As I mentioned in a Yearlong call this week, emails to the registration office have made immediate what had been a growing concern that we have created a situation in practice that needs to be addressed and curbed before it becomes an actual “problem.” As our practice became more virtual, we began sending out recordings as a regular approach to missed workshops. A person would sign up for a workshop, something would prevent attendance, and we would forward to them a recording of the workshop. This has led to getting talked into believing that listening to a recording of a workshop is as good as attending in person.
Those who have been practicing together for a while hear regularly the benefits of doing “queue practice.” It’s possible to be on a call, listening, but not in the queue, and that’s one level of presence. When in the queue, having no idea when “Unmuted” might be heard offers a different level of presence. Not being on a call at all and then listening to a recording while engaged in other activities results in a level of presence that is more likely to serve egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate than the human being.
My request is for people to look seriously at this issue. As mentioned, it’s not difficult to envision a small group of dedicated folks showing up for the Yearlong and workshops, in the queue, practicing awareness, talking about their experience with the exercises and their insights, while a large group listens in at their convenience. This will turn what is meant to be spiritual practice into the equivalent of just another entertainment, right there along with podcasts and social media offerings. Not, let me hasten to add, is there anything wrong with any of that, it’s just not Awareness Practice. So, the encouragement is: If there are other interests that prevent participation fully in the practice offerings, go ahead and choose to participate in those. When schedule and interest coincide and there’s a wish to participate with Sangha in an Awareness Practice offering, choose that.
On a local note:
Temperatures here are dropping, as with most of the northern hemisphere as it moves into fall. We still manage to hold a weekend group in the Meditation Tent, kept sorta comfortable with the help of a couple of large outdoor heaters. During the rest of the week, the Tent is tended by the other residents on the property. Note the one very sincere practitioner receiving guidance from the Buddha.
Perhaps the others have already had their appointment or are waiting. They all do a lot of eating meditation so it can be tricky to get a sense of these things.
But when they are here, they are here! Which is the possibility that we can all take inspiration from.
As promised, here is a roundup of “being kind to the planet” tips we’ve received since the last blog.
One thing I do to help the planet is keep a bucket near each sink and shower. When I run the water waiting for it to get hot, I save the water in the bucket and use it to flush toilets, water plants, etc.
Here in Vancouver BC my husband and I diligently collect ALL our plastic and plastic bags (plastic wrap, sandwich, snack in one bag and crinkly, stretchy, bubble etc. in another plus styrofoam (black and white separated) in a third bag. These we keep in our car until there’s enough for a trip to the recycling depot about 15 minutes drive away. Then we drive 3 minutes down the road to the bottle depot with an assortment of bottles and beverage containers. Other materials (hard plastic containers, paper and glass jars as well as organics) are recycled by the city.
For almost 7 years I have been using cloth wipes from Cheeky Wipes, meant to replace disposable baby wipes, they are also perfect for adults. I have “clean” container and a “mucky” container, but have clean water with a few drops of tea tree oil to keep them from having issues. The “mucky” container contains a wash bag which I put used cloth wipes in. They are about 5 inches by 5 inches of toweling type material. I started with 25 wipes of cotton toweling, I still have those and have added last year another 25 wipes with a bamboo material. I don’t use toilet paper any more. For all needs, I just use these, then put used ones in the “mucky” container and take the wash bag out every two or three days and put it in with a hot wash with towels or sheets.
At 66, I am also a bit incontinent, so I use their washable sanitary products to catch the dribbles and sometimes accidents. I have had no issues with the snap pads that wrap around my undies, they catch everything perfectly. For when I am out of the house, I carry a small mucky bag with a ziplock that can also go in the wash with its zip out wash bag liner. When I am in the house, it goes into the normal “mucky” container and gets washed with everything else. The dry ones I carry folded and snapped in my handbag.
We don’t have a dishwasher, we have a sink and a drying rack on the countertop. We don’t have a dryer - I live in Europe since 1995 (previously in the US) where hanging clothes even in freezing weather is pretty common, just takes longer for them to dry - “freeze dried” isn’t just a way to have coffee crystals. We don’t use paper anything (towels, wipes, cups, napkins, and so forth) - but we do more laundry as a result, I think I probably do an extra full load a week as a result of all the sustainable things we use, but we have an eco-cycle on our machine. I have a septic tank with a run off even though we live in the middle of the old city, so I use friendly washing products and do my cleaning mostly with vinegar and baking powder (realizing that if you mix them you get a reaction which works brilliant to keep your toilet clean and to keep drains running nicely, but separately the baking powder is great as a paste on anything needing scrubbing, and diluted vinegar is brilliant for cleaning surfaces and windows.)
We boil a kettle of hot water for tea in the morning, put it in a very well insulated thermos so we can use it all day and not have to boil the kettle a second time. We put on a fleece rather than the heating.
We still do what my grandma told me years ago, which is open the house up every morning to change the air - yes it does let warm air out, but also it is brilliant for making sure that you don’t get mold and mildew. The house I live in was built in 1881 but has a top energy rating for a building of its age as the attic has been insulated (with wool!) - and there is a second and of glass installed over the old windows which helps - but because the renovations from 1929 and still in place, I have wooden shutters that roll down in the evenings to keep the heat in overnight.
I think also most of the things in our daily life are things that I have had for 20-30 years or many things my mother and father bought during their lifetime - including things I use every day (my pots and pans, my canister set, my tea kettle) which were wedding presents my parents received in 1947. OK, I live in a time warp. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - this isn’t just a slogan, it is really the best way to live my life. I will admit, my shoes were bought a year ago, but the rest of what I am wearing dates to pre-Covid at least.
In summer here it's very humid so not using the dryer is challenging (especially living in an apartment with no clothesline or my own outdoor space). Clothes straight out of the washer take days to dry and get musty. But I've discovered that if I dry them for only 5-10 minutes in the dryer, that gets out enough of the moisture to have the clothes dry by next day and no musty smell.
Providing short transport to earthworms and slugs across hard surface paths/roads and onto the earth areas.
I aspire to leave my car out of the carport during rainstorms but it is a bit complicated with the other cars parked in our parking area, but I am waiting for a solution to that to drop in. Until then, appreciation for the car which lives under the dust.
Buying free-floating greens instead of the clamshells -- doesn't always happen, but the number of times is increasing.
Reusable bags for groceries and cloth bags for apples, etc. - an oldie but goodie
Working on compost - right now I drive it to the compost bins in the (not very far away) dump, though now considering a Lomi and finding a place to release the dirt out in the wild.
Perfect timing on the topic of TP - this past month I became conscious of how much I use and found that half is fine. Right now I am at the stage of rolling out the old amount, and it drops in about the half, and then I roll half back up.
Blueland foaming soap tablets with glass dispenser (online). There are other brands available. I too love the True Earth laundry sheets.
I rip up old undershirts into strips for soft tomato ties that caress the stems and support the plants.
Using cloth napkins.
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