Casual Conversation

Casual conversation between friends. Anything goes (almost).
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laic
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Casual Conversation

Post by laic »

I find writing therapeutic. I have various mental health issues. Nothing serious, but I tend to stumble along as best I can in this fairly desperate world. I have to get out each morning and usually end up (before shopping) having a coffee. Once it was in Costa's but three price rises in a year has driven me into McDonalds, which is a bit more downmarket (but McDonalds are not choosey so long as you have the money...... :smile: )

Here I am again. Although I am on the Pure Land path (if path it is) I love all aspects of the Dharma. I love zen gardens so I invite anyone to post a picture or two.

Just to begin, a joke cartoon.....

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I often reflect upon time and place, of finding our own true home. There are fine English country gardens and I wonder how we change and morph as we would sit in each.....English or zen.

Image

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There is a little haiku that opens perspectives, of a snail. Someone once said that "the birds do not know they have names" and obviously a snail does not know exactly what garden he (or she) is in...

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Anyway, perhaps I have waffled enough. My coffee is finished.

Please share any images you find beautiful, inspiring.......even enlightening!
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Ayu
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Re: Casual Conversation

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Image

Because it's probably one of the last days with fine weather and because I have got good new shoes, I am trying to hike today.
It's a path aside of a river and I'm not sure how far I'm able to walk. If I make 6 km, I'll be glad.
My feet were weak lately. Now that they're a bit better I cannot resist trying a longer walk.
The weather is bewitching and these shoes are made for walking...

Image
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Re: Casual Conversation

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Love the shoes! In better nick than mine!

:smile:
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Re: Casual Conversation

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We finally got out from under the heat and humidity, so I've been riding my motorcycle to work all week... heaven! :thumbsup:
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Re: Casual Conversation

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Nice to hear some other stories. I'm restricted to using my feet, I have an eye condition (bletharospasm) which causes my eyelids to flicker and sometimes to slam shut. It is treated with botox, six injections around the eyes every three months or so, at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. Well into my seventies, I've flogged the old joke to death, that now everything droops apart from my eyes....ha ha.

Well, I walk into town. There is a scenic route and another down the main road. The scenic route takes in the dog walkers on the common, and river views. The road, you can admire the discarded tin cans and crisp packets while listening to the radios turned up loud in passing cars. You also go under a subway where the graffiti can be admired as you seek to avoid the rubbish strewn flooring. All good fun.

As said, "when walking just walk" but alas I still haven't quite got the hang of it.

Back to zen gardens, which come in all shapes and sizes. Here is a miniature garden...

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We live in a retirement complex and the warden is a lady from the Philippines. She has a miniature zen garden in her office. Once we went in to see her, accompanied by our little grandaughter, who was then only three or so. While we chatted, the little mite took hold of the tiny rake and realigned the various swirls in the sand. Ying and yang became confused and as far as I know have never recovered.
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Re: Casual Conversation

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laic wrote: Sat Sep 24, 2022 10:26 am Nice to hear some other stories. I'm restricted to using my feet, I have an eye condition (bletharospasm) which causes my eyelids to flicker and sometimes to slam shut. It is treated with botox, six injections around the eyes every three months or so, at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. Well into my seventies, I've flogged the old joke to death, that now everything droops apart from my eyes....ha ha.
I sympathise about the bletharospasm laic. My Dad had this condition and I suspect Garchen Rinpoche is similarly affected. My dad was a great reader and had to give that up. He instead took long walks through the nature reserves in his local area. There has been a lot of talk lately about the benefits of walking in nature in relation to mental health and I think that was true for my Dad.

The Japanese seem to have been onto this idea for years:




https://youtu.be/stuZaKB9j7I

I'm inclined to visiting Japanese and Chinese gardens when I am travelling. This garden is in Adelaide, Australia.


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Re: Casual Conversation

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Punya wrote: Mon Sep 26, 2022 12:01 am

I sympathise about the bletharospasm laic........
Hi Punya, thank you. Blepharospasm (I've just googled the correct spelling..... :smile: ) seems to come in varying degrees. Fortunately I can still read, in fact looking down seems to release much of the tension around my eyes. There is also no pain involved at all so there are far worse conditions to have.

I do quite a bit of walking but often it is on concrete!

Thank you for your post. Interesting video. Nice garden.
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Re: Casual Conversation

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Punya wrote: Mon Sep 26, 2022 12:01 am ... There has been a lot of talk lately about the benefits of walking in nature in relation to mental health and I think that was true for my Dad.
This is true for me as well. Regularly walking or biking through our city forest improved my mental state within very short time.
I'm not such an intense fan of zen gardens, because I cannot relate to the style. The wilder a garden or a forest is allowed to grow, the more my heart opens to it and it seems to be accompany and teacher as well.

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Ayu wrote: Mon Sep 26, 2022 8:34 am
I'm not such an intense fan of zen gardens, because I cannot relate to the style. The wilder a garden or a forest is allowed to grow, the more my heart opens to it and it seems to be accompany and teacher as well.

I've often wondered about the sheer precision of many zen gardens and how they relate to the "unshakeable deliverance of mind" that is the heartwood of the dharma. That "heartwood" seems to imply freedom, even unrestraint.

Leaving that thought, I have always loved trees - more single trees than forests. Not quite a tree hugger, but I seem often to have a sense of healing with the sight of what is a fundamental symmetry beneath/within the sheer chaos of the tangled branches and leaves. From our window we can see a few trees and love seeing the branches and leaves bend and shake as the squirrels leap about.
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Re: Casual Conversation

Post by Kim O'Hara »

Ayu wrote: Mon Sep 26, 2022 8:34 am ... I'm not such an intense fan of zen gardens, because I cannot relate to the style. The wilder a garden or a forest is allowed to grow, the more my heart opens to it and it seems to be accompany and teacher as well.
I think our responses to natural places and to gardens are quite individual. I know that one reason I like to be in forests or other wilderness is simply being on a place which is purely itself, untouched and un-managed by human concerns and preferences. Zen gardens don't do that at all, of course, but they are still places where peaceful contemplation is possible. I like both kinds of 'natural' place but they fill different needs.
And I don't need, or even want, 'pretty' landscapes. I've recently been into our semi-desert inland (that famous 'Outback Australia') and really enjoyed places like this -
desert-51.jpg
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Re: Casual Conversation

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laic wrote: Mon Sep 26, 2022 10:27 am I've often wondered about the sheer precision of many zen gardens and how they relate to the "unshakeable deliverance of mind" that is the heartwood of the dharma. That "heartwood" seems to imply freedom, even unrestraint.

Leaving that thought, I have always loved trees - more single trees than forests. Not quite a tree hugger, but I seem often to have a sense of healing with the sight of what is a fundamental symmetry beneath/within the sheer chaos of the tangled branches and leaves. From our window we can see a few trees and love seeing the branches and leaves bend and shake as the squirrels leap about.
Okay, I admit, once I stepped into a zengarden and I was impressed. I could kind of sense the gardener...
It must be different to sit or to work in a zengarden than to look at photos of it.
And I admit, I'm a tree hugger sometimes.
Kim O'Hara wrote: Mon Sep 26, 2022 12:40 pm I think our responses to natural places and to gardens are quite individual. I know that one reason I like to be in forests or other wilderness is simply being on a place which is purely itself, untouched and un-managed by human concerns and preferences. Zen gardens don't do that at all, of course, but they are still places where peaceful contemplation is possible. I like both kinds of 'natural' place but they fill different needs.
And I don't need, or even want, 'pretty' landscapes. I've recently been into our semi-desert inland (that famous 'Outback Australia') and really enjoyed places like this. ...
Yes, even places without any trees can be astonishing.
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Stopping at McDonalds on my way to Oxfam. Every tuesday afternoon I do a 4 hr stint on the till in the Music/Vinyl/Dvd dept of the Book and Music store. Not hard work and very few customers to interrupt me as I listen to my music and read my kindle. A little Paradise really, almost a Pure Land. But at the moment a coffee in McDonalds after a walk into town.

I came by the road route, the scenic route takes in a flood plain and there has been a little rain lately which can make the path a bit muddy.

You see all life in McDonalds (well, maybe not "all"...... :smile: ) and there has just been a family dispute over where to sit, with some old timer insisting that he was unable to sit upon "those things" as he pointed to these small circular stool type seats which tend to wobble a bit. His missus seemed to have no sympathy and was called "wicked" by the old guy's daughter (I assume) Anyway, they are tucking in now, which is not always a happy ending as far as McDonalds is concerned, though I must admit that their McFlurrys are quite fine.

Well, whatever, off now to Oxfam.

Just to add a bit of colour to this rather dry post, a picture of the swans often seen on the walk in.....

Image
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Re: Casual Conversation

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Ayu wrote: Mon Sep 26, 2022 1:07 pm
Yes, even places without any trees can be astonishing. [img]
That's a very wide beach, Ayu!

Some years ago I visited Dunkirk (Dunkerque) and their beaches were equally impressive. Is your photo from that coast?

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Kim O'Hara wrote: Tue Sep 27, 2022 11:23 pm
Ayu wrote: Mon Sep 26, 2022 1:07 pm
Yes, even places without any trees can be astonishing. [img]
That's a very wide beach, Ayu!

Some years ago I visited Dunkirk (Dunkerque) and their beaches were equally impressive. Is your photo from that coast?

:coffee:
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Very good guess! It's near the North Sea, the Channel, at the French Coast. Hautville - if I remember correctly. Or somewhere near there.

Actually, I wanted to post a photo of the German mud flat, which is a really magical place of nature although (or because?) there seems to be nothing. Just the sand, the sky, some hidden worms, seagulls - the wind and your breath. :D
But there was no photo on my device anymore. Therefore this French coast in the state of low tide was my second choice.
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laic wrote: Tue Sep 27, 2022 12:40 pm ... Every tuesday afternoon I do a 4 hr stint on the till in the Music/Vinyl/Dvd dept of the Book and Music store. Not hard work and very few customers to interrupt me as I listen to my music and read my kindle. A little Paradise really, almost a Pure Land....
Congrats. :twothumbsup:
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Post by Ayu »

In my country, it is raining non-stop very smoothly, right now. Finally.

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Ayu wrote: Wed Sep 28, 2022 8:45 am
laic wrote: Tue Sep 27, 2022 12:40 pm ... Every tuesday afternoon I do a 4 hr stint on the till in the Music/Vinyl/Dvd dept of the Book and Music store. Not hard work and very few customers to interrupt me as I listen to my music and read my kindle. A little Paradise really, almost a Pure Land....
Congrats. :twothumbsup:
Hi, I really fell on my feet at Oxfam (a novel experience for me.....) The place is a little Pure Land. The demands on the till are virtually non-existent. The last ten years of my working life was as a Stock Replenishment Executive (AKA Shell Filler) at Wilko's and I was excused any till duties because of an eye condition, but here at Oxfam I can cope with the odd customer or two who interrupts my reverie.

Having said that, I have some good conversations with many who come in from the rain, and there are quite a few characters. Once this old guy came in, must have been well into his sixties, even seventies, and he was bent over a bit as though he had spinal problems. He began to look through the vinyl singles. Not good to judge but I simply couldn't help but think that he would eventually come over to the till with a Perry Como, or (heaven forbid) even a Vera Lynn! When he eventually came across he had three singles, all late 1950's rockers!

I said something about "oh, you like the old rock n roll stuff" and he said he did, and that he loved playing along to them on his electric guitar! It turned out that he had two Les Pauls and a Stratocaster! I asked him if he had ever played in a group but he said that he had never had the confidence to get up on a stage and play in public, which is rather sad - even though I can understand.

Anyway, I'm waffling as usual. Nice to exchange a bit of conversation.

Thanks
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Back in McDonalds, coffee to hand. Yesterday I was in a Hungry Horse restaurant with the family and I had a cappuccino. It arrived lukewarm and though I rarely complain I took it back and asked for one a bit hotter. The young lass was very good about it and soon brought me out another mugfull, and this one had a nice chocolate sprinkle pattern on top, a large star surrounded by smaller stars (my all time favorite was the Costa's frog) She gave me a warm smile and apologised again. A smile is a simple thing, yet can mean a lot.

Just to share a past experience, which seems to show that the full beauty of this world is open to the very "lowest" - a "little child shall lead them" as the Good Book says; and as G K Chesterton once said, "great things are seen from the valleys, only small things from the heights". The instinctive love of a mother for her child can trump all the books on ethics. This is not sentimentality. It, at least for me, is ingrained into the fabric of reality. Once, some time ago now, not long after my own mother died of dementia, I was suffering from a couple of years of depression. It was Christmas Eve and I had been running around the town buying the last things for Christmas. I knew I needed a little sketch pad for my daughter, then six, which I had promised to get. But my pockets were empty and those were the days when Credit Cards were quite new, and to pay with one involved machines, signatures, and "tut tuts" in the queue behind you. I picked up a pad and lined up in the long queue and looked with trepidation at the very harassed looking young lady who was serving. Eventually it was my turn......."Sorry, I have no cash left, can I use my credit card?". If that young girl had snatched the pad and looked at me with enmity, in the state I was in then, who knows? How deep can depression go? Where does any road end? But no. She took the pad and smiled, a beautiful smile, and said "I think we are all out of cash now". Even now, thinking back, it almost reduces me to tears - of gratitude. I have always remembered that smile. Which cost nothing yet was worth everything.

Anyway, that smile yesterday cast my mind back. Memory. Rebirth. Sometimes I think we can look towards famous bodhisattvas and their activities, yet miss simple acts of kindness that in fact can have a greater significance.
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Looking back I see that many of my images have been removed. Maybe the "free" hosting service is not actually a free as it claims! Nevermind, perhaps I must look again on how to post images to this forum.

Oh! Looking at the site, I see that you can choose "no expiration" or "remove after * number of days" which I simply left in, not seeing it. I will post a new image here, choose "no expiration", and keep an eye on things.

Image

Picture shows another one of my Blooks, mentioned elsewhere. The lyrics of "Tommy" with suitable illustrations. A great album.
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Moving on, I began my "casual conversation" (almost a soliloquy unfortunately) by speaking about zen gardens.

On another Forum I began a thread on zen gardens, and after a while - as threads tend to - the discussion slipped off-topic. The subject of the artist David Jones cropped up. Apparently his gravestone was a circle, which was seen as significant. David Jones once said that everything constituted a sort of circle in some way. "I need to think that everything is complete somewhere" he said.

At the time I agreed, yet now not so much. "Everything complete somewhere" seems to stifle novelty, surprise. "Everything complete" suggests conclusions, "answers", finality. Being a Pure Lander, remaining open to spontaneity, even freedom, or "grace", seems part of the path - what path there is. Unexpected gifts.

The Japanese zen master Dogen spoke of "continuous practice"........."On the great road of Buddha ancestors, there is always unsurpassable practice, continuous and sustained. It forms the circle of the way and is never cut off. Between aspiration, practice, enlightenment, and nirvana, there is not a moments gap; continuous practice is the circle of the way".

So, a circle again, yet Dogen also said that though his teachers in China would emphasise the supremacy of the "present moment" this did not preclude further results of "practice" in the future, a "movement toward Buddha."

There is the suggestion that though we live ("common sensically") in a linear time frame, Reality itself is not simply linear.

Well, waffling again. Once more in Oxfam, listening to "The Best of Neil Young", looking forward to "Powderfinger", one of his best...


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"Look out, mama, there's a white boat coming up the river"!
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