Monday, 13 December 2010


The universe is everything that exists and everything that does not exist.  It includes the Past, Present and Future.  The project refers to everything that exists because no communication is possible in the realm where nothing exists.  Everything that exists is vibrating.  The vibrations accurately express a thing's present time condition.  The vibrations flow out from a thing's location in space and impinge upon other things.  If this impingement vibrates at a frequency within the range of any sense organs other "things" have developed, it can be consciously perceived and interpreted.  This is communication.

The English word "language" emphasises communication with the tongue; "lingua" = "tongue".  However, the vibrations which flow out from beings cover a wide spectrum and are perceived by different sense organs in different ways.  Slower vibrations are perceived as sound; faster ones as light.  There are many gradations in between and outside of these.  Different beings have developed different sense organs in order to perceive these vibrations and interpret them for survival.  It is always a mistake if a human being assumes that, because he cannot perceive something with his five senses, it doesn't exist.

Even human beings do not limit communication to what can be heard or transmuted into symbols and written down.  We have sign language, body language, intuitive perception, body contact (kisses, pats, punches, caresses.)  Unintentional perception enters through the nose and communicates stinks and aromas.

So this vast network of vibrations from every existing thing is eternally communicating its all and everything.  Is anyone listening?  In a nutshell, what does it all add up to?

Looking with dispassion,
with equanimity,
doesn’t it shine brighter than a thousand suns?
The broken wing
the severed finger
the uncompleted life
‘the smyler with the knife’
the smell of fear
spirochaetes, viruses and germs
and the ever-chewing sepulchral worms?

And don’t we see a thousand times and more
that what we build and try to hold in place
disintegrates, vanishes without trace?
And what we hoard up
and try to store
provides a breeding ground for rats?

And this, which is the Past,is also Evermore?

What we cannot preserve here
when we have felt the betrayal of the breath
we save for heaven,
taking our joys and pains
across the no-man’s land of death
and there, in finer, subtler, intellectual realms
plant our standards.
And still the Eternal, empty wind
blows them down.


Where there are listeners
there is no silence.
Either the sounds
of the listeners’ minds
from the boundlessness of space,
or the universe itself pounds
out a multivociferous chatter;
the sound of reaching out,
and pain;
coming together
and falling apart again.

Every plant, every stone, every sun
has its tongue,
its subtle and interminable vibration.
Every whirling planet
and spinning electron
screams (or whispers) its history.
Reaching out
coming together
falling apart again.

Where there are listeners
there is no silence.

The universal music thunders discordant tones
the unintended harmony
in its unintended composition;
the sound of creation
and of decomposition.



The terracotta pavement is lined
with pradhu trees,
the symbol of the Navy,
hung with orchids (wooden bananas).

Outside a shop called “Modern Optical”
with its reflecting rows
of à la mode spectacles
is a line of large Chinese fish bowls
in which live (and will die)
three-foot high pudtan trees.

On these pots, sit five of the very poor,
hunching together as penguins do,
to keep the outside out.
One is grey with age,
two play old wooden instruments discordantly,
a girl sings;
the harmony is in the poverty.
Each has a tin labelled “Donations”.
No eyes are visible in half open sockets.
For they are blind.

They touch to make a living human chain
so that the fragile world they share
does not disintegrate.
A sharp-eyed woman,
with eyes for all five,
assists (or exploits)
their helplessness.

When the owner of Modern Optical
comes out to speak
and wave his hands,
she leads them away
to the market to find a new pitch.
Each holds onto the one in front
like a medieval European dance
of Dies Irae.

“What were they playing?”
The music of human misery.

New Project: THE CENTRE

('THE CENTRE' continues as this week's Project)

Monday, 6 December 2010




What is that sound?
Like the trailing of a fan
through a silent anteroom?

It is the murmur of air
ruffling leaves.

It is the herald of the whirlwind
which will strip those leaves from their trees
and wrench the trees from the hillside
and blast the soil from the rocks beneath,
leaving the skeleton of the earth
to bleach and crumble.

And what is that sound?
Like a cascade of pearls
on a silver salver?

It is the rushing of the waterfall
in the Italian garden.
It presages the tempest and the raging ocean
which smashes earth’s boundaries
and drives the rivers back up to their sources,
drowning and destroying everything that lives on air.

And what is that sound?
Like the crackle of dry twigs
under the heavy boots of soldiers?
It is the fire in the hearth,
logs spitting, blue and yellow flame dancing
under the granite lintel.

It is the messenger of the Sun
which will rage and burn the planet
to a cloud of incandescent interstellar dust
for the winds of space to disperse forever.

And what is that sound?
High and plaintive
behind the polished nursery door?

It is the crying of a two-day-old baby.
It tells of the heavy tramp of armies
across the continents of the world
marching to the rhythms
of dark gods
bringing the destruction of cities
and the extinguishing of civilisations.

It is the sound of an empty skull
there in the desert,
abandoned by dog and raven,
dry and bleached and splitting along its seams,
home to gusts of wind
and the occasional locust.

These are the sounds of the end of human
the end pages of books,
the silence which silences the symphony.

When the gums shrivel and decay,
the teeth are cracked and broken
and there is to be found no place where the smile
or its shadow has ever been;
no echo of long ago laughter.

This is the sound of eternity.


Monday, 29 November 2010


COMMENT: The soil is always the same; made up entirely of the corpses of uncountable bodies. These have lived and fed upon each other and died and rotted down and been digested into soil.

Each body is a life in which the experiences of becoming, the sangsara, are tested and its sweet and bitter fruit digested.  All is recorded on a timetrack which has neither beginning nor ending.  Each body is the fruit of its past.  Each fruit spills out its seed (murmuring "please some more!") into the soil (which is always the same).

Same soil.  Different seeds.

The splendour of a hundred kings
fades like the bloom on a butterfly’s wings.
The meanest flower that blows
goes the same way the forest goes.
All is consumed by worm or fire;
nothing needs building any higher.
The rattling of teeth within the jaw
mocks the tongue murmuring:
“Please, some more!”


Monday, 22 November 2010



INSIDE OUT indicates the direction of flow: from the Centre outwards into the Universe of Becoming. Obviously, everything "out there" has come from the Centre, the Point of Origin.  Our Point of Origin is in the centre of our physical bodies but is unnoticed and forgotten by most beings that have physical forms.  If we don't overlook or lose sight of it, then all of our behaviour (thought, word and deed) is grounded in the Centre, flows from it and is in harmony with everything else "out there" which has the same origin as ourselves.  We are therefore able to sustain contact with our Point of Origin.  We do not go astray and, in the end, we return to it.

OUTSIDE IN indicates a flow in the opposite direction: from the Universe of Becoming "out there" into our minds.  Everything "out there" seems separate and competing with everything else for survival and happiness.  Points of views and knowledge arise based upon this separateness, self and other, me and you.  A cloud of thinking founded on multiplicity obscures our ability to see clearly.  We do things which cause suffering to ourselves and others.

INSIDE OUT OR OUTSIDE IN.  We have to chose.  Worldly values (the World) or ethical values (the Centre)?

Ethics shows us that it is wrong to kill (Who cuts off his own hand?).  Worldly wisdom says that we need the protein from meat and explains that if, for example, a country like Denmark gave up exporting meat and dairy products, it would be a very poor country indeed.

Indeed.  But it would also be richer spiritually and happier.  Because the more you tune into the Centre, the happier you are.  And the more you adjust to the wisdom of the world (compromise), the more you cause suffering (and suffer).

Ethics is the highest science,
concerned with surviving,

not merely knowing.

A man without Ethics
is already drowning;
ever sinking
ever lower
in a sea of being.


Saturday, 13 November 2010

The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month


What does it mean?
(does it mean anything
 to whom

What difference did it make?
(did it make any difference
 to those who died
 to those who survived
 did anyone survive)

What difference has it made?
(to me
 to you
 to those)

Where are those now?
(where are the others)

The bullet links shooter and shot?
(if one goes up can the other go down
 if both go up…
 if both go down…)

And you?
(and me
 and those)

Further Comment:


November Rose.
Pink and white and mauve.
Solitary, still,
among the rosemary and late autumnal gorse.

Sea winds have blown.
The first frosts have frozen the short grass.
Spring and summer are memories,
midwinter an echo in reverse.

November Rose for the dying.
November Poppies for the dead,
who cannot sleep
but stream towards new birth;
whose pain outlasts
the bitter Flanders earth.


This year
the dead are blind
and do not seem to hear
our prayers.

Nor do they seem to mind
that we now own
what they once thought was theirs.

they shed no tear
at all the pain
they left behind.

when they come again,
they only find
echoes of the long-ago,
and landscapes that they hardly know;
deserted buildings, unpeopled streets,
lonely corridors, empty rooms,
where each his own image meets
in every shape it now assumes.

Normally, if something is inside out (like a sock for instance) it will be outside in as well. So the conjunction would be "and". In this case the conjunction is "or".

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


COMMENT: Blondin

 Hermit in the forest,
 the mind begins to play.
 Māra’s hosts are grinning.
 Every thought is Judgement Day.


NEW PROJECT: The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month

Sunday, 31 October 2010



Power aims
at Freedom To;
finds itself
on a collision course
with all the other Freedoms To
that inhabit gods and men and beast;
storm and drought and pestilence;
sickness, old age and death.

Wisdom aims
for Freedom From
discovers that all the competing Freedom To's
struggle within the stadium of life
and win and lose and win and lose
and lose at last at the gates
of old age and death.
Discovers that he who enters not
the arena of the breath
suffers no loss and dies no death.

Freedom To can be used to discover how one gets into places and situations that one wishes one could be Free From!

FURTHER COMMENT:  You are free to jump out of the girls' bedroom window but you are not free from the consequences of landing in the slate courtyard thirty feet below.


Blondin above Niagara,
the rope begins to sway.
The rocks below are grinning.
Every step is Judgement Day.

Monday, 25 October 2010


COMMENT: The Labyrinth is made of Think.(Who built it?)  Ariadne's thread enables you to explore it safely.  What is the thread?  (If Ariadne's name was Sophia, what would it mean?)  Who or what is the Minotaur that lurks in the Labyrinth waiting for its annual sacrifice of seven young men and seven young women?  Who were its parents?  Why?

The River carries debris, dead animals, sewage, messages in bottles, courting couples in bath-tubs, other people's treasures, yesterday's memories, tomorrow's plans, everyday's fantasies.  The flow of Think is endless, ever-changing, always the same.  It is different from the flow of the river, though in exactly the same place.


Monday, 18 October 2010


Entries into the intray should be cleared immediately or as soon as possible. If not, they build up and one's whole life becomes unbalanced and out of the present moment (which is where one actually lives). Even when the company folds, your desk goes with the rest of the furniture to auction and the office is demolished to make room for a motorway, your intray accompanies with all its contents, eternally waiting to be cleared.


Think is interesting
Think is knowing
Think is funny
Think is painful
Think is boring
Think is difficult to control.

Speech is Think.

Think is not thing
Think is not seeing
Think is not hearing
Think is not smelling
Think is not tasting
Think is not feeling
Think is not doing

Think is not understanding.

What (or who) is Think?
Who (or what) controls Think?

Sunday, 10 October 2010



Right Concentration specifically produces Happiness.

Suffering is embedded in every aspect of the Sangsara.  The Sangsara is our world (and all other worlds).  It is life itself.  Everywhere, beings are being born into circumstances they don't want.  They are growing old (which they don't want).  They are sick (which they don't want).  They are dying (which they only want if they think it will be better than being alive).

When a man concentrates the mind successfully on a single wholesome object, he deliberately withdraws his attention from his physical link with our world.  He does not see, hear, smell, taste or touch the world.  It therefore does not cause him physical pain while he is in this state of 100% concentration.  Because he does not see, hear smell, taste or touch, there is no point of contact with external things and therefore no feelings arise.  So feelings cannot cause him pain.  Because his mind is fixed on a single object, he makes no contact with the outside world at the mind sense door.  He does not contact thoughts or memories or mental images with the mind.  So these things cannot trouble him and cause him pain.

He finds himself, consciously, in a state which is absolutely free from pain, discomfort or any kind of suffering, whether mental or physical.  Absence of suffering is the beginning of Eternal Happiness.

Therefore; Right Concentration specifically produces Happiness.

NEW PROJECT: In-tray / Out-tray

Sunday, 3 October 2010





You Inheritors of Immortal Bliss!

Now is Here!

And This

Is All there Is!


Samādhi (sam + ā + dhā): "the (mental) state of being firmly fixed". The fixing of the mind on a single object. Concentration is right or wrong in so far as it is associated with wholesome or unwholesome states of consciousness.

Monday, 27 September 2010



RIGHT EFFORT: Effort is energy deliberately directed in a certain direction.  It can be physical; the effort to push a broken down car: or mental: the effort to learn multiplication tables.  If the effort is successful, the aim of the action is achieved (the car is moved, the tables are learned).  A successful action is not necessarily a right action: “when the bomb exploded it killed everyone in the shop”.  Nor is an effort necessarily a right effort; “an effort was made to beak the Jewellers’ shop window”.

Right Effort is an effort that has a wholesome action as its goal.

A wholesome action is an action that does not cause suffering to other living beings.  Experimentation on animals is unwholesome action irrespective of the motivation.  Wholesome actions arise from wholesome thoughts.

Efforts to empty the mind of unwholesome thoughts and feelings constitute Right Effort.  Negative thoughts and feelings include cruelty, jealousy, envy, hatred, anger, ill will and even laziness.  Positive thoughts and feelings are those that are directed towards the happiness and well-being of others and oneself and also energy, determination and courage.

Mettā shines;
the cancerous growths
which cling to the living cells
of the Children of Light
shrivel into powdery dust.


Tuesday, 21 September 2010


COMMENT: If you have nothing better to do, there is no reason not to do what you are doing. If you have got something better to do, then there is no reason not to be doing it.

The splendour of a hundred kings
fades like the bloom on a butterfly’s wings.
The meanest flower that blows
goes the same way the forest goes.

All is consumed by worm or fire;
nothing needs building any higher.
The rattling of teeth within the jaw
mocks the tongue murmuring:

“Please, some more!”


Saturday, 11 September 2010



Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor
Everyman is his own gaoler;
shuts the door and turns the key,
ends up where he wants to be,
looking at what he needs to see
- you for you and me for me.

Right Livelihood supports your Life.  Working for a living may take up most of your working day.  Would you do it if you didn't have to?  It involves sacrifice.  Is the life you lead worth that sacrifice?  What are you working for?  What is the purpose of the work you do to earn food, clothing and shelter and the other things you consider necessities?  Are you working in order to go to work?  What is the purpose of your life?

Walt Disney lies in a deep, deep freeze
Like a packet of Smedley's frozen peas.

New Project: Justify your Existence.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010



When you throw yourself
down from the top of high mountains,
the Earth does not take you
into her arms
and comfort you.

When you kneel
and kiss the ground,
the Earth does not praise
your humility.

It is for this reason
that she is called
‘The Great Mother’.

Every moment
is a fork in the road.
And every fork
is always the same:
the choice between right and wrong.

The wrong is always
arrogating to oneself
things which do not belong
to oneself.

The right is always
following the Light.

        *  *  *

Time drifts away
as mist fades on mountain.
The world itself is hardly more substantial.
Living water springs
from life’s fountain
yet it runs dry,
leaving powdering bones
bleaching in the sun.

Molecules of arm and leg and brain
are rebels and would all be free again.
The whole pageant of our days and hours
runs only till we lose our feeble powers.

As children we play out our days
with sandcastles and fantasies
until the turning tides erase
what we work so hard to raise,
struggle to protect and call our own –
fragments of things, at very best, on loan.

Upwards our thoughts might usefully aspire;
nothing down here needs building any higher.

Deal justly with your neighbour
and make of him your friend
and in your inner garden, labour
until you reach your end.


Thursday, 26 August 2010



It's the Words one hears
but the Thoughts that are revealed.
And thus the Mind appears
that would be otherwise concealed.

If the Words give this Example
of the flowing mental din,
thus being but a Sample,
what Torrents seethe and boil within!

In the Tangle of the Senses,
the Wandering Mind has lost its Way
and stumbles through its broken fences,
confused, in darkness, Night and Day.

Words upon a page,
ripples upon a mind,
ripples upon a sea.

Wind drops,
sea calms.

Where are the ripples then?
Who thinks




Because we sit and dream (and dream)
we cannot separate is and seem;
images come in floods and teem.
Because we sit and dream (and dream).

Because we lose ourselves in thought
(and all our errors are self-taught)
in Māra’s nets we are well-caught.
Because we lose ourselves in thought.




To the  rose
the garden disappears.
To the garden
the rose withers away.

(If you were the gardener,
what would you say?)

Trace it all back as far as you can
from where it is now to where it began.
From knife to hand
from hand to eye;
from footprints on sand
to sun in the sky.

Trace it back further to where it begins
to the gateways and windows where all things get in.

The scent is not the rose
but the hairs that line the nose.
The seascape is the roving eye,
the tongue is the taste not the apple pie.
Mozart is what you hear
and his place is in the ear.

And all the subtle sensations that impinge upon the skin
flare their little on/off switches
in the mind that shines within.


Thursday, 12 August 2010



If these precepts were kept throughout the human world, it would make an unbelievable difference. There would be no war, no serious crime, and no need for money to be spent on armies, policing, courts of justice or prisons. If we were wholeheartedly to adopt these five precepts and live our lives by them, we would no longer cause suffering to other living beings by our actions. In this way we would normalise our relationships with others and the world around us.


Wednesday, 28 July 2010


July 26

Today is the full moon of July. This is the anniversary of the Buddha's First Sermon which was the beginning of Buddhism.

Project: First Sermon Cycle

Tuesday, 20 July 2010


NEW Dhamma Booklet (26 pages) also available as Free Download
A translation and explanation of the Ten Fetters,
the Buddha's teaching on what binds us to the Sangsara and suffering.

Comments and feedback welcome


Monday, 5 July 2010


COMMENT ON LAST WEEK'S PROJECT:  Don’t do bad. Do good. Purify your mind.

Doing Evil causes one to move further away from the Centre. Cultivating Good aligns one with the Centre which is the source of all Good and draws one back towards it. Purifying one's Mind removes those unwholesome things in the mind which lead to unwholesome actions. It also clarifies the mind so that the Centre itself can be clearly seen.


Tuesday, 29 June 2010


COMMENT ON LAST PROJECT: Cast not your pearls before swine…

MATTHEW 7:vi : Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

Jesus came. He healed the sick and said, “Repent! The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”  The Jews “turned again” and had him crucified.

Sabbapāpassa akaranam kusalassa upasampadā
Sacittapariyodapanam etam buddhāna sāsanam.

Not doing all sins, perfecting (all) wholesome deeds,
Purifying one’s own mind; this is the teaching of the Buddhas.

Don’t do bad. Do good. Purify your mind.

Monday, 21 June 2010


COMMENT ON Adhitthāna

The man who gets off the train is not the same man as the one who crosses the platform. The man who gets on the next train is someone else again.

That's the problem. Now I see things one way. I understand them very clearly. I make a decision. Tomorrow's man inherits this. But his viewpoint, feelings and understanding then are likely to be different from mine now. He may come to a different conclusion. If he does, he will make a different decision.

What's the answer? One has to work until one really does understand something through and through. 100 percent. Then one has to make an effort to fix this understanding in the endless flow of selves so that, although the selves continue to change, this decision is constantly inherited by each in its turn and is always there. Then one can move smoothly towards one's goal.

The effort to fix a decision is called in Buddhism - Adhitthāna. This is usually translated as “determination”. But this is not practical enough. Literally it means "place, foundation". That gives us a clue. If you use something as a foundation, everything you build on it remains durable and in place. Even if you keep changing the superstructure, the foundation remains constant. If you make an adhitthāna about something, all the succeeding selves rest on it and inherit it. So it appears as a foundation for each of them. The Buddha made an adhitthāna under the bodhi tree to the effect that he would sit there until he had either found the truth or died. He also made adhitthānas before each of his last ten births as to which of the Perfections he intended to perfect in that lifetime.

NEW PROJECT: Cast not your pearls before swine...

Monday, 14 June 2010



To achieve a breakthrough, you need

1. a clear idea of what you want to achieve

2. a definite intention to achieve it

3. the right tool(s) for the job

4. clear understanding of the tool(s) and how to use them.

5. perseverance to see it through.

Why "breakthrough"? It implies resistance and difficulty (Up the Down Staircase). If you have tried and failed again at something, it suggests there is a ceiling that you yourself have put there. The difficulty here is that one is pitting one's energy against oneself.

If you failed last week, look at 1 - 4 above and try and pinpoint the cause(s).


Monday, 7 June 2010



It could be that you are in the wrong place at the wrong time.  In that case you ought to go to an Up Staircase which is either empty or has people travelling in the same direction as you (up).

It could be that you are doing the right thing but are out of step with the rest of the world/people around you. In this case you should look for an Up Staircase even if there are hordes of people coming down it.

It could be that you are right but not only are many other people wrong but they have succeeded in taking over the escalator.  The problem is therefore more difficult than you had thought.  The honourable answer is to use your free will and persevere with great patience.

On a purely personal level, you might be a meditator and find that when you sit down to move towards total peace of mind and happiness, you find hordes of thoughts, memories and feelings rushing towards you, getting in the way and trying to push you off course.  These are Mara's children.  Many are defeated by this and give in.  The honourable course is never to give in if you are right.

The honourable is always to try to be right.


One spirals upwards until one reaches a barrier which at some stage one has put there oneself or allowed others to do so. This has become a ceiling.  One bangs one's head against it again and again until one loses momentum and ceilings-out.  One then spirals down until one can summon up enough momentum to have another go.  This can go on for a long time until one feels defeated and gives up.  One then spirals down and ultimately goes through the floor.  Thereby creating another ceiling .  Lower down.

This is the week to set yourself a worthwhile goal AND ACHIEVE IT!  If you succeed it will give you the momentum to try something and, in this way, gradually/quickly reconstruct your life.

Monday, 31 May 2010


Comments on SPIRALLING:

Beings spiral away in ever-widening orbits.  They ask their endless questions but do not accept the answers they provide because they are not the ones they want.  So their vortices lose altitude, weighed down by the answers that they do want.  This is called ceiling-out.  Naturally, beings spiral upward endlessly into ever greater happiness and light.  When they project a mental ceiling by refusing to let go of where they have come from, they bang their heads against it until, exhausted, they fall away and down, trying to fit into what they have outgrown!


Lady Tremayne was a hostage to Fortune
but now she is a hostage to Herself.

She has made herself a cage
of what she wants to be
and though her dreams
pass through the bars occasionally,
they cannot set her free.

This week's project: UP THE DOWN STAIRCASE.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010


Comment on last week's Project:  Use it!

Use what?  The Centre.

The centre of what?  The Centre of the Universe.

How?  Locate it.

How do you find the centre of the universe?  It is found in your body.

How can the centre of something as big as the universe be found in something as small as my body?  All beings come from the Centre of the Universe.  The Centre is found in all beings.  It is a tiny spot which is too small to register on any scientific instrument.  It is the tiny door through which you came into the world, then you started accumulating matter around it and grew into what you are now.  The tiny door is still there, overlooked and forgotten.

Where exactly is it?  In the centre of your body about two inches above your navel.

How can I perceive it?  Either by feeling or seeing it with your inner eye, that is the one you use to see with in dreams when your physical eyes are closed.

Assuming I could perceive it, in what way should I use it?  It is the source of all good things (including you!): 

1.  You can use it to introduce positive and wholesome states of mind into your environment; that is, feelings like friendliness, compassion, sympathetic joy, compassion, evenness of mind.

2.  You can use it to bring health and well-being into your physical body.

3.  You can use it to investigate itself.  That is, you can learn what it is, how you came from it and ended up in this world and how you can go back to experience its fundamental state, which is peace and happiness. Actually, you can do anything with the Centre.

New Project: Spiralling.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010


Comment on The Science of Adequate Results:

Knowing and practising Scientia Causarum Sufficientium, the Science of Adequate Causes, lead us to understand and be able to observe how karma works. We come to see that if one does good one gets good: if one does bad one gets bad; no-one ever escapes the just consequences of an evil deed. It is only short-termism which causes one to see it otherwise. This realisation produces peace in one's heart, renewed motivation to do good and improve oneself and unbreakable confidence in the ultimate perfection and justice of the universe.

Knowledge of the Science of Adequate Results enables us to see how we can achieve our goals by applying the law of karma. Simply put, if you want to end up with an oak tree, you plant an acorn. Of course, soil condition, moisture, location and care are important but the sine qua non is the acorn. There is no use in trying to achieve one's goal until one has clear understanding of the essential cause. At the highest level, the Buddha has offered us the ultimate goal, Nibbana, perfect peace and happiness. This is exactly what many of us want (not all of us). He has also indicated the necessary cause, the Noble Eightfold Path. This involves a completely new start to one's life, covering all aspects of living: how to understand things, how to think, how to speak, how to behave in our dealings with others and the world, how to earn a living, how to make the right kind of effort if we want to be successful, how to develop mindfulness and awareness, how to meditate in order to bring the mind under control and bring about its development to its highest potential. Tread the Path, he says, without change or modification, and we are certain to reach our destination.

Tens of thousands of men and women have achieved just this. Applied Cause, realised Effect. Even more men and women have attempted this while modifying the Teaching, "bringing it up to date" adapting it to cultural or national or fashionable considerations, - and failed. They have wanted an oak tree and sown a sycamore seed. No amount of loving care and compost will ever result in an oak.

This week's project: Use it!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Scientia Causarum Sufficientium

Comment on Scientia Causarum Sufficientium:

Everything perceived in the physical and mental universes exist because there is, or was, an adequate cause for it. This cause may or may not be apparent to any particular observer. But it exists all the same.

Scientia means "knowing" from the Latin scio: I know.

The Science of Adequate Causes is a process which starts with the Effect which is perceptible and investigates it in order to know the adequate Cause which makes (or made) it possible. In this way one comes to understand things. One sees how things are. One may not approve of what one sees. One often doesn't. There is an adequate cause for that too.

Everything is understandable but it takes an honest and detached mind, a longer or shorter period of time and perseverance to realise it.

The mind is naturally curious unless it has been interfered with by others (parents, society, educationists, dictators etc.) who try to make it work in directions which they consider desirable. When its curiosity is aroused, it is not normally satisfied until it comes up with a satisfactory answer. In this sense it doesn't mean that the answer is one that one approves of; simply that it makes sense. Why is there a dead blackbird on the lawn? Investigation reveals that the cat killed it. The mind is satisfied that this an adequate explanation. It may also decide to put a bell round the animal's neck to make sure that another similar effect is not produced in the future.

NEW PROJECT: The Science of Adequate Results.


When we were very young
we dug up the ground
to find Australia.
Australia was out.
A few old toys were all we found.

Because we were here
we wanted to be there.
Because we were dark
we wanted to be fair.
Because we were thin
we wanted to be fat.
Because we were this
we wanted to be that.

We longed for the country
for we lived in the town.
We wished we could have fair skin
because our skin was brown.
We had black hair
but we prayed for gold.
Because we were very young
we wanted to be old.

When we were very young
we dug up the ground
to find Australia.


Trace it all back as far as you can
from where it is now to where it began.
From knife to hand
from hand to eye;
from footprints on sand
to sun in the sky.

Trace it back further to where it begins
to the gateways and windows where all things get in.
The scent is not the rose
but the hairs that line the nose.
The seascape is the roving eye,
the tongue is the taste not the apple pie.
Mozart is what you hear
and his place is in the ear.

And all the subtle sensations that impinge upon the skin
flare their little on/off switches
in the mind that shines within.

Sunday, 2 May 2010


In the pursuit of Pleasure
and the avoidance of Pain,
we come back for ever
again and again.

And though we remembered,
we also forgot.

Why is it that you don't want to what?

New Project: Scientia Causarum Sufficientium

Sunday, 25 April 2010


Comment on Māra:
Māra is the deity ruling over the highest heaven in the sensuous sphere (kāmāvacara). This is the heaven of the paranimmitavasavatti-devas, "deities wielding power over the creations of others." Māra followed the Buddha, looking for a weakness in him, for six years before his Enlightenment and one year after it. He also tried to persuade the Buddha not to teach others the method of putting an end to suffering. He reappeared again before the Buddha's Parinibbāna and urged him on, not wanting him to continue teaching the way out from suffering.

Māra is seen as the Tempter who encourages beings to believe that the satisfaction of sensual desires is the highest form of existence ("eat, drink and be merry"). There are many people who agree wholeheartedly with this and they live their lives accordingly.

The Buddha, on the other hand, says, "eat, drink and be merry" is all very well, but "tomorrow we die". That is, in order to enjoy the pleasures of the senses, we have to have senses. In order to get senses we have to be born. When we are born, we don't only enjoy sense pleasures, we also get sickness, old age and death. The only way to avoid the suffering which is experienced between birth and death is not to be born again.

If we take the view that death is the end of it all, then we could say, " Since we only live once, we might as well make the most of it and satisfy the pleasures of our senses as much as we can while we still have them."

If "we only live once", this is not unreasonable. But the Buddha says that we don't only live once but many times. Every death is followed by a new birth until we put an end to the desire for birth. And each new birth depends on how we have behaved in our previous birth i.e. our karma. We can go up or down. We can even be reborn as animals.

The word "Māra" has as its root an Indo-European syllable that means "Death". The significance of this is that if we go along with Māra's "eat, drink and be merry" and get ourselves senses by being born, we are trapped under Māra's Net and "we die". Over and over again.

We are, of course, free to choose between Māra's view and the Buddha's. Those who enjoy a life of sensual pleasure, find Māra's view very tempting. Those aware of a larger picture see the suffering inherent in birth, sickness, old age and death. To these, the Buddha's view offers a lasting prospect of happiness and peace.

There is the Great Māra.
There are māras (you meet them everyday).
There are the māras in the mind; these appear as thoughts and mental images.
And sometimes as voices.


Sunday, 18 April 2010


Project: Negativity

Negativity is a poisonous cloud of dust blown about the universe by the winds of space.

It is also like the game of "Pass the parcel".  Someone unexpectedly passes you his parcel of poison.  You instinctively pass it back to him or pass it on to the next unsuspecting person. With each passing on one adds one's own pennyworth.

(Which is where the cloud comes from!)

New Project: Māra

Sunday, 28 March 2010


Project: Seeing and Knowing.

Avijja is everywhere translated as “Ignorance”, especially "Ignorance of the Four Noble Truths". Ignorance means not knowing. Knowledge (κ+νουσ) refers to data which is retained in the mind. It can be factually correct, "I know your aunt: I know the French for 'thank you'." It can be incorrect, "I know 2+2 = 5". In this case you do know something; it just happens to be wrong. Ignorance is simply not knowing. "I don't know your aunt. I don't know any French. I don't know 2+2 = anything."

Vijja is usually translated as “Knowledge”; for example in the Three Vijjas where it refers to attainments certain types of Arahats attain. But Vijja is different from Knowledge. It is not just data retained in the mind. It means actually seeing something in the present and, therefore, having immediate understanding of it.

Most Buddhists know the Four Noble Truths. They can recite them in the way a young child can repeat its nine times table. They are certainly not ignorant of them. But this knowledge is not sufficient to remove Avijja as the first step in the Dependent Origination. It cannot thereby bring about the psychological process which the Buddha experienced under the Bodhi tree and by which he achieved Enlightenment. On the contrary, most Buddhists, who are fluent in their knowledge of the First Noble Truth, cannot even see that the food on their plates got there as the result of being bred in captivity and killed, usually painfully. They cannot see Suffering.

So Vijja is not Knowledge and Avijja is not Ignorance.

Consider this example. I know there are cobras in Thailand. I have been told this by the people here and I believe them. I have seen pictures of them. I have seen them in the zoo. I even know that they get into houses and there could, in theory, be one in my house. Compare this collection of knowledge with actually going into my bedroom now and seeing, on the bed, a cobra, with its hood raised, watching me as I come through the door. True seeing and understanding of this event and its relevance to me would be immediate and effective. I would not speculate on which of the several species of cobras, which can be distinguished by variations in their markings, this one might be. Nor would I attempt to measure it with a tape in order to assist identification (by relating this datum with other data in my mind.) On the contrary, I should leave the room quickly and close the door behind me.

So it is with Vijja. Seeing the First Noble Truth, means seeing suffering wherever it appears, immediately and with direct, decisive understanding; the corpse on the plate, the screaming child, the widow at the funeral, the old man crying silently as he dies. Avijja means not seeing these things with immediate understanding in the present, wherever they appear.

Knowledge means just knowing these things as data, stored mentally in the memory banks together with "the sun rises in the east", "a jellyfish sting can be unpleasant", "Christmas Day celebrates the birth of Jesus, although it is believed he was born on an altogether different day." Ignorance means not even knowing the facts (i.e. not having these data in the mind).

New Project: Negativity

Sunday, 21 March 2010


 avijja: ignorance of the Four Noble Truths concerning Suffering; its Cause; its Cessation; The Way leading to its Cessation.  The tenth fetter.

Comment on avijjā: (a + vijjā).  Vijjā means "seeing" (cognate with "vision") and also understanding what you see. In this case, it means seeing the world and everything in it as it actually is, without projecting viewpoints upon what you are looking at, which make it appear otherwise. This means "correct seeing" or "right view". Seeing correctly means seeing unsatisfactory things as unsatisfactory.

Avijjā (a + vijjā) means not seeing things as they actually are. Not seeing unsatisfactory things as unsatisfactory.

This is first step in the Dependent Origination*. It is also the primary fetter . If we see unsatisfactory things as in some way satisfactory, then we cling to them and make of them a fetter. This fetter binds us to the level of unsatisfactory things; the level on which beings experience birth, sickness, old age and death. That is, it keeps us in the sangsara. Forever.

If we have succeeded in releasing ourselves from all these fetters during this sequence of projects, we are Arahats. If we haven't, we can use them as a tool to see and identify those things which arise in the mind and keep us trapped in a world of suffering. We can patiently weaken them and, ultimately, free ourselves from them forever.

*See Dependent Origination

New Project: Reviewing The Ten Samyojanas.

Sunday, 14 March 2010


uddhacca: restlessness, mental agitation, the ninth fetter.

Comment on uddhacca: usually translated as "restlessness".  This is a state of mind which is agitated and scattered.  The image is of a layer of dust which has been stirred up or a bowl of still water into which more water is poured so that ripples go out in all directions.

Whenever the mind is working, it is moving.  This in itself is not a problem.  What creates the fetter is when it is out of control.  As one discovers when one tries to stop it.  Since "mind comes first" and everything which is to be done starts with the mind, one cannot overestimate the seriousness of this.  When one says it is "out of control", one usually means it is out of one's control.  The dust doesn't stir itself up.  Nor does the water agitate itself.  So what does control it?  Associative thoughts (one thing leading to another); feelings, memories, desires, sense objects appearing at the sense doors (one hears something or sees something or smells something or one's body itches or hurts) - the list is endless.

This is why one so rarely moves smoothly towards an intended goal.  It is as though one sets off to drive somewhere but other people keep trying to grab the steering wheel and steer off in different directions.

Uddhacca is also listed as a hindrance to meditation.  One can't progress in meditation if one can't control the mind and keep it on the meditation object.

So, whether one is a meditator or just someone who wants to bring his mind under control in ordinary everyday life, it is essential to deal with this problem.

There are two ways of doing this; both equally difficult.  One forces the mind to focus on a single, chosen object.  With the other, one patiently undertakes the task of observing the mind and its workings in order to thoroughly understand how it operates.  One then uses one's growing understanding to gradually bring it under control.  Both methods require patience and perseverance.  But the rewards of success are enormous.  One can see that some people find this easier than others.  This is because the more one has neglected one's mind, the harder it is to put it to rights.  If a gardener goes off for a couple of years, what he finds when he comes back will appear daunting.  "Nature" has taken over.  Neglect of one's mind may have lasted much longer than a couple of years!  Karma is perfect.

New Project: The Tenth Samyojana

Sunday, 7 March 2010


mana: conceit, pride, the eighth fetter.
Comment on mana: This is generally translated as "conceit" or "pride". "Conceit" means "an exalted conception of self worth".  Mana is both gross and subtle.  It appears as asmi-mana, the conceit of "I am": i.e. "I exist as a separate physical or mental entity".  It is an underlying tendency (anusaya) to compare oneself with others in ways where one is identifying oneself with own mind or own body.  Comparison is in itself not the fetter.  I can say "I am bigger than he is or older or speak more French" but these may be simple conventional matters of fact, similar to "He has red hair, I have brown" or even "His hair is redder than mine".  It is when I identify with something which may or may not be a fact, but which I grasp after as belonging in some way to me personally, that the fetter arises.

It arises in three forms: I am better than him, I am equal to him; I am not as good as him.  Each of these may be matters of fact.  One needs to be aware of the mental state that accompanies them to see if there is any trace of self-exaltation or self-satisfaction.  One often meets people who are insistent that they are not as good as someone (Jesus perhaps.  Or Joe DiMaggio.).  This may well be true but, if they take undue satisfaction in their humility, it will, on examination, be found to be not humility at all but inverted pride.

It is clear that mana depends upon duality.  Using the Universal Octopus, one can see that a tentacle is comparing itself to another tentacle.

"There being really no duality, pluralism is untrue." The fetter consists in being bound to (holding on to) a secondary level of being, the level of duality.

New Project: The ninth samyojana

Sunday, 28 February 2010


arupa-raga: craving for immaterial existence, the seventh fetter.
Comment on arupa-raga: Arupa means without form.

The arupa-kkhandhas are feeling, perception, sangkharas (mental) and consciousness.

There are four arupa-jhanas. These are the four highest states of meditation in which there is no perception of or consciousness of form. Beings who succeed in achieving any of these find them more satisfactory than physical existence or existence in the heaven worlds of form. When they die, they generally arise in the plane of existence which corresponds to the particular jhana they have attained. Life on these planes is very long.

The Buddha's former teachers are still there. They arose there because they did not find anything higher. They thought this was the ultimate. But on these planes, too, you arise (get born) and, after a time, you fall away from them (die) and are born again somewhere else as the result of latent, unfulfilled karma.

More birth, more death. These are the characteristics of all planes of existence except Nibbana, which is the highest. Hence, although there is no suffering in these states or these worlds, the fact that they are impermanent makes them unsatisfactory and the desire for them constitutes a fetter.

Even for non-meditators, when one just sits and thinks, the actual process of thinking is formless, though what one thinks about may involve objects of sense and desire for them (kama-raga) or delight in forms perceived through the eye or ear (rupa-raga). However, certain types of thinking, where the mind is quite detached and without feelings either for or against the content of the thoughts, are arupa. Pure mathematics is arupa, for example when one is simply concerned with number and not relating it to actual objects (forms). That is, one is not thinking of five apples divided among three people, but simply 5 divided by 3.

New Project: The Eighth Samyojana.

Sunday, 21 February 2010


rupa-raga: craving for fine material existence, the sixth fetter.

Comment on rupa-raga: Rupa means form. In nama-rupa, it means matter in contrast to mind.

In physical matter, it can refer to a distinct shape which appears as a separate recognisable object. In matter which is not living, it could be a statue, a rock, a lake, a building, a photograph etc.

Rupa-raga at this level can be for anything recognisable which is seen and stimulates desire and attachment. It may be accompanied by kama-raga as in the case of e.g. the Rokeby Venus; or it may not if the attraction is aesthetic e.g. Constable's Hay Wain or the view from the bedroom window. It may also be for things heard, e.g. a symphony.

Where there is no kama-raga, it is clear that the attachment is for the perceived form which is superimposed by the mind on a physical sangkhara made up of the four elements. Ordinarily this is not realised. In such a case, if the physical object is destroyed, the form disappears and unpleasant feelings, in proportion to attachment, are experienced as though something real had actually been lost.

Those who can see the distinction between the collection of physical elements and the mentally superimposed image, go for the image. A mental image can be made of an object without its imperfections. In the Hay Wain, the seasons do not change, there are no gadflies, no smells of horse manure, no unwelcome sounds. The worst that can happen is that the canvass itself can be destroyed. If one goes one stage further and dispenses with the canvass, retaining the imagery solely in the mind, one detaches it altogether from matter. One can also improve it. One can choose to view it in Spring or in a snow storm. One can people it with one's friends. One can introduce motion and background music from the Pastoral Symphony. One can bring it alive. One can enter it.

At this point one creates a heaven world in which "moth and rust doth not corrupt nor do thieves break in and steal". Anyone, using a combination of merit, imagination (the creation of images i.e. rupas) and concentration, can do this.

Hence the basis for a fetter: either to forms associated with the elements (i.e. the material sangsara) or to forms dissociated from the elements, i.e. heaven worlds (including the Christian). In either case one is drawn back to the objects of one's desire to be born again on the plane on which they exist. And to die again.

New Project: The Seventh Samyojana.

Monday, 15 February 2010


vyapada: ill-will, the fifth fetter.
Comment on vyapada: This is a spectrum of feeling ranging from the slightest irritation to blind hatred and produces corresponding actions of thought, word and deed. Irritation is the acorn, hatred the fully grown oak. When the contact of sense base with a sense object results in a feeling which is unpleasant, vyapada can arise..Just as unwise reflection on a pleasant object and the associated feeling can result in attraction and attachment, so unwise reflection on an unpleasant object can result in repulsion. In either case, clinging is the result and a fetter is created which binds you to the level on which these objects exist, i.e. the sangsara. If you go back to a room to meet your lover or to settle accounts with your enemy, in either case you go back to the same room - the room of birth and death.

New Project: The Sixth Samyojana.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010


kama-raga : sensual lust, the fourth fetter.

Comment on kama-raga: The senses contact a sense object. This causes feelings to arise. The feelings can be pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. If the feeling is pleasant, it can give rise to strong desire and clinging (see The Dependent Origination). It is this clinging that constitutes the fetter. It binds you down to the sangsara where all these sense objects exist and makes rebirth there inevitable. You can't escape. It's not only sexual lust (as often translated). It is any sense contacting any sense object. Think of those Roman gluttons who, having eaten as much as they could, took an emetic, vomited it all up and returned to the table! Think of the youngsters going everywhere with earphones of music. Et cetera.

New Project: The Fifth Samyojana

Sunday, 31 January 2010


silabbata-paramasa: almost everywhere translated as "attachment (clinging) to mere rules (rites) and rituals", the third fetter.

Comment on silabbata-paramasa: There is nothing in the Pali which corresponds to "mere". The use of it indicates that the translator has not understood.

silabbata = sila + bata (vata)
sila = morality = character, behaviour
vata = practice, custom, behaviour. cp Vedic vrata = vow
paramasa = attachment, clinging, misapprehension.

Fetters are normally bonds which hold one down and have been put on us by someone else. In Buddhist psychology, fetters certainly hold us down but it is because we hold on to them. Like a man who is stuck at the bottom of the sea because he is holding on to a heavy anchor.

So really it means clinging to the practice of morality. The key word is "clinging". There is nothing wrong with morality including conventional codes of good conduct.

Think of it: all morality is practiced within the field of the sangsara. If you escape the sangsara, there is nowhere to practise morality, nor any need for the mental concepts of "morality" or "practicing".

As far as the practice of morality within the sangsara is concerned, you can't escape the sangsara unless your morality is perfect. If you visualise the universal octopus, the reason for this becomes obvious.

New Project: The Fourth Samyojana


vicikiccha: "uncertainty", the second fetter.

Comment on vicikiccha: This is always translated as "doubt in the Buddha's Teachings".  It certainly includes this.  But it refers to any doubts.  Think about it: The FETTERS are almost as old as the sangsara and men have been breaking them and becoming enlightened since before the Buddha and his teaching appeared.

New Project: The Third Samyojana


sakkaya-ditthi: "own-body view", the first fetter.

Comment on sakkaya-ditthi: A "fetter" binds you down to where you don't want to be. Where do these fetters bind us to?  To the sangsara.  The sangsara is the plane of suffering in which "KAYAS" - BODIES - physical and mental, incessantly appear and disappear.  Any view about "OWN BODY" bind one to this level of suffering where the bodies are.  One is born and dies over and over again until one can break free of "OWN" and "VIEW".

The sangsara does not come to an end of itself.  One has to break free of it.

New Project: The Second Samyojana