been getting into painting again, still very much learning the craft. I am not into photo-realitstic drawing or realistic depictions of reality, those kind of paintings don't do much for me, and I find drawing a bit tedious if all I am doing is drawing something exactly as it appears in front of me. I am very much into abstract and the inner world and playing with colour and form.
  I am currently designing my own website, but it will be a while before I have it online, as going to have to go over some of the materials in the web technologies module again, as I have forgotten a lot of it.
  In the meantime I have scanned my paintings and uploaded them onto two websites where people can buy prints, but not sold any yet, it is hard to make money with art, but what the Hell, thought I would give it a go anyway.

The sites are:

https://www.artpal.com/richie 

and

https://www.vsual.co/shop/richie

Here's one of the paintings:


and another:



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Samhadi

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 1 Oct 2021, 23:18

painting of someone sitting near a tree and a stream going into samhadi

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Do plants have mind?

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 11 Sept 2021, 22:11

The intelligence of trees:
https://getpocket.com/explore/item/never-underestimate-the-intelligence-of-trees

Some more articles about plants that are interesting:
http://nautil.us/blog/plants-have-an-ear-for-music
http://nautil.us/issue/84/outbreak/guided-by-plant-voices
http://nautil.us/issue/78/atmospheres/the-rainforest-is-teeming-with-consciousness

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The five wise reflections

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 11 Sept 2021, 22:15


I am of the nature to get ill,
I have not gone beyond illness.

I am of the nature to age,
I have not gone beyond ageing.

I am of the nature to die,
I have not gone beyond dying.

Everything I have which is beloved and pleasing
will be taken from me.

Whatever I do, for good or for ill,
I will inherit the results of that (karma).

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Self compassion

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 11 Sept 2021, 22:20


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Mindfulness of the body

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 11 Sept 2021, 22:29


A talk about meditation on the body and the four elements (earth, water, fire, air).

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New blog post

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 11 Sept 2021, 22:28
Not ordained with any Buddhist group; but I like listening to and reading different teachings on Buddhism. Practising can be challenging, but I do the best I can to fit it in with my circumstances and the changing moments of the world around me.

I don't mind being a lay practitioner though, I also prefer to work at my own pace. One interesting side-effect from the pandemic has being monasteries putting out virtual retreats for lay people to follow (instead of the usual physical retreats). 

I am learning we all have these same minds, but our bodies and brains are wired a bit differently and we all have unique karma, so no two people are conditioned in the exact same way.

It is a long path to liberation, and it is helpful to accept that, and realise that being a meditator is something you practise throughout your life all the way to the last breath. So it is also about learning resilience and to keep on practising through the good and the bad days; however long it takes to skillfully train this mind. Could be lifetimes.

It is also good to remember to smile at others, (obviously in the right context) a genuine smile is like a light that can make someone else's day. Sometimes I forget I'm not the only one lost in my head. We all have problems, we all long to feel peace, for the Earth to be at peace, for an end to the disconnection with nature and one another, an end to the divisive delusion of self and other.

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