Constable

Deeply distressing to see the two Russian men claiming to have been in Salisbury to look at a 123 foot spire and an old clock! There is really only one credible reason to visit Salisbury and that is because the Cathedral was painted twice by John Constable. The second painting  (immediately below) is about 10 years’ later than the more famous Hay Wain which, incidentally, was in the news not so long ago for having a photo glued to it by Fathers4Justice.

Constable_Salisbury_meadows.jpg

The other painting was done in 1823; it is a bit brighter. This version (in the V&A) was, nevertheless, considered a bit “dark” and there are brighter versions without the dark clouds currently in Brazil and New York.

450px-John_Constable_017.jpg

 

Pester and TSB

Just an update here. Dr Pester is finally off after making a complete mess of TSB. I have been waiting for 5 months now to receive an apology for the May fraud mess I got caught up in. Disappointing that it has taken so long. He leaves with a significant golden handshake. On Monday apparently TSB apologised to customers- not to me as far as I know.

“Mr Pester walks away with a payout worth nearly £1.7m, made up of £1.2m severance pay and a “historical” bonus of around £480,000 from before TSB’s takeover by Sabadell in 2015. All other performance-related pay – including a bonus linked to the customer migration – was frozen amid investigations into the IT fiasco.”

richard meddings by TIM TSB

 

dr paul pester TSB by TIM

trapped in TSB

Entering a second week of chaos as a victim of the TSB fraud. The fraud is bad enough but the contempt of the TSB call centres is astonishing. This morning I was finally called back by the fraud team, but the agent who spoke to me was from the internet fraud department and she felt it was better to speak to the debit card fraud department. I finally got through to Mike this evening (“We do not use surnames”). He had a quick check and then decided I should be dealt with by the internet fraud team after all, and transferred me. Back in a queue on hold and now in the knowledge that the fraud office closes any minute. It is absurd.

Earlier, Dr Paul Pester was criticised by The Treasury Select Committee for failing to realise the scale of the problem.

dr paul pester TSB by TIM

more on Edward Lear

here is a screen capture of the background to the song “there was a young person of Smyrna” which I have been working on for the last week or so.

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the song begins with Lear singing in the wings and then moves to a full stage show with a chorus of cats and a lady with a purple handbag…the background should give the impression of Lear walking from backstage on to the stage itself.

WATER

Here are some notes which were prepared for a school…do feel free to borrow as you wish.

the illustrations are fun

ZEN BUDDHISM:

In Japan, in Buddhist temples you will sometimes see a basin called a “tsukubai” which is used for washing before ceremonies. It is also used in the tea ceremony People wash their hands or mouth at the “tsukubai”. It is on the ground so you must crouch. The word “tsukubai” means “to bow down” or “to crouch”

The tsukubai are made of stone and have a small spoon to scoop out water and pour it on your hands etc. both the person giving and the person receiving HOSPITALITY plays an important role in the ceremony.

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The Japanese tea ceremony is part of this image of pure water Note the kanji (special ceremonial/religious writing) from the first picture and the translation below. Everything has a meaning

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 11.39.32.pngThe tea ceremony (Cha-e 茶会) involves waiting. Guests come into the tea garden from an outer garden called the Yoritsuki. They wait in the KOSHIKAKE MACHIAI before they are invited into the teahouse.

They walk down the garden path (ROJI) and they are made to feel they are entering a different world. Time is slower.

The Teishu opens a sliding door to the teahouse (Chasitsu: 茶室) to greet the guests

 

Guests begin the ceremony by washing their hands at the Tsukubai

The floor of the teahouse is covered with Enza (special mats)

People kneel on the floor

They are given tea by the TEISHU (tea maker/ host)

They eat WAGASHI (sweets) and drink tea.

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THINKING ABOUT WHAT WE ARE DOING

The tea ceremony is about doing something very simple in a perfect way. It is about hospitality and it is about making simple things beautiful.

 

It is about THINKING about what you are doing.

Most of the time, we do not think about what we are doing. We listen to music. We talk. We think about OTHER things.

The tea ceremony shows us about conscious learning.

This is something that we practice in mediation.

Forms of meditation exist in all the main religious traditions.

 

 

 

 

 

HINDUISM
Brahmins follow the strictest idea of ceremonial washing.

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Many Brahmin wash in the holy river Ganges.

(the man in the picture is wearing the “sacred thread” or UPAVITA which shows he is following a guru or teacher. The sacred thread is won in the same way -over the left shoulder- that a woman will wear a sari)

Every year, up to 40 million people travel to the river Ganges to wash. (Pilgrimage)

A Pilgrimage is a journey where people feel they are doing something to get closer to God. Pilgrimage happens in all the main religions.

Hindus try to make one pilgrimage in their lifetime. The river Ganges is a favourite place of pilgrimage. It is sacred to the Goddess GANGA. Bathing in the river washes people of their sins and helps people to MOKSHA (Release from death as well or “awakening” and it also leads to a greater knowledge of themselves)But many people also travel to sacred mountains and temples linked to particular gods and goddesses

 

Some people believe in achamana which is drinking and touching pure water from the palm of the hand (this is an important p[art of Brahmin rituals but actually any Hindu can perform this ritual) when reciting special prayers called Mantras

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It also involves putting a tilaka on your forehead

Special washing ceremonies called Punyahavachanam are used before marriage, Homa. Water is generally sprinked on people (ASPERGES)

Traditionally, the bride’s parents wash the feet of the groom before the wedding.

Abhisheka: a deity’s murti or image is washed in water, milk, yoghurt ghee, rosewater

It is an important part of the ritual of a coronation (does not happen very often now!)

When a death happens, Hindus may take a bath to clean themselves

Women often take a bath after they have a period.

Many of these traditions are shared across the various faiths.

ISLAM

Before praying, Muslims wash: they wash hands, mouth, nostrils, arms, feet and head It is called “al WUDU” الوضو In Turkish and Albanian, this is known as “abdest”, and in Persian as “dast-Namaz” (literally means: “Before praying” The word Namaz in Punjabi/Sanskrit/Persian means “Prayer”)

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1) After receiving the bread and wine, a priest washes his/her hands in the Anglican/Catholic/Orthodox Church

2) On Ash Wednesday a mark is made with ashes on people’s foreheads. What do you think this symbolizes?

3) Catholics believe that Baptism washes away people’s “original sin”

4) Baptism is a form of “initiation” (Beginning)

Initiation: an important word. Do you remember we talked about the way we “initiate” a class- how does a class begin? When does a class begin?

5) In Judaism people often visit the MIKVEH if they are “unclean”, that is if they have been in contact with dead people, blood –

6) Many people in Christianity make pilgrimages to Rome, Jerusalem (2 million tourists a year), and in the middle ages, people famously travelled from across the kingdom to Canterbury where ArchBishop Thomas a Becket had died. A famous book called “the Canterbury Tales” was written about the journey and the stories people told to each other. Some of the stories are serious and some are very funny. The book is one of the first great bits of English writing by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Sikhs may visit the golden temple of Amritsar. Hindus may visit the Vaishno Devi Temple in the mountains of Kashmir. Buddhists may visit the Bodhi tree or life tree where Gautama meditated for 49 days before his enlightenment. 13 million Muslims visit Mecca every year. In Mexico, 10 million Catholics visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

7) Meditation. There are many forms of meditation in Christianity. In Catholicism, some people say the ROSARY (a series of prayers based on a string of 50 beads), some Orthodox Christians recite the “Jesus Prayer”, some Christians believe in silent prayer. There is a tradition in Sufu Islam of dancing (the Whirling dervish). In Hinduism and Buddhism people often use a simple word or mantra repeated over and over again. They feel this is relaxing and brings them closer to God.

Some people practice meditation without religious belief. It can be a very therapeutic exercise (therapeutic/ therapy- from the greek θεραπεύω I serve, cure, heal)

8) Sharing a meal, hospitality. Remember the story of Abraham and the 3 angels. In Christianity, Hospitality might involve “Holy Communion” where Christians celebrate their community together by sharing a simple meal. “Eucharist” simply means “thankyou”.

9) Images and words help us to “enter another world” and to concentrate.

10) Icons, statues and religious pictures are sometimes blessed and washed in Christian ceremonies. On the first sunday of Lent in Orthodox Churches, it is traditional to bring icons to church to bless them and carry them in procession.

 

the 3 refuges

 

The 3 refuges the 3 jewels Tisarana or TRIRATNA (pali)

Intensely practical: The 3 jewels are not just theory (dharma) but also practice (the community/ sangha) and example (the Buddha)

 

The Buddha (yellow jewel)

  • idea of Buddhahood, life of Gautama, (esp Theravada= Buddga is always human)- inspiration/ example/ role model, guide , founder, destiny.
  • Seeing the Buddha as teacher (going for refuge) committing to Buddha
  • Buddhahood- for the sake of all beings (from our current position, we can all be enlightened- the Buddha has shown us the way)

 

I go to the Buddha for refuge (Buddham Saranam gacchami) sarana = refuge

Ie: gain strength (not escape) refresh

 

Dharma (sanskrit) (blue jewel) Dhamma -pali

  • Unmediated TRUTH (as experienced by the enlightened mind)
  • The literal teaching of the Buddha beginning at SARNATH in Northern India (the “first turning of the wheel of Dharma”)
  • All the Buddhist scriptures (Buddha’s life” the pali canon, the Dhammapada, the diamond Sutra, the Tibetan book of the dead etc
  • The practices – “learning to do good; ceasing to do evil; purifying the heart” (Dhammapada)
  • (there are no higher teachings only deeper realisations- Sangharakshita)

 

Sangha (red jewel)

  • spiritual community /personal teachers
  • kayana mitrata (friendship thtat is beautiful)
  • Buddhism is not an abstract creed but a practical path. Its practice lies in people hence the need for the community

The Noble ones (arya Sangha) Bodhisattvas: Avalokitesvara (compassion- often shown with 4/8/1000 arms to help all living beings) Manjusri (wisdom- carries a sword to cut ignorance)

 

These 3 become central principles in life

 

More detail:

The importance of the Buddha:

The life story of the Buddha is a hagiography to guide the community

Theravada: the Buddha is human and his actions an example

“work out your own salvation with diligence”

the Buddha has supernatural powers- abhinnas which we can reach too.

 

Mahayana Buddhism- less interest in the life of Gautama. More about the meaning and activity of the Buddha NOW: the transcendent Buddha with 3 bodies (TRIKAYA)

Semi-spiritual (nirmanakaya)

Heavenly manifestation of the Buddha (sambhogakaya)

Ultimate expression (Dharmakaya)

we can depend on the Buddha as the vehicle of our salvation (he is divine)

In PURE LAND Buddhism the AMIDA Buddha lives in the Buddha universe.

Nembutsu (contemplation of the amida Buddha)

 

This contemplation is the main practice of pure land buddhism

 

Zen and Tibetan Buddhism: we must attain our own Buddha nature

Zen and HUA YEN Buddhism think of many Buddhas and Buddha universes- all interconnected

 

 

The importance of the Dhamma -pali (Dharma- sanskrit)

This can be confusing** It means different things for each branch of Buddhism

The Buddha constantly reminds people that it is the SPIRIT OF THE RULES that count

1) Teaching- sasana later the pali canon

3 sections: each called pitakas (baskets)

vinaya Pitaka= rules for monks (eg: patimokkha- the oral traditions & texts like: kasyapiya, dharmaguptaka, sarvastivada)

sutta pitaka teachings from the life of Gautama

abhidhamma pitaka- philosophical section

 

The teachings led to splinter groups forming in Buddhism right from the start

Eg: His brother DEVETTA criticized Gautama and led his own rival group

Many groups sprang up after the death of Gautama

 

2) Mahayana has a huge collection of texts in Prakit (the original language used by Jains) Sanskrit (the liturgical language of Hinduism), Chinese

 

3) Tibetan Buddhists (VAJRAYANA- “diamond or thunderbolt vehicle”)

use the Kangyur = “translation of word”(108 volume book- the words of the Buddha) and the Tengyur =“translation of text” (225 volumes)

these include stotras (hymns, tantras = esoteric traditions, word often translated as “practice”)

– the Vajrayana tradition uses the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya which has 253 rules for monks and 364 for nuns

 

4) zen:

Lankavatara Sutra, esp in Japan, conversation between Gauntama and Haamati (great wisdom) – the importance of consciousness

vimalakirti sutra, instruction or advice- value of silence

avatamsaka sutra, “flower garland sutra”- idea of many Buddha universes/ realms – power of meditation (books 7-12 emphasise the importance of the 4 noble truths (Dukkha, samudaya, Nirodha, magga) as the basis for enlightenment

lotus sutra, first book to use the term Mahayana/ great vehicle. All beings are potential buddhas

platform sutra, Chinese book (8-13th Century)about perceiving our true nature

koan tradition– dialogue The Zen master knows the meaning of all and every koans because (by definition) he’s enlightened. The Zen student has to meditate with hundreds of koans in order to become enlightened himself. Buddhist Koans are summaries of legends about Buddhist monks in China, created, edited and first written down in 11th century

example of koan: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?

 

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