Archive for January, 2007

The very first teaching given by the Buddha after his enlightenment was the Four Noble Truths. These are:

  1. Suffering. The Buddha realised that life (in general) is painful. We go from one painful experience to another (sickness, loss of something/someone precious, aging, death, not getting what we want and getting what we don’t want, etc).
  2. The Source of suffering. Essentially, a craving of things we can’t have, then being disappointed, causes us to suffer.
  3. The end of Suffering. How we free our selves from this endless cycle of suffering is by (essentially) seeing that our cravings for things we want and can’t have leads to our suffering. We must “let go” of this craving to relieve the suffering.
  4. The path leading to the ending of suffering. This is path will free us from suffering, and this is the Eight Fold path, which is of the path of right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right Mindfulness, right concentration.
    This is the basis on which Buddhism is built.

I got a very good demonstration of this cycle of suffering given to me by wife: She recently admitted to me that she had been constantly buying things of the internet and in the shops. I had come to suspect that something was happening when the post-man kept leaving delivery slips through the door (there appeared to be one a day). Naturally, I couldn’t blame her, as I have a job which takes me from home a lot (a lot of nights), and she would be alone a lot (moreover, I was guilty of the same thing a couple of years back). It demonstrated very well how people believe that their next mobile, car, top, job, Boyfriend, Girlfriend, shoes, Etc will bring them all that they desire (naturally, they do bring joy, but that joy doesn’t always last, as is demonstrated by the high rate of divorce in today’s society).
I too am guilty of the same thing: I have recently attended an interview for a promotion (of sorts) at work. I keep finding my self thinking “When I get the job, this will be easier…” or “Once I move upstairs, we could get a mortgage, and buy a house, and…” so on and so on. I have to constantly remind my self that there were a lot of other people applying for the jobs, and I may not get them. And if I did, it would mean leaving the job I am in now which I really enjoy (if you’re wandering why I’m applying for others, I’m on a temporary contract currently due in March). It’s a good mindfulness trigger. I can remain mindful that not all things are certain. This brings me onto the subject I left in my previous post: Mindfulness Training.

After many hours trawling through the internet, I have come to understand that mindfulness training is quite simply being mindful at all times. SO I have recently been trying to be mindful of my feelings, speech, actions, thoughts, etc. It’s one of those exercises that seem easier than it is… But I stay mindful of my defeating mind.


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To further explain the following, I need to go off at a slight tangent.
Almost a year ago to the day, my wife and I had a tiff (nothing major, I really can’t remember what it was about). However, I completely blew it out of all proportion by flying off the handle. Needless to say, I have a short fuse. I made it so serious (in my head) that I slept on the sofa to cool off. By the time my wife got up the next morning, I’d already left for work. Having two hours before I got there, I had too much time to stew about the night before. Fortunately, I managed to calm down, and see that it really was nothing to be mad about.
At lunch, I went out into the small town, and went to look for a book to read. I though of looking in the Psychology section for anger management. I passed a book on Meditation. I almost ignored it, but something nagged me to look closer (probably my mother who is in to all the alternative therapies). After reading the back, one phrase jumped out at me: “Deal with emotions”. So I duly bought it. Over the next several months, I delved deeper in to the world of meditation, spending all my time online searching meditation. I read many books (most of which said the same things) as well as many websites. Every lunch time at work, I would meditate in a small room. It started to work (at least I think it did), I felt happier, calmer and less frustrated.
Eventually however, it petered out, to the point where I couldn’t be bothered. I wanted to keep it up, but just didn’t have the motivation. Then, one day, I was watching a film, and the protagonist was doing a form of Tai Chi. I’d read that Tai Chi was a form of moving meditation. So I had a go, and enjoyed it. So I kept going. I eventually joined a class led by the Taoist Tai Chi Society. I improved in leaps and bounds and quickly went on a retreat. There, I met an extraordinary man. I will not go into detail (as it’s not my place to say what happened and why), suffice to say he had been ‘saved’ by Buddhism and helped members of his family too. This really inspired me to restart my study of the subject. So I re read a couple of books I’d read whilst exploring meditation, and made more and more sense of it. Now, I want to live by it and make an effort to incorporate it into my life.

On the second day of the retreat, I was sitting with said friend at breakfast. I told him I’d slept considerably well (considering we went to bed at 12am and got up at 7am, and had done 12 hours+ of Tai Chi the night before), however, I’d had some weired dreams. He advised that considering the amount of detail I remembered, it sounded like I would be a good candidate for Mindfulness. This is what I shall be talking about today.

Wikipedia describes Mindfulness as “the practice whereby a person is intentionally aware of his or her thoughts and actions in the present moment, non-judgmentally. Mindfulness is applied to both bodily actions and the mind’s own thoughts and feelings”. But what does this mean in real life? As far as I understand it, when you walk, you’re not thinking about anything else other than walking. You think entirely on walking. When you do the washing up, you feel the temperature of the water, the feel of the plate in your hand, the sound of the water splashing about. It’s a state of mind that is tranquil and gentle.
I’ve found this process most relaxing, and can be the foundations of some of the best meditations. I try to use as much as I can as a meditation: walking to the car, washing up, taking a shower, washing the car, even writing this post. Even sitting at work, watching the world go by. It can make time fly by, or, just make you feel more in touch with the world.

Going back to my friend at the retreat, I’m not quite sure what he meant by mindfulness training, other than what I’ve just described. However, next time I’m working nights, I will be on the computer for a better understanding of mindfulness training. Once I have an answer, I shall post it here.

If you know what my friend meant, I will be grateful of some insight.

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The following is the definition of the five precepts as given by Buddhanet, a fantastic website that is an abundance of knowledge on pretty much any ‘style’ of Buddhism, and one that I regularly visit to read many of their free e-books:

“Moral conduct for Buddhists differs according to whether it applies to the laity or to the Sangha or clergy. A lay Buddhist should cultivate good conduct by training in what are known as the “Five Precepts”. These are not like, say, the Ten Commandments, which, if broken, entail punishment by God. The five precepts are training rules, which, if one were to break any of them, one should be aware of the breech and examine how such a breech may be avoided in the future. The resultant of an action (often referred to as Karma) depends on the intention more than the action itself. It entails less feelings of guilt than its Judeo-Christian counterpart. Buddhism places a great emphasis on ‘mind’ and it is mental anguish such as remorse, anxiety, guilt etc. which is to be avoided in order to cultivate a calm and peaceful mind.”

The precepts I will be following are the core precepts found in almost every sect of Buddhism. They Are:

  • To avoid taking life. This doesn’t mean just humans, but also animals (who have a right to live too).
  • To void taking things not given. This doesn’t mean just stealing, but only taking things that you know are intended for you.)
  • To avoid sensual misconduct. Again, this goes beyond Sexual misconduct (but doesn’t exclude it). It also means not overindulging in sensual pleasures (such as Gluttony.)
  • To avoid false speech. Not just lying, but slander, rumour spreading, and gossip too (which I never liked anyway.)
  • To avoid Intoxication. Whether by drugs or alchohol. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a drink and enjoy yourself, I think it’s more to the point where you do silly things, or (even worse) naughty things…

Now, although I have followed most of these things (at one time or another), lets be honest, we don’t always (me included). Most of us, if not all, have at one time or another lied, drunk to stupor and taken things left behind (like a £1 coin on the street).
The difference is the intent behind the action. If we see a coin on the street and put it in our pocket to buy a drink, that would violate the 2nd precept. And to be fare, we all do it. After all, who’s going to claim it? If you took it to the police station, they’d tell you to get lost and keep it. However, a Buddhist (I believe) would put it to good use: pick it up and put it in the poor box at the local church, or the next person asking for money.

This is how I will try to live my life over the next 6 months (or more).

My old teacher (Dave), sent me an e-mail explaining how I ought to ‘try out’ Buddhism. He talked about purifying the body, speech and mind. This relates back to the precepts.
Purifying the body will be done by exercising, which I do by my Tai Chi and at work (I need to do a lot of walking), a good diet without relying on meat (I’ve decided not to eat meat unless someone gives it to me) and eating in moderation.
Purifying the speech will be done by not telling lies, badmouthing people, gossiping etc.
Purifying the mind will be done by being mindful at all times (whilst walking, ironing, washing up, Etc). Also, I will attempt to meditate frequently. To start with, I will meditate on the breath (to help still the mind). Once my mind is calmer and not “like a gibbering monkey, swinging from thought to thought…” I will meditate on qualities such as compassion, patience, loving-kindness. I will also meditate on concepts such as death (this may sound morbid, but it is used to contemplate impermanence).

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This is where I’ll be explaining a bit more about the idea behind this Blog.


Who is doing this? Well, me. I’m just a normal young man of 23 who’s married, has one son of 2 ½, works for Her Majesties Revenue & Customs in Southend-on-Sea England, and like to read, write and walk. Bottom line, I’m just a normal guy…


Like any person, I suffer the daily rigmaroles of life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy with life in general (I was elated at the birth of my son, and over the moon at our wedding exactly a year latter), but I’m looking for a way out of suffering. You may be saying “you’re healthy, got a wife and kid, a job and presumably a house, what suffering?”, and you’d be right, I’m very lucky in those respects, and I’m not complaining about that (I’m very grateful). I’m talking about the suffering that Buddhists believe we all suffer, but I’ll go into that later.


What will I be doing? I have given myself around 6 months to live by the Buddhist precepts (or set of ethics and rules). This is because I’m thinking of ‘converting’ to Buddhism and living like a fully fledged Buddhist. The teacher that started my training suggested I try it first for a while, and if I still wanted to go deeper I should contact him and he would help me. So I thought of this! I’m also hoping that this blog will persuade me to continue.


Where will I be doing this? Well, it’s a way of life, so that’s where I’ll be doing it. And I’ll be writing the results here, on this blog as often as I can…


How am I going to achieve this? Well, I shall choose a set of precepts and live by them as close as I can. I will (try to be) mindful of any actions, thoughts, feelings etc I encounter. I will meditate (as often as I can (a minimum of three times a week)) as any Buddhist would, and try to carry over my practice from my meditations into the real world.

Once I have decided on a set of Precepts, I shall post them for prosperity, and go into more depth.

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Hey, and welcome to my first blog and post.

Like the description says, this is going to be a commentary as to what it’s like to live by the Buddhist precepts (or the Buddhist set of ethics). All will be explained soon.

Hope to see you again soon, don’t hesitate to post or contact me if there are any questions or errors.

Many thanks,

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