Category Archives: Overcome Difficulties

Appreciative Joy

Two women. One in America the other in England. Both have recently received acknowledgment of the contribution they have made in their professional work. They have been promoted. One made President of the company she started out with by doing their accounts from her home. The other potentially being made Head Teacher of the school where she teaches, and as I understand it, in extremely challenging circumstances too.

Such recognition of ones professional ability is no small thing. Yes, there is likely to be all those things that spell ‘success’ in the world of work: all that comes with greater status, more money as well as extra privileges and ‘perks’. Who knows what promotion brings but one thing which is likely is for a rash of jealousy and envy to rise up amongst the ranks. Who has not been disappointed when others receive the public recognition you privately longed for.

I learned about mudita, or more correctly the teaching was pointed out to me, when I was suffering from the private hell of envy. I can’t even remember what that was all about now. Mudita is the possibility, the human potential, to have arise naturally a sense of sympathetic or appreciative joy. It’s chief characteristic is a happy acquiescence in others’ prosperity and success. Knowing that this is possible and can arise out of ones depths naturally, even in the face of crushing disappointment, is one of the great blessings.

One might imagine that Buddhist, religious practitioners, would be ‘above’ such matters as recognition of ones contribution to society. That it might not have any meaning. Water of a ducks back in fact. Or could it be that there is a natural pride that grows in doing ones best and that we humans wish to join our hands, and applaud such efforts. Effort’s which all benefit from, ultimately.

Well done my dear good friends. It really doesn’t matter if you accept the accolade or not, the important thing is it was proffered.

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Palpable Disquiet

Nearly all the retreat guests have gone. We had a good retreat together and I was glad and happy to be talking about Buddhism, practice and the Precepts. Somewhere in there during the week-end we talked about karmic consequence and how one can recognize negative consequences by a palpable disquiet experienced within ones body and mind. One blog reader who appreciates words and their use was taken with these two words so I thought I’d share them with you all.

There were a few Mountains readers here. It was a delight to meet those known to me already as well as those who mentioned being a regular here who I didn’t know about. I’m generally amazed that real live people read this and even get something out of it that’s useful too. There may well be a few more checking in following the retreat. Welcome if you are one of them.

Iain over in Japan, who set up this blog for me initially, writes about the third anniversary of his fathers death, which is today.

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Intention is All

It’s The Life of the Precepts retreat this week-end.

The dharma talks (during the retreat) will address in practical terms how we can apply the Precepts in daily life and how the practice of the Precepts is inextricably interconnected with mediation and true wisdom. Taken from the 2007 Retreat Programme flyer.

Many people are here who will be attending Jukai next spring. Jukai is a week-long retreat with a number of ceremonies including The Receiving of the Precepts, which in so doing people formally become a Buddhist. People who do not, or are not able to, attend Jukai are no less Buddhist if the Sixteen Precepts are practiced whole heartedly.

The journey to the monastery, priory, meditation group or temple to receive basic instruction about the practice is perhaps the most important ‘ceremony’ of all. In fact we say the first ceremony of Jukai IS the journey to the monastery.

Trog waiting at Dinas station on the Welsh Highland line with one of his human family.

I think this little dog is exhibiting bright attention, which is important in terms of following the Precepts and practice in general. My thought for the week-end is ‘intention’, the Precepts are all about intention: to follow, to refrain, to relinquish, to open to Compassion. And the intention to do the very best one can. It is enough.

That’s the last Trog picture for now.

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M.E. Royal Free

For anybody who suffers from M.E. (also known as chronic fatigue syndrome)or knows somebody who does BBC Radio 4 magazine programme, You and Yours broadcast a series of programs on the subject. You can listen to the audio and there are also full transcripts. Here is David Puttnam (now Lord Puttnam) the film producer talking about the onset of ME.

I’d just come back from a trip to the Far East, I was at Columbia Pictures at the time, and I got – I’d only been back I think a day, day and a half – and I suddenly came up with this tremendous fever, it was extraordinary. And the doctors first of all – first of all being tested for Dengue Fever. I just remember dragging myself into bed and then for about a week – and this is not an exaggeration to say – when I needed to go to the loo it was literally like climbing Everest, I was – by the time I’d climbed back into the bed, been to the loo, I was covered in sweat and utterly exhausted, I was sort of dragging myself across the room. David Puttnam on You and Yours, BBC Radio 4

While still a novice monk at Shasta Abbey I came back to England on a ‘family visit. It was 1986 and I remember distinctly reading an article about M.E. in the Sunday paper. At that time this crippling condition was not well known about, in fact it was still being called the Royal Free disease. So named after an outbreak of a strange disease at the Royal Free Hospital in London in 1955. There was much speculation, as there still is, about this condition being all being in the mind. As a fledgling priest I predicted I’d be counselling people while on their journey to get a diagnosis for their unrelenting, and strange, symptoms.

As it has turned out, over the years, I’ve had quite a lot to do with people suffering from M.E. I’ve a great sympathy for the mental/emotional suffering, as well as the physical conditions that these people live with, day in and day out. Come to think of it I even diagnose somebody as I was driving from Throssel to catch a train. We were chatting back and forth about his health and I just said, Hum, had you thought this might be M.E.? Turned out it was, sad to say.

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An Answer

The following is an extract from a note I sent to a chap in answer to his comment/questions following the sudden death of his father.

Dear Friend,

The very best thing you can do to help your father now is to simply sit when you have the time, and to do your best to keep a bright and positive mind throughout your day. He will be in your heart and since ultimately there is no separation or dividing up of existence, your hearts are identical. If the relationship with him has been troublesome this doesn’t matter, let what ever is there be there without judgements.

You are right, we do not have a specific practice around death, or more correctly meditations focusing on the impermanence of the body. That all is fairly much covered in just sitting.

In terms of your own acceptance of his sudden death you will have to realize that there is a level of shock which will take time to work it’s way through.

As for what you can do at home now. You can put his photograph on your altar and perhaps put some kind of non perishable food/drink which he would have liked there too. You can recite one of the compassion scriptures daily and offer the merit of the recitation for his benefit.

The advice above is fairly standard however it does assume an understanding of the practice of meditation and the Buddhist Precepts.

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