stepping stones of truth

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

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Notes from Nottingham

My life has been a bit full lately. Not necessarily busy, just full. There is still uncertainty over my future at work - and at home there has been plenty going on.

However Ive managed to keep up with reading my favourite blogs, but not left many comments. Its been lovely to see how the other northern hemisphere bloggers have been enjoying the arrival of spring, especially Kerri and Cate, and to see how Tabor is handling retirement. Two topics that are of consuming interest to me right now.

I have escaped to Nottingham to spend a week with the Dalai Lama - me and several thousand others! I enjoyed his visit to Glasgow so much a few years ago, and am here with some of the same group of friends.

I am treating it as a holiday, not a retreat - so am staying in a nice hotel with wifi, a lovely ensuite bathroom, fridge etc etc. The room is a bit small but I got a very good deal by not having meals, by booking incredibly early, but they only allocate rooms on arrival - why should they give me the biggest one? We walked around the town centre in the rain yesterday to get our bearings and I bought a few things to make the room seem like home (flowers, fruit, a storage jar for my Earl Grey tea bags and some muesli for breakfast +bowl and cutlery!)

This spring seems to be quite the loveliest I remember for a long time - or is it just me? It was my birthday last weekend and I feel I have the best time of year to be born. Everything is so green and full of blossom, the air is (mostly) warm but the mornings can be crisp. Things are coming into flower in my garden and the hedgerows so fast I cant keep up with the new arrivals.

I bought a new bike and Youngest Daughter and I go whizzing about the lanes and trackways around the village and down the valley. I am so grateful for aluminium frames, modern technology and gears, flexible forks and gel filled saddles. But the countryside goes by so fast when you have only been used to walking around it, and viewing it lazily at close quarters. But I am sure I will get used to it. Its very exhilerating and much easier than my old Witch of the West Raleigh with a basket on the handlebars, that I could hardly lift.

I miss the green countryside and my garden already - and its only the second day - I will post some photos of it when I get a moment. But I have His Holiness cheerful but deep wisdom to soak up. Looking forward to it - and the retail therapy of a huge area of stalls selling all sorts of goodies like books, cards, Buddhas, bags, clothes - mostly from Tibet, India and all places East. And they say that craving is one of the hindrances to spiritual growth.... yeah but hopefully I shall receive plenty from HH's talks and teachings so maybe they will cancel each other out!

Friday, May 02, 2008

“the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom "

When he was dying with pancreatic cancer, playwright Dennis Potter was interviewed on TV by Melvin Bragg. An edited version is still around .

Every time I see my own blossom in the garden I remember watching it, and seeing him drink liquid morphine to combat the pain, but still giving one of the most memorable reasons for me to live in the present moment, right now. Not to wait till I am dying. I realised from what he said and how he said it, that he KNEW the truth. The “nowness of everything”.

I discover also what you always know to be true, but you never know it till you know it, if you follow.

We all, we're the one animal that knows that we're going to die, and yet we carry on paying our mortgages, doing our jobs, moving about, behaving as though there's eternity in a sense. And we forget or tend to forget that life can only be defined in the present tense; it is is, and it is now only.

I mean, as much as we would like to call back yesterday and indeed yearn to, and ache to sometimes, we can't. It's in us, but we can't actually; it's not there in front of us.

However predictable tomorrow is, and unfortunately for most people, most of the time, it's too predictable, they're locked into whatever situation they're locked into ... Even so, no matter how predictable it is, there's the element of the unpredictable, of the you don't know.

The only thing you know for sure is the present tense, and that nowness becomes so vivid that, almost in a perverse sort of way, I'm almost serene. You know, I can celebrate life.

Below my window in Ross, when I'm working in Ross, for example, there at this season, the blossom is out in full now, there in the west early. It's a plum tree, it looks like apple blossom but it's white, and looking at it, instead of saying "Oh that's nice blossom" ... last week looking at it through the window when I'm writing, I see it is the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be, and I can see it. Things are both more trivial than they ever were, and more important than they ever were, and the difference between the trivial and the important doesn't seem to matter.

But the nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous, and if people could see that, you know. There's no way of telling you; you have to experience it, but the glory of it, if you like, the comfort of it, the reassurance ... not that I'm interested in reassuring people - bugger that. The fact is, if you see the present tense, boy do you see it! And boy can you celebrate it.

He KNEW. How can I forget so often?