17 November 2012

Anecdote: A Collection of Moments

1- A student complained, “There is another student who is getting on my nerves. What should I do about it?” Master said, “Move your mind or Move your nerves.”
2- A student inquired, “Is meditation an art or a science?” Master answered, “It is approaching art with science and science with art.”
3-“What will be your legacy Master?” a student asked. Master replied, “All lived, All died, All are buried & All left without any possessions." "My legacy can not be different."
4- A student asked Master, “Is ignorance bliss?” Master answered, “Realize ignorance, you may find your own answer.”
5- “Today will be a historic day of my life” a student said in his speech. Master interrupted, “All days are historic...! Real art is in making it more memorable than historical.”
6- “What is greatness, Master?” asked a student. “Doing worthy acts and remain unconcerned if anyone notices” replied Master.
7- "Why is the Zen Way so difficult” asked a student. Master responded, “Contrary, the zen way is very easy, the followers are difficult.”
8- A student asked what is life?. Master said “See that mountain! Pick it up, hold it, play with it and put it back when you are tired.”
9- Several students were sitting around a fire when Master picked up some ashes and said to the students, “This is the ultimate truth of life.”
 10- Master, what is the key to understanding the Way of life? asked a student. Master told him “Look Within.”
 11- What is fear Master? asked a ...student. Master answered, “Fear is when after dark, all cats become tigers."
 12- A new student told Master “I have so many questions to ask you”. Master responded “And I have no answers to give you.”
 13- A student asked Master, “I saw a new cook in the kitchen. Is he permanent?” Master replied “No one is permanent, including me.”
 14- A student once told Master, “I have reached a subtle awareness of the truth.” Master shrugged his shoulders and said, “You will die peacefully.”
 15- A student asked Master, “How do I get rid of all my problems?” Master said, “I shall answer you when sun stop rising."
 16- “Master, what is the aim of Meditation?” a student asked. Master replied “To sit like a river, and walk like a mountain.”
 17- A student asked “What is wisdom?” Master said, "When a man falls do not abandon him, when he has power do not honor him."
18- “Master, would you prefer the flowers on the left side or the right side of the alter?” Master said, “I prefer to see them in garden.”
19- A student asked a zen master: "How will you be, when death arrives?" The master said: "When served tea, I take tea. When served a meal, I take a meal."

20- “What is the nature of the tree” asked a student. Master said, “Spring and Fall."

21- “Those new students are lazy!” said a senior student. Master said, “Yes! don't you think, they are almost as bad as the students who judge others.”

22- “I am feeling better today, I just wasn’t myself yesterday.” said a student. Master replied, “Oh, who are you today?”   

23- “What is failure Master?” asked a student. Master answered, “It is a cup of bitter tea. Not tasty, but sometimes necessary to drink.”                  

24- A student inquired, “How do I know if I am making proper efforts?” Master said, “if you are doing proper, question or doubt will never arise!”        

25- “Master, what is compassion?” Master responded, “Ask someone who is in need of  some.”                   

26- Master was told there some wild bears roaming the temple grounds. “Wild? Get them in the meditation hall immediately if they are savage than human being”   

27-  “Do you think you are still young” asked a student. Master answered, “Children who think are cute. Adults who think or wish are fools. Learn to accept reality!”    

28- “All the things are properly washed in temple” a student declared. Master asked, “Did you wash your mind too?”                 

29- “What is the greatest struggle we face” asked a student. Master responded, “Defeating self ego, self image and illussion.”

30- “When I will one with the universe” asked a student. Master responded, “When you stop thinking.”                 

31- “Is it important to be humble?” inquired a student. Master said, “Yes, if you love your self."

32- “What is the secret of enlightenment?” asked a student. Master responded, “Shut your eyes, shut your mind and shut your mouth.”                 

28 October 2012

Different perspectives

One of the industrialist travelled for days by train and car and boat to one of the furthest islands in the nation. As he surveyed the bleak but beautiful inspiring landscape, he turned to a small house of zen master residing there for many years and asked: "You're very remote here, aren't you?" Master responded: "Remote from what?"

01 October 2012

You Are Also Correct

Two monks who came out of a lecture by their master went on a hot debate regarding what they heard during the lecture. Each of them insited that his understanding was the correct one. To settle the dispute, they went to see the master for a judgement.
After hearing the argument put forth by the first monk, the master said, "You are correct!" The monk was overjoy. Casting a winner's glance at his friend, he left the room.
The second monk was upset and started to pour out what he thought to the master. After he finished, the master looked at him and said, "You are correct, too." Hearing this, the second monk brightened up and went away.
A third monk who was also in the room was greatly puzzled by what he saw. He said to the master, "I am confused, master! Their positions regarding the issue are completely opposite. They can't be both right! How could you say that they are both correct?"
The master smiled as he looked into the eyes of this third monk, "You are also correct!"

25 September 2012

Don't let the cups drive you...enjoy the coffee instead

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university lecturer. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life. Offering his guests coffee, the lecturer went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups: porcelain, plastic, glass, some plain-looking and some expensive and exquisite, telling the...
m to help themselves to hot coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the lecturer said: "If you noticed, all the nice-looking, expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is but normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the better cups and are eyeing each other's cups."

"Now, if Life is coffee, then the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, but the quality of Life doesn't change." "Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee in it."

So folks, dont let the cups drive you...enjoy the coffee instead.

10 September 2012

Bengaluru Meditation Retreat

Universal Law
All things are impermanent
All things are imperfect
All things are incomplete
We can not change the past
We can not control the future
All meetings end parting
That which rises must fall
That which is collected will be disperse
Purpose of Life
§Spend time each day in nature
§Create beauty in your life
§Create simplicity, not austerity
§Learn to enjoy the silence
§Get in touch with your creativity
§Latch on to synchronicity
§Learn to receive with gratitude
§Figure out what you don’t want in you life
§Enjoy each moment


11 August 2012

My Prayer

To "Move On" does not mean to stop caring, it means I can't keep everyone happy.
To "Move On" is not to cut myself off, it's the realization I can't control others.

To "Move On" is not to reject, but to accept every change in life graciously.
To "Move On" is not to feel powerless, but to accept that the outcome is not in my hands.

To "Move On" is not to be protective, but to permit myself to face reality.
To "Move On" is not to escape, but to search my own shortcomings and correct them.

To "Move On" is not to deny anything, but to take each day as it comes, and cherish it fully.
To "Move On" is not to forget the past, but to grow wiser and live for Now.

10 August 2012

how I am going to be remembered?

About a hundred years ago, a man looked at the morning newspaper and to his utter surprise and horror, read his name in the obituary column. The news papers had reported the death of the wrong person by mistake.

His first response was shock. Am I here or there? When he regained his composure, his second thought was to find out what people had said about him.

The obituary read, "Dynamite King Dies." And also "He was the merchant of death." This man was the inventor of dynamite and when he read the words "merchant of death," he asked himself a question, "Is this how I am going to be remembered?"

He got in touch with his feelings and decided that this was not the way he wanted to be remembered. From that day onward, he started working towards peace. His name was Alfred Nobel and he is remembered today by the great Nobel Prize.
Alfred Nobel got in touch with his feelings and redefined his values.
What is my legacy?
How would I like to be remembered?
Will I be spoken well of?
Will I be remembered with love and respect?
Will I be missed?

Chasing Meaningless Goals

A Zen master had a dog who used to sit by the roadside waiting for vehicles to come around. As soon as one came he would run down the road, barking loudly and trying to overtake it restlessly.

One day a neighbour asked the master "Do you think your dog is ever going to catch a car?"

The master replied, "That is not what bothers me. What really bothers me is what he would do or achieve if at all he ever caught one? "  Master smiled and went away conveying subtle and precise message.

22 June 2012

Searching For The "I"

The way the I, or the self, exists is merely labeled by the mind, but it appears to us as real, in the sense that it appears to exist from its own side. If it is expressed or introduced according to our experience, the ordinary term is the real I. This I appears to us as real, even when we are not upset, excited or frightened. Even when we don’t have these life situations, there is a real I appearing to us, but when we meet these situations, the I that appears as real becomes clearer and more obvious. When we get angry or when somebody provokes or blames us, or we win a game and we are excited about our success, at those times the I that appears as real becomes very clear and strong. This is called the emotional I and in that sense, the emotional I is always there, because this I appears as real. We always have this appearance and the emotional I is always there, but it is not as obvious, strong and clear as it appears in these particular life situations.

The real I—the emotional I, the truly existent I—doesn’t exist, because if we search for it, it can’t be found. If we search for that emotional I or that real I, it can’t be found anywhere on these aggregates, this association of the body and mind—from the tip of the hair down to the toes. If we search for this emotional I, this real I, this truly existent I, it can’t be found anywhere. When we are unaware of the reality of the I and we do not analyze, it looks as if there is a real I—a truly existent or inherently existent I—that can be found. However, if we look for the I and start to analyze, it suddenly becomes unclear and the experience that comes to us is that the I doesn’t exist.

If the I really exists, when we start to analyze and to search, it should become more and more clear. The existence of that emotional I—the real I or the truly existent I—should become more and more clear if it exists. We don’t feel that the I is in a particular location in the aggregates or the body, and as soon as we start to analyze we can’t find it, so that proves it is not there. This emotional I—the real I or the truly existent I—can’t be found anywhere on this association of body and mind, the aggregates.

The I is nowhere to be found, either on these aggregates or separate from these aggregates, therefore it doesn’t exist. Also this I is merely labeled by the mind, therefore it doesn’t exist from its own side and it doesn’t have true existence. There is no true existence on the I, which means there is no true existence on the merely labeled I. “On the I” means the I that exists, therefore, there is no true existence on the merely labeled I.

The conclusion is that every day, every moment when objects appear to us, they come from our own mind. If our mind does not label, there is no appearance of the objects of the senses, including the subject and object. If we do not label the subject, there is no appearance of the subject, and if we do not label the object, there is no appearance of the object.

By Lama Zopa Rinpoche

29 May 2012

stress management

A Zen Master when explaining stress management to an audience raised a glass of water and asked:

"How heavy is this glass of water?" Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g. The master replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm and neck. If I hold it for a day, you'll probably have to call an ambulance. In each case, it's the same little weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

He continued, "And that's the way it is with our life. If we continue to carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, the burden becomes increasingly heavy and we won't be able to bear it" Better we learn to drop our burden regularly to maintain our well being"

21 April 2012

The Three Poisonous Minds

Our mind is bound by the three poisonous minds, so we are not free from suffering. We are bound by the suffering of the three poisonous minds, for example, anger, which is very dangerous, like a fire that can destroy all our objects of enjoyment. Fire can burn all our beautiful objects, our possessions and our house, and it can also burn us and cause danger to our life. Many times in the West, there is danger of fire burning our apartment and destroying our possessions. Anger is very, very violent to the mind, and it is very harmful to our peace and also to the peace of other living beings. When anger arises and we get angry with our family, we scold them, we beat them and we kill them, and besides that, we may kill many others with anger. When this violent mind arises, we may kill many hundreds of people, or thousands, millions of people, and it causes danger to us—it puts us in danger of death, of killing or being killed. There are many things we do when we get angry, such as breaking the possessions in our own house. It is no use to break our possessions—things like tables and plates—but after we get angry, we break things, like the TV, though it is not necessary and it doesn’t help at all. Like this, we create many unnecessary problems. Anger destroys all the beauty and to say it simply, it is very harmful to our enjoyment of this life.

Attachment is like black ink that gets on our beautiful clothes or on our beautiful paintings, drawings or letters. When black ink gets on our papers, it obscures the beautiful paintings, the beautiful drawings or letters, and we can’t see them. It is not like putting a drop of water on a painting, then just wiping it off. When black ink gets on a painting, it becomes oneness with the paper and it obscures the drawings. You can’t see them clearly. It is difficult, all of a sudden, to separate the black ink and the paper. This is the nature of attachment and this is the reason why I say that it obscures our ability to see the letters and the beautiful drawings on the paper. This is an example of attachment which arises and obscures the ability to see the truth of the self. It obscures the truth of the self and it obscures the ability to see the truth about others. Many people use the word "truth", especially young people—they always talk about truth and they seek truth in the East, they think they see truth. They always talk about seeking the truth, maybe with hashish. Anyway, this is the truth that only the Nepalese sell. I’m joking!

Anyway, like this, the rising of attachment causes us to hallucinate and to see ourselves with the wrong view, which is opposite to the self that is actually existing. The wrong view sees the self as really existing and it causes us to hallucinate and to view others completely in the wrong way, which is completely opposite to how the other person really exists. Attachment causes us to hallucinate and to see that object, that person, in completely the wrong form, the wrong view. We see them in a way which is completely opposite to how they really exist. Attachment obscures our ability to see the true nature of the self and others.

Another way of explaining the nature of attachment, although this is not the actual meaning, it’s just an example, is just as if we got stuck. If we fall into the water we can swim—especially you people, you can easily swim if there is water—but if there is dirty mud that we can’t comfortably swim in, then it is difficult to get out of that. We become completely stuck in the mud and we drown, because it is difficult to get out of that mud. This is another way to describe the nature of attachment and the way our mind is bound by attachment...

Just like anger, attachment causes so many problems in our own life and in other peoples’ lives. First of all, our mind is bound by attachment, but that is never our only life problem. In a way, attachment is just like glue. If our hand is covered by glue, then whatever object we meet, we get stuck to problems with that object. No matter how clean the other thing is, whatever we touch, we get stuck to that object. Another way of explaining it is like this: we get stuck everywhere, we are not free, and even if we leave one thing, we get stuck to another one. It’s as if our fingers have honey or glue or something like that on them, we get so attached to things. Even if we throw something out, we are still stuck to it. That is how attachment functions and causes problems in our own and others’ lives.

Also, our usual daily life problems arise from the thought of attachment. The usual daily life problems, such as disharmony in our relationships— families or couples not getting along even for a day—all this confusion arises from attachment. If there is no attachment in the first place, these problems wouldn’t happen.

Many times, because of attachment to an object it is very easy for anger to arise. When something goes wrong with our object of attachment—when we don’t receive the object or when it is possessed or occupied by other people—when something bad happens, it is very easy to generate anger and jealousy, all these things. Anger is very harmful and this is another way attachment is also very harmful.

It’s quite easy to understand how anger is harmful, but it’s really difficult to understand how attachment is harmful for our mind because this seems a little bit obscure. Really it is not obscure, it is so clear. We are experiencing problems and going through them all the time, but we are not aware, so it is quite difficult for us to see clearly how attachment harms us, because it seems obscured. It is extremely important that we should be aware of the functions of attachment and the effect or result of attachment and how it harms us. That is extremely important. Not only attachment, but also anger, ignorance and any other type of delusion. Always investigate the functions of these delusions and the harmful results. How is it harmful? It is important to check up all the time and to have a deep understanding.

And now ignorance. As I said before, when attachment arises, it obscures the true nature of oneself and others. Another way saying this is that attachment obscures the reality of self and the reality of others. This means the attached mind increases our ignorance. It causes our ignorance and anger to increase more and more. Ignorance is such a harmful mind. At night-time, when there is no light and no stars or moon, it is completely dark and we think that we are walking on the right path, but in truth we are walking where there are stones and thorns. Then we get thorns in our feet and we fall down and get wounded. We think there is a wall protecting us from a precipice and we don’t recognize there is a danger of falling down. We don’t know there is no wall and the precipice is creating a dangerous situation. We travel at night with a wrong belief. So, ignorance is harmful like this and our wrong conceptions cause us so much trouble. Ignorance is like this person with wrong conceptions who cannot do anything clearly and doesn’t know that he’s going to fall down. The nature of ignorance is just like that person who can’t see how harmful it is. This is just an example to give some idea of how harmful ignorance is, but actually there is no way to compare the great harm of ignorance with this example. The person walking with wrong conceptions who falls down a precipice and breaks a leg, causing death – this is still nothing when compared with the incredible, unbelievable harmfulness of ignorance, which we have to experience for a long time, and the various other harmfulnesses, that we experience not just one time, but at various times. Compared to those, this example of the harmfulness of ignorance is nothing.

These three minds are usually called the “three poisonous minds.” Calling them poison is very meaningful—it makes so much sense, it has so much meaning. For instance, by eating poison, when poison goes inside the stomach, inside the body, the person doesn’t become healthy, person gets sick. So it is like this, but that poison is an external thing, it is made of matter, and the other poison, the great ignorance, anger and attachment, is inner poison. The other poison is the outer poison, these three minds are the inner poison. If we take the outer poison we get sick—we are overwhelmed by hallucinations and vomiting, and there is danger to our life. Similarly, by having these three poisonous minds, we constantly get sick.

First of all, when the mind is bound by the three poisonous minds, it is not a healthy mind, it is a sick mind. Then, with these three poisonous minds, we produce unrighteous actions, unrighteousness. Another way of saying this, is that we create negative actions with our speech, body and mind. By creating the wrong actions, with the wrong method, the result or the effect that we receive is always suffering. There is always a problem and we don’t receive happiness, even if we have the expectation that we will gain happiness from that action. For instance, a person who eats honey mixed with poison. This ignorant person does not know it is poisonous honey, he just believes that it is pure honey because it tastes sweet, and he keeps on taking it. What is the result? The result the person receives is that his body becomes more and more uncomfortable, and more and more pain arises.

It is just like this with any of the poisonous minds of anger, attachment or ignorance. Whatever action we create with speech, body and mind is a mistake or a wrong action, just like a person who eats poisonous honey. The person thinks he is enjoying it, that it really is pure honey, not poisonous. He thinks that nothing will happen by eating it, that he will only enjoy it. So, our normal minds are like this example.

Just as the actions of body, speech and mind produced by the three poisonous minds are wrong, are negative action, so, the result is always in the nature of suffering. These actions don’t make us happy. The physical and mental sufferings and unhappiness that we have been experiencing in this life, since we were born until now, all these life problems are the result of the wrong actions done with the three poisonous minds. So, these three poisonous minds are the cause of all our suffering and unhappiness.

Therefore, without depending on the method, without depending on Dharma, and instead depending on external things, we can’t destroy the cause of our suffering, the three poisonous minds. Nothing can destroy this, without depending on Dharma.

By:Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche

18 March 2012

Happiness Comes from the Mind

We are here to receive peace and happiness in our mind by avoiding suffering, but first we have to recognize the cause of happiness. We have to understand what brings us happiness and what brings us suffering. This is extremely important to understand, or there is no way to prevent suffering and receive happiness in our mind.
In our dreams, happiness and small pleasures are created by our mind, and suffering and unhappiness are also produced by our mind. In our dreams, even the small suffering and the pleasure that we feel when we meet an object is a projection of our mind. It is easy to understand how this is dependent on our mind and is produced by our mind.
Similarly, all our happiness and the small pleasures of our life—when we feel extremely cold, we stay inside for a long time and when we are hot, we go outside and feel pleasure—even small pleasures and physical pains are just like a dream, they all come from the mind. Just like this, all our enjoyments—our food and clothing, whatever we wear and whatever we see, beautiful or ugly, always wearing soft, comfortable clothing, always receiving good enjoyments and food, always being busy in a beautiful comfortable place—all this is received by depending on the mind. All our pleasure and happiness comes from the mind.
This is explained in the Buddha’s philosophical teachings about nature and the evolution of the universe and things. All these various worlds are born from karma or action. What Buddha is saying is that all the planets, the earth on which we live and the reason we have to live on such an earth and in such a country—why there are different planets and at night-time another moon and lighting, and the sun, stars and different planets that we enjoy, all these objects that give us pleasure—all these various worlds are born from our actions or karma.
The different mountains and plants—ugly and beautiful plants and bushes—all these different objects of our senses in all of the different universes are all produced by the mind and have arisen from the mind. How they are produced is dependent on the mind. All the sufferings, all the ugly objects and all the unhappiness that arises from meeting these objects, is all born from karma, or the actions of our body, our speech and our thoughts.
Do all the actions of body, speech and mind bring suffering? Not all the actions of body, speech, and mind bring suffering, but some actions cause suffering and cause the existence of ugly objects—the objects that we feel unhappy about when we meet them.
What actions bring all this suffering and all these ugly objects? These are the nonvirtuous actions of body, speech, and mind. What creates the nonvirtuous actions of body, speech, and mind? The whole source is the mind. Do all the actions of mind bring the causes of suffering? Not all the actions of mind cause suffering, but there are certain types of mind that cause suffering and produce nonvirtuous actions. So what type of mind is that? The delusions—the nonvirtuous thoughts.
If we plant poisonous seeds in the ground, all the trees and fruit become poisonous plants. So, the delusions are like poisonous seeds. From our nonvirtuous thoughts, our actions become nonvirtuous and bring the result of suffering. All the undesirable, ugly objects that cause us to feel unhappiness and suffering when we meet them, come into existence as a result of our actions. It’s the same thing with all the problems in our life. Where do they come from? They come from the nonvirtuous thoughts and actions, which are like poisonous seeds. The various problems of life are like the various poisonous fruits of the tree with branches that have grown from those seeds.
In the same way, all our happiness and all the desirable and beautiful objects that make us feel happy when we meet them, come from the virtuous actions of body, speech and mind. Just as a medicinal tree grows from the medicinal root, fruit and leaves, virtuous karma or action arises from our virtuous thoughts. From this we receive a good result—happiness. So, the key to suffering and happiness depends on the mind. The whole root of suffering and happiness is within our mind.
Therefore, we each have the freedom to prevent suffering. If we want to continuously receive happiness, there is freedom and there is a chance. Since our own mind is the root of all this, it is up to us how we direct our mind. Whether we make it into virtue, or whether we turn our mind to nonvirtue, it is up to us. It depends on us and what we do. That is why happiness and suffering is not something that is decided by God, it is created by us. If we receive happiness, it is because we did some good actions with a good mind, and if we receive unhappiness, it comes from our own nonvirtuous thoughts and actions.
We can’t blame other people and there is nothing to criticize other sentient beings for. If we always turn our mind to virtue, we always experience happiness as a result. Even if other sentient beings want us to suffer, because we have not created the cause to experience that result, no matter how much other sentient beings try to create a problem and try to arrange for us to suffer, because the cause is not within our mind, it is impossible to experience the suffering result of that problem. Even if all sentient beings pray for us to be killed, because we have not created the cause to die in an explosion or atomic bomb, even if they pray for this, we will never experience it. If we have not created the cause to be bitten by a snake, even if we walk in a place which is full of poisonous snakes and even if we touch them, there is no way to be harmed.

By:Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche

03 March 2012


Ordinary life is the spiritual path and it becomes a delight to consider this viewpoint as a genuine prospect and truly as a way of living one’s life. The reasoning behind it is quite complex. Most certainly it rests upon the Buddhist perspective of impermanence and the transitory nature of phenomena, but also upon our distant loss of the power and beauty of childhood and the rather boring and unstimulating nature of adulthood we seem to have acquired by comparison. It also ties in with the fact that we all want happiness and bliss, which we mostly felt, in some measure, as children and also with the idea that drugs of all kinds can never safely or permanently recreate those vivid feelings and perceptions we had as a child. Yet that is in essence what we crave. Even our unhappinesses taken together, all in a sweep, also reflect the transitory and unsatisfying nature of existence; fundamentally so, and thus if we cannot change the world then we can at least begin to change our response to it, our perception of it and the way we view it and feel it inside, as compared to the mundane view of sensory perception, material substance and the dictates of physical science. We can project upon the world the same blissful vision that we had as a child and then it becomes again a delight to be alive. We must also sweep into this picture the fact of our own personal death and the grievous sense of loss we feel for those we love who will die, and those who have already passed away.

 Part of this story must be personal as it regards my own discovery of these ideas for myself earlier in my life. I feel I hardly knew my father, when he died and I was only 15. My respect for him is mainly genetic I suppose, but I feel that he was more important to me [and that we were much closer] than he was in reality. I suppose what I mean is that my childhood was intensely beautiful and a hard act to follow as it means I find adult life pretty dull and uninspiring, in general, compared with those times. As long as I focus on here and now I feel fine but at times I yearn for the glory which has passed away. I always have. And all that has slipped away forsure. That is why I find comfort in Buddhism with its emphasis on loss and decay and our trying to accept change and the transitory. But deep down I do honestly feel the loss of all those wonderful characters from my early life. I wish I could meet them all again. I suppose it is that which inspires my artistic efforts more than anything. So I try to keep my awareness of such matters superficial. I have done much work on my attitude towards my father as I feel he was much more important to me than I used to think. Father-son relationships are probably fraught with difficulties because men are so emotionally inept and so ungiving [hard and ungenerous with affection] in many ways compared with women.

 But later, when I also lost my mother and several aunts and uncles, and other people who were dear to me, I began to see the staggering universality of my situation. I began to see that this is precisely what Buddhism is talking about: the transience of the world and all its contents. The loss of those we love and hold dear, the ceaseless racing forwards of life; it can never be held or stopped in one place; it just keeps racing along against our will. For example, we seem powerless to change the flow of events or to bring back our departed loved ones. In this sense, most certainly, 'samsara' [embodied existence] seems like a nightmare into which we are plunged against our will, as Buddhists contend. The realisation of the universality of my predicament made me conceive the possibility that life could again become engaging and artistic and beautiful as well as meaningful, rather than being the random chaos of molecules and the extinction at death [the view of science] or the nihilism of emptiness.

Ordinary life is the path. The task is to transform ordinary life into a meaningful and engaging precious spiritual path and so to render it extraordinary, which was always the search of the alchemists of old [their Grail-like 'philosophers stone']. The method seems to be to convert through projected imagination each person one meets into a secret joy and each object, view and experience and appearance as a secret joy and containing a mysterious and delightful bliss. To give love unconditionally, generously and freely to all things, as a child does. This serves to utterly negate the view of ordinariness, which is the adult’s predominant perception of the world, as opposed to the child’s vision or that of the magician. This process negates the mundane ordinariness which we conceive to underpin 'adult reality', but projects onto our perceived reality a sheen of beauty and preciousness which it has come to lack, and which cannot be normally considered real due to one’s own accumulated knowledge of how the world works, and how people operate. We know that people die and get old and that things break and are destroyed and we know that we shall never see our loved ones ever again. But if we can place all that knowledge to one side and ignore it then it is perfectly possible to construct an alternative reality, founded entirely upon magical principles, for example.

As adults, we know that every person will get old and die. In this sense therefore, they will ‘let us down’ forsure and any love we invest in them looks, from this viewpoint, like 'wasted' energy. I recall feeling precisely that after my father died. I thought what is the point in loving anyone if they are going to die anyway? It seems utterly stupid. Although they give us joy and delight for a time we know they will die and be separated from us permanently. Thus on a deep level we conceive that they have 'let us down'. No matter how much you love them, they are doomed to die. Knowing this can certainly make us feel very miserable and depressed about life. Thus, people can never really give us the delight and joy we crave, and which, Eden-like, we enjoyed daily as children. Well, not for very long. We crave pleasure and sensation and happiness. But how can the pleasure from such transient things ever satisfy us? Once this unpalatable fact is realised, and truly sinks in, then we might feel tempted to enter into a state of deep misery. As adults, we can pretty fundamentally see that existence is flawed and is profoundly unsatisfying due to its inherently transient and impermanent nature. But children seem to be blissfully unaware of death and impermanence and thus their vision of the world tends to be fresh, pure and vivid. Maybe by projecting onto this world the same bliss, love and joy which the child projects, and by simultaneously suppressing our knowledge of the adult view, we can regain a joyful lifestyle. That is the trick.

The sad fact of one’s own death is a certainty. Just about as certain as anything that will ever happen. It is both certain and inevitable, yet we tend to shy away from this fact and hide away from it. The older we get, the more keenly we seem to become aware of this fact. We reject the idea as nonsensical and no way to live our lives, and so proceed just as if we are immortal and base our everyday life on a dream which contains no element of death at all, no element of personal extinction. Thus Buddhists, and other ascetics, through daily contemplating the transient nature of the world, and of themselves, duly reach the pretty miserable conclusion that no pleasure is worth having, if it is to be so transient. No pleasure of that type can be entirely satisfying and is thus flawed and unwanted. They reject it as pleasure tainted with suffering, like licking honey from the razor's sharp edge. What certain Buddhists then do [Tantrikas] is to transform this mundane world into something nice and dress it up in very smart clothes. The fact of death is for all practical purposes denied and suppressed and the transient nature of the world is also disguised and hidden from view. One regards each being as one’s own precious mother and worthy of enormous affection and delight. One views every view and place as part of a pure land of great bliss, and buildings as mandala palaces. Life again becomes a sweet joy and every sensation is transformed into a source of bliss. When the grim fact of death and the transient nature of the world are rejected, then the world becomes once again quite an attractive place to be.

I know that the world has not really changed at all since my childhood, and yet my perception of it is very different today than it was then. It was joyous, delightful and elevating then, but it tends to be bland, dull and predictable today. Thus one feels, in the adult world, a sense of loss and that that vision of loveliness was itself an illusion, and the true, dull adult picture has replaced it as the only real version of reality decent folk should entertain or carry around with them. How can we change this? How can life again become delightful and joyous for an adult just as if they had become a child again in their perception of the world? In my own case it was the sudden realisation that I was not alone in my plight, the universality of my plight hit me and then I began to see that it is not just my problem but the problem of everybody. So my mission became to find a way to return to that mystical and joyous view of the world which was the heart and soul of my childhood, and which sits at the very heart of all the arts, of music, romance and religion.

If we examine the nature of childhood and adulthood more closely we might find some clues to help us in this search. The child’s view of the world is essentially based upon a profound ignorance about how the world works and how people operate, and a general innocence about everything. The adult’s view of the world, by contrast, is based upon an excessively over-detailed knowledge about the world and how it works and how people operate. Thus, to regain the child’s perception of the world, which is in essence an artistic and spiritual vision of the world as a joyous and engaging place to be, one must lose, or suppress, the boring adult view and then cultivate anew the mystery and innocence of the child’s vision of the world. That seems to be the bottom line. Thus adult life attains a high degree of predictability and regularity, which is lacking from the child’s view. Our knowledge about it actually destroys our innocent and exciting vision of the world. In this sense our knowledge might be seen as burdensome.

One must regain a sense of mystery, magic and stimulation from the world which we have lost, and lose or suppress, to a large extent our knowledge of the ways of people and the world, and its boring predictability. This, in essence, is the position we all find ourselves in. To become free and liberated from the shackles of a sad, depressed boredom and lack of stimulation by the world, we must surrender the tight grip our knowledge of it and its ways has upon us, and become re-attuned and re-awakened to the world around us as a joyous spiritual vision and a magical play.

Adults have, in any case, mostly stopped looking at the world around them and do not tend to be very 'switched on' to its changes every day. Apart from the weather, they fail to see, or to delight in, the myriad subtle changes which are taking place all the time around us. Adults fail to see because they do not look beyond the barest mundane facts they need to assimilate in order to function, such as driving to work and listening to what others say etc. Beyond that, they seem to train down their perception into a minimal state and so fail to see much that is happening. They have switched off. By contrast, children seem to have all their sensory apparatus switched to 'full volume' and so see and hear much that is magical and engaging about the world, and which excites and uplifts their spirits. They have a keen sense of the mystery, excitement and unpredictability of the world which the adult has very largely lost.

In general, adults have also become excessively focused on 'mundane crap' such as money, career and status, and dismiss as 'hocus-pocus' the joyous spirituality of any magical perception of life. It must be significant that children are not especially interested in such mundane matters, until as teenagers, they are forced to do so by irate parents, wary of their possibly imminent and hapless fate as scroungers and drop-outs. Interest in true or natural religion has massively declined in the world, while obsession with mundane trivia and unbridled materialism surrounds us on every quarter.

Most adults do not hear the birdsong or see the golden sunsets, except when 'on holiday', when it is deemed acceptable to indulge such temporary pleasures. Such things are only seen by children and those artists and romantics who are ‘in love’ with someone or the world itself. Being ‘in love’ with someone is also of interest as it is the exact state we want to be in. It constitutes 'the drug' or 'spectacles' we need to help us to view the world afresh. To help us to re-engage with the world, and to lose our knowledge of it, and help us regain the sense of mystery, magic and newness every day. While some people use narcotics or sex or food or spending money or TV to distract themselves from the sad state of their lives [or indeed, as we said before, of life in general at a very fundamental level], and to create alternative realities, these all carry hefty price-tags in terms of sanity, health and longevity. None therefore are entirely satisfactory options for serious consideration. All these ‘devices’ act by temporarily suspending our boring, mundane, predictable perception of the world and reintroduce, reinforce and reinvigorate an exciting and mysterious view. They also negate or displace our awareness of death and transience and refocus our attention upon beauty, art and spirituality. For example, the pantheons of all religious gods, saints, fairies, pixies, nature spirits, icons and deities all conspire to reinforce mystery, unpredictability and excitement and to reintegrate these qualities into our lives. That is undoubtedly a very important psychological function of all religions, and also of love, sex and drugs.

Fundamentally, children are joyous and happy while adults are bored. And deep down I think adults wish to regain that joyful child’s view, in exchange, were it possible, for their boredom. And that neatly summarizes the predicament we are all in. But adults sceptically dismiss the child's vision as fake, doubt its reality, think it was an illusion, and, instead, tend to genuinely believe that their dull boring existence is the only sane way to live on this earth. And in any case they do not know how to proceed or how to even begin to recreate the child's joyous vision of the world. That is the very secret. That touches the heart of all secrets. How do we want to live? Bored to death in a safe and cosy prison of predictability? Or alive and awake, in love with the world and all its contents, in a dancing vision of spirit and innocence? It looks like a straight choice and they seem to be mutually exclusive paths which we might choose to take.

'…the movement of the higher thought, as far as we can trace it, has on the whole been from magic through religion to science. In magic man depends upon his own strength to meet the difficulties and dangers that beset him on every side. He believes in a certain established order of nature...in the acuter minds magic is [then] superseded by religion, which explains the succession of natural phenomena as regulated by the will, the passion, or the caprice of spiritual beings like man in kind, though vastly superior to him in power…religion is then later displaced by science...here at last man has hit upon a clue to the labyrinth, a golden key that opens many locks in the treasury of nature…' [Frazer, 1922, The Golden Bough A Study in Magic and Religion, pp.711-12]

In his monumental tome, Frazer clearly depicts the transition in human beliefs from the magical to the religious and then to the scientific, but he signally ignores the fact that children delight in magic and then he fails to even consider what serious, great and vital function the magical might actually have in our lives, as compared to the bland and unpalatable diet dished up by scientists! If folks want to believe in elves and fairies, magic and deities, then so be it. If it enables them to make more sense of their sad little lives, if it helps them to be happier, to walk so much taller, and to smile and laugh more often, then what possible damage can it cause? And in the last analysis, on some deep, elemental plane, it might even be found to be truer than Newton's laws of motion or Schroedinger's equations.

The fact remains that no matter what solid and predictable laws can be shown to apply to matter, energy, space and time, we as spirits, enter and leave this world completely alone. What is important to us, truly and deeply important, is not really what happens here per se, or the ‘rules’ which regulate its contents, but it is those impulses we bring with us, and those we take away with us. For ultimately it is those impulses that cause our happiness and joy and not any diktat from materialist philosophers, or truly and deeply what befalls us here. Thus, ultimately, we always retain our subjective viewpoint, which always seems to take precedence over any mundane and predictable knowledge we might gain about reality and mind. It is thus my contention that religions of all kinds [as belief systems] play an important role in our lives. That role essentially enables us, if we choose to engage with it, to understand ourselves and the world more intimately, and to add the important extra ingredient of meaning to a life that might otherwise be utterly devoid of it. And a life with such meaning is, quite probably, a happy life, while one without any is most assuredly an unhappy one.