An Unforgettable Afternoon Tea

art, Buddhism, Culture, Education, ethics, Life Writing, Philosophy

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Shakespeare’s Sonnet CXVI

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
  I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Yesterday I was blessed along with more than one hundred other kindred spirits, dharma brothers and sisters, to be invited to the Afternoon Tea of all Afternoon Tea’s, at Tara Institute, in East Brighton. There, we were blessed and lucky enough to listen to the remarkable words of the great master, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, whose profound insight and compassion transported each and every one of us into a sphere of peace and happiness that can only be described as truly inspiring.

Although ordinarily, when one thinks of afternoon tea, biscuits and cake come to mind, at this afternoon tea, such delicacies, although offered, one could almost say, were not required. When you attend an afternoon tea hosted by such remarkable beings as Geshe Doga and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, food and drink become virtually irrelevant, because due to the great skill of the Buddha, ordinary life just fades into insignificance as one is treated to a genuine Dharma teaching that enables one to contemplate the great truths, which although simple in both practice and theory, are taught in the most exciting and uplifting of ways by a great mind that is really like no other.

Lama Zopa reminded us all that all the teachings of the Buddha fall into two basic instructions:

Do Not Harm Other Beings, Benefit Other Beings.

Within those two pieces of advice lie a vast spectrum of understandings, interpretations, rules and possibilities, however for me, Lama Zopa’s key advice was crystallized when he said that the moment one gives up desire, is the moment one begins to experience real contentment.

He also joked about how it was really Mick Jagger who gave the best teaching in his song, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, through his ability to enumerate upon the downfalls of the desirous and attached state of mind.

It is funny how in life, teachers can appear to us in both virtuous and non-virtuous aspects. Lama Zopa is a true example of someone, who having overcome desire and all faults of the mind, shows others how achieving a state of liberation, peace and perfection is really possible. Not so long ago, I had an encounter of an entirely different kind, with a man full of desire, who in full flight, was able to make me realize just how damaging and disastrous the states of desire, dishonesty, manipulation and attachment can really be. Even those who appear to harm us, also have a teaching of their own to impart.

Although I appreciated the timeless and insightful truths written about love, by the western literary genius, Shakespeare, in his Sonnet CXVI, when they were read at my wedding, nearly twenty years ago, it was the great masters from Tibet who really were able to impart to me, the deeper meaning behind what it means to love another being and how important it is to ensure all our actions are imbued with a positive and virtuous state of mind.

To all my precious and dear teachers who have forever changed our world, our destiny, our karma and our minds, I offer to you my deepest gratitude and pray that one day I am able to repay your limitless kindness, which like time and space, has no beginning and no end.

Copyright © Vanessa Anne Walsh 2020

Nights in the Moon Lily Garden – Chapter Four

art, Buddhism, Culture, ethics, Happiness, Health, Life Writing, Love and Compassion, News, Philosophy, Wisdom

Id Is Not AH

What do you do when you are young and vulnerable, living under your parents control, when your mother has a nervous breakdown and you find her to be jealous of your attainments and ignorant of the true causes of suffering?

What do you do when you are broke, with no money, no proper foundation, and you have a father who drinks copious amounts of alcohol from the early hours of the morning until late into the night every single day, whilst trying to resolve his own psychological misery, emotional discomfort and mental pain by squandering basically all of the family fortune on mistresses, outrageously expensive annual overseas travel, alcohol and ridiculous investments?

You search for whatever aid and assistance that is close at hand.

At sixteen and seventeen, the only help that was close at hand came in the form of other sometimes even more misguided peers, whose only solution to suffering was to get as wasted as possible and blow whatever chances that study at school presented them with. School was suffering. Family life was suffering. Everyone followed the philosophy that as it was obvious we were all going down, better to do that together than to face the music and use whatever intelligence we were gifted with to try and devise a genuine escape route that would actually act as pathway to freedom from suffering.

Religion was frowned upon. Philosophy lay misunderstood in the stratosphere. Atheism was rife. Weekends were opportunities to binge drink and drown in our sorrows, serving only as breeding grounds for profound suffering.

It was in this environment that I was travelling home on a flight from Sydney with my mother and sister. Feeling dazed at the commotion that had enveloped our home life, I gazed out of the aircraft window to stare at the clouds far below. Dreams of a happy future lay in ruins. I was raised with the belief that I would always be taken care of by my parents. I was told much money had been put aside for our future; that we would be cared for by a substantial inheritance. I was told I would never have a mortgage. I would always have my own house and plenty of money to live on. I would not have a care in the world. Sad to say, these were all lies, a cunning illusion crafted by ignorant souls who chose to ignore the great truths taught by past masters and saints.

To give you an example of how crazy the behavior of my mother could be at times, as we were travelling on this flight, the quiet was broken by hysterical screams from my mother. When I drew close and tried to attend to her needs, she just abused me and told me to mind my own business. As she had recently suffered a brain aneurism, my thought was to contact her neurologist in Melbourne and ask him for some advice. When I informed my mother that he would make a special effort to meet her at the airport, I suffered further attacks – a blind rage. When we disembarked from the aircraft, as a reward for my efforts to calm and console my mother, I was abandoned at the airport with no money and forced to find my own way home.

To say that I was suffering my own form of mental anguish as a result of this treatment is surely an understatement. Neither of my parents appeared to have any regard or concern for the consequences of their unruly and destructive behavior. In this tumultuous and uncertain situation, I was required to excel at my studies, to retain full health, to marry a millionaire, to be on the front cover of vogue. In short, I was expected to marry Rupert Murdoch’s son and be an unquestionable success.

Copyright © Vanessa Anne Walsh 2019

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Top News Stories from 1985

World Events

World Statistics

Population: 4.378 billion

population by decade

Nobel Peace Prize: International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

More World Statistics…

U.S. Events

U.S. Statistics

President: Ronald W. Reagan
Vice President: George Bush
Population: 237,923,795
Life expectancy: 74.7 years
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 52.1
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 46.5

More U.S. Statistics…

  • Ronald Reagan, 73, takes oath for second term as 40th President (Jan. 20).
  • General Westmoreland settles libel action against CBS (Feb. 18).
  • US Supreme Court, 5–4, bars public school teachers from parochial schools (July 1).
  • Arthur James Walker, 50, retired naval officer, convicted by federal judge of participating in Soviet spy ring operated by his brother, John Walker (Aug. 9).
  • US budget-balancing bill enacted (Dec. 12).

Economics

US GDP (1998 dollars): $4,180.70 billion
Federal spending: $946.39 billion
Federal debt $1817.5 billion
Median Household Income(current dollars): $23,618 billion
Consumer Price Index: $107.6
Unemployment: 7.2%
Cost of a first-class stamp: $0.20 ($0.22 as of 2/17/1985)
Sports
Super Bowl

San Francisco d. Miami

World Series

Kansas City d. St. Louis Cardinals (4-3)

NBA Championship

LA Lakers d. Boston

Stanley Cup

Edmonton d. Philadelphia

Wimbledon

Women: Martina Navratilova d. C. Evert Lloyd (4-6 6-3 6-2)
Men: Boris Becker d. K. Curren (6-3 6-7 7-6 6-4)

Kentucky Derby Champion

Spend A Buck

NCAA Basketball Championship

Villanova d. Georgetown

NCAA Football Champions

Oklahoma (11-1-0)

Entertainment

Entertainment Awards

Pulitzer Prizes

Fiction: Foreign Affairs, Alison Lurie
Music: Symphony RiverRun, Stephen Albert
Drama: Sunday in the Park with George, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine
Academy Award, Best Picture: Amadeus, Saul Zaentz, producer (Orion)
Nobel Prize for Literature: Claude Simon (France)
Record of the Year: “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” Tina Turner
Album of the Year: Can’t Slow Down, Lionel Richie (Motown)
Song of the Year: “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” Graham Lyle and Terry Britten, songwriters
Miss America: Sharlene Wells (UT)

More Entertainment Awards…

Events

  • Rock Hudson dies of AIDS at age 59. He’s the first major star to fall victim to the disease.
  • Madonna launches her first road show, the Virgin Tour.
  • Dozens of top-name musicians and bands perform at the Live Aid concerts in Philadelphia and London. The shows benefit African famine victims.
  • With the availability of relatively inexpensive laser printers and computers, tools for desktop publishing begin to be commonly used.

Movies

  • Kiss of the Spider Woman, Out of Africa, Prizzi’s Honor, The Color Purple

Books

Science

Nobel Prizes in Science

Chemistry: Herbert A. Hauptman and Jerome Karle (both US), for their outstanding achievements in the development of direct methods for the determination of crystal structures
Physics: Klaus von Klitzing (Germany), for developing an exact way of measuring electrical conductivity
Physiology or Medicine: Michael S. Brown and Joseph L. Goldstein (both US), for their work, which has drastically widened our understanding of the cholesterol metabolism and increased our possibilities to prevent and treat atherosclerosis and heart attacks

More Nobel Prizes in 1998…

  • British scientists report the opening of an enormous hole in the earth’s ozone layer over Antarctica. Background: Environment & Nature
  • Researchers at IBM develop the scanning tunneling microscope, which can visualize images on an atomic scale.
  • Coca-Cola attempts to change its 99-year-old formula in an effort to attract younger drinkers. “New” Coke is poorly received, and the company soon reintroduces the original, “Classic” beverage. Background: carbonated beverages

Death

Nights in the Moon Lily Garden – Chapter Three

art, Buddhism, Culture, ethics, Health, Life Writing, Philosophy

The Suffering Of Change

It’s really shocking when you are young having to watch your parents fight. Even worse is when your parents lie to you about the nature of reality. If there is one thing I learnt from attending one of Melbourne’s most prestigious private schools is that suffering exists. My parents however, appeared to be more concerned with pulling the wool over my eyes, and admonished me by making me feel guilty or ashamed for any efforts I made to understand and figure out how to escape the cycle of suffering we were all trapped in.

When the Buddha turned the First Wheel of the Dharma, he taught the Four Noble Truths.

On a warm day, late in Spring, I arrived home from school. I used to enter the house by first walking in through Dad’s practice rooms, which were at the front part of the building, so I could say hello to him on the way through. On this day, Dad wasn’t in his rooms, so I walked through to the house, dumping my navy school bag in my bedroom on the way. As I headed towards the living room, I passed by my parent’s bedroom, but paused as I realized the curtains were drawn and the room itself was very dark. I walked in, staring at the bed. Mother lay motionless with a mask over her eyes.

“Mum,” I said quietly, “are you awake?”

Mother didn’t reply. I picked up her hand and held it in mine. Her hand was cold, and felt almost lifeless, but when I touched her forehead, it was very hot and clammy. She moaned.

“Mum,” I whispered, “do you need anything, some medicine, some water?”

She moaned again, and then said, “Go away Oceané. I need to rest.” I paused as I considered what to do.  After a time, Mother spoke.  “Shut the door behind you, Oceané. I need peace and quiet”

My heart sank. I felt so sorry for her, but there seemed little I could do. As I turned to leave the room, I realized Father was standing in the doorway, looking as though he was about to blow his top. He had some documents in his hand and a pen. He marched forward towards the bed. Dad was really a fearsome creature when in a rage, and I quickly and fearfully moved out of the way. He stood over Mum, shoving the papers in her face and bellowing, “Grace, I need your signature on these documents.”

Mother lay motionless, without saying a word. Father ripped off the eye mask Mother was wearing, before she yelped like a helpless dog in fright.

“What Edward, what?” she whimpered. “Can’t you see I’m suffering from a terrible migraine?”

She struggled to sit up, and half-opened her eyes. “What are they,” she said looking at the thick document of papers he was holding in front of her. The room was still dark, so she had no way of knowing what it was he was asking her to sign.

“Just sign them, you stupid bitch,” he shouted.

“Sign what?” whimpered Mother. “What is it that you want from me?” Turning towards me, Father bellowed, “Leave us alone, Oceané. This has nothing to do with you.”

“But Dad, Mum is sick. You can’t treat her like this, especially when she is so ill. Where is your compassion? Can’t you see you are causing her so much more pain?”

Mother was battling even to hold her head in an upright position, her pain and discomfort blatantly obvious. Reluctantly, I left the room.  Returning to my bedroom, I sat at my desk, however I felt so distraught by what had just happened that I found it impossible to focus upon my own work. A few minutes passed before the house became silent.

After some time sitting and churning over the latest events, I picked up enough energy to unenthusiastically unpack my bag. Staring blankly at the books piled up on the desk in front of me, I felt my anguish increase. I had lost all motivation. Despite the fact I always looked forward to seeing Mum when I got home from school, all I could think about now was the feeling of loss overwhelming me, as though I was losing the one ray of light that brought happiness into our lives at home. Seeing Mother so unhappy, frail and sick on the bed reinforced my own feelings of despair, unhappiness, separation and loss. Feeling so mentally fragmented, it seemed that all my efforts to comfort and support Mother came to nothing. Watching on helplessly as our family disintegrated before my eyes was heartbreaking. I knew my exams were only a couple of weeks away, however I was facing my own battle trying to maintain a focus on the studies that I was expected to excel in.

Copyright © Vanessa Anne Walsh 2019

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What Happened in 1985 Important News and Events, Key Technology and Popular Culture

What happened in 1985 Major News Stories include Coca-Cola Company introduces New Coke, Heysel Stadium Disaster, Unabomber kills his first victim, CD’s Introduced, Wreck of the RMS Titanic Located, Mexico City Earthquake kills 9,000, Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior is sunk by French Agents, As the spread of aids increases Governments round the world start screening Blood donations for AIDS. On the technology front the first .com is registered and the first version of Windows is released Ver 1.0 . Terrorists continue to perform acts of terrorism including the hijack of TWA Flight 847 and the Italian Cruise Liner “Achille Lauro “. Famine in Ethiopia is shown more on TV News in July and Live Aid concerts around the world raise many millions to help the starving in Africa and the pop industry in US joins together to sing “We Are The World”.

Jump To 1985 FashionWorld Leaders1985 Calendar1985 TechnologyCost Of LivingPopular CultureToys



Cost of Living 1985

How Much things cost in 1985
Yearly Inflation Rate USA 3.55%
Year End Close Dow Jones Industrial Average 1546
Interest Rates Year End Federal Reserve 10.75%
Average Cost of new house $89,330
Median Price Of and Existing Home $75,500
Average Income per year $22,100.00
Average Monthly Rent $375.00
Average Price for new car$9,005.00
Below are some Prices for UK guides in Pounds Sterling
Average House Price 40,169
Gallon of Petrol 1.88
Yearly Inflation Rate UK 9.50%
Interest Rates Year End Bank of England 11.38%
More Example Prices
gallon of gas $1.09
Movie Ticket $2.75
US Postage Stamp 22 cents
Bacon per pound $1.65
Bean Bag Lounger $39.99
Rainbow Brite Color Kids $9.99 Each
Rib Eye Steak Lb $3.89

Elyria, Ohio
2 bedroom condo overlooking lake $59,900

 


World — Live Aid concerts

  • Live Aid pop concerts in Philadelphia and London raise over 50 million for famine relief in Ethiopia.

More Information for the Live Aid Concerts
1. The Live Aid Concerts were held during July of 1985.
2. They were a series of rock concerts held to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia around the world.
3. They took place in cities including London, Philadelphia, Sydney and Moscow.
4. The concerts attracted close to 200,000 people and by using satellite link-ups and TV broadcasts around the world, they attracted an estimated one billion viewers in 110 countries who watched the concerts performed live.
5. The concerts were organized by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure and they raised over $125 million in relief money for Africa.
6. Notable acts included B.B. King, Bob Dylan, Cher, David Bowie, Duran Duran, Elton John, Hall & Oates, Lionel Richie, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Queen, Run-DMC, and U2.


New Coke

  • Coca-Cola Company introduces New Coke.

More Information for New Coke.
In April of 1985, Coca-Cola introduced “New Coke” in what many observers declared to be the worst marketing blunder in history. At the time, Coca-Cola was a 99 year old company looking for a way to update itself and they chose to do so by changing the original formula of their iconic soft drink. They created a sweeter version that had been preferred in taste tests, but fans of the brand protested the decision in an overwhelmingly negative response. Within three months Coca-Cola announced it would return to the old formula and tried to re-brand the drink as Coca-Cola “Classic” and New Coke quickly disappeared.



United States — Coldest Winter in Eastern U.S.

  • The Eastern half of North America is hit with an exceptionally cold winter, one of the worst in recorded history.

More Information and Timeline for Eastern U.S. Coldest Winter
The Eastern halves of the United States and Canada face some of the coldest temperatures ever recorded in the 20th century as an arctic air mass moves through the country. According to meteorologists the cold wave occurred as a result of a polar vortex moving further south than what was usually observed and being coupled with a high pressure system. The cold snap lasted from January 20th to the 22nd and resulted in record-breaking cold temperatures as far south as Florida.


Spain — Gibraltar / Spain Border

  • The United Kingdom and Spain agree to reopen the border between Gibraltar and Spain.

More Information for Gibraltar and Spain Border
After sixteen years of being closed under the rule of Francisco Franco in 1969, the border between Gibraltar and Spain was officially reopened during February of 1985. The border had been closed by Franco after tensions heightened between Spain and Britain over the status of Gibraltar. Spain had previously eased restrictions in 1982, allowing pedestrians to cross over the border but it was still tightly controlled as only Spanish citizens and residents of Gibraltar were allowed to cross. Opening the gates to all travelers in 1985 was a decision made by Spain to garner support for joining the European Community.


United States — Calvin and Hobbes comic strip

  • The popular comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes” debuts in newspapers.

More Information for Calvin and Hobbes.
The popular comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes” makes its debut during November of 1985. Created by Bill Watterson, “Calvin and Hobbes” followed the adventures of a young boy, Calvin, and his stuffed animal tiger, Hobbes, while also exploring social, scientific, and philosophical ideas and issues. The comic was originally shown in 250 newspapers but expanded to over 2,000 newspapers at its most popular point. The strip ended in December of 1995 but is still used in papers throughout the world.


New Zealand — Rainbow Warrior

  • The Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior is sunk when French agents plant a bomb on the hull killing Photographer Fernando Pereira

More Information and Timeline For Rainbow Warrior Sinking in Auckland, New Zealand
1. French Agents From the French foreign intelligence services arrive in New Zealand
2. French DGSE agent Christine Cabon, posing as environmentalist Frederique Bonlieu, volunteered for the Greenpeace office in Auckland.
3. Cabon gathers intelligence information crucial to the sinking.
4. July 10th DGSE divers beneath the Rainbow Warrior attached two limpet mines and detonated them 10 minutes apart
5. Following the capture and trial French foreign intelligence services (DGSE) agents Captain Dominique Prieur and Commander Alain Mafart – posing as married couple ‘Sophie and Alain Turenge’ and having Swiss passports pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on November 22, 1985.
The sinking was designed to sink the flagship of the Greenpeace fleet, the Rainbow Warrior in the port of Auckland, New Zealand, to prevent her from interfering in a nuclear test in Moruroa authorized by top French Officicials.

 

Nights in the Moon Lily Garden – Chapter One

art, Buddhism, Culture, ethics, Health, Life Writing

Part One

The Early Life

Of

Oceané,

Writer and Student

Artist and Meditator

 

having a look in good

by

Vanessa Anne Walsh

 

Praise to Manjushri

manjushri 4

 

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz (starts off with a little bit of sleeping)

Homage to my Guru and Protector,

Who holds to his her heart a scriptural text

(little bit of girly laughing)

Symbolic of seeing all things as they are

Whose intelligence shines forth

unclouded by delusions or traces of ignorance

full of compassion

(rest)

Who teaches in sixty ways, with the loving compassion

Of a father for his only son,

All creatures caught in the prison of samsara,

Confused in the darkness of their ignorance,

Overwhelmed by the suffering.

You, Buddha, whose dragon-thunder-like proclamation of Dharma,

Arouses us from the stupor of our delusions

And frees us from the iron chains of our karma,

Who wields the sword of wisdom hewing down suffering

helicopter grand canyon 1

(an awesome flight over the grand canyon, just like the one my father took me on when I was seven)

Wherever it sprouts appear,

helicopter grand canyon 2

(It was amazing flying up close to the cliff face and stopping suspended in the air)

 

Clearing away the darkness of all ignorance;

You, whose princely body is adorned,

With the one hundred and twelve marks of a Buddha,

(tried)

Who has completed the stages achieving

The highest perfections of a Bodhisattva,

(more laughing)…thanks so much Lama Zopa

(you tried)

Who has been pure from the beginning,

I bow down to you Manjushri.

 

OM AH RA PA SA NA DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI

 

With the brilliance of your wisdom, O Compassionate One,

Illuminate the darkness enclosing my mind,

Enlighten my intelligence and wisdom

So that I may gain insight

Into the Buddha’s words and the text that explain them.

 

Listen like a deer to the Holy Dharma

 

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xj6 yellow dads car

Dad’s Car

 

Not a random act of courage

 

This is a story about a young girl, named Oceané, who is raised by her family under the illusion that material comfort and prosperity will always be a given in life. Once her family unit collapses and she faces the loss of her material status, Oceané begins to realize she is ill-equipped mentally to handle the perilous journey she quickly finds herself on. Battling to find direction and meaning to life throughout her university years, she embarks on a spiritual quest to unlock the door to mental peace and happiness. After many years of searching, she finally meets a true spiritual guide, and her life begins to take a happy turn. As this master empowers Oceané with the confidence to explore her true potential, he slowly guides her towards states of inner peace and fulfillment that are beyond Oceané’s wildest imaginings.

Little does Oceané realize that her decision to follow a spiritual guide will set off a chain of events that will see her ostracized by her friends and family and left simply with the support of her companion Noah, and spiritual guide, Rinpoche. Oceané’s mother, Grace, becomes her arch nemesis, in a battle to prove that Oceané is wasting everyone’s time and money pursuing the spiritual path. Grace becomes determined to prove it is only by harming others and living selfishly that one has any chance of securing material success. Oceané confronts failure upon failure, and disappointing losses and hardships before finally deciding to retreat from the world in an effort to uncover the true source of her problems.

This is a story about how to achieve inner peace.

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What the?

 

These days, people commonly think that living a fast paced life style is something to chase after and work towards. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. If happiness is what you are looking for, the only real way to achieve this is by understanding the nature of reality and learning how to control and harness the positive potential and energy of one’s mind. To achieve inner peace, one must turn one’s focus inwards and observe the mind. The mind is not the brain. The mind is clear and knowing, having no shape, form or color. Only the grosser levels of consciousness depend upon the functioning of the brain. Subtle levels of mind will know and see that the mind itself is formless. The omniscient mind of Buddha perceives all objects.

Instead of being pushed and pulled in every direction by one’s negative thoughts, such as desire, attachment, anger, hatred, jealousy, competitiveness, doubt, pride, wrong view and ignorance, one is required to abandon harmful and destructive ways of thinking, letting go of wrong objects that cause the mind to become agitated and upset. The reason one must abandon all negative ways of thinking and acting is because only by abandoning the negative mind, can one secure a state of being that is free from suffering. Attachment, aversion and ignorance are the three poisonous minds that cause endless suffering to both ourselves and others. Only by achieving inner peace can one secure real peace. Nirvana is peace and enlightenment is the fully purified state of perfection.

I could write a discourse on the path to inner peace and happiness, however it is of more use to explain a little bit more about family life, to help aid and further develop our understanding of the ways and means to achieve inner peace and freedom from suffering.

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yamantaka13_ws

 

Not Really Sixteen

When I was about 16 years old, my mother failed to arrive home after an overseas trip. This was a very traumatic thing for me at the time, because I really felt much of the happiness and prosperity we were used to receiving came directly from the love given to us by our mother. I had a bit of a biased opinion of my father at the time, and even though he worked very hard as a General Practitioner and a Surgeon, I was very much turned against him because of the acrimony that was constantly on display between both my parents.

I don’t really feel there is much point churning over and over in one’s mind the events from the past, unless there is something really valuable to be learnt from such events. However, I did choose to write my life story, and as it stands, this is what unfolded at the time.

One day at dawn I awoke with the realization and happiness that this was the day my mother was due to arrive home after a month-long overseas trip to Canada. I usually hated it when my parents went overseas, because we were always left to live with a frightfully horrible nanny, who showed absolutely no mercy or love, kind of like one of those horribly mean-spirited characters out of a Charles Dickens novel.

To say that I was excited by the prospect of her return is surely an understatement, so you can imagine my dismay when she didn’t arrive home at the time she was expected to return. I did my best to ring the airlines and the hotel, but was told that she had checked out and no-one really knew of her whereabouts from the time she left the hotel a day earlier in Singapore. Having become so anxious, I turned to my father for support, but he showed absolutely no interest in helping me look for my mother. In fact, when I tried to ring the hospitals in Singapore to see if she had been in an accident or fallen ill, he cut off the phone lines to the house to prevent me from continuing my search.

Left alone in a home that offered what appeared to be little in the way of real love and understanding, I felt absolutely gutted and isolated by my father’s inability to show compassion or to recognize that I really needed to find out what had happened to Mum. Everything felt so fragile at the time, like at any moment, I could find myself living out on the streets with no support or protection.

Having become a Buddhist since that time, I really understand how very difficult it is trying to navigate one’s way through reality without having a proper source of refuge. In Buddhism, one takes refuge from suffering in the Three Jewels, the Buddha, His teachings – The Dharma, and the Arya Sangha. Three times during the morning and three times in the evening, one recites the refuge prayer as follows:

I go for refuge until I’m enlightened

In the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha

From the merit I create from practicing giving and other perfections

May Iattain the state of a Buddha in order to benefit all sentient beings.

Taking refuge and having a daily practice of meditation makes a huge difference to one’s life. When one doesn’t know how to control one’s own negative mind, little problems can become big problems very easily. Furthermore, if a big problem or issue does arise, by taking refuge and meditating in the proper manner, developing the right motivation, the correct view and compassion, one is able to face the difficulty and hardship with a positive attitude, determination and strength. This makes it easier to figure out the right action to take in difficult situations, and also helps to reduce the suffering, both mental and physical, that one might otherwise encounter under such circumstances.

After I realized none of us knew where Mum was, that she had missed the flight; that she had checked out of the hotel in Singapore, and that she hadn’t been able to call us and let us know that something had gone wrong, my mind really went into a spin. When I got home from school later that day, with Mum still missing and Dad showing absolutely no interest in taking the necessary steps to try to find her, I went absolutely berserk and flew off the handle at him.

I arrived home, and with Dad busy working in the surgery, I seized the opportunity to try to contact the international directory service to find out if Mum had been admitted to a hospital in Singapore. Frantically dialing the operator, I tried to locate the names and numbers of hospitals in Singapore, however midway through the first phone call the phone line went dead. I rushed up into Dad’s work rooms to use another phone line and continue with my investigations. However, Dad was already waiting at the switchboard controls, having already cut the phone line to the house, so as to prevent me from making my inquiries.

“Dad, are you out of your mind,” I cried. “Why aren’t you doing something to find Mum?”

“You are not ringing any hospitals in Singapore”, he said ferociously. “Go and do your homework,” he said as he pushed me out of his office.

I began to cry in dismay. “You are so horrible. Mum is missing and you won’t help me find her.” My stomach churned in anguish at the helplessness of the situation. I left the surgery in disgust. Having nowhere to turn and faced with a deep desire to get as far away from my father as possible, I retreated to my bedroom, to lie on my bed in despair. Thoughts regarding the whereabouts of my mother continued to plague me. I lay on the bed until dinner time, as the day gradually turned into night, all the while staring at the sky searching for answers to the obvious problems life now presented to me without Mum at home to protect us.

Copyright © Vanessa Anne Walsh 2019

 

 

 

A review of Monday 7 June 2004

art, Buddhism, Culture, Health, Life Writing

Monday 7th June, 2004

What can I talk about today?  Anne leaves for Port Douglas tomorrow, so she is busy packing and cleaning up in Noosa today.

Christian and I just had dhal, rice, papadams and coca-cola for lunch. This afternoon I will go to the gym and for a swim.  Tonight I will watch The Apprentice.

I was thinking I should write down some of the experiences I had whilst I was on retreat.  Record the events which led up to now.

I think I began my retreat some time in 1999.  I had been under a lot of pressure whilst working full time and trying to look after Dad and his estate whilst facing constant opposition and obstacles from Julia. I was also focused on being a good Buddhist practitioner and wife and a good friend and student of Geshe Doga’s.

Everyone in the family strongly opposed my wish to do retreat.  When I first asked Geshe Doga if I should continue working, he said, “Better”.  The next day, when I started retreat fairly informally, rather than reiterating what he had previously said, like “work better”, he simply let me know that an informal style of retreat was in not good enough and encouraged me to develop a far more intense focus towards my practice. As a result, I commenced a very formal and disciplined Vajrasattva retreat.

The following months brought with it much mantra recitation, prayers, prostrations and blessings.  The first truly amazing blessing experience came during the Vajrasattva retreat.  As I was seated in the meditation posture doing the sadhana, my entire body was covered, indeed penetrated, by a huge tube of light and nectar, entering me from my crown and penetrating every part of my being.  As my body and mind was absorbed by this field of light and heavenly substance, I felt totally purified and freedom from all obstacles and hindrances and faults.  It was like entering into a state of purity and blissful absorption, This experience lasted some time before dissolving into the sphere of emptiness.

∞∞∞

This afternoon Christian and I went for a walk and took some photos of each other in Como Park.  Here are some photos of me.

vanessa 2004

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What happened on this day – Saturday June 5, 2004 from A Captains Logbook

art, Buddhism, Culture, ethics, Life Writing, Philosophy

His Holiness once said, if you live your life well, you get the opportunity to review it. Take a look and enjoy.

Saturday June 5, 2004

Thinking about starting a journal.

It’s Julia’s birthday today. Julia is thirty years old. I am thirty-five. Christian is thirty-nine, Anne is seventy-three, Geshe Doga is sixty-nine next month, How old is Ben?  Christian’s Dad is the same age as Rinpoche and His Holiness. Christian’s Mother is sixty-seven.  Life goes so quickly. Birth, aging, sickness and death.  I was sick yesterday; vomiting and a headache. Last time I vomited was the day Rinpoche left for Canada, about five weeks ago.

This is my new computer.  It’s six days old. It is very nice. It’s nice to look at and nice to use. Is Dell.  Is Good. (Note to self. Actually, Mum told me to buy a Dell. I prefer Apple. But it seems even though I’m paying I don’t have a choice in the matter.)

Living here at Magic Mountain reminds me of what Anne and Graeme achieved in their life together. The beauty, comfort, stability and security of this place reminds me of them. It’s a very nice place to live and I am very fortunate to be living here.  It’s also an example of Ben and Anne’s kindness.

Today the weather is overcast, calm, no wind and the temperature is cool.

Copyright © Vanessa Anne Walsh 2019

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Friday January 4, 2019

In review, what was also going on in June 2004 was much hatred in the minds of beings. The allied forces were battling the Iraq War, people were tense, upset and suffering. I’m trying to make ends meet, and I have yet to discover or be diagnosed with a chronic disease, stemming from the pressures one endures from facing so much antagonism and anger within the local and national community.

Poor Australia. It has yet to discover that only by engaging in virtue one hundred percent of the time, adopting the pratimoksha vow and upholding ethics, can one lay a proper foundation from which to live one’s life and to secure future happiness, higher rebirth and inner success.

Honey Bun on the Run

Buddhism, Culture, Life, Life Writing, wisdom culture

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I had a good day at home today. Just a bit of writing, a bit of meditation. Then a good friend suggested at 5pm, let’s go for a drive. Just a little bit relax. Great! Let’s do it.

Poor honey. Let’s see where it all began. “What do you mean? In Kapilavastu?” Ya!
Alrighty then.

Where going?
A little exhausted, after much deep thought and contemplation, I decided to enter the Alfa.
Big unusual.
The first thing the hungry ghost of Melbourne said to me, as we entered the Burnley Tunnel, was
“UGH, your car, the little red Alfa, just farted.”
My reply was, ” You bogon reality you, that was your lie to the community. Your unhappy understanding of a self is the true fart to all sentient understandings. Anything to bring the truth of this perfect reality unstuck, of the Three Jewels, the inner peace and freedom.”
How does the hungry ghost mind of a preta actually work?
First, it’s sees perfection and abandons it, out of lust, jealousy, hatred and desire. This is all based on it’s gross misconception of a self, of an inherently existent I and mine. It calls development non-virtue, ordinary and suffering. It can’t stand happiness. It rejects, it rallies against it, and it demonises all aspects and understandings of peace.

Now what doing? All routes out of Melbourne are jammed with cars. No-one is moving anywhere, anyhow. Look North and there is suffering. Look West and it’s just the same. Road blocks and stupidity everywhere. New buildings clogging the highways and city with no windows, no windows, and of course, just the reality of suffering. Aren’t you paying any attention at all? This is a concrete jail of misery. Big Brother is rubbish and a Brave New World was George Orwell’s warning. What doing Animal Farm? Ya! Why can’t you understand the reality of inner and outer perfection? Your desires are demons, not happiness. And certainly not freedom. Just the reality of a lack of inner peace. A constant distraction, anxiety and nervous tension. Turn around to the South and there is a small opportunity for escape. Now what doing? You created this.

One hour later, through recognition of the true devil, the obnoxious, hateful and self grasping, self cherishing mind and we have a champagne from Tasmania on hand and a basket full of hot chips. The virtues of a Buddha always win. The hungry ghost is in reality just a tatter of happiness. Don’t listen to the bullshit of false understanding. The real news comes from the Three Jewels and those mothers and fathers who genuinely value happiness, liberation and enlightenment as the only true value to aspire to.

Copyright © Bodhi Gyatso 2015

Goodness Me

art, Buddhism, Life Writing, Love and Compassion, Medicine

How do you prove to someone that you love them?

I guess you need to show them the way. However.

It’s a bit tricky. Mostly people think, what the fuck do you want? You’re not going to rob me, are you? What are you doing here? I’ve had enough. Go away.

Gee, from my experience, that’s not too happy, or friendly.

Dear Merlin, maybe grow up.

Yeahyah, I mean grow up. What would I be doing here without you????

No I’m not really canvassing disciples, I am trying to teach you I’m worth it. Ho hum, what does that mean?

Goodness me, I’m lost, No Vanessa isn’t lost, she is worthwhile, but you deal a mean deal. Why sack me? Apparently, the company didn’t like the romance, or was it something truly worthwhile? Either way, I win. Do I really? When are you going to come onboard? Now would be good for all of us.

A little lesson on renunciation here is to learn to give up completely. Maybe, as I have often stated, the worldly mind is always the enemy to true consultation.

Hmmm, maybe I am for real after all. So thanks, why not give me a ring?

 

 

 

 

 

The One – the Lover and the Best Friend

Freedom, Happiness, Life, Life Writing, Love and Compassion, Philosophy, Writing
#Actors Michael Pena and Yari De Leon after #T...

Image by joykennelly via Flickr

I saw a movie in this week. Three times. It’s called The Lincoln Lawyer. It struck some deep notes.

In samsara, when you meet beauty, when you meet true love, things can go awry. This is a story about a young man, a wonderful young man, not rich, but with genuine qualities who meets The One. One night in bar they meet. The sparks fly. He recognizes her beauty instantly and values it. She finds him sexy and drops her price. The chemistry is there. The future awaits.

As samsara would have it, a jealous, uncreative and corrupt man looks on. Seething with rage and hatred, he makes the determination to ruin it all. Unbeknownst to the lovers, he lies in wait, cultivating his evil motivation. In circumstances where sex and love are involved, evil watches on close by.

I suppose why this movie hit such a deep note is because I can draw so many parallels with events that have taken place in my own life. This movie focused upon a deep psychology, a psychology common to samsara, however this subject lies in a field of vision the ordinary person most often doesn’t recognize. The rich lay idly complacent, and the poor, wholesome ones unfortunately get lost in their naiveté and innocence.

When a common, uncreative and flawed ordinary being witnesses the play of true love and wisdom, their mind begins to spin out of control. Unable to contain their hatred, jealousy, fear and competitiveness, the wretched determine a plan that attempts to undermine such love and innocence and does its best to make the whole system fail. This of course will only further prolong the suffering of all concerned, but the evil mind never pays heed to that. Too ignorant to fathom the true depth of the consequences of an evil act, the uncreative mind is unrelenting in its inability to face up to the shallow nature of its own focus.

When you see others succeed, when you witness true love, don’t try to destroy it and take it away. Rejoice and recognize that by supporting such a rare event you create the causes for your own future happiness and success. Anything else is but a folly and a play of the unoriginal.

 

Copyright © Vanessa Anne Walsh 2011

Letting Go – The Path to Liberation

Buddhism, Happiness, Health, Life, Life Writing, Philosophy, Writing

Buddhist saint and yogi - Padmasambhava

Recently I found myself a little disappointed over a turn of events. I analyzed the situation thoroughly, but still I could not reach a state of peace and relief in my mind. I spoke to a dear friend, and his response was, “well, just let it go.”

The impact of this statement was immediate. No sooner than those words passed through his lips, but a soft, balmy calm filtered through my mind, easing the anguish and frustration and reminding me of just how effective this technique of letting go of all one’s worries can be. There is no limit to what one may let go of. One can let go of anger, hurt, frustration, and most importantly, fear. The list of positive and negative emotions one can detach from is endless. One can let go of happiness, pleasure, pain and anxiety. When one does drop the emotion or thought from one’s mind, peace has an opportunity to take hold and flourish. Without the ability to let go and detach from one’s feelings and experiences, one remains locked in a prison, unable to escape the relentless torrent of samsaric emotions and fears ordinary beings remain afflicted by.

So how does one learn to let go?

Firstly, one can view the thought or emotion as though it were similar to an object one is holding in the palm of one’s hand, like a pen for example. Just as one can tip the hand and allow the pen to drop to the floor, so too can one take the thought, emotion or mental or physical experience and attempt to drop it from one’s mental perspective and continuum. Just drop the thought. Let it go and allow oneself to experience the freedom that arises when that thought is no longer dominating one’s mental processes.

Another even more powerful way, in my view, is to try to locate the heart of the emotion or fear. To ask oneself where is this fear located? Is it in one’s chest or stomach, one’s heart, or solar plexus? When one finds the source of one’s pain, one can attempt to ascertain its essence. Where is its heart? The more one searches for the essence of this feeling or emotion, the more difficult it becomes to find. As one begins to discover even the most painful and uncomfortable of emotions that one begins with having a tight hold over one’s experience, will undoubtedly dissolve and disappear altogether through the power of such analysis. What was once paralyzing becomes difficult to distinguish before evaporating altogether. This is a clear wisdom path to liberation whose method could hardly be simpler to describe, practice and integrate into one’s life.

The third way of letting go is to ask oneself firstly if one could welcome rather than resist the experience. Then when one has welcomed the pain, suffering, happiness or fear, one can then attempt to let it all go by means of one of the two methods explained above. One of the primary reasons we suffer when encountering unwanted situations is that our immediate reaction becomes one of resistance as soon as we meet with something we do not like. By welcoming the difficulty, we begin to disable the resistance, which is one of the causes of our suffering. We misinterpret the event and fight to protect ourselves from having to endure the discomfort or pain. So next time you are encountering an unwanted event or emotion, ask yourself first if you could welcome the experience and then try letting go of the emotion, dislike or hatred before it takes a grip over your mind.

My experience is that letting go has a tremendously liberating effect, to the point where one can disempower the negative associations and qualities surrounding just about every unwanted mental or physical event.

The source of this teaching comes from a scripture by the Buddhist saint Padmasambhava – Pointing a Stick at the Old Man.

More recently, in the modern era, Lester Levenson taught this practice of letting go, as have other well known Buddhist masters.

 

Copyright © Vanessa Anne Walsh 2011