Christopher Titmuss Dharma Blog

A Buddhist Perspective

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2022

First Five Sonnets by William Shakespeare – the Buddha of the Heart. With a brief explanation of the meaning of these Sonnets.

The 154 Sonnets of William Shakespeare (26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) offer insights into beauty, giving, love, conceit, impermanence, letting go, death and much more. He addressed many of his Sonnets to a handsome man and then the last section to a beautiful woman. Poet, playwright and actor, Shakespeare continues to inspire millions worldwide to recognise the dynamics of human relationships from the shallow to the deep.

A Sonnet consists of 14 lines – three quartets and two lines in iambic pentameter.

An iambic pentameter consists of 10 syllables per line, alternating between unstressed and stressed (soft-hard) syllables. Poets wrote sonnets and poems to be read. Ten syllables per line were said to match in-breathing and out-breathing.

A primary text of the Buddha, Middle Length Discourses, has 152 discourses exploring the depth and breadth of the human experience.

Lovers of Shakespeare often regard him this as the world’s greatest dramatist.  He addressed the full intensity of human emotions, including the power of love and hate, happiness and suffering. His plays also explored the wisdom and the tyranny of the mind. He wrote about the emotional conditions for domestic violence, political-social conflicts and peace and war. I regard William Shakespeare as the Buddha of the Heart.

In his first four Sonnets, Shakespeare wrote on the value of people endowed with beauty and the vulnerability that goes with it. In the fifth sonnet, he reminds us of beauty emerging in the ‘gentle work’ of time while pointing out summer of beauty leads to winter.

Sonnet One.

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel:
Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament,
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content,
And tender churl mak’st waste in niggarding:
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.

Shakespeare explores the experience of beauty encouraging us recognise the difference between beauty and lust/blind sexual desire. Like the Buddha, he reminds us we can be our own worst enemy (thyself thy foe) bring problems and suffering to ourselves due to attachment to our beauty.

The playwright reminds uses beauty as a metaphor for parents and children. As the parents get older, the beauty of their youth begins to fade but their children can bring beauty for all of us to appreciate. We can create beauty in creative and imaginative ways like a parent of a child.

What beauty do we create? What beautiful acts do we initiate to contribute to making the world a more beautiful place?

If we contract around our beauty, via self-interest/narcissism, and use our beauty to get own way, we offer others little in the way of beauty. We might get the attention of others, but it is cruel to be so selfish.

Spring reminds us of our beauty, but Spring only lasts for a time.

We waste our beauty by keeping it to ourselves or hiding it.

People will see our self-interested relationship to beauty, and we can end up going to the grave with our faded beauty leaving nothing of beauty behind.

Sonnet Two

When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field,
Thy youth’s proud livery so gazed on now,
Will be a tatter’d weed of small worth held:
Then being asked, where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days;
To say, within thine own deep sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame, and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserv’d thy beauty’s use,
If thou couldst answer ‘This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count, and make my old excuse,’
Proving his beauty by succession thine!
This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm when thou feel’st it cold.

By the time we get to 40 years (perhaps 60 years in the 21st century), the wrinkles on our forehead and rest of our face have dug deep into our youthful beauty.

Our pride today would be of little worth in years ahead when we becomeworn and of little worth. Others will remind us of the departure of our beauty. Our beauty used to trigger interest and sexual attraction from others – a reward for our beauty. Why tell a person our beauty is now deep within.  It would be pointless praise and shameful. How much did we use our beauty to get praise?

We can create beautiful acts, an offspring of our initiative, even though it cost us our natural beauty. We would appear new and feel happy (warm blood) even when we come to die through the beauty actions we brought into the world.

Sonnet Three

Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest
Now is the time that face should form another;
Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest,
Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother.
For where is she so fair whose unear’d womb
Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?
Or who is he so fond will be the tomb,
Of his self-love to stop posterity?
Thou art thy mother’s glass and she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime;
So thou through windows of thine age shalt see,
Despite of wrinkles this thy golden time.
But if thou live, remember’d not to be,
Die single and thine image dies with thee.

In this Sonnet, Shakespear encourages becoming a parent. He is speaking here to a handsome, young man. Look in the mirror and tell yourself what you see, says the Sonnet. Is it the right time to start a family and continue the hereditary beauty? You look fresh. You can bless a woman to become a mother. You can plant your seed as her husband. If you indulge in self-love, posterity will pay the cost. Your face confirms the mirror your mother looked at. She remembers her beauty in April. You too will see your child’s beauty despite your wrinkles. If you have no children, you will die alone, and your image dies with you.

Sonnet Four

Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend
Upon thyself thy beauty’s legacy?
Nature’s bequest gives nothing but doth lend,
And being frank she lends to those are free.
Then, beauteous niggard, why dost thou abuse
The bounteous largess given thee to give?
Profitless usurer, why dost thou use
So great a sum of sums, yet canst not live?
For having traffic with thyself alone,
Thou of thyself thy sweet self dost deceive.
Then how, when nature calls thee to be gone,
What acceptable audit canst thou leave?
Thy unused beauty must be tomb’d with thee,
Which, used, lives th’ executor to be.

Shakespeare asks the young man why he spends so much time on his appearance. Nature does not give beauty to you to but lends it to you. Nature lends it to those who are free to receive. It is ungenerous to only think of yourself, and an abuse this gift. There is no benefit behaving like this and you can’t live like this. If you only think about yourself, you deceive yourself. When you come to die, what have you left behind? Your unexpressed beauty goes to the grave with you but if expressed your beauty carries on.

Sonnet Five

Those hours, that with gentle work did frame
The lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell,
Will play the tyrants to the very same
And that unfair which fairly doth excel;
For never-resting time leads summer on
To hideous winter, and confounds him there;
Sap checked with frost, and lusty leaves quite gone,
Beauty o’er-snowed and bareness every where:
Then were not summer’s distillation left,
A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass,
Beauty’s effect with beauty were bereft,
Nor it, nor no remembrance what it was:
But flowers distill’d, though they with winter meet,
Leese but their show; their substance still lives sweet.

Shakespear refers to the gentle process of time to create beauty. A beautiful face holds people’s gaze. Nature does not stop and in time the face loses its earlier beauty. The summer leads to winter, warmth turns to cold and sensuality disappears. Snow covers up the bareness, but we have remembrance of the beauty of what was remains. Flowers are made into perfume even in winter. Beautiful flowers lose their appearance, but the substance of their perfume offers a sweet appreciation.

 



Zoom. India time Zone. Transforming Corruptions of the Mind. Buddha Study Guide. Saturday 14 May 2022. Two 60-minute sessions.

We will address corruptions in the mind, such as greed, envy and negativity to see and know the end of such unhealthy patterns.
We will also explore conventional views of everyday mind and recognition of views emerging from the depth of our being.
Two 60-minute meetings take place on Saturday 14 May 2022. Themes make use of two of Buddha’s discourses. See times below.
Sutta 7 – Simile of the Cloth and Sutta 1 The Root of All Things. The first discourse explores ways to free from heart-mind from corruption and later session includes exploring fixed and often shallow views in the mind and capacity to see deeper.

Continue reading 



Identity and The Outsider. The Meaning of the novel by Albert Camus of France

During the Covid lockdown in 2021, I re-read The Outsider after 54 years. A powerful novel written by Albert Camus of France. I emailed Margaux in Paris of my appreciation for the novel. She kindly posted to me an illustrated English version of The Outsider (also occasionally translated as The Stranger). I gave a recorded talk on identity and the outsider in the Waldhaus Zentrum, Andernach, Germany in early May, 2022. Continue reading 



Does meditation and spirituality collude to glorify the Here and Now?

From a Participant in our MTTC (Mindfulness Teacher Training Course).

Dear Christopher,
Thank you for your reflections on past, present and future.
I picked up the word ‘Now’ during your latest talk.
I was wondering if you were referring to Eckhard Tolle, who always speaks of the present in terms of this is the only realm that is.
The past is gone and can’t be changed, the future is not here yet and will never be. The only ‘time’ to change is the NOW referring to the present.
All that is, is what we are now taking in the past as something that has formed us in a way as a river that gave shape to the valley it runs through.
At the same time is the present giving us the opportunity to flourish freshly every day, making every day brand new. Taking this into account life’s wonderful.
Although it might sound naive but doesn’t that exclude planning the future?
Love,
PS: Tomorrow morning session I have to leave by 9.45 o’clock.

Dear …
Thanks for message. Ah I see you planned the future in terms of ending your time in the session at 9.45 am. Thank you for letting me know.

The language of the Now includes:

  • Here and Now
  • Present Moment,
  • Just This.
  • No past. No future.
  • Nowhere to Go.
  • Nothing to do.
  • Pure Being,
  • Just Being.

Buddhist texts have here and now in them – a translation bearing no relationship to the Sanskrit or the Pali. The original Pali is ditthe-dhamme – literally, the view of something, past, present or furure.
This language of the glorification of the here and now has been in use for centuries. It is unhelpful.
The Now means experiencing a variety of sensations through the five senses and mental activities. These sensations depend upon the causes and conditions arising in the near and far past.
Being in the now, being absorbed in the now, can generate a blind spot to the evolution of life, to becoming, to vision and outcome/consequences of past/present and future.
I regard being stuck in the Now as a cage, small and contracted. We can stand back and witness what goes in the present as well as be absorbed in the present in healthy ways.

Some believers   have become Nowists claiming the past and future is in the present. Who can show the past and future in the present?
Some believers have become Nowists claiming the past and future is not in the present. Who can show in the present what is not related to the past and not related to the future.

Liberation remains unbound to past, present and future. Liberation does not depend on frequent to exposure to sensations through the senses of the Now.

The use of capital letters for the Now do not make the here and now substantial, nor cut ot off from past and future. The Now cannot stand with a unique, independent self-existence unrelated to past and future.

I cannot perceive a perpetually wonderful Now.

An awakened life requires no sensations for its confirmation. The now is an inseparable feature in the middle of the three fields of time – past, present and future.
I trust this is helpful.
Love

Christopher

 

 

 

 

 



What is a Buddhist Perspective? Title of the Blog is ‘Christopher Titmuss. A Buddhist Perspective.’ Some readers dismiss certain blogs…..

A handful of readers tell me, often bluntly, what I write is NOT a Buddhist perspective. I have regularly replied to such a reader. Since the reader implies he or she knows a Buddhist perspective, I politely request the person to write a Buddhist perspective adding I will post their Buddhist perspective on my blog.

So far, no correspondent has e-mailed me a true Buddhist perspective. Not one single reader in 15 years of blogging, more than 1000 blogs and over 800,000 views.

My blog addresses a wide range of topics including significant issues in the public mind, such as environmental destruction, the global pandemic and war. A reader can go to the top right-hand corner of the home page and type a key word in the Search bar. You may find a Buddhist perspective in your area of interest.

Topics include books, photos, films, business, science critiques, Dharma reflections, daily life, mindfulness, poems, music, politics, retreat environments, social, the Buddha and the spiritual.

I would prefer to use A Dharma Perspective. Unlike the word ‘Yoga,’ Dharma lacks street recognition, except among Buddhists. Hindus and those with interest in the teachings of the East.

What do I mean by a Buddhist perspective?

In Alphabetical order.

In my view, the text of a Buddhist Perspective stays true to areas referred to below.

  1. Addresses the truth of suffering, conditions for suffering, resolution of suffering and way to the resolution.
  2. Challenges corporate behaviour, such as addiction to profit, power and exploitation of customers, workers worldwide and the environment.
  3. Develops community over individualism and endeavours to write what is true and useful.
  4. Establishes calm-insight meditation, the power of mindfulness and all features of the noble path.
  5. Ethics of non-violence, non-harm and non-abuse.
  6. Expands the heart of empathy, love, appreciative joy, compassion and equanimity
  7. Explores dependent arising of all experiences and situations instead of fixations of ego of self-made.
  8. Teaches ethics, concentration/unification of mind (samadhi) and wisdom to give support to the diversity of people, creatures and habitats.
  9. Offers critiques of narrow, dogmatic claims in science, medicine, religion and other institutions
  10. Offers critiques of features of democracy, politics and secularism while recognising spirituality accessible in the arts.
  11. Offers training to end stress, not just reduce it, end problematic states of mind, not just reduce them.
  12. See and know an unconditioned freedom, unbound to any events between birth and death, and including both.

I look at a blog to ensure I keep to the spirit and letter of a Buddhist Perspective. Sometimes. readers send me a valid point about a blog, so I regularly adapt the point to the text to offer a more balanced view.

If we write with conviction, we enter a world of praise and blame. Via the blog and other forms of social media linked to the blog, responses or reactions land in front of me. I can understand why people resist writing anything, as it can be hard to handle the wrath and anger thrown at the writer. You do not need to be thick skinned. You do not need to use your sensitivity as an excuse to stop writing. We cannot write well unless we know a depth of sensitivity.

Fear of views of others, and old patterns of contraction form a writer’s block. Sensitivity cannot do that.

We can regard people’s reaction as grist for the mill, whether we agree or not with their comments.

I suspect Facebook automatically adjusts its algorithms to reduce readers of my Facebook page when I criticise Facebook. Instagram and the Covid vaccination industry. I don’t believe in so-called ‘free speech,’ and I don’t believe in censorship by powerful corporations, or the government. That is another blog to write – with a Buddhist perspective.

Let us not go quietly into the night.

Christopher Titmuss is the author of:
The Political Buddha
The Explicit Buddha
The Buddha of Love
The Mindfulness Manual, based on the Buddha’s teachings.




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