Saturday, 20 May 2017

The Three Teachings plus One


The above painting depicts Confucious holding the baby Buddha whilst passing him to Lao Zi. This symbolises how the two old masters welcome the new accepting him as their equal. Lao Zi, Confucious and Buddha. Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. The three teachings are almost symbiotic in their relationship, harmonious in how they compliment each other. 

In order of when they approximately began we first have Confucianism followed shortly after by Taoism and then, two thousand five hundred years ago, Buddhism. The Chinese claim the Three Teachings but in truth Buddhism is Indian by creation - Siddhartha Gautama or Lord Buddha was Indian by birth.

Each one for me has a core philosophy that speaks a great deal of sense. Confucianism with its code of moral conduct rather than that of acts of moral character. Confucianism is not a religion. 

Taoism has become a religion over the years although Lao Zi, if indeed there was such a man, stated in the Tao Te Ching "The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao, The name that can be named is not the eternal name." In other words, Tao cannot be completely explained or expressed in words for a word is not the same thing as the constant, unchanging Tao as it is nameless. It is the mother of all things. It is the path or way.

I have great affection for Buddhism, Zen Buddhism especially. It is a compassionate, caring but also fun-loving philosophy. The Dalai Lama is a wonderful man with a terrific sense of humour. He is unlike any leader of a faith that I know of.  Zen is where Tao meets Buddhism. Zen is the Japanese word translated from the Chinese, Chan. Like Buddhism, Zen is far too ritualistic for my liking yet still I feel it makes so much sense. 

The three philosophies, intertwined as they are, each present wisdom that is hard to refute. Confucianism is now a religion yet the Analects are not a religious work, they are a source of collected sayings which have been attributed to Kong Zi or possibly Kong Qui as the man we call Confucious had two surnames. The Analects are not solely the work of  Confucious but also of his contemporaries and they champion strong family loyalty, respect of elders, veneration of ancestors but also hold firm to the family as the ideal basis for government. They contain the well-known principle "What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others." This, of course, is a variant of the Golden Rule which forms the basic tenet of my personal code. There is nothing within the Analects like the Bible. It is not a work of moral acts but rather one of moral conduct. It is rather conservative in its outlook. Oddly, Confucious is held as a deity by Taoism.

Tao is not Taoism although the former lends its name to the religion. There are no deities in Tao for Tao is the unknowable, the path, the way. Tao is the flow of the universe, of all creation therein. Yet still, humankind has taken the principles and formed them into a philosophical creed. Yet the Tao persists.


"The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao

The name that can be named is not the eternal name

The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth
The named is the mother of myriad things
Thus, constantly without desire, one observes its essence
Constantly with desire, one observes its manifestations
These two emerge together but differ in name
The unity is said to be the mystery
Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders."


I suppose it would be fair to say that Taoism is the study of Tao by acolytes who have broadened the truth so as to encompass their belief. There is no God in Tao for Tao is the beginning of all things yet Taoists hold firm to their deities. 


To follow Tao one has to appreciate nature and accept that nature makes no mistakes, no judgements. Only humankind do that. Nature holds pre-eminence in the minds of those who follow Tao for like water it replenishes its self endlessly, it is soft, quiet yet supremely powerful. This alignment with the natural world is such an obvious choice for we are, no matter how we pretend otherwise, a part of nature.

When Tao met Buddhism something special happened. Already the two had their similarities along with their differences then Tao begat Chan which in turn begat Zen and bingo! Zen Buddhism was born from the coming together of the two paths. 

Unlike the monotheist faiths, the far Eastern ones hold firm to their individual principles but not at the cost of love, peace or compassion. There is no discord among them even though there are distinct differences. Their differences only define their paths as being ones that lead to the self-same summit. Three paths - one destination.

The three teachings form a fabulous trilogy of philosophical thought. Each practise meditation, each sees the resolution of the problems humankind face lie within the individual. There is nothing supernatural in anything they do simply logic. We are in charge of our bodies and so we are in charge of our minds. We are of one kind not many.

The plus One, as mentioned in the title of this piece comes in the shape of Jiddu Krishnamurti. K, as he was affectionally known, has often been compared Siddhārtha Gautama with some suggesting he was either the reincarnation of Lord Buddha or that of one of his monks in two previous lives. K would simply brush aside such suggestions saying he didn't believe in reincarnation just incarnation.

He never spoke of his teaching as his but always referred to them as the teachings. He said he was no one special just a mirror by which we all could see ourselves. He disavowed the self, saying the self is nothing but a series of projections. He spoke out against, guru's, lama's, Sri's, Pope's, priest's, mullahs, anyone who didn't see that the follower is the followed, that having someone else project their belief's onto another leaves the other without the ability to help themselves. K completes the circle.

Out of this mishmash as some may see it, of philosophies, are truths that have helped me. The meditation, the self-enquiry, the living in the now. All these and much, much more, and all without the need for the supernatural. Just pure, unadulterated logic.

Of course, there are other wisdom's as practised by Jain's,  Hindu's, Shinto's, Sikh's and monotheist's but for my purposes there are but four that strike the right chord for me.


  1. Bless Kong Zi. 
  2. Bless Tao. 
  3. Bless Buddhism and Zen Buddhism. 
  4. Bless K.








. . . Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

Victorian Posters 2

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Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Doctor Who 2017


When Matt Smith left the series, as his version of Doctor Who regenerated into Peter Capaldi's darker character, I was ecstatic. I had long wanted a return to the Hartnell era, not because I disliked the Eccleston, Tennant, Smith, the modern Doctor Who trio, as I loved their whacky, one hundred miles per hour Doctor's, I simply wanted to see where a slightly more adult vision would take us. I think it worked well. I think Peter Capaldi has done, still doing in fact, an excellent job. That said, the show has definitely lost its family entertainment feel. I confess I miss that aspect as much as I have loved Capaldi's take.Things may be about to change.

Last Saturday, May 13th, Squid and I watched the show. It was very good. However, it was aimed at an adult audience rather than a family. The basis of the story was capitalism. How, if uncontrolled, it runs riot over people's lives. Rather than us running the machine, the machine runs us. In short, it becomes, much like it is now, a form of slavery. In this case, in the Doctor's reality, a space station is being overtaken by what appears to be zombies. It soon turns out that these walking dead are not the horrors we first think they are but the suits that hold their lifeless bodies. You see when oxygen starts to run out, the only way to replenish it is by purchasing it from the corporation. This story was a clever way to illustrate how our lives are now led, or should I say driven. As good as the show was, with the Doctor, after a selfless act of heroism left blind, was not the stuff for children.

We all know Peter Capaldi is about to leave. This means it will shortly be time for a regeneration. Scriptwriter Steven Moffatt accidentally let slip who the next Doctor will be. The clue is in the above image.

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Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Live in the Now

The past is gone.
Tomorrow never comes.
Now is the moment.
Live in the now.


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Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

Monday, 15 May 2017

The Willful Walks of Russell C.J Duffy - Book 2 - The Whispering of Grass (Chapter 5)

Stambridge to Sutton, or rather Sutton with Shopland to give it its full title, is 4 point 6 miles give or take. The roads that lead from one village to another are winding. At one stage you leave the bliss of the countryside behind you as take to the noise of the major roads that form part of the journey.

I haven't walked much of late. My old partner-in-crime, Smudge, has left this earth and is now walking where dead dogs tread. Maybe there is a canine heaven and he'd make one heck of a canine angel. He and I walked a lot. Smudge had got to the stage where, still a puppy at heart, he and I would walk for miles. In truth, he never accompanied me on these walks as he was still too young. A puppy dog, like a child I guess, would damage their legs and joints if allowed to walk over long distances. The only difference between a human child and a canine pup is that the pup wouldn't want the shoulder carry.

My reasons for not maintaining these walks isn't just because dear Smudge has popped his clogs. I just haven't been in the right frame of mind to but my mind now, largely due to meditation, is on the mend which makes my mind sound like an old tin bath with far too many holes in it. An appropriate metaphor perhaps.

Anyway, enough of that. Life, the living of it, should always be held in balance with death. The latter is inescapable and the former too short not to enjoy so I intend to do just that. 

Now, where was I? Oh, yes, Sutton with Shopland. There are only 135 people living in this tiny village. By that I mean Sutton, Shopland is, or rather was an even smaller hamlet that used to nestle neighbourly next to Sutton. In 1933 the two neighbours merged and then in 1957, following bombing damage to Shopland's church inflicted during World War 2, St. Mary Magdalene was demolished. This spirit of St.  Mary Magdalene now resides within the walls of Sutton's, All Saint's Church. Once though, Sutton was a flourishing village which had a regular market and even boasted an annual fayre. Now it is mostly farmland with two industrial parks at each end of a road that stretches from the Rochford to Southend. The church is of Norman build. 

To get to Sutton from Stambridge I have had to walk through Rochford. There may be short cuts, there almost certainly are, but I do not know of them. Rochford is much the same as it was the last time I wrote about it, a little run down, a little in need of a lick of paint. The very old buildings still lean against each other like midnight drunks leaving the pub. They seem to be supporting each other.

It is Tuesday so the market fills the square. It is an unremarkable market selling cheap and cheerful goods from DVD's to shoes to articles of clothing none of which appeals to me.

My route has taken me from Ashingdon church to Canewdon church to Pagleshams then onto Stambridge. Today I pass by Rochford church, another St. Andrews, as the path I am taking leads me first to Sutton.

The old PoliceStation has been closed, put up for sale and subsequently sold. Neoliberalism gone mad. We now have insufficient police officers patrolling our streets but don't despair, property developers will benefit as the building will be turned into prime residential homes. It looks a sorry sight now with its windows boarded up.





Next, I pass The Horse and Groom pub then the fire station.  The pub still attracts punters sitting, as it does opposite the pond where the geese once attacked Squid, Tweezil and me. I rushed to defend my girls only to face an unprecedented and vicious attack by these lovely looking animals. It is surprising how aggressive they were.



I have said before how attractive I find old churches. Once you walk inside there is a quiet, a stillness that somehow is akin to meditation, a sort of beatitude that fills the mind lifting the spirit. I can imagine sitting in here, in this ancient old building seeking mindfulness. 



Personally, though, when I meditate, half hour each morning and another half hour before bed, I like to throw open the window so that I can hear the world outside spinning in infinity. You see, meditation is not a way by which one gains entry into a better world the only way to do that is to begin by changing yourself. What meditation does is grant you awareness, that is the essence of meditation - awareness - to feel connected to all that is so that mind, body and the world outside, the very universe itself, forge as one within you. The seeking of silence, such a hard task to master, is not in itself imperative although is sought. Thoughts do enter the mind but better to let them come then go opposed to forcing them out. The eternal is there within you and without you. You feel such peace,  a sort of bliss but one, the longer you practice meditation, lasts so that the stillness it imparts in you becomes part of your every day, part of your life. Things that used to send me into paroxysms of rage are less likely to now and the longer I keep maintain the daily ritual the more relaxed I become.

Staring at the glass window, a replacement I feel for some long broken historical pane even if the stonework is original, the more a sense of calm fills me. The window is the frame through which the sky can be seen, the fields and beyond. Perhaps I could sit here in quiet contemplation with that window to gaze through.

Again, when we think of meditation it should be remembered that the word, meditation, also means contemplation. I have long contemplated my failings, my faults and flaws and what I have discovered, if discovery is what I have done, is that so much of my character needs changing. Yet still, within me, is the desire to love and be loved. I am a work in progress but progress in the shape of change, of incarnation rather than reincarnation, is taking place. Slow maybe but better that than not at all.



The ghost of St. Mary Magdalene, or rather following the demolition of the church in 1957, a bunch of volunteers have worked tirelessly to restore the churchyard if not the church building. "Until September 2013, Shopland Churchyard was in an impenetrable state of disrepair. An enthusiastic group of local volunteers have worked tirelessly to restore the site as a Garden of Reflection and a Centre of Learning to ensure that local history is preserved. Our intention is to maintain the site for the many generations to come."

I have no idea why, especially in view of my non-Christianity, but this enterprise seems sound. There is most definitely something vital in preserving local history and the faith it represents becomes almost immaterial in that preservation. It doesn't matter the faith or religion. What matters is we should retain a connection to our roots. 

Mary Magdalene, or Mary Magdala as more likely, has long been overlooked by the Christian orthodoxy. There is no mention of her gospels within the King James Bible and, as far as I know, no representation of it anywhere within the Catholic faith. However, Mary Magdalene was a disciple, that is one of the hundred or so individuals who followed the man we now call Jesus. Her gospel is brief but still significant. It is also worth noting that rather than cast Mary as a repentant prostitute she is one of those disciples early Christian's would have held in high esteem.

The tiny fragments found of Mary's Gospel's were found in Egypt in 1896 near Achmim. The first version is in Coptic. Note, not in Greek nor Hebrew but in Egyptian Arabic.  The various translations of the Bible suffered massively from being altered, amended and censured. When scholars speak of things Theological it is worth asking them if they have read the original scriptures for to do so would mean understanding Hebrew, Egyptian Arabic and or Greek. 

It is also worth noting that Jesus loved Mary more than any other disciple. Not with a physical love but spiritual and even considered her worthy to receive special teaching.

I leave the church with its Norman architecture and history as I explore the graveyard but also the area surrounding this property. The first point of interest is the gravestone seen below. 


From outside the resemblance to St. Andrews in Ashingdon is notable. The two churches have their differences but the historical similarities are striking even though St. Andrews is the older therefore not of Norman design. I guess it is much like modern day cars, they all look much the same be they American European or of the Far East.

Image courtesy of http://www.essexviews.uk

These walks, part local interest, part spiritual sojourn, are wonderfully healing. My sense of spirituality owes nothing to the supernatural but everything to the poetry that exists between mother earth, humankind and the universe beyond. It is the understanding of our place within that vastness, that grounding of self, the removal of the ego so that I can reach total awareness. As I proceed I am learning a deal more about where I live and have for the past forty years.

The ego. The self. What is that exactly, the self? Is it not just a series of projections? Countless projections received from innumerable sources? Familial, societal, the media, the length of time we have existed. Our collective memories stored. Projections passed down then gratefully received. The memory, a thing thousands of years old, has accumulated so much stuff, so much of it unwanted, unneeded yet still, we cling to our belief in the self.

Now my walk takes me to the furthest out reach of what I think of as my manor. That term is one as used by Cockneys when talking about the area they live in. I do not own Rochford District surprisingly enough. Next, Barling Magna and Great Wakering.





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Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.