Something in the Air

I was intending to update this blog more regularly, and I have some ideas, but I’m not getting much out there at the moment. I was trying to write a piece about memory – at first it was clear in my mind, now it’s not. Never mind – perhaps it will resurface, and I’ll complete it.

Returning to the office after lunch one day, I watched in alarmed fascination as a man wove drunkenly through the Hampstead Road traffic, staggering and limping across the road towards University College Hospital, lurching around the cars, trucks and buses, which barely acknowledged him. Thankfully, he reached the other side.

At times, I sense a pervasive sadness in the air, as if the world is sighing. People are going through the changes in their lives, friends are moving on, my thoughts drift in the wind. It’s hard to know which direction to go.

Prayer Flags in the Rain

Prayer Flags in the Rain

I came across this scene in Craigieburn, a lovely garden on a rain-soaked hillside in south-west Scotland. We didn’t get the full tour of the gardens, as it was raining hard, and we had already climbed up beside the Grey Mare’s Tail to Loch Skene – a wild and beautiful place.

By the time we reached the gardens, our thoughts were mainly focused on tea and scones back at the hotel. But we stayed long enough to buy a few plants, and to admire these Buddhist prayer flags, hung in the garden by the Nepali family who manage it. The term “prayer flags” is to some extent misleading from a Western or Judaeo-Christian perspective, as the words written on the many-coloured flags and banners are not invoking a deity, but expounding the dharma, the wise, truthful and compassionate teachings of the Buddha. As they flutter in the wind, they broadcast the Four Noble Truths – the essential ideas of Buddhism – and send them drifting everywhere, for everyone.

Happiness is a state of mind, so the real source of happiness must lie within the mind, not in external conditions.

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