Category Archives: Daily Life

Our Bowls Are Empty-Fullness.

My email this evening brought news of three people close to or having just died. This post is for them, and for all who are grieving, caring and letting go. Which includes me too.

There are few things in life more inconstant and more elusive, both in the fist of language and in the open palm of experience, than happiness. Philosophers have tried to locate and loosen the greatest barriers to it. Artists have come into this world “born to serve happiness.” Scientists have set out to discover its elemental components. And yet for all our directions of concerted pursuit, happiness remains mostly a visitation — a strange miracle that seems to come and go with a will of its own. “Those who prefer their principles over their happiness,” Albert Camus wrote in contemplating our self-imposed prisons, “they refuse to be happy outside the conditions they seem to have attached to their happiness.”

The following poem titled happiness is copied from Brain Pickings where you can read the full post that came with this poem.

HAPPINESS
There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep mid afternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basket-maker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.
Jane Kenyon

Many thanks to Mark for the photograph.

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Moving On – The Great Matter

Some years ago a woman shared an insight she had on the day she moved house. This is the gist of what I remember she said. I watched the removal van disappear out of sight at the end of our road. I felt calm. The van was filled with all my possessions, all that had been my life up to then. My life with my late husband for so many years, my life bringing up two children and much more. It contained our memories. At that moment I knew it didn’t matter if I ever saw the contents of that van again. On the brink of a new life, always a potent time for insights, she saw into the fundamental impermanence of existence. And most importantly, I believe, she saw past or through impermanence as it was impacting her, to know a peace that comes from acceptance – while at the same time she was preparing to follow the van!

In this post titled Slow Change I talk about feeling oneself to be up against the wall, stuck and unable to move on. Of necessity, and the way things seem to work, times of turmoil, tears and self-doubt (to mention but a few emotions) often precede changes that can be seen and known. As is the case when deciding to and then preparing to move house. But that’s not the end of it. After a brief respite to unpack and settle in the fact that tears and turmoil re-emerge should not be seen as a mistake or a wrong direction taken. Anybody who has navigated the complex network of footpaths in Britain will know there are an infinite number of options to choose from and most paths will take you to more or less where you intended. Which one was the RIGHT path?

Birth and death, the Great Matter, or the truth of impermanence is ever-present. It is however easy to take this truth personally because it impacts us so very personally. The very understandable and human response is to think, Life is doing this to me and it hurts, Q.E.D. I need to solve this problem so my life becomes stable and fulfilling (again). The temptation to rush to solutions and in so doing miss the steps in between, is huge. Most often what is called for is to sit out the bumpy ride and allow what’s next to show itself. For most of us what happens in practice and what makes the road bumpy is second guessing oneself. By that I mean getting caught up in mental turmoil while at the same time lurking in the dark is a ripe knowledge of what’s right…but, but, but… Is it? The solution? Mentally step away from the wall, whatever that might mean in any particular moment or circumstance. Remove your back from what is known. This is a constant movement.

The Bodhisattva Vows are coming to mind so that’s the next thing to think/write about. And with that thought I’m removing my ‘writing back’ from against the wall where it has been resting for far too long.

This post, the merit of writing it, is offered to several people I am in touch with who have made huge changes to their lives in the past couple of days, and for those who are about to make a move. Oh, and not to forget the woman mentioned at the start of this post. Last time we met, and I saw into her current life circumstances, I said ‘you are indeed a Bodhisattva’.

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There’s more to silence

With memories of
a rule of silence
(self-imposed).

Sealed lips.
Exposed
rowdy mind!

Few mention advanced silence.

Silence while talking
singing, writing.
Laughing, sculpting.

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The Charmed Encounter With David Bowie (1980’s)

And so it was and so it came to pass. A story for all those who have the ability to imagine the invisible being….well visible! Read the story and see what I mean.

‘I met David Bowie once,’ was the thing that my friend said, that caught my attention.

‘You did? When was this?’ I was amazed, and surprised, too, at the casual way he brought this revelation out. Almost anyone else I know would have told the tale a million times already.

He seemed surprised I would want to know, and he told me the whole thing, all out of order, and I eked the details out of him.

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Listen and Make a Difference

The service Samaritans offer is so amazing. Here is a snippet of what it’s like to be at the other end of the telephone. The link I’ve provided is to the UK organization. They need volunteers.

It’s often challenging. Sometimes it’s desperately sad. Sometimes it’s uplifting. Every now and then it’s very funny. It’s one of the most satisfying things I do, it’s made me a better listener and I’m now a lot more grateful for all the good things in my own life. It’s put me in contact with the most extraordinary range of people and every so often I go home after a shift knowing that someone has been helped at a crucial moment in their life by hearing me say, “Do you want to tell me a bit more about that?

So says a volunteer with the Samaritans in an article in The Guardian article titled, Desperate people are calling the Samaritans and getting an engaged tone. We need your help.

Of course one can make a difference to a persons life by being prepared to listen even when not troubled. We all appreciate being fully heard. And not judged. That too is a Bodhisatva action.

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