Saturday, November 21, 2009

Layer 225 . . . Synchronicity, Citizen Smith, Saturday Live, Four Noble Truths, Zen, and the Dud, the Bad and the Ugly

More synchronicity

Yesterday someone was telling me they used to have a 'thing' about Robert Lindsay. As for me, I loved the way he played the Wolfie character, the leader of the Tooting Popular Front, in 'Citizen Smith'. I had/have a lot of empathy with him.
“In reality, he is an unemployed dreamer . . .  whose plans fall through because of laziness and disorganisation”. - Wikipedia

Today Robert Lindsay was on the radio.

It seems to be a time for Midlands folk to come out of the closet, and proclaim some pride in their heritage. Robert Lindsay was on Saturday Live, talking about how he only recently re-discovered his Midlands roots, and now feels proud of his Derbyshire background. It's interesting how the majority of the country doesn't even see the Midlands as a distinct region. There's North, there's South, and there's West. Plus East Anglia. That's all.

If people think about the Midlands at all they tend to think Brummies, Jasper Carrot, Crossroads and Lenny Henry. Maybe Slade, Julie Walters and the Moody Blues. Maybe Shakespeare and Stratford on Avon. Possibly the Cotswolds and the Peak District. Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham?

There was a good line from the resident poet, Kate Fox, on today's programme, commenting on accents - “As Leonard Cohen nearly said, “I was born like this, I had no choice, I grew up with a Northern voice.” A good in-joke for lovers of Len.


Talk about laugh! There was an item on Today this  morning about Lancashire's Lady Ashton having been New Labour's 4th choice for the post of European Foreign Minister. So who were the three candidates ahead of her, and why were they rejected by the rest of the EU? Tony Blair. Mandelson. And Jeff Hoon. The dud, the bad and the ugly. The utterly appalling, the vile and the despicable. This is SO New Labour. They have no idea whatsoever how they're perceived by the rest of the world. Or they think their perception of merit and worth is somehow the right one, and the rest of the world is wrong. Raving egomaniac professional politicians. What more can you say?

Someone asked me yesterday why Blair wasn't chosen for either the presidential role or the Foreign Minister. What to say? Where to begin? We're so bloody insular and parochial in this country that we not only don't understand that other Europeans are far ahead of us in terms of a mature political culture - we stupidly believe and take seriously the British (mainly metropolitan) media chatter proposing Blair as a serious candidate, in spite of the fact that he's loathed throughout this country and utterly hated elsewhere. Phoney Tony, best mate of W. Most Brits are dopey enough, thanks to our pathetic media and its influence on our national culture, to think that ANY Brit, even an egomaniac like Blair, must be better than any 'foreigner' as a representative of the EU.


Having re-read the above I feel I may be guilty of “harsh speech”, a Buddhist nonvirtue.

How To Practice – the Dalai Lama - Continued

Morality of Individual Liberation

This requires the self-awareness needed to refrain from physical and verbal actions that bring harm to others.

This means abandoning what Buddhists call the 10 nonvirtues. These are described in 3 categories:

(1) Physical nonvirtues

Killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct

(2) Verbal nonvirtues

Lying, divisive talk, harsh speech, and senseless chatter

(3) Mental nonvirtues

Covetousness, harmful intent, and wrong views.


Motivation precedes and drives actions, so controlling it is the best way to prevent impulsive and possibly abusive physical and verbal actions. In daily practice you learn to continually examine your motivation. Effective practice of the morality of individual liberation depends upon sound, long-term motivation.

The Four Noble Truths

1.    Suffering is like a disease we have contracted.
In the frenzy of modern life we lose sight of the real value of humanity. People become the sum total of what they produce. Human beings act like machines whose function is to make money. This is absolutely wrong. The purpose of making money is the happiness of humankind, not the other way round. We need enough to live, so money is necessary, but we also need to realise that if there is too much attachment to wealth, it does not help at all.

Working and making money are meaningless in themselves. However, even a small act of compassion grants meaning and purpose in our lives.

Persistence, Optimism and Hope
In difficult personal circumstances the best recourse is to try to remain as honest and sincere as possible. Otherwise, by responding harshly and selfishly, you simply make matters worse.

It is important to diminish undisciplined states of mind, but it is even more important to meet adversity with a positive attitude. By greeting trouble with optimism and hope you are undermining worse troubles down the line.

If your mind gives way to anger, then even when the world is peaceful and comfortable, peace of mind will elude you.

Examine your motivation as often as you can. Establish a nonviolent, nonabusive outlook for your day. At night examine what you did during the day.

Analyse your life closely. If you do, you will eventually find it difficult to misuse your life by becoming an automaton or by seeking money as the path to happiness.

Regularly eveluate the possible negative and positive effects of feelings such as lust, anger, jealousy, and hatred.

2.    We can discover the sources of suffering.
Counterproductive emotions – which include such feelings as lust, hatred, enmity, jealousy, and belligerence, - should not be expressed. Expressing them tends to make them stronger and more prevalent. It is better to displace them with feelings of satisfaction and love.We should forcefully overcome negative emotions when they appear, but it would be even better to find ways to prevent them in the first place.

3.    True Cessations
Since defilements of the mind such as lust, hatred, jealousy, and beligerence are based on a fundamental misconception of the nature of persons and objects, the process of overcoming them requires a solution to that ignorance. The question becomes how to uproot the ignorance that is the cause of the suffering.

In order to overcome this misconception of the nature of persons and things, you have to understand their true nature. Then, through continued meditation, you become accustomed to the truth and increase the power of wisdom to to undermine negative emotions rooted in ignorance.

The fact that the defilements such as afflictive emotions can be extinguished at all is due to the mind not being impure by nature. It has a pure essence. Defilements are purified through meditation on the true nature of the mind and of all other things. Extinguishing these defilements is the third noble truth of cessation – a state beyond suffering and its causes.

4.    True Paths
True paths refer to three ways of training that are the principal topics of this book – morality, concentrated meditation, and wisdom. Spiritual practice along these paths leads to true cessations, culminating in nirvana and eventually Buddhahood.

[We] innately want happiness, and don't want suffering, and this desire is valid – it is true and reasonable. Consequently all of us have the right to achieve happiness and banish suffering. The fact that suffering and happiness themselves change from moment to moment indicates that these experiences depend upon causes and conditions. In order to get rid of suffering we need to eliminate the causes and conditions of suffering, and in order to achieve happiness we need to acquire the causes and conditions of happiness.

Remember that true cessation is attained through the practice of morality, concentrated meditation, and wisdom – the true paths.



Zen, on the other hand, as a development of 'basic Buddhism', whilst still advocating morality, meditation and the acquisition of wisdom, doesn't worry about eliminating suffering and unhappiness. Zen suggests that suffering and unhappiness can be minimised through these practices, but advocates an attitude of non-attachment to either happiness or unhappiness, recognising that suffering is a necessary part of the gaining of wisdom, and the perfecting of character, and through suffering we learn how to achieve greater awareness, greater wisdom, and better living. At any given moment, if we see happiness and unhappiness as two sides of a coin, two halves of a yin/yang symbol, two aspects of an alternating current, etc, we can see life for what is it, and accept that at any given moment life is 'perfect', even when it doesn't please our egos and our senses, even when it frustrates our desires and our ambitions. Blissful transcendence, satori,  is available at any time -  it's all in the mind.


Rhythm, Blues, Rock and Roll

Another great little Radio 4 gem:
Payola, The Pluggers and Rock N Roll

This was a programme about American DJ Alan Freed,  and his passion for rhythm and blues.

He was a pioneer, the man who coined the expression rock n roll, one of the early, passionate radio presenters who saw that rhythm n blues and rock n roll were a phenomenon that was the future of popular music.

He was fired from his first job for playing rock n roll when he should have been playing middle of the road pap. He played Little Richard, Fats Domino, James Brown and Chuck Berry. It was impossible to hear this 'Race Music' on the white folks' radio stations.

Ironically, it's still practically impossible to listen to any decent music on mainstream radio stations in Britain.
No wonder more and more people listen to Spotify if they want to hear new music.

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