Everybody Has to Be Somewhere

Raspberry Pi Tree

Where ever you are
Who ever you are with
No matter what you are doing
No matter how you are feelin’

If you are laughing
or crying
Sighing or sleeping
or wide awake
Just remember

*You can’t dance
at two weddings
with
one behind!

Being in two places
at once isn’t
even slightly
possible.
*Yiddish saying.

The micro tree is plugged into a Raspberry Pi computer. Came to me yesterday in the post, so beautifully packed. This tree is now on my altar blinking away adding a warm red glow. Love it. For those who might wish to be where they are not, with different people or with somebody who has died. Or whatever. Hang in there, nothing last for ever. Even the good times pass.

Buddhism From Within

Tom (Thomas) Wharton, a Canadian author, wrote the following back in 2005 when I was running a priory in Edmonton. At that time I was keen to see Rev Master Daizui’s book more widely read or even known about. The following review copied below was never used, up until now. Here it is. Thanks Tom for letting me publish this after all this time.

I like Rev. MacPhillamy’s relaxed, conversational style. The lack of terms from other languages is also refreshing and offers a less “exotic” approach to the subject, which is a good thing. The ancient, Asian terminology that most Buddhist books use can make it seem that you should be having an ancient, Asian experience to really practice meditation, whatever that might mean!


The section on karma and rebirth I found particularly fascinating and helpful. I’ve never seen these elusive concepts set down in quite this accessible way. Rev. MacPhillamy proceeds from a straightforward description of ethical cause and effect which one can quickly verify for oneself with a little thought (when we hurt others we hurt ourselves), and proceeds from there to the more “cosmic” way of looking at the consequences of our actions.


At the stage I’m at with all of this, I find I’m not ready or willing to invest belief in some of these more cosmic notions. But of course neither Rev. MacPhillamy nor Buddhism itself would insist that I do so. And I feel that this respect for the individual person’s freedom of belief is one of the best clues that Buddhism points a trustworthy way to the truth about the universe. Truth shouldn’t need to be policed.


The last chapter, “So, Is this a religion?” offers a brief telling of Shakyamuni Buddha’s life which thankfully doesn’t scatter lotus petals over everything. This is the kind of biography that I would show to people who wanted to find out about the historical Buddha. It’s hard for us cynical westerners to believe that he is not actually worshipped by Buddhists when one reads some of the more mythic versions of his life story. Maybe these magical stories are true. How should I know? I just find it’s more encouraging to me to think about Buddha the human being.

Review written by Thomas Wharton

Buddhism From Within can be bought on-line and it doesn’t cost a fortune either.

Passing Years? Deeper Living?

Here is a post first published in March last year. There is much in this which relates to the general theme which seems to be developing here over the past days.I think I’ve reached that point which children do when they are PLEASED to see the number of their birth years rise. So I’m slightly wanting my years of living be a larger number and it doesn’t make sense. No, it isn’t my day today and I’m not telling when that was/is, for security reasons. However I can say I’m living/will be living my 70th year through 2017/18.

I’ve an image in my mind of a measuring stick (once called yard sticks) held horizontally representing ‘a life’. It starts at Zero at one end and somewhere over to the other end, it’s all over. Thus caught in a time-line with accompanying past stories and future imaginings. The present takes care of itself. Or does it. Now, in my mind’s eye the yard stick pivots on its axis where time (now) and space (here) intersect. From horizontal time-line with stories and imaginings to vertical where there is an up and a down.

We talk about deepening ones training and that’s often puzzled me as to what exactly that might mean. I do know what it means and as best I can say it is a deeper more three-dimensional encounter with existence. The divide between self and others being less distinct somehow. We are not so dependent on past experience, although always influenced by the time line to define who we are.

Talking to a woman yesterday as we hiked in the Grizedale Forest in the Southern Lakes reignited this yardstick metaphor gently pivoting on its axis point. Ever in motion, dynamic AND anchored. We attempted to voice what that anchor was and looked/felt like. A pleasure for hearts to meet and words to give voice to that.

As when a child so when reaching a larger number of years, what one can and cannot do is significant, however that fades into the background. If one lets it.

Priorities?

One thing. Priorities? In daily living, for the most part, priorities are an order of actions projected into the future. We assumed a predictable future stretching ahead, with the ability mentally, physically and emotionally to confidently move with intention, onwards. Raising a family, earning a living, cooking the next meal, planning an outing. However, when the future has been edited by circumstances there is a real, and urgent, question. What is the most important thing? Today, now? What gives living meaning. What is meaningful for somebody who is confined, to bed, a wheel chair, constant and unremitting pain, the prospect of an intolerable end of life scenario, mental/emotional limitations? While the Buddhist teaching, and really the only way to live, is to be present right here and right now, there is a before and there is an after.

I took the opportunity to listen to the Radio program I linked to in my previous post, David Schneider talks to palliative care consultant Kathryn Mannix. Fifteen minutes well spent, very well spent to be honest. David Schneider’s mother had recently died and he was clearly struggling with the whole issue of death and dying. Who hasn’t struggled with this? Having listened again I am reminded of a few reassuring points made in the program. So for those who are not able to access BBC radio (in North America for example) I’ve uploaded the program to my Dropbox account. Please do get in touch and I can send you the link, bug and virus free. Honest. Leave a comment or leave a message or write me directly if you have my email address already and I’ll let you have the link.

What I came away with having listened again is an ease around the process leading up to death and death itself. But especially now having information born of experience, Kathryn Mannix’s experience, of….well I’ll leave it to you to listen and take from it what you will. It doesn’t seem right to paraphrase her words.

This post is for those who have had a terminal illness thrown into their laps, their own or somebody close to them. Or who have been and are living with life limiting conditions. Young and older. One young man I’ve met comes to mind in particular.

Life/Death – Close Together

This is a post from December 2015. Could help people to gain a perspective on the dying process, not half as horrible as one might imagine. The person I mention at the end of this post was Brenda Birchenough, who died 1st July this year.

This morning tooling along narrow Cumbrian lanes between dripping hedges following the on/off brake lights ahead. Listening to the radio. A road diversion due to flooding I presumed but unprepared for. A 20 min drive took an hour! However, good old Radio 4 had me fully engaged (as well as driving of course) with an interview about death and dying. A popular subject. Here is the introductory blurb,.

David Schneider is terrified of death. In his two editions of One to One he wants to try to overcome his fear by talking to those who have first-hand understanding of dying. In this programme, he talks to Palliative Care consultant, Kathryn Mannix. With almost forty years of clinical experience and witnessing over twelve thousand deaths, she believes that a ‘good death’ is possible even when you are seriously ill. She explains the process of dying to David. This, she believes, if accepted by the patient, removes much of the anxiety and fear surrounding the end of life.

Two bundles of information stand out and I’ll remember them for myself (I am well and fine) and for others approaching death. For those in Britain who can listen to the podcast I highly recommend doing so.

One: The vast majority of people pop off when attending loved ones are out of the room for a moment. It just seems there is a preference to fade out of this world when there is a chance people who love you are not around to hold onto your heels! My mother chose her moment, I believe. My dad and I knew she was close to death in the hospital but decided to go home and finish cooking the Christmas Cake and would come back later. Our return ended up having us washing her body not seeing her breath her last. That was fine.

Two: Kathryn Mannix had witnessed thousands of deaths and the processĀ  followed a similar pattern. Going from needing more sleep to sleeping more and being awake less and less and eventually drifting into unconsciousness and dying. Peacefully. Ones worries about being in agony and frightening people, happens but rarely apparently.

Oh I seem a bit cavalier on this subject but as a woman said to me the other evening on the phone, I don’t know how to put this Mugo but it seems life and death are very close together. I respond by saying I think you have put it very well indeed. This thought of hers and what I took away from this mornings program has me better informed and more at ease about death, mine and others.

The post is for the man who lost control of his van yesterday which then entered the swift flowing waters of the River Kent. Today he was found dead in the river.