Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Everyday Transcendence

Wonderful paralympic team 2016
If I asked you if you had had a transcendent experience, you might doubt it, you might search for some out of body experience, some deep and profound shift from one consciousness to a state of sublime bliss and not find it there!
The subject of transcendence fascinates me because it seems such a far off and unlikely event in the ordinary way of things.  However, if you look at it in a different way (and especially look at it after the end of those wonderful Paralympic Games) you might get a hint of the possibility of everyday transcendence.  Because if transcendence means to transcend one state of being for another, then surely a person who might think they were disabled but who decides to transcend the condition by taking part in an exacting sport is someone who has transcended the state of disability and risen to the state of athlete.
lovely glass of wine!
In the same way, a person with a headache who goes to work has transcended the state of headache, not accepted the headache as a reason not to go in.  They have transcended state one for state two.  My own state of transcendence is to complete half an hour of meditation and transcend the ideas which beg for attention some of which are completely brilliant and would let me rebuild the house and probably remodel the universe!!! Some of them are the opposite, those ideas tell me what rubbish I am, what a failure and why would anyone like me!  Transcending the second lot is clearly desirable, transcending the great and glorious ones takes a bit more effort.
You have to make sure that the lovely supper or the glass of wine aren't going to win the day because     somewhere deep in your consciousness, you know that they are a passing thing and you are trying to build up a capital of remembering the transcendent reality of your own soul. You have to have the discipline of an athlete, an everyday build up of strength to be able to transcend the idea that you are just a body with a small mind inside it bound to your name and your nationality, your status and your age.  It has to be worth it doesn't it. Plus you can have the glass of wine when you have finished especially if you haven't let it cross your mind during your meditation!

Saturday, 10 September 2016

The real Titchener tale at Granny's house

Before the end, it all seemed perfect
A hot debate between Grandpas
Are you gripped by the current Archers story of domestic abuse?  I am addicted to it and have to creep off at 7.00 pm to listen by myself because there is a debate in our house about what the real issue is.  I am all for Helen but Grandpa thinks that it is a feminist plot and that someone should write a script with an abusive female.  Maybe Clary  Grundy abusing Ed, and never allowing him to go to the pub or to see his mates or his old Dad! Or maybe Linda Snell terrorising Robert and excluding his family!
You may be wanting to know what happened to our own feathered Rob Titchener, he of the Buff-Orpington family who cruelly dispatched his Helen by constant hidden bullying.  We kept him in isolation for a while but watched over by the flock of hens, all female, who had witnessed the terrible bullying of Helen and were just waiting for their chance to see justice being done.  Actually, it wasn't justice, it was revenge and he, a lone male, possibly repentant and alone, was set on by the whole other 10 hens and found by one of us, dead as dead.  This may possibly indicate that Grandpa has a point and although Rob Titchener is clearly a bad man, the feminine creature is also pretty fearsome when she thinks she is right.  All that being said, I hope that Helen is out of that prison by the end of tomorrow's marathon listen and I hope that Grandpa doesn't come in and disturb me while I listen, gripped,  as if it were really happening.

Multi-purpose Granny app

Grandchildren
Clearly being a Granny is only a small part of who anyone might be,  In fact, Granniedom is only real when you are thinking of, being with, preparing for or considering the welfare of those who come into your own particular Granniedom.  So, this has been an interesting summer for us to watch the size of the Granniedom.

What is it is that sets a grandparent in motion.  What I have noticed, especially as some of the grandchildren live abroad and the others are far away is that when they are expected, Grandpa gets the croquet out, the tractor comes out of the shed, he goes down to his cellar and brings up special drinks for the parents of the grandchildren and he and I set about making family favourite foods: prawn cocktail, fish pie and steak and kidney pudding (not my bag!).  They come, they go, it all rushes by with friends and festivities and we change gear.

Dogs
Grandchildren's shoes
But of course, it doesn't end there, there is the Skype connector, the WhatsApp Group, the plans to visit again all set against a backdrop of something else.  I am going to tell you what it is just in case you far away grandchild are out there listening.  It is set against a background of love, not sloppy sentimental love, but deep profound and continuous love.  Apart from anything else about it, it isn't our love, we just get to participate in it as grandparents but also as dog owners, gardeners, Olympic gymnasts, Aid workers, brides and grooms, mothers and fathers, lovers, young and old, we all just get a dollop of love from a great big bowl of love.  This love isn't pink or blue or coloured in anyway, it simply is what exists.

When you get a chance to be quiet and still and you tune in to that love especially if you need it or you have someone in your life who you are concerned about, you know it is real.  When you turn away from it, it doesn't ever turn away from you.  Apart from anything else, it can't.  It is all there is.  So, when I don't see you dear children and grandchildren, I can leave my particular individual Granny and Grandpadom and all its pairing of socks and preparing of meals and meet it in meditation.  It is a discipline to do this twice a day every day and of course sometimes the socks take precedence. During this summer when there have been an unusual number of dramatic moments and people (and the Butty dog) to really care for, meditating has been for real and the reality of unmoving love surrounding all of us is really and truly there.

One who knows

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!