Sunday, December 30, 2007

End-of-year wool-gathering


I did a live talk this morning on hospital radio (Mid Essex Hospitals) about my new role as Buddhist chaplain, and I was reminded, during my ramblings with the interviewer, of the important role Jigme Choder has played in my own evolution as a dharma-practitioner since we met 'on-line' about ten years ago in a Buddhist discussion group we still run together. The image is of a typical hospital-radio studio set-up (but not Mid-Essex), where I was told the studio suite is new, state-of-the-art, and rivals the best commercial studios anywhere. It all seemed very professional to me.

It was several years before Jigme Choder met face-to-face, and he was nothing like I imagined him to be when we met. In my mind's eye he was small, compact, neat and dark-haired, perhaps because his writing (teaching) is so precisely formulated and authoritative, so succinct, and the style so (well, I must say it) - English. In fact he was thin, loose-limbed, with a soft, lived-in face and an odd (to me) Anglo-Californian accent. I thought I would find him in a robe or chuba, but he opened the door to me in a T-shirt and jogging-bottoms. I recall he offered me a lunch choice of chicken pie or cheese pasty! He is a very kind and hospitable man, and I miss him rather, as he has had to 'move on' suddenly and without explanation. Not that I have concerns about his welfare. I think his behaviour is understandably 'monkish' in that he doesn't need to pay as much heed to the expectations others may have on him as the rest of us might who are more driven by convention and conditioning.

I don't know whether patients in US know what 'hospital radio' is. In our state-funded health-service almost all hospitals are provided with hospital radio that broadcasts its own programmes to patients over head-phones: a mixture of music requests, chat-shows, local news etc. It's a British Institution and generally well-loved, run by volunteers. I was invited by hospital radio to talk to the volunteer disc-jockey who fills a Sunday morning slot with 'inspirational' stuff, combining popular music and requests with live discussion on "Buddhism". I offered to do an unscripted chat because I thought it would be spontaneous and more authentic that way, and Brian Dawson (the DJ) was brilliant at posing questions to get to the heart of the matter, so that I enjoyed the discussion very much, although I can't hardly remember anything I said. The interview was recorded, so I imagine some embarrassment may be in store for me when I eventually get to hear the mini-disk!

I do recall that Brian asked me to choose a record, and the only thing I could come up with at short notice was "When Two Worlds Collide" with Jim Reeves, a blast from the past that stirs memories and emotions from when I first fell in love with Berlina my wife, in Africa, in 1971. They say the course of true love never runs straight, and so it was with our own love, which was trans-continental, trans-cultural, trans-racial - and stirred up political troubles for us both, although Berlina's family was amazingly supportive of the match, and of me personally. Jim's ballad of love, drama and heart-ache was very fitting to the circumstances at the time. But we have spent 37 very happy years together, and have three wonderful children, all now grown adults.
Hmm, this is supposed to be a time of reflection, but maybe I've overdone the reminiscence! I wish you all, especially the more isolated ones amongst you, a year of contentment and fulfilment, and I hope particularly that you will meet the Dharma in a way that fits your personal circumstances, and matches your heart's deepest yearnings. May all beings, to the very least of them, be free of suffering and the roots of suffering. May all beings everywhere heal into their true nature and know peace.Peter

1 comment:

CresceNet said...

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