Monthly Archives: August 2015

Wasps – you belong!

wasp-300x225There was a queue of people outside the bread shop – wasps and humans were wanting the sweet things inside. One minute I was looking to see if there was any of the bread I wanted left for sale, the next I was watching the lady in front of me twisting the ball of her foot on the ground, grinding a wasp into the pavement. She turned to me and said ‘they do no good you know, they are completely pointless.’ I can get hooked by incorrect statements and i mildly observed that, maybe surprisingly, wasps pollinate flowers just as bees do. She retorted that bees were okay but wasps were not because they were malicious and stung out of spite.  ‘In your story-book’ was my quiet response ….and she was in agreement with this saying that I was about to be stung by the one on my wrist!

I left the wasp to walk about on my wrist and then fly off. I bought my loaf of bread and left but afterwards I thought about the wasps and how we can soften our certainties by becoming more conscious of our limited views and so becoming more curious… and also how treating the small creatures of the world with respect is a softening practice to start with, and one which, overtime, can make harshness less and less likely to arise inappropriately – whether for insects or humans. Some of us can become hugely tender to the lives of little creatures but unsurprisingly find the bigger (speaking) ones much more challenging.

Wasps are used in great numbers by farmers in agriculture for pest control, they are predators for all the world’s insect pests. The greenfly in the garden  are eaten by them but at this time of year they are very hungry as their main food source, a sugary secretion from the wasp larvae in their nest, is no longer being produced. That’s why they quickly gather round food and are very persistent! The wasps didn’t know that the shop’s air-space and its contents  was supposed to be off-limits to them, for them it was suddenly ‘manna from heaven.’

Stinging is their defence mechanism. If a wasp is in trouble it will emit a pheromone which will disturb all the nearby wasps and put them into defensive/ attack mode. So its really best for all concerned to let them be. In my experience, usually, if you are still and calm then creatures can sense that you are no threat.

I think that, from the wasps point of view, suddenly being crushed could well be seen as a malicious act… and as for these humans, do they do good?… What is the point of them? Projecting out anger and hatred onto the other and then reacting violently to what we see is common human behaviour …do wasps behave like this?

If our own concept of functionality is a prerequisite for the continuation of existence of the other then we really have taken over the role of gods (of the ‘all knowing’, ‘all powerful’ but not ‘all loving’ kind). Nevermind this arrogance, at this point in time we seem very close to losing the plot in many different ways.  We can now genetically modify mosquitoes so that they will not breed, some would think that this is a very good idea but fortunately there are people who realise that the mosquito is an essential food source for many different creatures. More troublingly  the normal molecular structure composed of the four amino acids – the basic building blocks of lifeforms – can now be altered and replicated using other substances. This creates a completely different lifeform and, as a commentator said, ‘this could be quite scary as we have no defences against this organism’…..’err yes indeed!’ i thought he went on to say but on the other hand if in the future we want populate Mars then producing lifeforms  which can cope with radiation etcetera could be very helpful’…. Sometimes I find it very hard to believe my ears – going to another planet, that’s possible,…creating new and potentially dangerous life-forms that’s also possible,… we know so much yet do we know how to be truly alive… what do we know about how to live together, how to care gently for ourselves, each other, and the suffering world that supports us? (link to National Geographic article)

As I remember it, one of the patients in the l’Arche foundation’s first home was bedridden and could do nothing more than move an eye, yet the quality of his being was such that people wanted to spend time in the room with him, not from pity but for grace. Was he pointless? Maybe, but he surely had value. Many activities and qualities like altruism and patience could be deemed pointless…. and tolerance is such a precious quality for living together in this strange world… we are all here, we belong, so how shall we be with each other?

Maybe, for starters, we have to see, to sense, to feel, to be open to the field (you plus me plus the context)… that’s hard to do with hands full of the book of, and both eyes glued to the story of, ‘Me!’.

…and when you see that the wasps persistence is due to hunger and their drowsiness to ‘hypoglycaemia’ then its easy to give some beings what they need – a teaspoon of jam in a dish outside keeps about twenty wasps happy for the day (and it does keep them outside which makes me happy)! The three which looked drowned in the dish this morning, after the rain, surprisingly  sprang back into life when I gently emptied it out, but a flat surface would be safer.




The ordinary is special…the special is ordinary

1.Stephen-Jenkinson-Care-of-the-Dying-280x143Dorothy Bohm – women’s hour July 14 35.56 mins beautifully contradicts the interviewer who says ‘you have a knack of making the ordinary seem precious’. She has experienced so much horror in her early life that every moment is appreciated and for her the ‘ordinary’ is precious, it’s not made to seem so by any kind of knack. Our own situation changes so quickly that it seems madness to spend today’s time looking at its imagined imperfections.

The bodhisattva attitude in Mahayana buddhism evokes a sense of gratitude and indebtedness as foundational in relating to other sentient beings on the basis of our relationships of connection through infinite time. Dependant co-origination also evokes gratitude for all that is…how could this mug come to be in my hand without an infinite number of factors – the earth, for the clay, the miners, designers, potters and shoppers, and so many others and other events taking place – my mum my dad, their parents and so on…all the caring events that mean i’m still here…all the people i’ve met who have shown me different ways of being and acting so that i can enjoy this communication…  As my hands curl in a certain way around the handle, a way conforming to its shape, i can take in this shape and colour… here we are – the mug and i and you everything arising together – then, with an imperceptible shift, the next unique moment arrives,and vanishes.

Here is also a link to the trailer  and also the film Greifwalker (open link in a new window) which I came across it thanks to a happy encounter with someone last week and I found it profoundly poignant. Stephen Jenkinson suggests that is it is a deep knowledge that throughout life we have taken and taken– in a self-serving fashion, with an attittude of entitlement rather than respect and gratitude – which brings fear to the death process. Although his tradition is different, this ties in with the understanding of the operation of karma in relative reality… where all actions (karmic activity) have consequences (virupa) both at the time and later as that seed bears fruit – whether sweet or sour – when the appropriate conditions are in place. Also i’ve included it because ‘death and impermanence’ is one of the thoughts which turn the mind towards dharma practice and, although they are linked, the ‘death’ part can feel harder to engage with…  so maybe this format invites a beautiful and gentle engagement with the inevitable!

When i first started to practice I had difficulties with the notion of rebirth but decided to park them and carry on as i could see that, whether this was true or not, the dharma showed a way of living in the kindest way with the world (‘though my ideas about kindness very much needed to be held up to the light!) and would lead to living life in such a way that one could leave it with maximal mental ease…                                                              A history of ideas 24 July 12.00am links with this in its suggestion that, rather than shrugging off a death as a non-event, or  pretending that we can keep the dead alive by refusing to let go completely, ritual  can be very helpful in facilitating the healthy transitions and adjustments of life.

Gratitude  is softening… and receptivity increases with that softening. Like the earth, water runs off the hard baked soil, but can permeate deeply where the ground is soft… opening to everything starts with a softening…..