Watching The Brain Having a Stroke

Every year, 15 million people will suffer from a stroke, five million of them will die and a further five million will be left permanently disabled.

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, is a brain scientist who suffered a massive stroke at the age of 37.

Knowing how the brain operates, she was able to observe and understand the deterioration that followed.

BBC World Service – 23 min interview with Dr. Jill Taylor.

Many will have seen this video of Dr. Taylor talking about her stroke, in detail. If you are in the least interested in looking into how the mind works this is a video for you.

Road Side Recycling

Rubbish gathered on a walk around the block.

Lets take bags with us, she said. There’s SO much rubbish accumulated on the grass verges. I want to pick it up. So we walked and stooped and walked and stooped our way around, what we call, the block. When we leave the monastery either by car or on foot we sign out with our destination and time of leaving. That way if there is a fire (not happened yet) everybody can be quickly accounted for. Such is community living, involving a high level of consideration for others.

I guess our walk ‘n stoop walk was about consideration for others in a certain way, as well as just simple civic mindedness. So we walked up the road towards the T junction, left towards Allendale going gradually up hill then left over a gate into the monastery property and down to the main buildings. That’s our country block and it takes just under an hour, walking briskly, to get around. Two of us collected two large shopping bags of rubbish. All sorts of rubbish however, as I recall, no Tetra Pak cartons.

There’s Tetra Pak getting a mention again. Opening the fridge to day and pulling out a smoothie carton I saw on the package that Tetra has a website. Impressive site, impressive company.

And now confession time. The rubbish we collected…went directly into the rubbish bin, unsorted. Shame on us. However like everything that is good to do one can get a tad over-the-top obsessive. And worse – virtuous in an externalised kind of way.

Not Overly Pious

There is a certain something about this small group of enclosed nuns who have recently moved from a Gothic ‘pile’ in the south to a purpose built (eco friendly) convent in Yorkshire. Listening to them on Radio 4, hearing their down to earth and straight forward answers was warming. Because? They blow the Nun stereotype right out of the cloister window. And without trying too. The are just themselves.

Eco Nuns- Janet Wilson reports on the Benedictine Nuns in a new state of the art environmental monastery.
Sunday: Religious News on Radio 4…on Sunday.

Podcast… Unfortunately the pod cast only stays on-line for a week, and the week is already up.

The above news item was a follow-up from last weeks Sunday religious news program which I’d listened to. Most memorable was talk of a giant car-boot sale as well as the nun contemplating the bed in her cell. The hope was she’d get the same one since she was used to it. But the tin cross on her wall was what she really wanted to come with her. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not overly pious! Loved that nun.

More news of these forward thinking nuns and several charming black and white photographs too.

A Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change

It is with some trepidation that I post on the Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change because it is important not to (even implicitly) sell my views and opinions through the vehicle of Jade. This blog is aimed at a deeper level of our functioning while, at the same time, acknowledging that we live in a complex world which asks much of us; to unconditionally engage with it. To notice, acknowledge and respond to what’s here sensitively, intelligently, and above all from where the Precepts call back to us, is the only way I know. To prescribe action, or inadvertently to do that, may remove one several levels away from the gift of personal responsibility.

Trouble is our culture tends to feel that to be fair both sides of the argument must be presented! Debate is seen as a self evident good. As if (to use that wonderful teeny expression). As if there were just two sides to anything at all. As if debate in itself is good, or the path to wise action. Might be, might not be. Complexity yes. Yet how to respond? Compassion has to come first, doing nothing is not an option, although, sometimes doing nothing is doing a great deal.

Confused? Depressed? Wish the whole matter (in this instance climate change) were a bad dream? Want to bury your head under the duvet ’till morning? Such thoughts are the stuff of Buddhist practice, what ever one is attempting to ignore. Climate Change or the fact you didn’t recycle that tetra pack juice container, when you knew you could have, asks of us to lift ourselves out of our beds and take a look. Honestly.

Having talked my way towards this declaration, here is orientation to the statement:

In the run-up to the crucial U.N. Climate Treaty Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009, the Declaration that follows will present to the world’s media a unique spiritual view of climate change and our urgent responsibility to address the solutions. It emerged from the contributions of over 20 Buddhist teachers of all traditions to the book A Buddhist Response to the Climate Emergency. The Time to Act is Now was composed as a pan-Buddhist statement by Zen teacher Dr David Tetsuun Loy and senior Theravadin teacher Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi with scientific input from Dr John Stanley.

The Dalai Lama was the first to sign this Declaration. We invite all concerned members of the international Buddhist community to study the document and add their voice by co-signing it at the end of this page.

The statement follows…

Have I signed? I’m not saying. Climate change is at once a huge matter of immediate global concern and…how one responds (the details of that response), both inwardly and outwardly, is unique unto each of us.

As in this instance so in every instance of our responding.

Not A Created Perfection

Playing fast and loose with facts, basic mistakes, typos, blunders, not proof reading carefully enough, rarely editing, forgetting to spell check…yep! Not proud of it and I can hold my hand up to all of the above, as well as (unknowingly) throwing in some American English phrasing, and spellings too.

I’m sorry if those of you, and I know you are out there, who actually write for a living, or have done so in the past, or who have a passion for the English Language (one of my monastic walking companions for example), have your powers of compassion regularly tested while reading here. Thank you for returning for the words, or what lies behind the words. And what ever words one might use to describe that, it’s what I regard as the most important aspect of Jade. AND I love the written word and would wish to do better at writing it.

Thanks to Gary for pointing out the typo in a name and to Angie for sending in the correct details about the photograph posted yesterday. Return here especially if you are a keen hiker, or runner.

I’ve tagged this post Teaching because it’s important to note ones mistakes, accept them, (refrain from mentally beating oneself up about them) and then do ones best to take greater care. AND it’s important to remember that practice/practise is not a path to a created perfection.