The Ten Fools


Well, I’ve started work on my next book; much quicker than I anticipated.  If all goes to plan, it will be a pocket-sized book of 12 Zen parables, set out in my own words and with my own spin.  I wanted to call it, “Zen for Cockneys”, because it is aimed at ordinary salt-of-the-earth people (like me) who are not exactly what you would call intellectual and do not want rambling philosophies, but simple and easy to understand literature that speaks volumes in its simplicity.  Then I thought to myself that a lot of people might take the title literally and think, “I’m not a Cockney, so this book can’t be for me”.  So, as things stand, I’m looking to call it, “Twelve Steps for the Pathless Path”. As with my last offering, I’m going to showcase it here on my blog as I write it and then put it into book form.  So, ladeeeeeez an’ gennelmen… I give to you… The Ten Fools.

Ten fools were on their way to a neighbouring town.  They came to a river, which was quite fast flowing, and had to cross it in order to reach their destination.  When they got to the other side, one of them decided it would be a good idea to do a head-count; just to make sure they were all safe.  He counted, one, two, three etc. and only counted nine; forgetting to count himself in the process.  Alarmed, he shouted, “I can only account for nine of us”.  Another shouted, “let me count, just to make sure”.  He also forgot himself and only counted nine.  They all did the same and became very distressed at having “lost” one.  In their distressed state they tried to work out which one of them had been swept away, As they did so, a sympathetic traveller happened along.  Seeing their distress, he enquired as to what was wrong.

As they blurted out their tale of woe, the traveller immediately saw what the problem was.  He said, “OK, I have an idea.  I want you all to count yourselves individually”, and he got them all to line up in front of him.  He said, “I will go along the line and give each of you a blow on the head”.  “As I do so, I want you each to shout, one, two, three etc as we go; this way we make sure that nobody is counted twice”.  So, the traveller went along the line, delivering a blow to each one as he did so.  When he got to the end the last man shouted “TEN”.  They were all so relieved and couldn’t thank the traveller enough.

The ten fools were the cause of their own grief.  They were always ten, but their ignorance led them to believe that one of them had been swept away and drowned.  This is classic egoic behaviour.  They did not gain anything new when they realised no one was lost.  We are always pure, infinite being and have no reason to suffer.  But we impose imaginary limitations on ourselves by losing sight of our true nature, and then complain when these imaginary limitations cause us pain and suffering.  We then engage in spiritual practise in order to attain something that we already have.  Ironically, the spiritual practises themselves have to affirm the limitations in order to function.  It is a case of the blind leading the blind, with the ego being the only winner.

We are always pure consciousness, existing in a state of infinite bliss.  The letting go of the idea that we are not, is an end to suffering.

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A Truly Delightful Soul – Part Two


It never fails to amaze me how things happen in this wonderful adventure we call life.  Within a day of me writing my last blog post, A Truly Delightful Soul, I received an insight; one that I already had but was ignoring.  I was reading (for the third time) an Osho book, entitled “Zen – The Path of Paradox”.  I was on the penultimate chapter when I received the aforementioned insight.  I had to laugh, because not only was this insight unashamedly brutal in its delivery, but it was 100% Zen to the core.  It was immediate, it took no prisoners and I was left in no doubt whatsoever that I was skating on thin ice if I was REALLY serious about this spirituality caper, but equally, and true to the paradoxical nature of Zen, it showed me that my experience had indeed served a relevant purpose.  I shall explain… But first, for the sake of continuity, I will post my previous article again below.

A Truly Delightful Soul

The plot continues to thicken with regard to my astral adventures. I have now had the pleasure of the company of a truly delightful female soul, not once, not twice… but three times! As usual, I have no clue what it is all about or what purpose it serves, but I have had much worse experiences in my life, I can tell you! Being an advocate of the teachings of Ramana Maharshi and Rupert Spira, I know that the development of attachments to relationships such as these will do my long-term spiritual growth no good whatsoever. However, it is also true that Zen teaches the importance of embracing the totality. So, if this experience has come my way in the last few months, I’m going to accept it.

At first, she seemed quite excitable and a bit too playful; to the extent that I was questioning it. But the two subsequent times we have astral travelled together she has been much more disciplined. I’m presuming that we know each other from way back, but I don’t honestly know. What I do know is that she is a really lovely and very affectionate soul. I’m looking forward to sharing more adventures with her, if that is how we are going to roll; in fact, I’m hoping that even as I type, she is perusing the astral travel brochures and planning our next trip!

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So… there I was people, knowing that embracing this kind of experience will do more to hinder me spiritually than to help me, but actually quite enjoying it; when the inevitable happened.  I would like to share here the full transcription of what I read, but if I do that I will be infringing copyright laws, so I’m going to use my own words and give you a condensed version.

It is said that when an individual is very close to enlightenment, that they may have visions pertaining to the particular pathway they have been following.  For example, a Christian may have visions of Christ or a Buddhist may have visions of Buddha.  The passage went on to say that a Hindu may start having visions of Krishna and the Gopis*, will then “fall in love” with the Gopis and forget Krishna.  There was also reference to the Zen master Hui Neng, who apparently said, “If you meet Buddha on the way, kill him immediately.  If you see the patriarch, Bodhidharma, on the way, kill him immediately

The above statements give us warning as to just how cunning the mind (ego) is.  Having such visions does nothing but perpetuate the illusion of duality.  The ego knows it’s on borrowed time and will do absolutely anything to prolong its illusory life; hence the spectacular visions to tempt us away from the inner reality.  Hui Neng’s instructions to, “kill Buddha immediately“, if we see him along the way, is our reminder that as long as we maintain attachments to Gods and gurus we are affirming the existence of the separate self and will remain on the treadmill of birth and rebirth.

But what a beautiful way for the totality to remind me of the importance of understanding this.  “Hmmmm, what shall I do?  I know, I’ll send Richard a delightful soul to remind him of the importance of not developing attachments to delightful souls”.  This is why I absolutely love the “pathless path” of paradox that is Zen.  The delightful soul may not have been in the form of a Buddha or a Krishna, but she was still representative of a separate self.  Also, just because the experience occurred astrally, it was still nothing more than a projection of consciousness.  What rises up out of consciousness must also dissolve into consciousness and is therefore ultimately an illusion.

The essence of Zen is simply letting go.  Our pathless journey is from No-thing-ness to No-thing-ness.  In the middle we pick up mind-constructed “stuff”.  Zen is simply giving up the mind-constructed stuff in order to realise the inner reality; that is in fact neither inner nor outer, but the ONLY reality.

*Gopis = The female cowherders who danced to Krishna’s flute in the Bhagavad Ghita.

A Truely Delightful Soul


The plot continues to thicken with regard to my astral adventures.  I have now had the pleasure of the company of a truly delightful female soul, not once, not twice… but three times!  As usual, I have no clue what it is all about or what purpose it serves, but I have had much worse experiences in my life, I can tell you!  Being an advocate of the teachings of Ramana Maharshi and Rupert Spira, I know that the development of attachments to relationships such as these will do my long-term spiritual growth no good whatsoever.  However, it is also true that Zen teaches the importance of embracing the totality.  So, if this experience has come my way in the last few months, I’m going to accept it.

At first, she seemed quite excitable and a bit too playful; to the extent that I was questioning it.  But the two subsequent times we have astral travelled together she has been much more disciplined.  I’m presuming that we know each other from way back, but I don’t honestly know.  What I do know is that she is a really lovely and very affectionate soul.  I’m looking forward to sharing more adventures with her, if that is how we are going to roll; in fact, I’m hoping that even as I type, she is perusing the astral travel brochures and planning our next trip!

The Court Jester


Here is another Zen parable for you.  As with my previous post, I’m putting my own spin on it.

A king became exasperated with his court jester, who simply wouldn’t stop jesting.  Seemingly every minute of every day, the jester would be cracking jokes and playing the fool.  Eventually, the king decided he’d had enough and he condemned the jester to be hanged; ordering that he be taken to the dungeon to await his fate.  The day of the execution arrived and the king started to have second thoughts.  He felt that good court jesters were hard to come by, and after all, the poor bloke had only been doing his job.  But the king also felt that he couldn’t go back to the way things were, so he wrote out the royal pardon on official parchment and added the condition that the jester was not allowed to ever crack a joke again.  He put the royal seal on it and gave it to one of his courtiers to take to the executioner.  The courtier ran to the gallows, and arrived in the nick of time to see the jester already standing on the trap door with the noose around his neck.  The courtier blurted out that the king had changed his mind and that the execution should be halted; he then proceeded to read out the pardon.  As the reading of the pardon came to an end, the jester just couldn’t contain himself and quipped, “no noose is good news”.  He was hanged.

Of course that rather amusing story isn’t actually true, but it aptly explains how we function in accordance with our conditioning, as opposed to our true nature.  When we are born into this world, we are pure, open and still aware of the love that we are.  Gradually, as the years pass, we become conditioned; we are told that we are good or bad, beautiful or ugly, intelligent or thick etc, etc; and we become what we believe (or at least we THINK we have become what we believe).  Then we enter adulthood and we get a job or career, adding that to “who I am” as we go along.  In the case of the jester, “jestering” was what he did, it was not who he was.  However, he was not able to drop the egoic belief that, “I am a jester”, so when the opportunity arose, he couldn’t resist the quip and was promptly executed.

Whether you are an ugly professor, a beautiful cleaner or a good retail assistant, the professor, the cleaner and the retail assistant are what you DO, they are not who you are.  As to whether you are ugly, beautiful, good or bad, these are only judgements made by other people that you may or may not believe.  They are also not who you are and do not have to define you.  So, in life don’t be a silly jester; or the joke will be on you!

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3D


What’s the difference between a lunatic playing the piano and a concert pianist playing the piano? After all, they are both playing the same notes. The difference is the same as between Zen and organised religion. Like the concert pianist, the Zen person is in flow; everything is in order; there is acceptance of “what is”.  When a madman plays the piano, the notes may be the same, but they are bashed out at random; he is just playing fragments.  This is the same with organised religion; it is a fragmented series of stories that are someone else’s experience.  These stories have been packaged and pedaled to the masses in the hope that the masses will believe blindly.

To practise organised religion, you need the three Ds; doctrine, dogma and deity. All are creations of the mind and are therefore of the ego. The only purpose they serve is to keep the individual in ignorance. The religious person is constantly seeking the unseekable; something that is in the future, whereas the Zen person knows there is nothing to seek. The Zen person knows that spiritual awakening is the understanding that you are already awake.

Listen to the music of silence, it will tell you everything you need to know.

Spuds!


The humble potato. As you can see, this one is in mid-peel…

I recently found a cyber-friend of mine on another well-known social media site (you know who you are!), and on viewing her page, I came across the most wonderful post.  I liked it so much, and it provoked so much thought within me, that I wanted to share it with you here.  I am not quoting word for word, but I think you will get the gist; it concerns peeling potatoes; or as I like to call them, “spuds”.  It goes something like this..

Religion based spirituality – Peeling potatoes, thinking about God.

Zen spirituality – Peeling potatoes.

At first glance you would think that the religious person is a goody-two-shoes; thinking about God whilst engaged in a fairly mundane task.  However, unless you have an understanding of Zen and are able to look deeper into what is being said, there is a good chance that this is the only conclusion you will draw.

In the first example, the person’s mind is active; and is therefore giving life to the non-existent ego, or false self.

In the second example, the person is simply Being and is therefore at one with “All That Is”.

It has occurred to me that Zen is the direct experience of our own Divinity.

Left Or Right? Does It Matter?


Those of you who followed my story of personal evolution, will know that I come from a working-class background; and indeed, you may have deduced that I am proud of my roots and would not swap my life for anything.  My politics have always been very left; simply because I have always detested bigotry and prejudice of any kind.  In the UK (I can’t speak for any other country) we still have a ridiculous class-system that should have been confined to the rubbish bin centuries ago.  Indeed, the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” seems to be growing wider by the second.  Also, unless you have been living in your own bubble this last few weeks, you will be aware that the UK had a visit from a certain POTUS recently, that caused a stir, to say the least.

These days I try very hard to look at things from the bigger spiritual perspective, although I must admit, that if I see something on social media that appeals greatly to the old me, I can’t resist the odd retweet or repost here and there.  So, what is the bigger spiritual perspective when it comes to the murky world of politics?

Well, I’m sure it may mean different things to different people, but what it means to me is this.  Everything in this illusory world only exists in relationship to its relative opposite; in fact, if it ain’t got a relative opposite it don’t exist!  To take that a step further, you can only experience or express something in this world if it has a relative opposite.  Without grief there would be no joy, without the bitter there would be no sweet; the list is endless.  So, the implications are that when you express something, a political view for example, you are actually helping to endorse its polar opposite.  The left can only exist because of the right, and vice-versa.

We must also remember that old chestnut, “as without, so within”.  So, when the circus comes to town, as it recently did in the UK, what we are seeing, and in our case what the majority of people ridiculed, was only a reflection of what is going on within ourselves at some level of our being.  Making that statement doesn’t mean that I agree with the person in question’s views.  But, what I am saying is that right and wrong are only relative in relationship to each other, and are concepts constructed by the mind about a certain thing.  It is also worth bearing in mind that nothing can happen unless the collective consciousness of our species wills it so.

So, what’s the answer?  Once again, this is just my personal point of view.  First of all, scroll up and read my opening paragraph again.  Did it seem quite negative in parts?  My use of the word “detest”, for example?  Even though I only wrote that paragraph from the perspective of my actual experiences in my own country, there was a hint of aggression in there; and the left are supposed to be the good guys! (There I go again).  I honestly believe that the answer to this conundrum is in my good friend, Zen.  Zen is a state of Being; or pure Consciousness.

There is no relativity in Consciousness, and Consciousness is our true nature; therefore there is ultimately no left or right, no right and wrong etc. So, whoever you are and wherever you find yourself at any given time, simply act from the perspective of Consciousness, to the best of your ability, and be an example; a shining light, to others.  That is all any of us can do really.  Once we understand that the world and all its shenanigans are simply the crazy construction of our own minds, we can go about helping to reduce its craziness.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record I want to finish by using an old Zen saying that I’ve used many times before.  “Be as a hollow bamboo”.  In other words, don’t “do”, don’t be left or right, right or wrong; just be as a hollow bamboo and allow the higher power to work through you.  Allow magic to work through you; indeed, allow yourself and the example you set to those around you to be magical.