re. the Buddha - Dhamma Desaná - 08

Kinship with All

Not easy is it, to find any living being that upon this long cycle of suffering has not yet, some time or other, been related to you in some way. And how is this possible?

Inconceivable, is the beginning of this samsára; not to be discovered is a first beginning of beings who, obstructed by ignorance and ensnared by craving, are hurrying and hastening through this cycle of suffering.

SN 15:14-19

As I continue to look at and contemplate the Buddha's Dhamma in a systematic way and, for now, his words relating to the First Truth – The Noble Truth of Suffering, I come to this short and profound discourse. Suffering has been going on for a very long time and I am related to all of that suffering through my relationship with all of those who have suffered.

We are all connected and we all share in all of the suffering that has been experienced in the past, in all of the suffering that is going on in the world right now, and in all of the suffering that will be experienced in the future. It's hard not to be humbled a bit by that understanding. It's hard not to feel compassion for all of my relatives, everyone - past, present, and future.

When I think of this connection, I feel it in a couple different ways and it extends beyond the obvious human connection. All life on this planet comes from the same chemically charged primordial soup some 4 billion years ago - we're all from the same source, all life. I am certainly connected to all of life in this way. My connection to animals sometimes feels stronger than my connection with people, but that's probably just me. In any case, I know that I am connected to all life and, therefore, to all suffering, whether I personally experience it or not.

Besides the material connection, I believe I have an immaterial connection to all life and that this may actually be more relevant. I recognize a mental connection, a connection of consciousness, that exists across all higher life forms. I think of it as a pool of consciousness that we all are a part of, even if we don't recognize it. When that pool is overflowing with suffering (fear, anxiety, hate, whatever), we all experience it at some level, like it or not.

When I remove suffering from my life, I am no longer adding suffering to the pool of consciousness, I am no longer part of the problem. When I fill my life with peace and an abiding happiness, I am contributing to the good of the pool of consciousness and I am then part of the solution.

I recognize that the numbers are against me - 1 vs. 7,400,000,000 - and that's just the people. Ugh. The Buddha said that walking the path was 'going against the stream' and so it clearly is, but 'going with the stream', a stream so full of suffering, is not a path I want to walk.

re. the Buddha - Dhamma Desaná - 07

Duration of One World-Period

Long, lasts one world-period, and it is not possible to count it as so many years, so many centuries, so many millennia, so many hundred millennia. Suppose there was a mighty rock, one mile deep, one mile wide, one mile high, without breaches or crevices, of one solid mass. And whenever a hundred years have elapsed, a man would come and rub against this rock only once with a little silken cloth. Then this mighty rock would vanish quicker than one world-period lasts. This is the duration of one world-period. But through many such world-periods, have beings hurried and hastened, through many hundreds, many thousands, many hundred thousands.

And how is this possible? Inconceivable, is the beginning of this samsára, not to be discovered is a first beginning of beings who, obstructed by ignorance and ensnared by craving, are hurrying and hastening through this cycle of suffering.

SN 15:5

In the previous Dhamma Desaná, the Buddha spoke of the Immensity of Samsára making it clear that suffering has been going on for a very long time, much longer than I can imagine. In that discourse, the Buddha mentioned a 'single world-period' and in this brief discourse, he expands a little further on that in order to make it clear that there really is no beginning of suffering - it's always been around. As long as there has been beings and ignorance, there has been suffering.

This made me think of this world-period that I'm a part of. According to people who claim to know such things, this planet and the system that it is a part of, is 4 1/2 billion years old. Is that the world-period that the Buddha speaks of? Don't know. The Milky Way Galaxy, which includes our Solar System is around 12 billion years old and the Universe, which includes everything, is more than 13 billion years old. Maybe that's a world-period. Don't know.

It doesn't matter much - in any case, it's a very long time. The important thing for me is to recognize that suffering is the direct consequence of ignorance, now, or a billion years from now. Why is there so much suffering in the world - because, there's so much ignorance. That ignorance makes it impossible for me to see things as they really are. That ignorance creates craving, wanting and rejecting stuff, a feeling of unhappiness and unsatisfactoriness - suffering.

All of this reminds me once again that I need to see things clearly, to keep things in perspective. In all of this time and in all of this suffering, are my problems really that bad? I (ego & ignorance) think they are, but really? When I rise above ignorance and move beyond the ego, to see things as they really are, my problems are not really problems any more, just situations to be dealt with or ignored, as the case may be.

Suffering has been going on for a very long time, but I need not allow it to be a part of my life. It's my choice.

re. James Allen - The Path to Prosperity - 01

The Lesson of Evil

Unrest and pain and sorrow are the shadows of life. There is no heart in all the world that has not felt the sting of pain, no mind has not been tossed upon the dark waters of trouble, no eye that has not wept the hot blinding tears of unspeakable anguish.

There is no household where the Great Destroyers, disease and death, have not entered, severing heart from heart, and casting over all the dark pall of sorrow. In the strong, and apparently indestructible meshes of evil all are more or less fast caught, and pain, unhappiness, and misfortune wait upon mankind.

With the object of escaping, or in some way mitigating this overshadowing gloom, men and women rush blindly into innumerable devices, pathways by which they fondly hope to enter into a happiness which will not pass away.

Such are the drunkard and the harlot, who revel in sensual excitements; such is the exclusive aesthete, who shuts himself out from the sorrows of the world, and surrounds himself with enervating luxuries; such is he who thirsts for wealth or fame, and subordinates all things to the achievement of that object; and such are they who seek consolation in the performance of religious rites.

And to all the happiness sought seems to come, and the soul, for a time, is lulled into a sweet security, and an intoxicating forgetfulness of the existence of evil; but the day of disease comes at last, or some great sorrow, temptation, or misfortune breaks suddenly in on the unfortified soul, and the fabric of its fancied happiness is torn to shreds.

So over the head of every personal joy hangs the Damocletian sword of pain, ready, at any moment, to fall and crush the soul of him who is unprotected by knowledge.

The child cries to be a man or woman; the man and woman sigh for the lost felicity of childhood. The poor man chafes under the chains of poverty by which he is bound, and the rich man often lives in fear of poverty, or scours the world in search of an elusive shadow he calls happiness.

Sometimes the soul feels that it has found a secure peace and happiness in adopting a certain religion, in embracing an intellectual philosophy, or in building up an intellectual or artistic ideal; but some overpowering temptation proves the religion to be inadequate or insufficient; the theoretical philosophy is found to be a useless prop; or in a moment, the idealistic statue upon which the devotee has for years been laboring, is shattered into fragments at his feet.

Is there, then, no way of escape from pain and sorrow? Are there no means by which bonds of evil may be broken? Is permanent happiness, secure prosperity, and abiding peace a foolish dream?

No, there is a way, and I speak it with gladness, by which evil can be slain for ever; there is a process by which disease, poverty, or any adverse condition or circumstance can be put on one side never to return; there is a method by which a permanent prosperity can be secured, free from all fear of the return of adversity, and there is a practice by which unbroken and unending peace and bliss can be partaken of and realized.

And the beginning of the way which leads to this glorious realization is the acquirement of a right understanding of the nature of evil.

It's interesting to me that James Allen starts from the same starting place as the Buddha. This is from the first chapter of his first book, The Path to Prosperity, written in 1901. The words above, are the first words of that chapter, there is more, but these words struck a cord on this reading. James calls it evil here, the Buddha calls it suffering, it's the same thing, the same problem of life.

Both teachers remind me that there is a way to overcome this problem, to move toward the opposite of the problem - the solution. Both teachers also remind me that clearly understanding the problem is the first step toward the solution. Often, when I really look into a problem that I may be experiencing, the solution is obvious. Sometimes, I need to recognize that by removing the particular cause to the problem, the problem ceases. Sometimes, I need to recognize that the problem changes in time, like everything else, and so I need to be patient. Sometimes, I need to recognize that the problem is just a part of life and I need to accept it. Always, there is an opportunity to learn from the problem and to be better prepared in the future.

Problems arise and will always arise from time to time - that's just the way things are. A problem only really becomes a problem when I allow it to be, when I make it a problem in my mind. In truth, they are all just experiences that I go through - hopefully with a little wisdom. Understanding their true nature makes them manageable and puts them into proper perspective.

The remainder of the chapter moves me toward a better understanding of evil and, as with all of his writings, is very inspiring. The next time I sit down with James Allen, it will be to consider Chapter 2 of The Path to Prosperity.

re. Lao Tzu - Tao Te Ching - 01

What is Tao?

You can call what we’re going to talk about Tao,
but don’t try to figure out what it is.
You can give a name to anything,
but that doesn’t tell you what it is.

Nothing was born with a name.
People came up with names for them all.

If you’re not looking for anything in particular,
everything looks good.
If you’re looking for something in particular,
it’s harder to find.

Sometimes you look and sometimes you don’t.
Both are cool.
How can you be looking for something
and not be looking for something at the same time?
That’s where the fun begins.
Nina Correa

So, what is the Tao? This first chapter tells me that I shouldn't get too caught up on words, but it's helpful to have some definition to work with. The Chinese character 'Tao' means way or road, from which derive the meanings of direction, rule, and principle. In the Tao Te Ching, the word 'Tao' is used to refer to the ultimate reality or the universal truth. The Tao Te Ching is a book about the truth of the universe and how its power can be applied to life. The Buddha tells us to see things as they really are - to see things in this way is to witness the Tao.

When I think of the Buddha and Lao Tzu, I recognize both as enlightened beings. The Buddha teaches in a very methodical way setting out a path that we can each follow towards that state of enlightenment if we so choose. Lao Tzu describes that state of enlightenment from an enlightened perspective, which makes it conceptually distant and difficult to grasp from a worldly perspective. Ultimately, I believe they are coming from the same place and I feel the two teachings, the Dhamma and the Tao, compliment and support each other.

I can not say that I understand everything that Lao Tzu is saying in the Tao Te Ching - every time I sit down and contemplate the words of any given chapter, different things come to mind. There are so many different translations of this profound teaching that stir up different thoughts and so, when I consider a chapter, I like to look at a number of translations of it. Here in my Journal, I'll include a translation by Nina Correa and one by Ron Hogan, both of which are rather light and fun. On the related page (linked below), I'll included a Chinese-English verbatim translation and nine other translations for my contemplation. I don't believe there is one right translation - unlike the Buddha, Lao Tzu was not trying to be precise or specific and was certainly not methodical in his teachings as the Buddha was. I think that's part of what makes the Tao Te Ching so interesting and worthy of contemplation.

Reflecting on this chapter, I remind myself that I carry a lot of baggage or conditioning that makes it difficult for me to see things as they really are. I need to go beyond the name, the words and all the conditioning and experience things more like a child - completely open to the experience, without any pre-judgement or expectations, without wanting or rejecting, but with a little wide-eyed wonder. When I drop all the words, all the baggage, I get closer and my experience is greater. This is the only way that I can see things as they really are and this is where the wisdom is.
If you can talk about it,
it ain't Tao.
If it has a name,
it's just another thing.

Tao doesn't have a name.
Names are for ordinary things.

Stop wanting stuff;
it keeps you from seeing what's real.
When you want stuff,
all you see are things.

Those two sentences
mean the same thing.
Figure them out,
and you've got it made.
Ron Hogan

re. the Buddha - Dhamma Desaná - 06

The Immensity of Samsára

Inconceivable is the beginning of this samsára; not to be discovered is a first beginning of beings who, obstructed by ignorance and ensnared by craving, are hurrying and hastening through this cycle of suffering.

Which do you think is more: the flood of tears which, weeping and wailing, have been shed upon this long way - hurrying and hastening through this cycle of suffering, united with the undesired, separated from the  desired - this, or the waters in the four great oceans?

Long have beings suffered the death of father and mother, of sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters. And while beings were thus suffering they have, indeed, shed more tears upon this long way than there is water in the four great oceans.

Which do you think is more: the streams of blood that, through beings being beheaded, have flowed upon this long way - this, or the waters in the four great oceans?

Long have beings been caught as robbers, or highwaymen, or adulterers; and through beings being beheaded, truly more blood has flowed upon this long way than there is water in the four great oceans.

And thus, have beings long undergone suffering, undergone torment, undergone misfortune, and filled the graveyards full; truly, long enough to be dissatisfied with all forms of existence, long enough to turn away and free yourselves from them all.

If one were to heap up all the bones of those who have suffered, hurrying and hastening for one single world-period through this cycle of suffering, and the bones were not to decay, there would arise a mountain of bones as big as this Vepulla mountain.

And how is this possible? Inconceivable is the beginning of this samsára; not to be discovered is a first beginning of beings who, obstructed by ignorance and ensnared by craving, are hurrying and hastening through this cycle of suffering.

SN 15:3, 13, 10

So much suffering, for so long and it continues and will continue - that's just the way it is. I know that these are nice analogies, but there's certainly some truth here. There's 7.4 billion people on the planet today, but there's been more than a hundred billion people that have come and gone up to now. I know that many died peacefully, but many more died in ways that are pretty brutal. Take all the bones of all of them and pile them up and I have to think there would certainly be a mountain. And what about all the other beings, the animals and other non-human beings - that would make a pretty massive mountain, I would think.

Reflecting on this discourse and contemplating Samsára helps to put things into perspective. My problems, my suffering really is pretty insignificant when looked at from the larger view of things. I know that in the middle of some great problem, my suffering seems paramount, but it's nothing in the big picture. My ego wants to think that my suffering is huge, but it isn't. It's really nothing compared to all the suffering that has been experienced by all beings. I need to do a little reality check when my ego makes my personal problems and suffering seem so important.

One other thought that arises from this discourse is the realization of the real cause of all suffering - as long as I am 'obstructed by ignorance and ensnared by craving', I'm going to suffer. To overcome ignorance, I need to develop wisdom - wisdom is the key, it allows me to overcome craving and ultimately to overcome suffering. I'm not going to be able to stop 7.4 billion people from suffering, but with wisdom I can overcome my share of it. That's a pretty good place to start.

re. the Buddha - Dhamma Desaná - 05

The Inflexible Law of Nature

Four things nobody can bring about, no ascetic, brahmin, or heavenly being, no god nor devil nor anyone in this world.  And what are these four things?

That what is subject to aging may not age; that what is subject to sickness may not fall sick; that what is subject to death may not die; that actions subject to results may not have results.  These four things nobody can bring about, no ascetic, brahmin, or heavenly being, no god nor devil nor anyone in this world.

AN 4:182

I suppose the problem with a Truth, any truth, is that you can't change it, you can't avoid it - it is what it is and it doesn't matter who you are, you're going to have to deal with it. That's just the way it is and I have to accept it.

There's not much I can do about aging, I can take care of myself and exercise regularly, and I do. I recognize that as I get older, my flexibility decreases all too quickly and so I do about forty-five minutes of stretching each morning. I've been following that with a good brisk walk of about five kilometers or one hour. The muscles also shrink with age and so an hour of strength training gets added a few days a week. None of this will stop me from aging, but it should make the process a little easier to deal with. However, aging is not just physical - there's a big mental aspect to it as well. Staying young at heart or in mind, I think is equally important. In this regard, I feel I'm doing quite ok - my riding definitely keeps me young at heart and fills me with much pleasure. I can't get around aging, but I feel I'm in a good flow with it.

Sickness, ugh. I don't get sick that often and when I do I tend to recover from it quickly, but it still bites every now and then. I'm just getting through an encounter with this truth of life - first one in quite a while, but it happens. I know that the things I do physically to age gracefully also have a big influence on my day-to-day health. A daily dose of vitamins gets thrown in for insurance. I feel quite blessed to have the health I have and so I may not completely avoid sickness, it doesn't visit much and when it does, it doesn't hang around long.

Besides a few close calls, death hasn't come visiting yet, obviously, although it has come close and taken a couple of those who I loved. In another discourse, the Buddha tells us that, in addition to the four listed in this discourse, we can not avoid losing people or things that we care for. Another truth of this life. There's not much I can do about death - I could play it super safe and avoid as much risk as possible, but that would take a lot out of life. I think it better to live life in a way that brings few regrets when death does eventually come - doing the things that are important to me while I'm alive.

The fourth truth that the Buddha lists in this discourse is, I think, the most important. It may give me a lot of grief if my actions are unwise, but I can be assured of much happiness if my actions are wise ones. Clearly, it is wise physical actions that I'm using to deal with age and health, and I benefit from the results of those actions. I recognize that action is not just physical - it's mental and it's verbal, it's all that I think, say, or do. This is the area where I have the greatest opportunity to create a life that brings the fewest regrets when death comes.

The Buddha talks a lot about suffering, but his teaching is really about living life well and avoiding suffering. He reminds me that I create my life - it's not a product of someone else's actions, it's my actions that determine my life. Once I think, speak or act, I will have to live with the consequences of those actions, but if I act wisely in a way that benefits myself or others, now or in the future, those consequences are inevitable and they are good. I think that's what the practice is all about - living wisely, staying on the path.

re. the Buddha - Dhamma Desaná - 04

The Three Heavenly Messengers

Did you never see in the world a man or a woman, eighty, ninety, or a hundred years old, frail, crooked as a gable roof, bent down, resting on crutches, with tottering steps, infirm, youth long since fled, with broken teeth, grey and scanty hair or none, wrinkled, with blotched limbs?  And did the thought never come to you that you too are subject to decay, that you too cannot escape it?

Did you never see in the world a man or a woman, sick, afflicted, grievously ill, wallowing in his own filth, lifted up by some, and put to bed by others?  And did the thought never come to you that you too are subject to sickness, that you too cannot escape it?

Did you never see in the world the corpse of a man, one, two, or three days after death, swollen up, blue-black in colour, and full of corruptions?  And did the thought never come to you that you too are subject to death, that you too cannot escape it?

AN 3:35

The nature of suffering was brought to the Buddha's attention by these three messengers. The sight and deep reflection of these three realities of life caused him to seek out the true nature of suffering and a way to rise above it. In the end, of course, I can not rise above aging, sickness and death, but I can avoid all of the suffering wrapped around these natural conditions of life if I really understand them. I don't think we really sit down and consider these things - most of our energy is spent trying to avoid them. A visit to an old age home, a hospital, or a funeral home, may make us think about them, but within a few hours or days, those thoughts are gone and we're back to thinking that we'll live forever, won't get sick and definitely won't die.

It has been my experience that when I deeply reflect on these things, it motivates me to be better, do better, knowing that those messengers are going to touch me at some point. I suppose thinking of these things could depress some people, and that's probably why most people don't want to spend time thinking about them, but that would not be looking at them wisely. If I contemplate them without the ego involved, I can see them for what they really are. They are just a natural part of life, of being human. I remind myself that life without aging, sickness, and death, would not be life at all, at least not the way I know it or would want it to be.

I think it is these things that make life precious - the very precarious nature of life makes it precious. Knowing the true nature of life motivated the Buddha to find a way that he and all of us can rise above the unnecessary suffering of life. Knowing that this time, this good time, is limited, motivates me to be the best I can be. I can not escape aging, sickness, or death, but I can live without suffering. That's the Buddha's message brought about by these three messengers.

re. the Buddha - Dhamma Desaná - 03

The First Truth – The Noble Truth of Suffering

What, now, is the Noble Truth of Suffering?

Birth is suffering; Decay is suffering; Death is suffering; Sorrow, Lamentation, Pain, Grief, and Despair are suffering; not to get what one desires, is suffering; in short: the Five Aspects of Existence are suffering.

What, now, is Birth? The birth of beings belonging to this or that order of beings, their being born, their conception and springing into existence, the manifestation of the Aspects of Existence, the arising of sense activity: this is called birth.

And what is Decay? The decay of beings belonging to this or that order of beings; their becoming aged, frail, grey, and wrinkled; the failing of their vital force, the wearing out of the senses: this is called decay.

And what is Death? The departing and vanishing of beings out of this or that order of beings. Their destruction, disappearance, death, the completion of their life-period, dissolution of the Aspects of Existence, the discarding of the body: this is called death.

And what is Sorrow? The sorrow arising through this or that loss or misfortune which one encounters, the worrying oneself, the state of being alarmed, inward sorrow, inward woe: this is called sorrow.

And what is Lamentation? Whatsoever, through this or that loss or misfortune which befalls one, is wail and lament, wailing and lamenting, the state of woe and lamentation: this is called lamentation.

And what is Pain? The bodily pain and unpleasantness, the painful and unpleasant experience produced by bodily impression: this is called pain.

And what is Grief? The mental pain and unpleasantness, the painful and unpleasant experience produced by mental impression: this is called grief.

And what is Despair? Distress and despair arising through this or that loss or misfortune which one encounters: distressfulness, and desperation: this is called despair.

And what is the 'Suffering of not getting what one desires'? To beings subject to decay, disease, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair, the desire comes to them: 'O, that we were not subject to these things! O, that these things were not before us!' But this cannot be got by mere desiring; and not to get what one desires, is suffering.

And what, in brief, are the Five Aspects of Existence? They are corporeality, experience, perception, mental formations, and consciousness.


The Buddha talked a lot about suffering, but it makes sense that he would. He wanted to know why there was so much suffering - there had to be a reason and a way to overcome it. I also want to overcome it and so I need to clearly understand suffering and exactly what the Buddha meant by it. The word that is being translated to suffering is the Pali word 'Dukkha' and 'suffering' isn't really the best word to use, but it is the one that is generally used. The word 'Dukkha' in the Pali language could be used for every kind and degree of suffering, from the slightest discomfort to the greatest pain.  From Nyanatiloka's 'Buddhist Dictionary', I can get a much better understanding of what the Buddha meant when he used it in the Four Noble Truths...
(1) 'pain', painful feeling, which may be bodily and mental.
(2) 'Suffering', 'ill'. As the first of the Four Noble Truths and the second of the three characteristics of existence, the term dukkha is not limited to painful experience as under (1), but refers to the unsatisfactory nature and the general insecurity of all conditioned phenomena which, on account of their impermanence, are all liable to suffering, and this includes also pleasurable experience. Hence 'unsatisfactoriness' or 'liability to suffering' would be more adequate renderings, if not for stylistic reasons. Hence, the first truth does not deny the existence of pleasurable experience, as is sometimes wrongly assumed.
When the Buddha says 'this is suffering, that is suffering', I think of it as 'this is subject to suffering, that is subject to suffering'. 'This' or 'that' is not necessarily in itself suffering, but it can lead to suffering if I am not wise. I also like the word 'unsatisfactoriness', but it is a mouthful and difficult to render in the text, as Nyanatiloka says.

The suffering that the Buddha is speaking of is psychological or mental suffering. Physical suffering, I think of as pain, and is just part of the human condition - I can take precautions to avoid it, but every now and then I crash and my body experiences the consequences - ouch. Whether or not I suffer mentally, as a result, is up to me.

The Five Aspects of Existence is the way the Buddha considered the individual. The Buddha used the word 'khandha', which usually gets translated as groups or aggregates, but I've used the word 'aspects', thinking this may be a better way of understanding this important teaching, of which, much more will be spoken.

Even though I experience a lot of good in my life, and I really do, there is the potential for suffering if I'm not wise. Most people get attached to those good things and then they suffer when those things change, as they must. Everything changes - another great teaching of the Buddha, and most people don't like change and so they suffer.

There is certainly a great deal of suffering in the world, but it need not be that way. There could be a lot of suffering in my life as well if I were to live it without wisdom. Ultimately, it's up to me - my choices, my actions, my practice - every day, every moment.

re. the Buddha - Dhamma Desaná - 02

Visible Only To The Wise

As long as the absolutely true knowledge and insight as regards these Four Noble Truths was not quite clear in me, so long was I not sure that I had won that supreme Enlightenment which is unsurpassed in all the world. But as soon as the absolute true knowledge and insight as regards these Four Noble Truths had become perfectly clear in me, there arose in me the assurance that I had won that supreme Enlightenment unsurpassed.
S. LVI. 11

And I discovered that profound truth, so difficult to perceive, difficult to understand, tranquilizing and sublime, which is not to be gained by mere reasoning, and is visible only to the wise.

The world, however, is given to pleasure, delighted with pleasure, enchanted with pleasure. Truly, such beings will hardly understand the law of conditionality, the Dependent Origination (paticcasamuppáda) of everything; incomprehensible to them will also be the end of all formations, the fading away of craving, detachment, extinction, Nibbána.

Yet there are beings whose eyes are only a little covered with dust: they will understand the truth.

M. 26

Enlightenment is one of those words with so much baggage that it makes it difficult to really understand what it means. Doing a little search, I find Enlightenment refers to the 'full comprehension of a situation' - I like that. It literally means 'awakening' and 'understanding' and refers to insight into our true nature - I like that as well - it takes away some of the mystery of the word. It makes me think of 'Know Thyself', the Delphic maxim that was inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi and spoken of by Socrates.

Indeed, it is a profound truth and one very difficult to understand. It seems to me most people don't bother, but then I suppose most people are not that wise. They weren't that wise 2,500 years ago, it seems, and they aren't that wise today. In a world that is so materialistic, I find it interesting that we haven't really changed - it seems we've always been that way. Spending all of our time trying to get what we don't have and trying to get rid of what we do - never satisfied with what we have and therefore, never really happy.

Some things that the Buddha taught are truly incredible and Dependent Origination is one of those teachings - one that I will come back to in detail. It's the basis of causation and understanding cause and effect is one of the most important steps to the 'full comprehension of a situation'. I look forward to examining these teachings once again as this study progresses.

Thinking about 'eyes covered in dust', I recognize that the 'dust' is really my fixed views that get in the way of seeing things as they really are. I've let go of a lot of stuff since finding the Buddha and conditioned views and opinions is a big one. These are the things that really stop me from seeing things as they really are. I'm reminded of a statement that goes something like, 'It's not the things I don't know that cause me trouble, it's the things I know, that just ain't so'. There were some things that I believed to be true, but simply weren't and it was those conditioned beliefs that would not let me see the truth.

I know now that a big part of the Buddha's teachings is letting go of old conditioned views and opinions and seeing things fresh, without pre-judgement - seeing things as they really are. It will take more to become enlightened, but removing the dust from the eyes makes it possible - only then can I understand the truth.

re. the Buddha - Dhamma Desaná - 01

Not Understanding Four Things

It is through not understanding, not penetrating four things, that I as well as you had to wander so long through this cycle of suffering.  And what are these four things?

They are: the noble truth of suffering, the noble truth of the origin of suffering, the noble truth of the cessation of suffering, and the noble truth of the (eightfold) path leading to the cessation of suffering.

Through not understanding, not penetrating these Four Noble Truths, I as well as you had to wander so long through this cycle of suffering.

DN 16

It all starts with a question - why is there suffering in the world? It could have been a personal question - why is there suffering in my life? It's such an important question and one that really should be considered. It's the one that moved the Buddha to Enlightenment and it's the one that could make my life so much easier to live, whether or not I call myself enlightened. I think living from the perspective of understanding why there is suffering in my life, is a place of enlightenment. What is enlightenment anyway? I think it's knowing how to live rightly, how to live without suffering. When the Buddha understood suffering and what causes it, when he understood what the state without suffering looked like and when he figured out the way to get there, he knew he was enlightened.

Do I really know the Four Noble Truths? I know them from my study, but do I really know them? I guess the difference is in the penetration of the Four Noble Truths. I've taken that to mean internalizing them, but it may be more than that or I may have not yet internalized them completely. I think that when something is really internalized, it influences all of my thoughts, words and actions - I live differently. I'm certainly living differently than I was before I knew the Buddha's Dhamma, but I know I have work to do still. I do know that there really is much less suffering in my life - I dare say I am almost free of suffering. I know that there is no suffering in my life today (and there wasn't yesterday either) and I'm ok with taking it one day at a time. Really, as long as I strive to live each day, each moment free of suffering, that's good enough for me. Isn't that enlightenment? Maybe not full blown Buddha enlightenment, but it's good enough for me.

I am once again struck by the power that lies in the structure of the Four Noble Truths. It could easily be about any problem. The first Noble Truth is about clearly understanding the problem - so often I try to fix things without really understanding what is broken. The second Noble Truth is understanding where the problem originated, it's cause or source. The third Noble Truth is about the ultimate solution to the problem - what things will look like when the problem is no longer there. The fourth Noble Truth is the way to go from the current situation to the ideal situation, from the problem to the solution. This is like a 'How to Deal With Problems 101' and it's this clear structure of the Buddha's teachings that has impressed me from the very beginning.

If I can deal with my problems in this straight forward methodical way - understand it clearly, know what caused it, envision the problem free state, and create a direct chain of actions to go from where I am to where I want to be, how could I still suffer? No problems - no suffering. And if I understand the cause of my problem and I remove the cause, then the problem is gone and again, no suffering.

I think many people never try to understand their suffering, they just continue suffering. One of the great things for me that the Buddha points out is that suffering is not mandatory - I do not have to suffer. I can live a life free of suffering. Yes, I will grow old, get sick, have accidents (crashes) and get hurt, and one day die, but that need not be accompanied with suffering. Ultimately, I choose not to suffer, one day, one moment at a time - I think that's a good start.

re. continuing

So this should be the last of the introductions - I have used them as a way for me to tweak the site and get it to the way I had wanted. I think it's pretty much set up now. I've also posted them in case someone falls onto this site by some accident and they're wondering what this is all about. As I said when I first started, it's really just a place for me to continue my personal studies as well as honour and share the wisdom of my Teachers. For the most part, my study is focused on the Teachings of the Buddha, but if I was to go back to the forest with just my monk bags, I would want to take the words of James Allen with me for inspiration and the writings of Lao Tzu with me for contemplation. So, everything that I would take with me to the forest, I will keep here on this site. My Study Journal is in the main left panel and my study material listed in the right side panel.

I could not take all of the Discourses of the Buddha with me as that would be a pile of books 35 1/2" high (I know, because I just measured it), so instead, I would bring just three books by the Venerable Nyanatiloka Thera: 'The Word of the Buddha', 'The Buddha's Path to Deliverance', and 'The Buddhist Dictionary'. I feel a strong connection to his writings and these three books because he explains everything using the actual words of the Buddha. These are not books about his view of the Buddha's Teachings, these are books of the Buddha's Teachings. So they would come with me and they will be the ones to represent the Buddha's word on this site. The first one is up, the second will take some time to edit and prepare, and the third is started, but will also take some time to complete.

I would also take the inspiring words of James Allen with me. I only have 'As A Man Thinketh' in print, but because his books were relatively small, I think I would print them all out to take with me and so, I will be putting all of them up on the site over the next little while. His writing is a hundred years old and seems to be very sexist in this politically correct age, but once past that, it is some of the most inspiring wisdom that I have come across and will add nicely to the Buddha's Teachings.

Finally, I would take the writings of Lao Tzu, his Tao Te Ching, with me to contemplate. I would want to take a literal translation and a few example translations for each of the 81 chapters and so that is what I will prepare and put up here on the site. There is no one right translation and I have over a hundred translations to choose from, but that's part of what makes it so interesting to contemplate. It's deep, it's mysterious, but it's also extremely profound and will add something quite different, but very rewarding, to the Buddha's Teachings.

The focus of my study will be the Buddha's Dhamma, approaching it in a very methodical way, guided by the outline created in Nyanatiloka's books, 'The Buddha's Path to Deliverance' and 'The Word of the Buddha' with reference to 'The Buddhist Dictionary'. Nyanatiloka is my guide in this journey and the Buddha's teaching will be the center of study. I will toss in a chapter of James Allen here and there to lift and lighten things up and throw in a chapter of the Tao Te Ching every now and then to get down and deep. Between these three Teachers, there is an incredible path to explore and study.

My method of study is perhaps a little strange because I make use of my ASUS Zenfone 2 and it works something like this. I get comfortable in my chair and I start the session with a short silent meditation, usually with the breath as subject, to clear the mind and create a still space to work (fortunately, there's not much up there so it doesn't take too long to empty). I then bring in the new subject, the material that I want to consider for the session. I will have the selected material cut and pasted into the text app that I use on the phone - QuickEdit Text Editor Pro from Rhythm Software. I read it out loud while recording my words with the built-in ASUS Sound Recorder and then will play back the recording a few times during the session. In between listening to the recording, I just sit with it and let whatever comes up, come up. If something does come up, I record my thoughts using the phone again and the Google Voice Recorder that turns my spoken word into text added to the selected material in the text file. If nothing comes up - that's ok too. The session ends after about an hour.

Later, I can open the text file on the phone or computer and edit and add to it so that I can then post the file to this journal to keep a record of my study. I do this either right away on the computer or later on the phone, with a keyboard, at a cafe. I know it sounds a little weird or techy, but it works quite well and actually allows me to focus on the material better than if I were using books, pen and paper. I do turn off all notification during the session so that I'm not disturbed or distracted.

So this is contemplation more than it is a study. I'm more interested in the thoughts that come from contemplating the material. I'm not interested in trying to remember all of the material, like in school, and I'm not interested in trying to prove whether the material is right or wrong - I take it on faith that my Teachers are telling me the truth. This is true Insight meditation - the practice that leads to insights and the meditation subject is the selected material for that particular session.

I should also say that I'm not here to teach anyone anything - the Buddha through Nyanatiloka, Lao Tzu, and James Allen are the Teachers. What I say here doesn't matter much - it's just a record of my thoughts along the way, along the path. I put them here only to have something to look back on as a record of the journey. The wisdom in the right side column is the real treasure on this site and I share it out of respect and appreciation for those teachers who changed my life and continue to influence it.

That's it then. Things will likely change as time goes on, but this is my starting plan. I would like to have a session and therefore, a posting here in the journal each day, but there are always other things competing for time. We'll see. I will need to tweak the format of the entries a little, but I think I have it pretty much figured out for now. For the words of the Buddha, I'll be working within the structure created by Nyanatiloka and I'll include the discourse being considered in the Study Journal entry and I'll create a new file called 'Dhamma Desaná', which means exposition of teachings, that will have a copy of all the discourses considered with links back to the Study Journal entries in which they are considered. For the words of Lao Tzu, I'll include a translation of the chapter of the Tao Te Ching being considered in the journal entry and I'll create a file for each chapter that will have a literal translation. along with a number of translations. with links back to the Study Journal entries in which that chapter is considered. And for the words of James Allen, I'll start with his first published book and work my way through all of them in the order that he wrote them and I'll include clips of the chapter being considered in the Study Journal and I'll put up a file of the full book that it comes from in the right side panel. That should do it.

Finally, as this is the 'Path' to NoWhere or NowHere (I do like the play on that word), I will throw in the occasional picture of a path along the way, only because I like the image and the idea of a Path that brings us from where we are to a new place, a place we haven't been before, a place where we can be our true self, our best. That's where the Path can bring us if we're willing to make the effort and that's what this is all about - being the best we can be, always and in all ways.

re. finding Lao Tzu

I've spent a great deal of time over the past twenty years studying the Buddha's Dhamma, his teachings as found in the early Pali texts. I became quite interested in what has been called, the Axial Age - the period between 800 to 200 B.C.E. It was the time of the Buddha, but it was also the time in which all foundations that underlie current civilization came into being. The Axial Age plays a central, foundational, or crucial role in human history. So many of the great philosophers and religious leaders including the Buddha, Mahavira, Lao Tzu, Confucius, Zarathustra (of the Mesopotamians), Moses, and many of the great Greek philosophers including Heraclitus, Plato and Socrates, flourished at roughly the same time, as if something parallel was happening in the world, although people were unaware that similar or complimentary ideas were being developed at the same time.

Of those great teachers, Lao Tzu struck a cord with me and his teachings have interested me very much since. He would have roughly been a contemporary of the Buddha, but his history is much more mysterious. According to legend, Lao Tzu was the keeper of the archives in the Zhou imperial court as it grew increasingly morally corrupt. When he was eighty years old he set out on a water buffalo for the western border of China, toward what is now Tibet, saddened and disillusioned that men were unwilling to follow the path to natural goodness. At the border (Hank Pass), a guard asked Lao Tsu to record his teachings before he left. He then composed in 5,000 characters the Tao Te Ching (The Way and Its Power). After writing this piece, Lao Tzu is said to have crossed the border and disappeared from history, perhaps to become a hermit.

The Tao Te Ching is somewhat like the Bible: it gives instructions (at times vague and generally open to multiple interpretations) on how to live a good life. It discusses the 'Tao', or the 'way' of the world, which is also the path to virtue, happiness, and harmony. This 'way' isn't inherently confusing or difficult. Lao Tzu wrote, 'the great Tao is very even, but people like to take by-ways'. In Lao Tzu's view the problem with virtue isn't that it is difficult or unnatural, but simply is that we resist the very simple path that might make us most content.

In order to follow the Tao, we need to go beyond simply reading and thinking about it. Instead, we must learn wu wei ('flowing' or 'effortless action'), a sort of purposeful acceptance of the way of the Tao and live in harmony with it. This might seem lofty and bizarre, but most of Lao Tzu's suggestions are actually very simple.

First, we ought to take more time for stillness. 'To the mind that is still', Lao Tzu said, 'the whole universe surrenders'. We need to let go of our schedules, worries and complex thoughts for a while and simply experience the world. We spend so much time rushing from one place to the next in life, but Lao Tzu reminds us 'nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished'. It is particularly important that we remember that certain things - grieving, growing wiser, developing a new relationship - only happen on their own schedule, like the changing of leaves in the fall or the blossoming of the bulbs we planted months ago.

When we are still and patient, we also need to be open. We need to be reminded to empty ourselves of frivolous thoughts so that we will observe what is really important. 'The usefulness of a pot comes from its emptiness', Lao Tzu said. 'Empty yourself of everything, let your mind become still'. If we are too busy, too preoccupied with anxiety or ambition, we will miss a thousand moments of the human experience that are our natural inheritance. We need to be awake to the way light reflects off of ripples on a pond, the way other people look when they are laughing, the feeling of the wind playing with our hair. These experiences reconnect us to parts of ourselves.

This is another key point of Lao Tzu's writing: we need to be in touch with our real selves. We spend a great deal of time worrying about who we ought to become, but we should instead take time to be who we already are at heart. We might rediscover a generous impulse, or a playful side we had forgotten, or simply an old affection for long walks. Our ego is often in the way of our true self, which must be found by being receptive to the outside world rather than focusing on some critical, too-ambitious internal image. 'When I let go of what I am', Lao Tzu wrote, 'I become what I might be'.

Nature is particularly useful for finding ourselves. Lao Tzu liked to compare different parts of nature to different virtues. He said, 'The best people are like water, which benefits all things and does not compete with them. It stays in lowly places that others reject. This is why it is so similar to the Way (Tao)'. Each part of nature can remind us of a quality we admire and should cultivate ourselves - the strength of the mountains, the resilience of trees, the cheerfulness of flowers.

I found so many things in Lao Tzu's teachings that complimented the teachings of the Buddha, but the writing is sometimes difficult and requires much contemplation. The Buddha is very methodical in his teaching and he speaks clearly to all of those who would listen. Lao Tzu speaks from an enlightened perspective, which makes his words difficult to understand for an unenlightened mind, but the reward of a flash of insight is well worth the time spent with the text. I'm a long way from fully understanding Lao Tzu's teachings and so I expect there to be many more insights to come as I continue my exploration and study of the Tao Te Ching.

re. learning

The best way to learn something is to fully immerse yourself in it. I wanted to be the best I could be and after looking at all the great religious teachers, I believed that the Buddha's teachings, his Dhamma, was the best way to achieve that. Therefore, when I was told, 'You could be a monk', I couldn't think of any better way to immerse myself - I quickly decided, I would be a monk. Needless to say, that was a life changing moment.

I moved into the Buddhist temple on the west side of Toronto in the summer of 1998 and a few months later I became the first Canadian to take novice ordination in the Theravada school of Buddhism in Canada. There had been other Canadians who had taken ordination, but they all left the country to do it - my ordination ceremony was the first one to take place in Canada. I received the Dhamma name, Ariyavansa, which means Noble Heritage. Living at the temple gave me access to a great many books on the early teachings of the Buddha. I was able to learn from the residing monks and also those monks who would visit from time to time. It was a very interesting time and I learned a great deal about the culture and religion of Buddhism. I also learned a great deal about the early teachings of the Buddha, as found in the Pali Canon, and it was from these teachings that I realized just how profound and practical the Buddha's Dhamma truly was.

After spending more than a year residing at the temple, I left Canada for Sri Lanka late in 1999 and took up residence in a small cabin in a forest monastery on a mountain near the central town of Kandy, to focus on the Dhamma and my practice. Shortly after my arrival, I found Nyanatiloka's 'The Word of the Buddha'. I had read many books about the Buddha and Buddhism, but this book, 'an outline of the teachings of the Buddha in the words of the Pali Canon' represented to me the true Dhamma - it was not an opinion or view of an author, it was the collected and well-structured words of the Buddha. After finding this book, I focused my study on the actual discourses of the Buddha as found in the Pali Canon. In 2000, I took my higher ordination and spent a few wonderful years living the way forest monks had lived since the time of the Buddha devoted to practice and study.

In 2003, I left Sri Lanka and took up residence at the only Buddhist center in Kenya, where I spent another few years learning and developing my practice and my studies. During this time I built a wonderful community around weekly meditations and study classes and worked hard to create a good library of Buddhist material. I had the great pleasure to meet many good and supportive people who would visit regularly. I also experienced the religious and political side of the religion of Buddhism, which caused me to examine my own attachments to labels and tradition.

Eventually, I moved into a more independent life as a monk outside of the religious establishment and have continued to grow and develop both my practice and my studies to this day. This independence allowed me to explore other teachers including Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta, Marcus Aurelius, and the third of the three great Teachers in my life, Lao Tzu.

re. finding the Buddha

The death of my mother, almost twenty years ago now, spurred me on to a great spiritual inquiry. It's usually some kind of loss or suffering that causes such an inquiry. The words of James Allen and my own mantra kept me in the right frame of mind, but I was looking for a deeper understanding of life and the way to live it well. I focused most of this inquiry on the religions of the world, an area that always interested me, but an area where I spent very little time after my childhood. Essentially, I put all of the great religions of the world out on the table in an attempt to look at them without any prejudice or pre-judgement. At some point during this process, I came across the word Theravada in a book about Buddhism and I felt an immediate connection. The Theravada tradition of Buddhism, based on the Pali Cannon of Buddhist texts, is the earliest existing school of Buddhism and comes closest to the original word of the Buddha.

The Buddha, whose personal name was Siddhattha (Siddhārtha in Sanskrit), and family name Gotama (Skt. Gautama), lived in North India in the 6th century B.C. His father, Suddhodana, was the ruler of the kingdom of the Sākyas (in modern Nepal). His mother was queen Māyā. According to the custom of the time, he was married quite young, at the age sixteen, to a beautiful and devoted young princess named Yasodharā. The young prince lived in his palace with every luxury at his command. But all of a sudden, confronted with the reality of life and the suffering of mankind, he decided to find the solution - the way out of this universal suffering. At the age of 29, soon after the birth of his only child, Rāhula, he left his kingdom and became an ascetic in search of this solution.

For six years the ascetic Gotama wandered about the valley of the Ganges, meeting famous religious teachers, studying and following their systems and methods, and submitting himself to rigorous ascetic practices. They did not satisfy him. So he abandoned all traditional religions and their methods and went his own way. It was thus that one evening, seated under a tree (since then known as the Bodhi-or-Bo-tree, ‘the Tree of Wisdom’). On the bank of the river Neranjarā at Buddha-Gaya (near Gaya in modern Bihar), at the age of 35, Gotama attained Enlightenment, after which he was known as the Buddha, ‘The Enlightened One’.

After his Enlightenment, Gotama the Buddha delivered his first sermon to a group of five ascetics, his old colleagues, in the Deer Park at Isipatana (modern Sarnath) near Benares. From that day, for 45 years, he taught all classes of men and women - kings and peasants, Brahmins and outcasts, bankers and beggars, holy men and robbers - without making the slightest distinction between them. He recognized no differences of caste or social groupings, and his teachings were open to all men and women who were ready to understand and to follow them.

At the age of 80, the Buddha passed away at Kusinārā (in modern Uttar Pradesh in India).

As I read about the Buddha and his teachings, I knew that I had found another teacher who would have a great impact on my life. After going through all the books I could find, I made my way to a Sri Lankan Buddhist Temple in Toronto to learn more from the Buddhist monks themselves. Interestingly, a senior monk suggested that I read James Allen's 'As A Man Thinketh' - I told him it was my favorite book and when I shared 'My Way to Happiness' with him, he exclaimed, 'That's Buddhism'. It was that same monk who on another visit said, 'You could be a monk'. The idea had not occurred to me, that I could be a monk, but there was only one thing to do and I knew my life would change drastically.

re. growing

Twenty-five years passed between finding my first Teacher and finding my second. Those were the growing years, I suppose, doing all the things that one does between the age of fifteen and forty. Good times and some hard times - the usual stuff of life. However, throughout those years, the words and the wisdom of James Allen as found in that one little book, 'As A Man Thinketh' were my guide. I had not found any other of his books, and this was a time, at least for the first half, of no computers and no internet. I find it even hard to imagine such a world now, but so it was.

Those twenty-five years were also the years between the death of my father and the death of my mother. The death of my father, when I was 15, sent me looking for some spiritual foundation and I found that foundation in James Allen. I suppose I imagined that his words are the ones that my father would have told me if we had ever had that talk about life and how to have a good one. What I got from both of them was an underlying goal for my life - to be the best I can be. Another goal that has always been a part of me is simply to be happy, not rich, not famous, just happy - that's enough.

During that time, I looked at other teachers and a few come to mind - Zig Ziglar (what a name!) and his book from 1975, 'See You at the Top', Wayne Dyer and his book from 1976, 'Your Erroneous Zones', and then later, Anthony Robbins and from 1986, his book, 'Unlimited Power' and also Stephen Covey and his book from 1989, 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People'. There were others, but these ones stand out. They were good and their messages powerful, but they didn't grab me that way 'As A Man Thinketh' did. I didn't spend much time looking into religions, it was more the motivational stuff that interested me during that time.

Early in that period, I came up with a personal mantra of sorts, one that I would repeat multiple times daily. I think, in a way, I repeated it so often that I became it or it became the way I lived (as much as possible). I called it 'My Way to Happiness' and it was this:
Keep your heart free of hate
Your mind free of worry
Live simply
Expect little
Give much
Fill your life with love
Scatter sunshine
Forget self
Think of others
Do as you would be done by
Live in the present moment
Never stop learning
Smile, smile, smile.

I believed in the power of good positive self-talk and repetition. 'My Way to Happiness' and 'As A Man Thinketh' were read and repeated so many times that it would be impossible to put a number on it. However, through that repetition, I think I internalized them and lived my life accordingly for the most part. There are always bumps in the road, but it was a pretty good twenty-five years.

However, by the end of that period, both my parents were gone. It's impossible to fully appreciate everything that they did for me, all of the things that made me, me. It's also impossible to express my gratitude to them now, but I thank them every day at the end of my meditation. I'm not sure what they would think of my life, but I hope they would be proud. When my mother passed away, at the end of that period, it put me on another search for a deeper meaning to life - one that would bring me to my second great Teacher and a whole new way of life on the other side of the world.

re. finding James Allen

Thinking back, James Allen was my first inspirational/spiritual teacher. I found his little booklet, 'As A Man Thinketh' in a newly opened eclectic new age shop in my hometown of Oshawa, Ontario in the mid 70's. I had never seen such a shop before then and in my mid-teens, I was so pleased to find it. I spent many hours and many days in that shop - the smell of incense, all of the books and the strange things that are common to these types of shops were all new to me. I was like a kid in a candy store. The first book I purchased, which was recommended to me as I had no idea where to start, was James Allen's 'As A Man Thinketh'. I still have it - a bit rough for the wear of just over forty years, but I still have it. It went from Canada to Sri Lanka and is now with me in Kenya - it's been around.

James Allen lived from November 28 (also my father's birthday) of 1864 to January 24 of 1912. He was born in Leicester, England, into a working-class family and had one younger brother (as do I). His mother could neither read nor write. His father, William, was a factory knitter. In 1879 following a downturn in the textile trade of central England, his father traveled alone to America to find work and establish a new home for the family. Within two days of arriving his father was pronounced dead at New York City Hospital, believed to be a case of robbery and murder. At age fifteen, with the family now facing economic disaster, Allen was forced to leave school and find work (I also lost my father at the same age and was also forced to leave school and start to work as a result).

Although working many hours, he continued to read and study. It was around this time that he began reading Shakespeare and at about age 24 he read 'The Light of Asia' - the life of Siddhartha, Gautama Buddha, told in poetic form. This book acted as spiritual awakener for Allen and started him on his path toward 'perfect peace'. His parents are thought to be Methodists and it is clear that he strayed from his parent's religion, drawing inspiration from many religions and committing to no denomination.

For much of the 1890s, he worked as a private secretary and stationer in several British manufacturing firms. In 1893 he moved to London and later to South Wales, earning his living by journalism and reporting. In South Wales, he met Lily Louisa Oram who he then wed in 1895.

In 1901, when he was 37, he wrote his first book, 'From Poverty to Power' and in 1902 he wrote his second book, 'As a Man Thinketh'. Loosely based on the Biblical passage of Proverbs 23:7, 'As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he', the small work eventually became read around the world and brought Allen posthumous fame as one of the pioneering figures of modern inspirational thought. Although this would be his most successful book, it is said that he felt it to be unsatisfactory and not worthy of print. It was his wife, Lily, who convinced him to publish it. Allen learned about publishing and running a magazine from his time working for Sidney Beard on Beard's magazine, 'The Herald of the Golden Age', and in 1902, Allen started his own magazine titled 'The Light of Reason'.

Each issue of his magazine contained announcements, an editorial written by himself on a different subject each month, and many articles, poems, and quotes written by popular authors of the day and even local, unheard of authors. In 1905, Allen organized his magazine subscribers into groups (called 'The Brotherhood') that would meet regularly and reported on their meetings each month in the magazine under the heading 'Our Groups and Their Work'. Allen and his wife would often travel to the group meetings to give speeches and read articles.

Allen moved his family to 33 Broad Park Avenue, Ilfracombe, England to a house they called 'Bryngoleu', or 'Hill of Light'. He eventually took over full editorial control of his magazine and moved its operation to his house. It was also here where he penned most of his works. He and Lily ran their home as a bed and breakfast and often invited subscribers to their magazine to stay at their home. Some of Allen's favorite writings, and those he quoted often, include the works of Shakespeare, Milton, Emerson, the Bible, Buddha, Whitman, Trine, and Lao Tzu.

Each morning Allen would climb The Cairn, a stony spot on the hillside overlooking his home and the sea, in Ilfracombe where he would go to reflect and meditate. He would then return home and write until midday. In the afternoons, he enjoyed gardening and his evenings were spent in conversation with those who were interested in his work. From his home in Ilfracombe, he continued to publish his magazine and produced more than one book per year until his death in 1912. He wrote 19 books in total, which I have all of in my collection.

James Allen died on Wednesday, January 24th, 1912 at his home with his wife and daughter by his side, he was 47. The exact cause of his death is not known. He was cremated on January 30th at 11:00am in Leicester and at about noon, his brother, Thomas, scattered his ashes into the cemetery surrounding the crematorium, saying: 'As these ashes of James Allen are cast to the four winds of Heaven, so may the Truth he taught permeate to the four corners of the earth, carrying with it Joy, Peace, and Consolation'.

Following his death in 1912, his wife continued publishing the magazine under the name 'The Epoch', until her failing eyesight prevented her from doing so. Lily Allen summarised her husband's literary mission in the preface to one of his posthumously published manuscripts, 'Foundation Stones to Happiness and Success', saying: 'He never wrote theories, or for the sake of writing; but he wrote when he had a message, and it became a message only when he had lived it out in his own life, and knew that it was good. Thus, he wrote facts, which he had proven by practice'.

There are so many things about his life that resonate with me and so many things that he wrote that inspire me to this day. He 'Walked the Talk' and he 'Talked the Walk' in a way that is light and inspiring. I have read his works so much over the past forty years, that it is sometimes difficult for me to differentiate between his words and my thoughts - they seem the same. It will be a joy to go back over his work and to contemplate his words once again here.

re. becoming

So what's all this about then? Not really sure why now, but feeling the need to express gratitude to a few Teachers who have shaped this moment. This is a resurrection in a way - there have been previous lives of this site, but another life seems to be needed at this point. The 'Path To Nowhere' is just as easily the 'Path To Now Here' and it is here and now that the effects of these great Teaches are most relevant. Three Teachers - there could be more and others may be considered, but for now, these three provide all that is necessary to awaken. The Buddha, from over 2,500 years ago, shares his wisdom in a way that all can see and develop for themselves if they choose to awaken. Lao Tzu, also from over 2,500 years ago, shares his wisdom, his view of the world, from the perspective of one who is fully developed and awake. James Allen, from just over 100 years ago, shares his wisdom in a way that inspires all to awaken.

It is really hard to express how profound the wisdom of these three Teachers has been to me. James Allen touched me first, some forty years ago, and made me want to be the best I could be. I then found the Buddha twenty years ago and he showed me how to be the best I could be. Finally, I was able to see the world the way Lao Tzu saw it, one that is amazing and deep in mystery. It's been a long journey and the journey continues still - it never ends really.

On this site, it is my intention to share the wisdom of these great Teachers and to review, reflect and contemplate with fresh eyes. I want to go back and go over them carefully once again - to study them and consider them more deeply. I also want to record that study here. It will be a personal journey and a personal resource - all of the material will be open to anyone, but I really don't expect anyone will find this site and I don't intend to push it out there. If a few friends find it, I will be happy. If anyone else finds it, I will be surprised. In my mind, I will think that I am just writing my thoughts down on these pages so that in the future I will be able to look back on them and see where my study has taken me. Hopefully, I will then be a little wiser and a better writer - that will be enough. And so, the journey begins on this new Path To Nowhere.

re. testing

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