Welcome to Zen Bites, a series of discussions on Zen Buddhism, mindfulness, comparative spirituality and psychology.
Zen Bites features Zen Buddhist teacher Martin Goodson and mindfulness-based psychotherapist Jamie Shavdia.
Gentling the Bull: The Poems VI Returning Home on the Back of the Bull
Without haste or hurry, the herdsman rides home on the back of the bull.
Far through the evening mist carries the sound of his flute,
Note for note, tune for tune, all carry this boundless mood;
Hearing it, not need to ask how the herdsman feels.
Pointing ahead towards the dyke where his home is,
He appears out of mist and fog, playing his flute.
Then suddenly the tune changes to the song of return.
Not even Bai-ya’ masterpieces can compare with this song.
In bamboo hat and straw coat he rides home through the evening mist,
Sitting back to front on the bull, with joy in his heart.
Step by step along in the cool, gentle breeze,
The bull no longer looks at the once irresistible grass.
(Gentling the Bull: The Ten Bull Pictures by Myokyo-ni, pub. Zen Centre, London)
In this podcast:
The mysterious and ‘divine’ nature of the bull. The difference in understanding ‘mind’ between Western and Buddhist psychology. Relating to the ‘ineffable’. The importance of the right relationship to the mystery of the Dharma. The end of the Arhat path and the emergence of the Bodhisattva path.
Troubleshooting Zen Study & Practice 24
On one of my visits to my old home, Port Elizabeth in South Africa my mother, son, and I visited Addo, a local elephant park, which was one of our favourite outings.
We were watching a small group of female and young elephants as they were enjoying themselves at a water hole, drinking, bathing and splashing. There was a very tiny elephant which found it could not scramble out of the slippery and muddy hole, and seemed in some distress. The adult elephants ignored its struggles, but a slightly bigger baby elephant, perhaps a sibling, reached down and managed to get it out. The elephants finished their time there soon after and, as they left, we saw the baby elephant tenderly lay its trunk over the back of the one that helped, in an unmistakeable gesture of thanks and love.
From that moment I realised that animals really could show compassion and gratitude, just as we can!
In this podcast:
This story raises issues such as - the Golden Rule, ahimsa and the problem of taking sides & gratitude the glue of cooperation. The story of Rabbi Hillel who taught the 5 books whilst standing on one leg. Do we all want the same thing? Why do I end up buying Xmas presents that I like when I’m supposed to be buying for others? Ahimsa - the conundrum of the spider and the fly. Compassion at the personal and the group levels do not always coincide. The Bodhisattva and the murderous merchant. Sentiment may not always be the best guide to compassion. Becoming conscious means letting go of my opinions, because they can only ever be partial truths in a world of impermanence. The movement towards unity.
Zen Bites No.20 - Mapping the Mind
In this final episode Jamie & Martin discuss how the infinitely complex nature of the mind is often modelled in both Buddhism and psychology. The models offer us a map in order to give structure to an otherwise chaotic terrain however in the end this map must be laid down after the arising of the awakened mind.
Zen Bites x19 - Change & Impermanence - Living with Uncertainty
In this episode Jamie and Martin discuss the inevitability of change and impermanence, both core concepts in Buddhism and Mindfulness practice. Topics range from the Buddha's life story to Brexit, the end of cycles to intrapsychic momentary change.
Zen Bites 18 - The Shadow, Repression and Acceptance
In this episode Jamie and Martin discuss the unconditional acceptance of the shadow self, those unfavourable parts of "I' the ego that are often repressed and not allowed in. The case is made for the acknowledging, allowing and accepting of these aspects of the fallible self, before one can truly find peace of heart.
Zen Bites 17 - Gratitude
In this episode Jamie & Martin discuss the role of 'gratitude' as an attitude that can help condition and humble our small selves, expand consciousness, with recognition of our interdependent reality. Discussion includes looking at what gratitude is, and why it is so important within the context of mindful daily life practice. What does it mean for the egoic state condition and how should one practice it?