The Novice – a book review


A review of The Novice, by Thich Nath Hanh by Milan Buddha ‘Mad ‘ Ghosh.

“To continue the path to Enlightenment Kinh must suffer false accusations, physical hardship and public demolition without complaint, with absolute grace, astounding compassion and unwavering resolve. The Novice perseveres in the face of every challenge, ultimately Kinh Tam’s moving fate will transform lives and offer hope to us all.”

so says the review on the back cover. I found it to be one of those books that I couldn’t put down.. it was in plain English, and spoke to the heart, yet used the understanding of intellect too.

Kinh is a woman who dearly desires enlightenment, but in her part of Asia it is indeed a man’s world, and even the Buddhist establishment in monasteries is sexist, despite Buddha Shakyamunni’s welcoming an order of nuns. So she decides to cross dress as a man, shaves her head, and to behave like one. How she manages the lack of privacy in such a male environment is astounding. She is brave indeed just to do this.

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Place and Memory Revisited


How are you feeling on a scale of one to seven? (2013) Donna Coleman

How are you feeling on a scale of one to seven? (2013) Donna Coleman

I blogged recently about the great Place and Memory project, who were looking for funding to support the development of artists who have experienced mental health difficulties. This award winning project produced a wonderful book and film last year and since then artists Emma Bolland, Tom Rodgers, curator Judit Bodor and writer and publisher Brian Lewis have continued to give time and work with the participants on a voluntary basis. They wanted funding for a second exhibition, and a publication – part art book, part document of the amazing journey, and part an exploration in text and image of the hidden histories and beauties of the city of Leeds.

Unfortunately the ‘crowdfunding’ kickstarter campaign did not reach its target. However they have set up their own donate page and also trimmed the budget so that they are asking for less than a third of the original amount. This will still allow them to print a book but it just means that nothing else will be paid for and everything will be done on a voluntary basis. The participants will still get the same level of support.

“We now need to raise £2500 by April 20th. We have set up a direct donations page on our website (link below) and are asking all our kickstarter backers if they will donate to us direct. You can donate any amount when you’ve clicked on the PayPal button; you’ll find the same list of Rewards below the PayPal button. If you’ve already donated to us direct then thank you so much for your support – we really appreciate it. If you have any questions then please do contact us on

The Place And Memory team. X”


Arts and Minds


The Arts & Minds Network aims to bring together people in Leeds who believe the arts can promote mental well being. The network is open to anyone who in Leeds wants to see the growth of arts and health – including service users, carers, mental health workers, artists, arts organisations and mental health organisations.

How did Arts and Minds (AM) start?

10 years ago NHS people interested in arts and mental health classes. There were many things going on in isolation so people started to coordinate good practice and projects. At the time it was done under the auspices of the Leeds Partnerships Trust, which has evolved into LEEDS & YORK NHS FOUNDATION Trust.

Arts and minds started purely voluntary, no one was unpaid, out of good will.
Then about 6 years ago, some money to pay a development worker Linda Boyles, and 2 years later money became available to employ a development manager.
Linda filled the latter role and Tom Bailey became the new development worker.

What are the aims and objectives of Arts and Minds?

The focus is on mental health and arts; to foster creativity. Arts and Minds is trying to inform Arts projects with a mental health focus and arts focus via the website and a printed magazine.

So somebody might ring Tom and say I work for service users in mental health, do you know of a arts project relevant to their needs? So the development worker signposts people to the right arts group or project for their needs. As such Arts and Minds is about client centred-ness, user survivor centred-ness. Workers service users, survivors, word of mouth between any or more than the above can make queries and referrals or self referrals.

Arts and Minds asks people to join as members, so that they can get the newsletter by post or email, the latest news and arts events. There are currently 900 members. Carers and workers are involved and there is a self defined membership, Arts and Minds is a broad socially inclusive, non discriminatory equal ops membership.

Tom Bailey started to divide work into 3 areas : Visual, Performance, Book and Film

Tom says:

“we offer a broad opportunity to involve people in arts with different individual needs for creativity. We are trying to offer different art forms, and to involve as many different people as possible: music, dance, film, drama, book clubs, writers groups, walking groups etcetera.


Arts and Minds doesn’t run all the groups we advertise or refer people to. We support these groups by signposting people to them if we think they will benefit. . We signpost group volunteers, managers, coordinators to sources of funding. We collaborate together so that everyone benefits – win-win.


And we don’t do lots of visual arts, as there’s no point – other projects do this, but where there is a needs we will spot it and try to cater fr it. Arts and Minds supports arts creativity in Leeds, encouraging mental health services users. Arts is a really good way to aid recovery.”

There is a distinction between arts in health, and formal art therapy. Arts and Minds is looking at working with art therapists and to make the case for art therapists to be used more within NHS services partly as a way of arts creativity. So give your views to Tom Bailey on this proposal and copy emails to

OTs are excellent at their job, using arts and crafts to aid recovery

What has Arts and Minds has achieved so far:

The Love Arts 3 week festival (it used to be 7 weeks)

The big Highlights Exhibition in the Autumn, and 100s of events in 10 years on many aspects of art

post by Milan Ghosh


I’m wandering where… my experience of travel

Early 2014, I’m sitting in a café when an idea vaporises…  “Why not write a blog about travelling?”

Well I can tell you one reason why I haven’t ventured into the bottom of a suitcase to find material for a blog piece about travelling before now. It’s simply because I am no Christina Columbus. I’m definitely someone who likes a holiday, oh-about once a year, otherwise I am unlikely to burn a hole in my 16-25 Rail-Card very often at all. Though this is of course just me, and I shall always look up to those people who feel they’d like to more regularly explore the train-lines of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; or indeed any country they should feel compelled to explore. Further it is of course the nature of travelling that whereas some might book their travel tickets at four times the pace of Speedy-Gonzales, others book journey’s in the slower-paced style of the winning tortoise against the hare. I say “each to one’s own.”


So “why did you write about travel”? Well, like a table cloth that’s spent too many un-ironed weeks in a cupboard, there are many folds to the reason. The first reason is the fact that up until very recently I spent one day a week in another city. The second is that I was also recently on a train journey back into Leeds at 10:30pm, only to become a student for the third time when I witnessed a group of students enjoying their “night out.” To add a third side to the triangle, I am also working my way through recorded re-runs of recent episodes of a television series in which one leading character is a blue Police Call Box. My travel may be solely on Earth but I hope these reasons explain why a blog piece about travelling seemed “so obvious” at this point in my writing career, and why I first thought about breaking with tradition and let my mind press the computer’s keys on the subject of ‘travel’.


Since I’m writing about travel, I’ve decided to briefly talk about what I take, since I know that in travelling what you take with you is just as personal as where you go and who you go with. In my case, I will only ever go out with what I personally consider to be the following essentials; a coat, a jumper and a satchel with useful items. Mixed in with these items, and entwined in bright-blue headphones, is my I-pod. Now I’ve not got the room to discuss certain things in detail, but I realise that my I-pod has provided endless entertainment for me when travelling. Indeed I have been on long train journeys (to Glasgow, London and Bristol), which had my ear-phones not disintegrated from repeated songs, I would have regretted starting because of their length. For the interest of readers, a favourite travelling song of mine is ‘The World is What You Make It’ (Paul Brady), though I can never put my finger on why this is.


On any journey I’ve ever been on, I find myself switching between doing one of three things. If I’m travelling a short distance by foot, I count each step I take in order to pass the time.  Public transport poses other past times, as 20% of the time I unwittingly and unwillingly find myself absorbing snippets of discussion which don’t make any sense to me. Lastly, around 80% of my time on journeys is spent absorbing the words and music on my pre-mentioned trusted I-pod, whilst simultaneously reading my latest find at a book shop.

022 023

I conclude this blog by saying that travelling is something that some people do on a regular basis (with many ways of making a journey quickly go by), whereas others don’t travel.I therefore say again “each to one’s own”. This blog piece is indeed solely written to muse about the idea of travel, and it is inspired by my own personal travelling experiences within the last month.

By A

An interview with Mark Cruse, a very nice man and Inkwell’s Manager


 Milan: How was Inkwell set up?

 Mark: Well it was a Pub …

Milan: I know I used to come here The Shoulder of Mutton I am a Chapel-Town boy and Chapel-town’s not far away …

 Mark: It was set up 4 years ago…It’s great for us all really. Inkwell was an idea to set up a safe place space for people with mental health needs to change neurosis to artistic creativity by seeing creativity in their difficulties. It is shaped by users suggestions, opinions, and involvement

Inkwell is a project of Leeds Mind. Art is therapeutic, creativity is therapeutic, you don’t need to be an Art Therapist to see that. Inkwell is very busy with various projects art, painting, drumming, Secret Cinema monthly, on which Sue Renagur wrote a post for leedswellbeingweb.

 There’s also Meditation Classes run there by Leeds Mind Peer SupportCall Leeds MIND on 0113 3055 802.

Some subjects taught are:

1. Mindfulness of Breathing – Steve HART

2. Loving Kindness – Steve Hart

3. ZaZen Practice

4. Body Scan [for relaxation and bliss]

5. Mahamudra – you’ll have to ask Steve, or better come along!?

 In Conclusion: There’s plenty of good things going on in the world, in which YOU can participate, for your improved physical, mental and spiritual well-being, and that of others too.

There is always possibility, despite the dark side of life and the world, so don’t lose out, get the power of positive arting, creating, thinking, meditating out. Don’t stay inside your head, or de bed.

Life is for living, and life is short.

 by Milan Buddha ‘mad’ (i.e. True Individual) GHosh.

 Another post is coming very soon…


 artsandminds Leeds and York NHS Trust

 Milan blogging on and on this time for Arts and Minds…

The Dark Threads – Talk

Jean Davison

LitFest 2014  lowres

Tuesday 25 March

  The Dark Threads                      Partnership Event

Jean Davison will read from her memoir The Dark Threads and talk 9966about her experiences as a patient at High Royds psychiatric hospital in the 1970s. Electric Shock Treatment and drugs reduced her to a zombie-like state for five years, before she managed to turn her life around. The talk will also include her experiences of writing the book and getting published. A question/discussion session will follow, and then the evening will be rounded off with tea/coffee and biscuits.

7.00pm Oxfam Bookshop, Otley Road, Headingley (next to Skyrack)

Free. Donations invited

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Place and Memory – help to kickstart a unique project

Place & memory

During the magnificent Love Arts Festival last October I went to a great event at the White Cloth Gallery – a series of fascinating short films by local artists, on the theme of how important place and our memories of it are to us. This was part of the Place and Memory project and there was much more to see in the artwork and installations at Trinity Church on Boar Lane. Now there’s a chance to support this project and these artists through a brilliant new way of fundraising – crowdfunding. This has been described as ‘democratic finance’, and may well be the future for many small ventures as grants get harder to come by.

Place and Memory are aiming to get £7,500 and so far £1, 538 has been pledged. there’s 9 days left, so click on the link below and, to paraphrase the immortal words of Bob Geldoff, “pledge them your f***ing money”. (I did and it’s very easy to do.)

Place and Memory Mentor Emma Bolland writes:

“Place and Memory is a professional development project for artists who have experienced mental health difficulties. I am incredibly proud to be one of the mentors for this project. The project started in June of last year, and was funded until October, while we worked with them in producing a wonderful book and film. The project won an award for these outcomes and for its work. Since October I, artist Tom Rodgers, curator Judit Bodor and writer and publisher Brian Lewis have continued to give our time and work with the participants on a voluntary basis, but we now need your help to complete the project, to work with the wonderful artists and writers in creating a second exhibition, and a publication – part art book, part document of their amazing journey, and part an exploration in text an image of the hidden histories and beauties of the city of Leeds. Please, click on the link below, watch our short film, make a donation and pass this appeal on to your friends and family. Thank you.”