Creche in West Kensington
OK OK lots of things have been going on here… I won a bottle of whisky in the charity raffle at work, which was amazing because I never win anything. Here I am feeling pretty good, my Karma is obviously working well. Then on the way home a truck decided that it wanted to be in the same lane as me. If I hadn’t been in such a heavy car (f-off big Volvo estate) I’d have been knocked into the outside lane and would probably be writing this from hospital. So OK, not good but karma still not too bad. The truck was from Czechoslovakia and I’d been cruising next to him for some miles and must have drifted into his blind spot. The driver was mortified; I hope he doesn’t lose his job. I didn’t manage to report it until the 2nd of January because I couldn’t be arsed messing about over the winter break. Just a dent in one of the doors and the trim came off, but I’ve got a £250 excess which I may be able to recover. Apparently with foreign vehicles the government appoints an insurer and the process goes as normal with an agency that recovers the cash, so I may even keep my – as yet only to be wished for – no claims bonus.
Over the break I managed to re-read my novel and came to the conclusion that it was OK at the beginning but needs to be edited down to something a bit shorter and more coherent. The writing for the closing sections is a bit rushed and lacks élan. The clichés are OK, they help the narrative and that’s what they’re for so fine.
Next job is to redo it into a proper document, because I wrote it on the iMac the file names don’t have .doc extensions on them and my XP system doesn’t know what to do with the files so it’s all a bit weird. Just a boring mechanical job to reconstruct the it in a way a PC can understand. Yada yada yada.
I’ve made no progress at all over the last few weeks with my J2EE project. I’m a bit bored with it to tell the truth, it just needs some concentrated effort for a few evenings to get it going, then I can look at the other things I need to do to get it into something coherent.
XMAS kite extravaganza
Here is a photograph of Jon flying a kite; there are more in the library here. We did this on the 25th and 26th. It was very good to see everyone and I had some excellent interesting conversations with Roger.
On new year’s day things were marred a little when my neighbour knocked on the door in a panic with her two dogs saying that her house was on fire. It was! I sat her down and waited for the fire brigade. They put the fire out but the upper floors of the house (3 stories like mine) are not habitable until they have been professionally cleaned so they have been staying at our house pro tem. Not sure that we want this for more than a few days but they were in a real state and I will not turn away anyone in need.
I finished Donna Tart’s The Little Friend. Enjoyed it a lot but wanted to strangle the mother because she had allowed herself to become so stuck that she may as well have been dead and was no use to her remaining children at all, just an absence. I have a theory about people, that they stop growing mentally and get stuck in a tiny little obsessive world where they just don’t see the world around them any more. Like characters in Dickens, who are pictured as say, yellowing teeth, that’s all they are, some kind of sad obsessive cypher with no real life. Just my penneth of whatever mes amis.
My nephew got married on the 27th, I wasn’t invited because of space restrictions and also we haven’t made a particularly good job of keeping up recently, what with my own life being on some sort of perpetual fast forward, so didn’t have enough of a connection. My sister was invited and had some funny-catty things to say about some of the family members on our side (but not David and Jude, who are wonderful people), she loved the ones on their, particularly the women, who were all really kind sweet folk. On our side the best was how one of them always picks the low-fat yoghurt and always complains about the artificial sweetener. My sister waited for the sweetener monologue to start, and it did. See what I mean about getting stuck, mired in trivia and unable to see past the end of your nose and doing the same daft things over and over again? Why not read the label and eat a different one? Ah then, then, my dear, you wouldn’t have anything to complain about and you actually enjoy complaining, don’t you? Just my poor sister doesn’t want to hear it and isn’t afraid of saying so.
Wild speculation and a call to Dharma
It doesn’t matter what you’ve got it’s always tainted by something, Buddha pointed this out over two thousand years ago, but people never stop complaining about nothing, basically. Walking their comfortable ruts endlessly deeper and then they get reincarnated and do it all over again. Lift your head from the comfy stone you’ve been banging it against since the dawn of time and look up, look somewhere else. This is why I crave for enlightenment, the lightness of being, the flawless essence, it has to be better than being buried under the trammels of artificial sweetener monologues. This is why I do all of this meditation at 6 a.m. and other hard stuff, because I just don’t want the rubbish of every day life any more, it’s shite and it tastes horrible. You can come too, let’s all go. OK, I’ll send you a post card, but only if you look up for a little while.
Thing is, it was there all the time, but none of us can see it.
At the end of December I went to four days teaching on The Jewel Ornament of Liberation. We covered the last few sections and I finally understood one of the fundamental teachings on emptiness; you can’t say that things exist in ultimate reality (eternalism, from which comes god and the whole shooting match – but you do have compassion), neither can you say that they don’t exist (nihilism, where there is no cause and effect, so why be compassionate or do anything other than play with your genitals all day?). It lies in Buddha’s famous middle way, between these two extremes. What I hadn’t got was that saying things don’t exist makes them exist in a kind of negative way, you have to give them enough existence to say they aren’t there. I can see it in my mind better than I can put it with words, but then it is indescribable. This is also what the Japanese Zen teachings about the gateless gate and so on hint at. In fact I see a unity between the Zen teachings and the Tibetan ones; the Zen koans etc. are a different way of getting to the same underlying truth. Well, as Ade said, of course they are: they all come from the Buddha ultimately! If you aren’t a practitioner this probably doesn’t make a lot of sense so don’t worry about it.
I’ve decided to go to Lama Jampa’s Easter teachings in Switzerland. Need to hassle round about a hotel for the return leg because I can’t get to the airport in time, booked the flights without a problem, using up some of my air miles. Found a hotel but their computer system wasn’t working properly and they didn’t ring me back today. Bleedin’ typical.
The tax man thinks I owe him money because the figures on my tax return indicate that I should have paid more tax in 2003. Also, I applied for the child credit, which they paid to me and now want to claw back but haven’t bothered writing to me to explain why. They wrote to me about the debt and then said they would explain in another letter but in fact just send a paying in slip, the cheeky persons! It may be that Adis payroll was cocked up so I underpaid my tax, what an interesting surprise, fancy that! Ah well, will check out the return and make sure that I haven’t transposed some digits or such like, and maybe write to Adis and ask them to clarify, assuming they are close enough to the land of clarification to at least see it without a telescope (bitter, moi?).
Currently reading a massive biography of Darwin by Desmond and Moore which found its way on to my bookshelf via Helen giving me a load of books she didn’t want in a carrier bag. It puts him in his historical context; I didn’t realise what a different world the 19th century was. I thought turbulence and revolution was all Cromwell and so on, but there was a lot of row then as well, people dressing up as clerics and giving anti-christian sermons and all sorts. One man called himself the Devil’s chaplain, the Rev. Robert Taylor (yes he had taken holy orders and ended up in prison). Basically the toiling masses hated the Anglican church and the 50-odd year rule by the Tories but were led by a different branch of the establishment who managed to head them off (yeah, I know, I voted Labour to get rid of the self-serving Tory bastards as well, and now look at it; more taxes and only minor improvement – nothing changes does it?). As an ex-marxist I should have known about this but ole’ Charlie M, he tends to talk about France and Germany more than England, which I suspect was because he didn’t want to be deported back to Germany and executed for calling for the death of the Kaiser, which is fair enough I suppose.
Darwin had a great fear of being the Devil’s chaplain by proxy because of his ideas, he was trained as a clergyman because he didn’t want to follow his father into medicine but his life took a different path. In his late teens he formed an attachment to one of his cousins. I remember thinking to myself that in these times they’d have been screwing like rabbits (and no-one would care, either) but of course in those days they just wrote each other passionate letters. It’s very difficult to see what the world was like then, no contraception, virginity having some meaning, a kind of sweet innocence (which of course isn’t always sweet but you know what I mean).
The Cambridge proctors (part of the University, not real police) would arrest women walking on their own, label them street walkers, and throw them in prison without anyone being able to do anything about it – can you imagine that now? I can’t. I can’t see how they got away with it without being beaten up, there weren’t that many of them. Yet there was this delicious tide of anger, which has been translated into the modern tabloid nose thumbing and name calling, and we all follow the tedious authority of talentless, gibbering, witless nobodies like little lambs, ah bless us all. The church was so powerful as well, unbelievably so, I would probably have been imprisoned for professing my Buddhist beliefs, and I am precisely nobody important. So what happened to this world where things could change? Someone built a Sainsbury’s car park on it and we all went shopping for shite we don’t need in order to fill the howling vacuum of our nothing lives. Actually, I don’t think it’s that bad, we could be living in Iraq or the Horn of Africa, but then maybe there would be something to complain about.
Escape from working for someone else
At the weekend I went to a business seminar where I can see a way out. You need to persuade others that they can do it too, to build a team reaching out and change your buying habits. It’s hard because people tend to listen to others telling them that they can’t succeed, rather than the ones who have succeeded. If anyone’s interested contact me.
Enough wool gathering. This has taken me 3 hours to write.
Blessings all, and a happy new year.