Regular Everything, by John Aske

How often, acting upon our need for comfort and security, do we sacrifice our freedom and happiness?

Stupa (chorten), 17th–18th century Tibet. © Metropolitan Museum of Art We all like things to be regular, and what’s wrong with that, you might reasonably ask? We all want stable conditions as well. We don’t want anything to change, either — we want it to stay the same — or more or less, always.

Having a regular job, regular meals and somewhere regular to sleep at night can only be good, better than sleeping in a ditch and being hungry all the time. The gravedigger at Drewsteignton preferred to sleep under a hedge, he told me, because a roof ‘made the place stuffy,’ but he was an unusual man. Continue reading “Regular Everything, by John Aske”

Snakes, Ladders, and Utopia, by Diana St Ruth

The practice of Buddhism, however, is not to go up and down with those changing conditions—feeling sad when things are not as we want them to be, and happy when they are. The Buddha’s teaching is pointing towards understanding this world…

Fudō uses his sword to cut through ignorance and his lasso to reign in those who would block the path to enlightenment. © The Metropolitan Museum of ArtHave you ever noticed? If everything seems to be going right in your life, if everything seems to be perfect and you start thinking that this is the most perfect time in my life and it’s going to be wonderful from now on, your world suddenly falls apart. It’s a bit like that old board game of snakes and ladders where you throw the dice and climb the ladder to greater and greater heights, then encounter a snake and zoom down you go again, maybe even to a lower position than before.

Some people might say that this is a somewhat pessimistic view of life and that we should be more optimistic, but I have found that this sort of thing does happen quite often. The pinnacle of perfection is reached in terms of health and worldly well-being, our ambitions have been gratified, maybe just sometimes, it’s exciting, and then something awful happens and we plummet downwards into a difficult or even nightmare situation. The depths of despair, on the other hand, can equally as suddenly turn and life goes into the ascendant again. Mostly, we probably just jog along with less dramatic ups and downs — we’re relatively happy; we’re relatively unhappy; we’re relatively happy again. Continue reading “Snakes, Ladders, and Utopia, by Diana St Ruth”

Meditation In Daily Life — emotional states, by Bhante Bodhidhamma

The moods, once so solid, now seem softer and there is a general uplift towards calmness, peace and joy…

Creating a small space between tasks stops the accumulation of emotional states.

Pointing Artwork by © Marcelle HanselaarMissing the alarm in the morning and oversleeping, Jack suddenly wakes up and realizes he’s going to be late for work. Panic! From that moment on there’s a world-shattering rush to try and get there on time: the morning wash at top speed, water and soapsuds everywhere; breakfast shovelled in; scalding tea gulped down with a yelp; legging it to the bus stop; spending the ride tapping the fingers and biting the lip, or driving like a madman, swearing at friend and foe, prepared to run over man, woman, child, cat or dog and finally arriving at work. Is that the end of the panic? Of course not! Late or not he’s set the pace for the whole day which turns into a frenetic onslaught of rush, anger, frustration, anxiety and stress, at the end of which his only comfort is an aspirin! Continue reading “Meditation In Daily Life — emotional states, by Bhante Bodhidhamma”

Cabinet Making, by Trevor Leggett

We often do not realise clearly that all our actions are of the same nature: they are bits for the ‘cabinet’ which is being made. One piece is as important as the other; some are bigger, some are smaller, but they are all important…

Drop-front secretary © The Metropolitan Museum of ArtIn the inner training, we can think of our actions as preparing and fitting together hundreds of pieces to make an elaborate cabinet, which symbolises the central purpose of a directed life. They have to be carefully shaped and fitted together, then they make a beautiful cabinet. We often do not realise clearly that all our actions are of the same nature: they are bits for the ‘cabinet’ which is being made. One piece is as important as the other; some are bigger, some are smaller, but they are all important. Continue reading “Cabinet Making, by Trevor Leggett”

Wrinkles, The Universe and All That, by Linda Clark

Yellow Bag. Art © @TessaMacDermotI never really thought about the ageing process until I was twenty-five and my new employers, the South-Eastern Electricity Board, sent me to London on an induction course. I was a very timid soul in those days and it was a big adventure for me to be ‘allowed out’ on my own without either my parents or my husband to look after me. The course members came from all over the country but were billeted in the same hotel. On the second to last evening everyone decided to go down to the bar for a farewell get-together. I didn’t really want to go, but I was too shy to get out of it. Continue reading “Wrinkles, The Universe and All That, by Linda Clark”

Einstein and Contemplation, by John Aske

Einstein’s eyes were luminous and serene, like the eyes of a jade bodhisattva, lost in an absoluteness of being, where there is neither cat nor mouse, but only grace…

This cat is called Sam, and like Einstein, he's a most intelligent cat.In my garden, there lived a cat. Seeing it one morning, elegantly tipping the milk bottle so as not to spill the contents, one of my flatmates christened it Einstein. Einstein it remained. A most intelligent cat, which on one occasion stole a large pork chop, and on another a pound of sausages, from right under our noses.

And yet Einstein was able to put all this intelligence aside and be simply — Cat.

There was a small, busy rat, which lived under the garden shed, together with a number of other assorted rodents. Continue reading “Einstein and Contemplation, by John Aske”