It was my turn to start the ball rolling with this months Field of Merit Newsletter. Each month there is an original article written by one of us. Unfortunately I ended up using a photograph I’d intended to use here in my article. Well here is the photograph anyway and if you would like to read the article that goes with it you can access it via the Newsletter Archive.
The post is not only about the joys of eating Dandelions and other vegetation plentiful at this time of year or about foraging in general. Though it might have been since I am enthusiastic about eating what grows out in the wild. I always have been enthusiastic however not a very active practicing forager. There is a reason for that. And it is the same reason why you don’t see campaigning on Jade. Yes, sometimes there will be a link to something that desperately needs spiritual merit injected into it.
It is good to work to relieve suffering, including taking up a cause. Many effective campaigns are started by people whose lives have been touched by an incident which propels them to help others in similar situations. In a way, and it’s a long story, Jade Mountains is the answering of a vow I made when I was 13. My brother had seriously gone off the rails mentally and had been taken to hospital. I decided I would find an answer or solution to his plight. Simple as that. The Teachings and practices of Buddhism are what I found. Eventually. So here I am doing my best to point to a way out of suffering, or rather to transcend suffering. Buddhist practice transforms the lives of those who take it up and keep going without falter. Fundamentally it is a life of faith which can influence the lives of beings universally. The spiritual difficulty of championing a cause comes when one can’t put it down!
My mission, if I have one of those, is to help point out a way to put things down. Not to encourage people to pick things up! While at the same time engendering compassion.
It is notoriously difficult to photograph creatures. The smaller they are the harder it is to have all the moving parts distinct and visible with a facial expression they would be proud of! In the case to these two Jack Russell Terriers, parked outside of a local sandwich shop, I had a lucky break. The man in the shop explained that they were advertising.
We are constantly on the move physically aren’t we, let alone the shifting about in our heads! Even when sitting still doing nothing in particular one part or another is moving. Wriggling, adjusting position, raising an arm to adjust clothing, crossing and recrossing legs. Our face is constantly animated even when not talking and simply listening to somebody else. I notice this particularly when using a webcam to talk on Skype. If the other person is animated, shifting about a lot, it can be disturbing and general restlessness can set in on both sides of the screen! The non talking head can be as expressive as on a silent movie. On the other hand I’ve sat in on a Skype call with several people on camera who were not restless and that was a deeply moving event. At times we all fell silent together. It wasn’t planned to be that way.
Talking on-line and being able to see oneself in the ever-present tiny pop out window and getting constant feed back is great real-time feedback. It is showing up habits of how ones speech is augmented by well established mannerisms. And how physical discomfort or fatigue effects the quality of the speaking too! The other day I saw this happening and seeing and hearing the feedback I quickly switched to a more supportive chair. That made all the difference. Without that visual feedback I’d probably not have noticed the fatigue and slogged on regardless. That is my habit!
I am not advocating for rigidity or for obsessing about body language, not at all. More that how we are in ourselves has an impact on those we are with. And the more we are within our own skin the more others may well be encouraged to do the same. Here is the first photograph I took of the two dogs.
I was just about to take a long breath and complain about the basic minor burdens of every day life. It has been another long day ending with a long Skype call to America where it’s their lunch time and my bedtime! Then I remembered coming across this video called This Is Water in which the point is made that we are not the center of our own small universe. And we can exercise choice to think differently rather than, when the chips are down, go to our center-of-the-universe default setting. The animated video uses the first part of the now famous commencement speech given by the late David Foster Wallace.The Guardian published the entire speech back in 2008 soon after David Wallace died. He took his own life. Tragic story.
Going to London for a visa interview at the American Embassy usually leaves a deep impression on me. Most often not a positive one. This time circumstances I met left me feeling philosophical about the whole business. Perhaps because I’m not pressed to get to America and also I was through the whole process in record time. In the past I have been caught in the Embassy for up to five hours!
Picture the scene. The American Embassy in London, the non-immigrant visa section. Having started to que outside at 8.00 along with my follow hopefuls the line starts to move at 8.30, slowly. By around 9.00 I find myself, with more than a 100 others, in a large room facing a huge screen part of which shows a video, with subtitles, of America. The video is selling America. Universities, National Parks, family life, leisure, freedom and above all the potential to achieve ones dream. To be a success. Everybody is young and smiling, there is no rain! This America is indeed beautiful. And clearly we waiting hopefuls would not be putting ourselves through this ordeal if we didn’t want or need a visa to grant us entry to this beautiful country. From Field of Merit – Always Being Buddha.