It’s About Time We Gave A Frack

No Fracking - Caroline Lucas ProtestsThe Buddhist teaching of the Oneness of Life and it’s Environment tells us that humanity, the World and the Universe are one.

That is why, if we wish to protect the environment, we must transform and purify the Three Poisons of Greed, Anger and Foolishness.

The principle of Human Revolution focuses on precisely this, inner transformation at the most fundamental level through our practice.

With the Government today announcing that it  will be allowing licences for fracking, in exceptional circumstances, even in the most beautiful parts of the Britain, to release huge quantities of hitherto untapped reserves of fossil fuel in the form of gas, there has never been a more pressing time to promote responsibility in all.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

Nature’s Images

I’ve been out cycling with the boys all morning, surrounded by the beautiful nature of The New Forest, just wonderful. So here is a snippet of wisdom from Nichiren Daishonin, about letting go of worldly desires, and a couple of images from the ride …

New Forest Panorama

Now, if you wish to attain Buddhahood, you have only to lower the banner of your arrogance, cast aside the staff of your anger, and devote yourself exclusively to the one vehicle of the Lotus Sutra. Worldly fame and profit are mere baubles of your present existence, and arrogance and prejudice are ties that will fetter you in a next one.

~ Nichiren Daishonin

The Boys At Avon Beach

Get Thee Hence Dark Passenger

The Scales Don't LieAs you all know by now, I’ve been on this fitness regime since May last year, and it’s been going really well. I’m keeping my weight around 12 stone and I feel terrific, but it’s so easy to get back into bad habits and undo some of the hard work.

Saturday was a perfect example. Being vegan means giving up bacon, but substitute soya bacon for breakfast was going to be a treat, fried, with brown sauce and all. And it’s all too easy to think, ‘well I’ve had this and that, so I might as well go for it’. Really stupid and a big mistake.

Like most challenges in life, it’s far more difficult to stick to the goal than it is to ignore it and let your urges take over. Sadly the scales don’t lie, and I know it wasn’t the bacon butties that caused all the trouble. One way I have stayed on course is by not having temptations in the house. But Scully’s place is full of goodies. Wine, mayonnaise, bread, peanuts, the list is almost endless, and although they are all vegan, they aren’t necessarily all that healthy or slimming.

It’s so much easier, and in some respects more pleasant to put weight on than it is to get it off. But the worst feeling of all is to lose it, and then put it back on when you know that you let your fundamental darkness take control. Double the pain, knowing that there is a chink in your determination, and that it really wasn’t worth all the angst. So get thee hence Dark Passenger. I’m off out cycling round the New Forest tomorrow with the boys, to have a good workout and burn all those stupid calories off again.

On The Theme Of Waiting …

WaitingWaiting is a strange thing.

Waiting for the lights to go green can take ages when you are late for an appointment. Waiting for a sapling to mature takes years. Waiting for your girlfriend to finish in the bathroom can take forever (don’t tell her I said that).

But actually, waiting is often an act of faith, a belief in a desired outcome, and reaching that desired outcome, that’s when it can usually be said that ‘it was worth the wait’.

Others, as you might expect, have described the process far more eloquently than I ever could …

Tout vient à qui sait attendre

‘Ah, all things come to those who wait,’
(I say these words to make me glad),
But something answers soft and sad,
‘They come, but often come too late.’

~ Violet Fane (1843-1905)

The Waiting

Oh baby don’t it feel like heaven right now
Don’t it feel like something from a dream
Yeah I’ve never known nothing quite like this
Don’t it feel like tonight might never be again
We know better than to try and pretend
Baby no one could’a ever told me ’bout this
I said yeah yeah

The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part

Well yeah i might have chased a couple women around
All it ever got me was down
Then there were those that made me feel good
But never as good as I’m feeling right now
Baby you’re the only one that’s ever known how
To make me wanna live like I wanna live now
I said yeah yeah

The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you get one more yard
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part

Oh don’t let it kill you baby, don’t let it get to you
Don’t let it kill you baby, don’t let it get to you
I’ll be your bleedin’ heart, I’ll be your cryin’ fool
Don’t let this go too far
Don’t let it get to you

~ Tom Petty – 1981

Interestingly, Tom Petty had this to say about the song …

“That was a song that took a long time to write. Roger McGuinn swears he told me the line – about the waiting being the hardest part – but I think I got the idea from something Janis Joplin said on television. I had the chorus very quickly, but I had a very difficult time piecing together the rest of the song. It’s about waiting for your dreams and not knowing if they will come true. I’ve always felt it was an optimistic song.”

So what ever you are waiting for, make causes, remain determined, and you will reach your goal one day.

Worth The Wait

Life's Ups and DownsLife is a rollercoaster at the best of times, so the ups and downs shouldn’t be a surprise.

But just like a real rollercoaster, they can still make you scream at times.

When I am looking for answers, or need to know the path I need to take, I chant, as you might suspect.

Often the answers come quite quickly, but sometimes things are complicated, or when another person is involved, the answers sometimes take longer.

The important thing to remember, is that only you can provide the answers to your own questions, no one else can decide for you.

Only your heart holds the key to unlock the path you must take, only Nam Myoho Renge Kyo can turn that key and you can be sure it will be worth the wait.

There’s A Kind Of Hush …

There's A Kind Of HushAs you know, I’ve just had the perfect long weekend. Albeit that it’s a couple of days ago now, but the memories are still sinking in. In the past, I might be rueing having to come back to work, but the period I had without work has rather put a stop to that, and it’s also because I now have the ability to pour a mental calm over everything.

You know the calm I mean, at least I hope you do, when slowly everything starts to come together, to fit into place and there’s a soft and easy feel about things. At work, at home, in my practice, in fact in life, I have definitely turned some magical corner and tranquillity is the result.

Not that tranquillity itself is necessarily always a good thing. It can make us lazy, complacent, stop setting goals for ourselves or making the causes for the effects we want to see. But the tranquillity that accompanies the calmness of a balanced situation is very magical indeed.

Sometimes we have to go through a rough ride to reach the place we want to be. During the ride it’s tough, tranquillity is a million miles away and sometimes appears to be receding fast. But if you stick with it, learn from the pain and make the necessary causes, you will reap the benefits of the effects when they arrive.

So stick with it. If you have confidence in your goals, remain determined and resolute in your quest, and have the courage to withstand the pain, you too will see the benefits. It’s marvellous.

Tuneday

TranquillityOfficially, today was Tuesday, but in computer speak it was actually Monday++. With the extra day off, the weekend just meant that the pile of work waiting for me when I got into the office this morning was 50% bigger than a normal Monday, and you know how I feel about them. So it was all hands on deck and the day passed without a break, ironically at break-neck speed.

So by the time five o’clock arrived I was in need of some peace and quiet. Fortunately, the stream behind the office is exactly the right place to find such an environment, so before diving into the car and setting off for MQ, I took several long minutes to just stand and chant in the evening sunshine, watch the quiet waters flow past, and let my mind find its equilibrium as the trials and tribulations of the day drifted away with the shining lazy current.

If we are to deal with the challenges of everyday life, it is important to take a deep breath, inhale the quieter side of life, and release the stress that builds up inside. Next time you find yourself feeling agitated, stressed out, or getting submerged beneath the everyday strains that life puts upon us, find a quiet spot, take time to stand still, breathe and just let the stress drift away.

Far from being a waste of time, they may be the most important minutes of your day.

On Responsibility …

Ripples In A PondThere are now over five hundred people following my blog, so I need to think even more carefully about the things I post.

Each topic will be, however small, a source for potential change in those who read it.

One of the principles of Nichiren Buddhism is that of the Oneness of Self and the Environment.

If you drop a pebble, no matter how small, into a pond, the ripples spread out in all directions and interact with everything in their path.

This principle states that there is a connection between the person and others around him or her. It is therefore clear that changes in our life-state, the way we relate or react to others and changes due to our Practice will affect those whose lives we interact with.

Some of these affects are very obvious. If we walk around with a happy demeanour, we find that people are more likely to be pleasant towards us. If, on the other hand, we walk around in a bad mood, with a scowl on our face, we find that people are less friendly and may try to avoid us completely.

Ok, so no rocket science there then, but there are more subtle ways in which changes can be felt. In my own case, my Practice has allowed me to stabilise my life-state, generally I am now more often in the higher Worlds than lower ones. The result of that is that I am better placed to create value, for myself and those around me.

My Practice has changed me and those changes are affecting others. That’s why it is so important for me to ensure that as these changes take place, my Wisdom, Courage and Compassion increases too, so I can make sure the changes are all good ones.

Tolpuddle, A Name From History

Tolpuddle MarchToday has been a joyous celebration of a hugely important part of British, and arguably World history. In a rather unplanned manner, three of us set off to the historic Dorset village of Tolpuddle.

Now many of you may never have heard of Tolpuddle, but if you have ever been a member of a workers union, been on strike to register your opposition to a change in working conditions or in a demand for a rise in pay, Tolpuddle is inextricably linked to those actions. A group of six men from the village made history, and paid temporarily with their freedom, when they formed the first workers union. Wikipedia says this of them …

The Tolpuddle Martyrs were a group of 19th century Dorset agricultural labourers who were arrested for and convicted of swearing a secret oath as members of the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers. The rules of the society show it was clearly structured as a friendly society and operated as a trade-specific benefit society. But at the time, friendly societies had strong elements of what are now considered to be the predominant role of trade unions. The Tolpuddle Martyrs were subsequently sentenced to transportation to Australia.

Before 1824/25 the Combination Acts had outlawed “combining” or organising to gain better working conditions. In 1824/25 these Acts were repealed, so trade unions were no longer illegal. In 1832, the year of a Reform Act which extended the vote in England but did not grant universal suffrage, six men from Tolpuddle in Dorset founded the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers to protest against the gradual lowering of agricultural wages in the 1830s caused by the surplus supply of labour in an era when mechanisation was beginning to have an impact on agricultural working practices for the first time. This was a particular problem in remote parts of southern England, such as Dorset, where farmers did not have to compete with the higher wages paid to workers in London and in the northern towns experiencing the Industrial Revolution. They refused to work for less than 10 shillings a week, although by this time wages had been reduced to seven shillings a week and were due to be further reduced to six shillings. The society, led by George Loveless, a Methodist local preacher, met in the house of Thomas Standfield.

In 1834 James Frampton, a local landowner, wrote to the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, to complain about the union, invoking an obscure law from 1797 prohibiting people from swearing oaths to each other, which the members of the Friendly Society had done. James Brine, James Hammett, George Loveless, George’s brother James Loveless, George’s brother in-law Thomas Standfield, and Thomas’s son John Standfield were arrested, tried before Judge Baron John Williams in R v Lovelass and Others. They were found guilty, and transported to Australia.

When sentenced to seven years’ transportation, George Loveless wrote on a scrap of paper the following lines:

God is our guide! from field, from wave,
From plough, from anvil, and from loom;
We come, our country’s rights to save,
And speak a tyrant faction’s doom:
We raise the watch-word liberty;
We will, we will, we will be free!

They became popular heroes and 800,000 signatures were collected for their release. Their supporters organised a political march, one of the first successful marches in the UK, and all, except James Hammett (who had a previous criminal record for theft) were released in 1836, with the support of Lord John Russell, who had recently become Home Secretary. Four of the six returned to England, disembarking at Plymouth, a popular stopping point for transportation ships.

WP_20140720_16_51_39_ProMembers of unions from all over the country, as well as a large number of non-members, converge on the village each year, to commemorate the anniversary of the historic events, listen to speeches, enjoy music, and generally have fun. The impromptu manner of the day only further added to the enjoyment of the day. The commemorative march was remarkable, walking in the footsteps of some very famous people. The highlight, for me however, was a performance by Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, previously of the band Beautiful South with the band playing some of the classics, a great day out had by all.

Crash, Bang, Wallop …

Thunder and LightningThe thunder, lightening and rain was biblical on Friday morning, not the kind that wakes the odd person, the kind that wakes everyone, amazing. So having been roused from our slumbers, we stood at the window watching natures incredible light show and marvelling at the rain falling vertically in huge droplets.

If we are unprepared for it, the weather can cause us all manner of problems, as witnessed by the floods in and around Somerset earlier in the year. But problems, or challenges as we prefer to refer to them, can be seen in many ways …

There was once an old lady who cried all the time. Her elder daughter was married to an umbrella merchant while the younger daughter was the wife of a noodle vendor. On sunny days, she worried, “Oh no! The weather is so nice and sunny. No one is going to buy any umbrellas. What will happen if the shop has to be closed?” These worries made her sad. She just could not help but cry.

When it rained, she would cry for the younger daughter. She thought, “Oh no! My younger daughter is married to a noodle vendor. You cannot dry noodles without the sun. Now there will be no noodles to sell. What should we do?” As a result, the old lady lived in sorrow everyday. Whether sunny or rainy, she grieved for one of her daughters. Her neighbours could not console her and jokingly called her “the crying lady.”

One day, she met a monk. He was very curious as to why she was always crying. She explained the problem to him. The monk smiled kindly and said, “Madam! You need not worry. I will show you a way to happiness, and you will need to grieve no more.”

The crying lady was very excited. She immediately asked the monk to show her what to do. The master replied, “It is very simple. You just need to change your perspective. On sunny days, do not think of your elder daughter not being able to sell umbrellas but the younger daughter being able to dry her noodles. With such good strong sunlight, she must be able to make plenty of noodles and her business must be very good. When it rains, think about the umbrella store of the elder daughter. With the rain, everyone must be buying umbrellas. She will sell a lot of umbrellas and her store will prosper.”

The old lady saw the light. She followed the monk’s instruction. After a while, she did not cry anymore; instead, she was smiling everyday. From that day on she was known as “the smiling lady.”

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