The ox herding pictures represent the process of awakening as described in Zen Buddhism. Each image is a metaphor that reveals the internal stages of meditation – how awakening looks from the inside. In this series we’ll look at each picture and explore what they mean, but first a bit of background. The original drawings… Continue reading Zen Ox Herding Pictures: Introduction
There’s a new mindfulness craze sweeping the nation: colouring books for adults. It’s supposed to help you relax and be more mindful, but does it work? The idea is that keeping your hands occupied allows the mind to become still. If you struggle with normal meditation, where you have to sit and do nothing but… Continue reading Colouring Books: Art Therapy or Mindless Money-spinner?
“I keep remembering this strange little story I heard in Sunday school when I was about the size of a fire hydrant. It takes place in China or Korea or someplace like that. It seems there was this old farmer outside a village in the hill country who worked his farm with only his son… Continue reading David Foster Wallace on Writing & an old Chinese Tale
“Oh boy! Oh boy!” cried the monk-on-probation who had just cracked the Zen Master’s favourite (and valuable) drinking cup.
The frightened youngster went to the Zen Master and asked, “Why must there be death?”
The Master answered, “Death is natural. It comes to all persons and things. We should not greet it with fear or meet death with anger. Why do you ask?”
“Because, Master, death has come upon your cup.”
– Zen Fables For Today
Another writing exercise to get the juices flowing! This time we’ll explore five of our favourite words – these could be any word you like or whatever is rattling around inside your head at the moment. Try to choose words that are concrete rather than abstract, words that point to something real, not an idea.… Continue reading Writing Exercise: Five Favourite Words
I’m preparing to rewrite my second novel (again) so thought I’d limber up with some writing exercises, get the old fiction juices flowing. I’ll share the instructions for each exercise and the results, and you can ‘write along’ with me, if you like. Note: I’m doing these exercises longhand and then typing them up –… Continue reading Writing Exercise: What’s in a Word?
Less is more. Be more Zen. >Writer’s Manifesto (pdf)
In this great essay, Ray Bradbury gives us four words of advice that are essential for writing, or any kind of creativity: WORK RELAXATION DON’T THINK! ‘Work’ is self-explanatory. ‘Relaxation’ means getting into the Zone and letting the writing write itself. And ‘Don’t Think!’ means not second guessing yourself or interrupting the flow of Relaxation.… Continue reading Zen in the Art of Writing – according to Ray Bradbury
Writers hate rejection. So does everybody else, but writers and other creative souls will experience more than their share of the dreaded scourge. There aren’t many other occupations that have to deal with such high levels of criticism and sheer indifference. There are many ways to deal with rejection. Getting drunk and gorging yourself on… Continue reading How to Deal with Rejection
A selection of recommended Fiction books for anyone on the path to awakening and self-knowledge. These are some of the novels I’ve particularly enjoyed that centre around spiritual themes or the quest for self-knowledge… Peter Carey – Bliss Harry Joy recovers from a heart transplant convinced he has died and is now in Hell. He… Continue reading Fiction Bookshelf
A selection of recommended books about Buddhism for anyone on the path to awakening and self-knowledge. These are some of the books I’ve found particularly helpful over the years, plus links to online texts. There are longer reviews attached via links, and more to come… Karen Armstrong – Buddha This is a fascinating introduction to… Continue reading Buddhism Bookshelf
After busting some enlightenment myths, I thought I should look at what enlightenment actually is, with the rather obvious disclaimer: I’m not enlightened, although I am working on it… maybe in the next life! The first thing to say is that it isn’t possible to say what enlightenment reveals. The true nature of reality is… Continue reading What Is Enlightenment?