Archive for April, 2010

MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL …

Posted in Buddha Dharma and Chan on April 30, 2010 by secretchan

We all know the rest of the phrase, “Who is the fairest of them all?”
We are told that Snow White was. That brought Snow White up to that
place where we knew she was the best, for it would never do that the
queen was more beautiful.  She could be beautiful inside, but that
wouldn’t count, would it?

Of course the seven dwarves had to be beautiful-ugly and the wicked
witch ugly-ugly. That is the world we build and the world we judge.
Cockroaches are ugly… kittens are beautiful… how strange.  Yet we say
it as if we really believed it, that beauty is only skin deep. What
are we judging then… lungs, kidneys… gonads? No it is something
intangible.

Aesthetically pleasing? That is skin deep, so we must be referring to
“delighting the senses” or “exciting intellectual or emotional
admiration”.  That can’t be it.

We really mean that there is something that words cannot express, that
generates an awe that is uncommon.

If you have had the good fortune to be associated with animals, then
you will sense at least that beauty that goes beyond words. It is
synonymous with the natural expression of the life force. If you have
not experienced that, then you have sown the seeds of your own life on
barren ground.

But there’s still time.

Remember that that life force is the same as the one you possess.
Strange, is it not, that you have been alive for so long, knowing that
you are alive, but have never seen that life force.

Look in a mirror, any mirror, and see yourself in a way that is not
Identity stained.  Do you see your life force beyond what you sense
with your eyes?  PROBABLY NOT. Okay, do you get the message?

Throw out the mirror and look at nature. See the life force growing
and falling away. You are seeing your own reflection and, if you
cannot sense with awe what is within yourself, go back to the mirror
and your suffering.

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DYING DHARMA: WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE

Posted in Buddha Dharma and Chan on April 29, 2010 by secretchan


Walking out in the wooded area this morning, much slower than normal
(much akin to Chan  walking meditation), making frequent pauses, I
suddenly spotted a flower that I had not seen since living in Ibiza.
It was small, almost insignificant with respect to the plethora of
other wild flowers all around. It was a wild bee orchid.

Carefully looking around, I found another, then another. In fact there
were about ten growing in an area of about twelve feet.

The presence of wild orchids in an ecosystem is a good indicator of a
healthy ecosystem, as they are  highly evolved plants.  Even small
disturbances of the habitat can have a huge effect. These bee orchids,
with protection, live about five years.

The first response was to protect them, so I marked off the area with
stones, for saving them and the entire habitat is essential.

Our eight acres with very high biodiversity and endemism (presence of
species that occur nowhere else) is our first priority.

Ex situ conservation is possible. but we have no facilities at the moment.

Anyway, I took a good look at this bioiversity that we have and
realized that we have a magnificent array of what are termed “wild
flowers”.

“How strange, ” I thought, “that the word wild means “untrained and
uncultivated” and also “savage”  for there is nothing savage about any
wild flower except their tenaciity in survival”.

Then I considered the human creature and realized that we are trained
and cultivated, yet the term “savage” really applies to us as
devastators of nature.

These wild plants in plentitude do not “fight” for survival, they
“seek” survival through the soil, the water, and the sun. They grow
together without the jealousy, hatred and greed of the human mind. How
wonderful they are.

Over seventy years ago I used to walk in the woods of Devon in similar
circumatances and delighted in picking wildflowers to take home to my
mother. Now I know that we have gone too far and that wild flowers are
slowly being decimated. The woods, once full of wild creatures and
wild flowers, are falling under the axe and my holy place “Stag Lodge”
has given way to cement and steel.

Where have all the flowers gone… long time passing.

Tody I don’t pick flowers and, although flowers are available in
florists, I don’t buy them. Oh, they are cultivated for a sort of
plastic beauty, OK, but they fail to show (although they do possess
it) the “true nature of the life force”.

I thought about those florists and realized that people do buy those
beautiful cultivated flowers and display them in their pretty
cardboard square houses or give them as gifts of love and caring. How
strange that a flower that has been cut so that it has a premature
death should serve as a message of what is called “love”.

People do not give plastic flower imitations as gifts, athough they do
buy them for themselves, for they can decorate with them, using them
without giving much thought to them, because they do not die. Still,
they prefer the natural beauty of cultivated flowers.

Why? Because they know that they are natural. How strange that knowing
that they are natural, they still end their short existence by picking
them.

One day perhaps, when all the flowers have not gone to graveyards…
every one… the world will be a better place.


WHEN WILL WE EVER LEARN?

Posted in Buddha Dharma and Chan on April 27, 2010 by secretchan

If I required any reinforcement for the idea that we human creatures are crazy, I found it yesterday. I threw myself into a fight between two dogs with, as you can imagine, disastrous results for me.

Today I walk sliding my feet forward with pain, for both feet are damaged and my toes cut and bruised.

The reason for the damage was that as I held them off one another by their collars,  I fell, and there on the ground, with these two dogs, a doberman and a sharpei, thrusting to get at each other, I continued to hold on, dragged along the ground like a stupid rag doll.

I did keep them more or less apart, however, at least preventing the doberman from damaging the sharpei, but at one point the sharpei got loose and with those strong jaws grasped the tail roots of the doberman.

Help came. They were separated and while I lay there covered in mud and dirt I felt rather foolish, for if those two dogs had been two wolves from the forest fighting I would never have jumped into the fray… but perhaps I would have done something.

But why?

In the case of the dogs, I knew them. They are, particularly the doberman, gentle creatures and I am normally reminded of Ferdinand the Bull, who refused to fight when I am in contact with them, for it is clear that this fearful reputation of some dogs is a calumny of poor press.

Anyway, I tried to analyse the reason why I jumped in where angels indeed would fear to tread.

The answer was simple, I didn’t want them to get hurt. But if that was certain, why refrain from such direct action if they had been wolves? Would it be a fear of being hurt? No. I counted that out. It was from the clear and certain knowledge that the conflict was fruitless.

To them, in their minds, dominance was the issue, but dominance over what? They are fed, bathed, vaccinated and their health taken care of.  It was the territorial imperative relative to their space as they perceivd it.

They were natural enough and with  time they could be trained (the doberman has been and only defended himself).

So there it was, in an instant I saw the folly in fighting for no real cause.

There was something about the violence that was unacceptble.

I recollect now that when I see documentaries of natural conflict and see a  buffalo crossing a river attacked by crocodiles, grasped and torn apart, there is a sense a slight repulsion and I see it as nature at work. When I see some great tiger attacking a helpless antelope, I know that is nature at work.  There is a twinge inside and although there is an impulse that wants the weakest animal to get away, I know that survival of the  fittest is important.

One of my students recently was posed the same question and declared that the greatest difficulty was in not stepping in when he saw a cat playing with a captured mouse. Yet this too is survival of the fittest at work and it is incorrect to step in.

So I am thrust back to that one idea… I acted for I saw the uselessness of the conflict and had a personl knowledge of the combatants.

I made an instinctive judgement without conscious thought and now can see the unconscious reason.

My biological system, like that of all other human creatures, is pretty wise when it comes to efficiency. It can make decisions without conscious interference, yet we don’t often use it.

When I see two people entering into verbal confict, I have the same instinct to interfere, but I do not. Why?  It is not because there is a natural territorial imperative at work, although that is the raeason for even many of the trivial day to day conflicts which occur between humans, even when children.

It is because these conflicts are so common that they are the rule.  The human creature is almost always in conflict with others. Oh there seems to be a reigning peace generally, but beneath there is potential conflict in the making, for the simple jealous thought, the envious concept, the anger, the hatred, the detesting… almost all have their roots in this territorial imperative. What fools we are. Is it any wonder that there are wars constantly in progress, or political haggling?

We are territorial creatures with a brain that has the capacity to see our folly in an instant, but we are ruled by an identity which overrules all natural intelligence and provides cognitive reasons for our stupidity.

We are all of  less quality as creatures than the wolves, tigers and even our two battling dogs, for if we were to pause for a moment, we could see the folly and refrain… but we do not.

Identity and the territorial (which includes the sexual) imperative is at work.

In Homo sapiens the wise king potential  has never come to fruition.

With all our knowledge, we are unable to wisely refrain from folly. Our cognitive brain controlled by identity rules us. We are captives and slaves of the human virus.

Unfortunately there is no fool out there to step in and stop the folly… It goes on and on every day. The Budas, the Christs, the great philosophers can talk all they want… their lives can be examples, but we go on and on…

“When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn? Long time passing.”

KINDNESS KILLS

Posted in Buddha Dharma and Chan on April 25, 2010 by secretchan

Living in a wooded area next to a forest reserve, blighted only by
man’s insatiable desire for roads for his mechanical beasts and pylons
to carry his thirst for electricity, we none the less frequently see a
number of foxes.

They live not far away and though they only cross alone in front of
the house occasionally, one can easily imagine young litters playing
and running among rocks and brush. Foxes and vixen, old and young are
certainly there, all quite beautiful.

On one point all appears clear. While human creatures live in a world
where vision is of primary importance, foxes do not. We know that they
are basically nocturnal animals and that their eyes are accustomed to
night vision, rather like a cat’s, but a fox has no true macula and is
unable to focus on a stationary target for more than a few seconds. So
if we are quite, quite still, we can watch them.

However, they are capable of picking up the slightest movement far
quicker than a cat and their sense of smell is phenomenal. A fox is
equipped to smell and discriminate almost everything. It can detect
the different states of water, differences in earth, grass, shrubs,
trees, and all at a distance. All depends, however on the movement of
air. A slight breeze is enough. That is why it almost always moves
upwind on important forays.

One surprising thing is that it needs a moist nose in order to detect
wind direction. Do you remember as a child, how you moistened your
finger and held it up to the wind to discover the wind direction? The
fox is essentially using the same system.

In fact, it is supersensitive, being far more refined than a dog. They
can make the noise of an injured bird to snare the mother and can even
climb some trees. Remarkable creatures, yet we seem to either ignore
them or hunt them.

However, there is one great danger when it comes to trying to help them.

A neighbor who is enamored of animals sets out food for them every
morning and they come singly from their lairs to pick up the tasty
morsels of chicken and grain.

Yet we must examine this kindness. Gradually, what these kind people
are doing is setting up a new hunting pattern in which the new
generations do not have to use the old hunting skills. They are making
it too easy for the foxes.

In bad weather, when hunting is difficult for birds and the like, we
can scatter crumbs about which they must find or go hungry. This is a
form of acting so as not to debilitate natural aptitude.

There is an important lesson here for us to learn, not only in respect
to these precious animals and all other natural creatures, but in our
own social comportment. We are making life just too easy and too
convenient.

Where is the child that makes his own tanks from matchsticks and
cotton reels?  Where is the child who uses a dustbin lid as a battle
shield or makes his own bow  arrows and catapults?

Where is the child that, with his or her mother, makes the Halloween
costumes and Christmas decorations?

Kindness and folly is killing our imaginations and much more.

Kindness can kill.


SOUNDS OF DELIGHTFUL FREEDOM

Posted in Buddha Dharma and Chan on April 24, 2010 by secretchan

I awoke this morning to the sound of a nightingale, the Old World
flycatcher, which  also sings goodbye to the falling sun. They come
every year at this time from North Africa, their magnificent melodies,
their  loud whistling crescendo, filling the woods with a special
greeting.

Then a strange thought came to me. Was it their music that enchanted
me really, or was there something deeper?  If there had been a human
creature out there in the woods I might have been delighted, even
grateful, but I would not have been touched in the same way. Why?

The answer came quickly.

The male calls, a mixture of an impressive range of whistles, trills
and gurgles, were natural and spontaneous and came from a creature
that was complete in every way, doing what a nightingale’s true nature
told him to do.

It was that music which stemmed from his true nature that touched me,
not the music in and of itself.

Why would that touch me so?  Because that nightingale was free and I
and no human creature today in this world can express that freedom
with such glorious natural expression. We are not free.

Are creatures that fly and those that creep beneath the earth the only
living creatures that are truly free, their destruction pending at any
moment, while we encroach upon their lives and liberty? Eventually we
will succeed in destroying this planet, before perhaps moving on to
another.

Yes, even within a large wooded area, the animals here are not free.
Here we live accompanied by six dogs and they are not free. They are
not free to run where they will and hunt and play. No, they are
restrained within what is called our property.

They are contained so that they will bother no neighbors. The presence
of any animal which encroaches the space of the human creature must be
dominated and controlled or sacrificed.
I, for one, don’t like living in a world where nature is not free to
act without human approval. I am comforted with the certain knowledge
that mankind will eventually perish by his own hand and that nature
will again hold its sovereign place.

Yet while the nightingale sings and the dogs run and the wild boar
visit, digging their earth baths, and while all manner of other
creatures pay their respect to mother earth, I can touch in their
presence, just for a moment, a glimpse of what the human creature has
thrown away.

SIMPLICITY AND BUDDHA NATURE

Posted in Buddha Dharma and Chan on April 23, 2010 by secretchan

Today I considered this blog and knowing full well that few, very few
people would read it and still fewer understand, asked myself why I
bother to write at all.

Sure it doesn’t take too much time, but I am beyond the age when I
need to shout the truth out loud and not yet at that place where I
need to talk to myself.

The answer came quickly. For my grandmother on my mother’s side and
for my father. They are both interred and long forgotten, perhaps by
all except me, but to my mind they were noble and honest and that,
believe me, is not a pair of ingredients often found.

My grandmother was a suffragette called Lillian May Quick. She was
anti- establishment and clearly pro-women’s rights, but more than
that, she loved nature in the correct way, not looking at bluebells in
Bluebell Woods, which was close by in Elburton in Devon, with an eye
turned outwards towards beauty, but inward as essence. She was as one
with the flowers and all animals.

She loved music and walking in the countryside because she saw them as
one thing. We picked blackberries in the hedges nearby and made
blackberry pies. What I am saying really is that she was a human
creature, not a slave of society.  She was a socialist, almost an
anarchist really.

My grandfather, in second place, but not in my eyes, was a carpenter.
From him I learned much about the world; he introduced me to the world
of postage stamps and sparked my imagination. He worked for the tar
works in Plymouth, England, so that at every lunch time I walked over
to his shop with Cornish pasties for lunch.

Because of my grandmother, perhaps I turned first to art and then to
biology and psychology, so I reflect now on what she was and the world
she saw.

I write too for my father, who was a Devon fisherman. His family had
been for generations. There is no man that I respect more. He
self-learned navigation and astronomy, never having been to school. He
was one of a very large family, the Eastons of  the Barbican,
Plymouth, and eventually owned his first little boat, “My Delight”.

There it is, you see, “My Delight”. The name says a lot, for he
delighted in life in his tough world. Intelligent he was, but
uneducated. He was at that time perhaps one of the most respected
fisherman in Plymouth (Cap Easton), though not always liked.

He was a fighter and had a vision of justice that was not common,
although his malapropisms drove me wild. But he allowed me full
freedom of expression, constant approval, no criticism and an
education beyond mere words. So I am here because of him and reflect
his ideas about human creature and the terrible abuse of all things
natural.

He loved fishing and he fished with his boats (eventually Seaplane,
Isabelle and St Pierre), not for wealth, but because he loved the sea,
as I do. When in a moment I and my companion took off in the Atlantic
in a small four metre cutter, I felt connected to him, and in moments
when circled by sharks, there was no fear, just well being, and when
small birds found their way aboard, the mystery of survival became a
reality.

Many years have passed and I have lived a full life with few downs and
many ups.   I am clear, though using the first person singular, that I
do not exist as an individual. This I did not learn through
intelligence as a biologist and psychologist,  but through childhood
and the genes of my grandmother and my father, both with the same
character.

Once many years ago, when working women were few, my grandmother went
for a job (which she got) and on being asked her name said, “Lillian
Quick” and before there was time for a second question added, “Quick
by name and Quick by nature”.

And so what I write is for them, though they will never see what is
written as my gift to them. To my mother I have another debt, for she
taught me simplicity and kindness, a difficult lesson that ripened
much later in life with respect to the Dharma.

So really what is the point of relating these trivial details? It is
to point out that those with little education and a difficult life can
rise upwards and, through understanding nature deeper than mere
intellect, be as one with all living creatures and tread the steps of
the gate that leads to true humanness.

This points then to the essential lesson that those with weighty intelligence clinging to the world for what they can squeeze out can only reach the state of being human by returning to the un-carved wood and by being as one with nature.

THE MEANING OF LIFE

Posted in Buddha Dharma and Chan on April 22, 2010 by secretchan

For the earthworm, the snake, the fox, the wolf, lion, tiger, and polar bear up to the great elephant for them in their consciousness what is the meaning of life?

We can ask the same question of those lilies in the fields and the giant oaks.

The reply would be the same…. No reply. That is because for them there  is no meaning to life. Yet each goes about the task as every natural creature and plant does,  living within their world of no meaning, conflict, impermanence and chaos without knowing of individual existence except as nature presents it.

We, intelligent human creratures to the contrary believe there is meaning, yet we cannot ever find it.  Isn’t that strnge. We never stop to think that perhaps the creatures of the world in all their majesty and the flowers and great trees in their nobility may be right in remaining silent… We never consider that life has no meaning.


When we do understand that there is no meaning  it is a great liberation, for we can stop looking for that meaning and live lives naturally and completely.

We don’t have to ask about permanence, for we understand that all is impermanent. We don’t have to search for an everlasting peace, for there is only a balanced and wonderful world of conflict. We don’t have to look for our existance, we don’t have to be anything. We are alive that is sufficient.


In looking for the meaning of life we fail to live. We fail to see that the function of life is simply to perpetuate that life without Identity as a human creature.

That means playing our natural part as APPARENT individuals as an illusory part of an undivided whole, perpetuating life in a natural and not artificial way for members of our species, for all offspring and for every living creature and the environment that supports us all.

Life takes then a different feel. No longer do we cling and crave to this illusion of individual exixtence as if it were important. No longer do we cling to what we believe we possess…We are indeed the world without meaning.. We permit our lives to develop and unfurl using our cognition as a tool for the benefit of the whole.


It is certainly not easy, but  fruitful.  Ther is no happiness, no suffering, just a constant well being.