Saturday, January 26, 2008

Oh Joy!

Wet and windy driving conditions (North West of England), endless long strait roads over flat fens (Norfolk), my favourite service station temporally rendered a building site (southbound Westmorland Services) all pale into insignificance in the face of a FAST INTERNET CONNECTION. Oh Joy, indeed.

But the subject on my mind this evening is memory, short term memory and the loss of it which comes with advancing years. I visited an elderly woman this afternoon who struggled to remember what she had just said and what she wanted to say right now. This happens to the best of us however at a certain point in ones life I can see how very frightening this can be. The question I am left with now is how much we/society equate loss of short term memory with dementia, especially in the elderly. Just a thought, a thought with a ladle full of compassion along with it.

Many thanks to Chris and his wife in Preston Lancashire where I'm staying before going on to Manchester tomorrow for a day retreat in the center of town. Hopefully by the end of Sunday I'll be back in Northumberland again attempting to reconnect with tasks as yet not tackled. These involve activating long term memory, which I don't have a problem with!

Friday, January 18, 2008

This and That

Stillpointmeditation has a section on Illness & Meditation: Too ill to meditate? Meditation as an aid to healing. Problems when meditating with ME/CFS and some solutions, including some specific treatments that may make meditation easier. Relaxation advice for when meditation is too hard. Thanks to Rachael for this link.

Redeemer Reborn: A book by a one time monk in our Order writes about the connection between Wagners Ring cycle and Buddhism. Paul Schofield will expand on his book and talk about how Wagner utilized the Grail legends.

I've read the Buddhist bits which were checked by the late Head of the Order, Rev. Master Daizui. The book would be interesting to those who are into Wagner.

DharmaNet has been revived and revised. We're on the way to becoming a seminal educational and informational resource that is ecumenical and all-encompassing, one that addresses the needs of newcomers and experienced practitioners, one that speaks to non-Buddhists, lower-case b buddhists and practicing Buddhists of all ages.

I'm inspired to make steps to give 'Mountains' a makeover with much help from friends, who know what they are doing.

Last but by no means least why not go to Radio Cornwall and listen to Andrew Taylor-Browne reflect on the subject of 'Helping Others' from a Buddhist perspective. He practices within the Serene Reflection Tradition by the way.

All is OK with me just in case any regular readers are wondering how things are going since I cut back posting regularly. At this moment I'm working my way out of the monastery to go on a five day trip south. Perhaps there will be some photo opportunities.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Now and Then Postings

Dear Readers and Friends,

Postings are going to be somewhat irregular during January, February and possibly March. This is due to a number of factors the main ones being I need to organize my year, which will include a trip to North America, and to (Uh!) write something which is well over due.

In Gassho, _/\_

That said the publication on the Internet of the entire Shobogenzo should keep everybody happy for some months. The file is 8.6 MB's.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

TripleGem - The Buddhist Think Tank

TripleGem, the site for Buddhist news and ideas has now launched in the UK at the end of 2007. Featuring a news blog, forums, image gallery, event calendar, and analysis, we will gradually build a lively resource of contemporary Buddhist perspectives. TripleGem is a cooperative not-for-profit enterprise run by Buddhists from a range of traditions."

So there we have it, a new blog based in Britain, for Buddhists. This does seem to be a developing site where news etc. relevent to Buddhists, British or otherwise, can be found.

Already I'm amazed one volunteers to be a speaker on Thought for the Day on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. For those not familiar with the institution of Thought for the Day, a religious leader speaks for a couple of minutes usually making comment on current issues from a spiritual/religious perspective. I must admit it is some time since I listened to the Today programme so my perspective on the Thought part might be outdated.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Heads Up, Look Up

Spore capsules of a moss plant carefully testing the temperature above the ice. Victor Bos

I went out for a walk today in blizzard like conditions with the intention of taking some photographs. Unfortunately when the moment came my camera told me it's batteries were exhausted! I was fine though.

To make up for the lost snow pictures here is a photograph which came in a New Year greeting from a Dutch reader. What a brilliant picture. There are more on the web site of Victor Bos. (I've downloaded the Google Toolbar, which has a translation button, just so I can read his blog.)

I'd like to take the opportunity to applaud my Dutch friend who is undergoing major surgery on the 16th of this month. She is one brave woman, and such fun too!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Moderation is the Message

Dear Lottie,

Happy New Year!

This is just to let you know that Ned is on his way home. As you know he does suffer from separation anxiety however this time the symptoms were not too severe, thankfully. He kept phone calls home to a minimum and he joined in the activities with everybody else, even enjoying them. You were never very far from his thoughts of course. We had a chat and to be honest your name was not mentioned. My theory is; 'out of sight out of mind'. I know you will agree having, as you do, a very mild case of separation anxiety yourself. I remember it being said that quite soon after Ned has left you at his sister's you settle down in her cosy bed for most of the time he's gone. Almost as good as a holiday, better even! The odd thing is the anxiety returns when the time comes close to returning home doesn't it? You know the sort of thing; mounting agitation while luggage is packed, the compulsion to get into the car and then the intolerable irritation at not getting started. Goodness, at this point the urge to chew is very strong. We sent him and his friends off with a good meal and that seems to help.

But this is not why I'm writing. I've been interested in the workings of the mind for as long as I can remember and recently I've picked up a book by Bruce Fogle called The Dog's Mind. Not a recent book yet infinitely readable. Nothing in there you don't know about already, obviously. I've benefited greatly from learning about body language, about the different message that can be conveyed with the tail, and the ears. Who needs speech? Me obviously! And as for the part on prenatal and neonatal influences on the brain, well all I can say is I'll know better next time. As far as I know you never did do the motherhood thing. I have. Believe me it is not all it's cracked up to be. You are well off growing your nails long, keeping your figure and playing football with Ned. Gahzooks girl, can you run!

Did I ever tell you about Nero the Bloodhound puppy? He was separated from his mother far too early for his own good? I just never imagined his behaviour towards me was all to do with him thinking I was his mother! It was fine when he was small, well sort of fine. But as he grew in size his demands and needs grew in size too and I found it hard to cope. One night he had belly ache and I allowed him in bed with me so I could rub his tummy, I was that tired. Obviously I wasn't helping much as he growled in my face. His teeth were very long by that time and that was the end of us being close. Thankfully we were separated when he was entering his terrible teens. I was OK about it by the way. Later on, when I'd visit he would remember me and greet me as he would his own mother. He was fully grown by then and so I'd need to hang onto a cloister post to keep steady.

I'm glad to say I was able to nurse Nero during his last illness and was there when he passed on, bless him. We made our peace with each other at the end and I was glad of that. Some said he had no interest in pleasing anybody and therefore was difficult to be around. It was all explained by early separation from his mom, that's my theory. Yes, we had our problems too. However I remember him to be a noble one and in spite of being hampered by poor eyesight and hearing he was a fearless guard dog. Greatly aided I must say by an acute sense of smell which his family is known for. He died eleven years ago in December.

Thanks for listening, I'd not thought about Nero in ages and it was good to talk about him. I guess it was that Dalmatian puppy I mentioned yesterday that got me remembering. She, by the way, started her socialization at six weeks. Apparently the training lasted from four to six hours a day, imagine that? Thank goodness she was not separated from her mother during that time.

See you in about three weeks; I'm looking forward to that. Perhaps you can explain that leaning thing you do which only those familiar with your family know about directly. And also what exactly does it mean, as it says on the T-shirt, 'Greyhounds have been kissed by angels'? Uh, can't find the T-shirt...

P.S. I heard this great song called Squeaky Deeky over the holidays. Why not get Ned, or his wife, to download it for you. You'll love it.

I'm publishing this email for all of those who are Crackers about dogs; and cats and animals in general. Moderation in all things I say.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year

Let's start the year with a bit of fun.

Anybody able to guess where this picture was taken? Where exactly it was taken?
Here is a shed fancies fantasy! I doubt if anybody can guess where this one was taken, except the reader who took the picture of course. Anybody care to make a guess?
The clue for this one is cake with lots of cream, and cherries. Same clue for this one.

We had a bit of fun during the last 'tea' of the New Year retreat this afternoon. We told stories of our near brushes with near fame, quite a favourite with the monastic community as well. One chap told us about how his six month old Dalmatian puppy was in the 101 Dalmatians. Apparently the film took a long time to make and the Dalmatians needed to be around six months old. So as the puppies aged they were retired and new ones drawn in from a register. All over England eager owners of young pups kept their fingers crossed they would be called to stardom. I later heard the dog died a few weeks ago, aged twelve.

Fun is fine.