November 19, 2022

A flock of birds swim across the sky from left to right. There are maybe fifty of them, and I wish my friend Jane was here because she’d be able to tell me their name. They know where they’re heading. What about me? Where should I be going? This is one of the questions that haunts me. What should I be doing with my life? Where should I be putting my energy? Am I doing what I SHOULD be doing?... Read more

November 17, 2022

There is a Japanese word in the tradition of Pure Land Buddhism, ‘bombu’, which I am deeply fond of. I think it offers a clue to why we don’t always approach ourselves or the world with more gentleness. It says something about being broken, and maybe beautiful. Before I tell you what it means, I’ll tell you a story… I spent many years with a kind man who drank too much. As his drinking progressed I struggled more and more,... Read more

November 15, 2022

Once a month book a retreat day into my diary – a Friday with no appointments in it, a glorious blank page. This month I handed the entire day over to reading. I moved between my Tricycle magazine, Greta Thunberg’s new ‘The Climate Book’, and a book of essays by Pure Land teacher Nobuo Haneda. By the end of the day I was aware of a slightly smug part of me. This part felt proud that I was filled up... Read more

November 10, 2022

A breath between each task For a whole month now I have managed to find a home for writing in my days. Writing has always been important to me. It performs a vital function in my system, even if the exact mechanism is a mystery to me. When I’m writing regularly I feel like I’m living the life the Buddha wants me to be living. Writing is also the thing that gets squeezed out of my diary first. It is... Read more

November 8, 2022

What’s it all about? What is gentle Buddhism, and what qualifies me to speak about it? I will tell you, but first I want to describe the view from my window. I live with my spouse on the bottom floor of our Buddhist temple, and just outside is our vegetable patch – now a mess of spinach gone to seed, elderly courgette plants, and a scattering of bright poppies. Beyond the low wall of the vegetable patch is a vast... Read more

December 25, 2017

I’m taking a break until the 9th of Jan, but that doesn’t stop me from wishing you a lovely day, whatever you’re doing. Here’s the handmade Christmas card I sent out (hopefully you can see the glitters) and the poems I included with it. Thank you for reading my blog this year – enjoy your rest. Namo Amida Bu. * Of Rain and Air All day I have been closed up inside rooms, speaking of trivial matters. Now at last... Read more

December 22, 2017

I’m feeling naked this morning, as my new novel ‘Some Kind of Freak’ has just gone out into the world without me. This is my sixth novel, and my eight book, and so it’s a familiar feeling. When I first starting writing, I thought the whole process would get easier as time went on. Once I’d finished my first novel and people had enjoyed reading it, surely I’d feel less insecure as I wrote the second? As I became familiar... Read more

December 20, 2017

Should I be training others? This is the question I’m asking myself as I study this text: One should do what one teaches others to do; if one would train others, one should be well controlled oneself. Difficult, indeed, is self-control. Dhammapada 12.159 (Listen to the Pali here). If one would train others, one should be well controlled oneself. Well, how well controlled is it necessary for me to be, before I’m ‘qualified’ to train others? Can I give people advice about... Read more

December 18, 2017

I had a heated argument with myself this morning. This is our first free weekend in a very long time. I had the idea that I might like to do some writing. Well, one part of me wanted to do some writing. I think. It was hard to tell, because as soon as it had the idea, another part shouted ‘No! I don’t want to write blogs, just because I have to. It’s my day off! Don’t make me!’ This... Read more

December 14, 2017

Just now I snapped off a square of dark coffee chocolate and savoured the sweet creaminess as it melted on my tongue. Luxury. I am getting over a virus. Last night I was able to breathe clearly for the first time in days, and swallow without pain. I slept long and deep. Luxury. I have an hour before my next appointment, fairy lights are twinkling in the fireplace, and Tsuki cat is perched on the back of my chair and purring. Perfect... Read more

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