The honest Buddhist

I gave meditation classes, on behalf of the Sri Chinmoy Centre at a local Friends Meeting House (Quakers) in Oxford. It is useful location, and is used by quite a few different meditation groups and spiritual paths. At the back, there is a small private car park, which, in the dark, is not so easy to park in.

Buddha Daibutsu, Kamakura

Last week, I got back to the car park to find a notice on my windscreen. “Sorry I might have hit your car, if there is any problem, let us know. It included someone’s name and phone number”. I didn’t worry too much; over the years, my car has picked up quite a few scratches and dents. It has been a great car – 120,000 miles and is well loved, but these days, I’m not overly attached to perfect paintwork.

I appreciated the honesty and thought about texting the person back, but I was too busy. This week I arrived and a young women in Buddhist robes was sitting in her car, as if meditating. I parked, and meditated myself for a minute before getting the stuff out of the car. When she saw me, she got out of her car and mentioned she was worried she had hit my car the previous week. I smiled and told her not to worry! I already have enough dents, a few more won’t make any difference! She looked relieved to see a fellow person had non-attachment to their car paintwork. Continue Reading →

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The shadow of trees in winter

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Sometimes you go through life and at a certain point – you start to notice something, that had always been there, but for some reason you never paid any attention to.

There are many things all around us, that can easily pass us by – but then something subtly changes, and we start to appreciate it. There have been many things, from classical music to  meditation and aspects of nature, that for a long time I didn’t recognise, but at a certain point, you develop an appreciation for, and then you wonder why you never noticed before.

Winter

Winter is always that quiet cold few months, where you impatiently wait for flowers to bloom and trees to come into leaf. Winter in the UK can be on the dismal side – grey skies, wet and windy. There is always part of you wishing the winter away.

tree-silhouette

However, there is a different kind of beauty in winter. Usually, when I’m cycling, I have my head down, training hard – trying to keep the average speed up. But, sometimes I take it easier and have the relaxation to look at the scenery. In winter it can be quite bleak, but this winter, I have become fascinated at the simple beauty of bare trees illuminated against the sky. It is not the abundance of spring or summer, but it has its own beauty of nature’s contrasts. Continue Reading →

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The freedom of birds

When I bought a house, there was a separate garage built at the start of the garden. Initially I used the garage to store several bikes and innumerable random bits of bike components, (things which tended to lie around unused for year after year – but without ever able to really throw them away, because in principle they are quite valuable.) Anyway, after much soul-searching, I decided to convert the garage into a meditation room – out went all the oily bikes and in came a new blue carpet and insulated walls.

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Back garden

It is a great boon to have a room just for meditation. An additional bonus is that it makes me go outside, even in coldest winter. Often I go out to meditate at night and see a beautiful moon, it is like on the way to your meditation, you gain a brief glimpse of the Higher worlds – something untainted by the problems of this world.

Staying indoors in the comfort of a centrally heated house, you miss nature’s free show. In the morning meditation, it is a cold journey to walk into the below freezing garden and only slightly warmer meditation room but, as ample compensation, I often eye out of the corner of my eye birds flying through the garden or least chirping noisily in the background. Ideally, I would be fully concentrated on the meditation to not notice the birds, but the feeling of meditating with nature all around is a good experience. I have put up a seed feeder near the meditation window so that I can attract more birds into the garden. When I have finished a meditation, I look quietly to see if the birds are coming for the seeds – this informal bird-watching is a form of meditation in its own right.

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photo: Jonas Carlberg, flickr CC

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The music of Blue Flower

There are some very good music groups in the Sri Chinmoy Centre. This is a great selection of a few songs by the music group Blue Flower. I believe these songs are from their second album. They have a wonderful, haunting melody. I have been listening for a few weeks, and haven’t got tired of hearing their songs.

You can also listen to some of their music at Radio Sri Chinmoy.

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Trainspotters meaning

I am reading a book – Platform Souls ‘Trainspotter as 20th Century Hero” by Nicholas Whittaker

Whittaker was a train-spotter when growing up in the 1960s. He tells of his fascination in watching steam trains and also how the decline of the railways and steam, completely changed the view of train-spotters, from a young hip hobby – to be the butt of jokes, eventually immortalised in a film about heroin addicts.

A train-spotter is defined as:
“A person who collects train numbers as a hobby.”
In the 1950s and 1960s, train-spotting was a very popular hobby for British boys who would stand on platform edges to catch the huge range of steam engines that were working the British railway system.
Train-spotting was very much the ‘FIFA football’ (or ‘Call of Duty’) of the 1950s. It was cool, and thousands of young children would spend much of their spare time hoping to get glimpses of the steam trains, passing through. It was also a little risky, with the eager train-spotter, sometimes ‘bunking’ railway sheds to catch the numbers of engines in their sheds. Train-spotters were tolerated, if not encouraged by the train authorities.
However by the early 1970s steam trains had disappeared from British railways, to be replaced by more modern, less charismatic, air-conditioned, safety-conscious mass produced trains. The decline of the romance of the railways also changed the view of train-spotters. Trainspotter jokes soon became a staple of society. This once popular hobby, has come to mean something very different. In fact ‘train-spotter’, now almost universally creates a derogatory image of a lone, anoraked, socially deficient loser, who hasn’t anything better to do.

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Magdalen college photos

It is a cold and wet January, but sometimes when the sun comes out, you can get some good photos.

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I was cycling back home at around 4.00pm and a few rays of a late winter sun, hit the light stonework of Magdalen College and Magdalen Tower. Continue Reading →

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A belated New Year resolution

I didn’t make any New Year resolutions. Very bad.

So I will make a belated resolution. To spend less time reading rubbish on the internet. I wrote an article here: managing life with internet.

As an economist, I often read articles on economics at papers like the Guardian and Independent. In one sense they are free, but the cost is that your eyes often get drawn to reading the useless comments at the bottom of the articles. In the old days, these comments were more carefully thought about, selected and the best published as letters to the editor. – And I rarely read letters to the editor, because they weren’t very good anyway.  So why have I spent time reading things that only give a mild sense of frustration?

I like this page – don’t read the comments. Three of my favourites.

“The problem with internet comments is that you can never really know who’s saying them.”

— Winston Churchill

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