Friday, 19 July 2019

Thoughts. ..

This morning's early wander was an opportunity to think about thoughts ... how busy lives cause them to race along without pause for reflection, joining forces to become ideas, finding comfort in familiar patterns and imagining evidence for their validity ... a concept and trap known to psychology as confirmation bias ... ideas, of course, lead to stories and beliefs, since language plays such a key role in our lives ... the trigger for this particular thought stream the reflection on recent return to radio, previously rejected along with television in an attempt to clear the mind of clutter and conditioning ... strangely, even though radio sets offer many channels, this one, bought for its ability to play CDs, stays tuned to BBC Radio 4 ... a sophisticated service offering lots of interesting information along with dramas and comedy along with "News" ... and it is the latter that comes under scrutiny as the latest versions of current affairs invite us to believe that the Benighted States and its implausible President is still a civilised country, despite all the evidence to the contrary ... a longer view might assemble historical facts to suggest, having shaken off the yoke of the British Empire, it steadily applied the lessons it learned from the erstwhile master ... timing military interventions in both major wars of the last century to allow the combatants to weaken themselves and then throw decisive force behind the likely victor. .. emerging as the strongest Empire, having sent a chilling warning to the world by destroying the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, along with hundreds of thousands of their inhabitants ... war crimes indeed, though winners get to write the history books and choose the language to be used ... further military adventures followed in the 20th century and into the 21st, all aimed to maintain economic ascendancy. .. gradually, as is the way with Empires, degenerating, though not passing the baton gracefully ... the BBC, meanwhile, offers ostensibly unbiased coverage, though certain basic assumptions go unchallenged ... its reputation for honesty enabling the smuggling of deception undetected ...

Anyway, the post is not meant to revisit the old stories, rather to reflect on the perspective achieved along the pilgrim ways, free from the daily dose of propaganda. .. which mostly led to the view that all the world really is a stage and cartoon characters in positions of power are possibly there to challenge our credulity and maybe invite us to look inside and see if there is any residual rubbish to clear out before we project it outwards yet again ...

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Gala ...

July sees the annual gathering of socialists of various persuasions plus thousands of local folks from the surrounding area parading behind banners from their now defunct pit villages ... the Durham Miners' Gala, the Big Meeting, running on nostalgia and enthusiastic leftists from around the country ... attendance estimates vary between 100,000 and 200,000, which is a big variation, though even the lower figure is impressive enough ... the star of the show, Jeremy Corbyn, takes the tributes on the balcony of the County Hotel as the parade winds its way patiently through the streets, taking over 4 hours for the last banners to reach the racecourse and the speeches along with light rain ... plenty of tub thumping and rabble rousing from the platform, including a direct hit on the duplicity of J.C.'s disloyal deputy, TWatson, promoting the Big Lie drama of alleged anti-semitism, at the behest of its creators, Mossad, cleverly conflating anti-Zionism and anti-semitism in order to undermine Corbyn, a well known opponent of war crimes against Palestinians ... TWatson and others on the payroll as shown in the declared parliamentary records ... liberal sensitivities of public figures scared of being labelled anti-semitic harbour the plotters, prominent anti-Zionist Jews like Noam Chomsky are rarely heard in mainstream media or characterised as "self-hating Jews" ... and so the story runs on, along with the lie that Iran is destabilising the region, when some years ago the Pentagon plan to destabilise the Middle East was approved and has rolled out remorselessly ever since as the Benighted States and loyal allies, the Disunited Kingdom, Israel, Saudi Arabia and others have removed stable (not to say liberal or democratic) governments in Iraq, Libya and, maybe soon, Syria ... the economic war on Iran is well underway, along with gunboat diplomacy in the Gulf and threats of military intervention ...

Readers bemused by this diatribe need not fear that equanimity has been compromised by Saturday's day out with the comrades ... a cool head is still needed and old loyalties no longer hold ... polarised politics don't serve, Brexit is not the question, war is not the answer and neither is a centrally planned economy ... looking at the level of alcohol consumption and junk food at the Gala, despite the fine words, the vanguard of the revolution are in no condition to bring down capitalism any time soon ... still, capitalism is destroying itself through its inherent contradictions anyway ... all we need is a viable alternative which transcends the polarities ...

Proposals on a postcard please ...

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Joy ...

A long weekend workout on the woodland at the Land of Joy Buddhist Retreat Centre near Bellingham, not far from the Scottish border ... the task: to clear the brash left behind after the Sitka plantation was cut down two years ago, in preparation for the autumn planting of 1100 native trees of 12 varieties ... enabling the regeneration of a diverse ecosystem, signs of which are already appearing with Rowan and Oak seedlings sown by wind, birds and squirrels. .. a post on FB with photo (still struggling with that on here) elicits an enquiry from a friend seeking an opportunity to sponsor some tree planting ... which is serendipitous. ..

Breaks between the rather tough physical work enable some exploration of the Nature of Reality ... the Buddhist perspective having plenty to offer the topic, of course ... the question of whether folks may arrive miserable and find joy is also explored a little ... probably better to bring a modicum of joy at least, to add to the joyful ambience ... misery maybe not a thing intrinsically valid, but an overlay suffocating the joyous natural state ... still, the psychological roots of the misery often run deep, digging them out not so easy, and launching into esoteric spiritual practises prematurely is often dangerous ... especially when the practitioner becomes a guru and plays out his or her psychodramas at the expense of gullible seekers ... which happens in all traditions ...

Energy, it seems, is the name of the game ... at the fundamental level found by scientific exploration so far, all is energy vibrating and coming into form and returning to energy maybe depending on an affair with consciousness. .. tricky to comprehend since consciousness is usually ascribed to humans and the geological record suggests matter appeared long before humans ... raising the interesting question of universal mind, or Universal Mind if you prefer ... anyway at the level of human interaction energy trading is the currency of our dramas ... attention being energy and attention deficit identified as a problem, we play our games, as partners in an equal positive exchange of energy, as victims of the energy stealing of others, as vampires hunting out likely life forms whose energy we may steal ... our roles in these games the result of our psychology ...laid down in early childhood, maybe even in previous lives ...

As the summer solstice arrives, misery mongers muse that it's all downhill now, whilst another reality suggests summer is getting started and warmer weather is likely, on and off, through to September ... as for shorter days, at this latitude that will help with sleep, since the organism tends to perk up with sunlight and calm down with darkness ... not that sleep is a problem here, equanimity prevails and that is the key to a calm mind and conducive to healing sleep ... joy meanwhile, pops up now and then, sometimes whilst sleeping, sometimes awake ... mostly in response to events in nature: the heady scent of an azalea in flower, a rainbow, a river in spate, the heron patiently fishing, the snowy owl on the fence post ...

Promised politics postponed ... all rather meaningless at the moment as the long drawn out pantomime of the election of the next Prime Minister of the Disunited Kingdom polarises a disenfranchised, disenchanted populace ... the prospect of a leader to match the standards of the commander in chief of the Benighted States hopefully alerting us to the dangers of nurturing shallowness and fear of the other. .. all entertainment at one level, our continuing attention somehow encouraging the charade ...

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Flaming June ...

Blog has enjoyed the rest, readers too maybe ... shredded feet fully repaired, lessons learnt, though embodiment of the teaching that whilst pain is inevitable suffering is optional perhaps worth the experience ... May and June in Stanhope marvellous as days stretch out, enabling 2 hour walk before breakfast, through the woods and over the fells ... fresh and green from intermittent rainy days ... organism settled for summer, occasional minibus driving with the elders, thoughts of sharing process of exploring the Nature of Reality with others ... maybe at the Land of Joy next month ...

A winter adventure in a different culture takes form in the imagination department, wherever that is located, probably in the brain, whilst the skin votes for Sun and summer temperatures. .. Sri Lanka perhaps the destination, with 30 degrees on offer and UK Foreign Office advice not to visit an added attraction ... neighbour's granddaughter recently reluctantly recalled ... a K retreat centre right there in Colombo ... let's see, plenty of time to decide ... before that 3 weeks of volunteering at Brockwood Park, supporting the 50th Anniversary Reunion ...

Today is an indoor day, with persistent rain set in ... 2 hour wet walk before breakfast probably enough exposure to the elements, a reminder of epic wet days from the Camino. .. an attachment having so far fallen away, at least the routes in Spain and Portugal ...

And for any readers wondering about the random post about the Google Shop in Sunderland a few weeks ago: having delivered passengers to the theatre in Sunderland and with a few hours to pass before returning them to Weardale, a wander through the shopping centre, observing palpable poverty and distress, the Google Shop, set up, they said, to help reduce the digital divide, with basic IT skills essential for most jobs these days ... plenty of staff on hand and few customers meant an interesting hour addressing tablet related issues, including the unhelpful barring of certain sites such as the Bank for online transactions as well as the loss of photo upload on the blog ... the pic and post was the result, though whether the problem has been solved longer term will be tested with this offering, with a lovely photo from Sunday's sunny outing to Cragside to see the blooming rhodedendrons and elder daughter, though not in that order of priority, obviously!

Well, rain has eased and organism requests outside wander along river to enjoy the extra energy after all the rain ... politics tomorrow perhaps ...

Friday, 26 April 2019

Slowly to Stanhope ...

After 24 hours afloat a swift train from Portsmouth to Petersfield and a longish wait for the bus to Bramdean leads to a taxi and Brockwood's favourite driver, Duke, waiting for a pre-booked passenger also heading to the K Centre ... quite confident that the mystery customer will be happy to share, the pack goes in the back and Duke continues his snack, apologising for eating chicken ... explains the situation to David, who arrives a little later ... a long term K student, part-time editor of the books, sometime Buddhist, organiser of visit of HHDL to CERN for discussions on deluded search for smallest particle ... wonderful source of  information over 3 day stay, including filling out the K and Rosalind story mentioned in recent posts ... scandalous news reports in response to slanderous Radha Sloss book (yes, it would be libel if proven untrue, but accuracy sacrificed for linguistic elegance) ... contemporary observation from American insider, "young people in love", and Mary Zimbalist, "she seduced him", suggest the love affair happened and explains subsequent actions of "a woman scorned" and a "husband cuckolded" ... no need to prolong a potentially gossipy story, maybe just to affirm K's humanity and his teaching that it is the message that counts, not the messenger  ...

Bluebells blooming beautifully, sunshine and showers releasing delicate, elusive perfume, trees leafing, The Grove enchanting ... while in nearby fields muckspreaders are releasing stronger agricultural smells, herbicide sprayers a sweet, slightly sickly scent ...

Cast list of guests and staff include Maria and Alvaro from London, he from Colombia now a bus driver, she from Grandas, where coffee was taken a couple of weeks ago on the overlong day from Berducedo to Fonsegrada ... the family house there standing empty, maybe awaiting a Camino business? Stephen, CEO of charity supporting damaged children and offering insights, hope for recovery ... services shockingly underfunded, whether examined through lens of compassion or long term costs of inaction ... Peter, retired counsellor, previously slave to banking software, starting 2 month stint as guest helper ... Kimberly, young mature student, on Easter break from duties as mentor to school students ... Hamid, doctor from Norway, via Iran, here for 2 week retreat, finding a unique quality of silence ... Chris, retired BBC producer, from London and Teesdale ... and David, of course ...

Top deck front seat bus trip to Winchester winds through wealthy villages in time for train across England ... fellow passenger, Alex, student of German and History at Sheffield. .. entertaining group of three youngish women behind, happy to share their dramas ... or oblivious to the audience ...

And so to Stanhope, one month on, the cottage warm and dry ... glad of some company ... just some bookshelves to sort out ...

Monday, 22 April 2019

Biscay and beyond ...

Extra sleep and shower in San Glorio, since facilities frugal for tonight ... meanwhile, the morning wander uncovers the funicular to an effort free view and a very special place for coffee and early lunch, Primo de Origen, Charles and Mary running a stylish enterprise with ingredients sourced and prepared with care ... it shows in their attitude too ... houmous made to order, since chicken in the wrap not desired ... relaxed ambience to rest and write, eat and drink ... and some background from Charles, presenting as Irish, his mother from there, father Swiss, brought up in Hong Kong ... parental plans thwarted by Charles' choice to skip scientific career and first degree in biochemistry, his heart not in it ... disinherited .. second degree in sustainability in Norway, where higher education is free, if you are prepared to learn Norwegian ... London job with Bloomberg philanthropy division ... then into business life with Mary's Venezualan parents, their coffee and cacao plantation ready for harvest ... city venue for roasting, wholesale and retail required, Santander chosen ... and here we are ... for a while ... expansion plans underway, Venezuelan political problems notwithstanding ... still under 30 and flying in a world of their own creation. .. and conscious of alternative worlds ....

On the boat a brief exchange with returning pilgrim Michael, a quiet route from Alicante to Burgos and still in the zone ... a long exchange with Vaughn, with his long term wife Ann, both with Lancastrian accents though having lived in many places, his work as an engineer leading him to Canada, Mexico, BSA, Ireland ... concurring with theory that our DUK PM May have played a devious game to deny the brexiteers their unlikely referendum victory. .. hmm, history may tell the tale one day ...

A short night in a reclining chair rests the brain long enough, then the morning on a calm sea, long conversation with Dom, who left his South London home at 16, now lives mostly in Southern Spain, with Spanish wife and children, working in the oil industry, fully aware of its impact and ethics ... looking forward to retirement a few years off ...

Early lunch, since an hour has been gained and stomach still adjusting ... plenty of time for train to Petersfield, bus to Bramdean and wifi free K centre for a day or so ...