Out and About In November
As Barry the lodger left for warmer climes his room is free , so I’ve been having friends stay. Though I love cooking and entertaining, I’m not so happy with the
‘ let down ‘ when the nest is empty once more. I will either look for some shopping therapy , and buy another gadget for Tern who is almost indistinguishable from the friendly bird that flew into my life a couple of months ago . My lodger pointed out , as I installed a lovely blue licence plate headed California underneath I love Zycling That it’s beginning to look like an Indian truck.
And the house hasn’t been ignored and I’m looking for a place to put another poster and light , or try to do what I know is the correct thing and sit in my , recently heated , Kuti.
Paul my surviving lodger has been busy in our small back garden redesigning the raised flower bed wall , to accommodate the chicken run . Their house is gleaming in the Autumn sunlight and I’m torn between offering it to some rescue hens from the farm , which are probably past their laying best or a couple of young vibrant creatures who have never been abused. What do you think? I must break off now as I’ve got a job of cleaning the old wall stones before the rebuild. Can’t have a visit from RSPCA for housing animals in substandard conditions, unlike the homeless humans who will have to face the oncoming winter in tents. Perhaps the arriving climate change is really about looking after them with warmer conditions.
Shopping in Midhurst I came across John an animal rights campaigner with his handcart/ caravan . When he’s out campaigning he travels the highways like a mule pulling his caravan to illustrate the excessive work load that many animals have to endure. We got friendly and he’s going to consider making a caravan for me to sleep in as I’ve more or less decided to not go abroad but to explore Britain , persuaded by Frank Patterson wonderful video that I watch with joyful tears most mornings. Now is this going to tax Tern too much I hope not but we shall see . Many years ago I started to travel around the country towing a trailer supporting Amnesty with Bike Friday , and I only abandoned the adventure to support my mother who was nearing death.
A Day with the Sanga and the Katina Ceremony .
It’s ordination time and I hitched a ride with the monastics to Amaravati
a sister monastery outside London . I used to be one of the regular mini bus drivers , but I’m no longer asked .
The initial excitement when we arrive and meet up with old friends is palpable.
Also on the bus was Len a fairly new Buddhist also in the twilight years. So I’m showing him around this very special place .
What’s so joyous about coming to these places outside the retreat times is the raw enthusiasm, particularly from the newish practitioners as they discover the liberating feelings that come with the practice. Very much like a Zycling Adventure, if you excuse me mentioning it again. Though the teaching will remind you to release your self from those joyous feelings as they will also contribute to suffering. It’s not that happiness is discouraged but clinging to it is.
To kill time I went once again to the wonderful library, where it’s warm and smells great. My eye immediately landed on a book entitled ‘ Engaged Buddhism, The Dalai Lama’s WorldView ‘ by Bharati Puri . And turning to the Appendix 1 ( as i had my removed in my teens , I’m always looking for it)
There was an interview with him from 2001.
I turned to the question of whether Buddhism can have any social or practical relevance, as not all writers agree that it can.. His Holiness agreed that monastics generally keep themselves remote from society, but they do have the choice of being active and involved . In Thailand a famous senior monk established a hospital for the poor which is still flourishing .
After a splendid luncheon the ordination ceremony an impressive hour odd demonstration of memory and coordination and Sihanado was officially a fully fledged monk. As interestingly someone commented how much we the supporters felt part of the family . Incidentally when I was transferred from Brighton hospital to chichester, after the accident, a group of chanting monks met the ambulance.
The annual Katina ceremony, the major fundraising and the offering of the cloth for the monks robes was blessed with sun and blue skies . The evening before after the nightly meditation I bumped into some people who I had fallen out with many years ago . And I’m afraid the anger returned, maybe the result of the accident but I upset them once again and was reported to a senior monk who spoke to me in very uneasy terms . All this marred the day somewhat and I was reminded that the apology I was demanding, could only be given voluntary by that person and could not by demanded or suggested . So believe it or not I hadn’t really realised that . So big learning day and I was a bit taken aback by his quite uncompromising manner as he felt I was threatening the culture of the monastery. So all the new friendly contacts and renewed ones fell a bit flat and I cycled home a bit deflated. But all was not lost as a new contact needed a place to stay as the monastery was full , so I enjoyed his company and seeing him using my old room which was now to be for the next lodger.
And now for something completely different , I don’t think Buddhist monks are
allowed, but Orthodox Jews can and very sweetly .
And this brings us to a very important point for me . In the complete security of my beautiful Kuti in the back yard that I will soon share with the hens ,I’m reflecting , ; would I have , I’m now too old , have tried the monastic route? And I’m afraid the answer is no , my temperament isn’t really suitable. I wanted a family , I’m too worldly , but most importantly totally democratic. For me that means non hierarchy and fearful of anything that smells of authoritarianism, and all those odours can be found in most kinds of communities. It’s unavoidable with clashing egos and differing ambitions . I’ve very much ploughed my own path, made my own rules , though I wouldn’t say I was completely happy on my own, which really isn’t the case anyhow as I’ve always had lodgers , children or friends sharing my greater space. I missed out on living a communal life , when we sold the cafe we did gave it a try, but my wife cried most of the time so that was out. On my first visit to Israel staying in kibbutz I got very close to joining ( see the film Walk on Water) but I was too unnerved by the attitude towards the Arabs. So I dip in and out of the Buddhist world literally all over the world , and am happy to keep an arms length away , so I can keep my own integrity. I’m not sure if this all makes sense but it’s worked .
The great London Bus Adventure
Another visit to my London friend was in the offing and this time he suggested a spontaneous bus adventure. Not that Brompkey was left out , as I rode him from the bus ride to Archway..from Victoria station down a long gentle hill to Holloway .where he lives .
The next day after a hearty breakfast at his favourite restaurant run by Turkish people I think, we jumped on the first bus that came along , climbed up the stairs and settled in the front seats to experience what turned out to be the most amazing ride I’d ever had . I certainly recommend it to any visitors it cost very little, though of course, we had our bus passes.
As we wound our way through Stoke Newington with its rich mix of Orthodox Jews and muslims I felt a tap on my shoulder and looking round one of the Jews with his young son , handed me my fallen precious beaney hat with light , available on my web site . So I had a perfect opportunity to chat with this rather strange sect who keep to themselves.
Then there was a charming young West Indian who was building a bike , he occupied the adjoining front seat. Nobody escapes my tongue when I’m on an adventure.
Looking out we noticed that some of the bus shelters had plastic flowers on the roof , some kind of art exhibit maybe?
We also had a running joke , pointing out the amazing variety of nails and hair cut Shops/bars . For two relatively scruffy old men this was an abomination , what’s going on , an overly awareness of one appearance?
Then my friend spotted the Museum of Childhood , an amazing building from the Great Exhibition of 1851 which was rebuilt from its original home in Hyde Park I think. So we jumped off and spent a couple of amazing hours in the company of hundreds of excited children . My friend remarked that he felt a bit self conscious as he was concerned that we might be taken for a couple of paedophilic gents.
I took lots of pictures which hopefully gives a flavour of this place.
As we walked to the next bus stop I spotted a rather strange cafe with rather over the top decor, as it was empty I felt sorry for the owner a rather smart if a bit severe youngish women . My friend twigged straight away that we had stumbled into a gay bar/restaurant. We settled into some window seats , to encourage passers by , and soon enough two young women came in and one was drop dead gorgeous. They took nearby seats and before you could say Jackie Robinson I had found out that the stunning lady cycled. She was only saved by the arrival of their food , and my more sexually turned on younger friend staggered to the door throughly smitten .
Our next ride was a tiring one as the rush time traffic had built up as we very slowly wound our way to a vegan establishment that offered games and folk music. My friend got down to some serious board games while I found out all about the owners through their daughter a waitress. And probably bored the pants off a musician . who was waiting for his parents to turn up before he went on.
On our way home we discussed how on the final leg to the games and music
Venue under the pressure of a plan/destination the urgency thing kicks in and you loose the relaxed feelings . And of course , we arrived on time and nobody had a got there yet.
Today I’m accompanying my friend to his weekly park run, I’ll find a friendly cafe to work on this blog.
I think I’ll call it a day as I could go on and on and on………PLG Tony