I must say that I was amazed by the response to my last post: 79 reads the day it was posted, that’s quite something! I am delighted so many of you are taking time to read my posts. Thank you!
Moving on with this months’ post (I will try and post on a more regular basis, life allowing). As you may have gathered from my last post, my wife and I are expecting another addition to the family. We are both very excited and looking forward to meet the little chap. We’ve reached the point where we both want to start hugging and caring for a new person. However, in a moment of “doubt”, my wife turned to me after listening to the news and said “Is it right to bring a baby into such a horrible world?”. My immediate response was “of course”. However, it did set a train of thought going (especially at work). Then, a couple of days later, I read a news article on the BBC website that stated that families who have more than two children are ecologically irresponsible. At first, I was rather put off by this. But I figured I best read the article before I condemned it. After reading it, I must admit I did calm down and start to see the idea behind the article. It’s main point was that people who have large amounts of children regardless of whether they have the money, space, time etc are putting greater pressure on the worlds resources (such as gas, food, water, housing etc).
Fortunately, in this respect, my wife and I are not being ecologically irresponsible, as we only have one current son. However, I think she meant in the sense that there are so many horrible things happening in the world today that it seams cruel to subject another human being to this. From a Buddhist point of view (and I must admit that my practice has fallen well by the way side recently), being able to give another human being life is a great gift, one that only women have the ‘pleasure’ of experiencing. This sentient being could have been an animal previously, or an insect. In buddhism, to be born as a human is seen as a great privilege and opportunity, as only as a human do we have the potential to achieve enlightenment, the ultimate goal of Buddhism. Whether my sons take this opportunity is up to them, I will give them every chance.
So to answer my wife’s question, I think the only bad thing about bringing the baby into this world is if we let it be a horrible world. Sure, we can’t stop the wars, the murders, the violence, injustice and hate. But we can bring up both our sons to love and respect each other and others and do the right things. Whether they be following the Buddhas teachings or not. If all parents were to do this, we could well be living in a nicer world.


Back at last…

Dear readers:
I would like to firstly like to apologise for my lack of presence recently. I don’t really have a valid excuse, only laziness and life.
Furthermore, I would like to say how THRILLED I am to see that this blog hasn’t died a death, and that it is still being read on a regular basis. I hope that any regular readers will soon return.

Anyway, back to writing…
It’s been a hectic couple of months; my wife and I have moved recently to a new flat, which we actually own now! Well, part own anyway… We are also going to have another baby, which we are thrilled about. Our current son will be big brother, and I’m sure he will be a great big brother.
My topic for my return post today, I wont to talk about something that happened to me about a month ago. I was in town looking for at a new computer, as my old one was showing signs of being on the verge of giving up the ghost. I went to get some money from the cash point/ATM. I was shocked to see that our balance was woefully low. It turned out that £700.00 had been taken from our account. Very surprised, I started talking to my wife on the phone, explaining to her the situation. I also explained that I was stuck in the car park, as I didn’t have any money to pay. As I talked, sitting in the bank’s reception, my mind racing at a 100 mph, a fellow customer, who had clearly been listening to me, leaned over the table between us and left me a bag full of coins. I looked up at her and she said “should help you get out of the car park”. If I’m honest, I started to blub. The complete and utter selflessness of the individual blew me away. Had it been £2, I might not have thought much of it (although I would have been very thankful). That would have been enough to get me home. The fact that my unknown benefactor gave me a whole £10, can only be called selfless.
I doubt that my mysterious benefactor will actually ever read this post, but I just want to officially say thank you. I only hope I can return the favour some way or another someday.
Normal service will resume soon dear readers.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet is currently in England on a tour. This week end, he is giving teachings in Nottingham. Sadly, I wasn’t able to attend these teachings, however, I was able to attend his talk at the Royal Albert Hall on Thursday 23rd May 2008.
I arrived at South Kensington Tube station at about 13:15, plenty of time to find my seat. As I walked up Exhibition road, I suddenly noticed that I was surrounded by people dressed in robes, shaved heads and mala’s swinging from their wrists and necks. It was clear I was getting close to the Hall. As I came out onto Kensington Gore, I noticed three groups. On the park side of the street, a pro China group were lofting banners professing the clamour of being part of China. On the opposite site, making more noise with a megaphone, a Pro Dorje Shugden, A deity banned by His Holiness, were calling for religious freedom. Finally, back on the park side, A pro Tibet group made their presence known with simple waving of Tibetan flags. As I walked round the Royal Albert Hall, Numerous camera crews grabbed people from the crowds to interview.
As 13:45 approached, the time the doors would open, I made my way round to my door. A Police barrier stopped me from going too far. As I waited, a group of four Tibetan Dancers walked out from the stage door in full Tibetan dress. As they stood looking anxious, several cars pulled up. Before I realised what happened, people were cheering, waving flags and cameras poised. Suddenly, His Holiness emerged from the car beaming his trade mark smile. He went up to a group of supporters, shook their hands and laughed. He eventually walked slowly in to the stage door, guided by his aids and plain clothes security. Meanwhile, the dancers performed a traditional dance for His Holiness. An unexpected but welcome surprise. I showed my ticket to the Police Officer on the gate and walked up to the door.
As I walked through the door, my bag was searched and cleared. I followed the signs down stairs to door C to find my seat. As I emerged onto the Arena floor, I was greeted with the magnificent view of The Royal Albert Hall. The Victorian walls towered above me, glowing warmly in the stage lights. The ‘roof’ consisted of large circular discs, suspended from the glass top of the Hall. I over heard one of the technicians explain that they were designed to reflect the sound down to the hall, and bounce the noise from the street back out. Very clever. Hanging above the stage were two large screen TV’s displaying pictures and stats of the Tibetan plight. As I found my seat, a canvas bag was waiting for me filled with a program, with a timeline of His Holiness’ life and several other leaflets asking for support.
Soon after 14:30, the lights dimmed and we were welcomed by the Chief Executive of the Tibet Society, the organisation who planned the talk. After which, we were treated to some traditional Tibetan dancing and singing. Finally, we all stood for the Tibetan national Anthem. After a short interval, the moment we had all waited for, His Holiness appeared on stage. An almighty cheer rang out from the crowd, almost drowning out the thunderous applause. He took a seat on the plush white chair laid out for him on the stage. As he started to remove his shoes, some one in the rafters of the hall shouted loud and clear “we love you!”. Everyone laughed, and His Holiness, without looking up from his shoes, waved a thank you.His Holiness and his translator
His talk was an uplifting one, explaining how we can be happy by not being selfish. At one point, he mentioned the well known Mantra “Om Mani Peme Hum” and turned it in to “Om Mani”, and finally in to “Money, Money, Money”. This just demonstrated his point. His speech could be summarised in one sentence he used to complete his talk:

“The 20th Century was one of war and bloodshed. Let us make the 21st Century the century of dialogue. Then there will be a real possibility of peace”

He left much as he entered, with a smile and a wave, and suddenly, the rather surreal experience of seeing His Holiness was over. As I made my way home on the train, his message ringing in my ears, I felt energized and determined to continue my practice of Buddhism. I think this happens to most who meet him. It was a wonderful experience, and look forward to seeing him again soon.

Recent Good Karma

Spring is traditionally the time for new life. And this has never been more apparent this spring for us. Our living room looks out on to the communal garden which has a small tree. Durring the winter, this tree looks cold and bare. But in the last couple of weeks, I have been watching the tree flourish with bran new leaves, blossoming into a lush verdant green. In a matter of weeks, the leaves will be big enough to provide us with enough shade.The evidence of new life has also been evident at work. My Colleague has moved on from our station, and gone on to be a vital cog in the local Schools liason Office. This is her good Karma, for all the hard work she has put in over the last half a decade. I wish her all the best for the future.Furthermore, several of our friends have been blessed with the birth of a baby. We visited one yesterday, and the baby was in a clean, safe and loving home, with two loving parents. I thought how fortunate this baby was, and wished them all the best.Buddhism says that being born in a human body is as rare as a turtle in an endless ocean who surfaces for air every 1000 years, and when he does, he put’s his head through the whole of a ring. When we think that there are more sentient beings in the animal kingdom than there are humans, it seams like this life realy is a fortunate Karma. It is sad that so many people do not take the oppertunity to make the most of their lifes.I am a practicle person. I have never believed that one religion is the true religion. To me, Buddhism is not the be all and end all of religions. Clearly there are other religions: Cristianity, Muslim, Hindu, Judeism, Taoism, Seekism to name but a handfull. It doesn’t really matter what religion you believe in, as long as you live well, and uphold your religious beliefs. You don’t even have to have a faith to live well. But the most inportant thing to do with this human life is to live well. As long as other people benefit from your existance, in some small way, all the better. As the Vulcans say in Star Trek: “Live long, and Prosper”.

As you may have noticed, I have been resolutely quiet since the recent uprisings in Tibet took place, and this is partly due to choice, and partly due to illness and technical difficulties. However, I could hardly call my self a Buddhist Blogger if I ignored the obvious struggle in the homeland of one Buddhism’s most recognisable figures.

Any regular reader would have noticed that I am a follower of His Holiness, the 14th Dalia Lama of Tibet. I have read many of his books (four in the last year), and take great inspiration from his life’s work. I am also a big believe in his Philosophy of Non-Violence. I have read many sources on him that all point to the same thing: he is one of the most trustworthy men alive. However, if one is to believe the propaganda of the press, this is not what he is. He has been painted with many brushes by the Chinese government: tyrant, dictator, liar, instigator of violence to name but a few. But this hardly sounds like the work of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner.
I have recently been watching a series on BBC 4 called “A Year in Tibet”, which follows the lives of ordinary Tibetans under Chinese rule. They range from a successful hotel owner, a Buddhist monastery to a rickshaw driver. To be honest, I am pleasantly surprised as to quality of life of the general Tibetan; in particular the Buddhist Monks (Mao Zedong is apparently famed for saying “religion is poison”). However, not all is a bunch of roses. The health care leaves much to be desired and the rural farming communities are often struggling to make ends meet. I regularly have to remind my self that I have to take what is shown with a pinch of salt, as I believe the Chinese Government have made strict restrictions on what the team were and were not allowed to film. If we were to take this footage as the only evidence of life in Tibet, many people would say “What are they rioting about? Life isn’t so bad”. But all this must be taken in to context.
Tibet has been under Chinese Government rule since 1950, when the Peoples Liberation Army entered the eastern provinces of Tibet. Wikipedia has a very brief timeline of the events that happened (click here for more info). However, the statistics shown make for less comfortable reading. The Dalai Lama, fearing imprisonment or death, left for India to set up the Tibetan Government in Exile and has been fighting his countries corner ever since. This would be a kin to the Queen leaving England and ruling from afar. Moreover, in the past, the Chinese Government was accused of breaking down and destroying Tibetan culture, although recent efforts have been made to reverse this. With all this in mind, it is no wonder Tibetans have a saw spot towards the Chinese Government.

Putting all this together, along with the constant demand from His Holiness for dialogue between the two countries, I feel that a completely Free Tibet is, for the time being at least, a long way off. However, this is not to say that all hope is lost. Let’s not forget that Tibet and China lived peacefully together for nine years, with His Holiness and the Chinese Government making concessions. So maybe a return home for His Holiness isn’t so far fetched even if he is still under rule from Beijing. After all, Britain has rule over The Falklands, and they are further away. None of this however could ever condemn the violence of the last couple of weeks, and I only hope that now the wider community has become involved that both His Holiness and the Chinese Government can agree to talk on the future of both their countries, with a satisfactory conclusion for everyone.


I have recently been watching a couple of programs that have made me think of reincarnation. The first was David Attenborough’s ‘Life in Cold Blood’. He was talking about several species of animals that had been made extinct by humans, such as Dodo’s and Tortoise’s to name but a few. If taking the concept of reincarnation to the fullest sense, it would be logical that we can also be reborn as an animal. This is something I always thought credible when I was younger, as I often wanted to become a bird. The thought of extinction is terrible when we think in human terms, but when we hear that a species of animal is extinct, few people would be traumatised. However, when we take into context that we may once have been one of that species, everything changes. With every species of animal that goes extinct, we loose another from of reincarnation. I appreciate this is taking it to the extreme, but it is worth bearing in mind.
The second program that reminded me of reincarnation was a documentary on the finding of a Peruvian mummy. I was interested as I went to Peru 4 years ago on an expedition, and wondered what the differences between Egyptian Mummies and Peruvian Mummies were. The mummy had been coated in a primitive varnish to help prevent decay. One of the ingredients was tree resin from a tree found in the south Pacific, almost 1000 miles away. Having studied Egyptology and some of the ancient South American civilizations, I couldn’t help but notice certain similarities. There is no known explanation as to how these similarities occurred 1000 miles apart (that I am aware of), but I did come up with one. Taking the concept of reincarnation again, would it not be possible for, let’s say, an Egyptian priest who was well versed to die and be reborn in another part of the world, say Mexico, and (either unconsciously or not) pass on his knowledge to his new village and so on? It’s a hazy theory at best, but fun to mull over in ones head.

It has often been said that violence on TV has translated to violence in real life. So do Bruce Willis, Nick Cage and The Simpson’s create real violence?
First of all, let’s look at the general outlook. I am not at all against the viewing ages set on most films and video games. They are a useful and more importantly, vital to keep some of the violent films out there from our younger viewers. For example, I wouldn’t dream of showing my 3 year old son Aliens or 300 (both of which rather graphic and violent films). That would be ridiculous (not to mention I wouldn’t get my sleep that night, as I’d be consoling him after each new nightmare). Age restricted products have kept some of the most violent and graphic items out of the hands of our littlen’s. However, what I am not sure of is if any of this virtual violence creates real violence. In the hands of younger viewers, yes, it may well do. But what about viewers that are slightly older? Furthermore, I am not using this as an excuse for any violence going on, that would be too easy.

Looking back, some of what could now be called classic television (such as all the original Walt Disney Films, Tom & Jerry and the Super Mario Brothers) was quite violent and graphic. I don’t think I can think of any Tom & Jerry episode where one of them wasn’t being hit, burnt, whacked, exploded, run over or drowned. But did that make me want to go out and do the same to an unsuspecting mouse or my poor Oliver (my cat). I am glad to say, no. I used to play Super Mario Brothers quite a bit on the Nintendo when I was younger. It didn’t make me want to go out and jump on any little mushrooms running about or on my mothers flower beds. And what about The Jungle Book? An absolute classic, with some of the most memorable songs still sung by many today (my son and I being two of them). But let’s admit, the scene where Shear Khan is attacking Mowgly is very violent. And what about the message it sends out to children about caring for babies? “Don’t wory about feeding the bub‘ today luv, just send it down the canal for the local badger set to look after and I’ll pick ‘im up on me’ way ‘ome from the t’ pub.” Does this mean I won’t be showing my son the Jungle book? In fact, it’s on his wish list for his birthday. Why? Because what’s important is the parenting that backs it up.

The reason I didn’t go out jumping on top of my mother’s flower bed after playing a couple rounds of Mario is because I understood it was just a game. Same with Tom & Jerry. It was a cartoon, and I knew that. I understood that the physics in this 4 minute clips were unrealistic. Furthermore, what would be gainned from shielding our little ones to the horrors of this life? Showing them mild violence and horror in their favourite televition programs set’s them up for the real world. This is why Walt Disney films had mild horror and violence. However, it’s every parent’s duty to make sure that their children understand this. It’s not just about violence, but every aspect of life. As a member of the Police force, I often see what children get up to unwatched by their parents. Now 90% of them are well behaved, and the next 5 % are just kids being kids (even I did some silly things as a kid). But there is always the few that let down the many. So to conclude, does the violence on our Television translate to violence on the streets? Who knows? It’s easy to sit behind a computer screen and spew a lot of babble, but it’s not so easy to police it. So the next time we blame violence on the TV for our next serial killer, let’s look back at the other factors behind in the killers’ life…