Access to Tools

Tools foster conviviality to the extent to which they can be easily used, by anybody, as often or as seldom as desired, for the accomplishment of a purpose chosen by the user. The use of such tools by one person does not restrain another from using them equally. They do not require previous certification of the user. Their existence does not impose any obligation to use them. They allow the user to express his meaning in action. Tools for Conviviality – Ivan Illich

I wonder what Ivan Illich would have made of the Internet. In the early 1970’s I drank in his Deschooling Society and later Energy and Equity. For some reason his name came to mind this evening as I sat on my bed after meditation, so I Googled his name and was pleased, and amazed, to find the full text of his books online. Wonderful!

There’s a movement to get people in remote areas of the world hooked up to the Internet and it’s not all commercially driven either. Rural Wales, Africa, India and Nepal. I wrote an email to Dave Hughes, who has been the moving hand behind many projects around the world, wondering if he had some ideas on how to get the West Allyn Valley hooked up to Broadband. In the end I decided not to send it. There has to be more deserving cases in the world than us.

Cracks in the Curtain

I remember everything about the moment when it came to me that we don’t train in order to become enlightened, more we train because it is enlightenment. Of course Zen Master Dogen makes this point over and over again in his writings. It is one thing to read something and quite another to make it ones own, so to speak. When a line of scripture suddenly becomes clear it is all too easy to jump to the conclusion that you now understand what it’s meaning is. In one sense you do and in another you’re no closer.

When the penny drops, as it did for the chap whose words I published the other day, great confidence can arise and that is good. There can indeed be times when streams of insights follow one another. Yet other times when you wonder if taking up tennis instead might be a good plan! The point is to carry on and not take what comes so personally, i.e. I’m great because I now know, or I’m a looser for even thinking about giving up meditation. Sometimes the wind blows and sometimes the sun shines. Where in this is the concept of progress on the path?

BTW, I didn’t realize that ‘the penny dropped’ was a British term. If you see something here you don’t understand please say so.

Blog Tour

In Edmonton Canada, Michael tests a child for ADHD and ponders on the possibility of meditation helping ADHD suffers. Michaels photographs are something to behold if you haven’t visited his site lately. Mean while Thole Man has discovered a very ancient post box near Lancaster, England. I love these old boxes. As Norman says, what stories they have to tell.

Since I seem to be off around the world over in Australia Ian of Impacted Nurse posted on his mums nurse training back in 1957, photo’s too. There are a few nurses reading this blog. Three I know of anyway, one of whom will see similarities with her early 1960’s training.
Once a month a late pass was issued allowing the bearer to stay out till 10.30 PM. Within the residence, your room could be inspected for cleanliness and tidiness at any time. A single lockable draw was the only private space; all other draws and cupboards were inspected.

RB in Texas regularly posts links to Budddhist teaching video’s, which unfortunately need a fast connection to watch. And last week-end he read a couple of books published by the Shasta Abbey Press. I’m glad you like the plastic covers by the way.

Edmonton’s Just Sitting

Look what I received in the mail! A modern day thank you note from a small girl in Edmonton. I love the butterfly girl and the sunny mummy. Her mum is sunny too

During the last 48 hours Edmonton has been prominent in my life. A phone call to the company which hosts Jade Mountains making arrangements to pay for another five years of hiring the domain name. Edmonton was hosting the web site well before living in that city was ever thought of. In addition there was lots of emails back and forth with technical support and the billing department. Several people, who I knew previously, wrote for a variety of reasons. One person with news of her arrangements to attend the Ten Precepts Meeting at Shasta Abbey, another on accounting business.

This penny dropping message I will share with you:

After meditation this morning I had a thought that how we meditate is how we endeavour to live. Not grasping at passing ideas versus not grasping at people or things or ideas for that matter. Just being. Not separate but part of and with that which is around us. Not judging, not altering, not redirecting.

Am I correct in this view or am I reading it wrong? Is meditation that which sets the tone for how we ought to be?

I’d edit out the ‘ought’, that’s all.

Then later came this:

It (the above insight) adds a whole new dimension to the directive/comment of “Just sit” I guess. Just do everything as you would when you sit. Sit when you work or rest. Sit when playing with the cat or when comforting a friend. Just Sit.

Renewal Day – Walk to the Chimneys

Armed with an Ordinance Survey map, my strongest pair of reading glasses and John Barker’s Adventuring into the Allendales I set forth to walk to the chimneys. For so many years I’d driven past them on the way to Allendale, Hexham and Newcastle but I’d never ventured out onto the moors to get up close.

I started my hike from Allendale having caught a ride with a group going into Hexham for business and medical appointments. The weather was a bit iffy and I went prepared for what ever might come my way. Rain, hail, wind or snow.

Allendale had a smelting mill, Allen Mill, where lead ore from the Dale was smelted for over two centuries up until 1897. So that the noxious gasses produced by the smelting process at the mill, which was sited close to habitation and grazing, two underground tunnels were constructed which acted as flues. These carried the gasses two miles up hill to the chimneys. They were cleaned each year and the deposit or ‘Fume’ was so rich in lead that not only did it cover the cost of the flue building – a profit was also made! To my mind the engineering and the amount of labour involved in constructing these flues was incredible.

The two flumes divide at this point, the chimney is a speck on the skyline.

Looking back down the line of the flume with part of the tunnel exposed here.

This is a ‘finger post’ pointing the way. There is a very extensive system of public footpaths and bridleways in Britain. And now we have Access Land too which means there are even more places one can walk off roads.
Out onto the moor and onto the old ‘Carriers Way’ along which the Galloway ponies carried ore and building materials from Dale to Dale.

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Each stone in the chimney is slightly curved, it’s a work of skilled craftsmanship. Two miles away in the distance is Allendale Town.

It’s fairly hard going up on the wild Northumbrian Moors.

Frog with spawn, note the blurred left leg. One has to be quick to catch a a photo of these little critters.

A Wesleyan Chapel built in 1853, sited on the road between Ninebanks and Allendale.

After the Chimneys I continued on for a couple more hours ending up in not quite the place I’d intended. Ninebanks to be precise. High winds to be sure and rain only as I approached the monastery, four hours after I started.

Many thanks to John Barker’s and his wonderful hand written guide book. It was written in 1990 and I don’t know if they are still available. I’ve used some of his words in this post.