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Perseverence and connection

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 15 Nov 2021, 17:45

I completely fail sometimes, like yesterday, I got triggered into an unhelpful emotional state. The key then I am learning is to try to become aware of what is happening and then work at abandoning the negative state of mind. This can be tricky, especially with feelings of guilt or regret, or the feeling of loneliness. One must remember they are not alone. Our connections are always with us wherever we are. Our ancestors are also with us. I am with you dear reader, and I certainly don't judge you. I will be your friend at the gate if you need one. You are not alone.

Drop any guilt or regret about the past, learn what wisdom you can from the experience and let it go. Try again, persevere. That's how you honour it. 

These struggles are like the guardians at the gate, they were put there to keep one out of the sacred space. The guardians are not bad energy and can become useful allies, but first one must enter the sacred space, and to do that one must tame and go beyond the five guardians at the gate:

Wanting, 

Aversion, 

Dullness, 

Agitation, 

Doubt

(AKA the five hindrances.)

One should remember that one does not have to face the guardians alone. We can do it with friends by our side. We are energetically connected, even over great physical distances, we are still with one another on some level, and can share energy - step through these dharma gates together.



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The Wood Wide Web

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 20 Jan 2022, 21:25

abstract painting

An abstract depiction of the mycorrhizal web that lies beneath ancient woodland, it lives in symbiosis with plants and is used as a communication network by trees; connecting tree-roots together to form a woodland wide internet. 

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The five remembrances and the nature of change

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A bit under the weather today. Woke up with a touch of sickness this morning. Didn't feel comfortable lying in bed as had sweated a lot in the night. So I got up and had a bath. Then sat in meditation with a Zen group I sit with regularly. Felt quite unwell whilst I sat, and have an annoying cough which kept interrupting the flow of meditation and stopped me getting into a deep state of concentration. At first I wondered why on Earth I was sitting meditating with others on Zoom when I just wasn't feeling it. But I remembered a story about a monk who got sick with malaria, and he carried on sitting and meditating with the sangha every evening, and even though he felt like he was on death's door, and felt gravely ill, he kept meditating and it was hardwork, he struggled; but he also persevered and eventually managed to reach a flow state known as samhadi (A profound deep stillness, lucidity and unification of mind) and from then on his sickness turned around and he got better. I have heard other stories like this, so I think there is something to it. There's something powerful and healing about getting into a state of samhadi. I didn't manage to do that today, after 30 minutes I felt like I had had enough and left the sitting to lie down for a bit. 

But it was not a wasted effort, there was merit there. I think just sitting with the sickness and learning how to flow with it and be kind to myself was a helpful experience. I tried to remain aware and mindful throughout and learn what I could about the mind and how to be okay with ill health and pain; not reacting, accepting things as they are, letting them be, without the suffering. 

 I can't seem to generate the energy of metta (loving-kindness, goodwill, friendliness) today, feel a bit weak and fatigued, athough I will persevere with that as I have found doing metta practise for the bacteria/viruses causing sickness in my body has powerfully turned things around for me in the past. I can't seem to bring up that feeling just now though, so am spending a lot of time in equanimity. I may listen to a playlist of dharma talks on metta later, as using the voice of another can help to generate the feeling of metta when I am struggling to be able to.

Remembering the five wise reflections oddly brings me comfort, and seems to help the mind to accept the way things are. It reminds me that the first four reflections: ageing, sickness, death, and separation  are natural, and happen to all living beings. The last reflection reminds me to show kindness to myself and others, and develop a generous heart and try to give in whatever form I can, even if that is just silently practising metta for myself and others, it still helps. As these are actions that can bring one good karma. 

The Five wise reflections

I am of the nature to age; I have not gone beyond old age.
I am of the nature to get sick; I have not gone beyond ill health.
I am of the nature to die; I have not gone beyond dying.
Everything I hold dear and everyone that I love,
Will become separated from me due to the nature of change (of impermanence).

I am the owner of my karma, heir of my karma, 
Born of my karma, related to my karma.
My karma is the ground on which I stand.
Therefore should I frequently remember:
Whatever actions I do for good or for ill,
Become the karma I inherit.



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Change

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 30 Nov 2021, 19:57

Whilst sitting in meditation today I was practising the anapana-sati sutta (the Buddha's teaching on mindfulness of the breath). And when I got to the thirteenth step which trains one to focus on change and impermanence. I stayed with this step a while, and I noticed how everything both within me and all around me is constantly changing, the sounds happening outside the window, time, sensations, feelings, the processes happening within the body, thoughts, emotions, the sense of self, the weather going from rain to stillness, the seasons, the changes in the trees outside the window as the leaves fall, the air around me as it constantly moves, the breath. I wasn't really thinking much about it, but experiencing the changes directly moment to moment as I sat there in meditation. It was strangely liberating to sit there just calmly observing each moment as it changed.

The next step in the sutta is to train oneself to focus on dispassion (for the things of the world,) knowing everything is impermanent, we stop grasping for things or pushing them away, there is nothing to cling to, everything is insubstantial, illusory, even those we love change moment to moment, and one day will die and become rotting corpses, 'Everything I hold dear, and everyone I love will become separated from me due to the nature of change.' Remembering this helps one feel dispassion and equanimity for the world.

The next step is to train oneself to focus on the cessation of suffering, and then on renunciation (letting go).

The last four steps in the anapanna sati sutta make me think of the four noble truths. I have never been taught whether those last four steps are the four noble truths, but seems to make sense to me that this is what they represent, albeit phrased in a different way, but these are just my thoughts on it and I could be wrong.

I will write a summary of the anapana-sati sutta below for anyone who might be interested.

I have been taught to do each step three times, but one can do each step for longer if one wants to depending on how much time they have and how strong their attention is. But doing each step three times is probably doable for most, as ideally one wants to be able to practise the whole sutta in a single session without forgetting (losing their mindfulness), as it is a training exercise for the mind, each step has something important to teach which can become invaluable in life, I often find different steps will come up automatically for me at different times during the day and help me bring some balance to the mind.

One should spend longer on a step that proves challenging till one can at least generate a hint of what one is training the mind to experience there before moving on. For example, I find the step where one is training the mind to be sensitive to joy can sometimes be challenging for me.

For the first step (and only the first step) I have been taught to intentionally take long deep breaths. And for the second step to let go of the intentional long breaths and let the breath do its own thing, which tends to naturally become shorter in duration after several long breaths. These first two steps I have been told are preparation for the training, as the third step introduces the words one trains. I understand this is open to interpretation and I merely post this to show how I practise this sutta. The first step is the only time I deliberately manipulate the breath.

For the fifth step, 'one trains I breathe sensitive to joy' - it can be helpful to use a memory of a time you felt joy, or use your imagination to intentionally invoke the feeling. Metta practise can also help generate joy. Joy has a bubbly effervescent quality to it and sometimes it may already be present, as there can be a feeling of joy that naturally arises when one takes time out from the stress of the day and lets go of whatever is on the mind to sit and practise meditation.

Anapana-sati sutta summary:

First one finds a quiet secluded place to practise where one won't be disturbed.

Find a posture you can comfortably be in for a while.

1. Breathing in long, one knows "I am breathing in long"; breathing out long, one knows "I am breathing out long".

2. Breathing in short, one knows "I am breathing in short"; breathing out short, one knows "I am breathing out short".

3. One trains: "I breathe in sensitive to the whole body"; one trains: "I breathe out sensitive to the whole body."

4. One trains: "I breathe in calming the body"; one trains: "I breathe out calming the body."

5. One trains: "I breathe in sensitive to joy"; one trains: "I breathe out sensitive to joy."

6. One trains: "I breathe in sensitive to pleasure"; one trains: "I breathe out sensitive to pleasure."

7. One trains: "I breathe in sensitive to thoughts and emotions"; one trains: "I breathe out sensitive to thoughts and emotions."

8. One trains: "I breathe in calming thoughts and emotions"; one trains: "I breathe out calming thoughts and emotions."

9. One trains: "I breathe in sensitive to the mind"; one trains: "I breathe out sensitive to the mind."

10. One trains: "I breathe in satisfying the mind"; one trains: "I breathe out satisfying the mind."

11. One trains: "I breathe in steadying (concentrating) the mind"; one trains: "I breathe out steadying the mind."

12. One trains: "I breathe in releasing (liberating) the mind"; one trains: "I breathe out releasing the mind."

13. One trains: "I breathe in focusing on change (impermanence); one trains: "I breathe out focusing on change."

14. One trains: "I breathe in focusing on dispassion"; one trains: "I breathe out focusing on dispassion."

15. One trains: "I breathe in focusing on cessation (of suffering); one trains: "I breathe out focusing on cessation."

16. One trains: "I breathe in focusing on letting go (renunciation); one trains: "I breathe out focusing on letting go."

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Ode to joy

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 26 Oct 2021, 14:14

I regularly sit in Zazen with a Zen group via Zoom. And there is a chant we do at the beginning of the sitting called the verse of the robe. And I have a pet jackdaw, and she has recently started chanting along with me and the group, and it made me laugh today whilst I was chanting. But in hindsight I hope it didn't upset or offend anyone. Obviously we are muted, so it was my Zoom self laughing away on the screen whilst we were chanting, which may have looked inappropriate and odd to anyone looking who couldn't see the context of my situation. Still, it did help me to generate some joy and gladness in meditation today. Something I feel is an important and necessary step in training the mind. Joy can help one work better and stop becoming too dry, dark and grim in thought.

 In my experience whatever the mind focuses on tends to snowball. 

There is the middle way where one is neither excessively happy or sad, but I am not someone who likes to be dead-centre in my emotions. I imagine equanimity as being like a dial, and for me the ideal spot is where the needle is a bit off-centre to the right towards joy and pleasure, but not completely all the way, because if that gets too excessive that is not helpful either. But I find without any joy or pleasure I feel a bit like a stone Buddha, so for me a bit of joy and joviality brings the mind to life I find. 

Ah well enough of my crap, back to my studying. M269 has been the most challenging module I have studied yet, but is stretching my brain in good ways I think. Very chewy module, so have to study in bit-size chunks and have regular breaks.

Anyway have a good day wherever you are, at whatever point in time and space you are reading this.

May all beings know profound peace and wellbeing.


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My spiritual practise is friendship

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 27 Oct 2021, 15:41

This is a nice practise I learnt in Buddhism. It is called sharing your merit with all beings. Merit being your attainments, virtue, knowledge, wisdom, benefits of spiritual practise, wellbeing... all the good wholesome stuff. And you share that freely with all the beings around you. Both seen and unseen. It can help bring a nice vibe I find, especially when out walking. I feel the presence of many different beings, and some I call Devas, (we in the West call them spirits.) I feel them all around me at times, and they bring good energy, and I have found they really appreciate it when we share our merit with them.

We of course lose absolutely nothing when we share our merit with others, what you give out energetically comes back to you exponentially. This means your merit will grow from this practise, and then you will have more to give, and the more you give, the more comes back to you, and so on, it grows and grows.

However, the intention behind giving is also important, as it is our intention that will be the flavour of what comes back to us energetically. What we reap is what we sow. As a rule of thumb, right intention tends to come from the belly or the heart, intentions developed in the brain and our thoughts can generate the wrong kind of intention.

 I think it is a blameless practise, that causes no harm and nothing bad can come from it. 

It has also helped me a couple times with grief. Where I offered to share my merit with loved ones who had crossed over this past couple of years. I felt their presence as I did this and that they really appreciated the merit. All spirits appreciate it when we share our merit with them, I think it can really help them out where they are.

 I think this practise is also a good training for the mind in developing  generosity, good will and friendship with other beings. It can be done silently in one's head, and nobody has to know that you are practising this at all.  You don't have to be wealthy, you can be in poverty and still practise sharing your merit. We have all had moments of genuine kindness, there's some merit right there that can be shared. Share your entire life's worth of merit with all the beings around you in all directions, and dimensions throughout all time and space.

Keep doing that as often as you remember to. 

In Buddhism this energy is known as metta or loving-kindness. It also means friendship, warmth and joviality.
Compassion is a form of metta, it is metta towards another who is suffering. 
Empathetic Joy is also a form of metta, this is where one feels joy in another's happiness. You could say (for anyone who has encountered object-oriented programming) that compassion and empathetic joy are both subclasses of metta (;

Equanimity is also very valuable, and compliments metta perfectly. Ajahn Sona describes metta and equanimity as being like a knife and fork. They work well together. 

Equanimity is welcome for times when generating metta feels impossible, when the grief is too much, and for the times when you make mistakes and fail, when things don't go to plan, for the things you can't change in the world. Nobody can solve all the world's problems, neither me nor you are responsible for solving the world's problems, that's an impossible task. We also should not suffer with other beings. That just leads one to sadness and the complete wrecking ball of depression, which doesn't help you or any other being. The best help we can be to other beings is to practise keeping our own minds bright and lucid, keep our spirits lifted up so we can offer support and friendship, compassion, and uplift others. This world is going to need that now more than ever. One can also radiate equanimity energetically, which can help bring calm to a difficult situation.

This practise takes a while though, lots of repetitive practise, lots of failures, but don't beat yourself up for those, just learn what you can, pick yourself back up and try try again.

 It is good to try and find something that invokes that feeling in you. Can be anything: a loved one, a pet, any person, a mythological figure, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, an animal, a tree, the ocean, something neutral like the snow, water, air, colours, can be something imaginary. Use anything that brings up that feeling of love within you. Even if you get just a finger snap of the feeling, that's good enough, it snowballs. And the mind will find its way back there again, and again, and get better at finding its way back there. And sometimes it will do it without you consciously invoking it. Once it gets the hang of it, the mind will get quicker at finding it, and the amount of time the feeling lasts for will also grow both in intensity and duration.

Remember that what we practise now is what we will become. A way I have found that can help to keep fuelling the determination to practise, is to imagine having compassion for my future self and others. It is a gradual training, much like learning any other craft or skill in life, but with repeated practise it can be done, and the beneifts will blow your mind. Your future self (and all the people around you) will be glad that you did (-:


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The middle way

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 23 Oct 2021, 14:38

Neither going toward nor backing away from.
Not grasping nor pushing away.

I breathe in and train my mind to focus on dispassion.
I breathe out focusing on dispassion.

A creeping feeling,
A voice says:
"Brace yourself for the darkness".

But I don't care for it much, I will fight.
By keeping my mind lucid and bright.

I am no use to the Earth or anybody else
When I'm depressed.









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Inner

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 20 Jan 2022, 21:35




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Castles in the sky

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 13 Oct 2021, 14:45


There's a place the air touches

Where magic is real

Where people really do fly

And a myriad Buddhas 

In the myriad worlds

Welcome you and
Say well done!



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New blog post

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Internal combustion broken beyond belief

Opened up the heart but still no relief

Pain, and a feeling of disconnection

Alone, but don't feel like conversation

So me go deep inside

 far far within 

away from this place

to another space 

where I forget who I am

and that's the best

to forget my self.



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New blog post

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 27 Oct 2021, 15:43


Leaves leave shadows  

through dusty stained glass

musical rhythms make the

static shadows dance.

Mind and outer

a unified flow

timeless

empty 

I don't

know.


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Problem-solving, my left right brain, and a daylight bulb

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 24 Dec 2021, 21:47


I am enjoying this module so far. This year I will be learning about problem-solving and creating algorithms. We are working with something called Jupyter notebooks, which I like using. The module is going to be challenging, but it is re-activating my logic circuits and hopefully doing them some good, they were getting a bit dusty from neglect. 

At the moment I alternate between studying and painting. So the left and right hemispheres of my brain are getting plenty of exercise anyway, and the rotation hopefully keeps them happy, might even help with problem solving, we will see.

I have also got one of those daylight bulbs in my room, which I am using to help with low mood, as the nights are drawing in now and the days are getting shorter. It also has the added benefit of making it easier to see the colours when painting, so proving to be a good idea to get one of those.

Ah well, enough of my blurb, back to my studies.


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Pink sunset

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 24 Dec 2021, 22:02


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Knowledge from one generation to the next

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 4 Oct 2021, 21:04

I have decided I really want to make a go of the Buddhist path and learn as much as I can. Now my son is 16 I have more time to devote to spiritual practise, obviously inbetween studying at the OU, right livelihood is part of the path, so studying this degree is also part of my spiritual practise. 

 I feel the Buddha's teachings are important, especially now in these turbulent  times, and they should be available for everyone. Even though not everyone will be interested, they should be available for those that are. There are some really knowledgable experienced teachers out there, some of who started practising before I was even born. They are currently sharing what they know freely online, running free programmes, events, Q&As and practise discussions. I had the sobering thought that one day in the future these teachers will no longer be with us, so I should make the most of them and learn as much as I can from them. Then the scary thought came to me that twenty years from now it could be up to people like me to carry the torch of dharma forward. When that happens I hope I'm up to the task. I do wish to freely share what I know - I don't want the dharma to be lost. I have found the practise of buddhism has helped me a lot and I am keen to preserve it for future generations.

 Still, that's a long way off in the future, hopefully if I keep practising now, and I don't die any time soon, the Richie in the future will have enough experience, knowledge and wisdom to keep that flame burning, and hopefully be able to pass that knowledge on to the next generation and so on. If it wasn't for all the people in the past who shared what they knew and passed on the teachings of the Buddha, buddhism would have died long ago. The fact it is still so well-preserved 2500 years later is testament to how powerful these teachings are.  


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New blog post

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Sunday, 3 Oct 2021, 13:16


Feeling a bit under the weather today, think it is just a cold. Spent some time with a few drops of olbas oil in a bowl of boiling water and a towel over my head, breathing the vapours in for as long as I can stand it. Also drinking plenty of chamomile tea as that is good for the immune system, (at least I believe it is, always seems to help me recover quicker anyway).

I am lucky to have a robin that perches in the bush next to my window and sings his little heart out. The sound transports my mind into some otherworldly peace that is hard to put into words.

Seeing some interesting colours, shapes and patterns in the walls and floor, I wonder sometimes if there are many worlds that overlap in the same space,  this material one we inhabit being just one of many. Perhaps there are ways to tune our consciousness so we can visit the other realities - that would be fun.




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Divine introspection

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 11 Dec 2021, 22:05

A nice downtempo mix for chill-out or study:


 What is the divine? Where is it?

Answers on a postcard...

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Bright and breezy

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 24 Dec 2021, 21:46

Break for a moment in the rain. Nice sea-breeze. Lovely fresh air soaking deep into my skin.

My imagination created the odd sensation of my negative conditioning slowly becoming like ash, collapsing and being carried away in the wind as I walked along. 

Beneath it all, something always burning bright within. 

There's a Zen saying: "Wood becomes ash; but ash does not become wood again."

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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 Sep 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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