Category Archives: Dalai Lama

Inside This Earthen Book-Box 1

This is only part one of a blArt about my new Inside This Earthen Book-Box ITEB

Part 2 will follow in a few days with more images of the Book-Box

pot wit scrolls sm
6 scrolls surround my pot on a hexagonal table, notice the Beuys’ scroll has felt over it!

A while ago I wrote a series of poems to be printed as scrolls which I placed inside a big pot.

I called the project Inside This Clay Jug after a poem Robert Bly had recited after the original translation by Rabindranath Tagore of a 14th century poem by Kabir. I first heard the recital on the late a Jackie Leven cd. I loved it and was lucky to have known Jackie when he used another pen name, John St Fields. I loved his rendition of Inside This Clay Jug for years and was fortunate to get together with Jackie shortly before he died. The project was as much in memorium to him as it was a celebration of knowledge passed down in ancient times by communities who hid their precious writings in pots in caves or underground like the Nag Hamadi library and Buddhist pots found in Kandahar.

the jug sm
Pot + Scrolls stand on sand base. There are words from Kabir’s poem on the pot. Each scroll has a leather thong with the name of the subject or his associative domain created on a clay tab.

I don’t expect anyone to go to this link BUT it has an account of how Buddha’s pot for alms was found in Kandahar, it’s an incredibly complex story but the kind I find quite fascinating if & when I find the time to explore. For me this kind of exploration is the closest I’ll ever get to actually setting foot in Kandahar cos am a lazy old tyke. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=umZEfH1n0X4C&pg=PA281&lpg=PA281&dq=Buddhist+pots+found+in+Kandahar&source=bl&ots=XcgKUd5QC8&sig=qX35SJ3d_ZAJ9w4c_sG7PDX6YGQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiqmNzu2_zUAhUNY1AKHV-ADl8Q6AEIRTAJ#v=onepage&q=Buddhist%20pots%20found%20in%20Kandahar&f=false

Recently I bound a copy of David Jury’s beautiful letterpress version of my poems in pots into a codex book.

1 isev bk SoB comp sm
Inside This Earthen Vessel (ISEV)

Letterpress print version bound as a codex book 

I only made two copies so far, one for me and one for DJ. And I have added a lovely little purple tassle to mine and sent it up to an international competition to see if they like it.

Whilst making the book I made a couple of extra cover and thought one day I’d make a book-box with one of em and put into it every incarnation of my poems for the Clay Jug Project about which I also published a book called G BATCH.

a cover of gbatch
Front cover of G BATCH

Now I know G BATCH is not the best name for the book, it’d be better named something like Inside This Clay Jug an Introduction. I preferred at the time to take letters from the names of the six men that my poems are about and as a group is also a batch called it a batch, G BATCH. The book is handmade in an edition of 50. It explains my ideas behind the project.

a orignl carl jung design
In my collage of Carl Jung I include a mandala I invented for Jung with pots and fishes plus a Buddhist Wheel of life. He is wearing his Gnostic ring.

It also has the master drawing that I used for the etchings of the six men.

isev at corsham court 2 sm
ISEV displayed at the Bath Spa ‘Concrete Poetry’ Symposium

I re-wrote the poems and published about 3 versions of them, Inside This Earthen Vessel (ISEV) was one version wherein I did the layout of the poems in the shape of pots and when DJ saw them he suggested we collaborate on the letterpress version which he would print. Those prints of the poems are now quite famous. Back in 2014 The Poetry Library at Southbank exhibited their copy in the Open Show of that year. They were recently (June 2017) exhibited at Bath Spa uni as part of their symposium on Concrete Poetry.

I did do a ‘concrete poem’ with the names of the G BATCH, actually more a log poem:

a gbatch concrete poem sm
Look carefully and you’ll see the names carved onto the logs.

Nowadays the bark is dropping off so I am going to recut the names a little deeper into the trunks to add to the poem’s lifespan along with some clarity.

Here’s some images of the Tenzin Gyatso (Dalai Lama) one when it was first cut.

a gyatso log stands
In my log poem I put his name where the T is in Batch. I s’pose I can recut the name as Tenzin?

 

a gyatso log cut
Tenzin Gyatso is the Dalai Lama’s name.

 

 

 

 

 

a Poetry day fer me too

I write some poyms

As a artis I write some poyms

Some of ‘em are off the cuff

A little bit rough (that’s ruff)

Around th’edges

Burri don’t mek no pledges

Nor hide behind hedges shouting about em

 

No am not pledged to any schools of art

Am just a bloke what writes

In fact

Am just a fella what creates em and

They cum in many colours Oops

In many forms they comes abart

 

Some on em are short and

Not so sweet

About my everyday life

And some are much more

Cleverer

Than that

 

I write about historic tings

Like the heroes I have

Or great names in history who we never heard of much

Cos the text books do not know them as such

But I tinks they shud have some say

In what I calls my poetray

 

Some of ma poems are real clever

Like those shaped in pots

And the ones I did using snaps I took

Of words on the walls

And in books and tings

On my way ome from the poetry library

 

So this blog by this poet wallah

On national poetry day is a show-case

Fer sum of ma werks in words and

Other forms of poems

Taken from my life and all the

Experiences what I have done.

 

2. Don’t Give Up, Things Get Better One Day

 

The fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso,

Bodhisattva of Compassion, Ocean of Wisdom, Refugee

Exiled from his home Land in Tibet he had to flee

Escaping into the charitable arms of neighbouring India

 

Do unto others as you would have others do unto thee

 

Meditate on the clear Light of the Void

And everlasting undemanding love

Om ha vajra hung

Padma guru siddi hum

 

Truth and justice and human understanding

Will triumph in the end

Over Ignorance and despair

When the oppressor finally sees the light

 

Everything is always changing

We are interdependent and need one another every which way

Nothing stays the same forever

And in the end, all Empires eventually fade away

 

You must Never give up

Things will get better one day

Things are getting better in every way

If you follow the path with your heart

 

See the Wu Li Masters prancing

Just little lights moving and dancing.

All of us merely bundles of energy

Tripping and skipping along the merry way

 

  1. Vision Of Mud

 vision-of-mud

4. my Gurdjeff Pot Poem, ‘Life Is Real Only Then When I Am’

g-poem-bi-dj

Letterpress print by David Jury

 

  1. Visit this past blArt o mine on th’Poetry Library Open Day way back

https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/a-happy-man/

 

Namaste

Team of trophies.

 

Real Madrid have eleven European Cups in their trophy cabinet now. (Liverpool have 5, Notts Forest won it twice & Man U av 2.)

That makes Real Madrid (Ray-Al some say) historically the greatest club in Europe, by far. Even back in 1961 when I was ten years old and playing for Tod Road Junior team in the Hartley Cup Final Ray-Al had already won the Cup 5 times, in fact every year since its inception in 1955 and we all fought to be Di Stefano, Puskas or Ghento in kickabouts in Burnley’s backstreets. I go to two finals as a 10 year old and we were joint winners of both. That’s the closest I ever came to winning a cup. Where does that place me in the ‘greats’ of football? About the same place as I am in amongst the greats in everything else- Nowhere Man.

But Don’t Give Up I hear Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush & the Dalai Lama sing. I may never have won a cup but I scored many wonderful goals and had some great achievements. Oh be Thankful!

sennacheribs prism BM image

The Sennacherib Prism 691 BC rests in the British museum for all of us to fascinate over. Their comment is:

‘Hexagonal clay prism, foundation record lists campaigns of (Assyrian king) Sennacherib until the start of his final war against Babylon, and includes a description of the tribute received from Hezekiah, King of Judah in 701 BC’. See this fascinating (despite having subtle leanings toward a biblical bias) article about the prism et al:

http://www.bible-history.com/empires/prism.html

 

I discovered it (The Sennacherib Prism) was there (at the BM) in the final week of my MA in ‘Art & the Book’. I had just about completed a major project in which I had used six men of ideas as the focus for my idea of placing ‘knowledge’ in clay pots. The project pivots around the concept of ‘six’, which in fact was a pragmatic reduction on Gurdjeff’s use of nine, nine would have increased my workload by another 50% and I had enough with six. Luckily six sided shapes tessellate as any bee will tell ya and bees also feature in the ideas of two of my ‘heroes’, Gurdjeff & Beuys.

 

For me the ancient hexagonal prism was and is tantamount to a book and at the time vowed to make a book(s) influenced by it. I love it. I cannot read cuneiform so must rely on the experts to tell me what it records. It seems to me that the view of history which we received in schools was so jaundiced against Assyria & Babylon, for reasons I shall not try to mention nor explain here, suffice to say that the region in which it was made has been at war with itself and others for millennia.  Assyria & Babylon and Persia for that matter had truly great civilisations for their time and those people arose out of a cauldron of activity in which their cultural and technological skills grew exponentially. I just love this prism. For me it represents (not in its words which are about wars and conquests but in its skills of the art of writing and making) a great human achievement. Compare it to an ipad. If in 2,000 years time a being stumbles upon an ipad & this prism I think it will be the prism which would communicate more once that being deciphers the content into its own language. The ipad will communicate little because the waves (of the internet?) which inform it will no longer be around, so it’ll be just a piece of plastic with a few words like ‘ipad’ marked on it.

My first real opportunity to make a book(s) influenced by the prism came recently when I saw an ad in Sarah Bodman’s BAN p49  http://www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/pdf/newspdfs/103.pdf

‘Call for artists’ books: The Great Silk Road International Artist’s Book project Organiser: International Association “Artist’s Book” Curators: Vasily Vlasov, Mikhail Pogarsky Project theme: Artists’ Books unite the world! The art of communication The international art project “The Great Silk Road” is aimed at the development of communication and cooperation between countries and peoples. Two thousand years ago, the Silk Road united the Far East and Europe and has been the main channel for the exchange of goods, technologies and knowledge. Today we offer to renew the exchange on a new level of art’s message, ideas and images through the artist’s book. The Great Silk Road is primarily a metaphor. We do not limit artists in the methods of the interpretation of this theme. We are open to any bright images and ideas aimed at communication between East and West, North and South, art and society; on building productive dialogue between countries and peoples. If politicians cannot find a common language for each other, they will have the help of the international language of art.’

BANG off I go again. I don’t have time to create any artisbuk right now, but anyroadup am gonna! And I did and I sent it to Moscow and I shall shew it to yez when I get a message from Russia saying they gorrit and they’ll have it in the show. Why did I bother to do it when am so busy working on other books like my long awaited (by at least half a dozen long term suffering friends + one or two masochists) New Shrewd Idiot? Well.

I may win a trophy like Ray-yall Madrid did? [Idjet! there’s no trophies to be won. The real trophy is being able to participate, innit?]

 

The Silk Road is what I DO! It features loud in much of my work since my MA studies in 2013. The Silk Road was much frequented and writ about by my old mate Gurdjeff (Gurdjieff or Gurdzhiev if you like) who talked of the Remarkable wise men he found tucked away in places like Bokhara and Samarkand on the old Silk Road. So I just cracked on and did it.

silk rd buk 2 sm

The result is my first hexagonal prism book. Using binds and words and artefacts together to indicate my fascinations which my bookbinding mentor Mike Sullivan kindly said, ‘…they look very exciting…’.

Everyone who sees them seems to like them. I have made 3 slightly differing versions each of which can be shown in different placements, all of which are reminiscent of ancient stupas built by various peoples moving out of India onto the Old Silk Road trail to China taking one of the most valuable of human commodities with them, ideas. And creative, beneficial, positive notions are, for me, the best.

What else happened this week?

Well I turned up at Firstsite for another impromptu lesson in break-dance from ‘Isaac’. He runs classes there as part of the YAK youth project. He’s so tolerant and patient and I have now nearly ‘got’ the first six steps in the basic break-dance form.

Blu Bella sm

I have installed the Quark2016 package and am working thru some teething issues with one of their engineers. Well I think I am, I hope she didn’t get back over the weekend cos they don’t work over (British) bank hols in India, not cos she’s given up on me as a dead loss. Hopefully once solved I shall rapidly (I hope) put my 1970’s illustrations into the New Shrewd Idiot. I got to get it finished and finally out. I have a new idea for the wrap-over cover. I have a self portrait what I done just before I left my home town for college days.

a self P 1969 v sm

I may use that with three flower picture above it representing three young women who play important parts in the book; a bluebell, a rose and a camellia. It’s wonderful where an unshackled mind takes you innit?

and in tribute to those who drowned at The Battle of Jutland, both sides.

a first poppy 2016 sm

 

1450 BC is a pivotal moment

Please bear with me here in this blog cos I’ve not taken to or ’got’ religion, no, but I have gotten humanity or spirituality.

Spirit is in all of us. It’s what makes us live. We are the body which the spirit inhabits. Spirit is bigger than us, it is all of us, it transcends all boundaries physical and conceptual. Spirit is above all these conflicts, it yearns for peace amongst the races of planet Earth. Like the Dalai Lama says we all wish to be happy and contented.

Some are willing to fight wars, to kill and maim in the name of their peace. Hence the crusades and the jihads. I am not of that leaning or school of thought, I would prefer to cherish all living beings. [Although as a meat eater I must bear some responsibility for the demise of some of the world’s stock of beef, sheep, fish and all but I spoke with a man who was raised on a farm and they ‘get’ that you give the livestock a good living time then it becomes food on the plate. We need protein but I draw the line. Some animals were reared from time immemorial to serve humankind; cows, pigs, horses, camels salmon and so on. The indigenous folks of the Americas had the right idea when they would co-exist with the buffalo and when they killed one would use every part in some way, the buffalo was their brother.

In my last blog I mentioned 3 countries whose recent history has been strife-ridden; Afghanistan, Iraq & Syria. In fact their strife goes back as much as 5,000 years despite their being the cradle of civilisation. That area has almost always been at war, as have many other areas of this globe. That’s mostly because the human race [my name for the human race is non-gender, ubeings I spose that can be shortened some more to Ubees? Or even Usbees cos we are all in it together, Usbeez I may say Usbeez] are family-protective and territorially jealous whilst also being covetous and greedy. To put it another way, Usbeez are tribal.

My interest in the ancient history of this planet began when I was young and forced to listen to stories in church from the old & new testaments. Ironically Christians broke away from Judaism to set up a different view of life & death yet the powers that ruled GB chose to re-adapt the Old Testament. The powers that ruled GB were from the so called ‘upper class’; the rich, the landed, they decided somewhere along the line that Greece and Rome were the pinnacle of the ancient world and that Greek & Latin were the languages with most importance. That must have seemed obvious as many words in the ‘English’ language hail from Roman Latin and the idea of democracy is supposed to have hailed from Greece altho their democracy was nowhere near all inclusive.

However, the world of what has come to be known as the Semitic-speaking peoples which includes what was Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Phoenicia etc, now known as Iraq & Syria etc, was vitally important in the development of the later Greeks & Romans. Without the Semitic-speaking peoples there would have been no writing. The Phoenicians were Semitic and the Greeks adopted their alphabet. The Phoenicians built Carthage and (I believe) eventually settled in Etruria. http://www.britannica.com/place/Etruria-ancient-country-Italy

The Phoenicians were the big power that moved around the Mediterranean and they traded with the people of Crete and Thera (modern day Santorini, look at the map in this link and you’ll see it is like a polo mint shape, that’s because it was blown asunder in 1450BC (https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=santorini).

thers

The people of Crete and Thera were the Minoan civilisation, maybe they were what Socrates and Plato referred to as Atlantis. At the time of the massive natural disaster in 1450 BC which destroyed the Minoan culture the people of Crete and Thera had the most advanced society in the region, possibly on the planet. It pre-dated the rise of the Mycenaean Greeks who indeed took advantage of the wreckage left by volcanic eruptions and tsunamis to over-run and overcome a group of people who had held them at bay for a long time. I believe that 1450 BC is a pivotal moment of earth’s history and it is hard for us to comprehend how big the changes brought about by that disastrous time were. Everything in the ancient world changed.

http://www.explorecrete.com/archaeology/minoan-civilization-destruction.html

There are some thinkers who believe that there were also some cataclysmic occurrences in the sky, possibly outside the Earth’s atmosphere, something like a comet coming very close to colliding with the planet. There is evidence in all the records of peoples who at that time were capable of keeping records of huge displays of bright lights and explosions in the skies. I believe that a lot of myths about dragons and the gods fighting come from these events. But, whereas that’s some incredible stories from Scandinavia to China, it’s not the focus of this blart.

The focus is on installing the peoples of Assyria and Babylon into their place above the tiny enclave around ancient Judea which has taken on such a big over-important position because the west adopted a form of Christianity which was already a watered down version of the Christ story by the time of the Nicene Creed in 325 A.D. (http://www.theopedia.com/nicene-creed )

I say watered down because the literature adopted at the Nicene Creed deliberately cut out, exiled, many writings which the creed’s creators didn’t see fit for their purpose.

he went right back
some words taken from David Jury’s letterpress version of my scroll poem about Johannes Scheffler, medieval author of the poem ‘Cherubinic Wanderer’ which is about making contact with the source of all things, inside yourself.

It is my feeling that a lot of valuable information was therefore lost to the next 1620 years until in the 1940s various excavations and discoveries found out the content of some of the damned documents in places like Nag Hamadi (http://gnosis.org/naghamm/nhl.html ).

 

tumultus disc by Pol sm
Tumultous disc in stained glass by MLK

This has not got to do with ‘religion’ it’s to do with truth, honesty and fairness. These vital traits were absent from the Nicene Creed’s outlook which was aimed to push a certain view of the world which was already alien to the ideas of the revolutionary group that surrounded a man with great ideas and example, known to the west as Jesus Christ. Joshua ben Gennesareth may have been his title in reality. If you want to research this further see this set of links https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=Joshua+ben+Gennesareth

When I mention Christ (which indeed was a title for ‘messiah or anointed one’ see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christos_(given_name)) I do so in the group of  extraordinary thinkers who lived in this order; Buddha, Christ and Mohammed,  I say let’s give these three guys equal billing as none of them would have been into pecking orders and all of whom had a message which was essentially the same- “Walk away from previous bad actions, forgive the perpetrators (including yourself if it were you what dunnit) and build a new future with trust, mutual acceptance and love for all beings.”

The reason I mention this is because all 3 were well aware of the penchant of mankind to take revenge and how that always leads to its corollary (its natural consequence), more violence, more revenge. So these three genii were and still do advocating a revolution against the natural consequence.

I am not ‘religious’ but I believe in the spiritual aspect of existence and I believe these three men were spot on!

I was reading about the (ancient) Hittites, the Babylonians and the Persian (all of whom had incredible advances in their societys, sciences and arts) and the books tell us that each of those countries fought continuously amongst themselves and I don’t think it takes a brilliant mind to say those battles still continue today. The Middle East is riven with strife over the past 5,000 years where men have continued to administer the natural consequences and the wars which began 5,000 years back still continue today. That’s a fact.

Surprisingly there has been a miracle in Ireland where the tribes did kill one another for hundreds of years and that miracle was what is called the Good Friday Agreement (10 April 1998). I hope that they can come to such an agreement in Syria soon enough. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Give Peace a Chance!

It’s For The People.

 

Going back to thoughts https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/a-lifelong-friend/ on my old friend for 60 years Trev*, initially it would trouble me that my words don’t reach people like him but, on consideration, I have spent 48 years developing my words & ideas which he neither followed nor kept up with my path, why should he? I don’t understand his zone either, he was an accountant, I don’t do money, ask HMRC they’d confirm that. *Good news is Trev got in touch and said he enjoyed my last blArt.

Here’s the first viewing of one of the Apulhed Comix c.1977 that never got published in the 1970s. By 1979 I had created Happy Apulhed, a much more friendly, less eerie character.

ahed sets off color sm

When I was doing Apulhed comics at college in the early 1970s my old mates back in Burnley could explain my work was beyond their experience by saying, “Pete’s gone off to college and is full of new-fangled ideas, he’s just a bit strange but we can tolerate that because he’s…” Now nearly 50 years later I have further widened the gap. Not vindictively, just by osmosis, as a result of my endeavours but it still begs the question- If my art cannot reach ‘normal’ folk, am I missing the mark?

Nonetheless folk from all over the world do find my art interesting. yesterday I had hits from Vietnam and Sweden and my total views is fast approaching 10K. Some write and say I write well or the blog is good. But more, I feel that when I do any more Performance Art (PA) I’d need to be able to communicate or ‘get’ to the public’s minds whilst neither condescending them, nor demeaning my ideas of course. There would always be an elephant of surprise and an unsettling feeling in the outcomes I produce to keep the onlookers’ attention. Don’t want youse all falling asleep now do we?

I have been looking again at Verena & Andrea’s (Vest & Page) stuff in the vids on their website. http://www.vest-and-page.de/#!selected-works/caf0 They show by their astounding work that by comparison my work is a mere blot on the floor left by a PA Baby in his swaddling bands. (‘Swaddling’ is an age-old practice of wrapping infants tightly in blankets or similar cloths so that movement of the limbs is tightly restricted. Swaddling bands were often used to further restrict the infant. At the moment I feel constrained as if by swaddling bands and only by ‘getting’ my work out there’ will I change my garment, or maybe relinquish [most of] them.) The good news is I’ve been invited onto the Book Arts Day for The Society of Bookbinders on Sat 5th March 2016 in little old London town to do some Performance Art. Right now I’m working on a new piece, ‘Brush’, using words from Colin Lloyd Tucker’s beautiful song ‘Brush’. My friends, the Townsend Twins are helping choreograph the movement. I may also include a new rendition of Clay Jug after the beautiful poem by Kabir.

And ‘PA Baby‘ is maybe another pseudonym for me as it cover the fact that I’m old enough in calendar years to be their grandpa yet in terms of my experience in the field of PA I’m just a baby. In fact whilst at IPA in October a lot of my work brought me, and indeed some observers, to tears. In my case because I was going back into my early experiences and re-living them and also seeing that at 64 years old I weren’t about to have certain experiences again and indeed the inevitability of the changes old age will bring also weighed down on me. I got my crying in first. Some watchers cried in sympathy, some because I touched a chord and others just cried cos they were incredibly tired after 8 days of full-on PA practice with a group of strangers to start with who fast became close bonds. I still find it so daunting to think of what is out there in the Performance Art field. But it’s silly to compare. It’s like comparing a little village’s pub band to the Rolling Stones but there again the greats do look at the new stuff coming thru and like V&P are very encouraging. My mate IEPW told me that David Bowie liked Arcade Fire so much that he requested to sing with them and they accepted his offer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6c9Ejfu-iU

Also he did this with them uploaded 2 Feb 2006 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkCc_qiI7UA well now, David had another 10 years.

Deathday instead of Birthday celebrations?

Image053

A Big Cloud of Unknowing.

When I heard of the death of David Bowie I thought to myself, they should have a day each year to celebrate him, maybe his day of dying would be the best day for an annual remembering of his creative, original and inspirational, trend-setting (in its purest form) life. Undoubtedly he did set trends.

Image062

OM

The Dalai Lama has said, “Usually I don’t consider birthdays something important. In Tibet we consider the death anniversary more important. I think that’s quite wise. A person who made good contributions in life, then after [their] death, remember them in some anniversaries…as a Buddhist monk I believe every day is a new day, every day is birthday. The particles of our body momentarily changing, always become something new. Mental thinking, because of new knowledge & experience, also changes. So every day is a birthday. [If] we use our day in a proper way then the months & decades, whole life becomes meaningful. If you can help other, do it as much as you can. If you cannot do it, at least, restrain from harming others. That’s the essential of meaningful life.”

I’ll drink to that, nowadays my chosen drink is water.

 

I tried to change the world

Now I can listen & hear what three wise men,  Krishnamurti, Roy Fraser & the Dalai Lama, have told me, I don’t know why but there it IS, maybe cos am old?a ceramic buddhaithis was Roy Fraser’s little ceramic Buddhai what I drew…

OM MADI PADME HUMMMmm

Like many others of the Sixties generation I tried to change the world these past 50 years. But, like the US forces going into Saddam’s Iraq, I never had a contingency for what to put in the old world’s place. I found out that nobody changes the world cos the world just carries on in it’s own bittersweet way, forever. The world in which we live, or should I say Universe, has been going on for millions of years and will continue with or without us ubeings. In fact if we blow the Earth to smithereens the universe just keeps rolling along with what’s left of the Earth and all who dwelt there re-constituted. We are in fact always re-constituting, part of you and me was in the BIG BANG what made the existence we became aware of. When we die our bodies will re-constitute once more and help make up other things. If we have a spirit or a soul that carries on somehow.

a penned mystic sm

This is my spirit guide

‘This mug is a combination of particles, atoms, quarks [like the old man in the sketch above which is for me maybe the best thing I have ever created. I very rarely draw things from my mind without any visual prompt but this old guy just arrived from my pencil. Like Lennon used to say he didn’t ‘write’ his songs, he was a conduit thru which they came, same with this old guy]. But each particle is not ‘mug’. The same can be said of everything, including yourself. The mug, ‘me’, are merely labels, something we use to describe everyday reality. The mug, me, came into existence because of a complex web of causes and conditions. They do not exist independently [our] existence is dependent on an infinite, intricately linked series of events, people, causes and conditions.’ Dalai Lama in The Wisdom Of Compassion.

One of the Dalai Lama’s teachers was Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and I found a beautiful film about him here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQPmnGTUHYU at about 25 mins in it gets very good, seems we are taken into a Shangrila! I even see them printing off pages of a pothi, one of their bookforms. It’s amazing to me how similar looking Khyentse was to one of my mentors in life, an old friend who I painted awhile ago called Roy Fraser. Roy was also into spiritual searching and I had lots of interesting chats late into the night with him alongside a ‘spirit in a bottle’ called Glenn Fiddich.

Roy F as rinpoche smRoy Frasera kheyntse detaleDilgo Khyentse

If you have a couple of hours to spare, take a look at this Buddhist woman and her take on Compassion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=datWeGjthJU&feature=youtu.be

Both Tai Chi and Ashtanga Yoga help body and mind to gain good health and equilibrium. I won’t bother to explain that here, just believe me.

I was lucky enough to be able to start doing Tai Chi and Ashtanga Yoga with Gareth Chandler http://www.garethchandler.com/links.htm out of Chelmsford about 5 years ago. Like lots of people I didn’t know what I was doing. Now I discover that what I let myself into was an incredible asset for (my) life (and yours too if you want to try it!). I have moved on to learn Tai Chi with Master Ch’ng Lay Seng in Witham. http://clstaichichuan.co.uk/

master Ch'n Lay SengMaster Ch’ng Lay Seng

Both forms do incredible benefits for the body and mind. These couple and inter-relate with my interest in Tibetan Buddhist ideas, zen and meditation. The more I do it the more I learn how much they are so interconnected. All of them have had a profound effect on all that I do.

I read a book ‘Finding Balance in the Midst of Chaos’ by a ‘Peter Strong PhD’ which is strong medicine, in fact it’s too difficult to read without making notes and having a dictionary of sanscrit/pali words handy but I would like to share a passage where he talks about our body & mind’s ability to maintain ‘homeostasis’ or ‘same state’ balance in our life. Our body is regulated by responses designed to maintain physiological & psychological equilibrium by adapting to ‘instability created by external or internal stress’.

The Dalai Lama also says ‘…karma means cause & effect. Suffering (dukkha) is unavoidable [it is a ‘given’ in human- ubeing- life, ed.] it is something we have to deal with. Accepting the situation decreases anxiety. Acceptance gives peace of mind’.

Psychological equilibrium comes when ‘there is freedom from conflict and suffering. This state is called dukkha-nirodha, ‘dukkha’ being ‘suffering’ and ‘nirodha’ meaning extinction. [think of suffrin-eroder, to erode suffering maybe] Before I befuddle you more with Strong’s words I must say that if you look at the writing of B S Iyengar you’ll find the benefits the different yoga moves/positions (asanas) manifest on us ‘yogis’ [a ‘yogi’ is just anyone who does yoga].

Also when Krishnamurti revealed his secret to life he said, “Don’t mind what happens”. This gives us a clue as to how to reach a place where we find our own equilibrium but it’s very hard. His choice of words as always is very clever. He doesn’t advocate not being interested nor taking initiatives, he just says “Don’t mind what happens”, which to me means, don’t ‘attach’ to what happens, don’t cling to memories, things, ideas etc., we all have our experiences and sometimes we get embroiled, we can’t detach and that can lead to all sorts of issues.

[a spurious aside- Like I can’t, or couldn’t detach from the idea that my art was worthy and the world did me a dis-service by not attaching to it and giving me loads a money and praise and love and attachment. Then I look see what those results brought for the likes of Michael Jackson, John Lennon & Elvis the Pelvis and I can see I don’t want loads a money and praise and love and attachment. I am now more ready to give up my forlorn attempts to be up there with the famous ones, or the special one Mourn-inho! I think myself lucky that I never made it. I no longer ‘mind’, even if I did in the past and that’s really an ‘if’. I have had moments, I’ve had positive feedback which has gone into the burner and helped energise me as did criticisms cos often I’d not take them laying down, I’d up and at ‘em. I’d make my next ting beat better. All the time I wanted to improve. Which is funny when you’re running in the wrong direction with all the prizes under your arms, and then they begin to melt or even worse, rot. I had an instinctive feeling when Mourn-inho returned to Chelsea he would regret it, and now he does. Then again, I wouldn’t put it past Mourninho to have manipulated the situation so that he became persona non grata at Chelsea FC just as it was becoming obvious that Van Gaal had underestimated the task at Man U FC and is proving a little short of the required level to sort that old monster out quickly enough for the expectations in a league where measure has become greatly distorted by vast amounts of money?]

Not ‘attaching’ gives us the opportunity to establish and maintain equilibrium so that if we need to assess some situation we can be non-judgemental. Thereby, having no side to take our reactivity is lessened, maybe to nil. We become observers. His mind, in Strong’s words, is “free to respond in the best way possible to resolve suffering (known as dukkha) and restore stability. Strong cites the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics which he states states that all systems seek a state of maximum (thermos) stability and will change (dynamic) if given freedom to change. It’s a battle between habitual reactivity (habits formed thru conditioning & experience) and the natural intelligence which innate (existent but usually dormant within us) in our psyche. Habits so often overrule the intuitive wisdom. Krishnamurti leapfrogs this conundrum by a conviction not to be bothered by what occurs (Am Oi Bovvad?!). I am going to make it my New Year’s resolution to try not to ‘attach’ to trial, tribulation and triumph!

 

Sunset for ‘Radar Ken’

refleced moi sm Here’s a photo taken of me in a moment of reflection back around 1994 and below are some of the reflections on where the spirit which inhabits the body whilst we ‘live’ goes when we ‘die’: I’d like to thank those of you who have ‘liked’ this post and all of you who have written to me with your feelings & thoughts, Namaste.

I ‘found’ myself when I finally refrained from looking and chasing around. I had relaxed and was just taking my part in the journey of life. I picked up some notes from 2002 where I had mentioned my then 84 year old mother and my father who had died aged 73 (both born in 1918). My mum lived a further 7 years into her 90s. I was reading the Dalai Lama then as I am now and then I likened him to an alien presence, realising that we all are, as we are visitors to this planet. Our ‘spirit’ or ‘essence’ is merely passing through…However, although I respect their vision I must point out there are millions of other stars and planets out there. Don’t we visit some of them as well?

Tibetan insight into existence would have us believe that what we refer to as ‘life’ is the Bardo of Living and what we see as ‘death’ is their Bardo Of Dying. These are opposites like yin & yang which can’t exist without each other. Tibetan monks see existence as a series of steps or ‘transitions’ through these bardos. We inhabit the bardo of living when we are born and enter the bardo of dying when we ‘depart this mortal coil’. The Tibetan Buddhist tradition says our spirit returns to the bardo of living many (millions of) times in rebirth until we eventually get ‘Enlightenment’ and quit this scene for good.

I been lucky as I been around (in this lifetime) 64 years + some months & days hours minutes & seconds. Let’s crunch numbers- in 1967 when I were 16 Lennon wrote When Am 64 with his old mucka. None of us 16 year olds anticipated back then in 67 that we’d ever be 64 but now 48 yearns later I have become 64 and in 48 years from noo, in October 2063 had I lived that long I’d be 112. Few of us in the west ever think about our deaths as it’s almost taboo to talk about death and writing a blog about the subject is a rather risky ting to do on the face of it but I insist it is a good idea to address the issue before I die cos afterwards it’d be difficult no doubt. I don’t intend to be, and I insist I am not being, morbid. On the contrary I am elucidating to those of you what don’t know the Tibetan take on death is that they take it on early in their thinking lives so that when it does arrive it won’t take them by surprise, they are ready.

blessin crowd

Buddhists perceive the human condition as one permeated by ‘suffering’ and their aim is to become a Buddha through gaining Enlightenment. This is intangible to me with the only way to ‘see’ or ‘understand’ it being only by ‘nuance’ or a glimpse.

Occasionally I ‘glimpse’ a sense of the presence of my dead dad. I may see a symbol which represents him for me like a lacewing and often in moments rather appropriate for my memory of time spent with him.

The same applies to seeing or remembering past lives. In a recurring dream I see a 19th century helmet in mud on a battlefield which speaks to me of a previous life-death in the Crimean war. It’s a rather strange view but I ‘get’ that was from a previous life but it would be more convincing if I had a snitchet of conversation or more detail about the site.

dalama peace gdn small

I am not sure if the Dalai Lama ‘sees’ his past lives (on Earth, in Tibet) clearly. Until I myself have had such vivid clear sight I remain unsure as to whether anyone else can do so.

Thinking like a materialist or a logical positivist empiricist I could/would say I can tell you what I saw or felt. So, I can look back and see myself walking up Manchester Road in Burnley ahead of my mum who was pushing a pram plus my sister after we had seen the Queen Elizabeth at Burnley town hall in 1955 when I was 4 years old.

Queen Liz arriving to obsequiousness at Burnley town hall.

a queen alone bly sm

Liz was more interested in looking in the crowd for ‘Littul Pete’ and his mum.

a queen at burnley

I can see myself playing with a big tin American model toy car in the mud near my home on Wycoller Avenue. I have memories of playing football and wrestling other boys. These memories are real in various degrees. My wife often comments that what I just recalled doesn’t fit her memory of an event we shared together, ‘That’s not how I remember it.’ That calls into question my retention skills and also the idea that we all see the same thing or same event the same way which of course we never can cos we are different folks. As for seeing back into different incarnations, well there’s even less ‘proof’.

Regarding seeing forward to what will happen when I die again there’s no apparent cognisance. Recently some three of my personal friends have died. With each of us, when we die, what happens is the ‘life’ leaves the body. We see that.

a roy F leaving his body sm

My old friend Roy Fraser leaving his earth body watched by Apulsfinx.

The evidence is clear. The body ceases to function and we can no longer have a conversation with them, in a physical sense, any more. And soon enough it will occur to my own body, it will ‘die’. (Tibetans say that everything is impermanent and this is true scientifically too. The body we call ‘ours’ is in constant flux, never remaining the same from one moment to the next, subtle changes we are mostly unaware of. Once the spirit leaves the body it has no further use for that body becomes surplus to requirement. Some people donate parts of their old body to science and the medical needs of others which I believe is a generous action. In old Tibet they used sky burials, thus providing the wildlife (usually birds) with sustenance. This was partly to do with the lack of soft earth to dig nor wood to cremate with as in India. I have found a beautiful poem by Robert Okaji in a blog I follow-  http://atomicgeography.com/2015/08/13/another-sky-burial/ Whatever is done with our body after we die in one way or another it reconstitutes. It is said that in all of us there is a trace of elements from the original Big Bang. Everything is always changing. That is a mantra I wrote in the early 1970’s when I used to keep a journal towards my future books. Once you accept that you can see the need to cling onto even our old discarded body is unnecessary. I sense some folk may find this writing a bit difficult. yes it may be with the old taboos that are so prevalent in our society which i believe need to be lifted. I see a need to be able to speak about the subject called death with compassion and harmony rather than fear and trepidation. One lady in reply to this blog revealed to me that she used to care for the body of the person who had died and that she saw the activity as “what a privilege it is to perform this final act of care but for most people who die”. Tibetan writings as in Sogyal Rinpoche’s Book of Living & Dying give guidance on how to stay with the deceased person and help them acclimatise to the bardo of dying. I have thought about Ken this week and whilst listening to some beautiful Tibetan monks chanting on cd I could imagine his spirit coming over the mountain to meet thoise monks who would be ready to recieve & welcome hoim along with their ability to put him at ease in his new form. Namaste, Bless you, Shalom. ) What will happen to this thing which is making this pen write these words is unbeknown to me. I have my suspicions, my thoughts on what may happen and emotion and romanticism will inevitably creep into my ideas. We age from the moment of conception, aging is no crime, it’s a fact of life. The idea that this ‘entity’/spirit me which inhabits this aging body will cease to exist because the body that houses it stops functioning seems naïve and ridiculous to me. But we seem to have no proof, after some millions of years in the process of evolving into ‘modern’ humans (ubeings to take gender out of the term) there seems no proof of what happens to this entity that writes these words when the body that enables the mind to drive the impulse from the brain to the hand to the pen ceases functioning because the life force that impulses the body to pump blood around and send minute (my newt) messages almost instantaneously from brain along the cerebral cortex to the fingers and out thru the pen, stops. There’s a circle there. The life force drives the thought, the nervous system and the blood pump and when that life-force stops the processing stops. There must be a yin-yang or positive-negative force going on. The body cannot function without the life force which cannot function without the body, seemingly, at least we have no proof.

Here is a rather sombre/somber song by Len Cohen which seems to be a reflection on all aspects of life and death. I love Cohen’s work he does the most beautiful poems which translate so well into song accompanied always by stunning musicians and singers. This however seems to be his reflections on life without the faintest gilding.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5x12oo8diKE

We have no proof that there is life on the other planets that have now been proven to be going around many of the billions of stars that exist. We have proof of the minutest microbes because they can be magnified and ‘seen’ but we cannot ‘see’ the life force which inhabits our bodies. Can we?

My life force goes to bed to sleep about 11pm and awakens between 4 (thanks cats) and 7am. Whilst it sleeps it is still functioning. It still pumps from the heart and ‘sees’ dreams and certain sounds impinge enough to wake me up. I don’t wish to give a blow by blow, puff by puff account of ‘living’ what I am trying to get to, to understand, is the life-force. On top of mundane tasks like toileting, washing up, eating, I create ‘art’ including the words on this paper. That’s just above existing. I dance. I drive a car etc. one day in the next 40 years for sure all that will stop. Bound to. My body will have aged and deteriorated so much that it cannot continue to function. Then am gone. This is where the words don’t come. I cannot anticipate what happens. Some say nothing, dead end- pardon the pun. That seems a shame & a waste after all the effort that went in from me being 3 and walking up Manchester Road ‘til now in 2015 with my GCEs & Masters degrees and all. But it’s a fact, it stops, the physical part. So my dad died and took all of his steeplejack knowledge with him, his second world war experience went too.

In a way that’s why I write and create art so that I leave a footprint other than the natural residue of having lived x years but in many ways my ‘work’ is clutter, rubbish and it will dissipate. So enjoy it, drink it while you still can.