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garden

good bye chairs

Posted on 2008.08.01 at 21:27
Current Location: vajrasana
Current Mood: gratefulgrateful
Tags: , ,


part of my time away was saying good bye to the chairs, chairmen that is, and women. in fact when i first started going to those meetings the women were in a serious minority, that is no longer the case, though there are still more men chairs. one of the things i've loved about that meeting is that it was mixed and for me a rare chance to hang out with some guys, as i've lived so much in a women's world.

the chairman's meeting is a 'meeting' yet it is strangely enjoyable and inspiring. for a start they are such a good humoured bunch, a lot of hilarity and not usually at anyone's expense (well not in a horrible way). on the whole chairman seem to be pretty friendly, i guess if you were a bit of a 'grumpy sod' you wouldn't want to be a chairman? the main thing is that they all really care about the order and movement, even though they are a diverse bunch. i'd recommend being a 'chair' just to go to the meetings.

oh and Vajrasana was looking gorgeous, i've not been there for years. i found some wabi sabi spots and took these pictures. also paramabandhu made all this fabulous jam from fruits that were growing in the gardens, he inspired me to have a go, maybe cherry jam and fig jam next year from our garden in spain!


southpark

hats off to you parents

Posted on 2008.07.29 at 21:39
Current Mood: peacefulpeaceful
Tags: ,
I spent the weekend with Padmadharini looking after my niece and nephews, Lily 10 months, Josh 2.5yrs and Harvey 5yrs. They were great kids, no bother at all, but i am so pleased i don't do that everyday. Padmadharini is better at it really, she seems to have more patience. I think i am good with babies, in fact babies equal bliss in my dreams sometimes. Then i think i will come into my own when they are a bit older and more interested in philosophy and stuff. Meanwhile it is great to borrow them for a mad weekend of fun, if only to remind yourself how peaceful your life normally is!


camera

house update

Posted on 2008.07.09 at 17:18
Current Mood: excitedexcited
Tags: , ,


padmadharini and i have just been out to check on the house. howard has pretty much rebuilt the original part and we are now waiting for planning permission for the extension. as to the move we are on 'plan G' now, a few other plans bit the dust. we will leave the uk mid september and initially rent a little house in la fresnada, about 10km away, while we set up some kind of living arrangement. this will probably consist of a caravan, plus finishing the rooms in the house that already exist and installing an open fire downstairs and little stove upstairs. hopefully we'll be snug enough. it's hard to know what the weather will be like but it can get very cold in the winter, much more so than in the uk. then again howard told me that this winter was like an english summer... that is until the spring when it got cold and wet, so who knows?

having just visited the house i do feel yet another step closer and am itching to get out there. padmadharini is a little more cautious because she will be working from home and can't do that in the midst of too much chaos! we'll have to see how it goes. hopefully everything will be set up by mid october when i go off to finland to do my wabi sabi retreat, after that it might not be long till the planning permission comes though. building the extension is a relatively easy job, compared to re-building the old part. we won't do it in stone as it is too expensive, and at the moment completely unavailable! then i just need to learn a few new skills like yeso-ing (like plastering, but rougher) and laying floor tiles (oh and ploughing).



from november through to march i am planning to keep my head down, be in spain, work on the house and do some preparation for the retreats i am leading next year. also maybe try to do some writing... oh and learn spanish. then i will emerge with the spring and start on a programme of retreats and doing stuff in centres, with the odd few weeks back in spain every now and then.

for a long long time i have thought about what it would be like to be able to hibernate! in the spring and summer i am much more into being out and about, social and busy. often in the winter i just feel like being quiet, alone and living a more inner life. i remember working in evolution shops and finding it hard that as the winter got deeper, we got busier and busier with the christmas shoppers. i feel lucky to have the opportunity to live a bit more with the seasons, the whole experience being made more vivid by the fact that there are no doors on one side of the house!

more pictures here


only one glass a night

birthday holiday

Posted on 2008.07.09 at 11:28
Current Mood: rejuvenatedrejuvenated
Tags: , ,
i'm just back from my belated 40th birthday holiday with manigarbha, which actually took place on our 41st birthday. it was great to hang out for a week with really good friends and do little else but chat and lie by the pool, cook and eat, have siestas. it was also interesting to be on holiday with a bunch of buddhists, we did nothing explicitly 'buddhist', yet some how the ordinariness was flavoured by it.


more pictures at flickr

now i am home and have 2 months and one retreat left at tiratanaloka! the time has started to go by very quickly now. i don't have mixed feelings about leaving, but i do have a mixture of feelings! i am very aware of how much i have loved this project and benefited from it and i feel very fond of everyone, funny bunch that we are. also i am happy and excited at the prospect of leaving and 'doing my own thing' for a while. it feels like quite an adventure to move to spain and build this little house with padmadharini and try to set up the conditions for a quiet life, at least for some of the year.

barcelona

party time

Posted on 2008.06.18 at 07:52
Current Mood: lovedloved
Tags: ,
i'm off to spain today for a belated 40th birthday party/holiday with my 'twin' manigarbha. we have the same birthday and are the same age and had planned to celebrate our 40th together. then manigarbha was invited on the ordination retreat! so we are spending our 41st in a house in the mountains about an hour from malaga, with vidyalila, padmadharini, annemieke and dorine. cortijo el naranjal


san-fran

symbol

Posted on 2008.06.17 at 18:22
Current Location: tiratanaloka
Current Mood: amusedamused
Tags: ,
... and while i am going on about words i was interested to hear from candraprabha that the literal meaning of the word symbol is 'throwing together'. so so a symbol is only a symbol when the 'thing' and it's meaning are 'thrown together'. which makes me think of the mahamudra, the great symbol, or even the idea that everything is a symbol of itself, if we could see the 'thing' and what it means.

spain

the cleaver

Posted on 2008.06.17 at 18:06
Current Location: tiratanaloka
Current Mood: excitedexcited
Current Music: the 6 o'clock news
Tags: ,

i once heard tejananda talking about manjusri's sword as being the sword that cuts things into one, that is cuts through duality, cuts through the polarisation of form and emptiness. where we see two, self and world, manjusri's wisdom sword cuts two into one.

what i recently found out (from annie, hi) is that the word cleave, as in cleaver, is the only word that means one thing and its opposite. that is it means 'to cleave to', as in to adhere to, and to 'cleave apart' as in to spilt in two.

how exciting... does that make up for not having posted anything in months?

usa, road trip

loss and gain

Posted on 2008.03.03 at 18:58
Current Location: tiratanaloka
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Current Music: silence
Tags: , ,
Last night i had a dream, i had borrowed my mum's car and parked it outside this place in town where i was staying, then i put the keys in my coat pocket and hung it up on a hook outside the door. When i came out of the flat the car was gone, i could have kicked myself, i wasn't used to being in the city, things were so safe in the countryside what was i going to do? i couldn't afford to replace the car... and so the dream continued. I woke up with a feeling of loss, then gradually it dawned that what had happened, hadn't really happened, it was just a dream, gain!! Loss and gain. It is a fairly standard dream for me, but then sometimes it is round the other way. I dream that i have been given a large amount of money, i am so happy, all sorts of things become possible... that is until i wake up! Gain and loss.

But then from a Dharmic point of view, life is but a dream, when i wake up, become awakened, then i'll see there never was any loss or gain. nothing to loose. nothing to gain.

I'm thinking about a weekend we are doing in a couple of weeks on the '8 Worldly Winds', two of them are loss and gain.

spain

old leg over!

Posted on 2008.03.01 at 19:29
Current Location: the pub
Current Mood: gratefulgrateful
Current Music: none
Tags: , , ,


As a Buddhist, as a Dharma farer, I do try to be careful about what i drink! But i am not just careful not to drink too much, i am also careful what i choose to drink. If i can, i like to drink real ale. Not only is it delicious but it also comes from small, traditional and local breweries and it is usually served in local traditional pubs, freehouses that aren't owned by breweries.

I've been thinking that where i choose to spend my money is a real power that i have to help create the world that i want to live in. There are all sorts things that i could take into account; the environment; animal welfare; health; the community in which i live. One of the things that i feel passionately about is that i do not want to live in a world of multinationals. I can't bear the fact that to walk down one high street in this country is the same as walking down any other high street in this country. That we can buy runner beans in tescos february when the fields around us are full of greens. That Weatherspoons buys up 'ye olde' artifacts to fill its bars full of two for one curries. So one thing i do is to drink real ales in a freehouse, the Star, in Talybont.



Each week in the Star you can choose between 4-8 different ales and there is always a guest scrumpy too. I can never remember which ones i like so the name tends to swing my choice, this week Vajrasakhi and i couldn't resist the 'old leg over'.

getting kissed!

darshan

Posted on 2008.02.27 at 16:40
Current Location: tiratanaloka
Current Mood: enthralledenthralled
Current Music: joni mitchell
Tags: , ,

Bhante has just been to visit us (though this pic was taken by Vidyalila on his previous visit, 18 months ago). He decided he would like to come and do some study with us during our community days and he wanted to study the Ratnagunasamcayagartha. If you know the book 'Wisdom Beyond Words' you'll know that there is a whole section in that taken from the seminar that Bhante did on the first two chapters of the Ratnaguna. With us he decided that he would like to pick up where he left off and study chapters 3, 4 and 5.

The Ratnaguna is a 'Perfection of Wisdom' text, like the Heart Sutra and the Diamond Sutra, both of which are also in 'Wisdom Beyond Words'. It isn't a text that is easy to study, it is mysterious, un-graspable, but it was very good to ponder its meaning. In a nutshell it is saying that the only thing of any importance is the Perfection of Wisdom, therefore don't spend your time building temples and worshiping relics, worship the Perfection of Wisdom by realising it and communicating it. The Perfection of Wisdom is what makes a Buddha a Buddha, it is enlightenment, awakening. My favorite verses were -

When the orb of the sun sends forth a multitude of light,
then beings exert themselves in doing their work:
So, when the thought of enlightenment has come into being for the
sake of knowing the world,
through it's cognition all the dharmas of quality are assembled


Which in simple terms i think means just as, when the sun comes up, we get up and go about our work, when the Bodhicitta arises the Bodhisattva gets up and gets on with their work!
The whole text is about what it means to be a Bodhisattva, and the arising of the Bodhicitta outshines everything else.

If all the light-emitting animals everywhere in this world
would, for the purpose of illumination, shed light:
one single ray, issued from the orb of the sun, outshines them all,
and infinitesimal would be all the luster of the hosts of light-emitting
animals


Of course this did lead to a discussion on light emitting animals, in which we concluded wrongly that there probably weren't many! No where near as many as there are sands in the river Ganges, we suspected.

I've never studied with Bhante before, i experienced it very much as a 'taking darshan'. In fact a lot of what he said was what i would have expected him to say, he is so unbelievably consistent! It made me realise that, on the whole, i know what he teaches (not to say that there weren't a few surprises) but i felt i could just experience 'being taught'. It seemed more like the nature of a 'dharma transmission' rather than solely concerned with the content of what was being said. These things are hard to talk about, but after being taught 'indirectly' by Bhante for 20 years here i was being taught directly, which seemed like a mysterious flowing of something other than words and concepts.

As well as being awesome, he is also absolutely delightful to have around. I loved all our time with him, over breakfast porridge, sitting by the fire in the evening. Unfortunately on the second day he woke feeling quite unwell, with an odd pulse, and decided to go back to Birmingham. I think he is doing okay now. Over my desk, on the wall, is my own personal pantheon consisting of Dhammadinna, Bhante and Aksobhya and it was great to be in the company of two of them, and who knows, i expect Aksobhya might have been around too!


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