Resilience

Resilience is something of a constant on-off meditation. I’ve had to think about what resilience means? Being resilient makes me happy: I said recently to a friend:

“There is no such thing as adversity.”

Yes, I live from that more and more, a very resilient thought creating joy for me and others?

“There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way”

The Dalai Lama.

We have to be very mindful, because there is no belief system of absoluteness, in mindfulness, or Buddhism. If you have the neigbours from hell then move; conditions are important, but only as important as you make them.

I was a ‘depressive’/ ‘despairive’/despairer’, although I do not now have disabling or clinical depression, as I have basically recovered, my friends will be relieved to know. This recovery took me many years. In those years I despaired of ever healing and recovering. However apart from good friends, two things really helped me change my life, ‘gainst the ground-hog days we all suffer indeed:

Buddhist practices including meditation; there is contemplation to induce the practice of wisdom-compassion in your life, but at least 5 other practices. However.meditation alone will not change your life.

Therapy and counselling. I count them as the same difference as unlike certain therapist and counsellors, they argue over very little and the prime focus should be the clients needs to heal, not professional intellectual differences!

And my acquaintances too:  I mustn’t forget the latter for a very simple reason: every source of support is necessary to overcome the low self esteem behind mania and depression, or any other form of self-defined distress. Both are Jungian overcompensations for something denied and that something is low self esteem or more graphically self hatred.

I will say again one needs a massive support system to overcome even mild depression, moderate despair or the worst manic and suicidal despair depression.

We need to be extremely mindful, aware and kind to ourselves, and others in order to overcome the worst in ourselves and make the best of the rest of our lives. The only point about being mindfullly-aware is to develop the insights for you to be compassionate yourselves, and to others.

Despair depression and other mental ‘illnesses’ are deeply ground into being-karma, so the medicine must be strong, varied and penetrate to our unconscious depths. This allows integration of horrible and repressed demons, our worst fears and doubts and to overcome the fear of freedom from neurosis. But as I once discovered if we don’t watch it it can kill us. Neurosis and psychosis killed my dad and brother many years ago, and deep mental pain, anguish can make life not worth living. If we fully recognise these realities and talk to our friends, nurture friends who earn trust, then slowly we can recover with consistent practice of recovery techniques, invented or not, over time.

Mindfulness (being in the mo-ment, enjoying life, being efficient, being joyful, but not driven, etc.) also makes one very aware in ones home garden, bus or wherever of one body in a relaxed yoga like fashion. In fact just taking 5 percent reduction of my high speed mania, helped, or adding 5 per cent to lift myself from despair pits worked. Tis the middle way, not foolish ground-hog day overcompensation.

I cannot value therapy/counselling, Buddhist practices, or friends over and above one another. In a sense the telling thing is they are all friends, OK a professional listener was paid by me as an exception, but if you feel it is merely about the money, then be firm with your counsellor or therapist (search this website for more on talking listening treatments counselling and psychotherapy).

The Buddha said ”Do the wholesome. Do the wholesome always.”

Conclusions:  For people with disabling despair, depression anxiety-neurosis, psychosis, or people with distress,  it is important to look after yourself by asking for help (there’s a future blog of this title coming soon), by nurturing self insight/ self help, asking friends and therapists for help, but don’t be exploited by any unethical ‘friends’ or therapists .

Stick with the bad-weather friends, and genuine people – those who will stick by you in thick and thin. And who love you even for your faults, which they see as amusing and delightful and charming. Those who nurture you and love you.

You can recover. Indeed. It is totally true – even the worst cases can transform their lives to contentment happiness and a greater kindness.
You can change.
But you need self insight and to ask for help so sharing, and halving your problems.
You need to stop the Ground-hog Days of unconscious addictive karmas, and if you fall back into despair anxiety and mistakes; that’s OK there’s no such thing as failure only feedback.
Create a massive support network
Be happy,  that’s the only point of living after all, without harming others through anger, drugs, battles, resentments, verbal darts – in fact cultivate the opposite of these weeds of the mind. Please cultivate the lotuses and sunflowers of our lives. For the rest of our lives.

If you want to learn mindfulness for resilience, more humour and more joy and wisdom in your life, please leave a message on this post, or e-mail us at Leeds Wellbeing Web.

or google leeds buddhist centre or mindfulness or buddhist centres leeds u.k.

Enjoy your life, I lick the lid of life.

Milan Buddha Ghosh

Asking for Help: Only you can benefit, and your friends and everyone who cares about you….

Milan Buddha Ghosh

Asking for help is something I find very difficult, and I know it is really necessary for my well-being.

Because of 17 years of domestic violence, racism at school, and mentalism, the bigotry against the ‘partly’ or so-called mad-folk, who can be just as individual as others. We are all valuable individuals who need help at times.
By definition we suffer as human beings, and we can learn to be happier, much happier.

We all know that it can not only be terribly difficult to help ourselves by asking for help. But also even terrifying, at times. You see, when you’ve been beaten for years called ‘Paki’ etc. go home trust is a hard thing to allow. It is hard to pick up the phone, even when you choose the mostly trustworthy people and friends, or kind strangers.

However the good news is it gets better, by fits and starts and uneven journeying, over the years. And many people do say how much I’ve changed. They usually say you changed so much.” If I prompt them further with questions they say
”you’re much happier, lighter even more playful than you were before, fitter” etc.
So the good news is that just like exercising a muscle, wholesome practices reduces the fears anxieties resistances to asking for help.

A problem shared is a problem halved; and I’m sure many of us could for our own benefit, no ones else’s, practice sharing our problems in hard times. Likewise we can mutually coach each other in sharing problems and processing them, with love understanding and inspiration.

Sharing our burdens – that’s why we ask for help isn’t it?
And somewhere deep down inside we know we are OK, that others are OK, although we may well have to steer clear of, b**tards, robbers, rapists, thieves and a host of other foolish people who become as bad as their practising harm, or evil even. You see human character or personality is not set in stone what the mind dwells on it becomes, another solar rule of karma is how we behave what we do becomes us.
We create our own lives with our actions, thoughts and good or bad thoughts about others.
If we understand this, then
There really is no permanent depression, despair or anxiety hearing voices, eating disorders or any other forms of distress, because primarily, karma means ”with our thoughts we make the world, our suffering or happiness. Karma means ‘choice fir the good’
So, if you have been told you are of a certain mental health diagnoses for life, or incorrigible or incurable – well, it is total NONSENSE.

Terry Simpson is a great activist in many health positive circles.
He said to me years ago when I was low ”Create a massive support network.
Last January when I was low, but my lows have got further and farther apart, he said ”Don’t let anxiety run away with you, its an unrealistic fear Milan”(I’m paraphrasing him). He said also ”Be like a peasant ” my paraphrase when it all goes upsides down and you’re down pick yourself up dust yourself down and start all over again.
And I know many friends coach each other out of the blues and horrible anxieties, even out of hearing voices, or befriending them, and paranoid and aggressive alienated bits of ourselves that are voices.

I can vividly remember about 12 years ago, when I realised it was better to ring 1 friend a day rather than not. Or I would be down and have horrible anxiety for the rest of my life. it was a moment of presence-truth. Whatever mood I was in high, low, neutral, numb, dissatisfied or satisfied. Tony Lawson was one of the friends I rang, and Terry. I soon realised and felt like a fool for the depressed past, because no one refused help. People thought of me as a really nice man, more or less unanimously. They even expressed admiration for my humour my vulnerability and hearts openness, speaking my mind and body e.g. warming up floors spontaneity. I was SHOCKED in a nice way. It made me feel lighter, a bit more unburdened more playful and joyful serious-er too at times, but in a contemplative way which allowed deeper insights. My mental knots were untangling. My life transformed. Later on I became a Buddhist.

So, yes we sometimes ask for help without words we just turn up at art groups (see my blogs re Buddhism, Chat N Create and Inkwell interview with ark ruse and the recently posted poem call A Pint of Inkwell. You don’t have to talk, but just do something good which you enjoy, if catharsis or therapeutic talking is not your style.

Others sources of help
leeedswelbeingblog
mental health websites min.org. http://www.leedsmind.org.uk
Please post your self help groups, fave counsellors, business cards only or NHS giving their consented info, please share about anything that has helped you ask for help, on leedswellbeingblog – your voice on keeping well in Leeds.
That’s what leedwellbeingweb is for – USE US!

Self Help Empathic Conclusions – or, you are worth helping, suicidal, in horrible anxiety, sad, or happy or whatever state of mind
So, yes it is hard really hard, even terrifying to ask for help and support, but no one can force us to ask.
Nor should they. We don’t need pressure. We need good listening by friends and to use them more, and v,v.
Asking for help started by assuming from friends, but asking for help is about any source of support encouragement and nurturing, not just friends, although good friends do save live and symbolically whatever our mood we are uplifted by a good friends listening.

Use any source of help. Here’s part of my creative massive support system. Why massive dya tink?

Allotment gardening, home gardening enables wholesome healthy contemplation, solving problems, taking in the air nature is my friend and I ask it for help, the birds, bees trees, foxes, insect. I’m an organic gardener. No man-made polluting chemicals, leaving polluting residues and killing wildlife. Doing art poetry: writing performance and blogs. dancing
When someone is dumping stuff I draw up a boundary and say ”You are better than your shadow voices dumping aggressive depression irritability on me. You are strong and happy if you use your friends expect less, and do more of the things that make you happy without harming others. If you want an ear, i’m all ears, but abuse is not part of my territory. Friendship is”

You can be more content and less conflicted and unhappy, and it needs you to self help by asking for help. Does that sound grim; it aint! I have never regretted asking for help. OK, sometimes people rejected me or were cruel, but most of all I realise vis the experience of asking friends for support, getting more person-centred counselling, going to art writing groups and that there was little to fear. I learnt even more out of the halving of problems to choose carefully in future to reduce the chances of those false friends and bad places that caused me distress I am so happy and calmer more often and less hypo-mania. I don’t regret it

one final thought, yes ask for help, and create options for creative loving and living,
BUT please don’t expect people to listen above what is realistic: empathy whether natural of untrained friends or helpers, is not mind reading. Empathy is not mind-reading – a title of a future blog of mine
peace, friendship and love.
Please share your own experiences of asking for help, as we know isolation at least doubles distress; please share the good things you learnt from exercising the courage to get help.
Thank you.

Spirituality and Nature

Clarence House

Clarence House

A few weeks ago I attended a spiritual drumming class in the glade round the back of Clarence House. The class was very enjoyable and the setting led me to think about spirituality and nature.

“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” – Buddha.

It is said the first Zen sermon was given by Buddha, silently. As he simply held a white flower in his hand, the onlooking monks bar one were confused at what Buddha was trying to communicate.  The monk who understood smiled. Zen gardens are intended to imitate the inner essence of nature, an aid to meditation on the meaning of life. Japanese researchers claim the subconscious mind is sensitive to a subtle association of between the rocks in these gardens.
Many cultures have ‘sacred groves.’  In Genesis, 21.33, it says,’Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there the name of God.’  In druidry, sacred groves are seen as places to reconnect with divine essence in nature. This is an example of animism, the belief that non-human entities like animals, plants, stones etc. contain a spiritual essence. In India, sacred groves are also used to protect biological resources, to provide sanctuaries for flora and fauna, especially medicinal herbs.  They are also used to provide oxygen and deep ground water reserves.

Clarence House

Clarence House

 

Sources and bodies of water are also considered sacred in many religions.  In the Hindu festivals Durga Puja and Ganseh Chaturthi, thousands of devotees immerse themselves in water to influence a deity.  Baptism is far from being just a Christian practice.  It is also practiced in Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism, Islam, Baha’i, Shinto, Taoism and Rastafarianism.  Being in harmony with nature is central to Rastafarianism.  This is an African influence.  Traditionally, African religions embrace the ebb and tide, waxing and waning of the moon, rain and drought.  These phenomenas are seen as natural rhythms.  Perhaps these rhythms are expressed in African drumming, which can uplift the ‘spirit.’

Sufi poet Rumi often referred to nature – “raise your words, not voice.  It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”  Of God, Rumi wrote, “a mountain keeps an echo deep inside.  That’s how I hold your voice.”  To man, he said, “but listen to me.  For one moment quit being sad.  Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you.”

Along with its gardens, poetry in Zen also reveres nature with its haikus, very short poems that capture a moment.  Zen paintings literally makes human beings look very small compared to nature.  This is sometimes seen as ‘nature mysticism,’ when man is held in awe by the divinity he sees in nature.

One famous Zen master by the name of Dogon Zenji said, “when we pick up a lettuce leaf or a carrot, or engage in relationships, each moment and interaction is the body of the Buddha.”  Perhaps this can be compared to one of Christ’s sayings in the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, “cleave the wood, I am there; lift up the stone, and you shall find me there.”

By Daniel Tavet

A Deeper Beauty: Buddhist reflections on everyday life – a book review

What keeps me well is well, reading, although at age 49, I go for the easy reading styles of various writers. In my late teens and 20s I could read any time of day rapidly, but now certainly not at night.

There is much in this book to inspire many of us in what can be the drearier, tiresome, boring, darker sides of our lives.

Buddhism is about hard work, to change ourselves, because only we want to, it is not really romantic meditation making us up-float of somewhere to escape.
I find only non-Buddhists tend to romanticise Buddhism in this way, for Buddhists we are Mandelic: having long ago realised that grinding the stubborn boulders and barriers in our minds of fear, hate, passions and ignorance, into a softer path of forward travel – and with a lightening load – is the coalface, the real thing. There is much joy and sunshine, and calm plateaus if we do the work of meditation. The path to end mental suffering is neither grim or cynical or romantic, it is in between: real compassion with joy.
The best Buddhists in my view are totally real about their downfalls, groundhog days, about the grim suffering of their lives, yet also manifest a clear joy, a vision of liberation walked step by step; who also share their joys, often non verbally. They are real and appeal to the heart, often with humour, vitality, wit, joy and a solid kind of realness. This too, is Paramananda’s style.

So I’m going to take extracts and let you get a flavour of his practice of compassion, his practice of loving kindness, with all the trails and trials, ‘boring’ bits and joys:

I found Paramananda’s A Deeper Beauty: Buddhist reflections on everyday life, clear, human and inspiring.

He has written a popular guide to meditation Change your Mind. Paramanada was born John Wilson in North London in 1955. From an early age he was curious about Eastern ideas, but it was not until the age of 23, after the death of his father, that his interest in Buddhism was aroused. At the same time, the focus of his life shifted from the world of politics, in which he had been active, to more spiritual concerns.

During his twenties Paramananda worked as a Psychiatric Social Worker.
He has also been involved in various types of voluntary work, including the Samaritans, drug detox, and more recently in a hospice.

In 1983 he came into contact with the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order and 2 years later was ordained into the Order itself. Since then he has been teaching meditation and Buddhism full-time. He sees as powerful tools for both individual and social change, and believes that service to the community is a vital aspect of practice. From 1993 to 2001 he lived in California where he was chairman of the San Francisco Buddhist Centre. He now lives in North London where he continues with his teaching and writing.

Introduction

I have been walking a while
on the frozen Swedish fields
and I have seen no one.

In other parts of the world
people are born, live and die.
In a constant human crush.

To be visible all the time – to live
in a swarm of eyes –
surely that leaves its mark on the face.
Futures overladen with clay.

The low voices rise and fall
as they divide up
heaven, shadows, grains of sand.

I have to be myself
ten minutes every morning,
ten minutes every night,
and nothing to be done

we all line up to ask each other for help.

Millions.

One.

‘Solitude 2’, Tomas Transtromer (translator: Robert Bly).

Sitting in my London flat on rainy summers day, trying to figure out what to say in this introduction, I pull from my shelf one of my favourite anthologies of poetry. I open the book at random and find the above verses, which I cannot remember reading before. It seems as good a place as any to begin. I am particularly struck by the image of a man walking alone across frozen fields – and the 10 minutes the poet takes every morning and evening to be by himself. It reminds me of meditation, time taken to be more fully with oneself.

This book has developed put of nearly 20 years of attempting to convey the meaning I sometimes in Buddhist practice, in particular in meditation. I say ‘sometimes’ because the truth is I often lose the thread of that practice. ‘Being’ a Buddhist meditation teacher has not insulated me from the confusion and periodic despair of life. Despite what follows, I do not always manage to be mindful or even simply kind. I am in some sense a constant failure. Nevertheless, I do feel that over the years I have made some kind of small progress and I have become at least a little clearer about what is important to me.

If this book has a central theme it is the need to be ourselves, the relationship between this need and living in the world with others, and how to become more fully into the experience of being ourselves in such a way that this strengthened sense of ourselves finds positive relationship with others and with the world at large. This in lives that are increasingly full of activity that it often feels as though we are being pulled away from ourselves, pulled further and further away from ourselves, pulled further and further away, from a sense of who we are. Finding ourselves adrift in our lives with no sense of purpose beyond getting through each day with as much pleasure and as little pain as possible.

Perhaps I should say from the outset that I simply do not supply any definitive answers to the ills of modern life. I hope that on the whole I avoid telling you what you should or should not do. I hope that I raise points and issues that are worth taking a little time to reflect upon. Most importantly I hope that you, the reader, will be in some small way encouraged in your life. Despite the awful mess that we so often seem to make, on a personal and global level, there is something extraordinary about being here at all, and I hope that, like me, you will feel you would like to make the most of the magic of your life.

I have occasionally used terms not often found in most books written from a Buddhist perspective; for example, I refer to the ‘soul’ in several places. If you know even a little about Buddhism you will know that it strongly rejects the eternalism implied by such a term. However I employ it because for me it has a richness of texture that no other English terms seem to convey; it implies something that cannot be fully expressed in the language of science and logic. I use it, then, poetically in order to convey that we as human beings are more than the sum total of our biological and environmental conditioning. I use poetry for the same reason.

So while, with the help of my editor, I have attempted to be as clear as possible, the book is suggestive rather than prescriptive, in that I have attempted to capture the ‘atmosphere’ of what Buddhist practice means to me. In the appendix I have outlined the meditation practices I refer in the text, in case you are not familiar with them, although there is no substitute for learning from a teacher, and with others.

Within the Buddhist tradition there has always been a strong emphasis on individual experience, and it is in this spirit that the book should be read, by which I mean don’t take my word but judge what I have to say ion the light of your own exp; some it might ring true while some of it might not. Either way, I hope it encourages you to look afresh at your own practice- whatever that might be. In his poem ‘St Francis and the Sow’, Gathay Kinnell writes

the bud
stands for all things
even for those things that don’t flower,
everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;

meditation is a form of self-blessing that leads us deeper into our own heart, and in so doing reveals a door of beauty in the world around us.

From a CD cover case, from Johnny Solstice

It seems to me relevant:

”Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves ”who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of the universe. Playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel small around you. We are meant to shine as children do. We were born to manifest the glory of the universe within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously allows others to. As we are liberated from our own fear, we liberate others.”

Nelson Mandela

You can order
A Deeper Beauty: Buddhist reflections on everyday life and
& Change your Mind
through Tri Ratna Buddhist Order, Telephone 0113 244 5256
Leeds Buddhist Centre,
4th Floor, Bridge House email: enquiries@leedsbuddhistcentre.org
Hunslet Road web: http://www.leedsbuddhistcentre.org
Leeds LS10 1JN.

Near the Adelphi Pub; Tetley Art Gallery & Cafe

There are 2 beginners 10-week courses for medititors:
Mondays, 5.15 – 6.15pm
Wednesdays 12.45 – 1.30pm

or through http://www.amazon.com/seconds

 

Litter-picking; The Dharma Enhancing Life and rescuing the intestines of the earth, the fruits of ‘mundane’ practice

”Sees not the faults of the world” Sutra of Wei Lang

EXPLORING THE SCRIPTURES

Perfect view, bhikkus, if it is helped by five things, has a lib of mind as its fruit… Perfect view is helped by virtue, by wide learning, by discussion, by tranquillity and insight.

Why shouldn’t you feel personally inspired when taking the rubbish out [or picking it up, not just your own litter, but others out of joyful compassion]? Like many Mahayana sutras, this relates to how bodhisattvas behave, practice, live. Yet it describes their response as aesthetic and appreciative rather than utilitarian. Taking up a bit of reality here or some work there, Bodhisattvas will surround it with beauty – which is why they are so effective – and why taking out the rubbish will be inspiring.

Litter-picking & The Dharma
Enhancing Life and rescuing the intestines of the earth, the fruits of ‘mundane’ practice

Milan Ghosh February 2010

I lost a 15-page article on this subject, it took weeks to write, now it’s litter, mere rubbish, gone, gone, gone. How tiresome, so here we go again, writing it all again. Here is a shortened reincarnation of that rubbish article (GROAN!).

I litter pick because ”I don’t like litter”,
People ask me why I litter-pick, mostly there are friendly eyes watching, mostly friendly questions, or tone of voice, but a few fools, ask why sarcastically. And even call me names such as ”Weirdo” ,”He’s ‘mad”’ etc. It’s their loss. Those who are content have no wish to harm. But one can’t teach a fool. I am only wise fool, picking up litter daily on my way wherever I go, in town in Holbeck, near Elland Road where I live, wherever I go e.g. Chapeltown and Harehills,

Why don’t I like litter?
Well it’s an eyesore unnecessary contagious, so I try to reverse this negative contagion, making the negative downward stream flow backwards uphill to the positive open heart. And, yes, there really is no such thing as a small act of kindness in what can be a cruel world – I think of the world now more like Samsara-Nirvana, full of skilful people as well as the ‘negative’. The wider context cultivates a certain type of emptiness in which negative consequences, are less, then eradicated, ignorance and unwholesome actions are no more. I can meditate on this when litter-picking.

It’s decadent. Most of us could do better and just practice patient love for the world, others and ourselves included, because litter degrades us. Surely we can be patient, forbear time and trouble until we get to a litter bin or home before we drop it where it belongs.

Because its about recycling

Because it generates friendship affection and community. Picking up litter creates new friends, from strangers. People sometimes give money, which I used to refuse; but it was blind to refuse such goodwill – simple metta.

Because it’s just the right thing to do. Litter is an eyesore, it pollutes water, kills wildlife; I even pick up bottles tops and splintered plastic forks on the road; otherwise if I don’t it would add to the billions of sea creatures killed by swallowing plastic fragments.

The Hierarchy of Litter-Picking -Firstly there’s the dangerous items; ahimsa; looking after all living things, the master harms no living thing.

Electrical waste contains flame retardants theo-bromates that contaminate groundwater, and the food chain and will damage nerves and brains.

Glass is bagged up and double bagged, from ‘witches knickers’, plaggy bags caught in trees, or on the ground, but not tied up, so as to prevent it bursting and littering again, and also to make easy depositing into local bottle banks. Energy, economy and balanced effort are manifest.

Dog poo is now often so dry and hollow, by rapid dehydration in a warmer climate, that I simply kick it into the gutter. Kids and adults can fall on it harming themselves, spreading worms and other diseases. I wash my trainers with some bleach in the machine every 2 days, and go Indian: only place them on the doormat, nowhere else. If people are repulsed by my shit-kicking, then I take the opportunity to educate them, with the above practices. It’s been easy to get more frequent street cleaning in our increasingly dense city, and dog warden patrols. Simply ask your local councillor; go to http://www.leeds.gov.uk. It’s a top issue along with street safety.

Organic waste food some salvageable, sealed in cans. Other organic waste decaying papers and food; I concentrate it in one pile each time I pass; take off the paths, concrete areas, into gardens, worms and other creatures too. Incidentally I rescue worms during the rain wherever I am passing off the paths and onto grass areas in parks. Man has created this obstruction for them and when its drier they die, so I rescue them.

Plastic: bottle tops, fragments, bags. metal cans are ripped open and sharp so I bag them up first, then deal only with the non-damaged ones. I put the metal cans into local green bins, even though, since the bin men’s strike 3 years ago, they throw recyclables to landfill, and do not use use the contamination tape, or their own system. Please email your local councillor, or write to him or her if you have problems with recycling street cleansing or litter.

There’s cannabis found dumped often with identifying materials such as clothes and personal papers, serial and batch numbers of goods such as PCs, by the allotment cul-de-sac. yards and by the allotment.  Give up drugs yourself, help others do so, have a lucid happy mind, and a more peaceful community. It is a complete myth that if a drug dealer is shopped to the police another immediately springs up. Buddhists have said this defeatism, but they do not report the dealers themselves to Crimestoppers 0800 55511 Dob in a Dealer or the police, do not observe the effect, do not speak from a ground of action, or practice. It would be at least twice as bad round here for drugs and all their effects, and it has been 5 times worse at least with their conduit gang who use the 2 motorway slip roads into South Leeds as an entry route. So I do not now take offence at such ignorant defeatism- I carry on content to make a difference.

For me my own life is not so important, and I am no longer suicidal – everyone’s life is worthy. So for little me the practice of fearlessness, courage and vajra is down to earth, inspired by a certain variety of Asian Buddhist such as Thich Nhat Hanh, and the good people of Chapeltown LS7 where I was bred. Initially it bred many good tings such as reggae and open-heartedness, but also violence, prostitution and money madness.
For me the dharma is not primarily intellectual, that is what I call a conceptual straitjacket, aka prapaunchya. I do aspire to read more, but I wish no longer for ordination, only to create a local community freer of drugs, crime and black-market greed, as well as lost souls. To provide what’s needed and wanted: community peace without too much thinking. Not to boast; however to let off steam in this difficult, but easier task.

I have noticed that some vegetarians, even vegans find leather so convenient they buy it for gloves shoes and other uses (related to this: a survey showed 1 in 7 vegetarians cheat and eat meat occasionally). I do not judge this unskilfulness in any way; firstly because we are all hypocrites until enlightenment, second part of the advice on the path, is to not judge anyone or anything in any way; to let yourself, see absolute reality. In my view the skilled teachers are always kind and appropriate to the trainees karma-personality; otherwise learners may not learn. See the Dalai Lamas book recommended below in References.

To help people, I suggest they only use leather shoes, boots, gloves picked up from the street, such as shoes, clothes, gloves especially useful for DIY jobs and gardening. Wash in a washing machine with a drop of bleach ensures germs are killed, but gloves, boots and shoes will not be blanched. And in this way no new demand is created by buying leather; reclamation, to my mind is a deep respect for the animals that have died to create it. Its also good environmental practice. They can be washed 2 or 3 times in a machine; soap powder has 5 percent bleach in it, so let go of ultra hygiene and mental comfort of uncleanliness.

I welcome your views; you can copy them to the LBC website, and forward them simultaneously to milanholbecksetan@yahoo.com.

I can provide reclaimed a/ litter-picked leather, and other strong gloves on request
c/o my 0787 168 9799, home or LBC; others can also take on this voluntary role.

It’s all about learning to live well with out metta, to see it as less difficult not as a daily task of trying to be loving and kind to others. The practice of loving kindness, not apathy or fighting battles is a challenge, however if we persist through consulting anyone not just Buddhists who are obviously more advanced in such down to earth love and community we shall progress.

This article is deliberately not over cognitive though I do think deeply; the fruits of litter-picking are abundance generosity, friendship, community, gratitude, compassionate love, rising above blame and praise; ethics: just ‘doing the right thing’ – to name a few.

Feedback is always welcome electronic or not. Environ-mental new ideas and practices for a better world are welcome too; thank you for your time and trouble.
If you feel fear, feel the infinite too, talk to friends, do it litter-picking – and anything wholesome too. Do not let self-consciousness, or being judged by others stop you meditating , contemplating reflecting, other practices or doing the right thing. ”Love yourself, always, today now and tomorrow….” the Buddha said in The Dammapada…”

References
The Dalai Lama The Power of Compassion Thorsons 1981: for discussion on Interdependence and emptiness correcting unskilful habits

The Novice Thich Nhat Hanh. In a general sense he displays diligence, joy, fearlessness, courage inspiration and compassion beyond belief. It is not directly related to environmental issues, but the transcendence he demonstrates removes neurotic thinking, and transforms and translates easily, often without words, into inspiration. You just know what your next step is.

The ‘Mischief’ Chapter in The Dhammapada: the Sayings of the Buddha Thomas Byrom Random House 1976

I, of course, also recommend Sangharakshita’s version of The Dhammapada, Windhorse. (Personally I do not like the lack of rhythm and rhyme, for I know this device helps people retain and understand the dhamma. However it is said it is a more accurate translation, and one can indeed see it is, so I read the two together.)

Also another good translation is E.K. Eswaran’s The Dhammapada, out of print, but there is a copy in the LBC Library; particularly useful is the long introduction explaining the culture and background to the Buddha’s sayings.

If anyone is keen enough to find spare copies, donate or buy them from amazon.com/seconds, I would be happy to organise the sharing and study between friends of not just this translation but all in fact, perhaps through LBC. We shall see

Please email milanholbeckestan@yahoo.com

 

The Novice – a book review

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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.

Continue reading

How Self Compassionate are you? Be your own best friend!

Hopefully this quick film we made illustrates the value of being kinder to ourselves especially during stressful times.

There is a field of work known as ‘Self Compassion’ which has its origins in Buddhism.  If you are interested in finding out more about self compassion I can recommend looking into the works of Dr Paul Gilbert, Dr Kristin Neff and Dr Christopher Germer.

It was our first attempt at filming on our community reporter course.  There is some background noise but hopefully the captions help diminish this.  We had a great workshop on filming and editing which was led by Jon Beech of Touchstone in Leeds.

I hope you enjoy the film

Vicky