Druid College and Earth Day

Well, another brilliant weekend of Druid College has come and gone. We’re nearing the end of our Year 2 programme, and getting ready for the apprentices to declare their Chair, their work for Year 3. It’s an exciting time for me, to see what direction each person will take in their path to being a priest of nature, and to help guide them on their personal journey.

Some of the elements that we covered this weekend really stand out for me: crafting sacred ritual and exploring the ecstatic in ritual. As the Saturday of our weekend also coincided with Earth Day, we decided to create a ritual using the energy of the day, alongside the millions of other intentions the world over for peace, harmony and respect for this planet we call home. As Druidry is all about crafting sacred relationship, we used the time and tide as an opportunity to ride the waves of energy and, hopefully, the winds of change.

In the morning we got together and discussed the intention of the ritual, and how we could go about manifesting that intention. We hadn’t used ritual drama before, and so I suggested that Robin (our other course leader and a brilliant storyteller and actor) take on the role of someone who has lost their connection with nature, with the earth, with the fact that we are all related. In sacred space, we invited the personification of this energy, and Robin played the part to the hilt. It was difficult to hear the words he spoke (rather, yelled) in the peaceful setting of the woodland where we stood, the scent of bluebells surrounding us, the mallard ducks flying in and out of the pond next to us. Word of racism, environmental destruction, classism and more were flung into our space from the voice of a wounded individual who had lost that sense of connection, who represented everything that we work in our daily lives to heal. We had heard these words in the media, from people on the street, perhaps even from family members, words of the uselessness of nature except as a resource, words of nationalism and “foreigners”, words of the necessity of cheap manufactured goods despite the cost to human and non-human lives and more.

Then we created a container for that energy. Like an oil spill, we contained the negativity by creating a circle around the energy, holding it and stating that we will not allow it to infiltrate into our lives, and do everything we can to change and transform that energy. Circling Robin, we held hands and took in that energy.

We then needed to transform it, and so in a cauldron filled with water from the Red Spring in Glasbontury (Chalice Well) we spoke words of how we will transform that energy in our own lives.  Aware of what we can and cannot control, we decided how best we can transform and create a counter-balance to the destruction of the sacred and the values of sustainable relationship that we hold so dearly. We can change ourselves, first and foremost, and that energy will ripple outwards. And so, bringing our lips close to the cauldron we spoke, of loving friends and family despite their flaws, of working on how to heal ourselves, of how we can affect our local environment, community and more. Changing ourselves, we change the world.

We then used an elixir of vervain, created by the waters of the Red Spring and White Spring, blessed by the light of the full moon, and added three drops to the cauldron filled with holy water and our intention. Through the magic of herbs and intention, the water was blessed and transformed to heal and nourish all.

We then created a circle once more, holding hands and feeling the energy of community strong. We then opened our circle and allowed a space for Robin to join us, should he so wish. In his character, he was unsure of whether he wanted to join us or remain as he was, and so we simply stated that the circle was open to him when and if he was every ready to join. There was always room at the table.

A healing sound bath followed, where we each took up an instrument with beautiful vibrational energy, and the air was cleared with the soft sounds we created, mingling with the songs of the robins and blackbirds, the wind through the new leaves in the trees, the glow of the bluebells bright in their basking in the warm spring sunshine.

All in all, it was a wonderful ritual, created by the group and one in which everyone had a part to play, both in the ritual circle and afterwards in their own lives. A very transformational ritual, to say the least.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all involved in Druid College over the last two years, who have shared in this wonderful journey. I look forward to many more years to come.

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Dealing with depression and despair…

Dealing with depression and despair…

Being kind isn’t all that hard. Being jolly and upbeat all the time is – and is a denial of our emotions and bodily responses to certain situations.

 
I woke up yesterday in a bad mood – which has spilled over into today. The reasons for it are numerous: tiredness, frustration, a lack of compassion in the world amongst others. The Zen thing to do would be to be present in the moment, for in this moment there is all that we need. There is nothing but this moment. Feelings of despair arise when we separate ourselves from the moment, and think about the past or the future, dwelling on certain aspects and perhaps not seeing the bigger picture (or perhaps even seeing the bigger picture, which can cause us to despair even more).

 
Yes – I am quite comfortable in this present moment as I write this. I am not being shot at. I am not in fear for my life. My loved ones are safe. I have a cup of tea, and enough food to eat. My body is clean, my clothes warm. Compared to many, what on earth am I doing feeling despondent?

 
Humanity’s blessing, and curse, is the ability to see the bigger picture. This can lead to glorious ideas about the direction we should take; it can also lead to despair when we take into consideration the negative aspects of our lives on this planet. Focusing on just the positive isn’t balanced – neither is focusing on the negative. As a Druid, I am constantly seeking balance and harmony, to find my place in the world and to serve this world in the best capacity that I can, being true to my nature and honourable in my deeds.

 
I sometimes fail at this. I sometimes succeed. In this, there is balance. Of course, I aim to look at things from a balanced perspective, but on the whole we are conditioned throughout our lives to try and look at things positively. However, when looking at things negatively, we need to remember that negative does not equal apathy. If there is something we do not like, we can seek a way to change it. It’s in our hands.

 
This is not denying the negative. It is living a life with intention. Creating peace is damned hard work. It requires a person to see all sides of a story and work with the ideals of compassion and empathy. If we only acknowledged the positive things in our lives, our compassion and empathy would be seriously diminished.

 
I sometimes find myself thinking that Buddhist monks have got it pretty easy, secluded away in their monasteries, not engaging with the real world. Some do. However, I remind myself that other monks have engaged with the world in ways that I probably will never be able to – think Thich Nhat Hanh helping to rebuild villages during the Vietnam War, not taking sides with anyone and simply helping people as best he could. I’m sure at some points he too despaired, seeing children dying, homes destroyed and his country torn apart. My despair pales in comparison to this.

 
This is not to say that I should not acknowledge my own despair, however. If I did, if I pushed it to one side to focus on the positive, I’m sure that it would return to bite me on the ass at the most inopportune moment. We don’t have to give in to feelings of despair, but neither should we push them aside. We normally don’t push feelings of joy aside – we like to experience these. All feelings should be felt – and then we can move on.

 
So, tired after dance rehearsals and depressed by the amount of litter that I see along the roadsides that I will have to clear (again), apprehensive about coming engagements and a workload that was supposed to be lighter this year being heavier than ever, I am feeling my despair, my depression. I am allowing it to move through me, so that I can come out the other side having had the experience, which will hopefully transform into some sort of wisdom.

 
This despair will be self-contained – I will not be taking it out on others. I will try not to snap at people even though my emotions and reactions feel more “on edge” than normal. You can despair at the world and still be kind. You can reach out a hand to friends or family if you need to. You can write about it in a blog.

 
Above all, you are allowed to feel it, in your bones and in your soul.

Back to Reality

Reality is a slippery little devil.  Our minds are so adept at creating our own version of reality that the boundaries between what is real and what is not can become so blurred as to be indistinguishable.

Our thoughts can control us so much that they can keep us running around in circles, spinning off into the depths of our minds and in doing so, missing out on all the wonders and also the reality of the present moment.  Most people don’t enjoy being in the present moment – they avoid it at all costs. However, this is because they have probably, for the most part, never ever truly experienced being in the present moment. (See my previous blog post on mindtraps for more on this subject – https://downtheforestpath.wordpress.com/?s=mindtraps.)

But I digress.  Problems arise when our perceptions of reality become twisted with the imaginative and creative thought processes that our human brains are so capable of.  This was made clear when my husband received a phone call last night from someone he hadn’t heard from in a long time.  When he queried why the person hadn’t been in touch (he didn’t have their number) they stated that he had become upset at their last conversation, and that he had put the  phone down on them.

This was not true – I don’t believe he has ever put the phone down on anyone, and especially would never do so to this person.  This person had left the real conversation months ago, and was not satisfied with the outcome.  And so, this person developed in their minds ways that it would appear that they had been wronged, so that they could continue to avoid reality and live in their preferred state of being the victim.  They may have told and retold the story of the conversation in their minds over and over again, changing the details until, after a period of days, weeks or months, reality had changed. Stories change with the telling, we know this.  But we are fooling ourselves when we keep changing reality to suit our own egos and emotions.

I remember times when I’ve done this myself in the past – sometimes it is to justify certain behaviour, or to explain events.  The key is to become aware of when you are doing it, to stop and say “Right.  I know what the facts are, and I’m going to stick to them, and not change them to suit my own desires”.  I still get surprised when I see this in other people – I’ve had people accuse me of certain things, of promising others and of creating a totally separate reality to that which actually occurred.  It can be hurtful, at times, until you understand the thought process that creates this – you then realise that you had no part in it, that it became an entity totally foreign to your own being.

This doesn’t mean that you are not responsible for your actions – we all must be the best human beings we can at this present moment. Actions have consequences. However, we must also be aware and have some compassion for those who are caught up in their own realities, to a certain extent. We don’t have to live in them, or even partake of that reality, but we can understand the reasons why.

We have to learn how to live in the here and now.  Being alive and present in the here and now allows no time for emotional attachment to our thoughts and feelings – we still respond emotionally to situations, but we don’t become attached to the emotion itself.  As I left work yesterday, after a long staff meeting, my colleague was upset at what was said about our department, which was, unwittingly or not, derogatory.  Not only does this emphasise that we need to think very clearly before we speak, but also that we also cannot attach to the emotions that follow after a certain event.  I too was very displeased with the outcome of the meeting and the insinuation, and driving home could feel anger welling inside, threatening to ruin the whole drive home and run well into the evening. However, I caught myself, and brought myself back to reality and the present moment.  What was the present moment? Driving home, in the late afternoon sun, putting miles between myself and the event, figuratively and literally.  It was no longer happening now, except in my head.  I could either let it continue to live in my head, or simply enjoy the evening. I chose the latter.

This doesn’t mean that the issue will not be dealt with. It will, in a calm, rational and compassionate way.  But it won’t dictate reality for me – reality is what it is, and nothing more.  When the time is appropriate, the issue will be raised without undo emotional attachment to the residual event that still exists in our minds, which may have altered slightly or even greatly since the actual event occurred – reality is a slippery devil indeed.  I will not go over the event again and again in my mind, perhaps changing reality in doing so.  I will deal with the facts.

Let us continue to tell stories, but not make up the story of our own life.  Our own lives are brilliant and fascinating enough – we don’t need to add more drama to them.  By doing so, we will miss our own lives, living instead in our minds and foregoing some of the wondrous nature that is constantly unfolding right before our very eyes.  We can hurt other people by making up stories to suit our egos and our needs, and the person whom we hurt most is ourselves.

Reality is not such a bad place.  Really.

 

The benefits of meditation

Sitting in meditation with awareness transcends into every aspect of your life. I know it has done mine. It’s so hard, and yet so simple – simply to sit for at least 15 mins to half an hour each day, in total awareness.

At first it’s really hard not to fidget – trying to get comfortable, the mind is doing everything it can to move the body so that we don’t have to feel this very moment, in all its glory or mundaneness. That is my biggest hurdle – the sitting still part. Sometimes I simply can’t, and then a walking meditation will take the place of sitting meditation. However, the importance of keeping that butt on that cushion should not be underestimated.

Forcing myself into stillness, I can then imagine a rock being thrown into a pond – it settles to the bottom of its own accord, and find the stillness. Then, it is time to simply “be” in the present moment. Feeling the tension in my shoulders, hearing the wind howl outside, thick with snow. Hearing the central heating come on, the soft padding of a cat entering the room. Smelling the incense, seeing the light of the candle upon my altar. For a few, brief moments, it is blissful and relaxing.

Then come the thoughts – anyone who has ever tried to meditate knows the flurry of thoughts that will fly through your head at any given moment. It can sometimes be a Herculean task to just sit when all these thoughts are going through your head – if you’re moving, you don’t have to think about them, or notice that they are passing through your head with lightning speed. But sitting still and facing all these thoughts – it can sometimes seem futile. I’ve heard so many people say “I can’t meditate – I can’t turn off, switch off; I keep thinking a million things”. You’ve got to persevere.

So, in sitting meditation, in zazen, we don’t try to push away all these thoughts – what we learn to do is to become the observer. It’s all about noticing the thoughts that go through the mind, without attaching to them and becoming lost in them. As soon as we attach to them, we’ve lost our awareness, our sense of being an observer – instead we are a willing or unwilling participant in them, and the benefits of meditation we will rarely see.

So, with all these thoughts whizzing through my head, I become the observer. I notice that I’m thinking about the belly dance show that I’m putting on in October, that I have to start dinner soon, that a friend hasn’t been in contact for months, that the car windscreen has a sticky annoying film on it that just won’t go away – noticing the thoughts without going into them – which is supremely difficult for some thoughts. And I am not always successful either, but I eventually do catch myself getting absorbed in the thoughts at some point, and bring my attention and awareness back into the room where I am sitting in front of the alter, with the candle and incense and cats sleeping around me.

Slowly, the more and more I meditate, the less and less I become absorbed in these thoughts. However, we all have good days and bad days. But I have found when I don’t meditate for a few days, I can and do get lost in my thoughts, creating drama out of them, or becoming easily annoyed with myself or other people around me – losing that sense of connectedness, compassion and empathy. For the benefits of sitting meditation carry through into all aspects of life – seeping through like springwater into the surrounding areas, benefiting all with its nourishment.

The more I do zazen, the less irritable I am (though again, we all have good days and bad days). I notice tension in my body more throughout the day. I notice when I am being self-centred, and when I am losing myself in the drama that I have created to give my life more importance. Sitting meditation makes you realise that all this drama is self-created to a large extent. While some tragedies can still occur, the correlating attachment to them will be lessened, and life flows that much easier even in the midst of major trauma or upheaval.

You have to want to meditate. People who say they cannot perhaps haven’t tried hard enough, or don’t want it enough in their lives. You have to be willing to commit to a certain amount of time and effort each and every day, and also to a commitment not to change yourself, but to become better aware of yourself, and by doing so, flow through life better. Obstacles will still be there, but like water we can flow around them instead of slamming into them again and again, never getting any further along the way.

Your life will become more active, and less reactive – instead of reacting to every situation, you can act with empathy and compassion; your ability to respond well increases each and every day. It is a responsibility – the ability to respond. It is also learning discipline, to sit when you don’t feel like it, to be aware of your body when your mind and body both are rebelling against it, and would rather be in the made-up world of your mind instead of sitting in the reality of the here and now.

Slowly, that awareness gained through sitting meditation will affect everything you say and do, for the better. The goal is not self-improvement, however – the goal is to be in the here and now, this very moment in this very life, and to see the joy and wonder that it truly is. We are gifted with long lives, should nothing unforeseen happen, and minds that can be trained back into awareness – let’s use them to the best of our ability. By doing so, a sense of connection to the here and now, to all the beautiful life around us, will be achieved – which makes it worth the effort.

Defeating the Goblin King

Dreams
I’m a big David Bowie fan, after having fallen in love with him as a young teenager, watching Jim Henson’s film, Labyrinth. He played the Goblin King, a creature who was used to getting things his own way – he was all powerful, and the Labyrinth was his to control. Or so he thought.

It’s a wonderful tale, of a young girl coming into adolescence, of learning that life is not always what it seems, and that life is unfair. It’s also about making friendships along the way, about being kind and also familial obligations. There are so many ways to interpret the film, and I thought to look at it from a Zen point of view. It was interesting.

Our thoughts often control us, without our even realising it. These thoughts, these intangible things, have so much power over our lives. We believe in our thoughts so much, and hold to them so much. We hold on so tightly to our thoughts, and to ourselves. Who would we be without our thoughts?

Yet in Zen we try to realise the control that our thoughts have over us, by acknowledging them, by becoming the observer. Bit by bit, as we sit in meditation and go through our daily lives, we begin to see patterns emerging. We may have a thought about ourselves – I’m artistic. We tell everyone that, reinforcing that thought. Yet that is not all that we are – we may be good with animals, gardening, maths, etc. The repetitive thoughts, the ones that we say over and over again to ourselves, become a reality for us. Yet they are still thoughts, not reality. There is no substance to them.

Of course, not all thoughts are bad. We need to think, to work out problems, to get out of bed in the morning even. It is in the attachment to the thoughts that gives them a false substance, a false reality. It also can give us great pleasure, living in this fantasy land of our thoughts – it means the hardships of real life cannot affect us there. We are safe, in the bubble of our thoughts.

Most of us spend a lot of time being controlled by our thoughts – we never even realise it. Much like Sarah, the protagonist in the film, was being controlled by the Jareth, the Goblin King without her knowledge, we aren’t even aware of the power that they hold over us. They make us run around in circles, not getting anywhere, simply thinking, thinking, thinking – where is the doing? Where is the experience? We get angry at someone, and have a thought about that. Then we attach to that thought, and it can affect us for the rest of the day, week, year, or our entire lives. We all have emotional responses to situations, and thoughts about everything – but the attachment to them is where stumble and fall on each and every step. There is no progress – we’ve fallen down the oubliette of our thoughts until we are completely trapped in a small, dark and confined space.

Instead of simply experiencing the anger and then letting it go, we’ve become a prisoner of our thoughts about the situation. And all the while, the Goblin King laughs to himself, safe in his tower, loving to watch us run around in circles as the sands of time run out.

When we sit in zazen, however, we begin to notice our thoughts, our patterns of behaviour. By being the observer, we can take a step back from our thoughts and look at them without attaching to them. We can see the physical manifestations of them in our body as well – a contraction in our jaw, the hunching of our shoulders, our heart beating faster. By becoming aware, of thoughts, and indeed, of all our surroundings, we are better able to respond to situations than before. Sarah didn’t see through the illusion for a long time in the film – even though she was reminded by other characters, time and again, that nothing is what it seems. Slowly though, the illusion wavered, and the cracks in the false reality began to show. The bubble was broken, and Sarah was somewhat freed, for a time. When she finally saw through the illusion fully, and took the great leap into the unknown, literally and figuratively, that’s when she was able to come face to face with the Goblin King himself, to bring him out of hiding and face him in a final battle.

So, after much practice in zazen, after much meditation and time spent being the observer to all the thoughts that run around in our head, without getting caught up in them, we face them down. We say “enough” – we are not going to be controlled by them any longer. We see the thoughts for what they are. The thoughts fight back, with everything that they’ve got – Jareth holds out the most potent, alluring thing that we all hold so dear – our dreams. He offers them to Sarah, but Sarah now sees through the false reality. She then recites the final lines from her book back to the Goblin King, saying the powerful, magical words that will defeat him.

“Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City, to take back the child that you have stolen. For my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom is as great. You have no power over me.”

Those six words – “you have no power over me” is what can release us from the labyrinth of our minds, from the traps that our thoughts can create when we attach to them. We suddenly become free, to experience, to return to our pure self, to break loose of the chains and to truly live life to the fullest.

So, the next time we fall into despair, wishing our lives were different, we can simply say those six words – you have no power over me. When our minds are rushing around as we try to meditate, we simply observe them without getting caught up in them, and repeat you have no power over me. When someone says something nasty to us, we feel the emotion, we react (hopefully with compassion) and then we let the experience go, without attaching to it, simply by saying you have no power over me.

Then and only then can the Goblin King be defeated, and we freed from the labyrinth of our minds.

Though, I must admit, I’m sure some of us would prefer to stay in there with David Bowie 😉

Charlotte Joko Beck Interview

I really enjoy Charlotte’s way of looking at life.  I’ve copied an interview with her and the original can can be found here:- http://www.oxherding.com/my_weblog/2009/03/charlotte-joko-beck.html

Look up her books on amazon.  Then stop reading and just do it! x

Charlotte Joko Beck

Shambhala SunSpace recently published an interview with Charlotte Joko Beck, conducted by Donna Rockwell.

In my experience, few teachers have Beck’s willingness to jettison all the trappings and traditions of Buddhism, in order to express themselves without disguise. I hope you’ll read the entire interview, below.

Beck

How old were you when you started meditating?

Charlotte Joko Beck: Thirty-nine, forty, somewhere in there.

Did you have any realization through meditation?

No. Of course we have realizations, but that’s not really what drives practice.

Will you say more about that?

I meet all sorts of people who’ve had all sorts of experiences and they’re still confused and not doing very well in their life. Experiences are not enough. My students learn that if they have so-called experiences, I really don’t care much about hearing about them. I just tell them, “Yeah, that’s O.K. Don’t hold onto it. And how are you getting along with your mother?” Otherwise, they get stuck there. It’s not the important thing in practice.

And may I ask you what is?

Learning how to deal with one’s personal, egotistic self. That’s the work. Very, very difficult.

There seems to be a payoff, though, because you feel alive instead of dead.

I wouldn’t say a payoff. You’re returning to the source, you might say – what you always were, but which was severely covered by your core belief and all its systems. And when those get weaker, you do feel joy. I mean, then it’s no big deal to do the dishes and clean up the house and go to work and things like that.

Doing the dishes is a great meditation — especially if you hate it…

Well, if your mind wanders to other things while you’re doing the dishes, just return it to the dishes. Meditation isn’t something special. It’s not a special way of being. It’s simply being aware of what is going on.

Doesn’t sitting meditation prepare the ground to do that?

Sure. It gives you the strength to face the more complex things in your life. You’re not meeting anything much when you’re sitting except your little mind. That’s relatively easy when compared to some of the complex situations we have to live our way through. Sitting gives you the ability to work with your life.

I read your books.

Oh you read. Well, give up reading, O.K.?

Give up reading your books?

Well, they’re all right. Read them once and that’s enough. Books are useful. But some people read for fifty years, you know. And they haven’t begun their practice.

How would you describe self-discovery?

You’re really just an ongoing set of events: boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, one after the other. The awareness is keeping up with those events, seeing your life unfolding as it is, not your ideas of it, not your pictures of it. See what I mean?

How would you define meditation?

Awareness of what is, mentally, physically.

Can you please complete the following sentences for me? “The experience of meditation is…”

“…awareness of what is.”

“Meditative awareness has changed my life in the following way…”

“It has changed my life in the direction of it being more harmonious, more satisfactory, more joyful and more useful probably.”Though I don’t think much in those terms. I don’t wake up in the morning thinking I’m going to be useful. I really think about what I’m going to have for breakfast.”

“The one thing awareness has taught me that I want to share with all people is that…”

I don’t want to share anything with all people.

Who do you want to share with?

Nobody. I just live my life. I don’t go around wanting to share something. That’s extra.

Could you talk about that a little bit?

Well, there’s a little shade of piety that creeps into practice. You know, “I have this wonderful practice, I want to share it with everyone.” There’s an error in that. You could probably figure it out yourself.

I think that’s something I need to learn.

You and I know there’s nothing that’s going to make me run away faster than somebody who comes around and wants to be helpful. You know what I mean? I don’t want people to be helpful to me. I just want to live my own life.

Do you think you share yourself?

Yeah, but who’s that?

The non-dramatic druid

by Brian FroudDrama. We all enjoy a bit of it every now and then. Influenced by television, film and books, we act in a similar fashion to people in those tales – or how we think they would act. Life is not at all like EastEnders, and yet, how many people do you know who try to make their lives just like that particular show? I have known plenty in my brief time on this planet so far, for various reasons – boredom and low self-esteem ranking high.

 
Why do we enjoy the drama in our lives so much? Various reasons – it gives us attention, it makes us feel important, it turns our attention away from other things. When something is happening to us, we enjoy the opportunity to extol upon this, whether the situation was a positive or negative one (yet, in reality, there are no positive or negative situation, merely situations).

 
The culprit for all personal dramas is the ego. Remove the ego, and all drama ceases to be.
Remove the ego? Who would I be then?

 
We are all under the false assumption that we are our egos. In effect, our egos consist of patterns of ingrained beliefs and behaviours. All of these can be changed. If all of these can be changed, then who are we? Is there a core person in the first instance, if we all have the ability to change? What would you say if I told you that you were not the centre of the universe? You would probably agree with me (I hope). What if I told you that you were not the centre of your own universe?

 
It is only our perception of ourselves as the centre of our little universe, our dramas, that continue to lead to suffering and dissatisfaction in our lives. When we realise that, in fact, our own universe does not even exist, we can move away from both it and the drama that we create to sustain it – just think about all the energy that we pour into something that doesn’t even exist. We cannot have our own universe, for we are sharing it all the time with everything on this planet, indeed in this universe. Uni – one. Not separate. When we realise that, our worldview shifts dramatically.

 
Not being the centre of our own universe means not reacting to every little or large thing that happens in our lives. If someone upsets me, who is the “me” that they are upsetting? Why am I reacting, getting upset? For comfort from someone else, for attention, to be told that I am right and that they are a horrible person? Who is this person that is upsetting me? Who am I?

 
By combining Zen and Druidry in my spiritual path, I have come to realise many things about myself, whoever this self is. I don’t have to react to everything. Things will happen, I have no control over them. What I do have control over is my reaction to them, or lack of reaction. Much like in nature – the daffodil rises early in January, and then dies from killing frosts in February. Does it get upset about it? Why do we let our human consciousness impede our lives so much in this way, when all of nature seems to cope without the drama? The daffodil will bloom again when it can – as simple as that.

 
Seeing how nature copes, combined with the principles found in Zen (of no separation, the destruction of the “self”) has really opened my eyes over these last two years. Zen teaches us that when we see Buddha on the road, we should kill him. Why is this? Because there is no Buddha external to us – it is inherent in all of us. To believe otherwise is to believe in fallacy. When we realise that Buddha is in everyone, why be all dramatic about anything? As Charlotte Joko Beck stated, and titled a book – Nothing Special.

 
Living with this mindset, that life is nothing special, has, paradoxically, the effect of seeming to make everything special. Life becomes special, when we take our egos and the drama out of it, and see it for what it really is. It becomes real, as opposed to the imaginary world that we create to indulge our egos, our imaginary universe where we are the centre of existence. Which would you prefer to live in?

 
Note: Zen Druidry is a book that I am writing for Moon Books, looking at how Zen and Druidry can combine to create a worldview that awakens one to the natural world with full awareness. For more wonderful titles from Moon Books, please see their website at http://www.moon-books.net.