Light Bulbs

512px-Energy_saving_light_bulbshttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Mattes

Reduce your heating lighting bills, save money and save the planet; and thus be happier by karmic wholesome choices I invite you to – it is win-win-win.

I had some en-light-en-ment recently (GROAN!)

I had a spark in my head…..

it said…..

            “replace your energy saving

            light-bulbs to even lower

            wattage light-bulbs.”

Karma is well-being including energy / environment saving / lower Carbon emissions / energy bills for those who choose to make the effort of wholesome change. Life is for living. Folks usually misunderstand karma as negative consequences only. Actions, including spoken words, have consequences, it is often said. However, what people forget is that wholesome choices = karmas, consequences that make us happy and contented. In other words, we create our own life’s satisfaction happiness and well-being. I live my life that way now.

So, please save yourself money and the planet and take the following advice.

1) Take out your old light-bulbs. Look for the wattage – they should range from 100 watt down to 40 watt (old bulb) to 14 or even 11 watts per energy saving bulb. You’re doing well, if you get lower than 11 watts (the print on bulbs can be very small so look carefully. Incidentally if you feel like writing to the manufacturer then please do to increase the font size, as far as possible, so that sight-disabled people can read it and benefit from the energy-saving light-bulbs)

2) Order online. Search for ”energy-saving bulbs Leeds UK”; there are 20 Leeds in the world hence the UK bit addition. I’ve got mine as low as 3 watts . This means the bulbs are so efficient that they produce hardly any heat and over 95 percent heat. The reverse of the old story/bulbs! Fantastic!

3) Replace your bulbs and give the old energy-saver bulbs (if lower than your neighbours) to a neighbour.

Your health, your wealth saved!

Please go to British Gas, or any other energy supplier company that you use, in order to get free light-bulbs – or contact the ‘Green Doctor’, see details below.

Conclusions: Reduce your heating lighting bills, save money and save the planet; and thus be happier by karmic wholesome choices I invite you to – it is win-win-win.

For information on alternative Green Deal Schemes you can visit The Energy Saving Trust website or call the Energy Saving Trust helpline on 0300 123 1234, who can help you in all sorts of ways. For instance there are grants and subsidies available covering a wide range of measures such as cavity wall and loft insulation, energy efficient heating and other energy saving measures.

Warm Homes Service grants for insulation and heating measures are available to owner occupiers or private rented tenants, living in Leeds, who are suffering from illnesses or have disabilities aggravated by cold and damp conditions. Contact the Warm Homes Service on 0113 391 8336 for further information.

The Green Doctor, run by Groundwork Leeds, provides face to face advice to vulnerable households on energy efficiency, grants and other environmental issues. They also supply and install measures such as draught excluders, energy efficient light bulbs, pipe lagging and reflective radiator panels for free. Contact the Green Doctor on 0113 238 0601 or email greendoctorleeds@groundwork.org.uk

The Green Deal is the new government initiative that allows you to make energy-saving improvements to your home or business without having to pay all the costs up front.

Wrap Up Leeds ECO is a partnership between Leeds City Council, Keepmoat, Wilmott Dixon and SSE. Since July 2013, Wrap Up Leeds ECO has helped hundreds of Leeds householders to cut their fuel bills by installing cavity and solid wall insulation, loft insulation and boiler replacements. However, it is now closed to new applicants. We will soon announce our new partnership to help you to heat your home for less.  To preregister please call us on 0113 3950757.

The government has issued a simple guide to access help and information. The guide aims to help householders towards lower bills and warmer homes.

http://www.leeds.gov.uk/council/Pages/Energy-Grants-for-Households.aspx

by Milan Buddha Ghosh

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A Friendly Competition for a New Logo?

In the meantime..

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I attach the first of many sunflower photographs, this one from my allotment in Parkside. Beestonistan.

I do not know if the Sunflower (Helios) is any more native to the United Kingdom, but it some how feels much more appropriate.

I’m getting very fit from digging, sowing, weeding and planting on my allotment, and carrying 2 sacks of Gypsy horse manure from the waste ground that was a school, to my home.

My hands are now thickening up their palm skin, the winters writers hands are transforming, as everything is transforming, we are all free therefore, do you see?

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Last year Tez took a wonderful picture of a Chestnut Brown Horse, on the ole school site, now demolished, of Matthew Murray High School.

Please send in your fave pictures folks, and what do you think to a suggested new logo for leedswellbeingblog?

Finally, did you know that half the flowers in our English gardens are not native? They are species, collected, mostly by Victorian Gardeners, and Botanists, around the time of the British Empire, (1750- 1945 roughly).

Gardening is good for the soul, it works off normal neurotic anxiety, worry, gives light and heart to living, and these sunflowers each had a pile of horse manure at their base, plenty of water and sunshine.

Horse shit to Sunflowers is my English version of the old Muddy Waters to Lotuses, symbolising cleansing and purification, settling down to pellucidity the truth that shines through all things, when we become Enlightened.

Milan Buddha Ghosh

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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

 

Environ-Mental Gardening

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The picture above shows Milan on his allotment. Within walking distance of Dewsbury Road, he grows spinach, rhubarb, potatoes, sprouts, cabbage, apples, pears, cherries, sunflower seeds (for the birds), cardoon (a Malaysian ornamental flower). I went there with him a few weeks ago, and asked him about it.

He told me about growing up on Spencer Place in the heart of Chapeltown, and being encouraged to garden by a neighbour. Now he reckons his allotment gives him the chance to get away from noisy neighbours, and in the warm weather he’s been coming here to:

‘soak up the sunset, exercise, breathe deeply and enjoy the company of generous, sharing gardening neighbours’

– who are ‘fellows in that vocational hobby’, and share their seeds and manure (well, not their manure). Milan is a practitioner of Buddhism, and it’s easy to see how this influences his gardening. He says his allotment is

‘therapeutic, good for anxiety and a good kind of contemplation or introspection. I call it environ-mental gardening. I use a fork rather than a spade so I don’t kill things. I get fresh food but it’s not just about gardening. I think you should always try something new and be unpredictable against your own habits. There is only the moment, the past is history and all barriers are bridges’.

So having an allotment will not only help feed your mind and body, but could also shave a few lifetimes off your journey to enlightenment. Could it be fun too?

Over the past year or so I’ve very much enjoyed reading the blog of the Reluctant Gardener by local writer Mandy Sutter. Mandy is well known in Leeds writing circles and she’ll be reading from her first novel Stretching It at Waterstones on 25th September. Her gardening blog is very funny and chronicles the writer trying to help her dad with his allotment. If you want a good laugh and a slightly surreal low down on the inner life of having an allotment have a look at it.

So how do you go about getting an allotment?

I spoke to Judy Turley, the Secretary of Leeds & District Allotment Gardeners Federation, ‘the voice for allotment and leisure gardeners in the greater Leeds area’. see their website at http://www.ldgf.org.uk/

Judy shared Milan’s enthusiasm for allotment gardening. She said:

‘having an allotment is just fabulous – it gets you away from the rat race, and it’s an oasis in the middle of a busy city’.

There are 97 allotment sites in and around Leeds, and you can find out about a site near you at http://www.ldgf.org.uk/index.php/members or through the council’s Parks and Countryside Department by ringing 0113 3367427. The waiting times vary considerably – you might wait for several years in some areas, and get one next week in others, according to Judy. The cost for 2012/13 is £37 per annum for a full plot, or £18.50 for a half plot.

However, according to Milan, there are other options – if you know someone who can’t manage their own garden,  you could ask them could you share the produce, whether flowers, fruit or vegetables, for doing the tillage, with them, or if they are too old or disabled, for them.

Landshare is a way to share land, someone has land they can’t manage; someone needs some, and the usage and terms are negotiated between the two.”

In Leeds Urban Harvest also organises volunteers to pick fruit, give tree owners a share and distribute the rest to community groups in Leeds. This is just the right time of year to get involved. They’ve teamed up this season with All Hallows in Burley, and “now have a great kitchen for juicing, space for sharing and lots of friendly faces too.”

Finally, Milan made an offer you surely can’t refuse if you like cherries:

“If anyone wants any Cherry Trees, your standard Morello variety, with large purple black shiny fruits, then please call me 0772 2301 002, after 6pm is best, then we can arrange a visit to Parkside Allotment. All I ask in return is a donation, however small or large, to Leeds Buddhist Centre. I will pass on the cash, and get you a receipt if you leave your email address.”

The importance of getting out

Image by Janina Holubecki

This is a guest post from Char March, a local writer who gave a lot of support to Leeds Survivors Poetry in its early days. Char has published a lot of poetry and stories and had many plays on the radio, my favourite being ‘People Come Here To Cry’, the story of a woman (Sue Johnston) who visits a crisis centre. The poems this play is based on were published in Char’s 2011 collection ‘The Thousand Natural Shocks’

I live in a dark damp crack in the earth.  And yes, I have even started to look like a toad – all warty and wrinkly – because of the excessive rain we have had this ‘summer’.

The dark damp crack is called Hebden Bridge.  Actually it is a stunning steep wooded valley with gorgeous walks off in all directions, and a veritable plethora of excellent teashops to gorge yourself in when you get back glowing from a brisk walk on the moors.  Plus there’s dozens of splendid knick-knack shoppies to get all your gift wants for the coming festive season.  We keep winning the Best Independent Shops in Britain prize, so this town really is as special as you often hear.  And we’ve been badly hit by three nasty floods this summer, so there’s yet another reason to come and spend your tourist ££££s here!

However, the valley is steep-sided (all the glaciers stopped at about Keighley, so our valleys were cut with the massive run-off from roaring torrents as the glaciers melted).  So, on overcast days, it can feel like you’re in a tightly-lidded box.

Since I got up and walked – Lazarus-style – from my hospital bed and almost certain death (all I remember from my delirium is the consultant trying to shake me awake to tell me “We don’t think you’re going to make it through the night, so who’s your next of kin?”) I have been exceptionally keen on getting out walking again.  I grew up in Scotland, so the Great Outdoors, and in particular getting out onto the mountains, was formative to me.   So, I took it steady, but I’ve got there.  It took a few months of being bedridden and being looked after hand and foot by my marvelous friends, then a bit in a wheelchair (bloody thing!), then on two sticks, then one, and very gradually increasing the distance I could walk without collapsing, and lo, the hills are once more (12 years later) if not my oyster, then certainly a whitebait starter.

So, getting out of this particular damp dark crack in the earth (no matter how cosy and trendy and full of Reiki healers and Shamanic drummers it is) has become a daily necessity.  I go out whatever the weather – it’s ALWAYS better outside than it looks like it is from the inside!  And now, although I can’t do the mileage I used to do before the consultant shook me, I can certainly tackle all the steep hills around here no problem.

It was a real privilege for me to be Writer-in-Residence for the Pennine Watershed Project last year.  My ‘office’ was the moors from Ilkley right down to Saddleworth, and I could get onto my ‘office’ just three fields up from my house.  Throughout my year, I worked with masses of different groups who had either never been out on the moor, or hadn’t been there for decades, and I took them up there kite-flying, eating hawthorn leaves, cloud-spotting, building sculptures, writing poems, drawing, gathering smells and sounds and textures, and generally filling ourselves with wild moor air and fun.

So, get up there and try it.  It doesn’t matter if it’s foul or fair (and let’s face it, this is Yorkshire, so it’s more likely to be foul!), just get some sort of waterproof on (a bin bag will do!) and get out there, even if it’s only for half an hour.  The moors are elemental, and, I reckon, good for your spirit.

Here’s a poem from my latest collection:  ‘The Cloud Appreciation Society’s Day Out’.  It’s all about my year as Writer-in-Residence of the Pennine Watershed, and you can get a copy direct from me through my website:  www.charmarch.co.uk  or from my publisher Indigo Dreams, or, if you really want to support a multi-national that doesn’t pay any tax, through Amazon.

Nesh    by Char March

Last week they said it was cold in London.

A thin bit of mizzle brought them out

in a rash of umbrellas, much buttoning.

Up here, cold

is the landscape;

rain the absolute norm.

And no pissing about

with mizzle, drizzle, mist –

we shove through solid water,

that holds us lurching

at gravestone angles,

across Heptonstall’s cobbles;

through bucketclanking farmyards;

out onto the moor.

Our air is luscious,

alive, viscous,

slapping us awake

like a wet cod

across our chops.

Woodhouse Ridge

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I’ve grown to love the Ridge over the last few years. It’s a deceptively big place. On the face of it just a narrow strip of wood between the tightly packed terraces of Woodhouse and Meanwood Road in the valley bottom, it’s criss-crossed with paths, each of which has a slightly different character. I’ve seen a pair of jays here, an owl once, endless squirrels, and because of that maybe, it’s a foxes paradise. Lucy Newlyn’s poem Bandstand is here next to the remains of the old Victorian bandstand. At one end you’re almost at Sheepscar, easy distance to the town centre. At the other you can slip across Grove Lane in Headingley and stay on foot paths out to Golden Acre Park. I’ve walked dogs here in frosty Winter, dug Hannah’s allotment in Spring, recorded birds at dawn in Summer, walked back one dark night in a storm from Wheatfields hospice at Halloween. It’s always the same and it’s never the same. When I read The Wisdom of Wilderness, the book Quaker psychiatrist Gerald May wrote just before he died, I was convinced by his argument that we all need a bit of wilderness to keep us sane. This is the nearest I get to it in my daily life. Terry