Thoughts, Words and Deeds …

Hypocrisy is the state of pretending to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that one does not actually have.

I think hypocrisy makes everyone’s blood boil sometimes. We hear a statement, and know truly that actions do not match. If it’s a subject we care about, we react. I guess people often don’t realise what they are saying, or agreeing to etc, nor see that what they do contradicts their recent words. These last few weeks, I have been feeling a little ill over the word hypocrisy. I have been discovering and, hopefully reducing, the hypocrisy in my own life by changing some simple choices I make everyday. The evidence of my thought – deed train wreck can be found in my closet, bathroom and laundry cupboards and fridge. Items that I bought and use or consume, that contradict my beliefs, or at least, what I say I believe and hold dear.

This blog is about my recent personal journey so far. It is not a judgment or a denouncement of anyone else.

Everyone who knows me, knows I am an animal person. Always have been. Puppies, kittens, guinea pigs, anything I can pet at the zoo. Recently though I have realised that my cute animal prejudices stink of hypocrisy. I love kittens and puppies, but have bought products tested on fluffy rabbits. Open wounds, month after month, burning raw flesh until the animal dies in a lab somewhere – so I can wear makeup. Even saying fluffy rabbits, shows a prejudice that possibly it’s more cruel than the same treatment on rats. I had beauty products distributed by companies that support vivisection. Recently three top beauty companies resumed cruel testing in response to China’s tantrums. And it’s not just about beauty – washing powder, deoderant and cleaning products are often tested on animals too. In my fridge is food that contributes to animal misery across Australia. Food that is not good for me as a human being anyway, that does not contribute to my health and wellbeing. It feels like a sick, dark part of my soul. A stain on my life that I have these things.

Another thing that has occurred to me is just how self-destructive my hypocrisy is.
“Your health is bound to be affected if, day after day, you say the opposite of what you feel, if you grovel before what you dislike… Our nervous system isn’t just fiction, it’s part of our physical body, and it can’t be forever violated with impunity.” Yurii from Doctor Zhivago,

And this self-destruction of both my body and soul, violates everything I should be striving for. Through meditation on four lines from The Bodhisattva Vow I am realising how serious my actions are.

With a wish to free all beings
I shall always go for refuge
To the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha,
Until I reach full enlightenment.
Enthused by wisdom and compassion,
today in the Buddhas’ presence I generate
the Mind for Full Awakening
For the benefit of all sentient beings.
As long as space remains,
As long as sentient beings remain,
Until then, may I too remain
And dispel the miseries of the world.

I believe I am taking part in harming other sentient beings.
Bringing pain and suffering to their precious life.

What the hell? So I can eat ice cream, chocolate, have nice smelling shampoo and trendy deoderant. Because I am too lazy to make my own cleaning products. Because I don’t think enough and feel enough about the things I know to be true.

This is not a rant about animal rights, but the rights of all beings to be happy and free from suffering. The Buddha ate meat as long as it was not intentionally killed for his consumption. An article I read recently on Bhante Sujato’s blog takes this statement by the Buddha

“Having abandoned the taking of life, refraining from the taking of life, one dwells without violence, with the knife laid down, scrupulous, full of mercy, trembling with compassion for all sentient beings.”

further by saying “This is not just an ethic of allow-ability. It doesn’t merely set a minimum standard. It calls us out, asking us to aspire to a higher sense of compassion, an ethic that deeply feels for the welfare of all beings. More than just asking, ‘Does this act come from an intention to harm’, we ask ourselves, ‘Is this act the best I can possibly do to promote the welfare of all?’ Rather than simply escaping bad karma, we create good karma.

“All” and I struggle to write this, refers then to those who carry out the cruelty toward other beings. In meditating on “freeing all beings and dispelling the misery in the world” I have to have compassion for those who hurt, maim and kill in the name of science, food and human ego. I cannot make any value distinction between beings. Those that hurt, hurt too. Bullies aren’t happy and I am sure the recently sacked local abattoirs workers aren’t either. The case for Innocent and Guilty aside, they are all beings of immense value. For the benefit of all, means ALL.

I don’t expect my personal choices to change much about “backbone of Australia” industries. It’s not my point. But I do expect to feel less burdened, better physically, spiritually and emotionally due directly to my consumer choices and reducing my soul train-wreck. I do expect to reduce the destructive footprint my life has on earth, and the karma and energy I both attract and release. Through education, actions and daily intention to be less ignorant than I am now, I can again say The Bodhisattva Vows without the horrible feelings inside that I am kidding myself.

I am sure this is a lifetime journey, and again and again, it’s about knowing myself and being able to love myself. I am truly not the person I act like sometimes, otherwise I wouldn’t get that telltale sick feeling. But if I don’t love who I really am, then I won’t act like I really am. Self love releases the soul and in return it’s freedom smothers you with wisdom and true compassion. Hypocrisy, lies and deceit cannot exist. To know fully that your thoughts and actions are indeed “for the benefit of all beings” is a place I want to be. Everyday.

This is my amended Vow:-
With a wish to free ALL beings from cruelty and suffering
I shall always go for refuge
To the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha,
Until I reach full enlightenment.
Freed from my ignorance by education,
and actively practicing my compassion for ALL beings,

today in the Buddhas’ presence I generate
the Mind for Full Awakening
For the benefit of ALL sentient beings, those that harm and are harmed.
As long as space remains,
As long as sentient beings remain,
Until then, may I too remain
May my everyday actions dispel the miseries of the world.



Pain : The Gift Nobody Wants

Tonight I can’t rest on either shoulder. Up and out of bed to sit. But to what end? Tonight I am going have a chat with myself, to ask the pain why it’s there, what is it’s purpose.

Strangest conversation I think I have ever had. Indeed I also think Jackson the cat could hear something going on, he hopped off the bed to sit in my lap. And started purring. So armed with candle, incense, cushion and one black cat…

Some thoughts that came to my consciousess :-
– to teach me sympathy and understanding of others
– to make me softer and more loving
– to be grateful for having what really matters in life
– to need to ask for help, to challenge my self-sufficiency
– therefore to bless others when they respond
– to truly understand what pain is – a symptom, a physical warning system that is key to freedom within
– that doing is not living
– that my physical abilities are not needed to define me but my attitudes, inner self, definitions, choice of words, values are
– more understanding of my father who experienced physical pain all his life
– that my experiences have given my mother opportunities to change her belief that feeling pain is a sign of weakness

Some late night reading…
One of my favourite books is “Pain:The Gift That Nobody Wants” by a doctor named Paul Brand. He was a British surgeon who worked closely with lepers in the Kollai Hills, India. He also revolutionised modern understanding of leprosy and human interaction with pain.

Leprosy is a condition where the nerve endings die. And it was long thought that part of the condition was the loss of fingers and toes.

But it is actually the inability to feel pain, that leads to the loss of extremities, not the bacteria that causes the leprosy itself. If you cannot feel pain in your foot, you will walk a mile with a stick or stone digging in. Infection sets in, and again you have no idea, and eventually the foot will rot.

Dr Brand witnessed lepers putting their hands into fires to retrieve food, because it did not hurt at all. They had no warning system to protect them. Most of the missing toes and fingers were due to rats, eating them at night, because the patients, feeling no pain, would sleep on through the banquet.

He taught the villagers to check their hands and feet everyday for scratches or embedded objects and to have the first signs treated immediately. Bigger knobs for oil lamps to avoid resting their hands against them, and one cat for each patient. He gave up trying to make the natives wear shoes.

Pain is a result of physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual trauma. It is our bodies most powerful tool to get our attention. Without it, we cannot survive. Dr Brand states “Medical training had attuned me to patient’s complaints about pain, but nothing prepared me for the unique plight of people who do not feel pain”

This constant vigilance of self protection for these patients was a daily ritual. Because parts of the body could no longer communicate, they had to take on the role themselves. When one patient went back to visit his family, cured from leprosy, but still without pain sensors in his hands and feet, he forgot his cat. Staying up all night to keep the rats away, he eventually fell asleep and received two nasty injuries, one from rats and one from his hand falling on the oil lamp. His tearful words upon return to the clinic were

“Dr Brand, how can I ever be free without pain?”

– – – – – –

“My sensations are my servants, not my masters”

I suppose I should apologise because when I read the last quote, this popped into my headspace “When I left you, I was but the learner; now I am the Master”. Which is of course what Vader said to ObiWan just before he ‘released’ him to the Jedi spirit world.

All sensations enter the brain as neutral dot-dash-dot transmissions from nerves around our body. Subsequent definitions of the transmission such as, “it hurts”, come from the mind. Pain seems like something that is done to us, in reality we not only cause our own pain, we manufacture the label that defines it as pain. Pain does not exist until we feel it. Until the message invokes a response, we are unaware of the problem, and indeed that response plays a big role in defining the ‘problem’ as good or bad.

The sensations I receive and have the opportunity to define, present a constant opportunity to master my default thoughts and reactions, and therefore the definition of all incoming sensations are completely up to me. They are, what I truly believe they are. Interestingly there are no pleasure receptors in the human body. The divide between pleasure and pain is controlled by our perceptions. A feather across the forearm is pleasureable, a scorpion’s tail, applying the same pressure (without stinging) is interpreted as painful, due to the fear in the mind of possibly being stung. A kiss from a lover vs a kiss from your mother in law….. Same transmission, same nerve endings – hopefully a different interpretation in the mind 😉

The point is we control our sensations because they do not exist before we define them.

– – – – – –

“To be or not to be in pain

Today I am working on changing my interpretation of “pain” both before I feel it (preventative inner work), and when I feel it (default response). The word carries such negativity in western society, and we spend millions of dollars, therapy and lifetimes trying to avoid and alleviate it because it is seen as the ‘enemy’.

Yet we cannot live without it. It is crucial to our survival physically. Pain precipitates response and it is in that process we acknowledge and shape it’s reality.

The type of response is the key as to whether we are suddenly a victim of pain, or receiving a call to action to live more fulfilling lives.

It can be something that we decide is hurtful, attacks us, punishes us and we can use it to ‘do’ the same to others. We make money from it, make people more sick by treating it and generally live like slaves either by succumbing or avoiding.

Or it can be a gift, presenting a reflection of changes we need to make inside (and outside). Personally, to love, live and enjoy what I have been given. To relish that I have a constant reminder that all is not as it should be within. And to embrace that reminder with thankfulness. To feel lucky that I am conscious of my warning system. It empowers me, offers me freedom from the slavery of feeling the scorpion instead of the feather.

Another quote from the book – “Silencing pain without considering it’s message is like disconnecting a ringing fire alarm, to avoid receiving bad news” Either way, your house is burning down.

The greatest of these ….

Fear skews everything. Our perception of what was, is and what to do next. Who to trust, what to say and what to think. To the degree we self harm in the very process of trying to help ourselves. There’s a verse in the New Testament where the apostle Paul states, Without the Holy Spirit, I do the bad things I don’t want to, and don’t do the good things I do want to. Fear does this. It clouds your inner ability to see things clearly and act appropriately.

My fear demon is currently riding my long term pain condition. I have had a couple of reminders that I am not in perfect shape lately, and that ratbag is happy to remind me what it was like to be mostly bedridden, and unable to walk up stairs. Extreme? Yes. Effective? Perfectly. He knows me well. Whilst I don’t believe in any imminent incapacitation, the memories and emotions from that time in my life are enough to keep me from fully enjoying the now and seeing life as it really is.

When the pain set in recently, I automatically reverted to thinking about having to stop this and that and how that will redefine me. Not again, I’ve done my bit of suffering, it’s my time to be free. Cerebrally I know this is stupid. I know I am not my body, my work, my participation in events, and I am not my physical pain. Emotionally though it’s both distressing and possibly a little tempting at the same time. Part of me is used to being ‘sick’. I got the attention of doctors which I ‘deserved’, otherwise I had no support. They valued my condition, and therefore me.

I am also tempted to ignore the situation, to ‘protect’ myself from any association with specialists and tests. So that I am not ‘that person’ again. That’s the self harm bit. Head in the sand.

I fell for this so easily, because cerebral belief is not enough, particularly along old familiar tracks. Your heart is the foundation of your true beliefs. And often you think you have enough faith, when in fact you have knowledge or thoughts. When tailored fears come knocking, it’s not enough. You believe what you believe, because it’s in your heart. You do what you do, because it’s in your heart. Simple.

Today I spent more than half my waking hours in guided meditation. I feel better and am breathing deeply again. I haven’t thought about my pain negatively today at all. I collected acorns from under an old Oak Tree, to remind me of how strong and deep the love within me is, and that it is more than enough to overcome my fears.

So to my heart, to open up myself to love. To fill myself with faith and know in my deepest being who I really am. To see from my heart the fears and the memories, and to overcome them with truth and therefore love. Thoughts will dissapate, memories will heal, and that ratbag will have no horse to ride.

Again, and again, love is the answer.

My Heart

Thunder blends with rain and light,
It calls my heart in dark of night;
And sends word from the moon above,
That I should be much more in love.

Verse 1
Monday dawned with fog and foe,
A hazy morn, I shrank below;
My covers, beckoned me to stay,
At home, in bed, and safe today.

By afternoon I peeked and saw,
That perhaps beyond the door,
The fog did not exist and I,
Should tiptoe out to see the sky.

That sky was blue, did not undo,
The fear within my heart seemed true.
Then the fearful inner sound,
Dispelled the beauty I had found.

That night a sigh, so long and deep,
As I lay me down to sleep,
A tear for being overcome,
For fear and foe, and me undone.

But in my dreams, my heart rode out,
My one true knight, my loyal scout.
Armoured truth, steed of love,
Heart joined soul, to rise above.

Verse 2
Tuesday morn a curious I,
Went out to play and find out why.
The tide and moon hold hands all day,
And why the sun has nought to say.

I piled my bounty on the grass,
And took my fears and foes to task.
For what am I if not these things?
That I would know before dark brings,
The moon again to shine.

So sat I beneath the oak,
The dappled light through leaf awoke,
A moment in the looking glass,
I glimpsed beyond the haze at last.

I am this light, sun shining through,
I am the oak, so deep and true.
The grass beneath, the rock so bare.
The wind, the rain, the flowers fair.

Dark did come, and moon did glow,
And cast her light on all my foes,
They’d changed to be not as I’d known,
But only tricksome seeds I’d sown.

Relief of sleep, to rest and seek,
That old familiar mountain peak.
Where dear heart, be free from debt,
From thought and deed, and past regret.

And in my dreams, my heart rode out,
My one true knight, my loyal scout.
Armoured merry, steed of fun,
We danced beneath the midnight sun

Verse 3
Wednesday dawned with touch of fate,
To walk first time though garden gate,
That I had never seen afore,
And yet familiar symbols bore.

An old man waiting in the glade,
He knew me as a tiny babe.
We sat amongst my namesake so,
My heart could rest, and mind could go.

Off playing on its own account,
For ‘twas its way to feed my doubt.
I let it be and heard it non,
Until the sinking sun was gone.

That night asleep, my heart rode out,
My one true knight, my loyal scout.
Armoured angel, steed of grace,
Rescued me from mind’s embrace.

Verse 4
Thursday those who know me best,
Came to play and act my guests.
From far and wide, and just a way,
My friends brought blessings to my day.

Yet one had nearly lost his life,
And I went far to share the strife.
Left my heart to comfort him,
To guide his way to peace within.

For him the foe of being left,
Doubts and fears had come to rest.
Oh steed of love, my stallion strong,
Take him where he does belong.

And so that night my heart rode out,
My one true knight, my loyal scout.
Left me for a time to care,
For a loved one in despair.

Verse 5
Friday came, with rest for soul.
I wandered round the grassy knoll,
Upon the hill, some wagging tails,
Across the creek, a winding trail.

I wandered free from past life pain,
Until across a choice I came,
To choose but one of these three things.
To live and love and live again.

I sat and thought, and thought and sat,
And all the while my heart lay back.
Her steed asleep, she waited there,
For me to answer all her prayers.

I poked her with my toe, and she
Did smirk a while but let me be.
For she knew well which choice I’d make
Of the three, for my own sake.

That night my heart did not ride out,
She waited on me with her mount.
We walked beneath the starlit night,
And spoke of things to her delight.

Verse 6
The eve of New Year’s Day tonight,
Lights and colours in the night.
A rumour in my soul does stir,
Falling, falling, fade and blur.
A shift in spirit tells me so,
That I live on and he must go.

What of these sparkles in the night,
When such brave men move t’ward the light,
But then perhaps the stars rose high,
To write his name across the sky.

Late that night my heart rode out,
My one true knight, my loyal scout.
To muster all that felt the loss,
Beneath the starry Southern Cross.

Verse 7
Sunday dawns with thoughts at bay,
My heart, my steed, are in my way.
He stands there resolute, she winks
And suddenly I cannot think.
I leap upon, she squeals with joy,
For this has ever been her ploy.
To have me ride with her all day,
I hold her tight, we gallop away.

What doubts we crush,
What fears shrink back,
As we thunder down the track.
For choices three I had to make,
And now I see that ‘twas my fate.
To choose to love, not life times two,
For who would want to live in lieu?
But love … and live times two, times three.
Love IS life, I now can see.

So when your heart does wink at you,
And your noble steed is due.
Don’t hold back, but barefoot leap,
And hold your heart until she weeps
For joy, that you have chosen well,
And thru your love, your life will tell
A story you could never dream,
And sometimes it must crazy seem,
The answer to a life times two,
Is love, and love, and love so true.

Thunder blends with rain and light,
It calls my heart in dark of night;
And sends word from the moon above,
That I should be much more in love.

In 2012 Live Like a Dog!

Live simply.
Love generously.
Care deeply.
Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.

Take naps.

Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you’re not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent,
sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.


** thanks to **
Happy Paws Haven
I Can Has Cheezburger


Kristian Anderson, husband, father, cancer survivor….

Kristian died this morning in Manly, Sydney after more than two years fighting cancer. Throughout his journey he shared the ups and down with the world. Open, humorous, even celebrity at times mixing it up with Oprah and Hugh Jackman.

Beautiful wife, two little kids. He never gave up, positive, honest, hopeful, full of faith, love and giving. That is why I call him a survivor. He may have left this world in the flesh, but that which lived within, lives on. His magnificent spirit.

Kristian removed so many illusions through his sharing. Light, darkness, fire, water, joy, suffering, love, fear. Things we all face, everyday.

Take a peak at his blog, you will learn to love more, live more adventurously, fear less, find peace. Rest In Peace Kristian. You were a man among men, and your humble and incredible spirit lives on.

Kristian’s Blog – “How The Light Gets In”

The only Resolution !

I don’t think I have ever made a New Year’s Resolution. A year is a long time, and I think that is one reason people like to say they are going to make, or break, a habit. There is a long time to achieve, and therefore a long time to procrastinate as well. It’s never really over, till you are able to make a new one at midnight, 31 December. Then of course, THIS year, will be THE year!

Besides I am no good at making long term goals. 5 year plans. Every year I get a diary and lose it by March. Timeline goals are not my thing. I have too many adventures that get in the way, change my course, alter my destiny. Some are easily diagnosed as “good”, some are harder to label at first.

Today I have been thinking that there is only one resolution that is worth making. But daily, hourly, every minute in fact. And it may seem selfish and perhaps boring, but it is the foundation for all those other things we’d like to do better, say more often, not say at all, start and finish, in 2012.

Love yourself.

Be kind, patient, nurturing, respectful, disciplined, compassionate, humourous, generous … to yourself.

You will then be all those things to others, animals, humans, nature. Peace is the only result. True health, happiness and contentment are not possible when we are unable to love ourselves. From this state we achieve all our resolutions, because they stem from our hearts, our true desires, our real selves. When we are in harmony with our heart, our resolutions are based on heart truth.

We then stop smoking, not because we are afraid of cancer, we stop because we love ourselves too much. We exercise out of respect and love for our bodies, not to lose weight. Through self love, we choose our food more wisely. As we love ourselves, we love every animal, and cannot take part in their harm. Vices are impossible, just as darkness cannot exist in the light, our vices cannot exist when we love ourselves. They have nothing to grasp, nothing to use to fool us.

So as we start the New Year, think more that you are starting a new day. The year is the future, rather intangible, easily put off, later. Today is now, within reach, immediately life changing. Unavoidable. People say “there is always tomorrow”, particularly to try and resolve a negative situation or result. But there is never tomorrow. Another saying “tomorrow never comes”. There is only today. Love yourself more today and start the year day by day. For that is what it actually is. A series of present moments in which we have enormous opportunities.