A New Clear Reaction

We have lift offAs any physics student will tell you, for every action in the Universe, there is an equal and opposite reaction. It’s a law of physics, but also a law in Buddhism and a great way to track your progress. How can resistance be a good thing? It’s easy to think that it can’t. But actually, it’s a great way to measure progress.

As each action has this equal and opposite reaction, there can be no reaction without an action. So the reaction is a perfect indication that you have taken action. To borrow an example from The Buddha, Geoff and Me, let’s imagine an aircraft going down the runway.

As the plane increases speed, the wind resistance gradually increases. If the pilot reduces the power, the plane slows and the resistance reduces, but it won’t take off. If the pilot maintains the power, or increases it, the resistance builds, and the plane takes off, so the goal is achieved.

So feel good when the resistance builds against your actions, it is a good sign. Take heart, remain determined, keep the pressure on, increase your actions, never falter, and you too will reach your goal.

Cirque du Sunday

DIY was never meant to be like thisWhether it was the full on family evening on Friday and Saturday, too much fine food and wine, the unrelenting fun of being surrounded by loved ones, or just a combination of them all, we may never know. Suffice to say that by eight o’clock tonight, B and I were pooped.

It’s interesting to compare our viewpoints about the ‘productivity’ of our weekends. I guess we measure them using totally different scales. My scale measures fun, doing things with the family, children, grandchildren, pets etc. B’s scale measures the number of items remaining on the refurb to-do list.

Now it’s true to say that both scales return valid measurements, but comparing them is like comparing apples and aardvarks. Suffice to say, having spent most of the afternoon and evening fixing pictures, mirrors, smoke detectors and the like in their allotted places, I was keen to call it a day.

B, on the other hand, could only see the remaining list of tasks. To her eyes, the list just got longer and longer, and each weekend smacked of failure when the number of completed jobs failed to meet expectations. It was clear that my capitulation was not universally welcome. A compromise was urgently required.

A nutty little problem, that of re-hanging a pair of cupboard doors, handily placed over the stairs, was the subject of said compromise. B had ‘threatened’ to refit them herself, but in my eyes, that was far too dangerous. We had no ladder short enough to get into the house that would, once positioned, be long enough to reach the cupboard. A conundrum wrapped in an enigma.

I won’t go into too much detail, in an attempt to protect the squeamish, but the initial stages of the re-fit were accomplished using a combination of a step ladder, a chair and a motley selection of wooden battens. The task alone was simplicity itself, but the position of the cupboard made it nigh on impossible.

However, in an admirable partnership of trust, skill, strength and, may I say, not a little daring-do, we completed the job with B sitting on my shoulders, whilst I leant out over the stairs in a push-up like pose, on tip-toe on the top step and supporting us both with my hands on a cross beam under the cupboard. We could easily have been mistaken for an act from Cirque du Soleil, except for the lack of spandex and greasepaint.

So the cupboard is again complete, the task list has reduced by one, B is safe and sound and harmony has once again descended upon The Cottage. Compromise, dialogue and acceptance of another’s viewpoint are all the ingredients required for a peaceful outcome. It’s just a shame a few more international leaders don’t try it.

A Soggy Symbolic Saturday

Buddha In My Coffee CupWhere is all this rain coming from? Apparently, it is officially the wettest drought on record, and looking out of the cottage window this morning it’s not surprising. The raindrops are hammering on the windows, powered on by a blustery north wind.

The morning started strangely. We were supposed to be meeting B’s mum, aunt and sister and brother in law at a bank on Whiteladies Road in Clifton at 10:30 and we were there, or thought we were, just before 10:00. Sadly, it was the wrong branch, so a 15 minute route march ensued when we realised, to get to the right one in Queen’s Road.

It would appear that despite, or maybe as a result of, the financial sector meltdown, that good old fashioned red tape is still very much in evidence. So while B, Sue and their mum jumped through all manner of hoop to sort out the administration, Auntie Wendy and I slipped quietly away to Costa for a caffeine top-up.

Funny how your life-state influences your view of things, or maybe not. The principle of the oneness of self and the environment means that you influence the people and things around you. So when an image of Buddha appeared on the top of my Latte, I suppose it shouldn’t have come as a surprise.

That Friday Feeling

TGIFWell it’s taken a whole week to get here, but finally Friday has arrived again. I know what you are saying, you were going to fill every minute, of every day, with sixty seconds of gainful employment, and I have. But doing that doesn’t stop me being pleased that, arguably, the best day of the week has put in a much appreciated appearance at last.

The weather looks like it’s going to be pants over the weekend, but that can’t stop us having fun if we are determined to make the most of our days off. Every weekend starts for me with a drive to Bristol, as you have probably realised by now, but even that has it’s plus points. Beautiful countryside and fabulous views of some amazing buildings, to name just two.

With a full agenda already pencilled in for both Saturday and Sunday, tonight is going to be a bit of R & R round at Charlotte and Rob’s, with the added promise of a Domino’s stuffed crust Hot ‘n Spicy pizza thrown in for good measure. So please don’t go telling B, she’ll give me hell.

It was a funny old week up to Wednesday, but having realised that I was wishing the days away, put me in a good place to boost my life-energies through chanting and that raised my life-state. Being in one of the higher worlds really does put a sunny outlook on everything and everyone, so I hope you managed to join me, and that you too are going to have a really great weekend.

Be Careful What You Wish For

Be Careful What You Wish ForSo many of us wish for things we would like, or wish to be things we aren’t. Short people wish they were taller, plump people wish they were thin, people with straight hair wish it was curly, people with curly hair wish it was straight.

Of course we are all ‘trained’ to want things from an early age, it’s a product of the consumerist society, and we are all urged to be dissatisfied with what we have, in favour of what the ad men can tempt us into buying.

But surely this way of going about things is a recipe for a certain degree of unhappiness. There are bound to be things we cannot have, maybe because it’s a physical impossibility, being taller when you are short, curly haired when your own is straight. So maybe there is a better way to look at things.

How about concentrating on the good aspects of our lives? You only have to take a few moments to think about it, and you will find that there are dozens, if not hundreds of things you are happy to have.

Maybe it’s your partner, family and friends. Maybe it’s good health, a decent job or even just having enough. So rather than thinking about the things you would like to have, take time to celebrate the things you already have, that are so precious to you, and things you would not like to live without.

And remember, you should always be careful about what you wish for. As a wise man once said, ‘Don’t wish for the stars, after all, where would to keep them all?’

Half Past Wednesday

Time FliesSo here we are again, it’s Wednesday and the week is already half gone. It seems that I spend half my life wishing the time away and the other half trying to slow it down. That is rather sad and a real waste. So I’m going to put that to rights.

Being mindful and making the most of every second should be the primary objective of us all. It’s all too easy to find yourself wishing for some special event to arrive, but doing so, you are wasting half your life, which is tantamount to criminal.

As with most days, the tasks expand to fill the day. The trick is to cram in more tasks and keep busy. Not a huge problem here, as there is always more that can be done. So if you do find the day is dragging, and that special event seems to be getting further away instead of nearer, take stock of your outstanding chores, dive in and set yourself goals, and you will find that the time flies by.

Buddhist Football

uefa-champions-leagueThose of you who know me, even a little bit, will know that I am, and have been for longer than I care to remember, a Chelsea fan. Now this evening, I will be glued to the telly, watching a very important event taking place in Barcelona, namely the Champions League semi final, second leg.

Ok, I say important. Not as important as many, if not most other things in life, but an occasion of note let us say. Time was, when my lad and I would be glued to the telly, or at the match if we could get tickets, avid fans you might describe us.

If we won, we were happy, if we draw, less so, but if we lost … well, let’s not even go there. Sad to say, but when we lost, as Chelsea do occasionally, not only were we unhappy, but that made those around us unhappy too, crazy really.

I am pleased to say that I have come to terms with the situation. Winning is nice, losing not so nice, but it doesn’t put me into a bad place anymore. And that’s all down to re-anchoring my life, by making my Gohonzon my Honzon.

Life in general consists of an ever changing canvass of thoughts, words and deeds, a complete palette of emotions from the very happy to the very sad. But if you anchor your life on faith, and in my case that is obviously Buddhism, the changes have far less effect because you have a more stable base to work from..

It was the great Liverpool manager Bill Shankly who once said ‘Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that. Shankly was indeed a great manager, but I’m afraid Bill, you got that wrong.

So if we, by whom I mean Chelsea, make it through to the final, I will be delighted. If we don’t, well it won’t be the end of the world, for me at least. In terms of the path to enlightenment, I guess I can chalk that up as a win either way.

The M Word

Time After TimeUrgh !!! Monday morning, five o’clock, and the alarm on my mobile is insisting that it’s time to get up, pack, and set off back to Ringwood. I’m not going to say it again, but each time is just a little more painful than the last.

The rain only made the drive less pleasant, not that it’s a difficult trip, but it’s nice to see the countryside when it’s bathed in early morning sunshine rather than the drizzle that followed me all the way to Hampshire.

The day went well, eased along by the mirth and banter in the office. Having a couple of hours to chant always helps too, particularly when, I have to admit, I had been rather lax in that department this weekend.

Lots of issues and tasks later, I was feeling like I had put in a good shift. A couple of useful and rather friendly customer phone calls also helped the day fly by. So by the time I got back home, for the first time in nearly four days, there were the usual chores to be done as well as sorting out my evening meal.

So now I’m back in the groove, fed, watered and sorted, well sort of. So I’m going to do Gongyo, raise my life-state and then get a good night’s sleep, ready to start all over again tomorrow. At least the trip to the office will only take thirty minutes in the morning, I hope.

Quiescent Sunday

Second Hand StuffAfter our rather hectic and task filled Saturday, it was wonderful to have a slow and peaceful Sunday morning. We lay in bed all morning talking. There seems so much to talk about, the past, the present and the future and somehow time just flies by.

So by the time we had showered and got ourselves ready to leave it was after noon. First stop was the local recycling centre. It seems so much better, disposing of unwanted items, when you know that over 50% of the raw materials will be reused.

We then took a few other items to Wot Nots in Westerleigh, a second hand shop, who warehouse and sell unwanted items on. They only accept things they think will sell, so we had to keep one of the light fittings we had taken, but some of the items will find a new home and we might get a couple of pounds for them.

A quick whizz round Sainsbury’s and then off to see B’s parents, with a welcome cup of coffee and a nice chat. By now the day was almost over, so we spent an hour or so preparing dinner.

By the time it was cooked, eaten and cleared away it was time for bed again. Sunday evenings are always too short, knowing that in the early hours of Monday I have to set off back for Ringwood. But it had been a restful day and a fitting end to a lovely weekend.

Sash Windows, Stuff And Supper

Indian SupperSaturday morning and the sun was shining. The sash window restoration man arrived rather too promptly, but was good enough to sit in his van until we had finished breakfast. The friend of a friend, he has just started out on his own, so we were keen to give him some business if it all sounded plausible.

To be honest it didn’t start too well. The first thing he showed us was a cream plastic insert, used to allow the windows to be removed for painting. As B is allergic to plastic, ethically speaking, he was on a sticky wicket from the off. But he was a very nice chap and he’s going to quote to renovate the worst of the windows, so we’ll reserve judgement.

When he left, the sun was still shining intermittently, but the rain clouds were building, just as the weather people had predicted. So getting the ‘stuff’ out of the sun lounge and into the garage, and vice versa, took on an added importance. It’s never much fun trying to rearrange things when you and they have taken a good soaking.

Actually things turned out rather well. The rain, what there was if it, wasn’t too heavy and nor was the majority of the ‘stuff’, so good progress was made in both locations. The Yaris was parked in the driveway, ready to receive the charity shop donations. We had already delivered several boxes of books to the Amnesty International bookshop on the Gloucester Road, but there was much more ‘rationalisation’ to be done.

To be honest, it was a lot more fun than I had expected, and B was a bit more willing to part with some of the less important treasure than I had feared. The day flew by, both places gradually took on an air of organised pandemonium, and the Yaris filled with unwanted goodies.

Sadly the process took longer than anticipated, so there was no time to deliver said donations. We were both fairly pooped by the time we decided to call it a day, so when I made a tentative suggestion that we take our evening repast at the local Indian restaurant, it was accepted with much enthusiasm.

We walked round to the Raj Mahal, managing to dodge the early evening showers and had a very tasty selection of their excellent fare. Indian food has, in the past, not agreed with B’s constitution on the whole, but whatever had caused the problem in the past obviously wasn’t present this time, so by 10:30, both full to bursting, we retired for a well earned, and dyspeptic free night.

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