Saturday, 31 January 2009

Wake up!

I am sitting with not knowing just now. Likes and dislikes (ego choice) or waking up and moving on? Knowing what to do to be. When in doubt do nowt, to paraphrase. But at some point action is required else I'll have fallen asleep, surely.

Anyway, DC and I are off out with a friend tonight; a meal, a movie and possibly a bar (if we have the energy). Others are due to come around for dinner tomorrow. I've been to gym today and practiced tai chi.

I tell myself - wake up! pay attention!

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Oh dear

I am only filling up the washing up bowl but thoughts are running to how tedious washing my bowl might be. And it's depressing to feel one is still so tugged about by thoughts. Even knowing that the snake might only be a coil of rope doesn't stop the reminder of snakes from getting me down. This will not do!

Now I am being telegraphic here, but reading the last couple of posts should make it clear.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

And now

After yesterday's post, today I received news that it is all change at work. The people gel to form a family but business requires further change. Did those old masters of the Way see change as rapid as we do?

Then, on the way home I hear on the news that the economic problems are deepening and may be the worst since the thirties.

I must remember to wash my bowl.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009


I feel quite cheery tonight. I was planning to do five rhythms for the first time but I realised the start time was too soon. I'll probably go next month; there is no point in cramming stuff in. I have plenty of interesting things to do tonight and getting a balance makes me feel good.

Also things are healing at work; after the changes a new sense of family seems to be taking root I think. The economic conditions are apparent though.

The nights seem a bit lighter too. Is the sap rising I wonder?

Monday, 26 January 2009


I was talking about yesterday's post with DC last night. He said he thought it too telegraphic; I had explained much more of it to him and he thought that I should maybe spell it out more clearly. I thought it fairly clear but yes the reader would need to work at it a bit.

I suppose part of the reason for not spelling it out is that in the writing I have got the ideas clear(ish) in my own head but want to leave some open space so as not to be too definitive, too certain. Some of the reason is to leave some interest and some of the reason is just the volume of work involved in explaining it all out. I only type with one or two fingers on each hand and spelling is still difficult for me.

But actually writing this I just recall how I have always had the same problem; once I've got the bones of it in place fleshing out the details can be a chore. Or to be more precise; explaining out the details. The working through the details I am ok with (even good at) it's the putting it on paper. I recall school reports; David must try harder with written presentation and spelling. Thank goodness for computers and spell checker. I enjoy blogging but if I had to do it by keeping a hand written journal I'd not be too keen. Then again since I accepted my scrawl years ago it would not be as painful as when I felt I had to try to have good hand writing.

Ideas come during the writing too. So being a bit telegraphic sort of fits with the way the post spins out.

Comments appreciated.

Sunday, 25 January 2009



What place Pan? The mythical figure Pan is connected with nature and fertility. Accounts of Pan seem to soon lead to tales of seduction and his shall we say base element seems clear. But there is more to Pan than this; there seems to be an element of creativity. We generally hold creativity in positive regard and so it seems important to understand the relationships between enslaving desires and creativity. Does Pan represent in some way our understanding of the desire to be, to come out of voidness? I recall that in his book 'Mysticism: Christian and Buddhist' DT Suzuki writes about trisna (tanha) as:

...more deeply rooted than we imagine, as it grows straight out of the root of karuna.
Let me cite a Japanese Haiku poet of the eighteenth century, Basho. One of his seventeen syllable poems reads:

When closely inspected,
One notices a nazuna in bloom
Under the hedge.

The nazuna is a small flowering wild plant.'

I feel we need to acknowledge our creativity and enjoy it. Just where this sits with the Four Noble Truths is not so simple.

Friday, 23 January 2009


We have friends coming around for dinner tonight. We will make it a bit of a Burns night. It should be fun. I'll probably joke about and push the envelope and we'll connect and feel alive.

Connection and Buddha nature is in my thoughts a bit along with my terrier nature. Modes of being is a big subject. The relationships between aliveness, openness, connection, expansion of ones life, awareness, movement, stillness, having life and life having one, ego defense, adapted self, etc. all seem to form the world I live in.

Thursday, 22 January 2009


I find that I do not seem to be dragged around by the red thread like I used to be; the passing of the years. I have mixed feelings about this. Still, we'll see how it is in the spring when the sap rises. There are all sorts of questions here, primarily the relationship between desire and aliveness. Is it a question of one having the desire or the desire having one? It's too late in the evening to write much but I feel it's good to have fire in the belly. Is it just a question of who is running the show and being awake? The world desires to be; why should I not join it and expand?

Looking for references I've just found two fish. I've not had a chance to check it out much.

Off to bed for sleep now.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


What is the point of writing a blog? The danger is the mindless barking joke. The aim might be expansion. An expansion of what, ego or being? Hopefully being. Now this is interesting as it raises the question of definition. Which raises the question of my understanding of Eastern and specifically Buddhist and Western notions of self and Self. The expansion of what then might be clear; it's experience and understanding. The act of reflection and trying to honestly appraise and be creative forms the experience and thus the understanding. I know I tend to be a bit 'telegraphic' a bit condensed in posts but hopefully the gist comes across.

At a recent party a number of my friends mentioned my blogging;
One asked an other 'is it any good?'
I must admit I did like the answerer 'I suspect it's not to every one's taste, but if you have the ears and understand it then it probably is' Now that did appeal to the ego!
An other said she thought it was a brave thing to do. And yes, taking down defenses does require some bravery. But only whilst clinging to old habits. Once the softening starts it seems to get easier.

I suppose I also use posts to tune into my direction; what am I with and where am I taking it? Am I expanding my life or getting stuck?

The economy seems to be contracting. Which may be no bad thing if we could find a way of sharing out the work and rewards. But that isn't going to happen so it will be tough for some. This raises questions about personal expansion and openness and survival. I am lucky I should be able to weather the financial storm and still expand as a person. I am waiting to see how it pans out.

Sunday, 18 January 2009


I have just been watching the tribute to John Mortimer. Quite wonderful. He was described as not knowing right from wrong. Neil Kinnock described him as almost all love.

If we open up to not knowing, to never being sure of any view this can be scary. How do we know what to believe? We need take care that we don't simply swap one set of fantasies for other less skillful fantasies. We need workable ways to be. In Mortimer's Rumpole we have Rumpole saying that he 'is not there to believe any thing' and later asking himself and 'she who must be obeyed' who he is? before returning to his work (and thus defining himself). What can be a better tribute to workable ways to be than to be described as almost all love?

Saturday, 17 January 2009


The difficulty is how to say anything of value without being limited by the values which started the saying. This is not a problem for those who hold that their values are absolute. From this position there is clear access to the truth and so conviction in their whole world is solid. For those of us who are more open, fluid and able to at least attempt to see how we create our self and our world the problem is serious. Is it not obvious already? Every word here however carefully chosen is chosen. Chosen by a self. A self limited by forms which are interdependent. I see that if the interdependence of forms, the emptiness of forms makes no sense to someone then the problem of absolute values is much harder to perceive. But what is always clear is the basic reality of human suffering. And this is the value which values surly need to address.

So having first laid out the the basic problem I can now move to specifics: I awoke this morning to Radio4. (The astute will see themselves creating a picture of the forms of the English middle class.) Discussion was of Israel and Gaza. The suffering is just awful. My response was of withdrawal from the thought of the suffering and anger at the Israelis. I saw this response and expanded into a view of the ignorance of all parties leading to suffering. 'If only the factions could all get a handle on and accept emptiness' I thought. But they can't. They are locked in to a set of values held as absolute. And I must acknowledge that by 'them' here I am focusing on the Israelis more than the Palestinians. And that shows my own narrowness, my own limitation of view but also relates to my perceptions of what seems to be going on. A people who have founded a state as a homeland for one of the most persecuted groups ought to know better. But the problem might be clear already; state, homeland, group. Separation, form, self, regarded as absolute. Hamas has defined its self in terms of its forms and Israel has defined its self in terms of its forms. People then start defining themselves in symbiosis. But as any bullet or cloud of shrapnel will all too clearly demonstrate, bodies are not so defined. And it is no use to talk of ought to know better; this is to slip into the mode of fixed views. If the problem of suffering is to be addressed then the pain needs to be examined. The individual people enacting the roles of the parties to which they have attached need to examine their own pain. Not Islamic pain, not Jewish pain, not Christian pain, not Palestinian pain, not Israeli pain, not American pain, nor British pain or any other pain but their pain. My pain, your pain. The pain.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Old habits

Old habits die hard. For most of the time I feel fairly much in the I am ok you're ok space. I guess I've been watching out for slipping into the you're not ok space that comes with the intolerance associated with not feeling I am ok, but today I had a reminder about slipping in to the I am not ok space. And the weakness I think I have is more the I was not and therefore am not ok space; the thoughts just roll out. At least seeing the habit creates some space. And in the space the thought that I can see how I keep inventing me. But it's such a tangle. Ah well, all good fun I suppose.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009


A trip to the GP today with Navel - 4 x 500mg penicillin type antibiotics and some steroidal anti bacteria and anti fungal cream. No messing about there then! The products of rational thought can be wonderful; science has brought many benefits to us. The prospect of all these bugs evolving faster than our medicine is a salutary thought.

And the treatment of the psyche? Well, I am halfway through reading 'Toward a psychology of awakening' by John Welwood. I find this rewarding; he seems to be voicing my hunches and it is good to get the expansion of thought from reading a much more developed set of thoughts. He draws out a nice progression from unconscious, prereflective immersion in our experience, to thinking and talking about experience, to having our experience directly, to nonidentified witnessing, to being-present-with experience, to pure being/emptiness in a way which builds a bridge (as is his intention) from Western psychology to Eastern spiritual practice. In building this he points out that Western psychology can help keep the problem going as much as sort it out. The problem being the idea of a self with something wrong with it; the idea that one could be having a better experience. I find this mix of psychology and emptiness (or oneness) interesting. I don't think I am navel gazing. I am fine.

DC is in Bristol. He has been giving a talk on consciousness. We should sit down and review various approaches to this together. It will be nice to have him back tomorrow.

Monday, 12 January 2009


Navel inspections reveal uncertain results; if by tomorrow there is no definite improvement from the TCP and Daktarin it will need to be taken to the doctor. And how am I to use that wonderful expression- 'in myself'? Quite well, quite well. At some point today I realised that I felt brighter. Is it a sense of the days lengthening? Some malaise seems to have lifted a bit. Mental or physical? Well now that's a fine line is it not?

Conversation with a friend yesterday about his feeling less depressed and wondering about his psychology and specifically looking for when 'it went wrong' got me thinking. It's tempting I think to review the past and the present and finding unsatisfactory elements to think something went wrong. I know I do this. I tend to think that there was a time in my teens when I shut down for close on ten years. But did I? Was I not doing my best? What else could I have done? What is it that I want now? What is the residual desire? What is the felt sense in this? And looking back was it not some time way before my teens that I thought 'oh no, don't like that, time to withdraw; 'ball home'? And did that not lead to the way things were later? And how exactly were things later? I have a pretty good handle on all that stuff; a very plausible story. Is it useful? I think working it through helped. And in the interest of opening I think it helps to keep peeling away the layers. But key in this I think is not to expect to get to some end point where it's all sorted. I guess there is always more and the answer is that there is no answer, just keep opening up to the way it is and don't get wrapped up in the thoughts too much. This seems to be working for me.

In the interest of peeling away the layers and because I am interested and that gives me aliveness I am off to the Findhorn foundation to do a course by the Psychosynthesis & Education Trust in February. I am looking forward to this, but I guess it will be intensive so I want to be fit. Oops, there's a want. Tricky isn't it?

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Navel gazing

After Friday night's frustration I noticed a slight irritation in my navel. I am keeping an eye on this and recon it could be either a fungal infection or a recurrence of the cyst that caused bother over ten years ago. A friend pointed out the timing; mother trouble, navel. The all too obvious navel gazing jokes will no doubt follow. This is not the only minor body irritation at present and I'll need to watch for signs of hypochondria... And of course as I am now middle aged there is a sense of not being in the first flush of youth; although I seem to age slower than most I have definitely started to feel and look post youth! Not looking my years caused me a lot of discomfort in my younger years. Also, although I've generally had good health and energy I never really had that sense of being immortal that so many have in their youth. I guess that was related to the feelings of venerability that came with the discomfort of not looking my years; that sense of not having the robustness of a certain kind of body. And my mother's health problems probably did not help. That said I am not convinced that my feelings of physical inadequacy and/or venerability were too closely related to her health. No, my guess is that from very young, and I am talking preschool here, I sensed the void. Apparently I was reluctant to be born; I was probably quite happy to stay put in the womb, but this was causing problems and so it was decided that I should be assisted to avoid distress to mother and baby. Needless to say I needed no assistance to start crying, unlike my brother who apparently would have turned blue had his heal not been flicked. And the story goes that I was cautious about the world from the start. But this looking back is always to invent a story; we never have full and accurate recollection of the past. We don't even have the full picture at the time.

Navel gazing weather in the form of hypochondria or psychological probing (is this not just an other form of hypochondria) is unproductive an re-enforces what it looks at. Which is all about self construction I guess. Moving on, seeing the old patterns and opening to new ones is to accept change and the emptiness of self. But we are human and the extent to which we are bounded by our body is great, maybe not total but great. And of course the body is dependently originated and might be regarded as a series of semipermeable membranes which are all subject to the flow of everything else. To see that and to hold on to self is to see vulnerability. I am nowhere near being able to give up myself so I see vulnerability. But that's ok, it's about balance; protection v stuckness. I was wondering about being stuck a few days ago but I feel I am moving now, at least a bit; it's not just the same patterns.

I suppose that we never get stuck; the world moves on and we can't stay put. It's just that we don't have our eye in the place where the action is or can't accept what we see. I think that it's easy to want to look at the historical self and want to go back and 'fix' any aspects we think are where trouble started. But we can't. And to want to move to a better self is surely to get caught up in some further fantasy. No, for me the better self can only grow out of working with the images of self I have so again I need to balance introspection with navel gazing.

Friday, 9 January 2009


I started writing this last night (Friday) at about eleven thirty after a telephone call from my mother. She phoned at about ten forty five. She copes brilliantly with chronic and quite serious ill health. I keep an eye on my parents and our relationships are ok. But the thing that drives me crazy is (what seems to me to be) the inane waffle that my mother talks at me. I understand that her world is shrinking as she is almost house bound and I try to be spacious, understanding and compassionate but I just run out of energy. What makes the waffle worse is that I never know if there is some important piece of information in there. Often news of an important test result is awaited and she has phoned to give important news but it is packed in waffle. The calls can go on for almost an hour and by the end of it I have maybe 2 minutes of information and a boat load of discharge. I understand that she needs to do this discharging but I find it a burden. There was important news this time and when the phone rang I initially had that bad feeling. However, the news was good; her replacement knee is not infected, the urine sample now shows no blood so the concern for her one remaining kidney and potential bladder problems can be set to rest. Also she has refused more surgery this time to her thumb to ease the arthritic damage. (Surgery involves anesthetic and this causes problems with her neuropathy.) The experimental treatment she has been undergoing is working well though the benefits are not lasting as long as with some other people so she is to get more regular treatments. Her brother who has learning difficulties is to be rehoused as the building he is in is to be demolished. They have not accepted the proposed alternative and have asked for more information as I recommended. All is well but to get there I have to pick through the waffle and by the end of the call I felt a deep anger over this. I clearly need to get in touch with how my mothers ill health and my relationships with my mother, farther and brother relate to this anger. I try to be as supportive and understanding as possible, it isn't that I am being selfish, but some boundary has been crossed at some point and I can't quite find it. Could it be that I feel used. I don't resent giving support, the points listed are but a fraction of her health problems and I do what I can including just being there so what is it? Why used? Is it because this managed decline has been going on since my early teens and I am drained in some way? I see that everyone is doing their best. It's just that my best doesn't include endless energy or the skills to limit energy expenditure without feeling I am being unfair. After all it's only an hour on the phone. But I guess it's the cumulative effects that can be grinding.

I thought about giving this post the title Bodhisattva or bust which sort of seemed to capture the efforts and frustrations felt in trying to be skillful and compassionate but the frustration came through with more honesty. Finding the attachments is not simple. I find I am in the middle of it all feeling the emotion and trying to work out just how to be mindful and compassionate. But it is not always clear how and of what to let go; where to move to. I need to remember to be compassionate with me too. Unpicking it all and remaining cool can turn into more ways of keeping control. And there is a relationship I think between control and acceptance, between responsibility and play.

I think that if my brother did some growth work we could talk about the things that make us what we are and for me this might help empty the cup. But he is a long way from that. And so it remains in many ways like my recollection of being a primary school kid with me feeling disconnected. It's a communication thing. But I guess to get that sorted one needs to get in touch with what is going on in one's head. Which points to an interesting link between head and heart. It's not the heart bit I feel I lack it's just I don't cope well with what can seem to be undue muddle. And that is probably about control.

Thursday, 8 January 2009


I didn't post yesterday. Now a number of points come to mind. First, I have had a little obsessive juggle over posting everyday; if I miss a day it's a chance to reflect lost and I could also let the habit slip. On the other hand if I feel I must post every day then I could become obsessive. Second, is a point about time and how one's perception of time can seem non-linear hence 'is that the time already?' I joke with DC sometimes that the 'time bandits' have been in and stolen the evening; it got late soon. Although it can seem that there is not enough time this is in a way good; it's much better to have a full life than feel time dragging. It's all a question of adjusting expectation I suppose. Talk of time is in the air a bit here at present (no pun intended) as DC is looking at time in relation to consciousness and music. Heidegger's 'Being and time' is in his study and will no doubt appear in the bathroom any time soon! I have 'How to read Heidegger' in the to read pile. Also in that pile with time as a subject are books by J. Krishnamurti, D. Bohm, and D Katagiri. They rest with 'A world without time' by Palle Yourgrau a study of the friendship and work of Godel and Einstein. A number of other books are up front in the pile looking at aspects of 'reality' from a psychological and spiritual perspective. Heady stuff. Still it expands one's world to gain new perspectives and from a spiritual perspective to keep an eye on throwing stuff out; empty the cup as they say.

Had I posted yesterday I would have commented on having seen work colleagues laugh at unworkable systems imposed from above. I have read humour described as a 'breaking out' from an order or system. I think this also involves openness and thus connection. People are best when open; it shows such aliveness. Change also featured in those systems imposed from above; lots of changes at work just now. But, Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, which brings us back to time or rather making the most of one's life I suppose...

How am I doing as a human being? Being and doing is that the question? Empty the cup. This is such a lovely story. If only we didn't get so wrapped up in ourselves and stayed open. Can I remember that?

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Felt meaning

I was reading last night about felt meaning, the prelinguistic feeling of... just what seems to be the way of it for one just before the words fix a construction. The how it is for one before the story gets in the way. I sort of use this feeling to prompt posts; I sort of ask what is it now? But the story is there of course clouding things up. So it was a good reminder to read about prelinguistic felt meaning.

So, how is it? Well, I can't quite put my finger on it but I fear I may have slipped in to a spiritual rut. I try to be spacious and grounded in the moment not getting too tied up in waiting for tomorrow. But I feel aimed at some goal which is I think needed to some extent but I am not sure the balance is quite right. I need to have a framework, a structure to my life; I am in the realm of form. Wake, sleep, eat, work, etc. provide space for free time. All my time provides opportunity to be awake to life, to live not just prepare for a tomorrow that never comes. Am I awake, am I living the fullest life for me? Umm.

Wiping the dust away. Pealing the layers of defenses away. Has this stalled? Am I connecting?
Not sure.

Monday, 5 January 2009


I was going to 'treat' my self to a little rant about post modernism but it seems churlish having been pointed to some first world war poetry. Dealing with call centres, fragmented companies and other aspects of decentered twenty first century life is luxury compared to war.

I find reports of war too painful. If only I could stay aware of how fantastic it is not to be part of real pain when dealing with tedium. I have some spaciousness which obviously contains the feelings but wonder if I'll ever just thoroughly enjoy all of it. Umm.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

In the middle

I've had a pleasant day today; walking, listening to music and reading. DC was away visiting his dad so I was in my own company which is fine. He returned this evening and it is nice to have him back again.

Whilst out for a walk a thought about how we live in the mid-ground returned to me; we don't get to the detail of the scene before us and the distance is always over there. My experience is not directly at the very fine detail of say the cellular let alone atomic or subatomic particle level nor in the hugeness of the environment at large. I am in the middle seemingly separate but connected. This sort of points to an intellectual understanding of separation and oneness for me. Watching a program on TV about swarms this evening I recalled this thought about the mid-ground. The swarms appear to have a life of their own and our reaction to them is as entity not to the individuals of the swarm. Each creature in the swarm is just trying to get long of course.

I had a pleasant day mostly in the most obvious way on my own yet totally involved in activities connected with others. Reflecting on this I think part of my enjoyment came from a feeling of balance between separation and connection.

Buddhism points to the middle way and other traditions place in one way or an other humans between earth and the heavens. The whole notion I have of balance between separation and connection comes from my consideration of Eastern thought. I was indeed most fortunate to meet with Buddhism.

Wonderful evening

I've just had a wonderful evening. Nothing particularly amazing, just sharing with people. And this straight after yesterday which was also a rich day. Variety, warmth, openness,aliveness and spaciousness seemed to be present. Sometimes it seems the fruits of practice are starting to ripen.

Friday, 2 January 2009


Variety they say is the spice of life. Is this craving for excitement and distraction or is it that we understand that change is the only constant and want to be with the dynamic? I guess that depends on the level of attachment. I feel the balance was about right for me today and so I've had joy and aliveness. I might need to give this a bit of thought.

Thursday, 1 January 2009


It's very difficult not to jump to conclusions, not to construct fantasies based upon the flimsiest bits of information. Information which due to inevitable errors of interpretation might be regarded as barley information at all. Coiled ropes can indeed look like snakes. And I am not just thinking of fears here but also cravings. Attachment and aversion are flip sides.

One of my self defense mechanisms, my armour, which I am trying to soften away is what a friend once called 'ball home'. It's a classic I guess though the also classic 'I am special' armour would click in and try to persuade me that in my case there is a unique edge to it. Yer, yer, the other one's got bells on... 'Ball home' goes like this - I don't think I like the look of what you lot might want to do and how I think that will make you feel about me and thus me feel about me so I am off'. Which sends out the I don't think much of you lot message before anything gets a chance to go pear shaped. Except of course by that stage it is pear shaped. This arms length protection which I guess came from some genuine though no doubt not meant hurt caused to that sensitive tot has probably caused me more pain over the years than the wounds it was designed to protect against. Then again, who knows? And what other defense mechanisms would have sprung up as alternatives? Watching out for use of armour, checking the perceived danger, rooting out the attachments and sense of lack, relaxing and then trying to remember to feel the pain of others that might be making me reach for the amour is not easy. And of course sometimes I might well be under attack and defense will be required and skillful methods will be needed to deflect the arrows. Trouble is it's hard to see the ropes and the snakes.