Happy 2015 !!!

New Year Fireworks - London 2014Wow, what a frantic time of year, and particularly when you are moving house, starting a new job and taking your relationship to the next level.

2014 has been the typical mix of highs and lows, but as with most things in life, if you finish on a high, the lows are more easily forgotten.

I wish you all the very best for the coming year, and I hope to see you on TSFE on a regular basis.

Namaste ~ Anupadin

Stepping Through That Door

"Do you like Guinness? No, I've never had one”Sometimes we have an opportunity to do something different, something that takes us out of our comfort zone and challenges our courage. At that point we have a choice to make. Do we grasp the opportunity with both hands, jump in with both feet, or do we tell ourselves that it’s more prudent to back away and take the safe route?

Years ago, when my Dad retired, we went to the pub together, just the two of us, and one of only a handful of times we ever drank together. Now my Dad was a really good man, he stood up for his principles and he cared for his family as all good men do. He was always risk averse, never went out on a limb, always taking the prudent path.

I remember asking him that night in the pub, “Do you like Guinness Dad?” to which he replied “No, I’ve never had one”. It was funny, it was very much my Dad. He would not leave his comfort zone, even for a different beer. Now my aunt has often said that I am “Just like my father” and in some ways I am, and proud of it. But with this opportunity, I’m going to be different, I’m going to leave my comfort zone and grasp it with both hands. I’m going to use all the wisdom, courage and compassion at my disposal and make the most of the opportunity.

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.

On The Happiness Of Others

HappinessI think I’m a pretty happy sort of chap, always joking around and generally enjoying life.

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.

The happiness of others is important and is something we should always try our best to promote.

Whilst their happiness is not our responsibility, using our wisdom, courage and compassion will go a long way to helping them achieve 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.

Staying Connected

Staying ConnectedBeing in a fantastic relationship is just the best thing. But we all know that even the smoothest mill pond has the occasional ripple.

It’s these ripples that teach us how to navigate more effectively through the problems they represent.

Relationship problems are opportunities to grow and mature. Such problems can be character building if you don’t let them defeat you.

That’s why it’s important not to isolate yourself. No one can exist apart from others. Remaining aloof from others cultivates selfishness, which accomplishes nothing.

~ Daisaku Ikeda

Our Vegan Friends

Bamboo

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.

On The Theme Of Waiting …

WaitingWaiting is a strange thing.

Waiting for the lights to go green can take ages when you are late for an appointment. Waiting for a sapling to mature takes years. Waiting for your girlfriend to finish in the bathroom can take forever (don’t tell her I said that).

But actually, waiting is often an act of faith, a belief in a desired outcome, and reaching that desired outcome, that’s when it can usually be said that ‘it was worth the wait’.

Others, as you might expect, have described the process far more eloquently than I ever could …

Tout vient à qui sait attendre

‘Ah, all things come to those who wait,’
(I say these words to make me glad),
But something answers soft and sad,
‘They come, but often come too late.’

~ Violet Fane (1843-1905)

The Waiting

Oh baby don’t it feel like heaven right now
Don’t it feel like something from a dream
Yeah I’ve never known nothing quite like this
Don’t it feel like tonight might never be again
We know better than to try and pretend
Baby no one could’a ever told me ’bout this
I said yeah yeah

The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part

Well yeah i might have chased a couple women around
All it ever got me was down
Then there were those that made me feel good
But never as good as I’m feeling right now
Baby you’re the only one that’s ever known how
To make me wanna live like I wanna live now
I said yeah yeah

The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you get one more yard
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part

Oh don’t let it kill you baby, don’t let it get to you
Don’t let it kill you baby, don’t let it get to you
I’ll be your bleedin’ heart, I’ll be your cryin’ fool
Don’t let this go too far
Don’t let it get to you

~ Tom Petty – 1981

Interestingly, Tom Petty had this to say about the song …

“That was a song that took a long time to write. Roger McGuinn swears he told me the line – about the waiting being the hardest part – but I think I got the idea from something Janis Joplin said on television. I had the chorus very quickly, but I had a very difficult time piecing together the rest of the song. It’s about waiting for your dreams and not knowing if they will come true. I’ve always felt it was an optimistic song.”

So what ever you are waiting for, make causes, remain determined, and you will reach your goal one day.

Green Fingers

Therapeutic GardeningWhilst I love living where I do, the sea on my doorstep, the beautiful countryside all around, there is one thing I miss, and that is my own garden.

It has to be said, that there were times in the past, when weeding or mowing the lawn was a bit of a chore. But after many years, the opportunity to get stuck in and help in the garden today was a bit of a treat.

It was fun working together, the whole job was sorted within a couple of hours, and the sight of a nicely mown lawn is always a nice reward for your efforts.

It helped that the garden in question was pretty small, the grass dry and not too long, and that the flower beds simply needed a good weeding. Non the less, the whole process was rather therapeutic, and working in the cool of the evening made a nice contrast to what had been a really hot and sunny day.

A Magical Saturday

At Grooves on the GreenFollowing a magical sun filled Saturday which encompassed so many things, including a visit to  the Grooves on the Green music festival in Ashley Cross, I could not have expressed this observation any better …

Partners in a relationship have different roles.

There are times when the burning intensity and power of the sun are called for, and times when the soothing luminescence and serene wisdom of the moon is what’s needed.

A complementary relationship in which the partners cooperate and work together is a beautiful thing.

~ Daisaku Ikeda

It’s Nice To Be Told

It's Nice To Be ToldI had the pleasure of having someone tell me they loved me today. Whilst it was very nice to hear, it did come as a bit of a shock, as I had no idea the person felt so fondly about me.

When I tell you that it was a young man, one of my Saudi students, and that he told me he wants me to become a Muslim because he loves me and wants me to go to Heaven, you now get the full picture.

Loving, and being loved is really great isn’t it? There is little to compare with the feeling one gets from being part of a loving relationship, but there are two types of love, unconditional and conditional.

Unconditional love is about giving without limits, about being happy for the happiness of others. Conditional love, on the other hand, can be painful for both parties. Elements of jealousy, or the need to be loved in order to love, can lead the way to a painful end of the relationship.

Buddhism defines love as an action. It is that force that motivates people to become better, to improve themselves in order to reach eternity and happiness. Love brings out the best in people, as when they love, the target is not themselves but the beloved one. This wish to serve the other is a reflection of an innate knowledge that everyone is connected through the same principle, and therefore, it is an illusion to believe that one can achieve true happiness while those around haven’t attained it . So, love is the action that makes people forego their own ego and concentrate their efforts on the other in a search for fulfilment.

Personally, I have been criticised for suggesting that, if my partner would be happier with someone else, I would not stand in their path. That feeling, I believe, shows that I love them unconditionally and, arguably, more than someone who wants to control or confine them. It does not mean that I want them to go, just that I want them to be happy, and that my happiness is found through their happiness.

Achieving unconditional love is hard. So many people feel that they need to be loved to be happy. In fact, the most happiness comes from loving another, and the need to be loved is often a sign of insecurity. Loving unconditionally requires a totally unselfish attitude to the other. Being happy when they are happy, being happy for them when they succeed, rather than feeling jealous of their success. Keeping those negative feelings in check requires constant effort, but the happiness gained from so doing is unbounded.

So take a look at your motives next time you tell that special someone that you love them. Will you still love them if that love is not reciprocated? Are you happy for them when they find pleasure in something that is of no interest to you? Would you sacrifice the relationship if that added to their happiness? If the answer to any of those questions is no, then you are not loving unconditionally.

It is not the end of things if you are not, there is always time to change. Loving everyone, in the broadest sense of the word, is a very rewarding way to lead your life. Being concerned for the happiness of someone who clearly has no time for you is tough. Going the extra mile to ensure that the happiness of another at the expense of yourself is not necessarily a natural thing to do, but the rewards for doing so are great indeed.

So next time you say ‘I love you’ to someone, try mentally tagging on ‘no matter what’ to that phrase and see how that makes you feel inside. If you can honestly say that it makes no difference to you saying it, then you have reached the state of unconditional love and that will reward you every time you say it.

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