The Wrong End Of The Stick

CaspulesNICE, the NHS drugs watchdog, is set to refuse to provide the £90,000 Trastuzumab Emtansine breast cancer treatment to patients on the grounds of cost. As many of you will know, my daughter had breast cancer, had treatment, and has now been tested clear, so I have a vested interest in such issues.

How much is life worth? How much would you pay to spend a year, a month, a week or a day extra with your loved ones? Life is priceless, but the greed of the pharmaceutical industry knows no bounds. They are beholding to their shareholders and are driven purely by the profits they can make from people who find themselves stuck between a rock and a very hard place.

The really annoying part of all this, is that the cancer industry, those who make a living from researching, isolating, diagnosing, and treating cancer cases, have really got the wrong end of the stick in my opinion.

Rather than trying to find cures or treatments for cancer, which like the common cold, has thousands of variants, they should be concentrating on finding the cause. But finding the cause doesn’t make you rich, and once it’s found, what will you do with the rest of your life?

We know that cancer is caused by any number of things, but we also know that it stops developing in the absence of animal protein in the diet. So why are we all still so keen to fund research and treatment when we know how to stop cancer in its tracks?

Money, that’s why. Like the meat and dairy industries, the cancer industry would collapse overnight, with the loss of thousands of jobs, if the truth were widely known. Not exactly a disaster if we look a the bigger picture though. A world without cancer would be a better world, and all the money saved, could be used to fund more worthy schemes.

So let’s stop looking the wrong way down the microscope, let’s grasp the right and of the stick, and give the Big C the heave-ho once and for all.

For more information, take a look here …

Vegan Enlightenment

Vegan EnlightenmentMy friend and fellow vegan Juliet defines the vegan practice thus: Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

Enlightenment is a state in which we are aware of the ultimate truth and meaning of everything. As a Buddhist, I strive for enlightenment and also try to avoid, as far as possible, bringing harm or suffering to any other living creature.

When we are aware that each moment of each day, each gesture and step we take, is truly mystical and full of wonder, we will live our lives with greater thought and care. We will also have greater respect and appreciation for the lives of others.

The two overlap in many ways, and although you don’t have to be Buddhist to be vegan, or vegan to be Buddhist, they fit together like a hand in a glove.

Summon Your Courage

Summon Your CourageWe all have choices to make in life. Everything from whether to take tea or coffee to the major life-changing decisions regarding money, relationships, children and careers.

Whatever the choice you have to make, make it with wisdom, courage and compassion.

If you summon your courage to challenge something, you will never regret it. It would be so sad to spend your life wishing, “If only I had a little more courage.”

Whatever the outcome, the important thing is to take a step forward on the path that you believe is right.

Do not worry too much about what others may think. It is your life. Be true to yourself.

Breaking Down The Challenge

Old Harry Rocks From The South West Coastal PathThe alarm went off at 7:00am, the same as it would on any Monday morning, but this morning was all about making the most of the Bank holiday. My challenge was to complete my Purbecks Figure O’ Eight ride, a round trip of close to 70km, before the roads filled up with visitors and holidaymakers.

Ok, so it’s no Tour de France stage, but neither is it a trip to the corner shop either. Rather than looking at the ride as a whole, I set myself a series of small challenges, getting to the ferry, rounding the corner at Old Harry Rocks, reaching Swanage etc.

Breaking a task into little steps makes it more achievable and cycling is no different. When the going gets tough the tasks get shorter, the climb up Creech Hill for example, gets broken into the individual slopes that make up the whole hill. The 20% incline is only about 15 to 20 metres, but it’s a challenge all of its own.

Similarly, in Nichiren Buddhism, attaining enlightenment is not about embarking on some inconceivably long journey to become a resplendent, godlike Buddha, it is about accomplishing a transformation in the depths of one’s being.

In other words, it is not a matter of practicing in order to scale the highest summit of enlightenment at some point in the distant future. Rather it is a constant, moment to moment, inner struggle between revealing our innate Dharma nature or allowing ourselves to be ruled by our fundamental darkness and delusion.

Take The Opportunities

RaindropsI was really looking forward to getting out on the bike again today, the weatherman had been promising sunshine over the whole holiday.

So you can imagine my disappointment when the weather caused a rethink.

High winds and heavy rain are never the best for a trip out over some of the highest points around here, but there’s always tomorrow.

Every day we have highs and lows, wins and losses, good things happen, bad things happen, every single day.

Problems are an everyday reality, they are part of life and ignoring them will never make them go away.

So focus on what’s good, what’s going right, enjoy that brief spell of sunshine on an otherwise rainy day. Smile, laugh when you can, and always focus on the positives. Make the most of every minute, you will never have the opportunity to use that minute again, so don’t waste it.

Make causes today, to make tomorrow better and never give in to the inevitable resistance that you feel when you are nearing your goal.

Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, never fear the truth, use the Wisdom, Courage and Compassion, we all possess, to help others to be positive, it will increase your own life-energy as you encourage them to increase theirs.

What A Joy

Cultivating The MindWhat is true joy in life? This is a difficult question to answer, and one that has occupied the time of a great many thinkers and philosophers.

Joy is transitory and can quickly give way to suffering. Joy is often short and suffering often long.

Also, what passes for joy in society is superficial. It cannot compare with the joy derived from the Mystic Law. The key therefore, lies in cultivating a state of mind where we can declare without reservation, that life itself is a joy.

This is the purpose of our Buddhist practice.

~ Daisaku Ikeda

On The Up And Up

The view from Rollington Hill - Click to viewWhat a perfect day it’s been for cycling around The Purbecks. Beautiful cloudless skies, gorgeous sunshine and a welcome cooling breeze, who could ask for more?Usually I tend to stick to the lanes and back roads, but not today.

Today was mainly off road and if we weren’t going downhill, we were climbing, Dorset is anything but flat. My accomplices on this picturesque mission were Mike and BJ, two fellow vegans and Mike’s mate, Mike, all keen cyclists.

Now the highest point on our route was the best part of 200 meters above sea level, 200 metres above the Sandbanks chain ferry where we all met up at 8:30. By 9:00 we hadn’t even covered the first mile of our quest, delayed by the first of four punctures we were to suffer en-rout.

As is the nature of things, the best views are situated at the summit of hills or mountains. To enjoy those views, one has to climb to the summit and our case, that meant cycling up some really interesting little inclines.

Anything that requires effort also requires determination in order to achieve it. Some of the paths we followed today were an excellent test of anyone’s determination. They had sneaky habit of disguising the apparent summit around a corner, and rounding the corner one was all too often confronted by a further climb.

The trick I employ, in such circumstances, is to focus on the next few metres ahead. Looking up at the remaining climb only serves two purposes, the first is to dishearten me, by revealing the extent of the effort remaining, the second is to distract me from the finer details of the path immediately ahead, important when it is strewn with loose rocks and gravel.

In fact, it’s very much like achieving anything in life. Your efforts require a determination in order to bear fruit, you have to be focussed on the next element of your goal rather than be distracted by the enormity of your task. With determination you can achieve anything, you just need to take it one step, or in the case of today, one pedal stroke at a time.

Hidden Truths?

Pope FrancisI was dismayed to hear this morning, that the Catholic Church in England are refusing to publish the results of a recent survey of  sexual ethics of such subjects as contraception, cohabitation and homosexuality.

The German Catholic Church have published their results, but it seems that their English colleagues are sticking to Pope Francis’ request that they are not to be released until after further discussions on October.

What are they scared of revealing?  That their flock are completely at odds with the thinking of the clergy? It’s 2014 not 1814, the Inquisition is a thing of the past, people are allowed to have their own views, and have those views heard, aren’t they?

It’s none of my business, if I’m honest. I’m not, nor have I ever been Catholic, but I do strongly believe that honesty and openness are the way forward. If you don’t want to know the answer to something, don’t ask the question. But once it’s asked, let everyone know the outcome. To do otherwise simply encourages supposition and criticism.


ReflectionsSome days we are strong, some days not so strong. Nichiren says this …

When water is clear, the moon is reflected. When the wind blows, the trees shake.

Our minds are like the water. Faith that is weak is like muddy water, while faith that is brave is like clear water.

Understand that the trees are like principles, and the wind that shakes them is like the recitation of the sutra.

                                                   ~ Nichiren

Fortunate Karma

Fortunate KarmaA shallow person will only ever have shallow relationships.

True love is not one person clinging to another, it can only be fostered between two strong people, secure in their individuality.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of The Little Prince, wrote in his work Wind, Sand and Stars, “Love is not two people gazing at each other, but two people looking ahead together in the same direction”

When we are fortunate enough to find someone we can love for whom they are, and who loves us for whom we are, then we are truly fortunate. Meeting that person, amongst the throng of humanity, is surely one of the most fortunate karmic effects we can experience.

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