On Grabbing A Bargain?

Boxing Day SalesNearly everyone I know has been rushing out to the Boxing Day sales today, determined to grab that ‘must have’ bargain.

But is it a ‘must have’, is it even a ‘bargain’, is it, really?

All over Christmas, at every commercial break, we get bombarded with ‘Bargain Offers’ for buy now, pay later ‘Must Haves’ … Rubbish.

Happiness stems from who you are, and not from what you own. That nice new iPad Mini 3 or iPhone 6 that you have been showing off, will very soon be yesterdays toy, and the next big ‘must have’ thing will come along to take its place.

Look around you, see how much you really have, family, friends and all manner of comforts in life. You don’t need that ‘must have’ gizmo, and if it really were such a ‘bargain’, why would the company be selling it at that price? Because they are just ripping you off by a little less than before.

Retail therapy is only therapy for the companies selling the goods. Tell me, honestly, that you have never been out, bought a ‘bargain’, and regretted it, maybe even before you got home. Think before you spend that hard earned cash, think even harder before you pay with your credit card or take a loan. Do you really need it?

What A Laugh

Company Christmas PartyWhat a wheeze, the company Christmas bash, held in the Village Urban hotel, Bournemouth was everything that we expected tonight. Not being one to over imbibe, I guess I was one of the more sober ones tonight, and what fun!

Of course, to start with everyone was sober, but as time rolled on, and the wine, beer and spirits flowed, inhibitions were slowly eroded and a few home truths surfaced. We are not the largest company in the world, and a little like a family run business, where everyone knows everyone else by their first names.

Observing, whilst not exactly being stone cold sober, I was in the perfect position to watch the fun and games. Not that there was too much to report, but people do say and do the funniest things when they get a bit squiffy. As far as I know, no videos or photos have made their way onto the social networking sites, yet, but it is a good feeling to be able to let, what little hair I have, down, whilst being in total control of my faculties.

I’m sure there will be a few tales told on Monday, but apart from me being an observer as well as a participant, I’m sure none of them will be about me.

Your Happiness Is Within You

Your Happiness Is Within YouAnother blissfully happy weekend is nearly over, but let’s not get complacent.

Being happy is not something that we can take for granted, problems can derail our happiness at any time.

But we can take steps to ensure that we are aware of the causes and take steps to resolve and correct the effects.

Sensei summed it up perfectly …

Buddhism teaches that we are each responsible for our own happiness or unhappiness. Our vitality—the amount of energy or “life-force” we have—is in fact the single most important factor in determining whether or not we are happy.

True happiness is to be found within, in the state of our hearts. It does not exist on the far side of some distant mountains. It is within you, yourself. However much you try, you can never run away from yourself. And if you are weak, suffering will follow you wherever you go.

You will never find happiness if you don’t challenge your weaknesses and change yourself from within.

So if you are happy with life at present, be mindful of where that happiness comes from. If you are unhappy, challenge the causes of that unhappiness and make the changes you need to make.

Just Another Day … Almost

Just Another Birthday Birthdays are funny things aren’t they When you are little, they are the best thing next to Christmas, you count down the days and they take ages to arrive.

Then you become a teenager and your life changes almost overnight. Shortly after, one day you are a child, the next you are an adult, and so it goes on.

Certain birthdays are real milestones in life. 18, 21, 30, 40, 50, 65, the list goes on. However, 60 isn’t on any list that I subscribe to, so today was really just another day, albeit a very nice one. The last twelve months have been life changing for me, my strengthening faith in Nichiren Buddhism being one of the most important aspects of that.

But now it’s nearly over, and tomorrow will literally be just another day. So it is only left for me to thank all my family and friends for the presents, the cards and the nice greetings on Facebook and the like. I am grateful that I have chalked up another year. When you see the news, every day there are many, many people who don’t. So I should really be most thankful for my good fortune, life in all it’s glory, should never be taken for granted.

On Taking Responsibility

On Taking ResponsibilitySometimes we find ourselves in difficult or disappointing circumstances, and might believe that they are not of our making. The laws of Karma are universal, we get what we deserve, so whether we recognise the causes or not, the effects speak for themselves.

We might feel sorry for ourselves, we may think it’s unfair, but we make the causes for the effects we experience day in, day out.

Now you may be saying that it’s destiny, fate, or coincidence, but that simply means you are delegating responsibility for your life to chance or a mystical figure whose existence can never be proven.

Why do we allow ourselves to be fooled? When we know the reason for events, we accept the situation and move on. When we don’t know, or remember why something has happened, we waft it away with airy fairy excuses, like fate or God’s will.

I’ve been through the mill at various times in life. Failed relationships, jobs losses, illness and  even death in the family. More than enough to make me feel, at times, that enough is enough. But when I sit and think things through, at the bottom of every disaster, there is, at least in part, a cause of my own making.

So I have to be the first to hold my hand up, I’m culpable, in part at the very least, and my chanting, prayer and meditation are the tools I use to put things right.

You might be sitting there thinking this doesn’t apply in your case, but you are wrong. You are where you are at this very second, as a result of all the decisions and actions you have taken up to this moment. Accept your responsibility and start making your own causes to get the effects you would like to see. If you don’t, you have nobody else to blame if things refuse to improve.

Tragic Tuesday

Memories and pipe dreams - maybe?The holiday is well and truly over and the crew are suffering. A week of not having to be anywhere at any time is a true luxury, but one to which one can quickly become accustomed.

Like a fool, I made the huge mistake, last night, of looking  at narrowboats for sale online, knowing full well that now was not the time. Sadly I found several that fitted the bill, beautiful, well equipped and (relatively) cheap.

So today I am busy getting my mind back into ‘sensible mode’ and dealing with the problems that every day life brings. Though I have to admit that I keep drifting back to last week, and an afternoon spent in the Cotton Arms in Wrenbury with Richard, a retired IT professional, now living full time on narrowboat Sarah Pay with his Welsh Collie Megan.

We all set ourselves goals and we are all guilty of looking over the fence to the greener fields, but we must use Wisdom when we navigate through these mental flights of fancy.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, at least for now, I have to concentrate on performing the role for which I am paid. The holiday is gone, albeit that the memories are still fresh in the mind. To make changes we must make causes, and to make causes we need to use our wisdom and courage. We will see, time will tell … again.

Be That Drop Of Sunshine

Be The Sunshine

Life has it’s ups and downs, as we all know. Little things can make friends and family members unhappy or even depressed, so make it your job to make them feel better.

There are so many people, so many lives on this planet, too numerous, in fact, to count.

From this great multitude, we wondrously find ourselves together with those in our families, as parents and children, as brothers and sisters, as husbands and wives.

If we do not live joyfully and cheerfully with whom we share this profound bond, what is life for?

Should the atmosphere at home be sombre, you can be that drop of ‘sunshine’. By being a shining presence, you can cast the light of hope on your mother, father, children and indeed all of your family and friends.

On Good Friends

Good FriendsWhat Buddhism terms ‘good friends’, are sincere, honest people without a trace of deceit, who guide others toward the correct path, toward good. It also refers to people who lend their assistance or support to us so that we can practice Buddhism with full assurance.

If you become close to a person who makes you feel “that person is always glowing and animated” or “When I’m with that person I feel strong and secure,” then your faith will naturally deepen, and you will develop bountiful wisdom. In carrying out this Buddhist practice, encountering good friends is the key to attaining Buddhahood.

– Daisaku Ikeda

True Friendships

True FriendshipsWe had a really nice meeting of the Bournemouth veggie/vegan group today, great food at the Mad Cucumber and scintillating company as always, and some blossoming friendships however you care to measure them.

You cannot judge the quality of another’s friendship by superficial appearances, especially when things are going smoothly.

It is only when we have experienced the worst, most crushing of times, when we have plumbed the depths of life, that we can truly experience the joys of genuine friendship.

Only a woman or man of principle, of resolve, a person who stays true to their chosen path, can be trusted and a true friend, and have real friends in turn.

Our Vegan Friends


We spent a very pleasant couple of hours in the company of some of our veggie / vegan friends today.

So nice to be around like minded people, all individuals, but connected by their beliefs.

Determined people of conviction, who stand alone, who pursue their chosen path.

Not only are such people good and trustworthy friends themselves, but will also make genuine friends of others.

The bamboo groves of the autumn are gorgeous. Each bamboo tree stands independently, growing straight and tall towards the sky. Yet in the ground, way out of sight, their roots are interwoven and interconnected.

In the same way, true friendship is not a relationship based upon dependence, but one of individual independence. It is the enduring bond that connects self-reliant individuals, comrades who share the same commitment, on a spiritual plane.

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