Summary of Life

What can I say that you do not already know? Why should you read this other than to avoid looking at the truth for yourself? Why am I writing this other than to distract myself from the reality of life? Is life too demanding to be faced undiluted? It seems that life is just too hard to be faced and yet is there anything wrong with not facing that which doesn’t need to be faced?

The truth is just that. What is so special about truth, let alone the truth, or any truth and surely one truth will contradict another truth so the truth is not the truth in the end and why should it be? Surely it would be much wiser to seek happiness, or is happiness the truth? The truth is what is born must die and so if one can accept this truth it will not concern oneself. A meditation practice I learnt as a child was on retiring to go to sleep in the evening to review the day and to hand it over to God knowing that one may die in one’s sleep. Some people may not wish to face their mortality but most religious practises are ways of preparing for one’s death. If you are prepared for something you stand a better chance of handling the situation than if you did nothing.

Having said the above, life is about living and to get too concerned about death or the afterlife is to miss this life. Have fun and make plans for your future and remember that today could be your last day on earth so don’t take it too seriously.

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Blind Pass the Pencil

A new concept of Pass the Pencil. Blind or eyes closed. The above was done with Peter Fleming in the Watchmaker Pub, eyes closed, as is the one below. Bored with the predictability of our previous works we tried closing our eyes!

Learning W. E. Henley’s Invictus

Out of the night that covers me

I have recently been accepted as a volunteer for The Reader charity and so have developed a renewed interest in poetry and literature. In the past I have written poetry without following any structure and have judged whether it worked or not by trial and error. I now realise there is more to poetry than just pleasing words. Not only is there rhyme but there is rhythm and metre, similar to music. To really appreciate poetry it needs to be read aloud. I have been reading about how to improve memory, particularly through imagery and the above picture is a cheat sheet for me to remember WE Henley’s poem Invictus! With time and practise I will be able to perform it without the sheet. Life is good!

An excerpt from Poems and Pen Drawings

A Buddhist Carol

Beyond enlightenment

There is no quest.

Beyond enlightenment

There is no goal.

Beyond enlightenment

Nirvana is illusion.

Beyond enlightenment

Suffering is unfounded.

Beyond enlightenment

Nothing matters

And beyond enlightenment words are just sounds

And sounds are without meaning

In a never ending universe

Where Buddha and Christ shake hands

Bearing gifts of love and contentment

Beneath the trees of eternity

Far beyond the Christmas season.

A Sample of my Earlier Writings

It’s Just a Cup of Coffee, Man!

I notice the cup of coffee. It is earthenware and robust. It reminds me of my geography exam and the unorthodox crazy wisdom of my fourth grade biology teacher. Tensions ran high and there was much confusion in my teenage years. Passion marred by miscommunication, misunderstanding and melancholy led to a less than happy existence.

It was only a cup of coffee. My first and my last for a long time, although now I am a regular caffeine addict. How can a cup of coffee tell so much? Betrayal and empty promises of prowess and power lay within that bean so expertly blended and brewed. Where did it all lead? Could I ever go back? The answer is no and this is the reality of my circumstances. My brain has been rewired with that first fateful swig of the black foul smelling hot liquid that resided in an innocent unsuspecting beverage about to deliver a heavy dose of anxiety just before my geography exam. Promises of heightened concentration and clear thinking gave way to the jitters and an inability to relax. I performed under par even though I passed the exam. I could have done better.

But that was then and this is now. Today I drink coffee regularly, although I avoid the filter variety (still too anxiety invoking to imbibe) in and out of season and at any hour, day or night with little side effects. It’s a small addiction I don’t wish to abandon.

Alan Swift

A Sample of Brother Ignatius

Here’s a sample from my short story, Brother Ignatius:

Brother Ignatius Part 1

“What can you concentrate on that is not an image?” challenged Brother Ignatius, probing the depths of my soul with his penetrating gaze. I had travelled little more than a mile or two to this undiscovered sanctuary, passing it by for years with little more than a casual glance as I continued on my way.
During my adolescence I searched for ‘The Truth’ with a capital T in distant lands and exotic religions, so it came as a surprise to me when I first discovered the ‘Inner Ring’ as I fondly called them. Not much to look at, you probably wouldn’t recognise them simply because of their everydayness they possessed. Down to earth and practical in all situations and always willing to listen and lend a hand.
“What can you concentrate upon that is not an image?” Brother Ignatius’ words played about in my mind. Many moons and seasons had passed since I first ventured into the realms of meditation.
After several attempts upon my own I came to a priest of the Soto Zen school. Full of pride I thought I already had the answers, as it all seemed so obvious that I only trod the path a year later. In the meantime I’d travelled along the winding road of Hinduism which relied heavily on images and despised ‘voidism’ which the devotees I encountered claimed Buddhism taught. All things work for the good and when I returned to Reverend Dogen with an open heart I learnt much. I remember my first steps in meditation with Reverend Dogen. “Images will come and images will go,” he said. “Try not to cling to images neither push them away!” He was like a father to me and more. The truth he taught I discovered was universal, unbounded by creed and dogma, fluid and unfixed, free to those who sought it, provided they made the effort.