Monday, 31 May 2010

To Feel respected and Loved is a Joy

Long ago, in the hills of the Himalayas near a lotus pool, there was once born a baby elephant. He was a magnificent elephant, pure white with feet and face the colour of coral. His trunk gleamed like a silver rope and his ivory tusks curled up in a long arc.

He followed his mother everywhere. She plucked the tenderest leaves and sweetest mangoes from the tall trees and gave them to him. "First you, then me," she said. She bathed him in the cool lotus pool among the fragrant flowers. Drawing the sparkling water up in her trunk, she sprayed him over the top of his head and back until he shone. Then filling his trunk with water, he took careful aim and squirted a perfect geyser right between his mother's eyes. Without blinking, she squirted him back. And back and forth, they gleefully squirted and splashed each other. Splish! Splash!

Then they rested in the soft muck with their trunks curled together. In the deep shadows of afternoon, the mother elephant rested in the shade of a rose-apple tree and watched her son romp and frolic with the other baby elephants.

The little elephant grew and grew until he was the tallest and strongest young bull in the herd. And while he grew taller and stronger, his mother grew older and older. Her tusks were yellow and broken and in time she became blind. The young elephant plucked the tenderest leaves and sweetest mangoes from the tall trees and gave them to his dear old blind mother. "First you, then me," he said.

He bathed her in the cool lotus pool among the fragrant flowers. Drawing the sparkling water up in his trunk, he sprayed her over the top of her head and back until she shone. Then they rested in the soft muck with their trunks curled together. In the deep shadows of afternoon, the young elephant guided his mother to the shade of a rose-apple tree. Then he went roaming with the other elephants. One day a king was hunting and spied the beautiful white

elephant. "What a splendid animal! I must have him to ride upon!" So the king captured the elephant and put him in the royal stable. He adorned him with silk and jewels and garlands of lotus flowers. He gave him sweet grass and juicy plums and filled his trough with pure water.

But the young elephant would not eat or drink. He wept and wept, growing thinner each day. "Noble elephant," said the king, "I adorn you with silk and jewels. I give you the finest food and the purest water, yet you do not eat or drink. What will please you?" The young elephant said, "Silk and jewels, food and drink do not make me happy. My blind old mother is alone in the forest with no one to care for her. Though I may die, I will take no food or water until I give some to her first."

The king said, "Never have I seen such kindness, not even among humans. It is not right to keep this young elephant in chains." Free, the young elephant raced through the hills looking for his mother. He found her by the lotus pool. There she lay in the mud, too weak to move. With tears in his eyes, he filled his trunk with water and sprayed the top of her head and back until she shone. "Is it raining?" she asked. "Or has my son returned to me?" "It is your very own son!" he cried. "The king has set me free!" As he washed her eyes, a miracle happened. Her sight returned. "May the king rejoice today as I rejoice at seeing my son again!" she said.

The young elephant then plucked the tenderest leaves and sweetest mangoes from a tree and gave them to her. "First you, then me."

What a joy there is in knowing that you are important in the lives of your family. That whatever you have done you have earned their respect and love.

Need I say anymore?

This blog is linked to my other where I discuss the artwork. Poppy Glory

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Life Changing Moments

My daughter will visit me today so I know that this will be a good day. I so love having my family around me. They fill me with warm joyous thoughts. They also make sure my feet stay planted firmly on reality. They are a wonderful responsibility.

I watched a programme about the up and coming world football cup. This year it is to be held in South Africa in four years time it will move to Brazil. How sad I was to learn that both of these countries also have something else in common. Both have a real and growing problem of child prostitution. I sat in tears as a mother explained that she took great care to protect her two girls, only allowing them to go with people she felt were safe. My mind could not comprehend the so called logic of he rationale.

Yesterday Jerry, as usual put his finger to the heart of the matter. He suggested if people sue and lose they should have to pay the amount. We do somehow need to find ways of helping people to see that there are always other ways, other alternatives.

Now before this gets too heavy and a sad way to start a day let me tell you a lovely little true story.

I was invited to have tea with a Japanese family. When my daughter arrives today it will be the first thing she will ask for. She loves a cup of tea. This family took this to a different level. Each stage of the tea making and pouring was done with great dignity and ceremony. The pot was turned slowly three times round 360%. The tea was poured into very delicate porcelain cups. They were then turned and slowly passed to the assembled drinkers. The whole experience bound us together and brought with it a calm I had never experienced before, even in meditation.

After the ceremony I asked, “Why do you make your teacups so thin and delicate that they break easily. "It's not that they're too delicate,” answered my host, "but that you don't know how to handle them. You must adjust yourself to the environment, and not vice versa."

This moment has stuck with me down the years. I have tried my very best to remember those words, as I am sure you who read this also have. Art makes us see the world as a partner and something to live in harmony with. We will never solve the problems of the world but today I will bring some joy to my little corner of it. I hope somebody does that for you.

This is the way of Tao.

This Blog is linked to my other :-  Haunted Memories

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Falling Asleep

I remember it well, the night I had with friends in Edinburgh. It was one of those nights where everybody had fun. It was a Saturday so we had plenty time to catch the last train home. We all piled into the carriage still laughing and joking. The next thing I remember was wakening up in the carriage alone. I looked out the window to see that the train had arrived at its destination, Cupar. Now this was the other side of Fife and a long way from where I wanted to be. There were no trains due to return until the next morning. My first thought was to just stay on the platform but the station manager was having none of that.

Next thought let me see if I can hitch a lift home. I arrived home in the very early hours of the morning. I had enough time to get a shower and head off out to my work. Thank goodness it was not a weekday and we only did a short period of work.

It was with relief that I, a few hours later crawled back into bed. My friends had thought it would be a laugh to just let me sleep. They had all go off at the correct station.

Now I could have reacted in a number of ways, anger, I could have gone off in a huff or I could have just gone along with it. I chose the latter and I have had tears of telling the story and retelling it. Here I am telling it again.

Yesterday, on the Canadian news, I am told there was a story of a woman who had fallen asleep on an airplane. Nobody had noticed her so when she awoke she could not get off the plane. Eventually the police arrived armed with guns to escort her from the plane.

She is now going to sue the company for, neglect, stress and wrongful arrest. My, how times have changed. It seems that now we do not just want to have the tales to tell round the dinner table, we want the meals paid for also.

There is an old Chinese account of a certain temple. Way back in history the master had destroyed some sacred texts. He believed his students were becoming attached to the manuscripts and not the teachings.

Later, after his death a statue of the teacher was erected. There grew up a tradition that rather than bowing to the statue some people would gently spit towards it. One day a great master entered and bowed low before the statue. When asked why he bowed rather than spit he replied. “If you wish to spit, then you spit. I prefer to bow, so I will bow.”

It is all about choices once again. The way of Tao is full of choices.

This blog is linked to my other where the art is discussed.   Remember the Night We Painted the Town Red

Friday, 28 May 2010

Life is Always Worth a Gamble

I ended up yesterday laughing with old Archie. I have told you him before and shown you his portrait. He is now in his eighties and loving every minute of life. He is, as you might expect a bit set into his routine, but nevertheless he is able to spring the odd surprise.

Our vegetable plots are down near the side of the railway line, so no need clocks or watches. Archie organises his times around the coming and going of the trains. “That will be the 10.45am to London, time to head up the road. He will then walk up to the village place a small wager on a horse. He will pop in for a wee dram then head home for his lunch.

He began to tell me about the horse he had put a wager on. “No use telling me Archie,” I said, “I have not got a clue on odds or anything.” I have never ever gambled on anything in my life. I would rather give a donation than even buy a raffle ticket. When I explained that he looked at me all serious. “Your maybe right,” he said, “I might be in danger of becoming addicted.”

Now at his age I would not have thought that mattered. He then went on to tell me a story of when he had a young apprentice. Archie was having a good run on his wagers. The young man had asked for a tip. Archie gave him one he new would surely lose. The young lad was upset when it did. “But,” said Archie, “just think if it had won I met have set you on the road to ruin.”

The young man is now head of a large company and often tells Archie he is glad he never won that first and last bet. Who knows what might have happened had he won?

One day a young student was on a journey, he came to the banks of a wide river. Staring hopelessly at the great obstacle in front of him, he pondered for hours on just how to cross such a wide barrier. Just as he was about to give up his pursuit to continue his journey he saw the master on the other side of the river. The young student yells over to the master, "Oh wise one, can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river"?

The master ponders for a moment looks up and down the river and yells back, "My son, you are on the other side".

There is always more ways than one to look at the events of life. That will be the 8am train I had better go and get on with the rest of this day. I wonder what side I might end up on or what smiles this day will bring. But whatever, I will ponder it and smile.

THis blog is linked to my other:-Jackie

Thursday, 27 May 2010

The First Day of a New Marriage.

Yesterday I was talking to two friends. We were interrupted by a couple. They asked if they had got it right and I was who they thought I was. I did not recognise them and wondered what it was they wanted of me. They introduced themselves and a memory sprung to the fore of my mind.

This was a couple I had conducted the wedding of over thirty years ago. Here they were still happy and together. How good it was to see them. They told me they remembered that day as if it was just a short time ago. I asked them what it was they remembered the most. One of the jokes you told after the dinner stuck in their memory. I felt a bit of a disappointment that it was not something I had said during the ceremony.

The story I had told was this.

On the first morning of the honeymoon the bride had got up early. She disappeared leaving the groom wondering what was happening. He heard her leave the house and not soon after returning. Soon she appeared in the room. He was overcome by her beauty, but he was even more surprised to notice that she carried a breakfast tray. On the tray was a large flask of piping hot coffee, bacon and egg, a newspaper and a rose in a little vase.

The groom was overcome with joy. He sat up and enjoyed his breakfast. Over a second cup of coffee he read the newspaper. Having finished he turned and kissed his wife. “Thank you, that was just marvellous, what a way to start a marriage,” he said.

“That is good,” said his wife, “that will be how I expect things to be from now on.”

I had gone on to say that marriage was about two people each caring about the other and each seeking to bring joy to the other.

It seemed that they had remembered that each time they were not agreeing. One or other had often said, “That is how I expect it,” and laughed.

A small joke at a wedding had become part of their lives. We are never ever aware of the effect we are having on others. I thank you all for the comments yesterday I went to bed last night feeling overwhelmed. So here I am today again with my little humorous tale from yesterday.

What little gem will we say today that might affect the lives of others? Thanks Jim and Anne, the real bride and groom for the memories.

This blog is linked to my other where I speak of the art used. Thoughts of Spring and Love

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

The King and His Palace

Everybody knew that the king treasured his palace and his possessions. He saw everything as his. Severe penalties were enforced to those caught even catching a rabbit within the territory of the kings realm.

He had a reputation for being strict and not liked by those he ruled. As he grew older he became more and possessive of the things he owned. He spent more and more time alone surrounded by more and more possessions.

The master heard of this king and decided to journey to see for himself. True to the stories he had heard, the people he met seemed to get seemed to get more miserable the closer he came to the palace.

When he arrived at the gates he was allowed through by the guards, his reputation had gone before him. He found the king sitting alone on his throne, looking miserable.

“What do you want?” he asked the master. The master looked at him and said, “I have journeyed a long way, and have a long journey to return. I would like a room in this inn to rest my weary bones.”

“Inn,” shouted the king, “this is not an inn. This is my palace. This is all mine.”

“I see,” said the master, “and who owned it before you?”

“My father owned it before me, he has now died and it is mine.” “I see,” said the master. “And who owned it before your father?” “My grandfather,” said the king, “he too is dead.”

“And this place, where people come and live for a short time and then move on – did I hear you say this was NOT an Inn?”

Life is full of choices, but the greatest choice is that about the things we own and the time we have. Friends often make demands on both. But a life without friends is not really a life at all.

All things are transitory, including this blog. I am beginning to feel that maybe it has now served its purpose. It was never my intention to return to preaching but maybe this is what this blog is in danger of being?  Today is the day where this blog reaches its 150th post much longer than I ever expected it to last.

This blog is linked to my other where I discuss the artwork used;- Linlithgow Palace

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Beware of Retaliation

For many years I was involved in working in courts. As a part time judge, I saw a variety of those who in one way or another make the live of others less pleasant. But it also brought its humour. I suppose in the midst of the bad we all seek the funny.

Two magistrates had fallen foul of a police speed trap. Each was due to appear before the court. It was agreed each would try the other. The first magistrate went onto the bench. The charge was laid out before him. The second magistrate had been caught going at 90 miles per hour. The bench magistrate took time and thought. He then fined the second one £300 and endorsed his license with 4 penalty points.

They exchanged places. The first magistrate now stood in the dock. He had been caught at the same speed. The second magistrate thought, and then fined him £350 and endorsed with 5 points. When challenged by the first he stated. “We have to set an example here. This is the second case like this in one morning; we have to do something to make an example.”

A police constable had a disagreement with the local minister. Determined to get the better of the minister he watched and tried to catch him speeding, or jumping a red light. He was unsuccessful, the minister drove with due care. Then one day he saw the minister or his bicycle, he stopped him. He wanted to check that the cycle was in good road order. It was in tip top condition. The minister laughed, “You see I have special cover, I have the Lord always with me.” The constable drew out his notebook with a wry smile. “I have you at last,” he said, “you are charged with cycling with two on a bicycle.”

Yes the old ones are the best. But there is a truth lying within these two little stories. Life has a strange way of coming back to us. The actions of our lives ripple out and touch the lives of others, each action having a reaction. The more we encourage good actions then the more we are likely to experience good actions in our lives.

I hope today starts with a little smiles and that smile causes a reaction that makes you bring a smile to another. Each day as I read your blogs I leave my computer with a smile determined that in the course of the day I will pass it on.

This is the way of the Tao.

This blog is linked to my other blog where I discuss the artwork: The Lilly Pond

Monday, 24 May 2010

Difficult Situations

Katherine made a comment the other day on the blog about her love of the, “The Toa of Winne the Pooh.” I wish I could count how many of this book and its follow up, “The Te of Tigger,” I have given to people or loaned and never got back. I find them, as Katherine seems to, books you can return to again and again, each time finding something new.

He is an interesting example that I remember well.

Roo also wants to know whether Tiggers can jump as far as Kangas, and Tigger says that they can when they want to. Roo says that they should have a jumping contest right now, but Tigger says that they should keep going otherwise they will be late for whatever it is they want to be in time for.

When they reach the Six Pine Trees Roo tells Tigger about the time he fell into the stream on the Expotition and swam, and Tigger says that Tiggers can swim too, because they can do everything. Roo asks if they can climb trees better than Pooh can, and Tigger says that climbing trees is what Tiggers do best, and they do it much better than Poohs.

I am sure we all know people just like Tigger, the people who can do everything better than everybody else. More worrying, there is a little bit of Tigger in us all. Those times when we do not want to admit that there are things we cannot do as well as we would like to.

Now one of those times nearly got me into real difficulty. I have a real love of mountains. There is something very special about standing on the top of one. The world looks different somehow. I set myself the task of running up as many of the 285 Munroes we have in Scotland. These are the 285 highest mountains, including Ben Nevis.

Now running up a mountain means taking as little equipment as you can. So one day I set off to run up and down Ben Vorlich. Two young lads had been desperate to come with me.

We managed to the summit, taking a lot more breathers than I normally would, so my time calculations were all astray. The boys were loving it, sandwiches and snowball fights on the summit. Then the snow came in. They started to worry. I was full of reassurance, but deep down inside thinking all sorts of horrors.

The moral of this story is so easy to see. Know your limits, or like Tigger you may end up in some difficult spots.

I sold another painting yesterday so today I have the mountain of producing one to replace where I hang them. I can do that no bother. Now Ralph listen to yourself, and be real. You may do so but it will not be no bother.

This blog is linked to my other blog:- Aonoch Eagach Ridge

Sunday, 23 May 2010


Jerry who often makes comment on my blog always begins with the same words, I am alive and here and all is good, or words to that effect. How poignant these words are this morning.

Yesterday was such a beautiful day, the sun shone and it was warm. I did some hoeing and weeding down at my plot. Having done the weeding I sat and chatted to old Archie, listening to his words of wisdom and humour.

In the afternoon I visited my son and we ate outside and relaxed and chatted. I headed off to bed feeling it had been a marvellous day. I dozed off, then it happened, I awoke struggling for breath. The more I struggled the more I coughed, the worse it got. Eventually I had to call the emergency services. They sent out a doctor who gave me some terrible concoction, foul tasting but it enabled me to get some easier breathing and eventually some sleep.

So as Jerry says I am alive and well and that is good. There is no doubt whatsoever that when you face the alternative, I hope you never have to, life is good. This morning the air tastes marvellous and the view from my study window looks like it has never looked before.

There is a parable story of the monk who spent years seeking to find meaning in his life. He was so sure that if he found the right person he would find the meaning of existence. So he journeyed miles and years, all the time seeking wise sages to question and learn from. One day he was crossing a dangerous river. Trusting in the boatman, he lay down in the boat.

Then a strange thing happened. He saw a corpse in the water floating towards him. As it got nearer he started to see the face of the floating corpse. He was shocked to see it was himself.

At this stage the boatman shook him and said, “We have arrived.” The monk had indeed arrived at the end of his quest. He had discovered that life is so precious it has to be lived not wasted in foolish quests and meaningless pursuits.

I hope this blog today does not sound depressing. I for one feel alive and life is marvellous. My second task, writing this being my first, is to go try and catch some of the lost sleep. So much for me learning lessons, “look to yourself blind fool.”

I hope you all have a wonderful creative day.

This blog is linked to my other where I discuss the artwork on here.  Archie

Saturday, 22 May 2010

The Joy of Obedience

Teaching can be such a joy; there is no greater pleasure in life than to see realisation dawn on the face of a student. But there is always the student for whatever reason, just wants to be awkward. I remember on such student who made a fellow teachers life miserable at every class. Frequently I had to remove him from her class and make him sit in my room and work on his own.

Having spoken with him a few times I began to understand that he carried with him a great amount of resentment. He had a difficult home life. The only time I saw him soften was the day I spoke to him of his mother. It became clear to me that this one the one good thing in his life, from his perspective.

I asked him one day to imagine, what it would be like if his mother went to work and all day people bullied her, or made her life torture. He instantly reacted. “I would kill them,” he said. A strong reaction, much exaggerated. I then pointed out to him that the teachers he daily made life miserable for, was mothers out doing a job. They were fathers who had sons and daughters. It seemed so simple, let him see people as real people not just teachers.

I got an email from him yesterday. What a joy. He has just been promoted in his teaching job.

A teacher gave regular lessons to students on a weekend. Many students from a neighbouring retreat joined his lessons making the master from there very angry. One morning he joined the students feeling even angrier when he saw how many attended.

“Hey, Zen teacher!” he called out. “Who ever respects you will do as you ask, but a man like me does not respect you. Can you make me do as you ask?”

“Come up beside me and I will show you,” said the master.

Proudly the teacher pushed his way to the front.

“Come to my left side,” said the master,

The teacher did as was asked.

“No,” said the master, “we will talk better if you are here on the right side. Step over here.”

Proudly the teacher did just that, he stepped to the right.

“You see,” said the master, “you do as I ask of you and I think you are a very gentle person. Now sit down and listen.”

The gentle way of the Tao.
This blog is linked to my other where I discuss the artwork used:- The Floral Dance

Friday, 21 May 2010

Old Age Brings Its Laughs

The father was getting very old and forgetful. His daughter felt that it was time for her to find a good retirement home for him. He did not agree at all, he was sure that he was able to manage as he was. There were times when he went upstairs and forgot why, but that happens to us all does it not?

The daughter decided to consult the doctor. Her question to him was very simple, “How do you discern the correct time to take a person into a home?”

“Ah,” said the doctor, “we run a small test, on the basis of the reaction we decide.” “What is the test?” asked the daughter.

“It is simple,” said the doctor. “First we fill the bath with water. They are told they have to empty it. Once it is fairly full we offer the client a choice; they can choose a spoon, a cup or a bucket.”

The daughter looked at him, “That is so simple, surely they choose the bucket. That way they can empty the bath the fastest.”

“No,” said the doctor, “most people would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window and when do you want to come in?

The master had a very clever student for whom he had high hopes. The student was aware of this and held the master in very high regard. So he was concerned when one day he broke the master’s precious cup.

He gathered up the broken pieces and approached the master, keeping the broken cup hidden.

“Master, why do people have to die?” he asked. The master looked at him and replied, “This is the natural way of things. Everything has to die and has only so long to live. For everything there is a season.”

The student produced the cup from behind his back, “It was time for this cup to die,” he said.

The master could only grin; the tension had been removed from a difficult situation with humour.

I hope today I made you grin, if not laugh.

This blog is linked to my other where I discuss the artwork:- Ross 2

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Real Prosperity

Yesterday I overheard a conversation taking place between two females. It could just as easily have been two males, but it happened to be two females. One was reading a magazine where you can follow the lives of “celebrities”. She was telling the other how in reality they were just people like you and me.

Indeed some of them are, all they are famous for, is being famous. They have achieved nothing else. Then I thought again. Yes they are just like me. I to get up n the morning and the maid have my breakfast ready. My hairdresser arrives to shave and groom me. I then have my time with my personal trainer, before I take a swim in my heated pool.

I have a very busy morning writing out the lists of all that has to be done for me that day.

They are people just like you and me. So why do I bother reading about their lives and antics?

Let you into a secret, I do not.

The master was approached by a very rich man one day. He wanted the master to write in his best calligraphy some words that his family could treasure. It had to be something that could be handed down through the generations. It was to be well framed and no expense spared in its preparation.

In his best hand the master wrote, “Father dies, son dies, grandson dies.” It was mounted and framed.

The rich man was furious. “I asked you to write something for the happiness of my family,” he said “why do you mock us so?”

The master looked at him and said, “No mockery intended. "If before you yourself die you son should die, this would grieve you greatly. If your grandson should pass away before your son, both of you would be broken-hearted. If your family, generation after generation, passes away in the order I have named, it will be the natural course of life. I call this real prosperity."

There are some things in life that no wealth can ever buy. I am so glad that I can stroll in the park at will and in freedom. All the money in the world would not be worth such joy.

This is the way of Tao.

Have you ever noticed that the ads on here are often an attempt by google to match my blog. Will be interesting to see what they consider real wealth.

This blog is linked to my other where I discuss the artwork:- Summer Rains in the Park

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Learning Right From Wrong.

When I was a young lad my father took me walking every Sunday. He was not a believer in god, or for that matter religion. So Sunday became a special day for me, because that was the day I walked with my father. It seemed we walked for mile after mile. I now realise it only seemed that. One thing for sure, it was a learning experience.

He identified the different trees, the habits of birds and animals and the different flowers and their characters. In the midst of all this adventure he also taught me right from wrong. He pointed out dangers and things to be aware of. He did it gently with few words.

The other day there I was out walking. I was going along the path of the beautiful, Loch an Eilean. There is only wall small steading on this path, where there lives an old man and his dog. Electricity is fed to the home by a cable, high among the trees, on poles. It would be almost invisible if it were not for the large unsightly yellow warning notices on every tree. Not one on one pole but three on each. It is as if we cannot be told once. It spoils a beautiful area. I suppose it is part of the culture of health and safety, and the culture of blame. Have we lost the art of knowing right from wrong?

The master was running a summer meditation class for young people. Many gathered for the three week course. On the second day, a boy was seen by another stealing. The matter was reported to the master. It seemed he did nothing.

Two days later the same thing happened again. This time the other young people told the master, “If you do not send him home, we are all leaving.”

The master gathered all the students in the meditation room. He repeated to all the gathered what had happened. He then surprised them by saying, “If you choose to go home, then so be it. This young man here has not yet learned right from wrong. He more than all of you is in need of my help. If I do not help then how will he ever learn right from wrong?”

The young man was so moved he broke down in tears. From that day on he never stole again. He had his first lesson in the difference between right and wrong. He also learned the value of trust.

The picture above is a view of Loch an Eilean there is a path wanders all the way round. When I was running seriously I would run from the caravan site and round this path then back to the site a run of 10 miles. The other day I walked it savouring the beauty.

I have another blog where I discuss an artwork:-The Incoming Tide

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

What Is It You Need

Before I begin this post I need to give all my overseas friends a small bit of Scottish insight. In Scotland a lot about a person is judged, wrongly, by the football team you support. For most young students the thought of not supporting any team is just not a thought that crosses the mind. It was the same about religion where I taught.

My students asked, “Are you a catholic or a protestant?” Now you could not answer that you were a Buddhist. They would then ask you “Are you a protestant or a catholic Buddhist?”

So the master had gathered his students. “What is it in life you need?” he asked. The first student replied, “I want knowledge.” “I see,” said the master. So it went on, each student saying he wanted something else. Each time the same reply from the master, until one student said, “I seek only that which you will give.” “Then for you there is hope said the master.”

An open mind is one ready to learn. This is the way of the Tao.

Hundreds of years later, in a school in Scotland, the teacher asked her pupils, “What do you need at home?”

Jenny said, “We need a computer miss.” “Well that would be good,” answered the teacher. Jimmy said, “We need a car miss.” “I see,” said the teacher that would be good also.

Wee Johnny said, “We do not need anything miss.”

“Oh you must need something.”

“No miss, we dinnae need anything.”

“How can you be so sure Johnny?”

“Well when my big sister came home and told my dad she was dating a Rangers supporter. My dad said, “Well that’s all we need now then.

Needs are indeed always relative to the situation we find ourselves in.

This blog is linked to my other where I talk about the artwork used:- Snowflake

Monday, 17 May 2010

Getting Younger Every Day

I am sure I have told this story before if not in the exact way, but it is worthy of another telling.

An old man was one day out walking. As he walked along the track a small elf jumped out from the bushes. “Hello,” said the elf, “I am here to grant you a wish. It will be just one wish and it will not be able to be changed back. You must therefore think wisely.”

The old man thought for some time. He was married; he had been for almost 40 years. His wife was the same age as he. “I would like to wake up in bed with a younger woman,” said the old man. “Granted,” said the elf, and disappeared.

The next day the old man woke to find himself 20years older.

Today I went back 26 years. I awoke and decided I would try a nice run. There is a lovely hilly run where I am staying, a run I have done often. I set off and a reasonable pace. Bang it hit me, I could not keep it up. I struggled and panted my way up to the top. Normally I would have kept going onwards and downwards. I would have returned and done the circuit again making a lovely eight mile run. At the top there was a bench, I sat and rested. In the end I did one circuit. I felt as unfit as I did before I began running some 26 years ago.

Thinking of the tale of the old man and his elf, I knew what my wish would have been. To be as fit as I was a year ago, that would be just fine. Now that in fact would be a wasted wish, because in a few weeks time, all going well, I will be just that.

As Jerry says often, no good wasting time wishing. Just get on with living. No good dreaming of skyscrapers when you have only a few bricks.

Today I have used two artworks and will say why on other blog:-  Two Paintings

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Treasured Moments

The master was growing old, and yet he still rose early and each day he was to be seen in the garden doing his share of the toils. The students thought that he was getting far too old to be doing this. They spoke to him often about taking things easy; each time the answer was the same. “I am well able to do my share. I am alive and a new day waits.”

One day the students decided to hide his tools. That evening at dinner he did not eat. The next day it was the same, and the next. The next morning the students returned his tools and he worked. That night he was seen enjoying his dinner.

It was a windy day many years ago when my son and I went to sail in the small boat I had bought from my “not smoking money.” We were both beginners and probably foolhardy.

We were well out in the middle of the loch when we capsized. Before we were aware what was happening we were under the boat, with a pocket of air. My son was caught in the ropes. I managed to get out but could not turn the boat upright. There was no sign of anybody, we were alone. I went back beside him. He said to me, “Dad are we going to die?” “No,” I said with all the gusto I could muster.

I was not so sure that this was the case. Some forty minutes later the rescue boat arrived, and with their help we managed to right the boat and reach the shore.

It is only when you are aware of your fragility that you that each moment of each day becomes the most precious treasure.

So step bravely, today is a new day and like the master you have much to do.

This blog is linked to my other where I speak of the artwork used:- Ross

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Killing That Which Is Precious.

One day I was out running and had a life changing moment. Running was something new to me and here for the very first time I was running pain free. I felt as if I had wings on my shoes it was such a joy. It was a spring morning and I felt if I spoke to the lambs in the field they would have answered me. Yes I know it sounds silly, but I felt it.

I came home that day and had decided to give up eating meat. For the next twenty four years I did just that. How many times this led to discussions, about whether or not this was the correct thing to do. I was younger then and I always rose to the bait.

Now when people discover I have, after all those years decided to begin eating meat again the same questions come up again. I am older now, yes I know much older, and I no longer take the bait.

Yesterday with all the ideas running around in my head from your musing on the one hand I got to thinking about these things again.

Those who strive to preserve life and respect life are right, it is a good thing. But my thoughts made me realise there are other valuable things we kill that are equally worthy of consideration.

What of those who kill time? Time is a very precious commodity and deserves our respect. Having worked with those serving time, sometimes a long time, I became very aware of how precious it was. Time should never be killed. It ought to be cherished. What of those who for selfish reasons kill honesty? What of those who kill innocence?

What of those who preach without taking account of others, or the other person’s point of view? Are they not guilty of killing respect?

What has made me so serious these past few days? I have spent a life with people and here I am in bloggers world and finding people who have much to share, and do so. I have met people who have much to teach, and do so. I have met people who care, and they take the time each day to do so.

I thank you all, each one. I am still reading blogs but may not be able to respond again till early next week but know you are all in my thoughts.

This blog is linked to my other where I discuss the artwork used:- The Killer

Friday, 14 May 2010

The Three Loves

Along time ago in China there were two friends. One friend was a harpist the other was so captivated by his music she could sit and listen to it forever.

When he played the music of the mountains, or sang about the mountains, she would say, “I see them as if we were walking in them.” She would then paint the mounts that had been stirred in her mind.

When he played the music of the rivers and seas she would say, “I can see the waters and feel them on my toes.” She would then paint beautiful pictures of rivers and seas.

One day the listener fell sick and the illness resulted in her death. The harpist cut the strings of his harp and never played again.

Since that day the cutting of the harp strings has been the symbol of true and intimate friendship.

Now compare this to how we use the word love for just about anything. Oh I love a good burger from that burger bar. I just love them so much I have to have one. Or I heard somebody speak yesterday of her love of some particular fan magazine. “I just so love the gossip, I cannot live without my daily doze of it.” Truly this is a quote from her.

We use the word love so loosely it has almost lost its meaning.

The ancient Greeks had three separate words for love. There was Eros, the love of things and lust, the love that wanted and wanted more and more. Then there was Philos, the love one has for friends and family. It is the love that gives and takes, the love that we share freely to those around us. Then there was Agape, the love that gives and goes on giving never ever asking for anything in return.

I used to shock my students by telling them that love was not a word we should use. They were never able to comprehend my thinking. I used to tease them ruthlessly, about how they used the word love for anything and everything.

At first they would say, “Mr T you are nuts, you have totally lost it.” Arguments would pursue about my love of children. Eventually we discussed the use of words.

I “loved” that spark of light I saw coming on as the understanding kicked in. From then on it was easier to make them think before saying anything.

This blog is linked to my other wher I speak of the art:- Love Explodes Into Life

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Gifts and Giving

In my home there are a number of treasured items, not in their monetary value, but in their intrinsic value. There are gifts that have been given to me at various times throughout my life, by a variety of people. I look at them and I remember them the moment I received them and the people who gave them to me.

I have a watch that was given to me by a dear old lady. It was her grandfathers watch, but she gave it to me she said because it had a big face and I would see it easier when I was preaching. Now I could easily have thought she was telling me my sermons were too long. I knew though that this was given in love, and I have cherished it and her memory so often.

I have a cross made from soldering metal. It ripples with light and creates its own colours. It weighs a great deal, but it makes my heart light as I remember the young man who made this as an apprentice piece. I felt so proud the day I was given it.

I have a wooden image of Lao Tzu, purchased at an antique fair in China. It was gifted to me by the students who I took on a trip to China. I remember them all with much fondness.

There is a lovely story of the two masters, Kabir and Kamal. Kabir refused to accept any gifts from his students. Kamal on the other hand never ever refused to accept them. This made Kabir sad. One day he took Kamal aside and said to him, “I do not accept any gift because gifts mean nothing to me. But it pains me to know that you grab all that your disciples bring to you."

Kamal said: "If gifts mean nothing to you, why are you bothered whether I accept them or reject them?" Here, Kabir had a 180º mind, and Kamal a 360º one.

To be able to accept a gift is often as difficult as it is to give one. A gift given has to be given for a reason and the reason has to be clear to the giver. The receiver of a gift has to reach into the thoughts of the giver so that they get not only the thing given but the gift itself.

Thanks to all of you who on your blogs shared a view of the gifts you made for the mothers you loved. You see the giving of a gift is not just a two way transaction it is 360º

This blog is linked to my other where I discuss the artwork used:- Loves Expression

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Show Me

There was an old master who was revered by many. He had many followers living in his monastery each one hoping to learn at his feet. One of his students was a very beautiful young lady. Even with her shaven head and plain robe she looked beautiful. One day the master received a note from her declaring her love for him. He was greatly flattered that she should pay him such attention. Here I am an old man, he thought, and she such a beautiful lady. This played on his mind all day, and he asked himself why he thought as he did.

The next day at meditation he stood up and said, “If you really love me then come now and embrace me.” He had thought that he would embarrass her and that would be the end of the matter. He was shocked to discover that he was being embraced by all of his students to the point he could hardly breathe.

We live in an age not only of express everything but also an age of cheap and easy flattery. “Have a lovely day,” it rolls off the tongue and so often means nothing. The trouble with flattery is that it is so easy to want to be flattered. Here was the old master and he was reading so much more into the note from his student than she had meant.

Would it not be good if we always said what we meant? Or if what we wanted to say might cause harm we learned to say nothing. It is no longer the case that we need to speak truth, three times yesterday I heard people claiming they had not told a lie, they had just been, “economical with the truth.” Now there is a phrase to get your mind round. Is that not just a lie?

The other message the old master gives is this. He did not seem to be aware that he was indeed loved as he was. He was craving love, he was loved, more than most of us he just did not seem to see it.

You may not know it but we have a sweet called “Rollo” in the UK. They once advertised on a slogan, “Who would you give your last Rollo to?” Marvellous! I decided to use this in a little story for children. I gave twelve children a Rollo each. I had double wrapped it in foil. I told them it was from me, to them as a symbol of my caring for them. They were each given a choice, they could give it to somebody they loved, or they could eat it. I reminded them that not everybody had got one because I only had twelve. The others I cared for also so maybe they would like to pass them round those who had not got one.

The next Sunday I walked into church to find the communion table and the entire pulpit covered in Rollos. Now, if it were possible I would  give each of you a Rollo, and ask you to pass it on or eat it. It is good to know you are loved but it is equally good to let others know that you love them.

Now who is going to eat that Rollo?

This Blog is linked to my other where I speak of the artwork:-  Love Explosion

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The Incense Burner Maker

There is a true account of a lady named Kame who was born and brought up in Nagasaki. Her father before her had also been a maker of incense burners. The incense burners he made were of a very high quality and she followed in his footsteps, also making burners of the very highest quality. The burners she made were expensive, because she took her time and only sold those that matched the high standards she set.

She once made a burner for the mayor of Nagasaki which took more than six months to complete. That particular burner is now part of the treasured art of Japan.

I thought yesterday of the difference we now face in our society. Surrounded by the need for instant answers to all things, we have created the express society. You can go to Vision Express and have your eyes tested and the spectacles ready in no time at all. This may indeed be good if you cannot see. We have Shoe Express, now this one I find more difficult but at a push I can see somebody maybe broke a heel. Pizza Express, I have just thought I need something to eat and I need it real fast, I watched a person in a caravan near me yesterday morning returning from the local burger bar because he needed an express breakfast. Fast food does not after all claim to be good food just fast.

Now here is the one that got me thinking, Carpet Express. I have an emergency, I need a new carpet and I need it is the next hour. I can see the carpet fitters sitting tools to hand ready to answer the emergency calls for those who need a new carpet yesterday. I wonder if they had a twenty-four hour helpline for those who might have realised in the middle of the night they needed a carpet.

There is the story of the student who wanted to find the means to peace. He signed on to learn under a master. At the end of week one he told the master he wished to leave, he had not found anything. The master pleaded with him to stay another week. Again the same thing happened. This went on for a number of weeks. At last the master said to him, “Stay one more week and if at the end of that week you still have no answer, then you should kill yourself because you never will find the answer.” The student found his answer in two days.

In a life that is always at express speed it is often the case that we cannot focus on that which is important. The price we pay is quality. The price we pay, is never to know what it is we are seeking.

This blog is linked to my other where I discuss the art:- Abstract

Monday, 10 May 2010

The Happy Chinaman

Yesterday turned out to be a very happy and successful day as far as I was concerned, if not a creative one. Having been unable to do much physical activity for the past five weeks, due to my accident, yesterday I felt like I had moved mountains.

Early in the morning I was able to do a short run, well by that I mean I hope people noticed I was not walking. I ran along the shore for a mile and a half and a mile and a half back.

In the afternoon I walked the same way as I had run in the morning. I took my camera with me hoping to capture some nice seascapes. It has been good to have time away in my new caravan; so much for having a clean roof on the old one.

Having had no exercise these weeks I have put on weight. So as I walked along, with my bag over my shoulder and a smile on my face I felt like the happy Chinaman.

He too loved to see happy faces and children enjoying themselves, as I saw yesterday.

The happy Chinaman was a Zen master. Even though he was very learned, he refused to stay in a monastery and teach, instead he could be seen walking the streets and byways with his sack over his shoulders. He would follow the ways of the monks and ask for donations and gifts which he passed on to the poor. The happy Chinaman liked to have in his bag treats, that he would give to the poor children, he loved to bring a smile to their faces. When asked by people to explain the meaning of Buddhism and enlightenment, he would open his sack and say nothing. If they asked again he walked away because it seemed obvious to him they had not noticed he had given them the answer.

He is now well known throughout the world as" Happy Buddha". He is always depicted with his sack, a great smile and a little tubby posture.

As I walked yesterday I had an inner glow but it was tinged with just a little sadness. I was thinking the world is now such a place that if he was alive now offering gifts to smiling children he would possibly be arrested and under all sorts of suspicion.

For all we have moved forward, we have also taken many steps back. I hope today brings you all a real sense of joy as I offer you a smile from my shoulder bag.

This blog is linked to my other blog where I discuss the artwork:- The Happy Tulip

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Say Nothing

There is the story of the nephew who had inherited the wealth of his father. As soon as he did he began to spend freely in wild living. His uncle, the master, heard of this and decided to visit him. When he arrived he was made most welcome by his nephew. He could see that the stories he had heard were true. He said nothing simply meditated as usual and spoke kindly to him. The next morning the master called his nephew.” I am getting very frail and shaky,” he said “Can you help me tie the lace of my sandal?” The nephew you did just that. The old man then said to him, “Old age comes to us all, I am so glad I lived a good life or things might have been so much worse.” He said no more, thanked him for his hospitality and left.

Although he in fact said nothing, the nephew changed his ways and the uncle grew to be proud of him as well as very fond.

I spoke the other day of my inflicted term of silence. Six months of being unable to speak is a frightening experience for one who uses their voice to provide for his family. It was for me a time to think and to assess. Nobody needed to say anything to me about my life. I had all the time in the world to say it to myself. It is often easily misunderstood

I have often said before that I can be guilty of putting the mouth into action without first engaging the brain. This is true but nearly as often as prior to my time of silence.

Like the nephew it is good to take stock now and then. To ask, “Where is it I am heading, where am I going?” This need not be as drastic as it was for the nephew, or for that matter for me. Nevertheless, we cannot just go on and on doing the same thing day in and day out. Or can WE?

This blog is linked to my other blog where I discuss the artwork used:- From a Distance

Saturday, 8 May 2010

That Wondrous Moment

To end the story of the young lad who was seeking to find the sound of one hand. He says that there came a point when he reached, “the soundless sounds.”

All the ideas and wonderful thoughts you had and explained were for each of you that moment. When you stand before the easel and you need to think nothing because it is all there in the silence. Those moments we all have so often when there is nothing that can explain it.

I have this theory; please tell me if I am wrong, females are more aware of this moment than men. It is that moment when in the silence of the night something happens between mother and child as the child quietly feeds.

As some of you know, I was unable to speak for almost six months, a terrible affliction to one whose voice was so important. During this time I had my dog, Damon. There were times when I would be feeling low, he would come over and sit with his head on my lap and look up at me with his big brown eyes. There I heard the sound of one hand clapping.

Let me give one last example; people who know each other deeply can share such a moment across a crowed room. I knew an old couple who I could swear held wordless conversations. There was a tingle of emotion in there home.

Anyway, no more I do not wish to bore into submission and another follower decide to give up on my blog. I suppose I should have remembered when I told this to my students, some of them had the same reaction.

It is very early in the morning and I am going to schedule this post I hope it goes online and you get from it some thought for your day. If it does not post then I am sorry Jerry.

I leave you today with an ancient verse:-

Not twice this day

Inch time foot gem

This day will not come again

Each minute is worth a priceless gem.

This blog is linked to my other where the artwork used is discussed:-  Betsie

Friday, 7 May 2010

The Sound of One Hand

We have just had a general election in the United Kingdom. I do not know about anybody else but on such nights I cannot sleep, I stay awake and watch as the results pore in. It was an interesting night in many ways, one of the most interesting it is difficult to look at the results and talk in the same breath of a United Kingdom.

But, let’s have no more of that. I was intrigued to read all the comments yesterday, your thoughts on the sound of silence. Jerry had two bites of the cherry and got us thinking of Simon and Garfunkel. All in all it gave me a very interesting day of thinking. I thank you all, it took me back in so many ways.

I remember when I began teaching philosophy and world religions. I used to tell the following tale to my students and set them a task. Some of them got really involved in the attempt others gave up very quickly, thinking it was all nonsense. These were the ones I knew I was going to have to challenge if they were to get the awards they wanted.

Let me tell you the tale, then let you think on it. Sherry, those little thoughts that buzz round in the silence have a go at this in those sounds.

A young monk went to his master asking for help with his meditation. The master sat him down and said to him, “Clap your hands together please.” The young lad did as he was asked. “Now I want you to go and remembering the sound of two hands I want you to discover the sound of one hand clapping.”

As the lad meditated he heard the soft music of the geishas. H asked the master if this was the sound but was told no. As the weeks stretched on he returned to the master often with different ideas. He discovered that it was not the gentle sound of water, or the sound of the gentle breeze. Neither was it the hum of the buzzards.

More then ten times he returned over the course of a year. The he discovered the answer.

As I go off to contemplate the back of my eyelids I leave you the riddle. “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” I will tell you something I never ever told my students. Every artist knows the answer.

I am not sure if I will be able to post a blog over the weekend but will make every effort to do so if not see you next week.

This blog is linked to my other where the artwork used is discussed:- Cape Lilly

Thursday, 6 May 2010

The Desire for Silence

I do not suppose many of the readers of this blog will be old enough to remember, “The Goon Show” and its memorable characters including Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan? They once did a sketch where it was possible to go into a shop and purchase a length of silence. It was a very humorous sketch that has stuck with me down the years. Yesterday I would have given anything for the sound of silence, if just for a short time. I began early with a neighbour pruning trees and it seemed to continue most of the day, one thing after another.

Music is often the stimulus to painting for me, but there are as when I crave silence. It seem we live in an age that has become afraid of silence, the remote control age, where people move from room to room picking up remote controls as they go. An age when we put on televisions, and the get on with other things and ignore what is on. An age, when if we are not careful, evolution will develop ear pods and cell phone attachments at birth. I exaggerate, but you know what I mean.

What used to be background music, to stimulate nice thoughts, floods our being, at every turn. I fear we live in the age of communication where the one thing we seldom, if ever, communicate with ourselves.

There is the ancient story of the four monks who decided to keep silence for seven days. On the first day they were silent. The meditation had started well, but when night came and the candles began to dim one of the monks said, ”Who is going to fix the candles?”

The second monk was surprised to hear this and exclaimed, “We are not supposed to speak.”

“You two are stupid. Why did you speak?” remarked the third.

“I am the only one who has not spoken,” said the fourth.

It is not easy to be silent with oneself, but it is worth the time. As many of the wise have said, “be still and know yourself.”

this blog is linked to my other where I talk abou the art used:- Silence

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

The Greedy Artist

There is a story of a famous artist who painted marvellous paintings, but only on commission. He never ever painted just for the love of painting. His paintings were very popular and he was able to demand a high price in advance for the work he did.

One day a Geisha contacted him asking him to paint for her. Unknown to the artist it was her intention to show him up for what he was. He saw that she was wealthy, so he demanded a high price. The price was agreed on one condition, that the painting was completed in her presence, so a date was agreed.

On the day of the painting he arrived to find that she had invited many wealthy guests. He set up his easel and as they watched he painted. After some hours the painting was completed and he stood back pleased with his work. The geisha as promised paid him the agreed amount. She then turned to all her guests and said, “This artist only paints for money, his work is fine but his mind is dirty; money has caused it to become muddy. Painted by such a muddy mind, his work is not fit to exhibit, it fit only for my petticoat.”

She then removed her kimono and showed the artist her petticoat. She asked him to paint another painting on it. He in turn asked her how much money she would pay. After bartering a high price was agreed. The painting was completed and paid for. “See,” said the geisha, “His only concern is the price. Leave, artist, you have been shown for what you are.”

Many years later it was learned that where the artist came from there had been a famine. The artist had been paying for corn to feed the village. The rich had ignored the plight of the hungry.

The road from the village was in a very poor state and many of the villagers had accidents while travelling to the temple to meditate. He had repaired the road.

His Zen master had died without accomplishing his desire to build a school for his students. The artist built the school.

Once he had done all of these things he discarded all his art materials and lived the quiet life.

Sometimes before we judge a person we need to discover their motives. It is often the actions of the heart that matter more than the actions of the hands. The hardest question of all my years has been the question, “Do I want to be loved, or do I want to love?” Before I depart this earth I hope I find the answer.

This is the way of the Tao.

This Blog is linked to my other where the artwork is discussed:-

Along the Shore Triptych

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Dear Dad

There is the story of the father who came home from work one day to a real surprise. Normally the music would be blaring from the son’s bedroom window, he would have to go in and ask him to turn down the volume. Today there was silence. He entered the house and climbed the staircase, opened the door to his sons room. It was spotless, everything in its proper place. There on the bedside cabinet lay a note, addressed to him. He sat on the bed and began to read.

Dear Dad,

This is a letter to explain my absence. I have met an older woman and we have fallen in love. Recently she told me she was pregnant and the pending child was mine. I know you would not approve of this relationship so we have decided that for all concerned it would be best if we left. She has a small place in the woods where we will not be disturbed. She has assured me, that marijuana is not at all harmful, and that we will be able to make enough money to live on if we grow our own crop. She is even sure that we will be able to sell enough to be able to purchase our preferred option of cocaine.

Once we are settled, and the child is born, it is out hope to have two; we will contact you and arrange for you to meet your grandchildren.

Your loving son


PS all of the above is not true, but I hope you will see that things could be a lot worse than the report card you will find in the top drawer. Once you have read it and calmed down call my cell phone and I will come home.

How often, without any help from others we mange to make things into much greater problems than they really are. We fret and concern ourselves and in the end the solution comes without us even having to think about it.

I hope you all have a carefree and creative day.

This blog is linked to my other where I tell the tale of the artwork:-  Hi Daddy

Monday, 3 May 2010

A Tale for Kay

It seems that yesterdays post struck one or two chords. There were so many comments that moved me to think deeply. Having read the story that Kay related I feel that today I have to share a similar tale. I cannot tell you the name of the person so I will just say that he was a very close relative.

He was married and had a family, and yet he was abusing alcohol to such an extent he was spending everything he had in its pursuit. Every thought he had was related to this pursuit. If you asked him what time it was he would tell you it was so many minutes from closing time, or how much money he had, he would answer by saying how many drinks he could afford.

On the 23rd of December one year, I got a phone call from his wife telling me he had taken all her jewellery. She wanted me to go and find him and bring him home. I had done this in the past. After much thought, I decided this time I was going to the police. I told them what had happened and was able to direct them to the pawn shop where he would have sold the jewellery, and also where he would be spending the money.

He was arrested and charged with theft and held in custody. That night I was on a date with the girl who was to later become my wife. We went to the cinema, I cannot remember a thing about it, and all I could think about was that this person was to spend Christmas in prison till the courts opened on Boxing Day.

For years after that this person never ever spoke to me, but it was a life changing event in his life. He has never drunk alcohol again and is very involved in AA. Once when I was a guest speaker at an AGM of the organisation I heard him stand up and say to the assembled people that I was the person who had turned his life around. Do we speak today? Not very often. There was a time I questioned and questioned this but no more.

There is a story of the Zen master who was attending a social event. There was a psychiatrist also present, who decided to ask him a question that had been on his mind.

"Exactly how do you help people?" he inquired.

"I get them to where they can't ask any more questions," the Master answered.

There are times in life we have to just accept that we acted in what we believed to be the best we could and not question ourselves to death thereafter.

This is the way of the Tao.

This blog is linked to my other where I discuss the artwork used here:- Rain Along the Coastal Path

Sunday, 2 May 2010

A Case of Priorities

I spent a year of my life doing a post graduate course in counselling and psychology, during which time I had to write a thesis on some practical studies I did in my own time. I worked in a special unit of a large hospital. Here I met people who had found life so difficult they had taken an overdose or made some attempt at taking their own life. In one year I interviewed  2635 people. Many of them were just one off events and the event itself brought people to a point of accepting help and moving on. For others it was more complex.

One person was Cathy; she took a cocktail of drugs and alcohol each day.A cocktail that would have laid out most normal people. She was living rough, so when it came time for her to depart the unit I offered her our spare room. She stayed there for some time, and the promise was there was to be no drugs. She managed it amazingly well and with the odd relapse was getting better and looking better. She stayed with us for a fair bit, until we managed to arrange a small rented flat. She was so happy; I will remember the pride on this young woman’s face until the day I die.

Two years later we left Edinburgh to do a year in Moniefieth. Before I left she was looking great and life was indeed looking hopeful and a long way from where it had all started. It was therefore heartbreaking to read the newspaper one morning and read that a girl of her name had been found murdered in the River Leith. It seems she had met up with an old friend and that was the start of the end.

I am sorry that this sounds like a very sad and negative story but the reality of life has not been all success stories. The one thing I have learned and I know Jerry has a similar feeling is that we need to learn from all things.

There is the story of the young man who went to the master and said, “Master I want you to help me find god and enlightenment.” The master grabbed him by the scruff of his shirt and dragged him over to the water and held his head under for a frightening length of time. When he pulled him out he said, “Now when your head was under the water what did you want most in life?” The young man replied, “Air.” “Right,” said the master, “go away and come back when you want god and enlightenment as much as you wanted air.”

We have to decide what we want and then we have to want it badly enough. If we want something badly enough nothing is impossible. Reading that paper that morning I learned that lesson and I have carried it with me to this day.

This is the way of the Tao.

This blog is linked to my other where I talk of the art used:- Rain Along The Shore

The two small paintings used on this blog are best viewed on my website where it is possible to enlarge them:   Seascape Paintings 

Saturday, 1 May 2010

The Way of the Wolves.

Why did I not try to change the behaviour of The Doc? Let me first tell you a little tale. A student went to the master to for his help in how to deal with bad mannered insulting people. He said he was at his wits end with their behaviour. He said he was having a really difficult time controlling his anger. He saw people criticising others totally unaware of their own faults. “It is just the way they are,” he said. “I do not want to be like them but it just upsets me so much.”

The master thought for a moment. He then asked the student if he was not the one who had a close escape from wolves. The student agreed that he was indeed. “Tell me about,” said the master. So the student told the master how he had to climb a tree to escape a pack of wolves and how he had to wait and then slowly move from tree to tree. It had taken him almost two days to get home to safety.

The master then asked him, “Were you not angry at the wolves?” He then asked him, “Were you not offended at the wolves?”

“Offended, why would I be offended?” “Were you not insulted by them?”

“Why would I be that?”

“Well they wanted to eat you and bite you.”

“But that is what wolves do, they are just being themselves”

When wolves chase or attack the wise thing is to make as much distance as you can between you and them. Same with people who are offensive and angry make some distance between yourselves and them. They are just being themselves.

The Doc was happy being what he was and he was doing no harm to anybody, except himself. There was no point getting upset with him or angry. There are times when we have to learn to just leave well alone and the Doc he was one such case.

It is not easy but sometimes love is not easy. This is the way of the Tao.

This blog is linked to my other where I talk about the artwork used:-  Autumnal Hedgerow