Thursday, 13 June 2019

Auntie Kathy


          My Auntie Kathy was born in 1926 and passed away at the age of 93 last Monday at around half five in the evening.

           My auld maw's first memory was of standing under a banner in Mossend during the General Strike and that's the year that Kathy was born. I thought I'd relate some of the things she told me when I visited her nearly every Thursday I could since she stayed in a place called Corson Court on the Liberty Road in Bellshill. She stayed there for about seven years, moving in right after my maw passed on.

            She remembered when she was a kid going to watch the procession of kids going round the church after taking their first communion. She said the No Surrender Unthank Boys started throwing bricks and my maw grabbed her and her brother Dan and rushed them away. She said she worked in a pub called Bigginses in Mossend. I knew some of the pubs up that way, but don't remember that one. It was near what was known as Stevie's corner where demobbed me gathered and they used to buy ten woodbine between them. She told me Peter Manuel, the notorious serial killer, used to help pick up the bins. One day she said he came in and he was very handsome and well dressed. She said he was twirling one of these watches you get on a chain, a fob. The pub was empty. She said he asked if she was on her own and she said Mr Biggins was in the office. But he wasn't.

              She often liked telling about going to Northern Ireland on holiday with one of her orange neighbours. She stayed in a village with no catholics in it, but she said the folk were great and the doctor offered to take her to Sunday mass. On th way back to Bellshill, she walked behind  an orange band  that was coming to Scotland and which her pal was involved with.

            She worked in a picture hall called the Alhambra in Bellshill. She seems to have enjoyed working in the Maternity Hospital in Bellshill and in Kirklands which seemed to be for folk with learning difficulties. I'm sure she was very kind to people there. Did sound like it from the stories.

            She was fine till about two weeks before she passed away. I saw that she had had a wee shock when I saw her a couple of weeks ago and she was in hospital for a week or so, and then back to Corson Court for a week or so, and then back to Wishaw Hospital.

             I was in  chalet in Kettle, Fife, when she passed away. I was so pleased that my nephew Kevin went to the hospital and sat with her. The time I spoke to her when she'd had the shock she reminded me of my father telling her she would always have a place with us when her father died. I did like that.

             I'm surprised at how affected I've been by her passing. I did visit her nearly every Thursday over the past seven years, but she was ninety three, the same age as my maw passed, and she just ran out of road.

            That's Auntie Kathy, Malk and Fiona all in about a year. Talk about intimations of mortality. I really would like a avoid rebirth. I want to meditate more.

         

          

Monday, 20 May 2019

Samye Ling visit.





















                   I spent three nights down at the Samye Ling and got home on Saturday. Felt really exhausted. Three nights is not enough really. You've just settled in, but I'd gone down on a kind of whim (there are no off-licenses at the Samye Ling).

                   Someone in the cafe told me the abbot, Lama Yeshe Losal, was retiring at the end of the Kagyu Monlam on the 17th of  June. I went up to the temple after that for my last meditation before lunch. Quite often in these last meditations (this is a few years ago now!) I've felt something a wee bit special, as if I was getting a sweetie to send me on my way. This time, however, the gift was massive regret. I couldn't help but think that I'd blown it. I was given a fantastic opportunity to make something of my connection with him and I just spurned it, though I didn't really know what it was I was spurning then. Time marches on. Be nice to have some realisation of non-self and emptiness before I snuffed it, but if I'd been able to cement my connection with Lama Yeshe all that would have been done by now.
 
                    C'est la vie. I can try a wee bit harder. I've booked into the Samye Ling for this weekend and I'm booked in for a week for the Monlam in mid-June, but I'll have to miss the first couple of days since I'll be on holiday in Kettle.

                     Once I had what can only be described as a "telepathic" message, asking me if I wanted to see the lama, and I replied that I'd like to see the lama, but didn't think I had anything to talk to him about. So that's really where I blew it! He appeared inexplicably on the path somewhere in the last photie. Most of the trees are gone now, but I took the photie when I was leaving the Samye Ling on Saturday.

                     The photie above is of a dipper, but you might not be able to see it. Pheasants have started hanging about the Samye Ling. One stalks the path leading to the riverbank.

Monday, 29 April 2019

Allotment days!






         The last photie is of a dog called Fergus. He had to go to the vet, where the photie was taken.  I did not think he was getting out of the vet's, which is why I took his photie. Anyway, he is still breathing, but I do not know for how much longer. Intimations of mortality everywhere.

          And life springing out of the ground! I planted the cabbages (I think) which I grew from seed. That was yesterday. Today three quarters of them were still alive. I've been reliably informed that the wascally wabbits have been transposed to another sphere, but I'll be lucky to eat any of them brassicas.

          The old toothless one, in the days when he still had teeth and something for a comb, gave me a cactus. There's a photie of it there. Something weird is coming out of the top of it now. I must have had it for decades, and now ...it's a weird, weird living thing yon cactus... or is it a succulent?.. this pink thing is sticking out the top? I'm blogging about this because the only person who regularly reads this blog, the old toothless one, might know about such things.

          Remorselessly it seems, the meditations change, little by little sometimes, but change they do. Half the distractions are interrupted by my attention getting dragged back by the changes in the forces which seem to be moving about inside me. These are the little changes occurring within kind of changing parameters. I have nothing lined up for this week. I'm dying to meditate. The hut beckons. Depends on a dog called Fergus.

       
          

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Scunnered with Samsara








          Appreciating the drawbacks to samsara is supposed to be a good way to turn your mind towards practice. Every since I was in India before Christmas, I've felt a bit scunnered. Richard Feynmann got a bit scunnered after helping to make the atomic bomb because he thought after that human effort was meaningless. Well, I wasn't helped by seeing how much pollution there was in northern India. If they can't fix the air folk breathe there, what chance do we have with climate change. Of course, climate change won't kill everyone, just an awful lot of poor people.

          I have a strong desire these days not to be reborn. India was good for that as well. Half the folk I knew in Edinburgh seem to exist in a circle of hell, and we're the lucky ones. I wouldn't mind so much if everything that happened to you was the result of your actions, but you're involved in all kinds of karmas and some of the shit that lands from a great height is not your fault.

          It's okay for me. On Saturday last we were in Dunfermline and the park there was really nice. Then we went to Kinghorn.

          I feel very confident about the meditations these days. Yes, it's okay for me, but when I look around, things seem completely fucked. 

Friday, 12 April 2019

This lovely Springtime!







                  I say the winter is okay, but it isn't. Right now is okay. How fortunate to live here in Stockbridge! And everywhere life bursts forth. Or it will once I've raked the earth and planted the whatevers. Anyway, it is better than it was.

                  Can't say how great it is to be meditating these days. Can't say. You think you should bear witness and the flatheids think you are a supercilious basturn if you try to explain the unexplainable. Who moi? A supercilious basturn? Moi? Well, life is complete shite for me as well, but at least when I sit on my bum, things do get interesting.

                    Flooded with bliss this morning. Stay away from the dark side. Mr Hyde lives there.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Stewing in retreat





                    I was supposed to go to the Samye LIng this week, but I screwed up the booking and I've been at home instead. The opportunity to retreat came about because my girlfriend has gone to the States for a wedding and won't be back till tomorrow.

                     I've loved being at home. Recently, I've only been here three nights a week and it has been lovely settling in here without any distractions. I haven't seen anyone. I had a wonderful day on Thursday because I didn't go to Bellshill. I went to see Kate Nixon as usual on Friday. She was very tired and only said three words in the hour I was there, but Kate is an inspiration in a way since she cannot move. I sometimes think of this when I'm in the lobby and want to get up. The mistake is not thinking that volitional impulse is just the same as all the other stupid thoughts that go through your mind. You can just let it pass.

                     The meditations have moved on, as they do. Most of the time I seem to be just stewing in my juices. I can't think of a better way to describe it. You're just doing calming meditations, I suppose. You just have to sit in the bliss and heat and try to stay focused. Otherwise, it's just guru yoga and deity yoga.

                     You walk the path and you might get some fruit. Sitting for hours and hours every day is still not always easy, especially in my environment, but I don't regret a moment I've spent trying to meditate. At the end of the day, what it comes down to is this: can you, or can you not, do the bliss?

                      The rhubarb is the first thing you can eat from the allotment in the new year. The rhodies are out in the Botanics as well, though not many yet.

                     

Monday, 4 March 2019

And the Springtime Will Come!





          I think it starts with the snowdrops, then come the crocuses and then the daffodils. After that, come hail or snow, I don't care. Everything is getting better: more colour, more light, more light.

         And I'm getting to feel like I'd just like to sit down in the lobby and meditate all the time. This might be because I've spent a long weekend drinking and taking drugs and behaving like an idiot all the time. This is the life I'm living, a not very sensible one!

Friday, 15 February 2019

Almost Leaving the Samye Ling



          I'll be heading home in a couple of hours after spending four nights down here at the Samye Ling. The retreat was sometimes challenging as you'd expect. There are no drugs, drink, sex or tv down here so all you have is your mind really.

          It's supposed to be like a river. It starts as a trickle, sometimes stops and starts. After a long time, it's river and it feels like it's going to the sea and all you have to do is meditate and purify, hold onto your bottle and try to enjoy the ride.

          I can do the bliss lying in bed in the morning, on my back and on my side, though that's not so strong. I can do the bliss in the bath and that is sometimes like the best because there's no effort really. You focus and it comes on.

          Most of the meditations over the past four days have involved mainly doing mantras and just observing the show. There won't be a whole lost of consistency if you are doing this for most of the time, but whenever you get back the focus, the show starts up again. And it changes a lot. There is a lot of warmth arising in the meditations now. Learning how to get better control of all this is really the task now and I don't know if I can do that in Edinburgh if  I'm living like I do just now. Too much drink and drugs. I want to go back to being a sober potheid who goes on retreat a lot. Doing this stuff isn't easy, but when you look at how fucked up the flatheids are, there doesn't seem much choice. I've been handed the keys to kingdom, but I'll need to work like hell for the rest of my life. Which is what I want to. You might think this is a terrible waste of time when I've got time and money and could be "enjoying" myself, but flatheids just don't get the bliss. What a shame! But it's not my fault.

Friday, 1 February 2019

February is here!



         
          So pleased that February has arrived. The last couple of weeks,  as we've pulled away from the New Year, have been excellent in many ways. January, February and March were not great for me last year, or the year before, so it's nice that this year seems better. Spending November on pilgrimage in North India has really helped. The meditations move on.

          This morning I wakened up in my own bed. When I waken in my own bed especially, if I close my eyes I can bring on the bliss almost straight away. This is really a big sweetie to get and I never imagined that repeating mumbo jumbo to myself would give this kind of result. It works better when I'm on my back than on my side and is a good indication of what the first meditation will be like.

          I don't know what it is. The more I meditate and the longer I've spent at it, the less I think I know about it. So you're lying on your back in bed and it's a wonderful cocoon of bliss before you have to move, and I ask myself if this is meditating. For sure it's a very good way to start the day and the only downside is that your day probably won't get any better.

          The novel - working title Cold Killing - should be finished this year if I can be bothered. But I'm trying to be bothered and write more this year. I'd like to get this thriller out of the road by the time some advance has occurred in the meditations so I can write something about that again. No one I know meditates and that's a shame, and no one wants me to write about the juju, but I feel that I should tell folk somehow. If something happens ....

          I was at the Botanics yesterday. I love living in Stockbridge.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Into the new year



          This feels like a great time of the year. It's such a relief, such a weight off the shoulders, when there is no more Christmas and New Year looming. Now everything seems fresh, open and positive.  Things seem to be going very well for me right now and I appreciate that. I'm living a great life and having a great time at sixty seven years of age. Such a fortunate creature. The best thing, and the most certain, when I look ahead at a new year is thqt my meditations will improve and develop as they have done for most of my adult life, so what's to complain about.

           The old guy getting on the bus in the top photie is Prof Higgs who sometimes gets on the bus around these parts. A year or so ago, just when I was thinking that no one understood quantum mechanics, he got on the 29 bus I was on. This was mentioned in Stumblebumming Towards Enlightenment, which today I seem to have managed to get the cover to say: Bus Stops, Buddhism and Ecuador. 

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Group Photie and Two Titles now


          These were the folk who had to put up my Scottish accent for a month. They are from the back left:
Joachim, Marieanne, Me, the wee lama Rinchen Palmo, Eric the organiser, Olaf, Catherine the German, Hannah the Pole, Alexandre the roommate, Brigitte, The driver.
Front row from the left:
Carol the Qi Quong teacher, Catherine of the Baldy Heid, Francoise, Cecilia the German, Natalie and the drivers and helpers.
         I don't know the name of the drivers because I hardly spoke to them, but that's no excuse. In fact, I hardly spoke to anyone I could stay away from all trip. I wasn't there to enjoy myself. Though I enjoyed it immensely.

         I seem to have half changed the title of the book. Or it seems to have two titles now. I can sort this old by going to editing, but life is too short at the moment. I should make them available in paperback so I could give myself copies for Xmas. Maybe some day I'll do something when I feel like I've got time to waste.

         I don't remember a bad word passing between anyone in the whole month. That's good going.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Reflections on the Pilgrimage

          This is the last day in India. We don't have to leave the hotel till four in the afternoon for a flight at seven, and I am very happy to spend most of that in this hotel room away from the pollution outside. And I thought I'd like to say something about the last month.

          Well, it's improved my tai chi since I've been trying to teach it to someone for about half an hour almost every day.

          Most days I've just been eating breakfast and getting by the rest of the time on fruit and the odd biscuit. I'm happy to have lost a bit of weight, maybe half a stone, and if that's the case, I'm very happy with that. Of course, I haven't been drinking or taking drugs or doing anything you shouldn't do on a pilgrimage, but I want to keep losing weight and I think that shouldn't be too difficult now that it's started to come off. I'll just have to stay clear of the beer and the off-licenses most nights.

          The meditations and the visualisations have come on a ton what with all the practice, the inspirational places we've visited, and purification of body, speech and mind. I feel a lot more confident now about being able to progress the visualisations until things become a bit clearer. I know how much effort I'd need to put in, but that's something I'll have to take responsibility for.

            There's something about the mind becoming "single pointed". That means that if you place your gaze on an object, it'll easily stay there, I think. Well, that happens. I deduce that for the visualisations, what you have to do is visualise a symbol, say in your navel chakra, and become single pointed with that. The symbol should be "clearly present".  I cannot do this at the moment and it is really going to take a lot of sitting and purification to get there, but it is doable now. Before it seemed nearly impossible. I think this is when mental "clarity" and calming come into their own.

            Well, I'm sixty seven now and should be deid when I'm seventy. I could easily have been deid already. Tempis fugit. The deficiencies of of samara are right in your face as soon as you step into the street around here. At home maybe you can think being reborn might not be so bad, but if you had to gamble of that around here .... Life, in a way, would be much better if you only had to do it once!!

            Anyway, when I get home, I'd really like to boost the meditations up to six hours a day. I've done that before and I'd like to do that again. We'll see.

Stumblebumming on Kindle

          This blog is not supposed to be a repository for photies, which is what it really is, but is suppose to be something about writing, and keeping some kind of internet presence because of the eleven books I have on kindle.

          Anyway, on this pilgrimage one of the pilgrims read the three books with the strongest Buddhist connections i.e The Buddha and the Big Bad Wolf, TheBlissBook, and Stumblebumming towards Enlightenment. To my surprise, she liked the Stumblebumming book the best. But didn't like the title. On my last night in India, I've just tried to change the title to Bus Stops and Buddhism in Ecuador, but screwed it up. Well, I tried to edit the title thinking it would appear on the bookshelf with a new title, but me and the machines .... you can still buy it under the old title, I think. Dearie me. I get nervous touching anything to do with the computer and these books, and that's why. No patience for it at all!! So Stumblebumming by name, stumblebumming by nature. Should have left well alone. Another half hour out of  this precious life with bugger all to show for it!!

Maybe the last Indian photies.


          We went to a temple complex beside the Deer Park yesterday. A bit of a tribute to the Sri Lankan guy who revived the Buddhist places. Below is a photie of some of the worst monumental sculpture you'll ever see. It's the Buddha giving his first sermon to the five yogis who gave up on him when he packed in the austerities.




         
          The first sermon was printed out on the stone and I found reading it quite moving.



The temple on the site with the inside below.


The temple in the monastery we were staying at - how much better the guest house was, being part of the monastery, with the lovely Tibetan temple on the grounds. The two photies below were in the temple "foyer".





I spent a couple of hours meditating in this spot, the first time the mossies loved me. I repelled them next time with repellant provided by the lama. 


We had breakfast three mornings with the wee monks. Burny beans and steamed bread every time, with milky sweet tea.




         We had a twelve hour overnight train to Delhi from Varanasi, which took seventeen hours. This is a bad photie of the lama fixing her sheet. I had the bunk across the way.


She dozed off reading with her head lamp on. Below is the breakfast I got. Chips, two burny vegetarian sausages, and a portion of tomato sauce I could not open. But the chai was good.