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Archive for March, 2005

Journeying

March 30th, 2005 No comments

I took what is becoming a regular journey this morning, to the Chiropracter. On the journey I took some photo’s. The themes of journeying and change are very prominent in my life at the moment and the photo’s too are all about these themes.

London Taxi’s, a picture taken with an American friend in mind. London taxi’s, like red telephone boxes seem to be images that linger for Americans.

For the last ten years I have been trying body and soul to let go of the past, with no idea of what I am trying to let go of. When the past is something you can not even see, how can you let go of it? Well, there are signposts to see even when we can’t see the destination. In terms of pasts we can not see the signposts appear in our behaviour and thinking. This is why all spiritual traditions, at their core, are gnostic, or about knowing.

The Docklands Light Railway coming into Stratford Station. I take this toy train to see the Chiropracter. Why do I call it a toy train – well it is very small and short and has no driver. It feels like riding a model railway.

The signposts we have in our behaviours are like doors into knowing. We may not know why we are so angry, for example, but if we can stop identifying with the anger, stop letting “angry” take charge, we can experience it more purely. With that experience of the anger we can backtrack, eventually, by not indulging it, to understanding where the first anger comes from.

The Entrance to the Chiropracter.

Even when we see the doors we must enter it can take a long time to find the wisdom or courage to do what we know we must and go through them. There is an inate wisdom in us all which can lead us through the doors when we are ready. The development of patience and compassion for oneself are essential tools on any gnostic path. Developing them for oneself is also the fundamental model used in developing them for others.

The boat outside the Chiropracters.

All paths are destined to take us somewhere, whether we know where they go or not. Sometimes we find ourselves on paths which do not lead where we thought they would take us. This can sometimes be harmful and other times beneficial. As we ride around on the oceans of uncertainty we become more and more adept at knowing ourselves and this mysterious landscape in which we live and practice. Patience and compassion are always the keys. As long as you have these you will not castigate yourself for taking a “wrong” turn but instead accept that experience as a learning one.

The view from my window. My landlord – Newham Council – decided to hang netting outside all my windows because the people who live downstairs have a balcony that was being fouled by pigeons. They forgot they would be fouling my rights to quiet enjoyment of my home, including it’s view.

The important thing is not to get trapped in the wrong paths. Sometimes it is neccessary to backtrack a little or even go right back to the start. It is all learning. Identifying and remembering the real lessons we have learned along the way. Employing that wisdom can help us cross to the other side and escape the net of conditions and conditioning in which we feel ourselves trapped. Compassion and patience will always get us there in the end.

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Jesus, Forgiveness, “Christians” and Chocolate

March 28th, 2005 No comments

This weekend has been the most important festival in the Christian calendar. Marking, as we all know, the time when Jesus ate mass produced chocolate eggs until he puked. The ritual reenactment of this throughout the “Christian” world by young and old is surely one of the least enjoyable sights ever. Meanwhile in the “third” world some 30,000 children died yesterday, most of them unaware that Jesus saved them from their “sins” and they will be off to “heaven”.

If you call yourself Christian and live in the west ask yourself realistically if Jesus would ever forgive your “sins”: Being part of a system that keeps poor people poor and rich people rich and starves children because of the “economic reality” of “market forces”. Stop and think, and then get on with being a real Christian please: Turn over the tables, make a difference. Edmund Burke died over two hundred years ago but before he went said “All that is essential for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Don’t be a good-for-nothing Christian, stop and think and change your ways and the ways of your society.

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And With the Other Hand the Universe Giveth Too.

March 26th, 2005 No comments

In pre-Buddhist days I also sold a bit of Advertising space on the side. I did some quality work. Each week I rose on Monday morning, showered and dressed, then ate breakfast. At nine I started work from my parents living room, aiming to earn two to four hundred quid as quickly as possible. The longest it ever took was until eleven thirty. Then I stopped work for the week. I had enough money in two and a half hours.

Once I made two calls to Germany and at ten thirty that morning my bank account was credited with £1,800.oo for me to play with. I bought a microwave for my mum the same colour as her kitchen. And didn’t work for ten weeks. I had enough. I was not always such a simple liver though. My ex and I earned a joint income of sixty one thousand pounds in 1994. Did we save? Did we hell. Taxi’s were always more fun than saving and restaurants saved on washing up too.

Anyway, the riches all disappeared as quickly as they appeared and recently I became a charity case, literally. NABS, the Marketing Industry charity have helped me with some painful outstanding debts and help towards some treatments. What with the generous assistance of the Clerks Fund, I feel really blessed and not financially as insecure as I did.

And then …. then …. No, I shouldn’t keep talking about Nicole here but ….

What a bountiful universe we seem to live in when you learn to just accept things and let go and be open…

ps. My new rocking chair will arrive soon from America.

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Crying Over Flowers and the Capitalist Anarchist

March 26th, 2005 No comments

Five years or so ago I found myself stuck for ideas for a birthday present for my father. Being a gentle and sensitive kind of man, and knowing that all men possess these traits however little they may show them, I decided to buy him flowers. When I gave him these his reaction shocked me. He was brought to tears, something he rarely allows. “Nobody ever gave me flowers before”, he said, obviously deeply touched by the gift.

I had not thought about that for a long time but this morning it all came back to me. The doorbell rang at nine o’clock and a voice on the end of the intercom announced “flower delivery”. I buzzed the driver in and waited at the front door, a few possibilities running through my mind. Who would buy me flowers? It could have been my grandmother – not a gesture she would normally make but within the realms of possibility. It could be my “lover” kept from me by the Atlantic ocean which surprisingly has not evaporated yet at the heat of our mutual obsession.

The thoughts kept me entertained until the driver arrived and asked me to sign before handing over a box from Marks and Spencer. Inside was a delightful potted arrangement of yellow roses, ivy and something else with yellow flowers I cannot identify. The tears started flowing as soon as I saw them, “nobody ever gave me flowers before”, I said to myself.

Inside the card was a brief message “Happy Easter from the Clerks fund”. I may not have admitted this before on this site but before discovering I was an anarchist Buddhist I spent some earlier years working as a stockbroker and investment banker. The recent hard times I have been struggling with have been made somewhat easier by the intervention of the Stock Exchange Clerks Fund who have been more than generous in supporting me with some practical issues such as buying the inversion table I use to help stabilise my back and a bed to replace the second hand futon I used to employ nightly in destabilising it.

So now I am completely thrown into confusion. As if it wasn’t strange enough being an anarchist supported by the Stock Exchange Clerks Fund, now they have wished a Buddhist happy Easter with flowers and made him cry. It’s been a tough week.

In another series of unexpected moments I have recently found myself in deep disagreement with communism and socialism through my experiences with the National Health Service. I have met many NHS doctors and consultants over the past couple of years and more than anyone would want to meet in a lifetime. Most of these consultations have been characterised by a lack of belief on their part that my problems are real. I am never sure if this is because of the denial of Child Sexual Abuse that is so normal in our society, the fact that the problems I have do not appear in textbooks or professional arrogance masking their fear of the unknown.

Whatever the reasons I have discovered that the NHS does not work. It is not lack of money at the heart of this problem it is lack of personal responsibility. The consultants are over-powered and over-paid. They have sycophantic wannabee doctors trailing on their coat tails licking up the trail of crap they leave in their wake. The nurses are under-powered and under-paid. The cleaners are too few and far between. The managers job is to jump through hoops created by central government which would be great except the hoops don’t help healthcare happen. Because outcomes do not reflect in resource availability nothing works at its best.

Because of the terrible state of this gigantic and unwieldy system I have found myself changing political spots on the issue to a greater extent than I would ever have thought possible. The only way to solve the problems of the NHS is to scrap it and move to a fully market system. If users paid at the point of use for all health services with a government insurance for those who could not pay the service would be much different. Bad doctors would not get or keep patients, badly run hospitals would fail. Responsibility for provision of services would lay fully with the owners and for their use with the paying patient. They do this in most other European Nations and most other European Nations have a higher standard of healthcare than Britain.

So the anarchist becomes a capitalist, once again, and it is his experience of one of the worlds “great” state monoliths that convinces him. And he gets his first ever flowers – from the Stock Exchange. Don’t you just love this weird world and all it’s weird glory?

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Body IS Mind and Mind IS Body

March 17th, 2005 No comments

If emtiness is form and form is emptiness then body is mind and mind is
body. It is only our ego mind that judges, that measures and creates false
separation. Enlightenment is as much a physical process as a mental one
because physical and mental processes are not separate, one can never exist
without the other.

The importance of a straight spine in meditation is very fundamental. The
diaphragm, pelvic floor, feet and other membranes associated with “chakra’s” store trauma and memory in the body distorting posture and bending the spine out of shape. A spine with proper curves is the result of progressively undoing this storage of memory, hence the physical and mental consequences (karma).

If the spine is not “straight” the mind will not be straight. A “straight” spine actually means a spine with proper curves. This is a prerequisite to achieving the Jnana states or bliss states. These are themselves an essential prerequisite to achieving full understanding or enlightenment.

Meditators who sit for hours on the cushion with bent backs and twisted bodies, forcing themselves through will to “keep on at it” are hypnotising themselves and making no progress. They would be doing more for themselves, their practice and the world if they took up yoga, learned to breathe properly and went to see a chiropracter.

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