Monday, 20 March 2017

Holiday snaps

































Back from the hightlands!



              While I was on holiday last week, the politics went ballistic. I felt a little drawn into this because I don't like Scottish people running down Scotland, saying we are too poor or too small to be able to govern ourselves. But que sera sera. I am not a floating voter. I'm going to try to keep away from all the vitriol.  

               

Monday, 6 March 2017

Belief



                    I'm reading this very interesting book at the moment by a lama who was very close to the Dalai Lama. In fact, he was only a couple of hundred yards away when he was murdered. Apparently, he was done in because of some dispute over propitiating a spirit, Dorje Shugden, which the Dalai Lama had told folk to stop propitiating.

                    Dearie me. I don't do beliefs. Folk professing beliefs cause most of the trouble in this world. Stumblebumming Towards Enlightenment is partly about cherry picking your way through Tibetan Buddhism, ignoring all the cultural appendages like guardian spirits, demons and whatnot.

                   It's a bit of a shame when someone who has done so much practise, like Lobsang Gyatso and Dr Akong Tulku Rinpoche, ends up dead in such a brutal fashion.

                    I put Stumblebumming Towards Enlightenment up for free on Sunday. Although I screwed up the marketing message on the Meet Our Authors forum, eight folk downloaded it. I've put the message on the forum again and the book will be free tomorrow. Lets hope for some reviews!!

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Stumblebumming Towards Enlightenment



                    I just put Are There Any Buddhists in Ecuador? onto Kindle. It's now called Stumblebumming Towards Enlightenment, the title probably being the best thing about it! To try to get it published in paper, I sent about forty random emails to folk listed on Everyone Who Is Anyone in Publishing. I don't think I got anyone to read it, which was hardly a surprise. But I told Lama Rinchen Palmo I'd try to make her some money, but books by me on Buddhism .... well, there isn't a market there, I don't suppose. Not a genre, not even a niche!! So it's been uploaded onto Kindle and will probably be available in a couple of days.

                     All the other books on my amazon book page have a cover by my daughter, but she's too busy to ask right now. I was asked by Kindle for a photie and gave them the one above. It's frost on sand.

                      Though this book might not be very interesting if you aren't interested in meditation, Buddhism and whatnot, I'm pleased that it's there. My books are a bit like milestone's to me. Sometimes they might not be all that good, but they talk to me about times in my life, whether they are semi-autobiographical or not. This one is probably a coming to terms with bereavement book.

       

Friday, 24 February 2017

Back from the Samye LIng




   ,                  I'm just back from the Samye Ling and, as usual, I'm pretty tired. I always find it exhausting.

                      The weather was poor so I spent almost all the time in the temple or in my room. It's hard to go from here into such a full on meditation regime, but it's how it happens. I bought the hagiography of Khenpo Karthar, whom I met in the Catskills in 2015. It made me feel a bit silly. I wander among spiritual geniuses like a fool. I'm amazed that he spent forty minutes talking to me and Winnie.

                        Seeing him was really important for me since I was having real problems with guru yoga before I met the Khenpo, who was of course the guru of Lama Yeshe. I have no problem with guru yoga now.

                          The centre was very quiet for these prayers this year. This might be because, it seems, Lama Yeshe spends the winter in retreat these days in Purelands.

                           Felt a lot of things I'd never felt before as the meditations progress. In the book about the Khenpo, the author talks about the tummo demonstration at the end of a big retreat. They walk about in the cold in cotton shifts so folk can see if they're shivering. The khenpo said the cold, cold wind blowing felt like a welcome breeze, so I've got miles and miles to go!!

                            I can't believe how fortunate I have been since I met Lama Rinchen Palmo. And I am mindful that it was my partner Rowena who hustled me to go on that retreat. I owe a lot to a lot of people.

                            Next week |I will try to get the Ecuador book onto Kindle. Since my daughter is very busy these days, I will have to wrestle with some tool for making book covers. I will not like doing this, but I might as well since I've no intention of hustling it to anyone else. Forty odd random emails to agents is all I'm prepared to do.  I'm going to call it Stumblebumming towards Enlightenment and the best thing about it might be the title!!

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Meeting with the lama



                    I had the great good fortune to meet up with Lama Rinchen Palmo yesterday. She is my spiritual friend. She was on a break from guiding folk through the winter retreat on the Holy Isle.

                    The lama is so wise and well practised that it is always inspiring to be in her company. I would really like to go on some kind of dharma visit with her, and I was able to make that offer to her since my central heating seems to be fixed without it breaking the bank. She took me to Bodh Gaya, of course, around Christmas 2014. Be great going somewhere with her again.

                      When we were talking about preliminary and foundational practises, she told me what I was doing with the heat/warmth was not a preliminary practise. It's the biz. I was so pleased when she told me that. She said the heat would burn off the neuroses. She made the future seem possibly glorious. I can hardly believe it with my bad habits and all. But I have been meditating for thirty odd years.

                       So I left her feeling pretty elated, which I always feel after speaking to her. I became an old age pensioner a year ago now, and my old age is going to just get better and better. I assume this will go hand in hand with my physical and probably intellectual decline. But my mind will get a lot better. The meditations are really galloping along now. It's as if it was pushing from outside, with a momentum of its own. Making an effort, trying hard, etc ... well, all this must get easier. The sensations will improve. The effect of purification on the sensations makes it easier to stay off the drink and tobacco, etc.

                        It's great to speak to the lama because no one else knows what the hell I'm going on about. It's a real shame that no friends of me got into the meditating, but that's not my fault.

                        I told the lama I really want to live now. If I could stay sober for the next couple of years ... and just keep meditating .... what a wonderful life I will have had.

                        Amazing how uplifting it is speaking to someone like the lama. Completely life affirming.

                        Raising heat is often mentioned alongside the illusory body and clear light mind. I had thought you'd have to have the first of the three before the other two. They might all show progress together. Anyway, she explained what illusory body means.

                        I said I liked the heat and that because it re-inforces my ignorance in that it shows that our model of what a body consists of is at best partial. She said it was crap.

       

Monday, 13 February 2017

Snowdrops

                     I took a photie of snowdrops this afternoon up the allotment. I had to put it on FB. I'd stop posting stuff on FB if I could get the photie thing to work here. I've been trying to get it onto the blog, but the machines are in revolt again. As I was attempting to do this, I strayed into Google album photies, which I don't know anything about. So I found this photie there somehow. It's a picture of me and my old pal, Oliver Davey. That's us sitting in a Pollock Halls room circa 1972. Of course, it has to be at the bottom of this post because ... I can't get the cursor to go passed it!!

                     I've decided to try and write another Buddhisty book, but I'm not doing it unless there has been some significant developments with my meditations. I think that means when my inner heat practise ... well, when it starts producing real heat!! It'll be the last one so I'll have had to make some progress. I'll call it Stumblebumming Towards Enlightenment .... ,maybe not since I've not had a drink for two and a bit weeks already!!

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Vase Breathing, Tummo and the bliss!!


video




Well, there seems to be some kind of video there, but the prose has now gone weird. Moving backwards. 

           I feel a weight off my back now that I've given up trying to get the Buddhisty books published. Kindle is really the perfect place for the book about Ecuador. I don't need what little money getting published would bring and whatever financial rewards would not compensate for the hassle. But I'm happy to put it on Kindle. Next week I'll work out how to do some kind of book cover.

            I haven't had a drink for a fortnight. Today I did the six three minute rounds of shadow boxing and I was really very happy with that. A fortnight ago, I did not feel so good.

            The hard time when not drinking is sometimes around eight in the evening, the time when you might have been used to having a bevvy. So I sat there n the floor, my girlfriend drinking wine and watching the telly, and tried to do a wee meditation, took a vase breath.
             It's as if there was a series of concentric rings. You're in the one right in the middle. Sometimes,  as the meditations develop, you feel as if you are moving into a bigger ring. The feelings will be exaggerated compared to the inner ring, and will feel a surprisingly different somehow. And there is an addition. Something has been added, but the main thing is that the mental/physical space has changed. You've broke out again.

             I have to mention this to folk when I have a chat. A wee bit like the elephant in the room, they cannot see it. There's no point in going on about it, but it's hard not to mention it.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Now that I'm sixty six!


          I'm trying to upload a video. Some hope. It was of my standing on my head and going into a sitting position. Just showing off really, but I wanted to post this when I became an old age pensioner last year, but
          I've tried three different ways to unload this video, but the machines do not like it. I put it on facebook yesterday anyway.

          I'm writing because I feel like this is a turning point. I've randomly emailed about forty agents and I haven't got anyone (I think) to read the Ecuador book yet. If you paint self portraits, you shouldn't expect anyone to buy them!! So I've decided to give up on the Buddhisty books for now. If I can ever dry off wet sheets using tummo, I'll write another one.

          So if I try to sell anything else, it'll be Remote Control or the young adult books. When I'm writing now, I'll concentrate on developing the plotline of the second crime book.

          Wrote an email to my lama yesterday. My meditations are going so, so well. I think it will be amazing if I can stay alive for another couple of years!!

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Another change of tack!!

s


          I've just sent about ten random emails to agents about the Buddhisty books. A couple of days ago I sent out a similar number and got no responses at all. So if I don't get anything from this raft of emails, I'll just give up trying to flog the Buddhisty books. I'm sure they'll get pub'lished sometime, but I'm not going to get an agent sending out random emails. I might start trying to flog Remote Control and the young adult books, but this whole publishing thing will have to go to the back burner.

         It's my birthday today. I'm sixty six. I'm going to stick a video on FB showing me doing a handstand and then a lotus upside down, and then bending into the sitting position. I'm going to show. I'd never have thought I'd be able to do stuff like that at this age.

         The photie is of my "shrine". I sit in the lobby. The shrine is on the floor.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Some responses



          I was a wee bit surprised at the lack of response to the random emails, but checked my spam folder (for the first time in years!) and found two knock backs. The response from A.M. Heath was the usual brush off, meaning that they probably didn't bother reading any of the stuff I sent. However, Dan Herron, who is an assistant at PFD, got back to say they weren't interested, but they had obviously looked at the Amazon web page.

          I think AM Heath and PFD are big agencies. You probably won't get published unless you're with a big agency, but that doesn't matter. I'm pretty resolved now to get on with this even if I don't think there's much chance of getting those Buddhisty books published. I can get some of these emails read, it seems, and I think the three books are really exceptional in terms of the subject matter. I don't think there's anything like it around.

           Now that the flu is gone and the New Year at last dead for another year, I'm very optimistic about things. I will try to get the books published and make a good effort, but I don't care. My meditations are so wonderful just now, that's all that matters. Liberation through samedhi is what the man in the dream said to me. So much bliss; so much bliss.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Another submission!



                  Anyway, if you don't send stuff out .... I found a list of fourteen agents who are supposed to be interested in personal memoirs, so I sent out the stuff about the three buddhisty books to the first person on the list. Rob Kirkpatrick of The Stuart Agency. I'll send out a similar email every day until someone gets back to me. Of course, I'll have to be able to find the list again!

                 The photie is a random one taken at  Inverleith Park last year,

Sunday, 29 January 2017

A change of tack!



                    I've had the flu for the last week or so, but this has given me a little time to think about my tactics,vis a vis, trying to make some money for my lama.

                   Well, Remote Control is an alright thriller, but it would only make me a grand of so and the agent, if he sold it, would want more thrillers. An agent isn't going to sell a thriller and then say, "okay, lets sell non-fiction books about mindfulness." No, I do not think so. It would be the same if I managed to get an agent to punt Bugtown or the other young adult title on my amazon author page.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/John-McKenzie/e/B00584I2Z8/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

                    I don't mind writing thrillers. I really enjoyed writing the young adult books, but the books I've written which couldn't have been written by someone else are the ones I want to keep writing. Well, I've got three done just now. When I've got a lot better at raising inner heat - maybe when I can dry off wet sheets - I'd like to write a final book for the series. I'd prefer writing something that might actually do someone some good.

                    So I should really go back to the beginning. The book that Dave Baillis and the Domestic Bliss liked was The Buddha and the Big Bad Wolf. I think that's probably the best one as well, but I should get that published first, obviously, since it was written first.

                     I think I should continue making an effort with this, but my heart isn't really in it. What I might do is put is a hour or so every day for a month and then just forget about it.

                      Anyway, I can get on with this tomorrow when the flu remnants will be hopefully gone.

                     The photie is from nearly two years ago. It was taken about late March maybe in 2015.

                   

                   



               


Monday, 23 January 2017

Someone to read the play!!


          The email to Catherine Makin, the Traverse person, was useful. She put me onto something called the Scottish Playwright's Studio, and it seems there is some kind of national play reading scheme on the go these days. They said if you sent them a script with the pages numbered, they'd read it. Nothing like that was around when I was doing plays.

          They say the play will be read by a theatre "professional". This reminds me of a director I used to know who admitted that he couldn't judge the worth of a play by reading it. He was a top "professional" as well.

          Anyway, I'm pleased to get someone to read it. The guy said I'll hear something in two months. The Traverse won't read anything till August. I should really try hustling this play around, but I'd rather kick it into the long grass. My inner heat stuff is going so well right now!!!

          I think I can get current photies onto the computery thing now, but this photie was taken last autumn in the allotment.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Ecuador and Jock Tamson's


                  I had a very busy day today!! First of all, I read Are There Any Buddhists in Ecuador? and I really enjoyed it far more than I expected. After the second person I gave it to didn't finish it, I thought it would be much worse.

                  I've got a lot of prose I've never had published which I think is publishable (the young adult books and Remote Control, etc.), but the stuff I'd like to get published is the Buddhisty stuff. However, it seems to me now, after reading the Ecuador book, that I should go back to The Buddha and the Big Bad Wolf and try to get that published first. You could spend all day sending off emails, but hardly anyone answers them!!

                    But I did get a reply from Catherine Makin at the Traverse. In all the time when I knew something about how the Traverse operates, they only did one play they hadn't commissioned. There's really no future in writing plays on spec. I think that's one of the reasons it was okay to give up trying to get ahead in drama!!

                   Anyway, Catherine Makin put me onto the Playwright's Studio Scotland. They say they will read scripts for free, so I emailed the play to them. Obviously, I don't expect the play to be produced. What I miss now is the Playwright's Workshop. I know if it was okay if I could hear a reading.

                   The photie is of my best Christmas present, Lama Rinchen and me at the Samye Ling last autumn.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Enquiries to the Traverse about Jock Tamson's



                    I've just sent and email off the a Catherine Makin at the Traverse. I re-read the play. I don't think I can do anything else to it just now. I think if I sat through a reading, there are bits I might trim back, but I think if it was performed at the right energy level, the bits I think now might be a bit slack could be alright.

                    I checked the Traverse webpage. They have a month in August when you can submit unsolicited scripts. You cannot submit a script right now. I suspect the email from the Traverse, if I get a response, will advise me to send the script to one or other of the theatres who don't do unsolicited scripts either. And there it would just die in the ditch.

                    What I need is to find someone who wants to put a play on at this year's Fringe, but hasn't got a play yet. Maybe I should look for an agent who deals with plays. Hmmm?

                     My problem is that I'm not going to get off my arse. I like the writing. Everything else is just a waste of time.

                   

Monday, 16 January 2017

Is this the end for Jock Tamson?



          I read the latest and, hopefully, last version of Jock Tamson's Half Hearted Transformation. It's not likely to get any better, so that's that. I'll send an email to someone at the Traverse and see if I can get any idea of what anyone would do with a play that no one had asked for. You'd have to know folk or at least try to get to know them and ... well, maybe I'll find someone to send an email to first of all.
And then give up. At least, it's finished.
         
          I got hold of a copy of Pure Land by Alan Spence. Loved the beginning ... but when will I read it? I might have only read one novel last year, if you could call Hons and Rebels a novel, and ... well, I will read it.

          The birds were on Linlithgow Loch and the allotment was lovely today. Clear enough sky. Sun still pretty low in the sky