Some more photos from our recent trip to Redcar.
Off the mouth of the River Tees is an off-shore wind farm,
Looking South towards Saltburn, many sandpipers are foraging
The trees are looking super-lush,
the flowers are out,
the weather is warm,
its summer again!
Yesterday in Leazes Park, I took these photos of
The footpath crosses The Lort Burn, on one side is flowing into the lake, on the other, upstream, the Splashes artwork.
Also banks of Rhododendron and trees, gone wild.
This post is about my Buddhist practice.
Since last August I have been studying a Kindle copy of Thomas Cleary’s translation of The Avatamsaka Sutra.
I had an insight a while back after reading somewhere that psychologists studying brain function had discovered that brain waves of people who were asleep and brain waves of people watching telly where identical.
I realised that daydream I get into when watching telly, involvement in a fantasy, was similar to the daydream when indulging in my hobby of reading novels, crime fiction, thrillers, one after the other, all filling my mind with dead bodies, threat to the person, sinister happenings, crime scene, whatever. I started to connect the feelings of anxiety I sometimes have, with that, and I realised I was wasting my time, what had seemed like harmless recreation was actually something “not good to do.”
One of the purposes of Buddhist practice is to “wake up”. Being asleep in bed is one thing, quite necessary for most of us, but sleepwalking through our life is another thing.
The practice of meditation does over time allow us to see what the mind is doing. When washing the dishes, is the mind running out into fantasy, or mindful of the task?
Peter Gabriel had something to say about this “no more miracles, loaves and fishes, been too busy with the washing of the dishes”.
I’ve no idea if he was referring to Jesus settling down to domestic bliss?
Or, recommending washing dishes mindfully, like many mindfulness teachers do?
When the mind drifts off, commenting on things, planning, chattering away to itself, its just thoughts, thoughts are normal, what the brain does, but how thoughts can run us! And distract us! Haven’t we all had some kind of accident, or mishap, when our minds have been away in daydream?
So, just dropping the fix of my addiction to crime fiction, and hoping to make more use of my free time, I started to read the Avatamsaka Sutra, with the determination to start at page 1 and finish on the very last page.
I’m fairly near the end now, focusing on this book almost to the exclusion of other books, since last August, and I’ve only understood it on a shallow level. However I feel a lot of benefit and peace of mind from reading it.
When I found a part I particularly liked I have done some text art by copying the text into Pages, then changing the font and text size, then taking a screen shot, then using a free app called Colour Splurge, to make a virtual digital sampler, like those embroidery samplers that people used to do and hang on their walls.
So this is a quote from Appendix 1, in which Thomas Cleary is interpreting some of the items he has chosen to use in his translation.
I thought it basically sums up what is going on in my mind a lot of the time, grabbing on to things, trying to get things, even by posting stuff on the internet.
Some images from around Market Street East. Carliol House is there, also the old Police Station, For Sale.
A search came up with some information on the current owners of Carliol House, on the website of
There is a trend to get social enterprises to “occupy” empty commercial buildings, charging a nominal rent, it is much better to do this than allow premises to become derelict or targets for anti social behaviour.
Just recently I was visiting my Mum, and she gave me a box of memorabilia which she had found, dating back to the 1980s, 1990s and earlier. A large part of my youth experience was taking part in various political protests.
In the town where I grew up there was always a cause to join, a demo to go on, and I loved to spend time in radical bookshops, there was Alley Cat in Durham, another one in York on Walmgate, there were many such shops in many towns in those days, but with buses being cheap in those days youth could range far and wide in search of such things.
These bookshops were genuinely independent (often staffed by unpaid workers), and I had a fascination with them even though a lot of the contents of the books was beyond me.
There was always a notice board in these shops, advertising Causes, and a postcard and Radical Mags stands. Postcards were a form of direct action. We bought the postcards, and sent them via Royal Mail, thus radicalising the Royal Mail workforce, who could all read our message on the back of the card, and also “Get the Message” which the postcard artist was trying to convey. Of course postcards were a fun way of communicating with our friends, before the internet and mobile phones came along!
Back in the day Royal Mail was the only way to send mail, and there was a unionised workforce, decent working conditions, Royal Mail Night train, where the mail got sorted through the nights, arriving ready-sorted at the delivery offices, and TWO deliveries each day!
This card is a photo montage by Cath Tate, published by the independent press Leeds Postcards.
I thought it was worth a few words.
In those days The Conservative Party was the party of big business, homeowners and the rich, and held total power over the UK. The Labour Party was the party of the workers, tenants, and the anti- nuclear movement. The image in the photo shows Maggie sneakily stealing the welfare, symbolised by taking her purse, off an ordinary Mum.
Little did we realised that Thatcher, by the introduction of Right to Buy, which turned working class council tenants into aspirational Home Owners, and the total obliteration of large industries, creating a whole new class of “unemployable” families, whole towns where the main source of employment had ceased to exist, had ensured that the political landscape of the UK would never be the same again.
As we come close to the UK General Election, the choice is not like the choice we had before 1997, when we elected New labour, what choice do we have?
Its no longer about Left and Right.
Think carefully when choosing, we aren’t voting for Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn. We have a representational democracy, we vote for a Member of Parliament to represent us in Parliament, we don’t vote for the Prime Minister.
We all need to vote for the Member of Parliament who we feel will represent us best, and the party whose policies we support. Read the manifestoes and make your choice.
I have an appointments diary which I write in appointments, things I need to do, prompts, etc. Sometimes pages are completely blank. However I do occasionally make a few notes of things which I have done or pertinent thoughts. I don’t keep these diaries very long, I don’t have the space for them.
Today I had a look through 2015 diary to see if there was anything I felt like keeping a note of before putting it out for recycling
I recorded that I attended the Segaki retreat at
Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey
I had noted a couple of thoughts about an aspect of the meal time ceremony (which is an important part of the daily schedule).
I have put them into an attempt at verse.
Sangha sits in serene silent reflection
each side of the ceremony meal table
Zen Master instructs us thus
“We offer this water to the hungry ghosts,
that they too may be filled”
We pour the water
carefully into our bowls
taking care not to spill
as we pour the water
we feed our own hungry ghosts
Everyone has them,
we are human
so we have them
scared small child wanting reassurance
Our bowl now clean and dried
Polishing the tile won’t make a mirror
we pour the water
into the hungry ghost dish,
letting it go,
no hanging on
donating sacred water
to the compost heap of emptiness
Theres also some insights on Segaki at the
Portobello Buddhist Priory Newsletter