Tuesday, 16 August 2016

It is not the fault of the pants!

One of the ace moments of this holidays was when I was being closely observed by two small grandchildren as I got dressed in the morning.  One said, "Granny, those pants are too small for you!" and the other one agreed.  Of course, I blamed the pants and put the responsibility for the smallness of the smalls onto the pants as if they somehow had shrunk without asking permission.  Anyway, pants don't have minds, they just are pants.  These pants have lived with me for a long time, I am not minded to buy new ones very often so they aren't creatures of great beauty, they are just ordinary old marks and spencer pants, circa 2000.  But how can you blame pants for getting small when it is really rather clear that it is the Granny who has got larger! Just quietly and persistently larger in a few specific areas and the part of the Granny which the pants are meant to cover is amongst those larger parts of her. (actually ME!).

What plans do I have you may wonder to amend the situation?  Well, those grandchildren have gone back to their new abroad home and I have a little time to decide if I am going to move to the larger pants shelf or to the smaller Granny project.  I maintain that Grannies are meant to be quite well covered although I have seen some very glamorous slinky Grannies about.  The other thing is that there won't be any observers of my getting dressed for a while.  There will only be Grandpa to take any notice and I really don't think he minds either way.  Besides for which, some of his pants would fail the close inspection of a fashionista as well.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Can the Buddha come too?

Grace, I asked Granny when she was meditating if I could come back to Singapore with you.  As you know, I don't say much, and actually I don't say anything out loud at all but I can communicate directly to the meditating Granny by magic.  She has to be still and then I zoom the thought into her heart.  You see, I come from the East and I have been here rather longer than many others like me.  If you look at my back which isn't my best side, you will see that I was once part  of something else.  Maybe an altar or a special piece of furniture.  I have sat in people's houses for many years and your Granny's house is the first house that anyone has really known what I was there for.  I am there to remind people of the stillness which is inside them. 

I can tell you that my heart leapt with joy when you came in and found it so easy to be still.  So, I thought that as I would like to go back and see what it is like in the far East part of the world and you might like someone to sit in your room to remind you of stillness, that I would ask if I could be packed in your suitcase.  She said that I could be a birthday present to you.  Maybe a part of a birthday present because girls of 7 which is what you are about to be really want something else to keep the busy part of them happy.  She, the Granny is off to Cambridge today to find you something and to find a box for me to travel in but I am just hoping that you will be pleased to take me to join you and your sister.  Could you also be very kind and maybe take a photograph to send back to them?  

And by the way, it is usual to have a Buddha in a special place in your room, to make a corner especially for Him to be with maybe a little vase for a flower or a candle.  Do you think you could ask you Mum and Dad for me if that would be in order?  And tell them that I will bring blessings on their house.  You can ask them to join you being still, see if they are as good at it as you.  And of course, make sure that your sister knows that I am there for her as well whenever she needs to leave her worries and be still with me.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

A meditation on the appearance of things

 We gave the Helen hen an honourable burial because we felt that she was an honourable hen and deserved a good send off.  The grandchildren picked flowers and put them on her newly dug grave.  We all hoped that she had winged off not just to hen heaven but to a far better life next time round.
ancient Greek feet

my modern foot
It gives pause for thought and I look round this house which is quite old, older than I am and a house which has been lived in by two generations of this family.  It looks quite old!! and I wonder who will ever clear it up after we two old things shift off our mortal coil or move to "sheltered accommodation".  Most of all, I am struck by the fact that what appears old is actually not really old at all.  Maybe the oldest things are 200 years old but in the bigger picture of time, that is just a moment.  So, what is the house trying to show me and what am I using it for to show others.  Somewhere underlying the thingness of things, there is a sound of family, a sound of familiarity, a sound of tradition.  The games the children and grandchildren are playing were played by my parents, the flowers from the garden are in vases used by my mother in law and the flowers might have been planted in the flowerbeds when she was here.  The Church bells ring on a Monday night, like clockwork the church bell climb up the bell tower, winter and summer at 7.00 pm, after tea and pull the ropes with their funny wooly hand holds and we all stop what we are doing as they peal out across the flatlands of Cambridgeshire.  
All grandparents look both back and forwards, back to their own pasts and what seemed good, and forward with a mixture of admiration for the new ways, and concern that the things which have held families, societies and nations together for certainly centuries, might be eroded by modern thinking.  Then I think, this is all cyclical, it comes round and round and the things which really matter aren't in bookcases, or in the drawers of old bureaus, they are the ancient truths which live in all our hearts waiting to be brought out and considered freshly.  
A very old chapel with today's sun shining in

Sunday, 31 July 2016

murder, mayhem and meditation, all in a day's work

children and dogs go well together!
The first murder was at 5.30 am!!! It was a rabbit thinking it was safe when 3 large dogs found it.  It was in rabbit heaven shortly afterwards and its remains were ...well I won't tell you where they went or how they reappeared shortly afterwards!  The second murder was a particularly horrid one.  Helen, the bullied hen couldn't take it any longer and although separated from the beastly Rob Titchener cockerel, was so under his spell that she couldn't resist one last kiss and he sat on her good and hard and although rescued by the by now despairing Granny, given rescue remedy and put back in the hen hospital, breathed one last sigh with his name on her lips (beak but lips and last sigh are poetic licence) and went to the hen heaven.   
Meditation with Grace was a bit jumpy but my goodness after dealing with all that murder and its aftermath, it was a fairly short break in what had started as a rather violent war zone Sunday morning.
murderer's profile
buddha again
Of course, then on the long dog walk, the conversation went from rabbits and hens to past generations of the family who had once upon a time walked the same walk.  Willa skipped ahead, not that interested in the philosophy of rebirth but Grace, ever eager and with ears open for any nugget of distraction, cartwheeled her way along the path beside me and my philosophical friend Peter.  We carelessly perhaps remarked on how difficult it now is for our bodies to do cartwheels or stand on our heads but how easy it still is in our minds.  I, for one, was a very good stander on my head and quite good at handstands but now I am a watcher of the same activities by her.  So, when the chat moved on to where people we had known had winged off to, I suggested that the real part of you, the bit which lives in your inside and which is represented by the Buddha in the summerhouse doesn't change when the body changes into its different stages.   It enjoys itself in the young body, it watches out from an older body and then when the body gets too old to go on, it departs to wherever it departs to and if it really wants to come back, it gets a chance to choose where to go and who to go to.  There are no mistakes made here, you get exactly what you have wanted so that is why it is best to decide what you do want next when you can!

Thursday, 28 July 2016

domestic abuse at Granny's house!!!! The Titchener Tale

Rob and Helen 
If you listen to the Archers (as I do at the moment) you may be up to speed on what I call the Titchener tale.  A dark tale of domestic abuse of a particular kind!!! The bad boy is Rob Titchener  who managed  to ingratiate himself with everyone in Ambridge, the home of the Archers. He manipulating Helen into believing that she should do just what he said and made sure that she couldn't see her friends or family.  She became a almost a prisoner in her own home.  When Helen finally tried to leaveshe somehow managed to stab Rob with a knife he had just given her!!!! It  was in defence of her son Henry but she doesn't remember that yet.  It doesn't really sound believable does it (and of course it is just a story) but I have seen something similar happening here within my own household!  My two new hens, a cockerel and a hen, both very smart chicks, Buff-Orpingtons no less fell into the same pattern.  The bad boy cockerel bullied the kind golden hen which had to be rescued and put into the hen hospital.  He wouldn't let her move or talk to the other hens at all and when no-one was looking he pushed her head under a log and sat on her.  I had been going to call them Posh and Becks because they were so smart but I have decided to call them Rob and Helen.
not really to be trusted
Grace draws the dogs
This sort of story is one you don't think you'll ever come across in real life do you?  But beware the signs....The bully marginalises the victim and doesn't allow them to see their friends or family but manages to keep up a smiling face to others.  
What we did to reestablish good relations between them was this.  We put the Rob cockerel in with all the hens next door who he had been schmoozing with his charm through the fence and they realised quickly what he was really like and they gave him a really good bashing.  He was so pleased when he was rescued and he has been quite gallant to Helen hen all day, allowing her to eat whatever she likes and to talk to her friends again through the wire fence.  The moral of this story is that the bad person needs to see just how bad they are through the eyes of those they are trying to schmooze into thinking they are perfect!  Watch out Rob Titchener, watch out our golden Rob Buff-Orpington Titchener.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Meditating with the grandchildren

2 girls, 5 dogs, rainy walking
They are here again, 2 small girls for 10 days, full of fun and movement and at the end of a busy year of school and Singapore and travel and being bridesmaids.  Here I am, at the kitchen table, rather pleased that they are out picking blackcurrants and raspberries with Barry.

Meditating at the start of the day is a bit tricky so I decide to wait until we have walked the dogs and had breakfast and got the day underway and then I say..."Look girls, I haven't had a chance to meditate yet and I wonder if you would let me out to my meditation space now to have a little quiet time?"

"Why do you meditate?" say they.  I don't say because otherwise I would be even madder than I am but I just say that "when I go to my meditation hut and meditate, I leave all my worries behind.  Would they like to come too?  Would they like me to show them how to do it?"

Oh yes they would!  So, that is that!  No long meditation for me but perhaps a chance for them to find a space where the hurly burly busyness of everyday can be left behind for a bit.

In the hut there is the bric-a-brac Buddha who presides over the summer house.  He came from a jumble sale and is rather fine.  I introduce him to the girls, they have seen many Buddhas in Cambodia and Vietnam which is close to where they live and they say, they know about meditation, all about meditation.  Well, I say, let's try mine.  So we do!

"The Buddha is telling us about being still" I say, "he is all about stillness and he is telling us that we have a stillness in us too and this is how we find it: we shut our eyes and put our hands on our knees so that our eyes and hands stop moving.  And then we listen, we listen for the smallest sounds there are, first, the birds, then further to the murmur of cars on the faraway road.  Can you hear them?  and can you use your hearing to listen right out beyond the stars and moon and right to the place where the moon is hanging?   And here is a magic word which you can say out loud first, it is Maranatha, you make it into Ma Ra, Na, T(h)a and then you listen to it inside yourself for a bit.

They stayed quite still for 2 minutes and that was that.  They said they liked it and we talked about finding a place where you can put your worries away or just give them to the bric-a-brac buddha.  I come to the conclusion that being still is harder than being busy when there are red currants, blackcurrants, gooseberries and grandchildren all wondering what to do next!

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Granny agrees with Annapoorna, Without me you're pants!

I bet you don't think of the world you live in being filled with another world??? The world of the great beings, the great Gods of mythology are all there even though we can't see them.  We can feel them though and when we think we are being successful or not or being in love or not or feeling jealous or resentful of full of kindness and good will, it is those great godly forces playing around.  You may or not have heard of Annapurna but she has the job of feeding the world.  She is the one who does the growing, the harvesting, the processing, the milk delivery, the fine fine art of the patissier is hers, the work of farmers and agronomists, of chemists and grocers, of wine merchants and jam makers all depends on her.  She does it without asking any return but there is a story which we should take to heart because it shows that if we aren't grateful, even if we don't know who is providing our good living, she can turn her back on us until we learn our manners.  This is the story.

In ancient Hindu tales, Annapurna is the consort of the Lord Shiva.  In a moment of what turned out to be foolishness, Shiva claimed that as the world is illusion, Annapurna's role was really not necessary.  In her female way, and don't you recognise this O women and friends of mine, she got the hump and said the equivalent of get your own dinner then Shiva!  She departed from the world and everything went badly wrong.  Crops failed, food disappeared, people starved and nobody was about to say that this was an illusion.  Shiva had to apologise in order for Annapurna to reappear and the abundance which is hers to reach our larders and fridges.   Can't you imagine the conversation in the heavenly realm when the apology was wrung out of Shiva!!! Now if Annapurna was anything like today's women which maybe she was or wasn't, she would have been muttering under her breath or even out loud.  "you, the all powerful creator of everything we see, would just be pants without me!"