River Daughter by Charley Linden Thorp

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I remember the day we died together on the green river in every single detail. It is not a memory or a dream, but a repeated reality. I turn away to repeat it like a mantra when everything in this war seems so hopeless.

I am the river and the river is me. Papa is me and I, Papa. I am the river and the river is me. Papa is me and I, Papa.

Our boat moves slowly despite the danger, the authorities pursuing us down both banks. I take a single thick hair of your moustaches between my teeth, you smile and I feel its bulge against my bulge and we gaze at the same rolling dark green waters and the waters gaze back at us. This airy bliss is our death.

But soon, our cheeks are torn apart to play out other scenes by uniformed arms. Our roles? I play the Madonna. You, Christ’s soldier. The setting? A country where all religious beliefs are outlawed.

Since our green river day, I have become a teacher and nurse, rearing more soldiers for “beloved leader” to deploy, then caring for them when injured and dying. This is my way of being myself.

One day Papa, a city plaza is bombed from the air. Spindly death machines swing through space, their bombs are kicked off rusting underbodies by pert jackboots. The wounded are my pupils so we bundle them and their limbs into the hospital ship and leave dock immediately. The aerial pests shipwreck us and we become specks in the flaming ocean!

I help an injured soldier to keep afloat, holding him on to a black spherical mine. His blood spills out, his legs are pulp below the waves but eventually, the enemy-swarm moves on to other flowers.

We sleep, then wake with a start to check our pale grip. The soldier’s time is up so he pulls aside his studded collar to reveal a chain, dragging it up to show a beautiful crucifix, encrusted with gems; a glorification of God, number one enemy of the state!

He hands it to me, asking me to use it to get through the madness of this war. He calls me ‘Madonna,’ asking for my blessing so he can go to ‘heaven.’ I put it on quickly for fear it will sink like everything else and when I look back at him he has slid away.

Now, I am the only survivor bobbing on this black bauble, but I’m aware of my fingers moving slowly towards the crucifix. And then suddenly Papa, I see our wooden boat, the green body of the river moving steadily with it, and feel our cheeks resting together.

Now I completely understand the difference between sea-water and fresh-water. A great river is a large body, a substantial limb, while the ocean is many smaller bodies, made menacing by salt.

The crucifix wakes me. I take it in my fingers.

‘Papa, do I feel something watching me, protecting me? Is it you? Can this encrusted metal shape make me feel something? I have been trained to know that this is a phantasy and yet I can hear you saying, ‘Must we believe that there is nothing else except birth and death and suffering, and working for others in between? Nothing held in the wonders of nature and weather. Nothing more than H2O in a heartfelt tear?’

With such salty questions asked and allowed to evaporate, I find myself in a hot apple orchard in the mountains. The villagers have locked themselves into their houses in the valley because the enemy is near, but we, another fatherless daughter and me, are picking the apples before they drop and spoil. Authoritative foreign voices shout to each other below.

We listen, the still crucifix inside my blouse. The gipsies come, talking loudly, petitioning the officer. They have no fear, living in a flurry of violin vibrations and scintillating tambourine cymbals. Momentarily, the officer seems clasped by their hope, as we are, but then he dismisses them goose-stepping away.

They become silent, except for a small voice, shaking her quarter-size tambourine. She does not stop even when the machine gun is cocked. And even as it fires.

The rapid volley slaughters the adults. His fellow officers rebuke him but he laughs, saying, ‘Nobody in their right mind needs a gipsy.’ The small remaining gipsy has never learned fear or choked down the lessons of ‘time’ or ‘space’ or ‘form’ and she never will.

He spots the abundance of our orchard and swivelling his gun onto his back, starts to climb the hill. I stand rooted behind the green apple spheres but he finds my face hidden behind one especially large fruit.

He drags me down the hill looking for somewhere dark and muffled. In the barn, I escape his tight grip and run on ahead. He stalks me among the dark hay stalls but Papa I am saved. My ‘daughter’ friend is waiting with a pitchfork to pin his greedy eyes to the timbers. In time, his friends come looking for him and we finish the remnant enemy off.

And again, I feel the crucifix dangling between my perspiring breasts and again I feel some benevolent vigilance. I can even become the blessed apples themselves, just as I am you and our green luscious river! The agonized crucifix is somehow bringing me to an otherness.

At night, the battalion has moved on, so we start to walk, talking little so I can go to our river and check your cheek and eventually, in the middle of a burned hay field, we see the surprise of a basilica. It is deserted, the treasures pilfered, apart from the glorious Madonna in copper and bronze hanging high above the ruined altar.

We fill a tin bath with fresh water and harvest illegal ‘Our Lord’s Candle’ flowers growing nearby to make frothy shampoo. We scrub and cut out the combs from our matted hair. I remove the crucifix while I wash but it catches the light from the highest dome, reflecting the beautiful paintings inside and making us envious.

One day, I return from collecting blueberries, but see that the uniforms have found our holy camp. Prosaic bicycles thrown down hurriedly, a boneshaker motorbike and sidecar with warm tyres block the main double doors meant to receive robed processions and choristers.

As I move by night and sleep by day, tying myself high in a tree, ‘Papa I can feel you near! You are here, perhaps looking for me, perhaps to experiment with God.’

I end up back at the wheat field to see our basilica reduced to dust but the wondrous Madonna still hanging untouched and I know you were there stealing my combs in your filthy clothes.

Later, as I crouch by a stream munching on stale cakes from a bombed bakery, I hear a plane shot down. The crucifix becomes hot on my breast and I start to look for survivors.

I spot the burning plane wedged in rubble, shouting for survivors. Someone groans. Lifting away tin sheets and timbers, I find the pilot, leaning upright against the exposed bones of the matchstick plane.

I move in front of him. He tries to speak but his larynx is burned and only squeaks. I bandage his hand, inject him with morphine and as I reach around his wide chest with bandages, his eye fills with light. The unburned cheek bulges with a smile and he indicates something beneath my blouse with a nod leaving my eyes very briefly.

We both stop, acknowledging the crucifix, smiling to have shared it illegally. His broken lips ask me to show him what lies below it, deliriously enunciating the word ‘Heaven!’ ‘Heaven,’ another officially eradicated disease.

I begin to unveil my beauty to him freely, wondering if this is what prostitutes feel like behind glass? Morphine? Opium? What does it matter? He mouths the word ‘Madonna,’ repeatedly.

‘Papa, I have never felt so beautiful since that moment against you on the green river.’

I slowly undress, pulling multiple layers over my head, letting the plumpness of my breasts drop, the gleaming broken body of Christ lying across my breastbone caked in gold and gems.

My eyes return from inspecting myself to see if I am fully revealed to him, anticipating his joy like a beacon in his pain. But his eye is fixed, his mouth open as if about to speak. And a thin rivulet of saliva trickles down into the rubble and blood at his feet.

I remain still as wet snow starts to drop, aware that I am the only sentient being in this metallic-asbestoid scene.

Towards the end of the war, I find my regiment and put on my uniform again, but cannot be promoted for my work with triage because I can no longer speak to tell the authorities. We are camped on a hilltop near the enemy bunker, anticipating the reprisal in the trenches below.

‘Papa, the green river has never faded despite 12 years of daily horrors.’ It is the only reality, pinned against the sacred crucifix and the Madonna.

Opposite, the enemy spies through gun slits and plays gramophone records of mighty Wagner and Beethoven. Down in the valley, we see civilian men walking up in the direction of the bunker, moving confidently holding stout sticks. We wonder if we are dreaming as full symphony orchestras mount towards their climaxes? Then, more and more civilians appear with an army of accordion players, drowning out Arian goddesses with gipsy folk music.

‘I actually see you Papa in your full regalia as colonel at this moment. You are leading the surge of people moving steadily up the hill. I run, bursting out of the arms of my comrades, shouting at the top of my lungs, the first time I have uttered a sound from my mouth for several years. “Bapa!!”‘

At first, you do not hear me, glancing casually at the jackrabbit careering down the hill in your direction. But then you match fragments of sound and shape, realizing that it is your river daughter in the flesh. And you start to run on uneven boggy ground, your eyes lighting up, the tears rising.

We get closer, you slowing down, aware of some danger that I am not, me running on unbridled, always a child. And as we meet, you hold me still at arm’s length, trying to calm me enough to make me look down at my feet. I look down and realize that your jackboot is resting on one of my boots, which in turn has depressed the detonator of a land mine.

‘You speak urgently but calmly Papa, as always.’

No time to let the tears flood or our cheeks lock together. One of us will be blown up and you are determined it will not be me. You reach into your breast pocket and bring out my comb from the basilica, saying you knew I had been there with the Madonna.

Then, you order me in military fashion to lift my foot out of my boot and step away. Shout at me to turn and walk back up the hill, slowly and quietly without disturbing the ground. I protest again, trying to spit out words that have congested my body for so long.

I turn from the glorious site of you and we both wince at a huge explosion up at the bunker. One of your snipers with a working gun high in a tree has picked off the main bombardier and set off a chain reaction detonating all the ammunition stored there. The enemy is annihilated and I have found my papa, all in one of ‘time’s’ precious baubles!

As I slowly climb back up the hill, away from you and you make to move, you know that you will detonate the mine! If one moment can contain both the zenith and nadir of two lives, this is it.

You wait for me on the green river while it is clear that I must be a Madonna guiding my people to reality for some ‘form’ and ‘time’ and ‘space’ yet to come.

 

 

 

        Images by Japanese artist Mariko Kinoshita and megapixyl

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To say what has never been said

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Do you live your own truth? Or are you living someone else’s truth?

 

 

 

Artistic expression is perhaps your only opportunity to express your individual mind and the only opportunity others have to hear or see what they have never heard or seen before.

Modern human beings are heavily conditioned the moment they are born. They emerge from the womb usually a round peg fitting into a round hole. Their family and inherited ancestry, their language, their culture, their gender, their social class, their intelligence quota, etc. are the ground they have been assigned to grow in. It is difficult not to lose touch with one’s True Nature in the midst of all these givens.

 

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Only the truth that is uniquely your own liberates. Anybody else’s truth becomes a bondage and you a slave.

We may fall into the trap of comparing and judging art works by abstract criteria but it is being true to our own inward flights of consciousness that is part of our mission in being human.

 

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Michaelangelo was an Italian painter, architect, sculptor, inventor and poet of the High Renaissance. His True Nature exerted an incredible influence on the art of the world. He allowed no limitations to be placed on himself despite the ground he was assigned to grow in. He fearlessly took risks and followed his heart in all things, a veritable warrior of self-expression.

His True Nature dazzles the world even now 700 years later.

 

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I’m longing to hear what I have never heard and never seen before. How about you?


images courtesy of Mariko Kinoshita, Linden Thorp and Megapixyl.com

Virtue

 

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 ‘When your heart surges broad and full like a river, a blessing and a danger to those who live near, that is when your virtue has its origin and beginning.’

Thus spake Zarathustra.

Vincent Van Gogh took his own life happily because his mission was completed. He had allowed his river to surge and overflow in all his works. He had utter trust in his own creativity and his artistic judgement never flickered despite no acknowledgement as a painter. He painted without cease but was so poor that he could not afford a place to hang his paintings so gave them to friends and even strangers to hang in their homes. Originals are still being discovered today in private basements and attics.

His joy and vision were not to be appreciated in his lifetime but he knew one day the world would be ready for them. He lived a life of complete sacrifice but not to a hypothetical god or image! He gave all his energy to creativity and therefore he can be called a true saint!

 

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Societies and communities will judge and snarl at creators, sorting and grading them on a whim, wielding their right to destroy or applaud their talents and achievements. They will scream and shout criticism and condemnation exactly to drown out the individual small voice.

But if you are committed to living out your personal truth, that voice will become an opera cadenza, a great symphony, the roar of a lion. Van Gogh was such a lion.

Your uncompromising creativity surging and overflowing is your virtue!

 

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      Moving images courtesy of Mariko Kinoshita, Linden Thorp and megapixyl.com

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Moongazing

Mariko Kinoshita, a Japanese artist, is highly culturally adaptable unlike many Japanese who still harbour suspicions about foreigners. This is to be expected when we consider that the whole country was closed to all foreign influence for a period of over 250 years between 1603 and 1868. 

But this work unashamedly evokes the very essence of Japan. Gazing at the moon through the pale fish of cherry blossom (sakura) is essential for the Japanese spirit. The kimono and white mask of a beautiful silent woman create the sense of mystery the world is so intrigued by.

In Japan, fully-grown adults can be seen weeping at the sight of sakura at its peak. We watch the national news several times a day to find the exact peak for particular locations and then rush to stand close and gaze by moonlight.  In fact, the first national forecast has been released today so people are already planning.

Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto is the moon god in the Shinto religion and in Japanese mythology.  This deity is male unlike in ancient myths of Greece or Rome, and its creator also male. Tsukuyomi was the second of the ‘three noble children’ born when Izangi-no-Mikoto, the god who created the first land of the Japanese archipelago.  It is said that he was born from Izangi’s right eye. After climbing a celestial ladder, Tsukuyomi lived in the heavens with his sister Amaterasu, the sun goddess, who also became his wife. Japanese myths are primitive and not limited by worldly classifications. The very origins of Japan are fantastical in a very eastern way which fascinates westerners.

I love Kinoshita’s painting and feel honoured to be helping this artist edge into the wide world. It is easy to see her unconscious heritage in the stillness and silent joy.

                                    Images courtesy of Mariko Kinoshita and Linden Thorp

 

Departure: caretaker’s diary

On departure day, as I watched the group prepare to leave, they packed nothing at all. They took only a few handmade possessions which they habitually carry or wear: their dilly bags woven from Mangrove string containing personal effects such as churingas (totemic identity badges); their Wood and Grass carrying bowls, coolamon, sported on heads, shoulders or against bellies; their custom-made digging sticks slung across shoulders with ornate Kangaroo straps; beautifully crafted decorated boomerangs for hunting; and perfectly cylindrical Hollow Log coffins containing Bones of their deceased.

Churinga. Coolamon. Hollow Log Coffins. I remember how strange theses names were to begin with, but how now they have become the objects they describe. They are so beautiful, so practical and of course hand-made using only the materials the Desert provides.

If only you could have been there to see them go. Ninija’s tribe, leaving the disorganised collection of tin-roofed huts, each with its rubbish heap outside. All naked and all barefoot, now all indifferent to white man’s comfortable way of living!

They are mostly advanced in years, weakened by a cultivated dependence on ‘Easy’ supplies of ‘civilised’ bags of white sugar, flour, pre-packed snacks, tea-bags. Modern medical assistance and intervention was forced on to them at the settlement; their own natural remedies and healing practices kicked aside as voodoo.

Ninija, leading the exodus, tall and broad. Her strong frame stooped to carry the extra weight gained as a result of unaccustomed starch and lack of exercise. Her hair a flaxen thatch cropped short by sharp ‘white fella’ scissors. She carried a large Grass dilly bag slung over one shoulder, a digging stick of the Pelican clan across the other. And held loosely down by her thigh the perfect wooden cylinder of her treasured Bone coffin, decorated as distinctively that of a Traditional Landowner. This would soon contain the precious remains of her son ginger.

At her side was small gina, her granddaughter, ninija’s successor to be. She was strapped up with her own digging stick of the Porcupine clan. Her grandmother’s coolamon, carrying bowl, balanced perfectly on her small head. Gina spiked the sand as she walked with a black tightly furled umbrella, outsized for her, its crook and ferrule of lacquered wood now flaked by strong Sun.

The party of shiny black skins with their blond and red topknots of wild hair was joined occasionally by competing Kangaroos. On one side they were flanked by a massive flock of high Emus, great scratching Bird of the Lands, and on the other by a troop of wild Camels. I had been so surprised to come across wild Camels in the Australian Desert. Apparently, they were once imported by Arabian explorers and have now become naturalized. Above the whole assembly, white Pelicans flapped their slow Wings through an indigo Sky, muttering to the full Moon.

The shimmering tribe was walking away from civilization, from ‘security,’ from ‘safety,’ without compasses. Away from health care and education. Away from the culture of ‘the thinking’ stuffed with words and ideas.

Following them, at some distance, was the party of newly arrived white workers adorned in multiple protective layers. They were led by the tall blond rifca in her loose-fitting blood red dress. Rifca. She was to help in much greater ways than the practical work of building shade shelters assigned to her and her group. Like me, she was to become a link between ancient Desert knowledge and wisdom and modern People. But that’s another story for another ‘here’ and ‘now.’

To read more of my extraordinary experiences with Australian indigenes, please read my book: Easy-Happy-Sexy: on the Twelfth Day

http://youtu.be/8Tc7XuC U38k

                                               images courtesy of Linden Thorp and megapixyl.com

Visual and Vibrational Sacred Echoes

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Humans remain creatures of the natural world in so many ways. We echo nature’s colours and pulsing rhythms of light and shade. We unconsciously imitate the perfection of the universe although we assert that we are superior and have risen above the animal and plant kingdom.

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We use substances of the Earth to make pigments and construct instruments to apply them, and yet we are always aspiring to be better, to create something superior, to outshine with our progress and sophistication.

We rarely stop to acknowledge that without natural resources we would not be able to create anything.

And we could ask for whom are we creating? To become immortalized for our genius, to make money, to display our so-called ‘talents,’ to ventilate our unique mechanistic minds?

 

 

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Traditional Landowners in the Australian outback create for very different reasons. A Traditional Landowner, chosen for his or her spiritual elevation, ‘owns’ thousands of miles of the Dreaming Lands. He or she must curate the Land forms and phenomena and celebrate the creation stories with songs and paintings.

Every artwork is a visible sign, a testament of harmony in all things for the spirit guardians or creation heroes to see; each brush stroke, or rock chisel mark or stipple or speck, is in veneration of ancestors and Father Earth and the Great Mother Nature. Artists do not practise: their painting is a live performance. 

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Decorating Hollow Bone Coffins to hold the precious bone fragments of their ancestors is a serious occupation. Their grandeur will pay tribute to the human life and spiritual lessons learned in the eyes of the Sky Heroes, and to the next stage of traveling on in the Sky.

 

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As the Djang approaches, the final glorious death ceremony, larger square coffins are made to convey the sun-dried corpse to the burial fires, but only the underside is decorated with secret symbols describing the life of the deceased so that that Father Earth and Mother Nature will know.

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Making art is a sacred duty to these wise people. It is dedicated entirely to the Earth and the Sky.

If only we secular people could find such sacred duties once again. Art would take a very different turn if we did.

 

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                 Gorgeous images courtesy of Mariko Kinoshita, Linden Thorp and Megapixyl.com


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Ondine (2009): Valid Lit

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“Ondine” took me by surprise. I was at first skeptical because it is billed as an Irish Drama and they are often hard to stomach for someone with the Irish blood and blarney running through their own veins. So, I let it play on while only giving it half my attention.

The free running of alcohol and recovery from it, broken families and life-long feuds, poverty, fishing folk, the corrupt Catholic Church and the strangle hold it has on people that have a tendency to be wild…… and other hallmarks…… were expected.

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But then, I realized that the dour fisherman with the thick almost unintelligible Irish brogue was Collin Farrell of sleek Hollywood and the darker-than-black features. His hair was long trailing well-beneath his wooly cap and he was racing round the inlets in a dilapidated trawler instead of a limousine. This realization combined with the above shot really caught my interest so I quickly became transported by this Celtic fantasy.

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Of course, this is a love story as well – between Syracuse (an approximation of ‘circus’ because of his alcoholic antics) and Ondine (a borrowed name form the French). The connection between them apart from him fishing her out of the cold ocean and secreting her away in his abandoned family home, is Annie, his precocious, invalid daughter. She happens to be an expert on selkies, mythological creatures common in northern Europe who are a hybrid of seal crossed with human, and immediately recognizes Ondine as such a hybrid.

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Selkies (Maidens of the Sea) are indeed fascinating, standard fairy-tale creatures in Finland, Iceland and among Inuits: an institution also in northern Scotland, Ireland and the Faroe Islands. The selkie lives as a seal, among seals, but is known to shed its heavy pelt in order to become a land creature. When psychological conditions were not recognized then ‘the fairies’ were often held responsible for this kind of mischief.

In freezing climes peoples often wear seal skins from head to toe, and cover their kayaks with them. When they get heavy with water they have to be laid out in the sun to dry. It is thought that this ‘myth’ may have come from the sight of seal-skin wearers stripping off and lying beside their skins in the sunlight. It is also said that selkies are supernaturally formed from the souls of the drowned.

 

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Ondine’s arrival plays complete havoc with sober Syracuse’s faith and already damaged reputation. How can he confess that he’s falling for a mermaid and intending to consummate the relationship!

To be honest, I was completely taken in by Ondine’s aqueous origins especially when she accidentally discovers her pelt on the ocean bed and buries it in Syracuse’s garden to be dug up 7 years later. I found it completely acceptable that all the dresses Syracuse buys for her automatically become swimming suits.

 

 

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But reality slams into this sleepy fishing town of an interesting Romanian origin! The less said……….

Anyway, this tale is a delight. At once crude, basic, intoxicated and hard-faced, but magical and romantic as well. It has a happy, zany ending which the town will never recover from. Please watch it and see how far you can suspend disbelief.

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Images courtesy of ibdb.com and megapixyl.com

 

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Into the Forest (2015)

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This film is a precious find. I came upon it by accident and decided that the forest was a place I wanted to be at that moment. I craved a tapestry of growing green giants and laughing foliage in which to lose myself regardless of the human story that would weave into it. I lost myself completely in greenery but also in the stunning relationship between members of a suffering family sheltering deep in the Canadian forest.

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Plot:

In brief, a father and his two teenage daughters live in an ideal forest location in self-sufficiency. The daughters are discontented with this remote way of life craving the company of their peers and experience of the city. Nell is working to graduate from High School while Eva is practising modern dance in preparation for auditions to become a professional. Then, the closeness of this family of three is suddenly put to the acid test.

A massive power outage hits Canada which causes everything to breakdown. There is no synthetic energy to be had at any price and soon the last gasoline is finished so leaving is not an option. The majority of this intriguing human drama, which can serve as a preparation for all of us in the developed world for such a situation, is about the survival of the two sisters after their father bleeds out as result of a chain saw accident. They re-experience the tragic loss of their mother to disease when father dies and are thrown entirely on their own resources and their exclusive relationship. This situation could happen to any of us in today’s precarious and passive existence.

 

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Impressions/Reflections:

Without material or parental/adult support, we see the two women gradually reveal their True Nature. Eva, a dancer, is artistic and vulnerable to emotional, unrecovered from the death of her mother with whom she was close. Nell, scientist, logical to the core, essentially practical and quirky, is also newly mourning the terrible loss of her beloved father. This is an awakening for all viewers to two facts: first, most of us tend to take the loving protection and guidance of our parents for granted, and second, that we each have the resources to be independent and to make sense of life in our own way. Both young women quickly recover from their loss and step into the legacies of their parents in order to survive this extreme which they are in no way prepared for.

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One episode:

One day, Nell goes berry-picking – the fruits of the forest being their main source of food as they are both vegetarians. Eva is left behind to chop wood for the approaching winter. A stranger appears, a city refugee, whom she remembers as an acquaintance of her father’s. She lies and tells him that her father is in the forest, but the stranger has been watching them for sometime so sees through her lie.

Quite soon he smells her fear which arouses his male instinct to relieve his own fear by cruelly raping her. Nell hears her screams and races back, but he has left. Eva is physically and emotionally battered by this grotesque act, fast to relinquish all responsibility for human life to her younger sister who sets about boarding up the house and watching with a loaded rifle for the rapist’s return.

Eva recovers very slowly indeed, refusing to eat or get out of bed for an eternity, and when she does venture outside briefly into the forest air, she finds she is pregnant with the trespasser’s child. The sisters must decide what to do as food is in short supply and another mouth to feed could present problems. Nell is prepared to help Eva abort this baby which is the only option to her, but Eva decides she will bring it into the world, a new world with new ways of being. The story of how they deal with the pregnancy and the actual birth with no medical or adult help is moving, inspiring, empowering!

After the decay of their house, they deem it unhealthy to bring up a new being in and so burn it and walk “Into the Forest,” hence the film title.

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Deep reaction:

Although we all may think as moderns we could never survive back in nature, it is our origin! Our ancestors survived what we perceive as Nature’s cruelties and unfairnesses, living wrapped in complete trust and belief in the planet. We consider that we are no longer animals and most of us have missed our chance to be gods or fully enlightened beings, however, we cannot refute that we have indigenous wisdom running through our veins which will enable our survival.

In the forest, we can breathe so deeply in concert with the trees and plants, and if we put aside our psychological fears, our compulsive comparing and judging, and trust the universe, it will provide all we need. It may not be what we are used to, but it is certainly a great deal healthier and we have a superb chance of getting back in touch with our still core, our power as a species, in the process.

By entering into the essence of this story, I was able to survive in the beautiful and resourceful forest. It awakened me to my own unique beauty and resourcefulness as an Earth being, along with that of all beings of our human species.

 

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Images courtesy of imdb.com and megapixyl.com

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Valid Lit: motivation to create

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The words I write and the images I choose and make to accompany them come from stillness and inaction; in other words, from deep inside the self. They are not trite ‘concepts’ or ‘notions,’ flimsy ‘ideas’ or ‘theories.’

They are my truth which I breathe onto the page.

 

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I did not read them in a book or think dead thoughts about them using an external stimulus. I went inside with the butterfly net of my breath and my sincerity, waiting and gently catching. Then, painstakingly I unfolded the winged words so that they could make their only flight.

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I did not find the specks behind these words dangling from the horizon or high in a tree for I have changed direction from there to here, always moving towards the heart.

We can know the visible world with the help of words and images, but it is impossible to know our very being with them.

This knowing is our mission and our challenge as valid creators – sharing our inner truth universally with skillful and sincere use of symbols.

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Images courtesy of Mariko Kinoshita and megapixyl.com

Writing Brushes of China – https://www.megapixl.com/linqong-stock-images-videos-portfolio, Christmas in Canora, 1982- Mariko Kinoshita, Inner Life of Music – https://www.megapixl.com/agsandrew-stock-images-videos-portfolio, Small Volcanic Humming Bird – https://www.megapixl.com/-stock-images-videos-portfolio, Lotus – https://www.megapixl.com/linqong-stock-images-videos-portfolio

 

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Earth Aware in Arizona

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I feel so privileged to be here at Monument Valley staying in a Navajo Hotel called ‘The View,’ in the Navajo Nation Lands. Every view displays these ‘monuments-butte,’ (tower) and ‘mesa’ (table) – free-standing rock formations which appeared about 570 million years ago.

The Valley Road is unpaved and only visitors may use it. It was freezing cold with snow in the air, so we decided to drive down it at 5 mph to allow us to negotiate the ruts and rocks. We were obliged to take a long slow look at these incredible monuments and resist stopping to hike off- road. The Navajo fiercely protect the delicate strata which native people have lived in awe of for thousands of years.

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This was once the ocean floor and the mantle of the Earth uplifted in these strange forms known as ‘The Mittens’ with their prominent thumbs to crack it. Later the ocean subsided west to become the Pacific Ocean during the shifting of the tectonic plates. Slowly the resultant mud solidified into sandstone and limestone as the climate fluctuated.

 
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I drove here from San Diego, a total of 662 miles, but the journey went by quickly. We passed through many types of desert and mountain landscapes, through great heat and snow, rarely stopping because we did not want to interrupt such Earth closeness.

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Such an ancient scenario to suddenly arrive in, but arriving created a deep connection with my Earth! I am One with it now!

I am sandstone and limestone. The desert paints me in rainbow colours against the gigantic Moon. And I continue to arrive there and will do so eternally.

 

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This is my Earth! I am inspired to become its custodian once more, to hold it and look upon it with complete awe like the wise ones!

Only putting aside the synthetic so-called reality created by my limited mind will allow this to be.

 

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Images courtesy of Linden Thorp and megapixyl.com

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Mansfield Park (1999): English Innocence.

 

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What is it that gives me such hope about British films? After watching endless protracted dramas and crime films made in US, one becomes jaded, almost immune to blood and guts, torture and the deviousness of the worldly mind.

Why do we watch them you may ask? Waiting for another mutilated body or packaged body-part, a dank basement masquerading as a graveyard, a filthy bathroom, rampant sex acts or mental health problems, becomes a way of life on modern TV channels. But I believe that present American film directors are fixated on blood and filth because those aspects of human life which are normally hidden need to be fully illuminated. We are living in an age of what Buddhists would call ‘hungry ghosts’ and depravity after all, and we need to confront that full-on.

 

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So, after such inurement, ‘Mansfield Park’ set in early and relatively innocent 19th century England, will lift the spirit, will bring on a deep sigh of relief. Of course, in this story horrors and unfairnesses, poverty and life exigencies abound but the principal message is one of hope and light. Protagonist Fanny Price, sent away from her poor docks’ home at the age of 10 to serve the wealthy branch of her family, is heavily oppressed because of her class. In spite of this gross handicap, in the end she wins the true love and status she clearly deserves and we are gratified.

 

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This setting of one of my favourite Jane Austen novels, truly lifted my heart after a spate of subjecting myself to deep cinematic darkness. Being British by birth, I am not proud of the British class system or the societal havoc reeked by the Industrial Revolution in any way, but somehow the light always manages to get through in British culture. This story is a fairy story which the British are so in tune with.

The beautiful and talented Fanny is marooned in a poor home although her imagination is rich and she entertains her siblings by writing stories and histories prolifically. The family is overburdened financially and so it is agreed between her mother and her mother’s sister that Fanny will be sent to Mansfield Park to act as a servant and get an education in the meantime.

Having arrived there, Fanny is devastated at being treated as an outcast and being given a neglected attic as her bedroom. She sorely misses her family’s genuine love but she almost immediately meets Edmund, her cousin, who tries to comfort her with jokes. It is then that their love is kindled and becomes a bond made for life.

 

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But there are many shadows cast amidst the sunshine and brilliance of the central figure and her deeply pious Edmund. For instance, Sir Thomas Bertram, Baronet, the owner of Mansfield Park, runs a plantation in Antigua and with it a great number of black slaves at a time when slavery is starting to be abolished. Tom Bertram is a drunk, a gambler, and eventually becomes gravely ill due to his reckless lifestyle. Lady Bertram is vague and distracted, addicted to laudanum and lap dogs, and her sister Mrs Norris who is a skinflint and total snob persists in keeping Fanny in her place. Henry Crawford is a lusty bachelor who falls in love with Fanny but she refuses to accept his dubious morality.

 

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At one point, grown tired of her social oppression and the demands being made of her by Sir Thomas to marry a wealthy man she does not love, Fanny decides to return home. Then the class contrast becomes patently obvious. She is once more marooned in a dirty environment, presided over by a drunken father whose dark family secrets are palpable in the eyes of the girl-children. And now, she deeply misses Edmund who is betrothed to be married to someone of his own class.
The gay balls and elegant dancing suit Fanny so well once she returns to Mansfield Park to care for son Thomas who is declining rapidly, and as luck would have it, she confronts Sir Thomas with his exploitation of slaves while Edmund steadily realizes his mismatch. Eventually, his betrothed, Miss Mary Crawford, Henry’s sister, reveals her true meddlesome and insincere nature to the whole family, and Edmund breaks off their engagement and listens to his heart. He immediately proposes to Fanny and plans to publish all her literary works.

 

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This is truly a rags-to-riches story and Fanny is perhaps the most compelling of all Austen’s heroines. The light created by this wonderful story comes flooding through and reminds us that we too have a True Nature and should never lose track of our dreams and native knowing.

Watch this film soon. It is oozing with period accuracy and attentiveness to the original text to lift you easily into the saddle of your heart. Fanny is a weaver of tales so reminiscent of Jane Austen’s herself.

 

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Images courtesy of imdb.com (Internet Movie Data Base) and megapixyl.com

 

 

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An Audience with the Master IV: Valid Lit

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The Master has no need of the books which his personal assistant, a shaven-headed nun in the traditional pink robes with orange under-robe, follows his instructions to find for me from shelving behind us. Meanwhile, he asks further questions, the interpreter bowing after each thing he says and pausing in order to make sure he has the right sense of it before conveying it to me.

“And why do you want to meditate?”

“Why do you want to become enlightened?”

He raises his broad hand having uttered his questions, the palm demonstrating a warning, halting what he anticipates as my habitual response.

“Please answer the questions without personal details of your history or any excuses. Please speak plainly.”

He is firm, intent, polite, but refuses to entertain the insincerities of the ego, and certainly it is not possible that the intellect can reason and manipulate any answers to such immense questions. I forage for answers in deep snow at first dropping my head in order to focus, but as my fingers grasp what I think is an answer, the heat of my humanity melts the cold snow of reason, of this intellectual device of question and answer.

I want to say that I do not really know, or cannot explain, but that he and I both know that these are not accurate statements to justify why I have come to find him in this remote part of the world. My erroneous interpretation of modesty perhaps inhibits me, but then I raise my head and without saying the words “I DO know exactly why,” or “ I am getting closer to enlightenment,” I begin to tell him why, using words that I have never managed to find before now. My feelings of realization are stronger than ever before.

 

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His strong direct voice insists on mine being the same, so I speak out confidently, looking directly into his eyes as I touch the truth glowing in the centre of my heart and with it a threatening tide of the tears of sincerity.

In this process of clarifying exactly my answers to his needle-sharp questions, in putting aside the excuses, the machinations of mind, I finally focus exclusively on what is the most important thing in any human’s life. I realise that this exact moment in this exotic religious centre of excellence has been planned all my life, and that it is the putting aside of my will which has allowed it to happen. Without any doubt, unconditional faith does not concern the will in anyway.

“I need to meditate in order to get control of my clinging and arrogant mind.”

“I need to meditate to open wide the door of my heart.”

“To finally destroy the ego.”

“To eradicate my ignorance totally.”

At first, my words are strong, flaunted and open like huge blooms, but the death of the ego soon issues the sounds of the tears which hang there, like warm drops of moisture waiting to trickle down into the pith of the plant. He waits without effort whilst I search to express my view of enlightenment, looking deep inside into my energy, and knowing all manifestations of me without words.

“So far, I have cut with my bad karma whilst helping only a few. Now, as my ignorance begins to drop away, I can help many I hope. I can bring them with me to enlightenment with a good heart.”

 

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Timelessness fills this interaction between pupil and Master. It is as if I am in the presence of the Buddha, here and now where there are few scraps of recognizable modernity. ‘Here,’ a place where the human spirit shines brilliantly because it is cleansed of the fear and poisons which can be created by the misguided intellect, and ‘now,’ the intense reality of the moment where everything is still and there is also no fear so that the heart may easily open.

Master? The ego does not easily accept this kind of superiority, or it’s implied opposite of childlike subservience. We are taught not to easily accept the minds of others in the west, not to trust, always to question. Perhaps chronic doubt is our insurance against looking like fools. But if we can allow ourselves not to doubt, but instead to trust from the heart, then the heart is wise. It can listen instead of always wanting to do the talking like the head. The heart can obey and believe in others. The heart is quiet, strong and sure-footed on a tightrope.

For most of my life, like other reflectors on “life,” I have tried to imagine how humans would behave without the concepts of time and space. I am able to see now that this was a pointless quest for ‘here’ and ‘now,’ in this city pagoda, I am able to directly experience a way of being far beyond these ideas, remote to the pastime of speculation.

 

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This country is Myanmar, formerly Burma, which has always had a colossal tradition of Buddhist teachers and spiritual excellence. You had never heard of this place before. We had never heard of each other before we met by accident in a crowded London bar. I, searching for a café in the area, long-since closed down, and you, brought to me by the barman as someone who had known the area well for a lengthy period.

We met and talked and drank together, and then as the busy celebrations of Saturday evening started and we each had other people to meet, we walked out on to the high street to say goodbye. People around us encouraged us to kiss and through this we recognized the important passing presence of each other in our lives. It was this kiss which formed a bond devoid of words or compatibilities and which caused us to blend fleetingly to share the way together for a while. An honest, karmic kiss out of the blue is a certain way of recognizing a fellow traveller.

Then one day, we were shopping as modern people do, and whilst browsing in a bookshop you were moved to buy me a present secretly which you gave to me later. You could have known nothing of what would happen as a result of this.

It was a novel written by a native of Burma which described some of the spiritual traditions and magic of the country. I was delighted, having had an interest in this country for many years; I read it avidly and was enriched by its beautiful stories of natural lives. Then soon, and quite unexpectedly, I learned that an old friend had gone to work in Myanmar. He invited me to visit, which I thought was unrealistic at the time. Then almost immediately after this, I was invited myself to take up a post in Japan, a life-long dream. Rapidly, the decision to go to Myanmar and Japan was made, and my tickets were booked.

Of course, you and I had become close and it was difficult for you to accept that I would take up this incredible opportunity. Once the job contract was signed, the weeks rushed by and my departure was immanent. You separated yourself from me, trying to ignore what was going to happen. Then my sea-trunk was delivered form the luggage shop, which was to be sent ahead of me by sea.

I began thoughtfully to fill it with books and papers, shoes and winter clothing which I would not need for a few months as it would be the beginning of cherry blossom spring when I arrived. It was positioned in the sitting room on the fashionable floorboards, it silvery exterior and cheap ornate locks attracting the eye. I slowly emptied cupboards and drawers of my few belongings, and got ready to send them to the other side of the world, and you remained distant from this process.

 

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Then, with one week to go before my departure, I returned home to find small contributions on top of the trunk, and saw this as a sign that you were beginning to accept the reality. I smiled as they indicated at least a little trust, a little heap of hope placed there carefully by your strong hands. I tried to know your pain, and your methods of pain control.

As I sorted through my books I came across that novel which I had forgotten about. I touched its well-used corners and creased cover, opening it and reading the dedication which I had not read seriously before. Then, I lowered myself on to the edge of the silver trunk in bewilderment.

The author had written it whilst on his way from London to Kyoto, the city I was leaving and the one I was destined for, to lecture in English as I was to, whilst stopping off for a short holiday in his native Burma, as I was to. Your intuitive heart must have known that these events would happen, so you bought the book unwittingly to prepare me.

Our deep connections became suddenly so obvious, so patent. But you were only to be a guide briefly to send me on my way. You could never listen intently enough to have the kind of faith to join me.

 

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Images by Linden Thorp


‘An Audience with the Master’ has been published as a short story. It is creative non-fiction and it happened to the writer.

 

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7 Pyrenean Moments from ‘Veil’: moment 5

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I went to close the shutters that folded into the outer recesses of our large windows around the perimeter of our room. As I quickly opened the windows outwards and reached each side to encourage the folded shutters out of their corners, cold wind bit me chasing out the build-up of wood heat. The hot and cold air combined on the wide stone of the sill, and candles were exchanged for stars in the sky.

The dark beauty Tilda always accompanied me on these missions. She could not resist jumping up to poke her nose outside, then scampering in again and thudding to the floor as I drew the shutters towards each other and latched them together. And as I stepped back from shuttering the largest window, I saw that she was peering down at something in the corner, gingerly putting out her paw to touch it.

I whispered, “It’s a scorpion. Must have come from under the skirting into the warmth.”

You were visibly shocked and told me to exterminate it as quickly as I could.

“The colour?”

“Black.”

I was aware of trying to keep my voice calm.

You swiftly removed the cats from the site, clutching them both together, their long furred legs and bodies hanging down, eyes wide as saucers, as I went to get a catching-glass. The bronze of your outdoor skin had blanched with fear.

Once caught, I released a small black scorpion in the ruin next door. 

“How can you stay so calm? Always so calm!”

The cats were curious about their lost opportunity, but you were annoyed, walking to the fridge to fill your glass again. You over-reacted to this potential murderer, as if your own life depended on it. It seemed as if the scorpion would seek you out deliberately and shoot its sting in your face.

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Moments 1-4 are in previous daily posts if you would like to know the whole story!

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Veil is available in ebook form at:

http://www.amazon.com/author/lindenthorp_inthefield +

Author page: http://lulu.com/spotlight/Veil_linden415

images courtesy of Mariko Kinoshita and megapixyl.com

Fusine Lake, Italian Alps – https://www.megapixl.com/rifberlin-stock-images-videos-portfolio, Grunge French windows – https://www.megapixl.com/lvnel-stock-images-videos-portfolio, Tension – https://www.megapixl.com/eyewave-stock-images-videos-portfolio

7 Pyrenean Moments from ‘Veil’

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My memories of life on the plains are becoming vague now. Our primary motivation for leaving was to search the mountains for authentic sound. We were musicians, you a singer and me a string player. We specialized in medieval music.

Our performances were plagued by endless speculation about what the music we were playing had actually sounded like at the time it was written, 1000 years before. We were both certain that here in the mountains, where the Troubadours and Cathars wandered, we would find practical exponents of this authenticity.

Our lives on the plains had been a race to earn and be successful, of grueling practice to keep ahead, with little time for anything else. But here there was a slowing down of the eye and ear, and we had easily slipped into a more reflective mode.

 

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We harvested things endlessly in our strong arms and stout baskets, sorting and storing, managing our nourishment. Such simple activities brought us close to the earth, and allowed our city hearts to open their tight buds.

An afternoon in full sun underneath the walnut trees collecting light brown nuts like planets. Filling the baskets and then sorting them into ripe and unripe, small and large, their beautiful dryness was irresistible to the fingertips. Wild cherries, shiny baubles of blood, picked in pairs loping down from tough stems. The locals said you could only see your true face in their shine.

There was watercress in the river, as the mountain snows first melted down into the Otter Pool. We had to reach down to the roots to cut it slightly above so that the crop would continue. Then, in the hot kitchen it was transformed into peppery soup and the crunch of salads.

This mountain life busied our long fingers in nature’s hair, and gave us closeness with our creations. It was the life medieval musicians who lived free from concepts and criticism not as fugitives from nature as we did on the plains.

 

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I went on.

“But it’s not all those incredible things about coriander that matter to me really. There is something deeper that comes through the taste, something ancient and persuasive. It’s so fresh, such a meaningful taste, full of sunshine.”

You were quiet, the evening book opened across your lap. You lifted the glass to sip, took the wine into your mouth, held it there, and then swallowed it with a curious noise. You stroked the nose of Judy, who as usual sat close to you, then took another cigarette and lit it.

The room was an illuminated ship in a dark sea now.

 

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This is the 4th of 7 moments which open my Cathar book ‘Veil.’ Join me tomorrow for the 5th moment.

This book ‘Veil’ is available at:

Author page: http://lulu.com/spotlight/Veil_linden415 +

http://www.amazon.com/author/lindenthorp_inthefield

 

Images courtesy of Mariko Kinoshita and megapixyl.com – all licenses at lindenthorp@gmail.com

7 Pyrenean Moments from’Veil.’

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As winter progressed, the deep valleys were snowed in, so our island trips came to an end. We brought in our last load of firelighters-huge pinecones as large as children’s heads from Wild Boar Forest, and closed up the shutters of the house.

In the haven sitting room, I begged for rugs and curtains to cushion us from the increasingly shocking cold, but you refused. You demanded we actually experience our first winter. So, the inert embers of the fire were continually exploded with pine bombs to build the slow crescendo of heat, the air bitter with resin.

Without doubt, you were more medieval than I was. Bare-armed, always preferring the large glass garden doors open, especially when the winds were high. You would smoke and sip local wine, an open book balanced on your lap, your slender legs crossed to immerse you in the corner of your blue hydrangea sofa. But you were only temporarily at peace, anesthetized.

 

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We had adopted the medieval way of life, sitting around the log stove, preserving garden crops. Sometimes, at our peril, we shared stories of our lives never told in the city of ‘Frowns and Tears’ ruled over by the tyrant ‘Time.’

The high mountains surrounding the village had many secrets. They were dotted with Cathar castles of ‘the Good’ camouflaged on craggy precipices. They were mystical paragons who had hidden there during the Spanish Inquisition, and who posed a massive threat to the Roman Catholic Church exactly because of their goodness and their spiritual perfection. This was also the enchanted land of the Troubadours and Trobiaritz– renowned minstrels and poets who sang of pure courtly love and spirituality.

Evenings had always been our special time back in the city, each one a life in its own right. It was usually initiated with flames and candles, and the opening of corks. Each make or break, the visible or the invisible, irresistible attraction or polarization. Now, in the mountains, evenings ended in small deaths in the full darkness and silence. We two isolated souls, who might sting or flee at any moment, were entirely alone here.

 

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We had thought that your nightmares of torture by fire, your terrifying sleep-screaming, would stop once we left the stress and degradation of the city, but they continued. Already twice you had refused to come to bed. The moon shone in on the long many-windowed room so you could find your wine glass in the dark. As I left you to go to bed, your cigarette fire glowed in the dark when you sucked on it.

I stood outside the door for a while, debating if I should leave you alone or not. I crept back in, coaxing you, your reaction unpredictable. I came close to your fire, felt the dark hydrangeas, sitting close to you. I reached across to touch your thigh, my fingers and lips gravitating towards your places of release, but your clipped voice paralyzed me.

 

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“Put the light on if you want that!”

You insisted that I did not actually love you if I closed my eyes as I became aroused.

“It could be anyone,” you always spat out, mildly indignant. The visible was all that counted to you.

Upstairs I dozed, and soon the strains of your beloved Maria Callas recordings filled the shell of the house. I accepted that you were going somewhere I could not go, sinking in your suffering like quicksand, so I slept until you made your way back to me. Or not.

I had always been aware of your multiple fears, but they were more prominent in a place where the population was dominated by rock and bear, larch and scorpion.

Here humans were simply a passing fad.

 

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This is the second moment of the opening of my Cathar novel ‘Veil.’

Author page: http://lulu.com/spotlight/Veil_linden415  +

http://www.amazon.com/author/lindenthorp_inthefield

I will be serializing the first chapter moment by moment in the coming days.  Please join me in the Literature sphere.

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Veil book jacket

Gattaca 1997: rejecting a gift from existence

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This film makes many important points about a future of human beings dominated by the intellect and the ascendancy of technology and science. The hero – Vincent’s – genetic composition is flawed because his heart is weak, in fact, 10,000 beats overdue in his thirties, so he is determined to realize his dream of going up into space before he dies. Due to genoism – cell discrimination – he is forced to work as a cleaner but all the while he studies and memorizes astronautical manuals. His search for a new identity to enable this is the main focus of the film, and in this lie the gems of insight.

 

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He, along with his new identity Jerome Morrow, spend all their time transforming Vincent. To enable this he must carry samples of Jerome’s blood at all times, he must wear lenses the colour of Jerome’s, he must even undergo surgery to increase his height by 2 centimetres, wear false fingerprints, etc. Their shared apartment is a laboratory and they are both experts at various eugenic techniques.  At every opportunity, Vincent-Jerome must scrub away his dead skin cells in case he sheds any while at work.  He also has to negotiate the world without his glasses as myopathy is only associated with the genetic underclass.

 

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In short, Vincent must discard his natural inheritance if he wants to realize what he believes is his absolute mission in human life. At one point, he sheds an eyelash in the workplace, the genetic police find it and start a hunt for the ‘invalid’ who has been so careless. Everywhere he goes he must check that he is not leaving skin fragments or hairs behind. His whole resume lies in his DNA; an interview consists only of a blood test. He even offers a hair from his head as a love token to the beautiful Irene during their brief skirmish. But she lets it drop on the breeze perhaps because she too is an imposter with a weak heart!

 

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Science will go mad in the future as this rare film eloquently suggests! Personality, ancestral lineage and merit will all be abandoned but we will live in sanitized societies the leaders of which will be free of defects. But what about our True Nature, our original divine origin, and our unique spirit.  What about the unknown which is our natural environment: science is one dimensional in comparison because it exclusively concerns the known, and what is known is dead, destined to be archived and regurgitated mechanically.

 

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We, humans, are potentially the next stage of evolution from animals because we have been endowed with the special gifts of language and communication. But despite advanced technology and the so-called excellence of education and progress, most of us still only realize 10% of our potential because we fritter away our human moments in a dream. It is said that we have reached our peak in physical terms, our bodies are miracles of genetic engineering, but we lag very far behind spiritually as is obvious from the trail of damage we leave behind us everywhere.  The planet has been ruined because developed nations are so primitive.

 

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Our natural existence, exactly as it is, is our divine inheritance.  Embodying our True Nature, some would call it Christ-Consciousness or Buddha-Nature, is our only chance to find our Truth, to use our Mind mechanism to properly realize out potential in order to step across the bridge of our native energy into full awareness.  If we allow dead scientific knowledge to dominate, then we will rapidly deteriorate and annihilate the planet and therefore the human race. Human beings are the way if we can only allow ourselves to just be.

At the close of Gattaca, as Vincent-Jerome jubilantly prepares to take his first space flight and Jerome-Eugene prepares to take his own life, Vincent tries to express his indebtedness for his new identity to Jerome. But Jerome says that no thanks are needed for the gift of his body because it is nothing compared to the gift of the dream that Vincent has given him in exchange. 

 

 

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The facts of the film

In brief, the title Gattaca is formed from the first 4 components of DNA – guanine, adenine, thymine and cytosine, but it was original called ‘The Eighth Day.’ Its genre is biopunk, it is a visually stunning filmand it concerns Eugenics, the study of improving a population by controlling breeding to produce desirable characteristics, and a view of destiny through the battle of genetic inheritance. It is directed and written by Andrew Niccol {b.1964 New Zealand screenwriter, producer and director, famous for Lord of War (2005), In Time (2011), The Host (2013) and Good Kill (2014)}   The protagonists are Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke), Jerome Eugene Morrow (Jude Law) and Irene Cassini (Uma Thurman).  The fitting and evocative score is composed by Michael Nyman.

The Plot: Vincent Thurman is born with a defective heart and so because of genoism (discrimination according to cells) is forced to join an underclass and has no future, but his passion is going into space.  His blind ambition drives him to acquire another identity, that of Jerome Eugene Morrow, a genetic aristocrat and outstanding space navigator who, due to an accident, is paralyzed and unable to function in his capacity.   A gene broker sets about creating Vincent’s new identity so that he can take Jerome’s place in Gattaca, the space exploration centre.  We follow the nerve-racking scrutiny Vincent-Jerome must undergo to enable him to take his first rocket flight. 

Here is the official trailer for Gattaca so you can take a look.

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images courtesy of megapixyl.com and Internet Movie Data Base (imdb.com)

 

 

Writing: a meditation to stay in the field

 

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Writing, reflecting and expressing those reflections, keeps my awareness at a high level. It is so easy to spend the majority of our lives sleep-walking, unaware, unable to develop our potential.  It is claimed by experts that the human species has only so far realized 10% of its potential!  Its physical development is at its peak while spiritually most of us are not advancing at all. We remain imprisoned in synthetic realities we produce using the mechanism of mind; and these we view as actual reality. 

I equate writing with meditation. In the same way that I can close down the visual sense and focus my energy on breathing oxygen which I borrow from the atmosphere, convert for my nourishment, and expel the byproducts which are detrimental of, I allow my fingertips to express what is in my heart in a blank space. Both meditation and writing are a route to get in touch with my true nature and my self-sincerity in a world populated by mask-wearers, heavy with social and political manners, and weighted down by conditioning and negative karma. 

 

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By deciding to create a message using the abstract symbols of writing I clear the bridge of my mind of all the clutter of conditioning, culture and social mores, so that I can walk out into the vast limitless field of the page or internet space.  I can only express my true nature and my sincere view if I write in this way. While writing I always remember that I am a unique peak towering up into the sky and that the valleys around me can echo in response to my message.  Criticism or judgement is not possible because this is my honesty and my unique contribution to the universe. I have no rivals or envy for the writing of others because I write from my unique consciousness, from my particular constellation of energy which there is no single copy of in the universe.

 

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Out in the South Australian desert, Traditional landowners, the most spiritually advanced members of the tribe, are responsible for painting the events of their people on the skin of Planet Earth. These are signs which communicate with the Sky Heroes, their venerated ancestors, in a unique way. If a member of the tribe dies, the Traditional Landowner will create a spiral in the desert floor using a large brush while dancing and singing the songs of the deceased’s totem group, so that their spirit will emerge through its centre. This is a sacred sign exclusively for the benefit of the sacred beings.  

I create using the written word in the same way.  It is a sacred communication which employs all of my consciousness.  Visible signs are visible also in the invisible world, and the two worlds are one as I am one with it.

 

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images courtesy of megapixyl.com

 

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Media Deluge!

 

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If we are sucked into the media vacuum, infiltrated by disturbing images of violence and corruption which become natural to us, then little by little we will not notice anything good, anything filled with light.

If we are only stimulated by death and demise, by materialistic mystery and gore, then how can we be aware of the real universe, the infinity and eternity we are each vital components of? The natural energy in the wild undisturbed places, flowing and pulsing, is the true nature of the planet, and it is our true nature too. These snapshots and effigies of terror we cram into our eyes, block our true nature as well as damaging the planet at many and various levels.

For the majority of us, in our relaxation time away from work and other responsibilities, we willingly fill ourselves with monsters and demons, with the filth and greed of urban life. Hungry ghosts are howling all around us, their suffering intense and, we say, unimaginable. But there is no question of using the imagination to stand in the shoes of others because we ourselves are deeply suffering beneath the veneer of respectability, the fragile semblance of convenience and fulfillment.

We too are howling in the pits of our spirits – a million suicides, thousands of torture methods, starvation and sensory deprivation, hounded and hided. When we have had enough, we flick away the sordid pictures of evil as someone else’s business, the concern of the powers that be. Then we swallow and get on with creating our own brand of it.

In a string of movies, articles and books widely available, even popular, we can find torture, abuse, greed and ignorance on a grand scale; lust and betrayal, and the fertilizing of more and more babies in the name of calming the irrepressible urges.

At each channel change, the mutating of deadly diseases and aliens which target us and fix us as fugitives from our own souls, our true nature, abound. We run in terror, always in the dark depending on fickle torchlight instead of our own light. We are bewildered and manipulated by others.

We are rats in a maze of fear entirely synthesized by the mind, so heavily drugged by our own picture shows that we cannot climb a nearby tree to see the exit.

the-last-judgment-19748806

In just one session of viewing the flashing screen, I am tortured and I torture.

At one moment, the rack stretches me – my victim, until the tendons and ligaments snap. I hold hospital cardiologists at gunpoint because my son will die without a transplant and I am too poor to buy him a heart. I am a politician involved in outsourcing the killing of Moslems in Iraq to mercenaries, paying them billions of dollars to take them out of my hands.

At the next moment, I am a special squad policeman wading through the sewers every night, working through suicides and poisonous snakes, bag-snatchers who sell their merchandise for inflated prices so they can buy their cocaine fixes, the possessed who bite and speak in scrambled tongues, a dead baby found in the gutter and a living baby in the womb of my wife. Human life seems irreversibly doomed. It seems to be a living hell.

hand-grabbing-a-barbed-wire-12712320

The oblivion of orgasms, inebriation and lap dancers are what most people pursue, either openly or in secret. Erotic videos flood the internet which most of us instantly judge and dismiss, and yet we are those egocentric handsome guys masturbating while not losing eye-contact with the camera lens for a second except to see how enormous they have become. And we wait too for their moment of sticky heaven.

We are the circus acts of hard inflamed penises curling and thrusting into mouths and assorted orifices in tandem. We are the insatiable girl who writhes repeatedly on a rod-like penis for the camera, blatant, moaning, putting off the moment of explosion masterfully. We writhe. We are repeatedly renewed. We mistake love for lust, flooding with hormones we are told are healthy. All this, not just the respectable parts, is us. The world we see is an exact reflection of our minds.

swan-reflections

Each horror is a bubble constituting the massive wave of imbalance and artificiality. How can we not long for the end of this onslaught, this hell realm? How can we not long to know that our awareness has expanded to blot it all out, the veil of death has been lifted, and that our physical bodies are no longer needed.

That it is the present state of the human race. Only our emptiness and detachment will make it stop. Only letting our positive and undistorted light shine out into the invisible world will balance this visible world.

Our compassion and acceptance is the only subduing influence that we can bring to bear on this media deluge which constantly batters the shores of our true nature.

Featured Image -- 1507

 

images courtesy of megapixyl.com : licenses at lindenthorp@gmail.com

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Soul Management

rafts

Look into life’s screen but don’t stop to ‘save

Continue looking without desire,

without the need to consume, to own,

looking without death

Navigate‘ life without identifying ‘self

or knowledge of knowledge

Enter‘ without a thought of ‘getting’

or ‘acquiring

holding the mind completely still

a soft slippy organ in wet fingers.

View‘ in feline innocence

each time being the first

beyond and beyond and beyond

using your eyes as the ears they are

img_1062

images courtesy of megapixyl.com

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discovery natural reflection wellbeing

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‘Ecstasy’ or ‘Instasy:’ a word which can liberate

 

echoes

 

‘Ecstasy.’ This word in English is very beautiful, weighty, elegant.  But like many English words because of extended use across many Englishes, the meaning has changed. The original via Greek and French means ‘standing outside oneself.’

One way to interpret this is that if we stand outside ourselves, we are in ecstasy. How can this be?

The self is constructed and dominated by the Mind, by the intellect.  This constitutes a kind of prison that we agree to be incarcerated in because of deep fear of the unknown; and so we comply with being separated from everything around us.  In fact, we agree to a tyranny of mere interpretations of reality. 

 

beautiful-lady-buried-in-the-sand-23457880

 

Actually, being in ecstasy gives us a perfect opportunity to stand inside reality for perhaps the first time. Then we are in our true centre inhabiting our true nature and true happiness and freedom are certain!  Ecstasy is stepping beyond the manmade concepts of ‘time’ and ‘space.’ 

I make sure I spend as much time as possible in ecstasy during each moment! This is especially so when I am writing, creating something or held in the tender embrace of sublime music. 

Be ecstatic!  Stand outside yourself as often as you can!

 

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Images courtesy of Megapixl.com: licenses at lindenthorp@gmail.com

 

Soul Management

We humans are connected at all times to nature.

It is our earthly home, our reality,

our never-failing support,

our origin. 

The 5 elements are our elements.

They make our existence as human beings possible.

If we secrete ourselves away under roofs,

in rooms, in air-conditioning,

then we are slowly poisoned and disabled.

The natural world is our unique freedom:

it nourishes and empowers us.

Earth. Air. Wind. Water. Fire. 

Each day make sure you make contact

and get your dose!

Touch the Earth everyday,

even in your dreams,

to find real beauty and balance

and unconditional happiness.

Images courtesy of megapixl.com: all licenses at lindenthorp@gmail.com

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Divine Thread

I briefly lived with a tribe of Australian native people 11 hours by land cruiser south of Ayer’s Rock.  Our group went to help them to move deeper into the scorching interior of Australia in order to return to ‘traditional desert life.’  Their tribal leader, Ninija, had decided that the aging and young of her people should return to their ‘Lands,’ turning away completely form white-fella comforts and handouts.

During this adventure, my view of human life completely changed.  

The settlement we left consisted of primitive prefabricated housing and an air strip.  But not one member of the tribe lived inside the housing. Instead, they used them as a dumping ground for the heaps of material goods donated to them from white-fella do-gooders.  

White Australians have always wanted to ‘civilize’ these desert people, to make them respectable, useful to their average urban ways.

There is no such…

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Soul Management: sudden loss!

Soul Management

feather-on-the-sand
Everything in human life,

except our spirit and love,

is perishable!

But sudden loss can take you

totally by surprise!

silent stillness
A sunset is fabulous while it lasts,

but it soon disappears!

We have to accept that what is

beautiful and unique will one day

vanish from the visual field…………………….

and this is actually liberation….

but we can rejoice that it will never

vanish from the invisible!

magic-blow-14274866

soul-management-jpeg
images courtesy of megapixyl.com and Mariko Kinoshita:

licences at lindenthorp@gmail.com

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Episode 5: abrasion

True Nature: our supreme inheritance

Summary of Episode 4:  after the death of a great leader people cling to the raft they have created to save them; unable to defer to their own true Nature because they have become so dependent; repeated rituals make people dull; we are spirit like Jesus, Allah, Buddha; we use so little of our power (10%); Chunda, the blacksmith; buried under intensive spiritual training; attachment can make us separate and arrogant; Buddha bequeathed True Nature as a parting sentiment and all can be enlightened regardless of spiritual training and education – Chunda; illumination – great teachings can illuminate our inherent nature; devotion and dedication confused; the intellectual and emotional block True nature; young animals and children are free because the meddling mind has not yet interfered. 

grinding-spark

So, how can we grind or polish away all the detritus and conditioning that accumulates covering over our True Nature on a daily basis…

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Two Angels

Divine Thread

%e6%9b%bc%e8%8d%bc%e7%be%85%e4%bf%ae%e6%ad%a3Dawn is an eminently suitable time for angels to leave the down of quilt and pillow, to slip away from the smooth cotton snug, to move further than just turning over.  A loving observer said that your dark red eyelids showed thousands of glow-worm lights as they flickered.  Your luminous clavicle bones trembled, widening, and your swan neck grew long.

The pale sheet bandaged around your breasts slipped allowing dark, mystic nipples oratory and your spine became a shifting spire making scarecrows beneath the sheet.  Several kisses were captive on your argent forehead, but your eyelids could not be caught.

Your keeper told you that you had had a fit, convulsion, apoplexy, petit mal,grande mal.  Gave you the precise time and duration, the clinical description, of your episode.  Stopwatch.  Jotting down notes.  A part-time biologist. You told me, toying with a description like un-relished oysters or snails…

View original post 924 more words

A world truly made of Words

 

dynamic-ballet-dancers-42172203

 

The dancers move.

Their bodies are words;

“stretch,” “soften,” “open.”

 

Arms move in phrases

the intonation of which they follow

with their eyes.

 

Legs move in sentences

the logic of which they feel

with their minds.

 

Arms and legs,

the syntax and semantics

which hook into the spine,

are constantly available to them.

 

A swirl of alphabet from which to make “me.”

 

 

fire-dance-20334687

 

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images courtesy of Megapixyl: clthorp59@outlook.com

ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN ANCIENT HISTORY ENCYCLOPEDIA  – HTTP://WWW.ANCIENT.EU

CUNDA (Chunda)

by

published on 01 December 2016

The frail Buddha Shakyamuni, known as Gautama Buddha and the Historical Buddha, had reached the end of his physical life and long teaching career. He and his close disciples decided on his final resting place under the twin sala trees in Kushinagar, the republic of Malla in North Eastern Ancient India. There he lay on his side surrounded by many dignitaries and enlightened monks who had gathered to say farewell to him, (c. 563 or 480 BCE). Among them, there was a deeply devoted lay follower named Cunda (Chunda). He was the son of a blacksmith from the nearby area of Kushinagara castle who had come of his own accord to pay his respects to the great Buddha, bringing with him 15 of his friends.

To show his devotion, Chunda had discarded his daily work clothes and put on a simple robe, bearing his right shoulder in the traditional way of monastics. He knelt on his right knee and bowed at the feet of the Buddha. He then made a speech confidently and sincerely which was to change the future course of Buddhism.

chunda

As all those attending had done, Chunda implored the Buddha to accept the simple customary offerings of homemade food he and his friends had brought. All the distinguished members of the congregation had already offered luxurious gifts of precious commodities like livestock and gold, but the Buddha had refused to accept everything until this point. Suddenly, to everyone’s surprise, Chunda’s modest offerings were accepted and he proceeded to eloquently express his deep sadness of himself and his 15 friends at the prospect of losing the Buddha. He hoped that the simple food would prepare him for entering Parinirvana, the highest state of the ceasing of all craving, and that all sentient beings would not suffer from spiritual poverty after his decease.

In ancient India, and to a certain extent there today, the rigid caste system rejected people such as Chunda because he did not fit into any of the four main castes: He was not a clergyman or scholar, not of the nobility or a warrior, not a merchant or farmer, or a general labourer or servant. But he had confidence that all humans, despite their caste imposed at birth, were equal, and that when the Buddha left them, they would all be equally spiritually destitute. He said:

O World Honoured One! My situation is like that of anyone among the four castes who, because of poverty, has to leave his country to find work and then buy domesticated cattle and fertile fields. After removing the stones and weeds and tilling his land, he has only to wait for the rain to fall from the sky.  (Chapter 2, Mahaparinirvana Sutra)

His words displayed great wisdom despite his lack of formal education or spiritual training. He knew that all living beings needed simply the rain of the Dharma to make them spiritually fertile, and that the Buddha, the truly awakened one, the Tathagata, could bring such rain into the human world of suffering (samsara). The Buddha was delighted and immediately conferred eternal life and connected him to the ever-presence ( Skt.; dharmakaya).  In other words, he was enlightened on the spot.

death-of-buddha-fresco

Cunda Preparing the Last Meal for the Buddha

During his ministry the Buddha had insisted that his disciples should leave their ordinary life and become monastic practitioners, learning strict moral discipline (Vinaya) and upholding monastic rules. The assembled disciples who had reached the pinnacle of all spiritual training were looking on as Chunda, a lay person and an ‘untouchable’ – a person outside the caste system – became immediately enlightened with no training and therefore supposedly little virtue. Chunda became the exception that was to be a crucial part of the Buddha’s last will and testament as he moved back to the spiritual source.

THE UNPRECEDENTED ENLIGHTENING OF CHUNDA, A LAY PERSON AND HOUSEHOLDER, WAS TO OPEN THE PATH FOR ALL BEINGS, NO MATTER WHAT THEIR CASTE.

There were two ways in which this moment in the history of Buddhism brought fundamental changes to the aspirations of Buddhists. Firstly, this unprecedented enlightening of Chunda, a lay person and householder was to open the path for all beings, no matter what their caste, whether lay or clerical, to aspire to reach Nirvana (or enlightenment). It is easy to imagine just how radically this changed the course of Mahayana Buddhism because now anyone could become enlightened and many lay Buddhist orders emerged later.

Secondly, Chunda became enlightened within his own lifetime as a relatively young man. He did not have to work hard to accrue merit and virtue in order to become enlightened in a future lifetime, which was the prevailing Brahmin belief at the time. The Buddha’s acceptance of humble Chunda’s offerings was symbolic of the fact that all sentient beings are endowed with Buddha Nature, and that when the rain of Dharma waters the seeds of Buddha Nature, they will ripen, cutting away all negative karma and human suffering.  By bringing so many of his friends in a sincere gesture of reverence to the Buddha and by having the confidence to make his offering in front of all the dignitaries and esteemed disciples, he had exhibited the spirit of a Buddha, without training or privilege.

In appreciation of the Buddha’s acceptance of his humble offerings, Chunda said,

It is hard to be born a human being, and harder still to encounter a Buddha. It would be like a blind sea turtle encountering a floating log with a hole in it and poking its head through. (The Great Parinirvana Sutra)

This comment prompted the Buddha to leave his final instructions before shifting into Parinirvana. His final teachings known as the Dharmakaya focused on impermanence and detachment followed.  He left them in place of his physical body, assuring the grieving congregation that he would always be with them embodied in the last teachings and that these final teachings would exist for all eternity because they were indestructible.

Siddhartha Gautama, the Historical Buddha

Chunda is also reputed to have described the rareness of meeting a Buddha in the Sala grove as follows:

An udambara (a flower said to bloom once every 3000 years) can rarely be seen, and so is it to encounter a Buddha…who can nurture the faith of all sentient beings and…extinguish the suffering of death and rebirth. (The Heart, Diamond and the Lotus Sutra)

A recent sculpture of Chunda in the Sala Grove with his 15 friends executed by a modern Japanese sculptor is an inspiration for Japanese Buddhists of Shinnyo Buddhism whose principal belief is that all beings are capable of polishing their Buddha Nature and reaching Nirvana.

Chunda’s deep humility and sincere heart radiated out beyond that of the advanced practitioners and enlightened who had perhaps become arrogant or complacent. This indicates that practising as a true Buddhist of the heart is not about worldly success and reputation, but about humility, sincerity, and simple but total belief in the power of loving goodness and pure faith in the world. The character of Chunda marks the beginning not only of lay Buddhism but also a prevailing feature of the Mahayanas of Buddhism (2nd century CE onwards), the Bodhisattva who achieves enlightenment for the sake of all other beings and vows to postpone his own enlightenment until universal enlightenment is reached.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Nirvanasutra.net
  • Anonymous, Mahapariniravan Sutra
  • Anonymous, The Heart, Diamond and the Lotus Sutra (Lepine Publishing, 2009)
  • Asvaghosatr – Suzuki T., The Awakening of Faith (Dover, 1900)
  • Kato, Tamura, Miyasaka (trans.), The Threefold Lotus Sutra. (Kosei Publishing, Tokyo, 1975)
  • Page, T., Buddha-Self: The Secret Teachings of the Buddha in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra. (Nirvana Publications, London, 2003)
  • Patton, C., The Great Parinirvana Sutra (Abuddhistlibrary.com)
  • Williams, P., Mahãyãna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations (Routledge, 1989)
  • Yamamoto K. (trans.), Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra (3 volumes) (Nirvana Publications, London, 1973)
  • Yamamoto, K., Mahayanaism: A Critical Exposition of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra. (Karinbunko, 1975)

 

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Cunda: the Beginnings of Lay Buddhism

published in Ancient History Encyclopedia on 01 December 2016

 

The frail Buddha Shakyamuni, known as Gautama Buddha and

the Historical Buddha, had reached the end of his physical life

and long teaching career. He and his close disciples decided

on his final resting place under the twin sala trees in Kushinagar,

the republic of Malla in North Eastern Ancient India. There he lay

on his side surrounded by many dignitaries and enlightened monks

who had gathered to say farewell to him, (c. 563 or 480 BCE).

Among them, there was a deeply devoted lay follower named Cunda (Chunda).

He was the son of a blacksmith from the nearby area of Kushinagara

castle who had come of his own accord to pay his respects to the

great Buddha, bringing with him 15 of his friends.

To show his devotion, Chunda had discarded his daily work clothes

and put on a simple robe, bearing his right shoulder in the traditional

way of monastics. He knelt on his right knee and bowed at the feet of

the Buddha. He then made a speech confidently and sincerely which

was to change the future course of Buddhism.

 

chunda

 

As all those attending had done, Chunda implored the Buddha

to accept the simple customary offerings of homemade food

he and his friends had brought. All the distinguished members

of the congregation had already offered luxurious gifts of precious

commodities like livestock and gold, but the Buddha had refused

to accept everything until this point. Suddenly, to everyone’s surprise,

Chunda’s modest offerings were accepted and he proceeded to

eloquently express his deep sadness of himself and his 15 friends

at the prospect of losing the Buddha. He hoped that the simple food

would prepare him for entering Parinirvana, the highest state of

the ceasing of all craving, and that all sentient beings would not

suffer from spiritual poverty after his decease.

In ancient India, and to a certain extent there today, the rigid caste

system rejected people such as Chunda because he did not fit into any

of the four main castes: He was not a clergyman or scholar, not of the

nobility or a warrior, not a merchant or farmer, or a general labourer

or servant. But he had confidence that all humans, despite their caste

imposed at birth, were equal, and that when the Buddha left them,

they would all be equally spiritually destitute. He said:

O World Honoured One! My situation is like that of anyone among

the four castes who, because of poverty, has to leave his country to

find work and then buy domesticated cattle and fertile fields.

After removing the stones and weeds and tilling his land,

he has only to wait for the rain to fall from the sky.

(Chapter 2, Mahaparinirvana Sutra)

His words displayed great wisdom despite his lack of formal education

or spiritual training. He knew that all living beings needed simply

the rain of the Dharma to make them spiritually fertile, and that the

Buddha, the truly awakened one, the Tathagata, could bring such rain

into the human world of suffering (samsara). The Buddha was delighted

and immediately conferred eternal life and connected him to the

ever-presence ( Skt.; dharmakaya).  In other words, he was enlightened

on the spot.

 

death-of-buddha-fresco

 

During his ministry the Buddha had insisted that his disciples should

leave their ordinary life and become monastic practitioners, learning

strict moral discipline (Vinaya) and upholding monastic rules.

The assembled disciples who had reached the pinnacle of all spiritual

training were looking on as Chunda, a lay person and an ‘untouchable’

– a person outside the caste system – became immediately enlightened

with no training and therefore supposedly little virtue. Chunda became

the exception that was to be a crucial part of the Buddha’s last will and

testament as he moved back to the spiritual source.

THE UNPRECEDENTED ENLIGHTENING OF CHUNDA, A LAY PERSON
AND HOUSEHOLDER, WAS TO OPEN THE PATH FOR ALL BEINGS, NO
MATTER WHAT THEIR CASTE.

There were two ways in which this moment in the history of Buddhism

brought fundamental changes to the aspirations of Buddhists. Firstly,

this unprecedented enlightening of Chunda, a lay person and householder

was to open the path for all beings, no matter what their caste,

whether lay or clerical, to aspire to reach Nirvana (or enlightenment).

It is easy to imagine just how radically this changed the course of Mahayana

Buddhism because now anyone could become enlightened and many lay Buddhist

orders emerged later.

Secondly, Chunda became enlightened within his own lifetime as a

relatively young man. He did not have to work hard to accrue merit and

virtue in order to become enlightened in a future lifetime, which was the

prevailing Brahmin belief at the time. The Buddha’s acceptance of humble

Chunda’s offerings was symbolic of the fact that all sentient beings are

endowed with Buddha Nature, and that when the rain of Dharma waters

the seeds of Buddha Nature, they will ripen, cutting away all negative karma

and human suffering.  By bringing so many of his friends in a sincere gesture

of reverence to the Buddha and by having the confidence to make his offering

in front of all the dignitaries and esteemed disciples, he had exhibited the

spirit of a Buddha, without training or privilege.

In appreciation of the Buddha’s acceptance of his humble offerings,

Chunda said,

It is hard to be born a human being, and harder still to encounter a

Buddha. It would be like a blind sea turtle encountering a floating log

with a hole in it and poking its head through. (The Great Parinirvana Sutra)

This comment prompted the Buddha to leave his final instructions before

shifting into Parinirvana. His final teachings known as the Dharmakaya

focused on impermanence and detachment followed.  He left them in place

of his physical body, assuring the grieving congregation that he would always

be with them embodied in the last teachings and that these final teachings

would exist for all eternity because they were indestructible.

Siddhartha Gautama, the Historical Buddha

Chunda is also reputed to have described the rareness of meeting a

Buddha in the Sala grove as follows:

An udambara (a flower said to bloom once every 3000 years) can

rarely be seen, and so is it to encounter a Buddha…who can nurture

the faith of all sentient beings and…extinguish the suffering of

death and rebirth. (The Heart, Diamond and the Lotus Sutra)

A recent sculpture of Chunda in the Sala Grove with his 15 friends

executed by a modern Japanese sculptor is an inspiration for Japanese

Buddhists of Shinnyo Buddhism whose principal belief is that all beings

are capable of polishing their Buddha Nature and reaching Nirvana.

Chunda’s deep humility and sincere heart radiated out beyond that of

the advanced practitioners and enlightened who had perhaps become

arrogant or complacent. This indicates that practising as a true Buddhist

of the heart is not about worldly success and reputation, but about humility,

sincerity, and simple but total belief in the power of loving goodness and

pure faith in the world. The character of Chunda marks the beginning not

only of lay Buddhism but also a prevailing feature of the Mahayanas of

Buddhism (2nd century CE onwards), the Bodhisattva who achieves

enlightenment for the sake of all other beings and vows to postpone

his own enlightenment until universal enlightenment is reached.

HELP US WRITE MORE

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Nirvanasutra.net
  • Anonymous, Mahapariniravan Sutra
  • Anonymous, The Heart, Diamond and the Lotus Sutra (Lepine Publishing, 2009)
  • Asvaghosatr – Suzuki T., The Awakening of Faith (Dover, 1900)
  • Kato, Tamura, Miyasaka (trans.), The Threefold Lotus Sutra. (Kosei Publishing, Tokyo, 1975)
  • Page, T., Buddha-Self: The Secret Teachings of the Buddha in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra. (Nirvana Publications, London, 2003)
  • Patton, C., The Great Parinirvana Sutra (Abuddhistlibrary.com)
  • Williams, P., Mahãyãna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations (Routledge, 1989)
  • Yamamoto K. (trans.), Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra (3 volumes) (Nirvana Publications, London, 1973)
  • Yamamoto, K., Mahayanaism: A Critical Exposition of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra. (Karinbunko, 1975)

The writing Protectors: pure motivation

Cover Picture

With high-grade criticism and the detailed filtering of the written word, which has become such an important aspect of writing, and a serious consideration for the egos of those who write, we may have lost sight of exactly who the audience we are writing for is.

But before confirming who we are writing for or addressing, it is important to ask ourselves honestly about our motivation to write in the first place. I consider that great Literature is written from a pure motivation, not to pursue a career or to make a mark. Some agnostic writers have even been driven to write to mark their very existence in the event of their plummeting into obscurity at their death. Surely it is the process of writing that’s important, not only the end product, the material result of this process which is either sellable or destructible.

Valid Literature should not be contaminated by such end-gaining. The motivation to write should be pure, and as we pour our spirits into the eloquence and nuances, we perform. Literature to me is like a wonderful performance of dance or music, with strong choreography and vocal quality. We perform on the page in our capacity as artists.

In my own case, I write in the presence of a special witness in the form of a Protector who always ensures that I am being sincere, true to myself, that I am present and performing to my audience on the page. This prevents me from being kidnapped by my human ego, and indulging in vapidity and trivia, or merely showing off.

In the history of the art and sacredness of writing, there are superb anecdotes. A striking example of a propagator of the Buddhist teachings from 2,600 years ago passionately asserts:

I will peel off my skin to use as paper, draw my blood as ink, extract my marrow as water, and splinter my bone for use as a pen.

This demonstrates the perfections involved in performing for our readers on the page, or parchment or slate.

The symbols we use to express our essence have to be exquisitely arranged to transmit themselves clearly to those who take the trouble to read. But of course, the fascinating thing is that every reader who casts their eyes over such an arrangement, has a different mind, a different spirit, from yours. Some may be offended by what you write because you touch a raw nerve; others may suspend disbelief so hard that they cannot find your characters quite credible enough; still others might be sensitive to your perspective, your gender, your lack or choice of experience, what they perceive as your candour or your deceit.

But despite the millions of variables among your readers, writers do touch people’s heart and minds, and that is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. With the dawn of self-publishing and writing opportunities for all, I think we need to carefully check our motivation and the validity of what we write.

I know I can never write simply to impress or allure. My Protectors will always ensure that!

To learn more, please visit me at – https://www.validlit.wordpress.com

images and info:

Cover-Le Dõme (famous Parisian writers’ restaurant)  – https://www.megapixl.com/kovalenkovpetr-stock-images-videos-portfolio;

Grant Snider is an American cartoonist – http://incidentalcomics.com; a Pen – https://www.megapixl.com/davisales-stock-images-videos-portfolio; Babylonian stone with cuneiform script -https://www.megapixl.com/kmiragaya-stock-images-videos-portfolio; Oscar Wilde – https://www.megapixl.com/miluxian-stock-images-videos-portfolio

The Woman in the Fifth: the erotic is a message from our true nature

Cover Picture
 

The erotic burns images into our soul.

Or does it simply mirror them? 

This may happen at an unexpected moment when an image, word or sound ignites a deep feeling completely out of the blue. It takes us by utter surprise, the body reacts without the mind’s interference, and we just know it is a pure and ancient event.

It is like falling in love with a stranger or recognizing our life-partner or a relationship from another lifetime or dimension. It is a moment when real sincerity burgeons and we make contact with ourselves outside the restrictions of social structure and norm, beyond all the layers. This is our true nature. 

It is feminine, yielding, at peace naturally. It is sad and shocking that in a ‘developed’ world dominated by masculinity and competition the erotic has become enmeshed with sex and pornography, the materialism of human feelings, when Eros is the god of true love, of the coming together of two souls. 

Strong feelings often lead to demonstrative behavior – standing up and shouting, murder, betrayal, the giving of oneself totally, suicide – but so what? Why is the human body and its ability to merge with another so shocking? It is reduced to an object by the constant witness that polices the intellect, arm in arm with the Law and Organized Religion.

Suddenly an apparition in a film brings tears to my eyes, my throat tightens and my heart beats rapidly. I cannot believe it is me shedding tears watching a screen in a comfortable seat. 

 

A middle-aged widow dressed in chic Chanel black, hair coiffured immaculate, stocking-seams straight, sipping at champagne, and behind her the heals of the Eiffel tower. A man she does not know walks towards her to look at the view, and at her. He gets closer and they strike up conversation briefly, he lighting her gold-filtered cigarette though he doesn’t smoke. Then she gives him her card with long coral-lacquered fingernails and tells him to ring her any time after 5:00. 

He is mesmerised and so are we as we watch. We know nothing of either of their stories except their suffering and isolation which has attracted them to each other. His visitor status in Paris is nil – living in a filthy cheap hotel, all his possessions stolen from him while he slept on a bus, forced to work for his keep as a night-watchman. His whole purpose is to see his young daughter again after her mother has brought a restraining order against him, so he writes a perpetual letter to her and stalks her waiting in the shadows of her kindergarten. 

One day he takes up the chic woman’s invitationRoles are immediately reversed and she makes all the moves in the hallway, dangling kisses which disintegrate him, undressing him, confronting his habitual domination and taking him. She holds him back with the force-field of her eyes while revealing his erect flesh to the brush of her lips, unconditionally releasing his pent-up seed and afterwards bathing him lovingly. 

There are neither questions nor answers, no parameters based on time or space and social conditioning is a priceless vase dropped on marble from a great height

Two foreign angels are released from their tight protein ropes in the City of Light. They allow each other to fully embody their divine essence in the dark apartment and all the synthetic layers, the spots and spores of differentness planted by urbanization, drop away. 

They are both Greek gods of love like Eros but they can walk around among us.

 

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                                                                                             images courtesy of imdb.com

Integrate into Life’s True Course

This is a must read!! Indigenous wisdom is what we need right now to save the Earth!

Nirvana Linden

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(The following will be interspersed with the indigenous voice of an Australian tribal leader.)

Putting aside the man-made lenses of ‘time,’ ‘space,’ ‘race’, ‘gender,’ and ‘money,’ and so on, is the only way to integrate into life’s true course. This is how we can best begin to repair what we perceive as the damaged links of the broken chain of existence.

The human race has interfered persistently with what is natural, almost insisting on creating its own reality and then imposing it on others instead of listening to the truth and staying put. We have traditionally searched outside for our sensual satisfaction and the realization of dreams, when all the time the glories of our human existence lie inside, deep within our divine spirit.

We have therefore become ‘disintegrated’ beings because we block what is natural, always choosing to ‘live’ indirectly, vicariously, or ‘outside’ reality in…

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The Laughing of Flowers.

It is said that beautiful flowers and trees are Nature laughing.  This stunning painting by

Mariko Kinoshita, my partner-artist, really exemplifies this notion.  The flowers jump

straight into your heart as you gaze on the cozy rural dwellings made of stone, a material

which is unusable in Kinoshita’s native earthquake-ridden Japan, and accompanied by an

abundance of giggling trees.  She has elevated the blue river which appears to be watering

the flowers and in turn lifts us high into the sky where we can all laugh together. 

In the spiritual plan of things and perhaps in our dream-states, we strongly detect our

closeness to nature and the universe, and through this on to our origins in the invisible and

impermanent world.  It is the mystical order in this painting that touches and transports

us to that fullness of joy which we all have free access to if we choose.

Kinoshita’s Shinto spirit (Shinto, or the ‘Way of the Gods,’ the state religion of Japan

from 500 BCE until 1945) pervades this painting: the conviction that everything and everyone

has a spirit, invisible to the physical eyes, and worthy of full veneration and respect.

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The Origin of Meditation: making bonds with the universe

I’ve just published an article in Meditationmag.com: http://meditationmag.com/buddhism/origin-meditation-making-bonds-universe/

Please visit this wonderful magazine. Kevin Ellerton, the editor, is doing such a great job in spreading the magic of meditation. Meditation is the greatest resource foreach of us in the secular and plural age!

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The Buddha, founder of Buddhism, 2600 years ago made it clear that we should create and maintain bonds with the Universe even though we have been born into human life. This was a common notion in ancient India before his time.

The Universe encompasses everything that exists, according to our current understanding: spacetime, forms of energy and the physical laws that relate them, history, philosophy, mathematics and logic. Buddhists refer to the Universe, both visible and invisible phenomena, as the Dharma.

The Cathars (medieval Christian mystics pronounced heretics by the Church of Rome and exterminated) also were constantly connected to the spiritual or invisible world although they strived to liberate all beings from the physical world of suffering. They regarded death, the ending of human life, as a simple veil that could be easily removed.

The halo (a circle of light around the head of a holy being depicted in Christianity) and the aureole (a circle of light around the head and/or body of a deity in Buddhism), were and still are used as reminders of the spiritual origin of all things appearing in the visible world of form. In both systems of living out the lessons and struggles of human life (Christianity) or samsara (- the world of human suffering-Buddhism), we aspire to make the transition back into the spiritual, formless world, and if possible, to take all living beings with us.

The Cathars, who were vegetarians apart from eating fish occasionally, prescribed the endura, a form of ritual suicide brought about by refraining from taking any food or water as death approached, preceded by the administering of the consolamentum, a special cleansing meditation or blessing. In Buddhism, diet is always key as it is important to allow the subtle inner winds (vayu in Sanskrit) to blow naturally through the channels of the body. The body and mind are unable to function at subtle levels if these winds are not balanced.

So, in both schools, the awareness of what substances from the Earth we put inside our bodies is central to the way we use them. These rules about living allow us to connect with mystical knowledge so as to be able to be a channel for such universal energy. They provide an opportunity for us to fine-tune ourselves in order to receive the countless messages and signs from invisible sources surrounding us.

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The mystical has always drawn me personally since being a young child. I could never accept that worldly achievements were the pinnacle of all existence. I was certain there was much more to it than that. Of course, children are usually not yet conditioned as adults are: they are pure and still close to the universe before their intellectual capacities develop.

My dream of being touched by the mystical came steadily true through the Buddhist pathway and gnostic traditions such as Catharism and also Sufism (mystical/Esoteric Islam). In Japan, I am presently involved with the Nirvana Teachings of Shinnyo-en, Esoteric (transmitted orally from Master to pupil) Shingon Buddhism. These are the very last teachings the Buddha gave on his deathbed when he revealed a new aspect of the teachings just before he died which took his disciples and followers by storm.

He announced that every single being, regardless of spiritual training, gender, or any other classifications, is endowed with Buddha Nature, the seed for enlightenment (perfection). If we live life in a sincere way putting others before ourselves, the rain of Dharma will water that seed and it will ripen in time.

This changed the direction of Buddhism forever because everyone universally had the potential for enlightenment in their own lifetime, not only those who gave up their everyday lives as householders to become monks. The best place to become enlightened is in everyday life, here-and-now.

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In Esoteric Buddhism, the mandala is the traditional way of mapping out the Dharma lineage which is passed down through the ages from the original Buddha Shākamuni, about 2600 years ago. The mandala represents the whole Universe and if you are correctly connected to that lineage known as the Dharma Stream, there is nothing and no-one outside you, no ‘us’ and ‘them!’ You are actually positioned in the dead centre of the universe.

Buddhists strive to release themselves from attachment to objects and people because attachment means separation – it requires the attached and the attacher. Once we are truly one with the Universe and all sentient beings, then we have realized ‘emptiness’ and the native silence and stillness of the heart. All our worldly desires are extinguished and it is said that we have crossed the great Ocean of Nirvana to the other shore.

In Japan, there is a strong tradition of mountain ascetics – those who deprive themselves of luxuries and comforts in order to quieten their egos, shugendo in Japanese. Yamabushi (Jpn: one who ‘likes mountains’) follow a special doctrine combining Esoteric Buddhism, Taoism and Shinto.

These practitioners are usually solitary and today mostly lay (non-monastic). Emphasis is placed on physical feats of endurance in the open air where the trainees live in the untouched forests of rural Japan. Their goal is to be touched by supernatural powers and the universe through such practices.

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Yamabushi (photograph deliberately blurred for privacy) can often be seen engaged in waterfall training – standing under waterfalls in freezing winter, ridding themselves of their ego so that they can receive the esoteric messages. My own masters did this practice regularly, as did many other key teachers in Shingon Buddhism.

The Cathars also had a strong reverence for and involvement with nature and the Universe. The sacred caves of Sabarthes in Languedoc, south-eastern France, are known as the ‘doors to Catharism.’ Part of initiation as a Parfait (a Cathar Perfect) was to climb a steep path leading up to these caves (a practice common also in shugendo) to the Cave of Bethlehem.

There were four important elements inside the caves:

1. a square niche in the wall which could have conceivably contained a mandala or manual of some kind;

2. a rough granite altar;

3. a pentagram carved into the wall, possibly symbolising the 5 elements of the universe (a common symbol in Esoteric Buddhism);

4. the telluric currents emitted from the rock walls and cave floor.

The atmosphere in these caves fills one with awe. I was particularly sensitive while inside and after visiting had a series of dreams in which Cathars appeared as Buddhist monks. There are so many similarities.

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As mentioned, Buddhists work to achieve emptiness and liberation from all attachments. If you step out of the enclosure of your mind, the view of the world you construct with your intellect, then you step into the Buddhafield or mandala where you are protected and qualified to receive the wisdom of the Dharma stream orally. At this moment, you become united with the Universe. This is reality. You can take refuge in this powerful mandala whilst struggling in samsara to liberate all sentient beings and bring them to enlightenment with you.

Although many different spiritual traditions employ meditation in their training, it could be said that the notion of making ‘bonds with the universe’ began with the young Buddha’s first experience of meditation. Prince Siddhārtha was 7 years of age and already showing promise in his studies to succeed his father and become King of the Sākya clan. One day, he accompanied his father and entourage to an agricultural festival dedicated to the Earth deity.

While there, the young prince noticed a small bird pecking at a worm that had been turned up by a plough. He felt such compassion for the worm that he was inspired to sit in a nearby grove under a jambu (rose apple) tree and soon shifted into an advanced meditative state.

The sun was high in the sky, but the shade provided by the surrounding trees stood still, keeping the young child cool and sheltered from the hot sun. This first meditation inspired by nature demonstrated the highest respect and reverence for the treasures of the universe.

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In my own meditations which bring together many coloured threads, I often use the image that everything inside me, beneath the thin membrane of my skin, can amalgamate with everything outside. That my heart can beat in unison with all the hearts in the universe and that I can breathe as one with all beings in the universe. It is easy to transcend the thin membrane of skin and realize deeply that this is all that makes me a physical individual being, able to act in the world, fulfilling my own unique mission.

The Universe is the Spiritual Source. The Moon and Sun are our protectors. We climb the mountains, flow into the oceans down wide rivers, and swing from stars and planets. It is only the mundane mind that hems us into its synthetic reality, imprisoning us away from the natural glory of the great Universe.

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images courtesy of Linden Thorp and megapixyl.com

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Linden Thorp is a teacher/author (both non-fiction/fiction)/editor (academic/general/religious) living and working in Japan. She is an ordained Japanese Esoteric Buddhist priest (Shinnyo-en), Alexander Teacher, Sound/Music Creativity Therapist, Meditation facilitator, Indigenous Peoples’ Advocate and is involved in the Cathar revival. Her mission is world peace and harmony. Her religious pathway has been from Christianity, through Hinduism, Islam, Sufism, Humanism, Catharism, to schools of Hinayana, Vājiriyana, and Mahayāna Buddhism, and so to Oneness and Self-Realization.

Prince Shotoku: Buddhist Founder of Japanese Buddhism and the Japanese Nation

AHE-Logo-TM-265pxhttp://www.ancient.eu/article/1029/

by Charley Linden Thorp

published on 09 March 2017

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In Japan in 573 CE Anahobe, the wife of the Emperor’s son, had a dream of a priest in golden robes who asked her if he could lodge in her womb as he was about to be born as a world-saving Bodhisattva. The child was born painlessly and unexpectedly in the imperial stables and was named Shotoku (sho meaning sacred, and toku meaning virtue). At the age of 2, he naturally placed his hands together in gassho (reverence), faced the East, and recited the words, Namu Butsu (praise be to Buddha). Buddhism had hardly been heard of in Japan at that time! Prince Shotoku was to rule Japan between 594-622 CE as Regent and to unite his nation of warring clans in the dual roles of the first Buddhist statesman in the world and the lay founder of Japanese Buddhism.

Prince Shotoku as a Youth

Prince Shotoku had several titles:

  • Prince of the Stable Door (Umayodo no Miko) due to the unusual circumstances of his birth.
  • Prince of Eight Ears (Yatsumimi no Miko) because of his special intelligence and his ability to listen to eight people at one time and understand each of them.
  • Prince of the Upper Palace (Kamitsumiya no Miko or Jogu Taishi) because his father, Emperor Yōmei, loved and respected his talented son so much that he created a special part of the palace for him to live in.

ACHIEVEMENTS

The civic contributions made by Jogu Taishi (the title most people in Japan give him) were impressive and are still in place. Among them, he created the ‘cap system’ for government officials which rooted out nepotism with the recognition of merit. He imported Chinese culture along with the lunar calendar, art and scholarship and he resumed the existing practice of dispatching of envoys to import all manner of cultural and religious knowledge to Japan which had been terminated. He initiated irrigation projects to improve agriculture and implemented extensive welfare measures. He created highway systems and he wrote the first chronicle of Japanese history.

BUDDHISM IN JAPAN

How he came to be devoted to this new faith which suddenly appeared in the islands of Japan is something of a mystery as mentioned above. However, though a Buddhist scholar and the first patriarch of Japanese Buddhism, he remained a lay practitioner throughout his life. It is thought that Buddhism first became known in Japan when the ruler of a province of Korea called Baekje visited Japan and presented a beautiful gold-plated image of Buddha Shakyamuni and sutra scrolls to Emperor Kimmei (531-571), Shotoku’s grandfather, who was impressed. However, his enthusiasm to adopt Buddhism threw the principal families of Japan into confusion. 

Japan had been culturally isolated and conservative until then and showed no sign that the indigenous religion, Shinto, the ‘Way of the Gods,’ was inadequate. Shinto develops a deep appreciation of natural beauty and spirituality but there is no ethical element, unlike Buddhism.  Also, at the time there was no formal written language in Japan so the enthusiastic adoption of Chinese pictographs happened simultaneously with the influx of Buddhist sutras in Chinese translation.   

However, Shotoku, now Prince Regent to his Aunt Suiko who succeeded her husband in 593 CE, was to convince the country that Buddhism was exactly what was needed. In fact, at the age of 14, he fought in a brief civil war between the progressive Soga family who favoured Buddhism and the conservative Monobes family.  It was a Holy War fought over the enshrinement of Holy relics in a pagoda (stupa) which Shotoku insisted was essential as the origin of Buddhism was so far away from Japan in India

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Prince Shotoku

Surprisingly, Buddhism replaced Shinto as the national religion of Japan within 50 years exactly due to its values of tolerance, rationality and philosophical depth, none of which featured in the Shinto faith. The only remnant of Shinto which was retained was the link between members of the Imperial family and the Japanese goddess of the Sun and the Universe, Amaterasu, who are still considered to be her direct descendants.

Perhaps the story which best exemplifies Shotoku’s devout Buddhist faith as an adult is when his father became seriously ill. The Prince sat by his father’s bedside day and night meditating on his recovery and as a result, he did recover and became a devoted Buddhist himself.

TEMPLES & TEACHINGS

The Prince initiated the first two Buddhist temples to be built in Japan. Shitenno-ji  (530 CE), the temple of the Four Heavenly Kings, of the North, South, East and West, was erected because whilst defending his family in battle, he prayed intently to the 4 Buddhist Kings and victory was achieved. Later Horyu-ji was built in Nara to contain many treasured artworks and artefacts, and he went on to build five more. But these temples were not merely places of worship. Shitenno-ji, built at the seaport, was a religious sanctuary providing training in music and the arts, a dispensary for medical herbs, an asylum for the abandoned and a hospital and sanatorium. Monks took many roles in society, as educators, physicians, and even engineers. Temples in Japan today are often cultural and welfare centres.

Prince Shotoku also gave public lectures on various aspects of Buddhism. He authored eight volumes of commentaries on sutras. The Sangyo-gisho (3 Sutras) was popular among lay Buddhists. It focused on the Lotus Sutra which conveyed Buddha Nature and universal enlightenment, the Vimalakirti Sutra which expounded lay Buddhism and national rulers as Bodhisattvas, and the Srimaladevi Sutra which extolled the virtues of a Buddhist Queen to honour his devout aunt, Princess Suiko.

SHOTOKU’S CONSTITUTION

‘HARMONY IS THE MOST PRECIOUS ASSET.  WE ALL ALTERNATE BETWEEN WISDOM & MADNESS.  IT IS A CLOSED CIRCLE.’ SHOTOKU SEVENTEEN-ARTICLE CONSTITUTION

The 5 bonds of Confucius figure in each article: ruler to ruled, father to son, elder to younger siblings, elder friend to younger friend, and husband to wife. Shotoku declared, ‘‘Harmony is the most precious asset.  We all alternate between wisdom and madness.  It is a closed circle.’ According to the Nihon Shoki, a definitive history of ancient Japan written in circa 720 CE, Prince Shotoku created a seventeen-article ‘constitution’ (Jpn. Jushichojo Kenpo) which was implemented as a political tool to unite the warring clans. This was not a modern constitution designed for the governing of state and subjects, but a set of spiritual aspirations inspired equally by Buddhism and Confucianism. It focused on the morals and virtues that should be the aspiration of every subject in the realm and led to him receiving the title ‘Dharma Monarch’ (Skt; Dharmaraja)

The following articles are evidence that this is truly a Buddhist constitution: Article 2: Reverence to the 3 Treasures of Buddhism – Shotoku firmly believed that all beings could benefit from their truth. Article 6: the difference between merit and demerit, reward and punishment – this demonstrates the laws of karma so central to Buddhism. Article 10: self-control and mind-control – the harmony between nature and society, also a strong goal of the Buddhist way of life. They are as follows:

1. Harmony should be valued and quarrels should be avoided.

2. The three treasures, which are Buddha, the (Buddhist) Law and the (Buddhist) Priesthood; should be given sincere reverence, for they are the final refuge of all living things. 

3. Do not fail to obey the commands of your Sovereign. He is like Heaven, which is above the Earth, and the vassal is like the Earth, which bears up Heaven. 

4. The Ministers and officials of the state should make proper behavior their first principle, for if the superiors do not behave properly, the inferiors are disorderly.

5. Deal impartially with the legal complaints which are submitted to you. 

6. Punish the evil and reward the good. 

7. Every man has his own work. Do not let the spheres of duty be confused. 

8. Ministers and officials should attend the Court early in the morning and retire late, for the whole day is hardly enough for the accomplishment of state business. 

9. Good faith is the foundation of right. 

10. Let us control ourselves and not be resentful when others disagree with us, for all men have hearts and each heart has its own leanings. 

11. Know the difference between merit and demerit.

12. Do not let the local nobility levy taxes on the people. 

13. All people entrusted with office should attend equally to their duties. 

14. Do not be envious! For if we envy others, then they, in turn, will envy us. 

15. To subordinate private interests to the public good — that is the path of a vassal. 

16. Employ the people in forced labor at seasonable times. 

17. Decisions on important matters should not be made by one person alone.  

(Nihon Shoki)

These tenets provide the basis of stable and peaceful Japan today 1500 years later and could be said to be part of the essence of its distinctive culture.

DEATH & LEGACY

In 621 CE, Shotoku became gravely ill and as an indication of his popularity, a statue was commissioned in the form of the Buddha. It can now be viewed in the Hall of Dreams of the Horyuji Temple in Nara.  After his death in 622 CE, he became known as ‘Japan’s Shakyamuni’ and his relics were enshrined in the various temples he established.

The surviving features of the Mahayana Buddhism he founded are as follows: the notion that all beings have Buddha Nature and can be enlightened regardless of spiritual training, class or gender (Jpn. Ekayana); the spiritual aspects of Buddhism are the most important – this remains true today; gender discrimination in monasteries should not exist; Buddhism should be synonymous with the welfare of the Japanese nation and symbolic of prosperity and peace.    

Shitenno-ji Temple, Osaka

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In the Middle Ages, Shinran (1173-1262 CE), the founder of Jodo Shinshu (Pure Land), the largest school of Japanese Buddhism today, worshipped Prince Shotoku as the saviour of Japan. Shinran is famous as the first ordained monk to reject his clerical vow of celibacy which set a trend for Japanese clerics. He openly married and had children with Eshinni and the reason for this departure was that Prince Shotoku appeared to him in a dream as the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Kannon, who assured him that he would be incarnated in Eshinni.  So, in a way, Shinran married his greatest hero. Shotoku is also said to have reincarnated as Bodhisattva Eshi of the Tendai faith and later as Amida Buddha, the principal Buddha of the Pure Land School.

In conclusion, as Prince Shotoku firmly believed, it is certain that our sincere relationships with each other are the most important factor of all in society and that individual power and success must only be viewed through that lens. But this 17-article constitution could and can only be successful if humans put aside all their self-seeking ideas and temper their dominant egos and temporal desires. This can best be achieved by cultivating Buddha Nature and embodying our divine mission of unconditional love and light. Altruism – sincerely looking after others before ourselves – is an ancient universal tenet of the human species which Prince Shotoku spent his life embodying.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CHARLEY LINDEN THORP

Linden is a ValidLit writer/teacher living in Japan. Ordained as a Buddhist Priest, she is a Dharma/Meditation teacher working to make the ideas of Buddha Nature accessible to everyone, which involves many thousands of years of historical research.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Buddha World
  • Anesaki, M, The Foundation of Buddhist Culture in japan. (Monumenta Nipponica, 1943), 1-12.
  • Anonymous, An Introduction to Buddhism: teachings, History and Practices. (Cambridge University Press, 2004)
  • Anonymous, Nihon Shoki
  • Banarsidass, M., “The Birth of Japanese Buddhism,” Buddhist Spirituality vol II.
  • Buswell, J.R.E. (Ed), Encyclopedia of Buddhism (Macmillan Reference, 2004)
  • Carr, K.G., “Pieces of Princes: Personalized Relics in Medieval Japan,” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 38(1): 93-127.
  • Fujiwara K., Shotoku Taishi Derek
  • Kitagawa, J.M., “The Buddhist Transformation of Japan,” History of Religions 4 (2): 319-336.
  • Soper, A.C., A Pictorial Biography of Prince Shotoku (The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 1967), 197-215.