Nights in the Moon Lily Garden – Chapter Two

Written by Vanessa Anne Walsh

red rattler train 1980's melbourne
Image of a train similar to the one I would travel to school on.

Please Be Careful

Three days passed painfully slowly, with no news from Mum. Then, just as I was about to leave for school one morning, a taxi pulled up outside. I rushed out to see if it was Mum. As I reached the street, I watched mother slowly and with a great deal of effort climb out of the cab. I found it difficult to hide the sense of shock I felt as I noted her frail and aged appearance. Her lily-white face could not hide the deep, dark rings under her eyes, and as she looked up, I noted that the lid over her left eye was partially shut. She barely acknowledged me as she paid the cab driver and when she finally turned to face me, her mouth was drawn tightly closed, emphasizing her haggard appearance.

“Mum,” I cried, at once thrilled to see her, and devastated by how sickly and aged she looked. “Let me help you with your bags.” I said rushing forward to give her a hug; however she didn’t even raise her arms to return the embrace. We walked slowly inside without talking, before I settled her in the living room and offered her a cup of tea.

I found it difficult to stop staring at her face in disbelief and amazement. It was as though she had aged twenty years since I last saw her. I wanted to ask her about her trip, but it was heartbreakingly obvious something terrible had gone wrong. Not wanting to overwhelm her with questions, I sat beside her, holding her hand. Disturbingly, she just sat in silence. Together we sat, not saying anything, for about half an hour. At some point Dad entered the room; however neither mother nor father spoke a word to each other. I felt my heart sink. The atmosphere immediately intensified as Dad marched through the room, as if he was checking to see what Mum was saying, rather than looking after her state of health. Inside, I could feel myself beginning to seethe as my chest tightened with anxiety.

After a while, Dad left the room, and not able to restrain myself any longer, I leaned forward, looking intently into my mother’s eyes. “Mum, what happened,” I whispered. “I have been trying to find you, but Dad wouldn’t tell me where you were.”

With her eyes cast downward, and unable to meet my gaze, mother murmured in a tone that was barely audible, “As I was leaving the hotel in Singapore, I suffered a brain aneurism and collapsed. I was taken to hospital and that is where I have been the past few days. They told me I shouldn’t fly, however I was worried about you and Lucy and felt I had to get home.”

“That’s awful Mum. I’m so sorry.” I paused for a moment before asking, “Do we need to take you to hospital now that you are back?”

“No dear, I’ll be seeing my doctor in a few days. For now I just need to get some rest,” she replied in a voice barely above a whisper.

I squeezed her hand. “How was Canada Mum? Were you sick there as well?”

Immediately, Mum’s face froze over with an icy stare. She just sat, dazed and in silence. Horrified by the change in her expression, I offered to help her settle in bed, but she refused to allow me to assist her any further.

“Don’t you have to be at school?” she said, looking around to check the time.

“Mum, if you are sick and need help, I can stay home today,” I said. “I am so worried about you. You look so frail, as though you are about to pass out.”

Again, her face froze, gaunt and lifeless. “I’ll be alright,” she replied coldly. “You get back to your studies. You have exams coming up soon. It’s important to me that you do well.” Finding it difficult even to contemplate my school work at this time, I reluctantly got up and agreed to catch the next train to school. “Is there anyone you want me to ring, to come and look after you while I’m away,” I asked, as I picked up my school bag. “What about one of your friends?”

“No,” was the short reply. “Go to school Oceané. I will see you this afternoon.”

Upset by the lack of emotion and affection I was used to receiving from my mother, and horrified by her ghostly and frail appearance, I walked quietly out the door. Instead of feeling relief that she had made it home safely, my concerns and worries had only increased. She was all I could think about as I gazed out of the dirty window as the train sped towards the city.

Copyright © Vanessa Anne Walsh 2019

 

 

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Key events of 1985

In this release

January

1 – The first British mobile phone call is made

7 – Nine striking miners are jailed for arson

23 – A debate in the House of Lords is televised for the first time

29 – Margaret Thatcher becomes the first post-war Prime Minister to be refused an honorary degree by Oxford University

February

16 – Civil servant Clive Ponting resigns from MoD after acquittal of breaching the Official Secrets Act for leaking documents relating to the sinking of General Belgrano during the Falklands War

20 – Margaret Thatcher visits Washington DC

25 – Nearly 4,000 striking miners go back to work, leaving just over half of the miners on strike

March

3 – The miners’ strike ends after one year

7 – Two IRA members are jailed for 35 years for bombing campaign across London during 1981

11 – Mohammed Al Fayed buys the London-based department store company Harrods

13 – Rioting breaks out at the FA Cup quarter-final between Luton Town and Millwall at Kenilworth Road, Luton; hundreds of hooligans invade the pitch

16 – Terry Anderson, chief Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press, seized and held in Lebanon Hostage Crisis

April

30 – Bernie Grant becomes the first black council leader for London Borough of Haringey

May

11 – Bradford City stadium fire, killing 56 and injuring at least 265

16 – Scientists of the British Antarctic Survey discover the ozone hole

31 – The Football Association bans all English football clubs from playing in Europe in response to the Heysel riots. Thatcher supports the ban and calls for judges to hand out stiffer sentences

June

1 – Battle of the Beanfield, Britain’s largest mass arrest which ended Stonehenge Free Festivals

6 – Birmingham unveils bid to host 1992 Summer Olympics and plans for new £66 million stadium

29 – Patrick Magee is charged with the murder of the people who died in the Brighton bombing

July

13 – Live Aid concerts in London and Philadelphia raise over £50m for famine relief in Ethiopia

August

22 – Manchester air disaster – 55 people are killed when Boeing 737 burst into flames

September

9 – Rioting, mostly motivated by racial tensions, breaks out in the Handsworth area of Birmingham

28 – A riot in Brixton erupts after accidental shooting of a woman by police

October

1 – Neil Kinnock makes a speech at the Labour Party Conference attacking the entryist militant group in Liverpool

November

1 – The Queen Mother commissions aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal

9 – The Prince and Princess of Wales arrive in USA to visit Ronald Reagan in Washington DC

15 – Anglo-Irish Agreement signed at Hillsborough Castle. Treasury Minister Ian Gow resigns in protest at the deal

22 – Mrs Thatcher is urged by her MPs to call a general election for June 1987, despite the deadline not being until June 1988

27 – Neil Kinnock suspends Liverpool District Labour Party amid allegations that the Trotskyist militant group was attempting to control it

28 – Gerard Hoarau, exiled political leader from the Seychelles, assassinated in London

December

25 – Charitable organisation Comic Relief is launched

Tags: 1985, events, file release

 

A review of Monday 7 June 2004

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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Honey Bun on the Run

img_0692

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

The Buddha’s Begging Bowl

Four Sights of Birth, Aging, Sickness and Death

The word ‘diet’ has several different meanings. The Collins Dictionary defines it to be ‘the food and drink one regularly consumes’. An alternative to that is the definition given in A Kind Diet, which states that diet is “a way of living, or thinking, a day’s journey.”

The time we spend on shopping for food, planning our meals, thinking about what it is we like and do not like to eat and what adhere’s to the medical profession’s recommendations surrounding the subject of diet is indeed considerable. We spend many of our waking hours working out this basic survival function and the money that goes towards keeping this human body of ours in good shape and healthy is enormous. Having thought about that, and briefly looked into some popular diet trends that are heavily advertised on local media, I thought to divert away from the consumerist approach to food for a moment and consider the Buddha‘s teaching on non-attachment.

One symbol the Buddha employed as a means to convey his teaching on non-attachment was the use of an alms or begging bowl. Alms are charitable donations of money or goods to the poor or needy, yet the Buddha was neither of these things, so why bother with the use of a begging bowl? The alms bowl is considered to be symbol of the monastic life or life of a renunciate, and an aid to the life of the holy and those interested in seeking the truth. Once made from clay, which broke easily, the bowls were then forged with iron for added durability.

Specifically, the alms bowl refers to the time in the Buddha’s life just before he attained enlightenment, when a young girl, named Sujata offered the Buddha a bowl of milk rice. Although the Buddha was practicing the austerity of eating only a little food at the time, he realised that to achieve the final stages of enlightenment, he would need to partake of the offering of rice from Sujuta. After partaking of the meal, one tradition states that the Buddha then threw away the small amount of food left in that bowl to symbolise the Buddha’s complete non-attachment to material possessions. Another legend tells the story that the Buddha threw away the begging bowl itself into the river to symbolise the mind of non-attachment.

The point of all this is to question the validity, or lack thereof, of the attached state of mind itself. The mind of attachment is traditionally explained in Buddhist philosophy to be a mind that exaggerates the good qualities of an object and ignores it’s perhaps less apparent flaws. One apparent flaw in all objects of this world is their impermanent nature. Of the Four Seals of Buddhism, the first is that all compounded phenomena are suffering. The second is that all contaminated objects are impermanent. At Daily Buddhism, stained or contaminated actions are explained as follows;

The use of the word stained or contaminated refers to actions, emotions or thoughts that are stained by selfish attachment, or by hatred, greed or ignorance.

When we are motivated by an attached state of mind, and cling onto material possessions, relationships or even ideas, we fail to recognise the objects intransigent and impermanent nature. That does not mean to say that we are not in need of food and other such things to ensure our survival and good health. It does indicate however, that having a more open and loving outlook towards other beings is more important. Given the violent nature of our human history and past, the gross lack of regard for the lives of others and destruction of the environment and other species, it is most definitely time to act to lighten our environmental footprint and reduce our grasping towards the status symbols of the wealthy. Instead of spending big bucks on expensive living and chasing the latest fad or diet trend, I suggest that there is much more happiness and satisfaction to be gained and maintained from living a more moderate and simple lifestyle with a focus more upon ensuring a happy state of mind. If we spent more time ensuring our mind itself is in a positive and peaceful state, through the practice of meditation, this would naturally lead to a more balanced and healthy lifestyle which would not only benefit the practitioner, but others on the planet as well.

I will leave you here with a totally different interpretation of the word diet, from one of the founders of Buddhist literature and Mahayana thought. The great Nargajuna once wrote of the Five Diets being;

The Diet of Concentration

The Course Diet

The Inner Diet

The Diet of Touch and

The Diet of Volition.

Whilst I am no expert, I would say that the Buddha with his Alms or Begging Bowl is an important symbol of peace, happiness and prosperity to keep in mind as we go about our daily habit of foraging for food, drink and clothing, if in the least to try to minimise our ever-expanding impact on this precious planet.

Copyright © Vanessa Anne Walsh 2011

The One – the Lover and the Best Friend

#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

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