Articles

REMEMBERING LAMA TSERING PALJOR

I thought it would be fitting at this time of year to remember Lama Tsering Paljor, a personable friend who passed away 6-years ago.  It didn’t take long in his company to realise what a genuine and heart-warming person he was.

In 2012 Donal Creedon led a one month retreat in BMC in Sikkim.  He taught from Tsele Natsok Rangdrol’s Lamp of Mahamudra, not an easy text by any means.  In order to retain some sort of equilibrium to the teachings which often left me confused with the complicated techniques propounded, I often found solace and balance in talking to the resident monk. 

I’m not sure how old Lama La was; he had that youthful appearance, which many Tibetans have, and a calm deportment that affected all who came in contact with him.  His easy manner of speech and his openness with others put them immediately at ease, and one felt that they were in the company of an exceptional individual.

During his time in retreat in Pharphing near Kathmandu in Nepal, he told me of his practice of tummo and how he wore three sets of wet robes consecutively and dried them with the heat of his own body.  This he performed in the winter. He also joined me in qigong, together with others early in the morning after performing his ritual offerings at the fire house on the roof of the gompa. We also enjoyed watching a film about Milarepa on the laptop and he would explain each part of the story to me, especially the power of his sorcery and his later tutelage under Marpa.

Lama Paljor also liked to demonstrate his skills in singing and dancing and once led an extended session of chanting the mantra om mani peme hum in the shrine room.

In his little kitchen at the top of the building, he made chai and offered sweets.  These times provided welcome moments of relaxation.  Lama La was a gentle man and enjoyed our company.  He showed us his photographs and it was surprising to see him stand out with his long hair and beard while the others had shaved heads.

To us, the first knowledge of his problems came about half-way through the retreat.  Lama La was experiencing a burning sensation in his chest and decided that he wanted to seek medical advice.  My wife and I took him to consult a homeopathic practitioner in Gangtok and he was prescribed various ‘remedies’, but to no avail.  He was later diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis was not good.

Lama Tsering Paljor passed away at 7 pm on 15 October, 2014.

However, he was able to travel back to Tibet and passed away amongst his family and friends.

Lama Paljor will be remembered fondly by all who met him and he will live on in their thoughts.

[See  Annie Dibble’s article published in Bodhicharya IrelandRemembering Lama Tsering Paljor.]

First published in Many Roads, October 24, 2014

 

LAMENT FOR THE LOSS OF WILD FOOD

Wild Fact of the Day:
Once humankind used 7000 species of plant and 1069 species of fungi as foods. 

A single community averaged 120 wild species in their daily diet providing a massive range of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc)  and phytochemicals, such as plant-made serotonin that keeps us all happy. Each country studied records a dietary range of 300 to 600 wild species once eaten. 

There were no simple divisions: we were hunter-gathers, cultivator-collectors, farmer-foragers, agro-pastoralists, fisher-foragers, and our strength was dietary diversity. It was never just farming until around 300 years ago (UK) and many other modern cultures still have over 20% wild food in their diets. In 12 remaining traditional hunter-gather communities studied, between 30% and 93% of calories are wild not farmed. 

Sadly today over 50% of the entire globe’s daily calorie intake (and, I would argue, nutrient intake) comes from just 3 species – carb laden corn, wheat, rice. And 80% of calories from just 12 species – you know the other 9, those sad, tasteless, watery supermarket vegetables. No wonder city dwellers only have a third of the beneficial gut bacteria species that foragers have. 

The result of the loss of our wild food diversity – and the exercise spent collecting and catching it – is that we have become sick, sad and obese! 

Edible wild leavesAs one researcher puts it the “gradual replacement by store-bought produce causes discernable and significantly negative impacts on nutritional security at household and community levels”. 

Just saying…

I live in a field in West Lothian. 4 wild acres where I am planting and encouraging medicinal and foraging species. I have been fascinated by herbs and plants since childhood. My original interest was sparked by a wild childhood in Kenya, where I was introduced to herbal medicine by a local Kikuyu herbalist at the age of six. We were outdoors most of the time and I remember with joy the freedom of those early years. I love foraging for wild food as well as wild medicine and would happily never visit a supermarket again.
For the latest on events and courses please visit Monica on www.monicawilde.com

Also on twitter.com/monicawilde
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linkedin.com

 

RINGU TULKU ARCHIVE MEMBERSHIP

Archive Membership

 

RTRshade

This Ringu Tulku Archive was built and is managed by dedicated volunteers. All initial development costs were generously funded by Bodhicharya Publications.

However, storing and delivering such a huge amount of media like this in a secure and professional way, requires a paid delivery system. Each time a video or audio file is played, we have to pay for that delivery. Therefore paid annual membership is crucial to the survival of the archive.

Given the preciousness of what we are storing and delivering, we think its worth it and we hope you do too.

Annual membership allows you access to the Archive of teachings and the Courses, except for a few restricted teachings. It also gives you almost immediate access to the audio recordings that Rinpoche makes as he tours the world. We hope to add these to the website as soon as we get them.

All three membership types are the same. The only difference is how much you are able to offer. Each membership is an annual subscription which renews automatically each year, but your subscription can be stopped at any time via your membership account page.

We also offer free membership to the Bodhicharya monastic sangha and individuals in particularly difficult financial circumstances. To apply for that please contact us here.

Membership Payments will be administered by Bodhicharya Publications in the UK. Should any profit arise from the Archive Memberships, it will be used to support other Bodhicharya

THESE FOUR WORDS

One day you will express four words. And these four words will set you free. The words are: This Is My Truth. You will speak, write, sing, dance, laugh, act on, remember, celebrate, feel, dream, and live these words in endless ways.

These four words will clarify your relationships, illuminate who means what in your life. These four words will steady your soul, and introduce the false you to the true you. In the presence of the true you, the false you will grow insecure, unsure, and begin to fade away. Wounds in you will tenderize, then transform like snow in a warm sky. The healer you are will awaken and stretch its translucent muscles. This Is My Truth will be your ointment, herb, tonic, and ceremony. You will pray This Is My Truth when life’s tide roars against your cliffs and the pain of your tenderness extracts grains from your shore. This Is My Truth will fortify you in the storm. It will be your reassuring rainbow after.

Some misty mornings you will go walking into the woods seeking these four words. And you will find them growing wild in a clearing rimmed with tall, sage trees, and you will kneel in the soft moss of these four words and sun bars will bless your skin as you gently pluck petals from these four words and place them in your mouth. And the softness of their offering will soothe what trembles in you. You will learn to stay in wild meadows where these four words grow, and you will stay even as the world’s unwellness swells around you threatening to erase these four words. And you will chant these four words. And you will chant until they become your native language.

Until these four words rearrange your molecules and juice your atoms with their airy essence. One day, a mountain will rise in the ocean of your soul. And it will be these four words. And This Is My Truth will be your island, your oasis, your paradise. Your power. This Is My Truth will be your mating call. Kindred souls will flock to this song you usher, this aroma that is your atmosphere. And all the family and friends and unfamiliar souls threatened by your four words, and offended, and disappointed, and angered, and left unhinged and unmoored by the blaspheming reality of their own missing four words, all these souls will finally lie down on the soft savanna woven of your four words and they will weep a deep surrender. And their four words, already in them a seed, shall be inspired by your four words and your living of them, and their four words will stir, then sprout, and this great valley of souls will begin a legendary healing. And you will sit and rest your back against an old tree younger than the youngest sun. And you will ease into sacred conversation with all of Creation. And Creation will ask, What is your offering? And your sweetened soul will gather its eons of Love-harvest and it will answer, I shall offer this. This Is My Truth. And Creation will open and receive your offering. And your truth will open and flow profoundly into all things. And your four words will live forever in the breeze, the most subtle dance of pollen and sunlight birthing life, birthing life, birthing all this life.

Jaiya John
May 7, 2018 

PATREON

 

PANEER WITH PEAS

Cooking time:
30 minutes

1/4 kg of paneer (chopped into 2cm cubes)
1 cup of peas
1 large tomato (chopped small)
OR 1 tablespoon of tomato puree
11/2 teaspoons of coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon of rurmeric powder
1 tablespoon of garlic finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon of crushed chilies
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of  green coriander leaves (chopped)
1 cup of water

OIL FOR FRYING

4 tablespoons of oil
1/4 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 large onion (finely chopped)

Heat oil on a wok and fry the paneer pieces until golder brown (alternatively they can be brushjed with oil and grilled or sauted).

Heat oil in a good size frying pan, add cumin seeds.  When browned, mix in the oinions and fry until brown.  Mix in the garlic and all the other spices and stir for a few seconds.

Add tomatoes and cook until the liquid has evaporated (with puree, the cooking time will be less).  Mix in the paneer and peas, cover and cook on low hear for 3 to 4 minutes.  Add water and cook for a further 5 to 7 minutes (tossing it around once or twice).  Ensure that the vegetable is not dry.  before seving add coriander.

This dish can be cooked without onions and garlic: At the baghaar stage, with cumin seeds, add 1/2 teaspoon of asafoetida and leave out the onions and garlic altogether.

This and paneer with spinach are standard dishes found on most Indian restaurant menus in the UK and India.

BAGHAAR is the method in which whole spices, such as cumin or mustard seeds, are browned in hot oil or ghee before any other ingredients can be added.
From Feasts of India by Mridsu Shailaj Thanki, Jaganath Press.

Tashi Deleg House: Yeshe Dorje

 

Tashi Deleg House Samye Ling, the oldest Buddhist centre in Scotland.  Summer’s end brings a breeze that blows the leaves from the trees.  Flurries of light rain precede a heavy, slanting downpour that drenches in 5 minutes the clothes that you wear.

The room we’re staying in has been refurbished with milk chocolate coloured walls and a desk fixed to the wall with a shelf above and on it an expensive silver angle poise lamp.  The room is pristine and from the window looks out to the café and the White Esk beyond fed by the swiftly flowing Clerkhill Burn.  On the bed I have my own pillow.  (There’s something not appealing about using a pillow on which possibly hundreds of heads have lain and dreampt.)

My sleep in deep and full of dreams, none of which I can recall.  Woke several times comfortable to the pattering of rain on the window.

My wife is attending the Drupchen Puja, a ten-day meditation retreat but she can do only two days.  This gives me time to wander about a bit and take some photographs, some of which I’ll convert to black and white/sepia for interest.  I plan to help David in the kitchen this afternoon.  He’s the official soup-maker and he knows his stuff.  Making soup is a learning process: he has his ‘secrets’ some of which are putting the onions in first and slowly frying in vegetable corn oil; adding herbs towards the end of the cooking; using celery at the beginning.

At 10.30 I still haven’t done my Chi Gong but after a longish very hot shower I feel relaxed and calm.

************

Related image

Last night read Carol Dweck’s ideas about the malleability of mindset.

Whether human qualities are things that can be cultivated or things that are carved in stone…

The expressoion is that in a fixed mindset everything a person does is about the outcome; while the growth mindset will add value to a process despite the success or failure of an outcome.

Growth Mindset v Fixed Mindset

One interesting point she makes is about parents’ attitudes towards children and how their reactions can help develop a growth mindset.

Surprisingly, too much praise and rewards can have a detrimental effect on their development.  (I felt this when I was a teacher encouraged to make all students winners.)

From her book, Self Theories (2000):

You have permanent traits and I’m judging them.

V

You are a developing person and I’m interested in you development.

If you praise a child too much by always telling them that they are intelligent they become wary about doing anything that might change your judgment of them.  They might avoid the risk of failing and so inhibit their own development.  They may become slaves of praise.

Protecting children from failure has a negative effect on their development.  We have to be honest with them; and without criticism, tell them to try again and harder in a non-judgemental way.

Dweck mentions Benjamin Barber who divides the world into learners and non-learners. And Earl Nightingale distinguishes between “river” and “goal” people.

Goal-directed shows they must succeed in reaching a positive outcome no matter how they get there.

River types will throw themselves passionately into an activity, the activity being more important than the outcome whatever it is.

Water as a symbol for types of personality seems appropriate.

I sleep.  I wake.  The categories of types of personality dissolve in the dawn.

NOW IS THE TIME FOR ACTION

You. Yes you! Did you know that what you do to the Earth, you do to yourself?

When you nurture the planet, you look after your body. For only by nourishing yourself with food that grows in healthysoils, pollinated by insects, with clean water and the right amount of sunshine, does your body stay strong and free from disease. As as you are nourished so too is the Earth.

Continue reading

HEALTH INDEPENDENCE AND RESISTANCE IN OUR BRAVE NEW WORLD

 

PolItIcal upheavals are causing widespread anxiety about many issues, including health care, all over the world. Where do we go from here and what can we do on an individual basis to improve our own situation?

First let me say, as a doctor, I see health care as a vital human right. I regard universal access to healthcare as a hallmark of a genuinely humane society which values “love of one’s neighbor”, whereas the absence of such a system may well be a sign of the opposite.

Many health problems arise from causes that we cannot control directly as individuals. among these are accidents, natural disasters, wars, genetic conditions, illnesses caused by pollution of the environment, illnesses whose causes remain unknown, etc. Continue reading

TRUANCY

Isa knows this is not her home. Whatever the young girls with tattoos and piercings tell her, their names peppery on her tongue. “You live here now, darling. You’re safe with us.” This is not her home and she will not stay. She is a serial escapee though never got much further than the bus stop.

Her friend and tablemate, Miss Jean Bell, former assistant headmistress, knows this a care home, and turns the words over, wondering how they have changed meaning since she lost her independence. Her mind is strong, her legs not. Her eyes see everything – the monthly noticeboard with its list of activities for every day in big letters.  They have also seen that the more exciting activities never happen. “Why,” she asks, “Was there no outing to Dobbie’s? Or the Botanics as promised?”

“No idea,” they reply airily, “but there’ll be decorating golf balls in a minute.”

“I presume”, she delivers the look that caused many to quail, “that this is to fool the inspectors. I shall inform them.”

“Sure you will, Jeanie Darling.” “I am not your darling and never known as Jeanie” falls on ears already attuned for the next emergency buzzer.

The two women bond over the soup, in itself thick and viscous enough to serve in any world shortage of cement. “Salty again. What is it anyway?”, asks Isa.

The carer asks and reports broccoli.”How can broccoli be orange and taste exactly the same as lentil or tomato or…

” She has run out of soups. Jean says, “That’s why it’s called soup of the day. It always tastes the same.” And soup appears twice every day, along with the cakes, pink  and white, that taste dryly of nothing but sugar. “The food here is disgraceful”,says Jean and they begin their daily litany of its failings – the too cold, the mushy, the flavourless, the pre-packaged.

One lunch Isa isn’t there. They are all in their places at least ten minutes before service begins. She is brought in late, flushed, smelling of outside, with a glitter about her. “You’re a bad girl”, says the carer, not unkindly, “but we’ve saved you some soup”.

Not even as far as the bus stop this time. It makes Jean thoughtful. All her life she has conformed; but if Isa, with her periods of cloudedness “

as if a pea-souper creeps through my brain, dear”, alternating with moments of clarity, can revolt however  briefly, why can’t she? Legs, that’s why. Put us together, she thinks, and you’ld have one functioning human being. But one functioning person might make it, at least long enough to evade lunch.

Isa’s impulses have to be reined in. They now have a camera on the front door and a sensor mat. And Jean will need to be in her wheelchair. Isa won’t divulge the scheme; she loves secrets and anything else gets forgotten. Here is what they plan.

  1. Handbags and coats while the carers are finishing the post-breakfast duties and heading towards their break.
  2. Create diversions. Ring buzzers in the hall and lounge. Take away Mollie’s rag doll so she will howl. Remind Annie that she needs to call the police and tell her father. Unkind perhaps but hours of every week have been dominated by the cries of one, the shouts of the other.
  3. Head to door by kitchen, always open as owner has not installed adequate ventilation. When chef is busy killing whatever flavour is in vegetables. Isa will push Jean out down the ramp and through the side gate.

Not for nothing has Jean spent years timetabling and checking every child was where it should be.  Now she is gamekeeper turned poacher, playing truant.

It goes according to plan. But even with Jean self-propelling and Isa pushing, they struggle. A young couple overtakes and turns back, with “Can we help? We’re going to the main road if that’s any use.” He takes the arm of Isa, who is thrilled, and the wife pushes the chair. They soon reach the bus stop. More rescuers have to help them on, then have  a whip round when it transpires Isa has only a fiver and some coppers in her purse. Jean triumphantly fishes out a battered bus pass. They are euphoric; who knew the world could be so vibrant? But what next? Jean remembers the birthday treat she would give herself each year, a trip to Luca’s for a cappuccino and a scone. The bus stop is close;  they can do this.

Isa isn’t sure she likes cappuccino but is enchanted by the pattern on top and loves unlimited demerara sugar. They dawdle over the scones as if these were the taste of holiday. No one puts  a tabard round their necks or spreads the scones for them. The activity is agreeable if messy. Isa is soon hungry again and begging for an early lunch. The special is scampi and chips and they will share a portion. Isa eats with her fingers and after a moment, Jean joins her. “But”, she says, “this has to be the last. We’ve got maybe £16. Two coffees at 2.20, two scones at 1.90 and one special at £6 would be…”

“12.40”, says Isa. “I used to be a book-keeper. I’d forgotten that.”  Minutes later, she calls, “Chocolate ice cream and vanilla, two scoops each.” It is delicious, with a side order of guilt for Jean; she hopes the cafe will be able to reclaim the debt through the home.

For the first time it enters her mind, and as if it had summoned them, two policemen appear in the doorway. “Would you be the ladies from the Lilacs?”

With dignity Jean replies, “The name is as false as everything else about it. One scrubby pot-bound lilac by the door.” She imagines trees heavy with perfume, dancing in May sun. But Isa is already halfway out on a blue arm.

“Let’s have you, shall we, lo-madam?” hers says as he registers the glare that has quelled insurrection for decades. She assents.

In the car Isa is still happy. “Fancy going home in a police car. I’ve never done that before.”

“Yes, you have, Isa, love” one says wearily. Jean thinks. Not me. We’ve run away, and begged on the bus. We indulged ourselves and left without paying. And now we’re escorted back by the police, too late for soup. Something swells inside her as light and free as blossom in the sun; she thinks it might be pride.

KD lives in Edinburgh and writes for pleasure and distraction.

 

INSTALLATIONS OF OUTER SPACE

To make the hypnotic artworks, Krakow-based duo Przemek Podolski and Marta Basandowskaby start by arranging the complex designs as a 3D computer model.

The structures range from simple cubes to impressively complex geometric designs which they use to represent outer space.

Basandowska says that she and Podolski then use a series of different knotting techniques to weave the yarn around various nails and bring the artwork to life.

Once the threads are properly woven around the nails, the couple uses black lights and projection mapping to illuminate the massive installations.

We are making bigger and braver installations every year,” says Basandowska. “It is completely different when you’re making installations with an area of 30 meters supported by steel structures and creating something using several thousand knots.”

The couple’s String Art Installations have been displayed at a variety of arts and music festivals, but if you want to keep up with their future work, you can visit their Instagram page, YouTube channel, or website.

POHA POTATOES

 

This is a simple, spicy Indian lunch or brunch made with rice and potatoes. Perfect as a side dish with curry, too.

Ingredients

Method

  1. Boil the potatoes until cooked. Drain and set aside to cool, then peel and cut into 1cm/½in cubes.

  2. Put the rice in a sieve and wash gently but thoroughly under cold running water. Empty it into a bowl, cover generously with water and leave to soak for two minutes. Drain and leave in the sieve set over a bowl.

  3. Put the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan and set it over a medium-high heat. When hot, add the asafoetida and the urad dal. As soon as the dal starts to pick up a little colour, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and chilli (whatever type you are using). As soon as the mustard seeds start to pop, a matter of seconds, add the curry leaves (take care as they will splutter), then the onion and potatoes. Lower to a medium heat and fry, stirring now and again, for 3-4 minutes or until the onion and potatoes are slightly browned. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the top and stir.

  4. Add the poha rice, gently breaking up any lumps, and sprinkle ½ teaspoon of salt and the sugar over the top. Cook on a low heat for 3-4 minutes, tossing frequently by lifting all the ingredients from the bottom of the pan with a flat spatula and folding them over, until the poha is heated through. Cover and set aside until you are ready to eat.

  5. To serve, garnish the poha potatoes with fresh coriander and serve with lime or lemon wedges.

Recipe Tips

Serve with fresh salad and/or raita.

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KARMA SONAM RINCHEN

I’m not at all sure how we all in the Bodhicharya Sangha developed the merit to be able to meet Rinpoche in this life – but somehow the good fortune has come to us, each in our own different way, and I think now we  just have to see how much further we can clarify our own minds, develop our compassion and so be able to offer something back to others. Continue reading

BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME

Can we love our families fully while upholding the Buddha’s teaching on non-attachment?

Sometimes people ask me if there isn’t a conflict between the Mahayana instruction to see all beings as close relatives, worthy of our affection and compassion, and Buddhist teachings on non attachment. Perhaps they are thinking of Jetsun Milarepa’s words:

When you look at your child
Firstly he is a soft-spoken young god.
Then he is a distant-hearted neighbour.
Finally he is an enemy and creditor.
So I let go of children.

We cannot separate Buddhist doctrine and practice from how Buddhists actually live in the world. How do they square non attachment with love and compassion, and what does this say about how we should relate to our families? Most Buddhists in Asia, far from exhibiting some chilly spiritual disdain for such matters, usually demonstrate great affection for their families. I can testify that my own teachers are no exception. Indeed, my master, Sakya Trizin Rinpoche, is a wonderful example of a father and now grandfather who is, at the same time, an unflagging source of kindness and loving guidance to his students. It’s striking how often my other principal teacher, Karma Thinley Rinpoche, though an ordained abbot, emphasizes the value of family life as an environment for training in the key Mahayana virtues.

It is, however, undeniable that we must let go of some level of attachment in our personal relationships. Continue reading

MEDITATION

Because of the complexity of various forms of meditation, the text is broken up into two main areas, although it could be broken down much further.

Judeo/Christian

Buddhist

CHRISTIAN MEDITATION
This seems to take the form of prayer in order to appreciate the revelations of god.  This can be done by concentrating on a passage in the bible and considering its meaning in the context of a love of god.  It is also a tool used to increase knowledge and cognisance of Christ.

Continue reading

HOW TO FIND INNER PEACE

If you are reading these words, it means that you either realize you’re not at peace and want to be, or the sound of the word drew you … it’s something you haven’t really thought about, but it resonates and you want it in your life.

The universal truth is that we all suffer.  Whether rich or poor, young or old, regardless of gender or any other factor … we all suffer psychically. 

Why?  Because we are prisoners of our ego-mind.  We are controlled by the feelings and perceptions … the emotions, judgments, cravings, and attachments … that are the ego-mind’s reactions to our life experiences.  It is these feelings that are actually the cause of our suffering.  But we nevertheless identify with them; we’ve lost connection with our true self, our heart.  If we were only able to reconnect with our heart, we would be able to free ourselves from the control of our ego-mind and experience the inner peace and happiness that is our birthright.

We cannot change the world around us.  It is what it is.  But we can change how we relate to ourselves and that world.  And by doing so, we can control whether we suffer or experience peace. 

This is not some new age theory. These truths have been taught for thousands of years by the mystical traditions of all three Abrahamic faiths … Christian Gnosticism, Kabbalah, and Sufism … as well as Buddhism.

Helping people of all faiths as well as non-believers learn these truths and walk this challenging path is the purpose of How to Find Inner Peace. Why will this book help people when others haven’t? It is reality-based; it grows out of the turmoil of life. And it lays out a practical, step-by-step approach to finding inner peace.  If you want inner peace, believe it or not the choice is yours.

The book is available  in both softcover – $12.95, and eBook – $9.99 formats.

                      Ronald Hirsch

BIO:
Ronald Hirsch  has had a varied career as a teacher, legal aid lawyer, survey researcher, nonprofit executive, composer, writer, and volunteer.  Having found Buddhism at age 49, he has walked the path of Buddhism 25 years now.   Along the way, he has had the good fortune to have had some powerful teachers who opened many gates for him. His Zen practice follows no particular lineage but reflects the teachings of his Vietnamese and Korean Zen mentors.

 

He is the writer of the award-winning blog, www.ThePracticalBuddhist.com, and the author of three books on Buddhist practice and one ecumenically spiritual work, Raising a Happy Child.  He is also the author of We Still Hold These Truths, acclaimed by James Fallows, National Correspondent, The Atlantic, as “a systematic and serious effort to make the [presidential] debate as clear and valuable as it can be. Agree or disagree with his specific conclusions, the questions he is asking are the right ones for the public this year.”  He grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania and resides in New York.

https://www.thepracticalbuddhist.com/how-to-find-inner-peace.html

WAR AND PEACE

In their miniature world, cramped between wooden crevices of a make-shift dugout, the ants busy themselves with homemaking and egg laying, ensuring their lineage. “Come on lads, let’s all pull together, we can get this done today!” They carry their dainty furniture, food and precious eggs purposefully back and forth, undisturbed by the mayhem around them. 

A beetle scuttles past, his proud armour glinting in the late spring sunshine, swift and sure of foot; armed with strong exoskeleton and impressive talons, he scurries to his destination.

A couple of earthworms surface, drag a tasty morsel down into the earth, casting, blindly blinking in the daylight, then to disappear down into the dark moist soil, silently, steadily, unseen and safe, to exchange their genetic code in hermaphrodite heaven.

The deceiving skylark hovers high, unseen in the sky, throwing his voice to confuse and disorientate. Overseeing and watchful, he spies two divisions of soldiers, each in dugout trenches facing each other but a thousand yards apart. He cannot begin to comprehend the scene. Are the guns pointing at him? He wouldn’t be morsel for even one meal, so why this?

His partner, safely on the ground, is nesting a clutch of six, soon to be hatched, eggs; a proud moment, something to sing about. He sees the men below, only men? … all of one sex? This is strange homemaking and nest building, indeed! Down there in the mud, in the dirt, amongst their own excrement; where are their young?

A pheasant clucks and struts, calling to its mate, proud, foolish, flamboyant and pecking; always pecking; scavenging for odd bits of spent grain and seeds, occasionally intimidating and ‘seeing off’ another haughty potential suitor, protecting his own beloved, who bathes beigely in the weak sunshine, broodily thinking of where to produce her impending progeny.

The sparrows chatter and argue amongst their offspring in the hedges at the side of the field, merrily multiplying and going about their daily business. Camouflaged, they watch out for each other, safe in their numbers, constantly communicating and full of life.

The soldiers are dull with desperation, worn out, cold, hungry, desolate and dying. Morally bound and duty called, initial, spurring enthusiasms of glory and patriotism have faded; the futility and frustration of the pointlessness and tragic waste of young lives is eating away at their hearts. Fleeting friendships and comforting camaraderie are brutally broken.

The field mouse looks on quizzically, cuddled in warmth, his fluffy coat protecting him from the elements. Surrounded by his resourceful, home-loving and family-oriented cousins, who are comfortably curled up, and sleepily grooming each other, he skilfully, swings from corn stalk to burdock leaf. He seems puzzled as to why these grey and stinking men quietly sit and wait, huddled in their make-shift shelter. Stranger, still, that they share their space with corpses, stiff, cold and lifeless; they dare not even bury their dead!

Rabbits scamper about at dusk, safe in the half-light and secure in their familiar bunny territory and warren world, ears alerted and listening, thumping their back legs, as a tell-tale sign to others, of impending danger, with white bob-tail warnings of threats to be avoided. Down into their burrows, they scuttle, safe from their predators, watching their ever growing families, populating and honeycombing the area with their tunnels and diggings.

What of these young men? They are in an alien world, mind disorientated and helpless, hopelessly destroyed of bonhomie, having no family to buoy them up, no hearty hot meal to fill their bellies, no women to comfort and caress them. They are at the mercy of the elements, permanently damp and despairing, cold and miserable. They do not even see their enemy, are blind to their own effectiveness and progress; they are merely there, planted by politicians… waiting.

A hare dashes across the field, mystical in his aloofness. Proud, upstanding, mythical creature, long ears dipped in ink, solitary and shape-shifting, a legendary king of his surroundings, mysterious, and representing life and rebirth.

How can he square the images he sees before him, of man killing his own brothers? No other species would do this!!! Where is the pride, the heroics, the glory? What such animal would sacrifice its race, put itself at so much risk, or behave in such a suicidal manner? What species would so foolishly challenge the elements, be at the whims of the chilling winds, the killing frosts, the endless mud, the biting snow and the incessant rain? Where is the survival instinct for the human race here amongst the stench, fat flies and riotous rats?

Later, as the red poppies bob and grace the dark and yielding soil, flowering with fecundity, the proud willow-herb salutes the sunset. An owl shrieks at dusk, signalling the shortening days. Fear, death, trepidation, initiation and change are on the horizon; the bat spirit darts to and fro, quieter than a breath.

The men, contracted only for their one grisly task, wait; always waiting, silently, scared, playing their reducing game… dying to get out.

 

Bio-Data
Ianthe Pickles
Lives in Liverpool
Aged 68, birthday 18/12/1950
Retired full-time Primary and later Secondary/Special School teacher and college tutor, worked for 37 years.
Read many books related to work only. After retiring, joined a Creative Writing group, with an inspiring tutor, attended courses, and achieved ‘A’ Level in Creative Writing.
Writing (especially poetry) was often a release during emotional and turbulent times in the 1980s working in an area of severe deprivation and unemployment in Liverpool.  Now I write for fun!
A group of us meet regularly in each other’s homes to read and discuss our scribblings!

LIVING AND DYING IN PEACE

Living & Dying in Peace

Dying in a graceful and joyful way – the practice that we need to work on.

Ringu Tulku Rinpoche

Our vision for this evolving website is that there will be ongoing guidance and instruction from Ringu Tulku on living a peaceful, purposeful life and how to face, embrace and engage with the end of life, dying and death. From this, and other sources, suggestions can be gathered and offered for the dying person, the family, the care givers, the medical staff, undertakers and the bereaved.

The intention is also to provide information for those who wish to understand a little more about the Tibetan Buddhist way of life and death, and how we can enhance and extend our positive qualities, our loving kindness, compassion and wisdom for ourselves and for the benefit of all beings.

It is a website for everyone but with some particular Buddhist practices that could be adapted and applied to people of all faiths or of no faith. If you are interested, please visit our website:

http://livinganddyinginpeace.org

livinganddyinginpeace.org