Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Interfaith Council for Wales - Walking Alongside our Communities

Last week was Interfaith Week. It has also been the centenary of the end of WW1 (more on this in a separate post). So it has been a busy time for me.

Addressing the audience at the Pierhead Building

Yesterday the Interfaith Council for Wales held an event. I am Chair of this Council at the moment, so I was very involved in it. It was a most joyful afternoon. I opened the event with a short speech:

"The ICW seeks to bring together in harmony people of different religions.
We celebrate our commonalities, and respect our differences.
We honour others' commitment to their religion, whilst holding integrity to our own style and form of practice.
This spirit of friendship and tolerance, is as important today as it has been in any other point in history.

In this spirit of friendship, I am delighted to welcome you to this Interfaith Council of Wales event - Walking Alongside Our Communities.

Croeso i'r digwyddiad Cyngor Rhyng Ffydd Cymru yma - Cerdded Gyda'n Cymuned.

On behalf of the Council, I would like to thank the police who are helping us today; Pered Owen-Griffiths and Julie Jones for their organisation of the event, and Andrea Adams and her team from the Welsh Assembly Government for their sponsorship and assistance in creating this interesting afternoon of interfaith activities.

So now we begin with the first activity of the afternoon. Julie Jones, vice chair of the Interfaith Council, will give a presentation about how people of different faiths came together in friendship and respect during the WW1 - Learning to Change."

Julie’s presentation was excellent and most thought-provoking.
Then the Welsh Government Minister and Leader of the House, Julie James, addressed the gathering.

This was the end of the first part of the event. We reconvened a little later at the United Reformed Synagogue, the first venue on our ‘Walking Alongside our Communities’ pilgrimage. At each of the four venues we received a short talk. The police accompanied us and saw us safely across roads. The Interfaith Council provided lamps, although it was quite a bright afternoon and they were not really needed. After the synagogue we walked to The Cardiff Buddhist Centre (a Triratna Centre), then on to Eglwys y Crwys Presbyterian Chapel, and finally to the Dar Ul-Isra Mosque. Here we had faith ‘speed dating’ and a meal. I will post photographs of the walk when I receive some from my colleagues.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Inktober Zentangles – 28 to 31

October Inktober is over – and it’s been a great experience. I’ve really enjoyed drawing every day. I’ve enjoyed the simplicity of a single pattern executed with a pen and shaded with a pencil. Having said that, I am looking forward to adding a little colour to my next tile.
The Inktober experience has been valuable in honing the quality of my line, slowing me down, and enabling me to explore the possibilities of a single pattern at a time. If my life allows it, I will certainly get involved again next year. As another trip to Bhutan is planned for October/November 2019, however, I may have to miss a year or only take part for some of it.
28 – Oybay

29 – Wud

30 – Frunky

31 – Cruffle

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Battlecry of Freedom – joy and thanks for my favourite slogans

I love all of the slogans of Mind Training. I believe it is an extraordinary and liberating teaching.  I do, however, have two favourite slogans.

The first favourite is: Always be joyful – slogan 21.

There are many studies that have shown that if we smile, we do feel happier. It can be discovered, quite quickly, that if meditation is practised  regularly and consistently, joy arises spontaneously in the mind. Practice develops a sort of background happiness and joy.

Joy naturally arises from trusting beginningless awakened mind.
Joy naturally arises from letting go of self-centred protectiveness and having
a more expansive view. Awakening is joyful.

The mind does not need to be unseated from riding joy when mistakes are made or difficulties occur. If there is great sadness, it arises in the moment
and does not need to disturb the background potential of contentment.
When sadness dissolves, then joy is present again.

I am delighted that Pema Chödron used this slogan for the title of her book on the slogans of Mind Training.
A Celtic knot style horse motif I designed for use in the book.

My second favourite is the final slogan: Do not wish for thanks – slogan 59.

It makes me smile every time I read this one. So often we feel cheated if we do not receive a thank you  such as when you have politely waited to let another car go ahead of you and the driver doesn’t even acknowledge it. Do you ever feel ‘Where’s my thank you!?’ and perhaps even regret letting them go first just a little bit. I know I have done this, and immediately this slogan is there, reminding me to be a practitioner and get over myself. 

I also really like Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s wording of this slogan: Don’t expect applause. 

Mind training is the greatest opportunity it is possible to be given in life.
Mind training is the path to awakening – to realise non-duality, to dwell in rigpa. Practitioners should not ask to be congratulated and thanked for training their minds.

If it is felt that thanks and applause are deserved, then there is still a lot of work to be done. Such an attitude is not awakened view, but rather, is somewhat ridiculous.

The practitioner may feel slightly embarrassed if they notice that they would actually quite like a standing ovation. Wryly recognise the wish for approval and appreciation,
smile at the recognition – and return to practice.

The reward of practice is the capacity for more practice.
Ultimately the reward of more practice is awakening.

Extracts from Battlecry of Freedom by Ngakma Nor’dzin, Part II – the slogans;to be published by Aro Books worldwide in 2019.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Inktober Zentangles – 23 to 27

Here are my tiles for October 23rd to October 27th.

23 – Ixorus 

24 – Patience

25 – Sand swirl

26 – Q-belle

27 – Cross-ur-heart
Only four more tiles to go to complete the Inktober Zentangle challenge. I am pasting the tiles into a book, and am a little behind with this aspect of the project, but it will be a nice to have them all displayed there.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Inktober Zentangles – 18 to 22

I had thought that drawing a zentangle every day would make me feel that I had to draw fast. In fact quite the opposite has happened. The experience has become slower and more meditative. I seem to take my time over each line and be more focussed.

Here are my tiles from October 18th through to the 22nd.
18 – Luv-A

19 – Abeko

20 – W2
I wasn’t happy with this one after I had finished it. I am not a huge fan of geometric grid patterns anyway – which is why I drew it with wiggly lines. It has grown on me however.
21 – Hamadox
 I love the organic flow of this tangle.
22 – Yuma

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Inktober zentangles – 13th to 17th

Here are the next five of my tiles for the Inktober Zentangles challenge. The five tangles for these days were: Dewd, Ando, Inapod, Joki, and Narwal. I knew Dewd and Inapod already, but the other three were new to me.
13 – Dewd
Dewd had been a tangle that did not really attract my interest when I first came across it. It seemed a bit simple and obvious. However, in using it for a monotangle I quickly realised it is far more clever and subtle a pattern than my first impression grasped. In fact I had to discard my first attempt at a tile because I kept making mistakes in drawing the tangle. Although it looks like the inner lines create separate areas, the white background is in fact continuous. Fascinating. This is one of the things I love about zentangle.
14  – Ando
Ando is a lovely ribbon pattern. I decided to use it to create a zen-button. I’m happy with the result.

15 – Inapod
16 – Joki
I love the swirls of Joki and am sure to use it again.
17 – Narwal
I couldn’t wait to start drawing when I saw this tangle. So clever and so lovely.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Battlecry of Freedom – slogan 12: Drive all blames into one

I think the slogan from the Seven Points of Mind Training that has most affected me in terms of the transformation of my view, is slogan 12: Drive all blames into one. This embraces the view of taking responsibility absolutely and completely without compromise.

Identity as a fixed, unchanging reality––as a thing that permanently abides––is the primary delusion. It is the source of all pain, aggression, hatred, prejudice, discrimination, disinterest. It is to blame for everything.

'If I am in the saddle, I have the identity of a rider. If I am in the stable grooming the horse, I have the identity of a groom. If I am lying in the dirt watching the horse disappearing down the trail, I have the identity of a pedestrian. 
The identity of rider dissolves into emptiness when I dismount. The identity of groom dissolves into emptiness when I leave the stable. The identity of pedestrian dissolves into emptiness when I find my horse grazing, and get back in the saddle. Identity arises, abides, and dissolves – as is the same with all phenomena. Any impression of continuation is illusory.' 

'The illusion of a self-existent identity is isolating and selfish
– I am in pain, which is much more important than your pain. 
The illusion of a self-existent identity prevents enjoyment and appreciation
– you are happy, but I cannot appreciate it, because it is not my happiness. 
Pain is pain – the identity associated with pain is irrelevant.
Practitioners wish to alleviate pain. 
Happiness is happiness – the identity associated with happiness is irrelevant.
Practitioners enjoy and appreciate happiness, and wish to increase it.

Even if there is no intention to harm from my own side, I am still the cause of others' pain. I am the object that made you angry  even though I didn't mean to. I am the person of whom you are jealous  even though I am just doing my own thing. I am the reason you felt overlooked and unloved  even though I didn't intend to ignore you. Taking the blame does not have to be associated with guilt and martyrdom. It is just recognising that everyone is confused and lacking awareness, and sometimes simply being there can aggravate that. It could be my delusion of an inherent identity that is the problem, or yours. The cause remains the same. Recognising this is driving all blames into one, and taking responsibility at a profound level.

'To take the blame for everything is to understand the root cause of all pain and unhappiness as the belief in an inherently existent identity. Practitioners take responsibility for this mistaken view. To be able to embrace the view of taking on the blame for anything and everything, is the most extraordinarily powerful practice of awakening.'

Extracts from Battlecry of Freedom by Ngakma Nor’dzin, Part II  the slogans;
to be published by Aro Books worldwide in 2019.