- An Irish Friend of Bill
- I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
If applications and payment arrive in their office before Tuesday, you are in with a chance. Still places left I think.
350 or 450 quid for Sunday to Friday. All expenses included.
Accommodation is in the Nottingham university campus. Which is a lovely campus as far as know. Green and rambling. Very easy to get to by train from London.
Thich Nhat Hanh is around about 80 yrs old, and he doesn't teach in the UK very often, so for that reason its good to see him if you get the chance. He does regular retreats in France, but its always easier to see him in the uk I think.
Whatever. Just thought I would let you know.
The London talk is sold out. I didn't manage to get tickets as I didn't get one fast enough. The London talk is worth going to. I certainly enjoyed the last one I went to.
Right better be off. Have a nice Sunday!
Retreat details here
Application form here
Thursday, August 14, 2008
This is stuff I typed from Ajahn Amaro's talk called Imbibing Peace in Body and Mind
The Bracketed numbers are minutes and seconds references to the talk, so you know where to find the bits once you download the mp3 onto your itunes or ipod. Its all his talk. I really like his stuff. Theres a great bit on worry at the beginning but I didn't include it. Here's the talk:
Listening to what your mind is saying is like randomly passing through different radio stations
It has: Different things to say
Some are worthwhile and interesting
Some are meaningless
Like: Some politician trying to get you to vote for them
Someone wanting you to buy a truck from their showroom
Someone wanting you to get excited about their new song
A lot of of it is pointless and biased,
and just reiterations of the conditioning of a lifetime.
So its just developing a relaxed attitude toward our own thinking.
The things we are excited about.
The things we are annoyed about.
The things we are afraid of.
The things we are irritated by.
The things we are inspired by.
Get a little bit of distance with our own thinking and own own opinions.
So often the mind has just a reactive, compulsive, lurching quality
Chasing one opinion after another.
"I like this"
"I don't like that"
"This is good"
"This is right "
"It should be this way"
"It shouldn't be like that"
"This is beautiful"
"I don't approve"
Like a frantic bunny caught in the headlights dashing from one side of the road to the next in an effort to avoid the oncoming car
Bouncing one way, after another, and another.
Just to be able to step back. Listen to the mind.
Not buy into all of its bouncing around.
Lurching this way and that.
Just to listen to the statements it makes. Like:
"Wow this is really great"
And then just to say, or to ask,.."Is that so?'
"This is terrible!" "This is awful!" "That's the worst thing I've ever seen!"
Respond with: ..Oh. .."Is that so?'
"I'm never ever going to do that again. That was a totally stupid mistake! A total disaster. I'm never going to do that again!"
"This is great! This is it! I am totally with the programme! This is the true way. I'm never going to wobble again. This is absolutely clear to me. This is totally the thing for me!"
Whatever it might be.
Something we are inspired by,
or irritated by,
Or afraid of,
Running away from,
The mind makes all kinds of assertions and judgments:
"This is good"
"This is right"
"It should be this way"
"It shouldn't be like that"
"This is beautiful"
"I don't approve"
"This is totally uninteresting. Completely mediocre. Unimportant"
Is that so?
Just to notice. There needs to be an effort.
Normally, what we like to do is pursue our moods. Which is creating the causes of unhappiness.
Blindly follow our moods.
Chase after them. Its a habit. Its a familiar pattern of being.
But if we make the effort to introduce a little bit of a gap, a little bit of space in it.
To give ourselves that room to consider:
Is that so?
Is it really that way?
Is that the whole story?
When the mind says: "This is GREAT!"
Is it so great?
Is is always going to be great?
When the mind says: "Its TERRIBLE!"
Is it so terrible?
Or is it just terrible to me?
How does it feel to other people?
Is this just a point of view?
Or is this an absolute truth?
Even when the mind is vehemently asserting
"Its NOT just an opinion! This is TRUTH!"
"This is GOOD!"
Yes well you really have a strong opinion that this is the truth.
That's a very very strong feeling. A lot of people have other feelings don't they? Ah. Oh yes..
So just applying that small amount of effort, allowing that small amount of space. Our own natural wisdom is brought into play (35.45) and suddenly we find the world is much more in balance. We are able to harmonize with others. Its not that we are becoming wishy washy, or nebulous, or indecisive about what we do. Its just seeing the whole picture. Feeling how the whole thing fits together. (36.06)
Sometimes just the feeling of trying to dispel a particular kind of attitude.
Maybe the mind is very stuck on an obsession of really wanting something.
Just obsessed with getting this or getting that.
Or obsessed with getting away from something. (37.19)
We can get so used to trying to dispel a feeling, or attitude, that we get habituated to that
"This is bad"
"This is wrong"
"I don't want to feel this way"
"I've got to get rid of this. This thought. This feeling. This attitude. This fear. This aversion. This desire." (37.41)
And so rather than always trying to move away from it, or diminish it, or dissolve it, sometimes the way that we provide that same sort of space around it, the same kind of balancing out, is you take that attitude and you inflate it.
The capacity to take things to absurdity.
So lets say the mind is moving towards self criticism.
"I'm so useless"
"I cant do this properly"
And what I mean by inflating it is
Listening to those judgments
Noticing what the mind is doing
Think it all through and taking it to its logical extremes
"I cant concentrate my mind at all"
"I'm a hopeless meditator"
"I'm a hopeless AA member" (added by me IFOB)
Just to say to ourselves:
I probably have the most busy, polluted, unstable, anxious mind in the whole universe.
Of all the human beings that have ever existed, I'm sure that MY mind is the MOST obsessive, compulsive, unstable, superficial, agitated.
There's never been anyone with a mind which is a busy or confused as mine.
I have more hatred than ANYONE else in the whole world.
And if you want something 'x':
Whatever it is that the mind is pursuing..
"I wanna have this!"
"I wanna have that!"
If I had X, and x , and x..
THEN I'd be happy!
I want to own everything in the whole world.
Not just this world. Every world.
If I had EVERYTHING, then I'd REALLY be happy!
You cant even finish the sentence without it being totally absurd.
So sometimes if the mind is obsessively greedy, pursuing. And we are thinking.
"I shouldn't be feeling this
"I've got to get rid of the greed
"Let go of it
"I shouldn't be greedy
"I shouldn't be feeling this"
That very urge to let go, gets taken over by a fearfulness, or a repressiveness, and we inflate the issue
is sometimes turning around and saying YES!
I want to have it
I've got to have it all now
All for me! That's good.
And if I had it. I'd be SO happy.
And you know. You cant even finish the sentence without realising. This is totally farcical. It couldn't be that way.
So we end up finding tha quality of spaciousness around the thought or the feeling, or the compulsion. The aversion.
By feeding it
by giving it everything it asks for.
You want some? Have more!
Don't stop now. Take more. Take more! (41.03)
So these are different ways of working with our minds to provide an awakening. To trigger an awakening to the spaciousness that exist within us.
The spaciousness around our moods, our feelings, our thoughts.
Recognizing that there's actually a lot more room in our lives, more room in our hearts than we recognize. the mind gets so fixed upon objects.
Fixed upon attitudes and plans, and ideas, that we don't notice that. (43.33)
But the more that we are able to notice what the mind is doing.
Seeing that the world is very much the way it is, because of the way that we hold it. And that loosening the grip a little, so that we hold the world rather than feverishly clinging to it.
Pick it up
Put it down.
So then we discover a whole quality of ease and spaciousness in our lives, so that then we are able to deal with the possibilities of each moment. The qualities of the past, the present, the future. The kind of work we do in the world. The way we relate to one another. The different people we live and work with. The people in our families. In the world around us.
There's a balanced quality. Simply by remembering.
These are mental states.
These are attitudes that we are creating. And that when we recognize it as being created, we can relax with it.
We realize, we don't have to create this.
We don't have to pursue this, to run away from that.
I don't have to believe that this opinion is an absolute truth. (45.01)
And in that recognition, in awakening to that true spaciousness, then we find a quality of ease and balance within ourselves. We discover that peace which is always here, but we miss it because we are always so busy with this regret and that annoyance. This fear and that passion. We don't notice that peace us already here. We just have to notice it. To imbibe it.
And when we do that, its important to realize that this isn't just a favor to ourselves. When we discover that quality of peacefulness, that quality of inner contentment and happiness in relationship to our own body and our own mind states, because we live together, we affect each other. Wherever we are in our lives, the more that we are able to just take that moment to let go, recognize the tension we are creating. We let it go.
That ease and that peacefulness that is experienced in that moment is a blessing to us, but it is also a blessing to everyone we come into contact with. Whether its the person living next door to you, or the person we are doing dishes with at the sink, or the person we are sharing the freeway with.
Each moment of clarity and peacefulness within us is a blessing to the world around us. It is a benediction to the world. Even in the smallest ways. Even in the tiny and apparently subtle ways. Its a gift to the world.
If we are able to establish those qualities of purity, peacefulness, and contentment, It is then intrinsically conveyed to everyone our life is connected with. (Whether they notice it or not, is another thing,) but it IS conveyed. Because its there. That's what we are manifesting. That's what we are bringing into the world. Whatever we touch. Other creatures. Other people. All that our lives are connected with. They HAVE to be affected by that. It brings some degree of peace and clarity, and quality of ease, into THEIR lives as well. It HAS to be that way. That's the way that nature works.
Just like if we are agitated and busy, and angry and restless, and reactive, then that has its effects on all the beings around us too.
So that we can see for ourselves. So its not just by listening to these words and considering them to be true, because they are being said in a dharma talk but see this for ourselves.
And its not like some sort of grand programme we have to launch into but right in this very moment. This very time. Just seeing the effect of that choice. Making that choice to relax. Let go. Be at ease. And right here we can notice the brightening of the heart. The quality of contentment. The quality of peacefulness. That's right here. Its nowhere else. And we can see for ourselves, how that spreads within us. And spreads around us.
So I offer these thoughts for consideration this evening.
Imbibing Peace in Body and Mind
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Like a tarot deck but different. It was initially a device to assist painting projects. Especially under pressure.
Its a creative problem solving tool which allows you to consider a fresh perspective when things seem stale, predicable or unfruitful.
Something to 'shake up' the thinking, when we are being habitual and uninspired in our approach to situations.
Here is a site that allows you to pick a card. But you need to have adobe shock wave installed for it to work.
Brian eno is quoted here as saying:
" Oblique strategies evolved from me being in a number of working situations when the panic of the situation - particularly in studios - tended to make me quickly forget that there were others ways of working and that there were tangential ways of attacking problems that were in many senses more interesting than the direct head-on approach. If you're in a panic, you tend to take the head-on approach because it seems to be the one that's going to yield the best results Of course, that often isn't the case - it's just the most obvious and - apparently - reliable method. The function of the Oblique Strategies was, initially, to serve as a series of prompts which said, "Don't forget that you could adopt *this* attitude," or "Don't forget you could adopt *that* attitude."
The first Oblique Strategy said "Honour thy error as a hidden intention." And, in fact, Peter's first Oblique Strategy - done quite independently and before either of us had become conscious that the other was doing that - was ...I think it was "Was it really a mistake?" which was, of course, much the same kind of message. Well, I collected about fifteen or twenty of these and then I put them onto cards. At the same time, Peter had been keeping a little book of messages to himself as regards painting, and he'd kept those in a notebook. We were both very surprised to find the other not only using a similar system but also many of the messages being absolutely overlapping, you know...there was a complete correspondence between the messages. So subsequently we decided to try to work out a way of making that available to other people, which we did; we published them as a pack of cards, and they're now used by quite a lot of different people, I think. "
You can buy the bunch of cards from amazon, but the online version is probably easier and less hassle.
Have a nice Sunday!