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A shocking yet all too true story about how disabled people are considered second class citizens.

Disabled Access Denied !

Yesterday I had a bloody amazing day I slept late left early had lunch at the great Brooklyn vegan eatery V then I went to Brooklyn boulders rock climbing  gym and climbed solo on the self belaying walls from 3pm till 6pm when Ella got there then we climbed together the day was perfect SO FAR.

Then we decided to go to a restaurant we had been too many times before, safe we thought? we ordered the vegan burger it came with the outside burnt the inside cold it fell apart and couldn’t be picked up like a normal burger then the staff laughed at us for complaining, so we left.

 As we rolled up 4th ave from degraw to the subway elevator at Atlantic pacific,  we got to the intersection of one of the side streets the crossing light said walk . As we went to cross a jacked…

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Another great Buddhism Blog

As it is Christmas week, I thought it would be a good idea to give you a Christmas “present”. It’s another Buddhism Blog that I follow, and if you like mine (thank you) then I think you’ll like this, more polished, and frequent, Blog. It’s called Buddhism Now, and I have found them very interesting. I follow them on the social networking site Twitter (you can find me there too, under youngdad33) and they regularly tweet (post, for non twitter users) some excellent Buddhist quotes.
I would srongly recomend that you head on over and check them out.
I’m hoping to use this blog more, to record my findings around Buddhism more in the coming year, but I have the feeling I said that this time last year. Still, I will try and be more frequent, so that you’re not just signing up to another empty blog or RSS feed.
Until next decade, I will be quiet, and concentrate on having fun with my family. Especially our 6 month old, who will be having his first Christmas this year. So I hope you all have a great time, and hope that you’ll be reading me next year.

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This may sound morbid, but I’ve been thinking a lot about death recently. There are several reasons for this, chief amongst which is the fact that I’ve been (and technically still am) ill recently. In the last two and a half weeks, I’ve blacked out twice. I don’t know if that’s serious or not, but the fact that the room regularly spins doesn’t help matters. I went to see the Hospital up in London, for a normal, routine check up on my heart (I was born with a congenital heart defect). When I told the Doctor about this, she became concerned. Anyway, they’re running up all sorts of tests on me, and I look forward to the results.
The second reason I’ve been thinking about death recently, is because my wife and I watched a program on the BBC recently all about death, and people’s attitude toward it. I think it’s fair to say that death is somewhat of a taboo in England, if not the western world. People don’t talk about it, and you’re seen as a bit odd if you do. In my line of work, there is always the distinct possibility that I will come up against death, whether it’s my own or someone else’s. Fortunately, I haven’t yet, the closest I have come is a lady in a body bag, but I’ve always wanted to know what my reaction would be should I come across one. It is said that death is the ultimate teacher, the final challenge, or even just the beginning. But people don’t like to think about death in my experience. If people start to talk about death, the subject is often quickly changed.
But is this the right attitude to have? Often, death comes as a bit of a surprise, so to not plan for the death of a loved one, or your own, seems like a bit of a wasted effort. I know that if I was to die tomorrow, my wife would only have a vague idea of what my wishes were. And the same if the opposite happened.
In Buddhism, we are taught that death is not to be feared or ignored, but to be used as motivation to practice. If we were to lead a life of ignorance, where we do not live our lives to our best, it is a waste, and we will be born in samsara (suffering). The following is attributed to the great Tibetan Buddhist Scholar, Je Tsong Khapa:

This life is as impermanent as a water bubble;
Remember how quickly it decays and death comes.
After death, just like a shadow follows the body,
The results of black and white karma ensue.

Finding firm and definite conviction in this,
Please bless me always to be careful
To abandon even the slightest of negativities
And to accomplish only virtuous deeds.

This simple verse, or prayer, highlights the main teachings of Buddhism in 8 lines. Life is short, and death is the only certainty. There is nothing after death but the result of our Karma (actions), good and bad. We should always make the most of this moment. Living our lives as best we can, without performing any negative actions. Obviously, this is a very simplified version, but one I try to keep to at all times.

I must be honest though, up until now, I haven’t been very diligent in my practice. I could blame this on my matt, my back hurting, or even not having enough time, but the simple truth is that I’m just lazy. Although I am young, death is an ever present threat, and my practice could be cut short at any time, with all this negative Karma un-purified. If this ‘scare’ has taught me anything, it’s that I should get my self sorted and sit when I can. The advantage is that concentrating on something has helped me when the room is spinning. If my sergeant will accept this for the reason I’m sitting crossed legged in the middle of the squad room is another matter. Another thing it has taught me is that I need to write out a death plan, detailing what my wishes are after I pass on. It’s a plan that we should all follow, even if it’s just to make us think about our inevitable fate.

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Commend or Condemn

Yesterday, I was talking with one of our local firefighters.  We often pop in for a quick tea break, and just to catch up.  Our topic ranged from the mundane (such as the weather) to the interesting.  One thing we all agreed on, is that the general public have an irritating habit of condemning people for the easiest things.  For example, someone (understandably) would complain that no police officer went to see them after their house was burgled because all other units were tied up with other incidents.  The angry resident sets up a local campaign to demand more police on the street, eventually, the Police relent and make plans for more officers to be available.  When the contented resident opens his next council tax bill, he is furious that it has gone up by £30.

This is obviously a hypothetical incident, but I am sure it has happened in the past.  Another complaint I am most used to by now (as is any Police Officer, I’m sure) is the phenomenon where by a member of public stops you on the street to say

“I’ve been living here for the last fifty years, and I’ve NEVER seen a Policeman on the street!”

 Exaggeration, is one of the most basic human lies.  Who hasn’t said “I’m starving, I could eat a horse!”?  Of course this is just a manor of speech, but it is still a lie of some sort.  Who hasn’t ever shook our fist at the television when the Prime minister (or any MP for that fact) and said “That [blank] has done absolutely nothing for this country, a bucket of dirty water could do better!”  This may feel true at the time, but what about all the good things the government has done?  The same goes for any service we receive, whether it be the Police, Fire service, Ambulance crews, Bank clerks, Post Office, Waiters, and so on.  Every one is someone else’s servant (to some minor extent).  As a police Officer, I serve my community.  I also serve the Local and national government, and the Queen.

This blog has two major points: The use of rightful speech, and Universal Responsibility.  We all should be using right speech (particularly if we follow the word of the Buddha).  We are also all linked in the tiniest of ways.  I appreciate i have talked about this in the past, so I will try not to repeat my self too much.

One final plea, is that whenever we are receiving seamably bad service, we go back in our minds, and try to remember the last time that person or organisation did some thing good for us.  So when you’re next in the queue in the bank at lunch time, and there is only two people serving remember they are trying their best, and that in the past they, or the organisation they represent, did something good for you.  With any luck, by the time you reach the window, you’ll have a little empathy for them, and be a little softer on them.

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I am currently reading a book by Lama Surya Das called “Awakening the Buddha within”.  It’s a very good book written by a westerner who turned to Buddhism in his early 20’s (like me), and went so far as to be one of the first American Lama’s in the Tibetan tradition.  Today I read a chapter about one of the steps of the eight fold path (a set of guidelines found in most Buddhist schools, not unlike the ten commandments of Christianity).  Lama Surya Das was talking about right Intentions or right thought.  One particular part about it was that we all ‘fight’ with our ego, the part of us that is only interested in ourselves.  When we think of something, our first thoughts tend to be how they would affect us.  Take for example the rush hour traffic reports we get on the radio.  If they report an incident on our route to work/home, don’t we immediately think “oh no, I’m going to be late!” (and yes I’ll admit, I’ve done it too (notice the use of ‘I’ there…)).  What if it was a car crash… would we think anything about the injured?  Most likely not until we have planned our diversion so that we don’t get stuck in the traffic.

I was telling one of my work colleagues about my plans for the week end and that I was going to help out at the Relics Tour at the Jamyang Buddhist center.  I explained that I would be helping people with queries, drinks, umbrella’s etc.  I then said “At least I’ll gain a bit of merit for it”.  True, but why did I feel it necessary to add that in?  I have no real excuse.

What if we didn’t think about ourselves first, and only think about others, then us?  Would the world be any different?  I think the obvious answer is a resounding YES.  I’m not saying no one is like this… There are many stories of people who rush back into burning buildings to save someone and possibly die in the process.  If this sentiment was found everywhere in the world, there would be a lot less suffering in it.  What if the competitive attitude we teach our children was replaced with that of compassion, collaboration and mutual benefit?  I’d be out of a job, because the nuisance youths on our street’s would not act in anti social behaviour out of consideration; there would be more neighbourhood watch schemes because neighbours would look out for each other in the spirit of mutual benefit and collaboration; and more people would stop to help an elderly couple fix their flat tyre.  Maybe if we taught our children that the real benefit of team competition is to work as a team, fitness and making new friends, they wouldn’t grow up with a “me me me” attitude.  They may learn that it is not a weakness to care for your fellow being that walk this earth.  Fortunately, a growing majority of children being bought up are being taught these lessons.  I just hope it continues for all of our sake.

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I would like to extend my best wishes to His Holiness the Dalai Lama on his 72nd Birthday.  May he have many more years of health, happiness and loving-kindness.

More posts to follow shortly.

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

Who?

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…

Why?

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?

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?

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?

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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