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Monday, 30 May 2011

Butterflies and enlightenment

In the fleeting life of the Copper Butterfly the female has sex only once. After this she simply folds her wings when a hopeful male is looking to mate. Does this mean she has gained enlightenment and is ready to return to the source? What does this tell us? That life is only lived in the moment and although we have more moments life is short. There is a quote from The Dalai Lama ( look it up ) that human life is precious and not to be wasted. Enlightenment is available in the continuous present even if most of us only have glimpses as fleeting as the sex life of a Copper Butterfly.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Evening Sail

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Sketch of Hawkshead

Further to my comments on our holiday with Japanese guests. It was a very full week but I did find time to make a preparatory sketch of the magnificent view down to Hawkshead church and village. I look forward to painting it. The photo is from nearly the chosen painting position.

More of me returns home

Back home from The Lake district after an uproarious week. Seven Japanese and three Brits in an old Lakeland cottage with all the cultural differences and misunderstandings you might expect. What a fun week, lots of laughs and unintentional jokes. The Japanese guests were introduced to the strange British habit of walking on cold wet mountains in heavy rain and us British got to sample some extremely unusual food. We had nettle leaves cooked in tempura and local bracken shoots cooked up and served as a side dish to name just two examples. It must have been good as I am definitely stouter around the waist!

Scottish Bracken a hit with Japanese tour group

Our Japanese Lake district tour ended with all guests happy. We cooked up some Bracken we took down from Scotland. It was judged superior to Lake district Bracken. Not to my British taste though!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Peter Rabbit no longer top Lakeland attraction

Our Japanese Lake District tour continues. A straw poll of our guest indicates Fell Climbing has displaced Peter Rabbit on the must see/do Japanese hit list.

Marmite falls from grace

Can you believe this? Denmark has just banned Marmite! It seems it has too MANY vitamins and therefore may be dangerous to children and pregnant woman. Now where do vegetarians get their vitamin B12 from?

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Japanese under Water

Group tour took a turn for the worse yesterday. Torrential rain left our Japanese group somewhat bedraggled and were reduced to squelching round Grasmere along with busloads of disappointed American Tourists. All the shops sold lots of wet weather gear!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Japanese on the up

Photo now added
Walked with a party of Japanese to Laterbarrow ( small hill with excellent views of Lake Windermere ) and back to Hawkshead. They loved it. Usually Japanese visitors to The Lake District only go to Beartrix Potters house and then leave so it was nice to show them some of the splendid walking instead of the usual tourist stuff. Photo to follow. For some it was especially wonderful after the trauma of the earthquake and Tsunami.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Osmotherley Chickens

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Young Tiger

Went for a cycle ride with Phil today. Phil is ex army, half my age and training for a cycle/run challenge race so it was with some apprehension that I accepted his invitation for a ' gentle run out on our bikes ' We had a great ride and Phil kept up a running commentary about life, his hopes, dreams and aspirations etc. Fortunately he didn't seem to notice my lack of  repartee or the tortured gasps from my heaving lungs. We arrived home and as I stood dripping with sweat on the gravel drive I noticed he seemed completely unruffled and ready for another high octane ride just to build up a bit more stamina.

"I really enjoyed that Chris" he said, " We must do that again soon"

" Yes " I replied. " We must "

Gerry Active

The term jerryactive was coined by four of us on a recent cycle tour of Yorkshire. As we are all not exactly in the first flush of youth but nevertheless all pretty fit examples of mature manhood someone came up with the play on words ' Jerryactive tour of Yorkshire'. I was so tickled by this I have changed my blog name to Gerry Active. My previous blog name was chrisgauntartist which is the same as my artwork website.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Don't Mess With Nature

Farmers in China have reported a rash of ' exploding watermelons ' giving new meaning to the expression ' it's a minefield'.

It seem the melons had been sprayed with too much forchlorfenuron, a growth accelerating chemical! This was an attempt to boost profits by getting the melons to market early.

Seems you don't always want a bigger bang for your buck but let us hope under endowed men don't pick up on this chemical! Three cheers for mother nature.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Shaker The Greyhound

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Speckled Hen at Dawn

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Flooded Meadow

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Plockton Scotland

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Guarding the Path

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Blackrock Cottage Glencoe

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Your Meditation Instructor

Meditation is creation not imitation. Meditators who imitate their instructors do not go far. Just as the finger pointing at the moon is not the moon so too is instruction not to be confused with meditation. Instruction is merely the invitation to connect with spirit.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Do Horses Read The Prophet?

In the field next to our house there are three horses, a stallion and two mares. After my morning meditation I was watching them and words from Kahil Gibran's book The Prophet came to mind.

The horses display affection to each other by licking and gentle pushing with their noses. They also usually graze quite close to each other but when resting on the ground there is usually some comfortable space between them, although still close.

They reminded me of the words from the section on marriage.

 " Let there be spaces in your togetherness. And let the winds of heaven dance between you. Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls "

Even if they haven't read The Prophet animals display wisdom!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Commissioned painting with reworked background colour

At the request of the client I have changed the background colour. I have to agree it is better, the previous yellow background didn't work to well. This is a poor quality image as it has not yet been scanned so it is a photo image.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Network Rail Employs Sheep

Yes it's true! Network rail is responsible for a 35 hectare field full of rare orchids and wild flowers. A site of special scientific interest it has formerly cost £50,000.00 a year to protect the habitat at Great Stukeley, Cambridgeshire. Staff were paid to keep brambles and hawthorn scrub in check to prevent the habit becoming unsuitable for the rare flowers. Now however it has discovered the job can be done by Wiltshire Horn Sheep as they eat the scrub and leave the flowers!
Not only are they cheap but they do not belong to the RMT Rail Union and despite Bob Crowes best efforts refuse to go on strike.
Network Rail has named the operation HOOVES ( high output ovine vegetation system )Click to show "sheep" result 18


It is good to travel, to go on a journey, if only to learn anew that one has already arrived.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Jerry Active Yorkshire Cycle Trip

Back from five days cycling round Yorkshire with three excellent companions. As we are not in the first flush of youth we nicknamed the trip The Jerry Active Tour.

En Route we came across a couple cycling with a Border Terrier who rode behind in a little doggy carriage when he got too tired to run alongside.

Commissioned Painting

Just finished my commissioned painting of Shaker the Greyhound. Quite pleased but not to sure of the background colour. If the client does not like it I can change it.

Bodhi The Skateboarding Terrier

Bodhi the skateboarding Lakeland Terrier got owner Jonathon Fell into trouble with Brighton and Hove city Council for failing to keep Bodhi on a lead.

Even Though Bodhi makes people laugh and brings joy into peoples lives the council has fined Mr Fell £80.00 and if he does not pay in 14 days it will be increased to £1000.00.

Surely Mr Fell and Bodhi should be congratulated for bringing a little lightness into the world, not fined.

Apparently Bodhi has become famous on U Tube even though he has become a criminal in the eyes of council killjoys!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Acting from a Conscious Mind. The Problems.

One of the problems of being even a little bit awake is how to respond to confrontations, disputes, arguments, bad behaviour etc especially from family members, especially those closest to us. By definition the awakened mind is free of ego and would understand that aggression, bullying, nagging is etc is usually coming from the ego of ( at least in that moment )  an unconscious mind. However even long standing meditation practitioners are usually not always present and free of ego. This means that when provoked the conscious mind can return to the unconscious and react in an unskillful way.
When the mind is in a conscious state it is relatively easy to handle a situation ( say a drunk person with whom you are not emotionally involved ) in a non reactive way. However when close to someone emotionally the ego is often awakened and the result is a return to the unconscious state. This can be a real problem when dealing with bad behaviour from a family member. The conscious person can see clearly and may act skillfully for a while but somehow the situation does not get resolved. Then the ego kicks in. " I am doing everything right but I just get walked over and he ( she ) just thinks I am weak" It is a real problem.
What we have is a mind which being a bit awake tries to act ethically and doesn't get a result. This causes confusion because the mind is awake enough to know in the past it would have reacted without thinking and would not therefore be literally in two minds. It is indeed a very uncomfortable situation. I suppose the answer is to try to make that awakened conscious mind more stable? Then again it may be appropriate to leave the relationship? I am still trying to work on this and may well have to give it more consideration and thought.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Sold this print today

Received a order from The United States today for Black Rock Cottage Glencoe. Perhaps the client had a MacDonald ancestor?

Painting and Meditation

Started work on my commission for a portrait of Shaker a much loved retired champion Greyhound. Painting is like Meditation, requiring full attention to what is really there. There is no future or past, just now, the present moment.

Sunday, 1 May 2011


This is a picture of Jo Gaunt's dog Shaker. I have been commissioned to do a portrait of him.

New Arrival

Last week I became the proud grandfather to Isla Grace born to my son Julian and partner Vicky. Seen here with Ben and Jayden my grandsons holding their somewhat unwilling little sister!

Sangha. The First Jewel?

In the Triratna Buddhist Community traditionally we begin a period of meditation by saluting the shrine while paying homage to The Three Jewels. The Three Jewels are The Buddha, The Dharma ( The Teachings ) and The Sangha ( The Spiritual Community ) in that order.

In  view of The Buddha's central teaching, that is to say impermanance and continuous change and the importance he gave to The Sangha I wonder if actually the order should be The Sangha, The Dharma and The Buddha.
 I know this is heresy but consider this. Ananda his loyal monk and continual attendent said to The Buddha in a conversation about spiritual friendship.
 " Venerable Sir, this is half the spiritual life, that is, good friendship, good companionship, good comradeship"

To which The Buddha replied.

"Not so, Ananda. Not so Ananda. This is the entire spiritual life Ananda. That is, good friendship, good companionship, good comradeship."

Why did I also put The Dharma second and The Buddha last? My reasoning is as follows; The Dharma has undergone subtle changes over the last 2500 years or so, especially as it was taken up in different countries and cultures, but nevertheless still continues. The historical Buddha while of course continuing as an ideal to emulate is dead. The Sangha as the vehicle for The Dharma is always changing as members leave and others join but is the powerhouse behind our practice.

So perhaps The Buddha would be horrified at the possibility of his teachings being ' fixed ' by rigid doctrinel methods in which he is made a God and not just the great awakened man and teacher that he was?

Consider also this quote by The Buddha from the Kalama Sutra;

Do not believe just because wise men say so.
Do not believe just because it has always been that way.
Do not believe just because others may believe so.
Examine, and experience yourself.

Ritual has an important place in our practice but we must not let it obscure or stop us thinking about the meaning of The Buddha's teaching.