The Happiness Of Others

HappinessI think I’m a pretty happy sort of chap, always joking around and generally enjoying life. But there are times when that just isn’t appropriate and the last couple of weeks have been such a time.

Being happy is actually a frame of mind. It is also a choice that we can all make, by seeing the glass as half full, rather than half empty. But the happiness of others can, and often does, have a very uplifting effect.

Understandably, Bumble has been very sad of late. That really isn’t how she usually is, every picture of her has her wearing a smile. So it was really nice to hear her in a happy mood. She’s back at work and life is slowly getting bearable again.

So my happiness tonight is more than partly down to her happiness. The happiness of others is important and is something we should try our best to promote. Using our wisdom, courage and compassion will go a long way to achieving that goal.

So next time, during diamoku, concentrate on praying for the happiness of someone you know who needs a bit of cheering up. Fill your lungs, chant your heart out and you too will feel your spirits lifted.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.


Sudden ThoughtSometimes I surprise myself, or rather something, that in all truth should be blindingly obvious, suddenly permeates my grey matter and comes as a bit of a shock. I’ve been writing my blog for nearly two years now, and over thirty thousand people have visited it in that time, but it struck me today that the whole purpose behind it, and my practice, is to help myself, and others, to reach a state of enlightenment.

Daisaku Ikeda says this of enlightenment, or the state of Buddhahood:

If we attain the state of Buddhahood in this lifetime, that state will forever pervade our lives. Throughout the cycle of birth and death, in each new lifetime, we are endowed with good health, wealth and intelligence, along with a supportive, comfortable environment, and lead lives that overflow with good fortune. Each of us will also possess a unique mission and be born in an appropriate form to fulfil it.

Quite a statement, but how amazing would that be? That was the shock. That my practice and my musings about it each day, are actually helping me, and hopefully you, along the path to the most amazing goal.

Maybe I am a bit dim, maybe I should have realised it sooner, but I hope that my posts help others, even if it is only a simple thought that strikes a chord.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

Compassion, Savlon For The Soul

Compassion, Savlon For The SoulI’m a bit of a believer in Savlon. I guess it comes from my childhood and all the bumps and scrapes to which it was applied as I was growing up. It soothes and cools and heals all in one, and it stings a lot less that Dettol !!! But there are things that Savlon can’t heal, like a broken heart or a saddened soul.

Bumble was a very sad bunny this morning. I had woken her from a nasty dream during the night, and she was at a very low ebb first thing. Even breakfast in bed didn’t help, but I hoped that a day of compassion and thoughtfulness might do the trick.

All the physical exercise yesterday, moving stuff about and being too busy to think, seemed to have helped her to forget about her Dad’s funeral, but the cold light of morning had brought it all into sharp relief and she was understandably feeling down.

We had already planned to do a couple of exciting things today, to visit Hannah and do a bit of shopping, but I thought that filling the day with nice things would be a good idea, to try to raise her spirits. So we called B’s mum and suggested that we took them out for lunch and the idea was gleefully accepted. Having washed and dressed, we went round to Hannah’s, had coffee and a play with young Stanley and then made our way to Westbury to see Jill and Wendy.

With a little shopping, in a rather quiet Morrison’s on the way home, a spot of gentle gardening and a tasty dinner, using up the leftovers from earlier in the week, followed by a nice quiet evening and a soothing bath to end the day, everyone’s mood was lifted. Proving once and for all, that compassion and thoughtfulness are gentle, yet powerful healers.

A Moving Experience

A Moving ExperienceFollowing the emotional challenges of yesterday, today we had a far more down to earth set of goals to achieve, namely moving B’s son Sam and his partner Georgie into their new house in Kingswood.

Not that moving furniture is generally such a problem, but when it’s someone else’s property and you have no idea what is in each box, or where it should be put, it does get a little more tricky.

Fortunately, baby Merrin was round at Georgie’s mum’s house, so we were able to leave doors open and move around without worrying about her escaping or getting tangled up in the bits of dismantled bed, wardrobes or cupboards.

It took us a while, even though there were six of us on the case. The weather was kind, even a little too warm for humping and lifting maybe, but by mid afternoon we were able to leave Sam and Georgie to get on with the onerous task of putting everything in its rightful place, another challenge met and a job well done by all.

All that is left to do is to wish the couple all the very best in there new abode and hope that they are very happy. I’ve done a bit of chanting to that effect, so everything should go to plan.

A Final Farewell, For Now

Lotus Flowers - Poison Into MedicineToday was Ivor’s funeral, and a chance for the majority of his family and friends to say a fond, final farewell at the graveside. In all honesty, it was not the sombre event I had dreaded. The setting, the Memorial Woodland, was the most tranquil and beautiful place I have been in a long time.

At the allotted hour, we followed the hearse to the graveside, through sunshine and shade, through ancient woodland and newly planted saplings. This was my first burial ceremony and there is a certain something about the hole in the earth that emphasises the physical finality of the service.

It was a very close family affair, even the service was performed by Steve’s dad Alan, and beautifully so. I read my little piece, putting the Buddhist perspective …

Life is a journey, an adventure during which we are set challenges to test our resolve and to help us learn lessons that will ease our steps along the path to enlightenment.

Buddhism sees death as part of that journey. Far from it being the end of life, it is simply the next step in the process.

So rather than mourning the loss of Ivor, we should rejoice in the sound knowledge that, after a short rest, he will return in a new form, in a new body.

We are all made of stardust; we are an integral part of the Universe and but a single drop of universal energy.

Just as raindrops fall to the Earth, collect in streams and rivers and flow back into the oceans, to be raised up again to repeat the process, so has Ivor joined the ocean of universal energy in preparation for the next cycle in the eternal process we know as The Wheel of Life.

Let us take comfort and rejoice in the fact that Ivor has taken another step on his path to enlightenment.

After the service, a few of us stayed behind to chant, and it was really nice to be able to offer daimoku in such an intimate way and in such a perfect setting.

The photo of the water lilies was taken from the pond outside the chapel of rest, and I think they were a very fitting embellishment to a very lovely and moving ceremony.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

The Storm Before The Calm

The Storm Before The CalmWorking from the cottage today was like working in the middle of Paddington station. Everyone having somewhere to be, somebody to see, something to do, and all for the funeral tomorrow. And there I was, sitting in the melee and getting on with my work.

The pandemonium of today is all in a good cause. Getting things done today, getting all those little things that take so long, out of the way, so that tomorrow we can be calm, collected, serene even, as we get ready to say goodbye to Ivor, in this life at least.

But getting things done, getting all the ducks lined up, putting everything in its place is a good way to live generally. When you plan, you become self-aware, then you can put those plans into action, making the causes to help create the effects you wish to see.

So tomorrow is on one level, a very special day, for Ivor’s family and friends, it will be a day never to be forgotten. But on another level, it is the most ordinary day, the most inevitable day, and a day that can teach us why to live our lives to the full.

Wise Words

Wise WordsHaving thought long and hard about death and the process of dying, I have been privileged to read some very wise words from some very wise people over the last few days. By now you will be well aware of my own thoughts and feelings on the subject, but I would like to share some of the thoughts of others:




Death – the last sleep?
No, it is the final awakening.
~ Walter Scott ~

The fear of death follows from the fear of life.
A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.

~ Mark Twain ~

Some people are so afraid to die
that they never begin to live.
~ Henry Van Dyke ~

Only those who have dared to let go
can dare to re-enter.

~ Meister Eckhart ~

Of course you don’t die.
Nobody dies.
Death doesn’t exist.
You only reach a new level of vision,
a new realm of consciousness,
a new unknown world.

~ Henry Miller ~

A man’s ethical behaviour should be based effectually on
sympathy, education, and social ties –
no religious basis is necessary.
Man would indeed be in a poor way
if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.

~ Albert Einstein ~

To fear death
is nothing other than to think oneself wise when one is not.
For it is to think one knows what one does not know.
No one knows whether death may not even turn out to be
the greatest blessings of human beings.
And yet people fear it as if they knew for certain it is the greatest evil.

~ Socrates ~

We are ignorant of the Beyond
because this ignorance is the condition of our own life.
Just as ice cannot know fire except by melting and vanishing.

~ Jules Renard ~

The bitterest tears shed over graves
are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.

~ Harriet Beecher Stowe ~

I believe there are two sides to the phenomenon known as death,
this side where we live, and the other side where we shall continue to live.
Eternity does not start with death.
We are in eternity now.

~ Norman Vincent Peale ~

As a well spent day brings happy sleep,
so life well used brings happy death.
~ Leonardo DaVinci ~

And finally the piece I read at my own father’s funeral …

Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Whatever we were to each, that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used.
Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be the household word it always was.
Let it be spoken without effort.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was;
there is absolutely unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of your mind
because I am out of your sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near just around the corner…
All is well. Nothing is past, nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before,
only better, infinitely happier
and forever we will be one together.
~ Henry Scott Holland ~

Eternal Joy

EternityI have been writing the piece to be read at Ivor’s funeral today, and just thinking about the Buddhist view of death has lightened my mood enormously. As you may know, death does not represent the end of life, as it does in many other religions, but rather another stage in the eternal Wheel of Life.

As you might expect, I am not going to show the world what I have written just yet, that will rightly be reserved for the ceremony on Friday, but I will publish it here once everything has settled down.

Of course it is not a humorous piece, but I am hoping that it will put a smile on people’s faces, rather than the sombre looks that are typical of funerals. Thinking about how we feel, after the death of a family member or someone close, the sadness is really for the loss of that person. But there is a real joy in knowing that they are moving on to a new life, with all the exciting possibilities that entails.

I am not exactly looking forward to Friday, but I do hope that I will be able to counter any sadness by pointing out the positive side of the Buddhist view.

Letting Go

Letting GoIt’s been a rather sad day for me today. Not because it was my first day back at work after a very difficult week away, or because it was a Monday, or even because I was missing Bumble, though of course I was. It was because I had to step back from the process of organising Ivor’s funeral. Not that I think for one instant that it will be anything other than perfect, but I was finding it very hard to be at arms length all of a sudden.

You know the feeling, when you have been doing a tricky jigsaw puzzle and got to within the last few pieces, or struggled with a tough crossword puzzle but only have the last clue to solve, then you get called away for some reason. When you return, someone has finished the puzzle, or inked in the last word, you feel a little cheated. We that’s how I was feeling, at least a bit.

Then, having taken a minute or two to think about things, I realised that this is not about me, in fact it’s anything but, so who organises what, or arranges what, is totally immaterial. In fact, I have been asked, by Jill, to contribute something for which I am very honoured. She has asked me to write, and to read at the graveside, something that explains the joyous nature of death in a Buddhist context.

So I will put my heart and soul into writing a piece that illustrates how death is far from the end in Buddhism. That it is simply another phase in the Wheel of Life and signifies the beginning of another cycle of life, and as such, is something which holds a great deal of happiness.

Time For The Living

Photo AlbumsHaving had a few hours to rest, and to settle our thoughts and feelings, it became clear that now was the time to devote our efforts to those remaining. We needed to concentrate on spending time with Jill, and as Ivor had spend the last thirteen years in care, finalise the arrangements to move his effects.

We had lunch at the care home, surrounded by the many of the people who knew and cared for him. Those who knew, took time to come and give their condolences. Sadly, of course, it is an all too common occurrence in such an establishment, but it was nice that people showed they cared so much.

Then, while Bumble and Sue went back to Ivor’s room and sorted out his belongings into those to be kept and those that could be donated to charity, Jill and I took a very leisurely stroll around the cricket pitch which forms the centre of the home, in glorious summer sunshine.

With everyone re-assembled back at Jill’s apartment, Steve cooked an evening meal and we sat and chatted about the forthcoming arrangements as well as reminiscing about times gone by. It was a very pleasant gathering, looking at pictures and family photos and remembering the good times. Although Ivor has gone on to better things, it was nice to take time to remember that there is still much for which to to be grateful.

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