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.