stepping stones of truth

A journey along the path of life - the stones can be rough, smooth or even wobbly!

Monday, January 28, 2008

"Change myself, change the world"

That's the trouble with Zen retreats - I find that for some time afterwards you are full with experiences but empty on words!

I must, however, say that Thich Nhat Hahn's wonderful teachings seem far removed from the apparent austerity of the Zen schools of Japan (with which it is closely linked, as he is a 42nd generation Lin-chi (Rinzai) Master of Lieu Quan School of Vietnamse Buddhism). I am continually surprised to be instructed at the beginning of a meditation session "Enjoy your breathing".

I feel very at home with these gentle and compassionate people, and find their good humour contagious. It is such an ordinary, practical and every day useful practice - not ivory temple stuff at all. " A practice of joy, harmony and transformation". That's all I ask. I cant transform people and situations around me, but I can change my "unwholesome mental states".

And yesterday, Sunday, some of the more local of us got together in a Day of Mindfulness in a lovely location on Dartmoor. A warm wooden practice centre called The Barefoot Barn. It has walls of windows that look out onto the rolling hills that lead up to the moors, and underfloor heating and a wood burning stove. But the windows were wide open yesterday, as it was one of those brilliant blue sky bursting days of winter, when the sun turned up its heating by several notches. We did chi gong exercises by a small still lake, fed by gentle streams. It was total pleasure to look up at the sky through open pine tree branches and feel the sun's warmth really heating up your body. I felt very organic just soaking it up like everything else in that soft landscape.

Unusually (and may there be more of it) I was content to wander past mossy rocks and look out on the scene from the hillside without grasping at the delightful experience and trying to capture it and take it with me, to have and to hold. A gentle attention on the continually changing was exquisite and light.

I only fleetingly regretted not having my camera to try to capture it to share visually with you!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Latest time wasting fun

Tribal Wars, a free browser based MMOG

(Sorry about the width of the banner, I havent worked out how to narrow it yet!)

After years in Activeworlds an online world devoted to the gentle art of conversation and building 3D houses and gardens (it is so therapeutic once you get the hang of it) I am trying out something not so gentle.

Tribal Wars, so far, is about building up a medieval village - which of course needs to be defended. And they say the best form of defence is attack - but I'm not sure! I am keeping my gender fairly well hidden, as it seems a macho sort of place. However, I feel I may soon be accused of "Sim City" - which is devoting time and energy to farming and building my village and ignoring war and tactics.

I am gently plundering abandoned villages nearby (finding out first, by sending scouts, that they never bothered to build an army) and hoping no-one notices me. I've been invited to join a tribe too, which looks very complicated. Much more so than playing "armies" with the boys in the school playground.

My interest may not last when it gets rough!

By way of contrast I am off on a Zen retreat for a few days. I don't think it will involve martial arts. Maybe some t'ai chi though.......

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Fade to grey

I posted a short article around the topic of "acceptance" recently over at ArkSanctum, called Silver Bells and Cockleshells But right now I am having a testing time at work, with a future looking bleak in an even more boring job with which I am threatened- and acceptance seems like the most impossible state!

What I am seeking are glimpses of hope - in any shape or form.

Here are some from my garden this winter morning:-

A tiny primrose

A daffodil - blooming way ahead of all the others

Fat clematis armandii buds, nestling among the leaves

And snowdrops too, I just cant wait till we have a ray of sunshine to persuade them to open.

But the weather - and my mood - seems set to unsettled and grey. Ah well, I had just better be quiet and watch things change. As surely they will, whether we like it or no.