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Saturday, 26 November 2011

The small picture

It was snowing here yesterday, a 15 degree drop from the previous day! My mind went back to the sights and sounds of summer. I was reminded that within the overall memory there were numerous small items making up the big picture. There was this swarm of Ladybirds, a sudden surge in numbers. In Norfolk where I grew up Ladybirds are affectionately called Bishy Bonnnybees and children love letting them run around on their hands. I also reflect that our opinion of likes and dislikes is very subjective. If there was a swarm of small brown flying beetles kids would be swatting them away rather than allowing them to crawl over their hands. However all life is beautiful and makes up the wonderful big picture.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Mountain painting. Ben Loyal. Scotland.

This is my latest painting. Ben Loyal near the Kyle of Tongue in the far north of Scotland.

I will be entering this in the Moray Art Club's exhibition along with another painting.

The painting measures 39cm x 30cm and comes mounted and framed. It can be viewed at the Moray Art Centre, Findhorn Park. Moray. If you are feeling rich it is only £150.00. The Exhibition runs from 3rd December to 4th February. There will be 60 works on display including paintings,drawings, prints, photography and sculpture so if you are looking to purchase an original work of art it is well worth a look.

United we fall

United we stand, divided we fall, so goes the saying. However it seems to me that if Europe's political elites are determined to save the Euro without Germany taking on the collective debt of the Euro zone then democracy itself will be threatened. As it stands Germany is insisting on forcing debtor nations to balance the books regardless of the consequences as a price for rescue. This is even without Germany taking on the Euro zone debt! We don't know the consequences of countries leaving the Euro but Greece, Spain and Italy desperately need to devalue otherwise they face ten years of internal devaluation to become competitive against Germany. Can fifty percent youth unemployment be a price worth paying? Is any ideology worth the human misery? Perhaps in twenty years it would all even out but can democracy wait that long?

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Wainwrights Coast to Coast Walk

I was thinking about my wonderful spring and summer. I had so many wonderful experiences one of which was a guiding trip on The Coast to Coast long distance path. I helped guide a group of Americans on this lovely walk. This lady, Donna came to mind. Along with husband Stephen they were a charming couple. Donna and I shared some interesting conversations about Buddhism. I wonder how they are getting on?

On the edge

This is me at the moment. A bit stuck and on the edge!

No Focus

Oh Dear! Still feeling restless. I feel like a skittish horse disturbed by the wind and can't settle to anything. Went to my art group this afternoon and although my painting went quite well still can't ground myself. I have booked my transport to France for next years cycling trip and a winter escape to La Gomera and I know I am incredibly lucky to be able to do these things. Nevertheless I have this feeling of ennui! Maybe it is the tremendous uncertainty in the world with all the unrest that is arriving on the wind or in the ether that is communicating itself to me. My focus is anywhere but in the present: in other words no focus at all. So what is going on? Who can tell me? Maybe I know but cannot admit it even to myself?

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A brave New Ism

We have had Communism, Facism, Socialism, Capitalism and Euro ism. Where do we go from here?

We have tried Confucianism, Humanism, Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufi ism, Shintoism and all sorts of religious Isms. Sometimes we need these more than State Isms.

We are now waiting for that Brave New Ism to rescue us and lead to the promised land.

Meanwhile perhaps we should just enjoy No Ism.

Monday, 21 November 2011

It's a Euro no then?

This is a German Euro note. Taken together the Euro Zone is solvent. Everybody is pressing the Germans to allow the European Central Bank to issue Euro Bonds. Euro Bonds would equalise Euro Zone debt across all member states and therefore solve ( at least for the short term ) the Euro crisis at a stroke. Unfortunately the Germans have given it a no vote.

I am reminded of the other no votes in EU history. Denmark said no in 1992 and 2000. Ireland voted no in 2001. Swiss voters said no to even opening negotiations to join. Norway voted no in 1994. The later two votes were accepted by their governments but the hapless Danish and Irish governments were pressured to put the question again until electorates gave the right answer! When the stressed Greek PM suggested a vote on austerity there was outrage in the EU and some say his downfall was engineered!

I wonder if the Germans will change their minds and vote yes to the pressure to allow the European Central Bank to give the right answer?

Glen Coe

Sold a print of this painting today. Black Rock Cottage and Glen Coe. Very pleased as not much selling at the moment.

Sunday, 20 November 2011


It has been a beautiful day here in Scotland, as it has for the last two weeks, with temperatures around 12 to 14 degrees. Last year at this time the cold weather had already set in. Everybody is so relieved as we were all expecting another long cold winter.

In spite of the respite I find myself unable to settle. I have a feeling of anticlimax and crave excitement but don't quite know what to do to find it. Perhaps it is after such a good spring, summer and autumn everything seems dull in comparison?

In Buddhism we call this Dukkha, roughly translated as unsatisfactoriness. Craving is also one of the three poisons, namely greed. I know this but despite having the insight to what is going on I can't quite shake the feeling!

There is also a kind of grasping in my restlessness. I am very aware of the passing of time and feel the unhealthy need to grab at life's pleasures while I still have the health and strength!

I have also been disturbed by the polemic within my Buddhist group which has provoked a tremendous shift in the way I view the group and the Dharma. All of which is no doubt to the good but it has left me feeling unsettled.

It has left me feeling that a seismic shift is about to take place in my life and perhaps the craving for excitement is one of the time honoured ways of avoiding something that needs to be addressed?

So what to do? Sit with it in the certain knowledge that all feelings are transitory or recognise that sometimes action is required and sitting with it is not the correct option.

Monday, 14 November 2011


I just can't get this painting right! I am happy with the foreground but have reworked the sky three times and it's still not as I would like. If I rework again the paint will be like gloss on a windowsill!

I like the composition so perhaps the best thing would be to do the whole painting again on fresh paper?

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Still unfinished painting

I have done some more work on this picture. I am still not pleased with the sky so am considering changing it. What do you think?

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Unfinished painting

Worked on this new painting yesterday. It only took two hours from start to this unfinished stage. It has potential so although it needs finishing touches it may work out.

The location is the Isle of Mull

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Ideology gone mad.

I am not a political person but I cannot help being outraged by the ideology behind the Euro experiment. It was conceived with the best intentions but pushed through with a political ideology which overruled all common sense. All politicians are guilty of subscribing to this grand ideal doing anything to join even at the expense of fiscal rectitude. Greece fiddled the books to get in now ordinary Greeks are paying an awful price. The other Euro nations turned a blind eye when they knew Greece should not have been allowed to join. Also it was obvious some time ago that Spain, Italy and Portugal were not able to restructure their economies within the Euro straight jacket. It was at this point that the experiment became evil. Before the Euro the above economies would deal with any lack of competiveness by gentle devaluations. Now if they left the Euro the devaluations would be massive. It has been suggested that if Greece for example went back to the Drachma it's value would halve against the Euro. Every Greek with savings would see the value halved and any debt they had in the Euro Zone double. Who knows what the consequences would be? Obviously tourism would start growing again which would probably be the only plus point. So the Euro elite in failing to admit that the experiment had failed and thereby allow counties to exit with small devaluations, push through ever harsher internal devaluations by making these countries cut wages, pensions, welfare and everything else thereby sacrificing the only thing which could work, that is to say growth. So you have youth unemployment in Spain at 40% This is nothing short of criminal in the name of ideology! the more efficient German economy has benefited enormously from a weak ( for it's economy ) Euro but is unable to stomach the cost of equalising the debt of other nations into one common pot. What a nightmare and nobody knows where it will lead.

Monday, 7 November 2011

It's Over

It's like being pregnant and the end it will hurt.
You know it's been coming and no place to run.

The space between you is getting too large
You want it to happen but can't bear the hurt.

You feel love dying as something else grows
Reluctant to end it and cause yet more pain.

But what is the answer and what is the gain.
To stay is to perish, to stifle a life.

Stillbirth is no triumph when two go to hell
So brave the unknown and start a new life.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Number One Poem


By Rudyard Kipling.

This has consistently been voted Britain's favourite poem. No wonder. If facing a difficult decision, if feeling in need of courage, if taking a risk, then reading this poem may make you more resolute. It connects with my emotions, especially as I have taken risks and experienced gains and losses in my own life.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream-and not make dreams your master;
If you can think-and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they have gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the will which says to them: ' Hold on!'

If you can walk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings-nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but non too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And-which is more-you'll be a Man, my son!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Maitreya the future Buddha. Why the long wait?

Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future, seated upon his throne in the heavens, awaiting his call to minister on earth.Thinking some more on the subject of enlightenment.

There seems to be a contradiction between the assertion that enlightenment is possible for anyone, even in this lifetime, providing we make enough effort and the assertion that the next Buddha will be Maitreya who will appear in the distant future to save the Dharma from extinction. It's a bit like waiting for a British player to win Wimbledon!

According to most traditions the route to becoming a Buddha is by taking the Bodhisattva vow, practising the six perfections and passing through ten Bhumis or grounds. Then it seems there is a choice of renouncing full Buddha hood and leading others to enlightenment or electing to become a full Buddha and then leading others to enlightenment. It seems quite difficult doesn't it?

 Are there two classes of enlightenment? I say two because of the apparent enlightenment of some who came into contact with the Buddha's teachings, without it seems even being a Bodhisattva. The Buddha's sixty enlightened disciples for example who went forth to spread the Dharma. So it seems there is a Buddha ( first class enlightenment ) and those who are just enlightened ( second class )  A sort of Buddhist ' Upstairs, downstairs '

What is the average western Buddhist to make of this?

One way of making sense of this is to treat Maitreya as a metaphor. Maitreya means ' Compassionate One ' so perhaps when the seed of Buddha nature is activated and awakened it is natural for compassion to arise. Could one not therefore treat Maitreya as the future potential within all of us? To take Maitreya literally as the next Buddha does seem to take enlightenment out of reach with no possibility for anyone else in the ( long ) meantime. After all waiting for the next Buddha would be like waiting for the next coming of Christ! So as I said in my previous article ' Enlightenment. The impossible dream. ' maybe enlightenment is just a higher state of consciousness and that it is definitely attainable for all of us, as it was for the Buddha's disciples.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Fisherman John

Photo showing Small Fishing Boat

When the wind comes up
we'll go to sea.
When the wind dies down
then we'll see.

When the tide comes in
so will we.
When the tide goes out
why can't we.

When the fish are there
let's all shout.
When the fish are gone
it's so long John.