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.


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

the illustrations are fun


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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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.






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.


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?


bey 3


When I was last in Tirana, I tried to make a record of the buildings coloured in what appears to be Dazzle Camouflage by their Mayor, Edi Rama, elected at 36 in 2000. Since 2013, he has been the Socialist Prime Minister and now I believe is taking advice from Alistair Campbell as he seeks re-election and entry to Europe.

EDI Rama by TIM.jpg

The picture below showing the Mayor’s offices was finished a few weeks’ later as I was recovering from a botched Appendectomy in Oxford. I stepped off the plane from Tirana complaining of food-poisoning by BA. Instead, my appendix burst and I had to deal with peritonitis. I went back a couple of times after this I think and there should soon be enough sketches to complete our EDWARD LEAR film about a journey from Istanbul to Albania in 1848. The film will copmpare the views Lear drew with the smae views drawn over the last 15 years. The views of the various sketches will be interrupted by musical numbers based on Lear’s poems and set by David Watson in a style that should recapture the spirit of the 19th Century music hall. Throughout the film, an animated Edward Lear will deliver some sort of commentary… I hope this will end up as the very first fully-animated documentary.

One of the first things Edi Rama did as mayor was to restore the Ethem Bey Mosque which can be glimpsed here. Lear drew at least two views of the Mosque, then surrounded by trees.

Tirana-Skanderbeg square and etham Bey by TIM

woodrow wilson and edi rama by TIM.jpg


Standing against racism and prejudice

The Labour MP, Mary Creagh, is quite right to say we should be standing up to racism and prejudice wherever we find it. I entirely agree with her. What she is wrong to do is to imply that this stand is something particularly of the left, or is the preserve of Labour and she cheapens her call by throwing in concerns about the NHS and schooling. She comes out with a strange line, “immigration has become the proxy for a failure to fund public service and a failure to give people a pay rise.” She then says “politicians have a responsibility not to inflame the rhetoric.” I do not know, therefore, what she thinks she is doing with all her own rhetoric but her criticism of UKIP which should have been the main point of her message somehow, as a result, comes across as an afterthought. She is absolutely well-within her rights to point a finger of blame at UKIP’s immigration chief (an oxymoron if ever one could be imagined), John Bickley who said apparently, “if you want a Jehadi for a neighbour, vote labour in the Stoke on Trent by-election”. Outrageous! And- well- Bickley is just wrong, and if the exposure of Paul Nuttall’s repeated indiscretions might once have enlisted sympathy, I trust with the sort of nastiness implicit in Bickley’s alleged advice, it will do so no longer. If he wants to salvage this election, Nuttall must silence Bickley and distance himself publicly from these views, because this is one of those failings that he cannot blame on an assistant. And even if, God forbid, he succeeded in his bid to be elected in Stoke, he will forever be tainted with racism. Bickley’s saying confirms UKIP’s racism.


So, maybe it is time to call it a day. UKIP achieved what it wanted in the referendum and its rebranding under Nuttall shows itself to be abhorrent and wrong. It is time for right-thinking UKIPers to jump ship. Nothing good can come of Nuttall now.

There have been many calls among Conservatives to stand up against racism and prejudice. The conservatives, after all, are the party that has given us not one but two women leaders, the party that pushed through gay-marriage legislation. And I think we have come along way since Andrew Lansley said there was “endemic racism” in the party. I think, incidentally, that he was wrong then, but I know he would be wrong now.

UKIP and arguably the referendum process has certainly unleashed a wave of racism, and has opened up the immigration debate, but I hope that does not mean Conservatives promote or encourage racism and prejudice. I believe we shall find ways to combat this madness.

Sajid Javid, for instance, rather brilliantly spoke of the necessity to eradicate “oblique” prejudice- he urged “every decent Briton of any faith or none to join us all in the battle against extremism and anti-Semitism… the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and Treblinka. Indiscrimate killing is simply where hatred, left unchecked, reaches its tragic conclusion.”And it was another Conservative, baroness Sayeeda Warsi who despaired that Islamophobia was becoming “socially acceptable.” To recognise a trend is not to endorse it. Indeed, to recognise that we have a problem is the first step we must take together towards solving it!

It is the Labour party that had a recent anti-semitic problem, not the conservatives. It is Corbyn who has attended events with Holocaust deniers. What we have seen is the growth of an “anti-racist” credo which is not the same as nurturing inclusion and tolerance. Rather than positive reinforcement, it provides yet another group for the mob to attack and by lumping things together, it tends to soften the impact of what Bickley has said.

Let’s just repeat it again, because I have said it before in previous posts: UKIP’s current leaders promote racism. It is clear. It is documented and it is wrong.