Thursday, 23 November 2017

Bhutan Pilgrimage

Dordenma Buddha statue, Thimphu
I have just been fortunate in having the most amazing experience - a pilgrimage to Bhutan. It is an extraordinary country and the most civilised place I have ever been. They may not be at the forefront of development and modern living standards, but they absolutely understand that civilisation is not about how much you earn or how much you own. Their focus is on ‘Gross National Happiness’ and the West can learn a lot from them.
Dochula Pass
As a practitioner of Vajrayana Buddhism, it was so valuable to visit a Vajrayana country. Even more so than in Nepal or India, being a practitioner, and displaying that in my dress and demeanour, is totally understood and respected. The landscape is spectacular, and the manner in which they are protecting their religion, culture and heritage is exemplary. It is not possible to gush too much about Bhutan!

At Tak-tsang, Tiger's Nest
It is expensive to visit, but once you have arrived everything is taken care of - from bottles of water while travelling, to picnic lunches, to admissions to sites, and so on. There is no need to pay for anything extra if you do not want to. Our only real extra expenditure was donations at lhakhangs (temples). Our group has created a Flickr account with photos of the pilgrimage:

I have been able to meditate in some of the most inspiring places on Earth - places where Padmasambhava practised, as well as many other great historic practitioners. It has been inspiring beyond words.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Newyddion yn Gymraeg a Saesneg - news in Welsh and English

Dw i wedi gwneud 'Say Something in Welsh' am dipyn. Ond am ychydig o fis dw i wedi gneud bron bob dydd. Dw i'n teimlo bod fy Nghymraeg i'n well iawn. Dw i wedi bod yn ysgrifennu dyddiadur yn Gymraeg a bydda i benderfyni ysgrifennu fy blog i yn Gymraeg a Saesneg.

Wythnos diwetha, nes i warchod fy ŵyr i am y tro cyntaf. Canais i 'Ten Men in a Boat' lawer o weithiau! Mwynheais i warchod iddo fe, ond o’n i wedi blino dydd nesa. 'ö-Dzin a fi bydd trio siarad â Sam yn Gymraeg. Doedd ei rieni e ddim yn hoffi cyhoeddus o luniau o Sam. Dw i'n barch hynny, felly fydda i ddim yn dangos lluniau o Sam yma.

Amser hir yn ôl, o'n i'n gweithio mewn ffatri ffabrig. Ro'n i'n gweithio 3 peiriant dylif. Roedd yr edafedd ar silindr cardbord cryf. Ro'n i'n creu mobile (allai i ddim ffeindio'r gair Cymraeg) o un o silindr. Ydy e hen nawr a gwyw, felly o’n i'n creu amineiddiad ohono fe o 32 lluniau. Dw i'n hapus gyda fe.
I have been doing 'Say Something in Welsh' for a while. But for a few months I have been doing it nearly every day. I feel that my Welsh is improving well.I have been writing a diary in Welsh and have decided to write my blog in Welsh and English.

Last week I babysat for my grandson for the first time. I sang 'Ten Men in a Boat' many times! I enjoyed babysitting him, but I was very tired next day. ’ö-Dzin and I will try and talk Welsh to him. his parents do not like to publish pictures of Same. I respect that, so I will not publish pictures of him on my blog.

A long time ago, I worked in a textiles factory. I worked 3 warp machines. The yarn was on strong cardboard cylinders. I made a mobile from one of the cylinders. It is now rather old and faded, so I have made an animation of it from 32 photos. I'm pleased with the result.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Teaching and walking; sunshine, woodland, and anemones

The spring weather has been so glorious that we decided we had to get out into the countryside for a walk over the weekend, even though we were busy. On the Saturday we taught at Aro Ling Cardiff. This went well and we also had a few for the morning practice session on Sunday. Then the rest of the day was free.

Sunday was also ’ö-Dzin’s birthday. The sun was shining, the birds singing, and our hearts were joyful. We did not want to spend hours in a car, so we explored the area east of Caerphilly, not far from home. We had hoped to find a Ridgeway walk, but didn’t quite succeed in this. Next time.

We had lunch at the Hollybush in Draethen – a lovely meal. Then we drove back to Llwyn Hir woodland and walked for a couple of hours. It was delightful to be warm enough without a coat. The woodland anemones were shining in the undergrowth, blooming boldly before the trees are in leaf. It took a while to find a high enough and open enough space to sit and practice sem-dzin, but eventually we did. We were surprised to be able to see the Severn Bridge in the far distance.

We are going on pilgrimage to Bhutan in October and will need to be fit for walking, so this was useful exercise in preparation. It is good to find inspiring walks near to home.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Has Wales Become a Godless Society? Gorwel Debate

I attending this interesting event on Tuesday:
Gorwel and the University of South Wales invite you to attend
Gorwel Debate 
 Has Wales Become A Godless Society?
Event sponsored by David Melding AM
National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff Bay, Old Debating Chamber, 6.30pm
Kathy Riddick, Development Officer – Wales Humanists, part of the British Humanist Association
Revd Gethin Rhys, National Assembly Policy Officer for Cytun (Churches Together in Wales)  
Kathy Riddick – Wales Humanists
I was intrigued by the title – Has Wales Become a Godless Society? I have italicised ‘become’ because from a Buddhist perspective, Wales—and everywherehas always been ‘Godless’  in terms of a singular creator god. Buddhism is an atheistic or non-theistic religion. Buddhists have always been Godless.
The audience was warmly invited to join the debate after the speakers had said their pieces. 

At one point the Kathy Riddick, the Humanist speaker, seemed to be equating secularism, or a lack of religion, with Godlessness. I spoke up on this point, indicating that this was not an accurate premise. Buddhism is godless, but it is a religion. Being ‘Godless’ does not equate to being non-religious or, especially, to being anti-religion. 

Rev. Gethin Rhys – Cytûn
I also queried why the Humanists seem to want to see an end to the influence and voice of religion in society, whilst at the same actively seeking a place and an influence in the forums and organisations that advocate the value of religion in society and a voice for religion, such as interfaith groups, and SACREs. This seems to me like wanting to have your cake and eat it.

The debate was conducted in a friendly and polite atmosphere, and it was an enjoyable evening. Many people of a variety of faiths contributed to the discussion.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Art Journal 2017

I have started my Art Journal for 2017. A couple of people said they wanted to join in with me this year, so I have been providing prompts for them – like I followed when I first began the Documented Life Project in 2014.

January’s prompts were:
Materials/techniques – text as texture
Include – a pocket or flap
Focus – aspirations for 2017

Last year most of my journal pages were drawings or paintings taken from photographs of a key event for the month. I want to move away from this a little this year and return to playing with a variety of techniques and materials. If I do a particular drawing or painting I would like to do it from life, rather than from a photo.

Last year I discovered zentangling and this featured strongly in the style of my art work last year – and will continue to do so this year. Above is January’s journal page. The background is texture from text. The pocket is a piece of card with zentangle patterns glued to the page. The arrow-headed sticks are slotted into the pocket. They detail my aspirations for 2017.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Inspirational Women for International Women’s Day event at Mormon Church; Interfaith Council evening at Synagogue

I’ve been to two lovely interfaith events over the last couple of weeks. The first was organised by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Rhiwbina, Cardiff, for International Women’s Day. The second was at Cardiff Reform Synagogue and organised by the Interfaith Council for Wales.

I was one of the speakers for International Women’s Day. The topic was ‘Inspirational Women’ and I spoke about the amazing women in the history of the Aro gTér Lineage. After the four presentations by a Bahá’í, a Muslim, a Mormon, and myself representing Buddhists, we split into small groups to talk about the women who have inspired us. This was followed by cake!

The Interfaith Council for Wales Event was speaking up against hate crime. There were two Christian speakers of different denominations, a Muslim speaker, and a Jew. The Unitarian Church speaker gave a pragmatic approach to assisting someone who is being bullied. She suggested engaging with the victim, talking to them and maintaining eye contact, whilst ignoring the bullies. You could say anything, even if it was gibberish. Hopefully this would enable you to move the victim away from the bullies to a safe place, and only then should you ask them whether they are alright and give whatever practical assistance they need. The speaker representing the Evangelist Church used the familiar story of the Good Samaritan most effectively to make his point. After the speeches we had refreshments, and were given a tour of the synagogue with a most interesting talk about Jewish prayer and tradition.

Monday, 13 March 2017

2016 art journal complete and becoming a grandmother

The great event at the end of the year 2016 was the birth of our grandson. I’m a grandmother! How extraordinary! Sam Robert is an absolute delight. He smiles and chuckles and wins all our hearts.

I have just been completing my art journal for 2016 and painted his portrait for the final, December page.

I used a Japanese style book for my 2016 art journal. It opens like concertina. It looks quite fun now as a complete thing, but I found the large size pages rather a challenge month by month, and the cloth hinges tended to show too much.

I haven’t started this year’s yet, but I am using an ordinary ring-bound sketch pad of thick cartridge paper – not so daunting!