Forever Reading

Forever ReadingDaisaku Ikeda, in his book, Buddhism Day By Day, says this about the act of reading:

‘Reading is dialogue with oneself; it is self-reflection, which cultivates profound humanity. Reading is therefore essential to our development.

It expands and enriches the personality like a seed that germinates after a long time and sends forth many blossom-laden branches.

People who can say of a book ‘this changed my life’ truly understand the meaning of happiness. Reading that sparks inner revolution is desperately needed to escape drowning in the rapidly advancing information society.

Reading is more than intellectual ornamentation; it is a battle for the establishment of the self, a ceaseless challenge that keeps us young and vigorous.’

We all know which book ‘changed my life’, and I can confirm that I fully understand the meaning of the happiness that this encompasses. Books transformed civilisation in the broadest sense when they became widely available via the printing presses of William Caxton and all those who have followed.

The advent of the world wide web and the internet has simply taken that process to the Nth level. The dissemination of information, and the written word has never been so widespread. Although there are associated dangers and we must be circumspect about the source of the information we consume, there has never been an easier time to read.

During my CELTA course I read to expand my knowledge of the English language, currently I am reading to increase my understanding of psychology and the workings of the mind. Whatever we read, be it fact or fiction, it adds to the kaleidoscope of facts and emotions locked in our brains, so read and read and read again, it will never be a waste of your precious time.

November 2013 – Global Meltdown?

Radiation Effects - Click for detailsIn March 2011 I wrote a post asking for thoughts and prayers for Japan in the wake of the huge earthquake. Today I am asking for you to offer prayers for the team of experts who will, at the beginning of November, attempt the clean-up of the Fukushima nuclear plant.

In a horrific ‘damned if we do, damned if we don’t’ scenario, there is a pressing need to remove the spent fuel rods from the cooling pond of reactor no. 4 before another earthquake occurs. The task is unbelievably complex and dangerous and involves moving 400 tonnes of highly irradiated and damaged fuel rods.

The rods, of which there are over 1300, are 4.5 metres long, weigh about 300kg and contain Plutonium, amongst other highly radioactive components. Ordinarily, the process would be monitored by a sophisticated computer controlled safety system, but since the disaster destroyed this, it will have to be done using machines controlled by hand.

When you consider that the total radiation of the rods is equivalent to around 14,000 times that released by the Hiroshima atomic device used in WWII, the scale of the problem becomes clear. Coupled with the fact that there is no form of containment vessel to stop radiation escaping into the atmosphere, this becomes a truly global issue.

Whilst not trying to create any form of panic, I urge you to read an article describing the situation, and maybe share the information contained within it with your friends and families. It is important that the facts about the gravity of this challenging task are widely known. Our thoughts and prayers should be with all those concerned, for all our sakes.

Essential Reading

Essential ReadingDaisaku Ikeda, in his Buddhism Day By Day, says this about the act of reading:

‘Reading is dialogue with oneself; it is self-reflection, which cultivates profound humanity. Reading is therefore essential to our development.

It expands and enriches the personality like a seed that germinates after a long time and sends forth many blossom-laden branches.

People who can say of a book ‘this changed my life’ truly understand the meaning of happiness. Reading that sparks inner revolution is desperately needed to escape drowning in the rapidly advancing information society.

Reading is more than intellectual ornamentation; it is a battle for the establishment of the self, a ceaseless challenge that keeps us young and vigorous.’

We all know which book ‘changed my life’, and I can confirm that I understand the meaning of the happiness that this encompasses. Books transformed civilisation in the broadest sense when they became widely available via the printing presses of William Caxton and all those who have followed.

The advent of the world wide web and the internet has simply taken that process to the Nth level. The dissemination of information, and the written word has never been so widespread. Although there are associated dangers and we must be circumspect about the source of the information we consume, there has never been an easier time to read.

Gardener’s World

Ten WorldsAll this gardening, and tending the soil, has got me thinking about how the Earth, and the earth, and us, the people who walk on the earth are all connected.

A sense of being part of the great all-inclusive community prompts us to reflect on our place in it and on how we ought to live. Protecting other’s lives, the ecology and the Earth is the same as protecting our own life.

By similar token, wounding them is the same thing as wounding ourselves. Consequently, it is the duty of each of us to participate as members of the living community in the evolution of the Universe.

We must do this by protecting and cherishing Earth’s ecological systems. Not to do so would be the most extreme of follies.

Life’s Too Short To Waste

The Grim ReaperDeath does not discriminate, it strips us of everything.

Fame, wealth and power are all useless in the unadorned reality of the final moments of life. When the time comes, we will have only ourselves to hold to account.

This is a solemn confrontation that we must face, armed only with our raw humanity, the actual record of what we have done and how we have chosen to live our lives.

All that remains to ask is this …

Have I been true to myself?

What have I contributed to the world?

Which areas give me a sense of satisfaction, and which a sense of regret?

Think about this each and every day, for one day, maybe sooner than you think, it will be too late to make amends.

Death Of A Tyrant

Gaddafi by John Cox © 2006The reports of the capture of Muammar Gaddafi started filtering through around about three o’clock this afternoon. Initially the news was that he had been injured, but was still alive. Later it became clear that he had been killed in an intense gun battle with supporters of the new regime.

There were sounds of understandable joy and celebration from the liberated masses, clear signs that Gaddafi was never as popular amongst his own people as he would have liked us to believe. Interviews with a number of Libyan citizens showed that there was mixed reaction to the deposed leader’s death.

Some people were obviously overjoyed at his demise, others had wanted him to be captured alive, so he could stand trial for the war crimes against his own people. Either way, there appeared to be relief that the strife of the civil war would now be over, and the work of rebuilding the devastation left behind, could begin.

I am pleased, for the Libyan people, that his tyranny of forty two years has come to an end. I am unconvinced that Cameron’s claim that it was a justifiable end to a successful military and political mission. I am left rather sickened by the nature of the celebration over the death of another human being.

Whilst we were aware of his rule of iron over his people, and his involvement in numerous terrorist atrocities such as the Lockerbie bombing, he was still a man when all was said and done. Buddhism teaches us that everyone, without exception, has the life-state of Buddhahood within them. Even an evil monster like Gaddafi loved his wife and children and could show compassion to those around him.

On a great day for Libya, for the progress towards a humane and democratic society, let us celebrate with dignity. We are not savages, dancing round the carcass of our latest kill. So whilst rejoicing in the liberation of another middle-eastern nation from their oppressive overlords, let us not demean ourselves by glorying in the death of a fellow human being.

Repaying Gratitude

Rice FlowersGrass and trees cannot grow without soil. The ‘soil’ that fosters our growth includes our parents, teachers, seniors, our mentor, community and company. In any case, everyone has some special place where they grew up, or someone who nurtured them.

Human beings grow as a result of this nurturing ‘soil’, in which they express their ability and make the flowers of their lives blossom, just as the spirit of the rice plant returns to the soil and the stem sprouts to flower and bear grain once again.

We should repay our debts of gratitude to this ‘soil’ in which we developed. This cycle of repaying gratitude will envelop our whole existence. Our true humanity will never blossom if we seek only to develop ourselves.

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