from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Friday, 17 February 2012

ragbag blog: Bere Ferrers, lapwings, toads, Hinkley Point and pain vs suffering

It's Thursday dusk. I'm standing beneath a little elm tree – here in the UK it's unlikely to mature, due to Dutch Elm Disease – back of the water, which is silvered and still. The tide's low, and I'm at the lovely Bere Ferrers, my local village for ten years (up until 2009). Bere Ferrers sits at the confluence of the Tavy and the Tamar, and I love dusk here.

This is the first time I've smelled spring in the air. I'm quiet, dog at my feet, just watching night steal the land, listening. In the distance, a curlew. There's gooseyip from the channel in the middle of the tidal creek, owlcall from a tree to my left, and now a flock of lapwing circling, circling, with their plangent peewitsongs. If you listen long enough to birds you start to be able to identify them from their wingbeat, with your eyes closed. Lapwing, winter visitors here, with their wide blunt wings, have a kind of two-time ragged beat, like the heart's pulse and echo: a fast DEEduh DEEduh DEEduh. Like rooks and jackdaws, they like to do a small flypast before roosting at night.

I've seen two lots of frogspawn now. Let's hope they survive the freeze due.  


Speaking of things amphibian: Ecological Ethics, Patrick Curry's book that I'm currently reading, is prefaced by this beautiful poem by Joseph Bruchac:

Birdfoot’s Grandpa
The old man
must have stopped our car
two dozen times to climb out
and gather into his hands
the small toads blinded
by our light and leaping,
live drops of rain.

The rain was falling,
a mist about his white hair
and I kept saying
you can’t save them all,
accept it, get back in
we’ve got places to go.

But, leathery hands full
of wet brown life,
knee deep in the summer
roadside grass,
he just smiled and said
they have places to go, too.



Eco-issues: the last time I lay in the road over a nuclear issue was at Hinkley Point in the 1980s (though I've been in protests since). My daughter was young, and was getting used to being dragged around to places like the Peace Camp at Greenham Common, and Hinkley Point, instead of going on holiday, like other kids (we did go to festivals, though). Looks like I might need to do it again, as this Government is about to refurbish and boot up the nuclear activity there. That time, Paddy Ashdown, MP, sailed in in style from South Wales to join us. Maybe I should invite him again. There again, maybe he'll join us anyway...


Our work, psychospirituality suggests, is in integration of our fragmented parts, and of inner and outer. I think a lot about these words by Anais Nin (thank you Karen). How simply they sum up the whole of Jungian psychology, and the obstacles to enlightenment spoken of in Buddhist thought: 'We don't see the world as it is, we see it as we are.'


And on a similar theme, I have caught myself caught up, as it were, in the second arrow of the 'two arrows' teaching, a theme favoured by my Zen teacher, Ken Jones. The first arrow is what happens to us. 'Shit happens'. The second arrow, as I've mentioned before, is entirely down to us – it's not an inevitability. This is how we react to the first arrow, and therefore multiply the pain – or not. Someone said: You can expend energy on working out who launched the arrow, what tribe they came from, what their motivation was, what wood the arrow was made from, what tree grew the wood, what tool shaped it. Meantime the wound festers. Or you can pull it out.

Mhmmm. I've practically got growth rings around that particular wound from a month's hard begrudging.

Today I came across these words from the wonderful Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness teacher, and I suddenly saw what I was doing: 'If you distinguish between pain and suffering, change is possible.'

Again and again these teachings! Can't do much about the pain. The suffering though is in my own hands...

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