What I … Believe ??? Querying My Monastic Life …

[ In reviewing past work for this site, I came across
a printed, text-only copy that I faintly recall making
of a ‘social media’ exchange in which I was the subject.

In one of the comments, a woman stated that she would
very much like to “… find out what he believes”.

Why people will ‘talk’ about me – but not TO me –
I cannot fathom, but perhaps the writer
will be content with the reply below … – PL ]

Division is not caused by those
who separate themselves from Evil;

Division is caused by those
who embrace it.

I noticed, when reading one Internet conversation
about me in May of last year,
that I was repeatedly referred to as … “a recluse” …
and was being clearly regarded, in replies, as an anomaly.

If I am … it is certainly not by choice:

Because I have no interest in what is popular
and pleasing to the vast majority,
rather than broaden their horizons
to find fulfilment in something other than toys, TV, and titillation,

folk prefer to ignore me
and what I represent.

I do not avoid people.
They avoid me.

“Recluse” is not fair.

The plainly observable notion of “friendship”
that is held by multitudes
is nothing more than self-centred gratification
with superficial companions
joining in the pursuit of entertainment; ambition,
drunkenness, gluttony, or greed;

or, in the unity that comes in some form of
tribal sectarianism – social, religious, or national.

From my earliest memories as a child,
the course of my life has proven that,
once newly introduced acquaintances realise

that I do not accommodate myself to that mentality;
my company is not wanted.

Which means that – being friendless,
one is regarded with suspicion, distrust, and ridicule
by people who live for vanity and entertainment.

I have often said to students that, A Friend is someone
who will calmly tell you when you are wrong, foolish,
or bad-tempered; someone whose heart breaks
because your heart is broken.

And, if you ever have One such person in your life,
cherish them. You will probably never have two.

Most are hypocritical acquaintances whose congeniality
exists as long as you benefit them, and pose no threat
to their vanity, laziness, or ambition.

Unsettle any one of the three, and you will soon
discover how much your …’friendship’ … is valued.

Having no one to meet at a cafe for a chat, is not a pleasant;
and I have had many hopes, throughout life,
of meeting a like-minded soul.

But experience has more than shown that,
when one’s interests do not include TV, liquor,
possessions, or entertainment,
the fact is that no one wants to be in your company.

It was never my choice to be alone.

This very Internet site was an attempt to meet people ,
share thoughts, and even ‘links’ to photographs, hobbies,
and life where others lived.

But people arrive, read, and leave.

As a boy, I would buy a small bag of powdered
lemon toffee bon-bons at the newsagent,
approach boys and girls at school to say hello,
and offer them a sweet.

They reached into the bag.
Helped themselves.
And then walked away.

This Internet site has been no different.

When I was a little boy back in Ireland,
I used to take my books,
sit on one of the dry-stone stone walls,
and read to the sheep or horses
in the farmer’s field across the roadway.

When I would pause, and look up,
I would find the animals standing ten feet away
looking at me, listening in rapt attention
while I turned the page and continued reading.

The garden – with its birds and animals, is my
only remaining source of comfort and contentment.

やるせない …

That woman writing in the social media ‘thread’
stated that she would be interested to
“… know what he believes” …

Having explained arriving to this point,
I can only add that,

I am not a Buddhist – but the practical
day-to-day aspect of my life
would be largely indistinguishable
from that of a Zen monk in old Japan:

I eat simple food; lead life with a disciplined mind,
naturally avoid anything that is popular with the majority;
and own no gratuitous possessions …

… simplicity which I endeavoured to assure readers
(in the essay “Possessions and Freedom from Greed”)
will come to anyone who genuinely desires to remove
greed and apathy from their life.

I despise Bullies, Error-from-laziness, and Hypocrisy.

I refuse to be labelled an Evangelical Christian
when masses bearing the name clap, dance,
or sway trancelike, to amateur entertainers
in their Sunday morning social clubs, before spending
the next six days living ‘cleaned-up’ versions
of the pagan world around them.

NOTHING in the 21st century bears ANY resemblance
to the world in which I was raised as a boy –

everything that was good and proper in life,
has been perverted and degraded into the
‘Do What Thou Wilt’ degeneracy that defines
modern human society.

And whilst it may well be that I am
the only human being on earth who is
disgusted enough to refuse to embrace it,

that conscientious choice
leaves me without friends …

… which makes me a ‘weirdo’

– an object of distrust
to the world-wallowing masses.

I live as though I will one day stand to be judged
before God; and so live my life accordingly –
striving, despite constant failings,
to be holy before God, and humble before Men;

calmly refusing to compromise with evil and error;
and exercising moral discernment on all occasions.

It would be better if folk would simply
ask questions directly:
I am, after all, a very approachable fellow.

Seeing ones-self as the topic of Internet ‘chat’
is quite an alarming thing, and I hope that the
thoughts above will help to quell speculation and
answer the question of what I “believe”.

Those who lead a monastic life, do so by choice.

Mine is not by choice,
but the result of moral conscience
and a mind that does not pursue constant entertainment.

A “Recluse” … ???

only because people (in ‘life’ and the Internet)
do not want to associate with me.

I am … very simply ,
a Contented, Plain-living man

whom no one wants to know.

P Livingstone

Possessions … and Freedom from Greed

Ownership of Things increases pride,
greed, and arrogance – which those
who are wise, will discern accordingly.

It is an excellent observation that:

“Many men go to hell
getting an estate:
their children go to hell
spending that estate.”

There is a perverse mentality
– clearly held by multitudes in this world –
in which people are admired
because of what they own.

It revolted me as a child;
a sentiment that has only increased
over the past 50 years.

Even the social Introductions
that are made in the 21st century
… reek of Greed:

In North America, when introduced to someone,
what are the very FIRST words that are
invariably spoken to you ?

“Hello … What do you do ?”

When I was growing up,
the question was ALWAYS …

“Hello … HOW do you do ?”

WHY Think About What I Own ?

Your casually spoken and written words
reveal your moral character.

So, too, do the items that you own.

Not only do your personal possessions,
reveal the quality of your mind and personality,
they can even alter your character
… for the worse.

Living without television, stereo, and newspapers
while being of immense benefit
to our mental and moral well-being,
also separates us from that
mass-controlling feature of the modern world:

the perverse onslaught of advertising,
and its utterly bizarre, absolute control
of the modern multitudes.

It is one of the most liberating feelings
in the world to observe people, in general,
speaking, agitating, and rushing frenetically about
in their mad rush to buy the latest technological toy,
sale item, or popular fashion accessory –

and to be, oneself, not the slightest bit interested
in what so evidently controls the thoughts and
desires; commands the attention, and dictates
the actions of the modern multitudes.

Truly, this is Freedom.

Greed – the mindless acquisition of amusements
and vanity toys – is behind the appalling
superficiality of 21st century humanity;

and – for anyone who might seek a life
with more meaning than the constant pursuit
of entertainment and ego –

I can promise that you WILL view the world
– and people – much differently,
once commercial advertising
becomes meaningless to your life.

We moved into our house in November, 2017;
this was the content of the garage
when the previous owners lived here …

This is the content of the garage
now that we live here …

“But surely”, I hear a voice ask – “this is not Practical:
everyone, of necessity, MUST have ‘junk’ –
suitcases, paint tins, tools …”

Yes, very true. BUT that does Not Mean
that these things must be kept in a chaotic mess.

Here is what constitutes our ‘junk’ –
the items that are not particularly wanted,
but which nevertheless, must not be thrown out …

Every item has a clear box;
and every item is in its own box.

HOW TO BEGIN

In considering the question of HOW one begins
to ‘downsize’ one’s belongings,
I suppose the best practical answer would be:

“If you have not used it in the past 18 months,
you probably will never use it again.”

(Now, it will go without saying that this excludes
emergency items such as a torch, batteries,
a Primus Stove, and such like –
these can be stored in a container that is
specifically marked for such things as ‘power outages’,
‘plumbing’, ‘electrical’ &c. )

With the “18 month” guide, I refer to personal
and household items; accumulated acquisitions,
and clothing.

Set aside those items that you have not used
in the past year and a half or so:

pick up each one, and ask yourself – out loud:

“Why did I buy this, exactly?”

Then answer the question – out loud:

Talk to Yourself …
And LISTEN to your own answer !

“I bought it to impress (so-and-so)”,
“I bought it because it was on TV –
because ‘everyone else’ had one”,
“I bought it to feed my Vanity” –
and so on.

Then ask, “What does this do with my time?”
“What does having this do to my mind?”
“Could my time be better used than by
wasting it on this?”

When physically hearing the response –
you may well embarrass, if not shame, yourself.

Once all superfluous junk has been set aside
using that criteria as a starting point,

exercise personal integrity in examining
your own conscience to determine
which possessions most gratify Conceit –

that is,

identifying what things have been bought
in order to “impress”
those who are shallow enough
to actually be impressed by … ‘things’.

A WORD of ADVICE

IF you are determined to ‘downsize’
your own belongings, arrange somewhere
that you can leave the ‘discarded’ items
for a month or so.

If, in that time, your resolve is fixed, and you
truly do not need things to secure happiness,
then you may donate the items to charity,
if you so wish.

Items that are destructive to mind or morals
– such as a television, books, CD’s, DVD’s –
are not given to corrupt someone else, but instead,
taken to the town dump.

If, on the other hand, the whole exercise was, for you,
a passing fancy … then no ‘harm’ has been done,
and you may freely return to the satisfaction
of your material objects.

DISCERNMENT

Everything that we own has either practical
or sentimental value: there is nothing in our home
that is a ‘fashion statement’ or ‘popular’ product.

I have always believed in quality; dependability;
– craftsmanship: one good item,
rather than three cheap ones.

Taking that little while longer to save one’s pennies
allows one to focus upon whether that item
is really an important and worthwhile purchase.

It removes that desire to ‘collect’ … IF
a self-disciplined mind-set
is behind every potential purchase.

By limiting the things that you own
to the narrow and meaningful standard
of definite practical need (clothing),
and sentimental or edifying items (things) only,

you will have effectively removed
the superficial dross of impulse and greed
from your life.

WHAT I Own, and WHY I Keep It …

We have two small Toyota motor cars
– both bought Used; one for my wife’s
medical profession in which mileage
is refunded her;
the other, is our ‘shopping’ car.

Our furniture is antique Scottish or Irish oak,
bought for both its practical use, inherent beauty,
and our deep appreciation of hand-crafted oak.

No attic. No basement. No junk.

It is, very much, A State of Mind
that changes your perception of life:
and reveals the emptiness of the superficial toys
at which multitudes grasp, crave, and strive to own.

It is, quite literally, Freedom from Greed:
something which, I hope, these words might
serve in some way, to help you discover.

Every personal possession that I own
is pictured in this photograph …

An 8”x8″ air-tight plastic box
contains passport and personal papers;
A second, contains Kodachrome transparencies
from early work as a photojournalist.

Printed pages of my academic dissertation
reference notes from books read over the years;
and the typed content of this Internet site.
are all contained in one 9x12x2” black stationery box.

A tea pot, tea bowls, 6 teacups; and Neko the cat
accompany Tyndale’s 1536 New Testament in Middle English
along with a pair of secateurs and set of small shears
– which have sentimental value as my first professional
Japanese gardening tools.

Daily-use clothing hangs in the wardrobe,
while pressed-and-folded replacements are kept
in the plastic box just visible beneath the Samue jacket.

Everything can be carried
in the empty duffel bag that you see here.

Absolutely everything I own
is in this picture for you to see.

A few personal, daily use items accompany me
when I go anywhere …

The bracelet is personal: one bead for
every year of my life; with a brass bead
inserted in the appropriate place to remember
the death of an animal who shared
home and friendship with me.

A phial of pine and lemon essential oil
removes headaches; a small phial of rose oil
is simply calming at any time.

Also carried are a business card case, reading glasses,
and (a personal idiosyncrasy) teacup,
as I refuse to spend the exorbitant amount
charged for an occasional mocha coffee,
only to slurp it through a slit in the plastic lid
of a paper cup.

Lastly, if stopping to eat whilst not at home,
a leather pouch contains はし – collapsible chopsticks.

My secateurs are my tool-of-trade, and have
– more than once – brought me work, or the opportunity
to help folk who were having difficulty in their garden.

Everything is conducive to peace, self sufficiency,
and considered thought.

SHOPPING

If looking at something in a shop display,
the philosophy, for me, is a simple one:

Any individual item that cannot be wrapped
and placed in that duffel bag –
is something I do not need to own.

A Word about BOOKS …

Reading is my entertainment.

Although having given away my library,
I must mention that, over the years,
the contents of my old books
have been committed (by sheer repetition:
re-reading treasured volumes a dozen times and more)

to my appalling memory … and, in key quotations,
carefully typed, cross-referenced,
and placed in two notebooks
(which have served when called upon
to deliver a lecture at short notice).

A very well-stocked antiquarian bookshop
provides an admirable and constant source
of quality reading material:

once a book of interest has been read
and re-read, it is returned to the shop,
which, effectively, buys it back
at a small loss to me; credits my ‘account’,
and I can browse for another title of interest.

STRENGTH of RESOLVE

It is impossible to describe the liberty
from constantly ‘wanting’ things
– the freedom from greed – that comes

with a genuine desire and concerted effort
to be rid of extraneous possessions – MOST
of which, have no redeeming merit whatsoever,
and serve only to gratify vanity and waste time.

It is NOT the OBJECT sitting in the attic
of which you are seeking to be rid —
BUT THE desire to “Own things” and buy
some new item that takes your passing fancy.

That desire to own little and be content
with what you have … must be genuine.

If so, you WILL be embarrassed to recall
things that you once wasted money upon.

You WILL … once advertising has No impact
upon you whatsoever … find yourself (quietly)
listening to acquaintances talk, and watching
friends waste their money on Vanity Toys …
and you WILL feel sorry for them.

I can also assure you that – with the passage
of a very brief amount of time – one begins
to look back with disbelief
at the things that were once regarded as
“important” or “indispensable”.

If you are considering “thinning out”
your own personal possessions,
I sincerely hope that the suggestions
presented here may be of some help to you.

P Livingstone
philiplivingstone.org

Winter … in the GARDEN

For me, No invention of man will ever approach
the joy and satisfaction that I derive from watching
the little birds arrive a dozen at a time,

to enjoy their breakfast of chipped Sunflower hearts
on a winter’s morning.

I recall someone leaving a comment once,
to the effect that such a habit
was “too expensive” and “a waste” …

A statement like that reveals a great deal
about the level of a person’s character.

More especially, when they then have
the audacity to ‘admonish’
tender-hearted folk who actually possess
the capacity to feel empathy:

People gorge themselves on food
– and call it “going out for a meal” ;

they swill liquor – and regard it as “a party”
or, “a way to relax” ;

they squander their time,
and corrupt their minds and morals
in front of a television set … and regard
its gratuitous depravity as “entertainment”.

That may be your idea of “a good time” –
but it is not mine.

I use my money to dispense kindness,
and provide a safe haven for creatures who would
otherwise struggle in the bleak, early-morning hours.

When I look out my window
and see this – especially on a frosty morning
in January …

… the very idea of spending money to bloat my body,
stupefy my senses, or debase my mind,
is, actually … degrading.

THIS is the joy of the garden
on a cold Winter morning.

In the morning light, Calluna vulgaris
sits blanketed beneath a coating of frost …

… which also highlights the edges of the Hinoki …

As the sun warms the air, a few of the sights
to be seen …

Sunlight provides encouragement for this hosta, Fire and Ice …

If FRAGRANCE appeals, Sarcococca – in January,
provides a scent that RIVALS many ROSES.

A wonderful addition to the garden in winter,
sunlight releases its perfume which will
not only transform the garden , but enhance your life
with a scent that will stay in your memory.

If you have not one already in your garden,
allow me to recommend Sarcococca ruscifolia …

January (in the northern hemisphere) is a wonderful time to find
incredible prices on items such as pots which are simply
too expensive to even be considered (for me, at least)
at any other time of the year.

Here, a 48″ high terracotta pot, was sitting covered in frost
with a tiny green sticker that proclaimed: “70% off”.

A £115/€132/$200 terracotta pot … bought for £35/€39/$60.

The high-gloss lacquer coating its deep emerald green surface
now reflects the sights in our garden …

Also in the garden on the 15th of January, the first appearances of

Hyacinth …

Peony …

and Jasminoides …

If anyone has enjoyed visiting the garden
with me today and will be good enough to let me know,
we can meet again for another visit in February …

P Livingstone

じゅうにがつ … The GARDEN in December

In the Northern hemisphere, when
much of the garden is enjoying a winter nap,
garden tools are being used least …

… which makes December the perfect time
to give tools and equipment a thorough scrub.

Spare plant pots should never be
put away when dirty, but any that have been
can now be scrubbed out
and left to dry in the garden shed or suitable
area of the house, if available.

For me, the 90lbs or so of stone
which make up the Ishidourou gets brought
into the house, and given a good scrub down
using a mixture of hot water and bleach.

A thorough cleaning with a bristle brush,
hot water, and a splash of Dettol antiseptic
serve as a well-deserved reward for
the tools that are used to keep the garden healthy
throughout the rest of the year.

Whilst drying each one, inspect tools
for chipped, broken, sticking, or loose
parts.

The leather case of my grandpa’s tape measure
is always treated to a coat of Dubbin
to keep its 70-year old leather supple.

Spades, Forks, and other digging instruments
can be scrubbed and given a light rub
with a quality household oil to counter
any possibility of rust due to moisture.

The hori

December is the perfect time to inspect bladed tools
such as shears, scissors, and secateurs,
ensuring that each is scrubbed, dried, oiled,
and put away with blades honed to a razor edge
ready for the gardening year ahead.

Even in this coldest time of year,
the gardener can still be … ‘tending to the garden’.

P Livingstone
philiplivingstone.org

にしきごい … Nishikigoi and The Garden Pond

I said nothing.
And hung up the telephone.

Having purchased the house in September of 2009,
my wife and I ventured out during a sub-zero ‘cold snap’
one December morning,
to plan where to begin the work that would be needed
to rejuvenate its somewhat neglected garden.

Arriving at the far end of a raised portion of ground,
I paused and bent down to tug at the protruding end
of an old, partially buried … kitchen sink.

What I saw made me miss a breath.

There, in a corner, in the equivalent of about
two cups of water … were two goldfish
almost encased – solid – in ice.

I was deeply distressed by the sight;
disgusted that two fish had been
overlooked and forgotten;
and tried not to think of them dying like that.

Giving the ice a sharp tap in attempt to, at least,
remove and bury the fish properly,
I was shocked – when the block came loose,
to see ice water flow from beneath,
… and one of the fish move.

Trying not to actually drop the ice in my
what-can-only- be-described-as ‘controlled panic’,
I rushed inside the house and immediately
began filling a bucket with cold (ignoring the
overwhelming desire to want to quickly
warm the fish) water.

Adding a generous amount of chlorine neutralizing
drops, I returned to that disgusting, discarded sink
beneath the tree.

Placing ice and fish in the bucket,
I brought them indoors and held my hands
(taking needed pauses to re-warm them)
around the ice to speed its melt

Quickly able to actually cradle one fish in each hand,
I could not believe it when both began to move
and swim feebly on their own.

Genuinely upset, I found the house sale papers,
turned to one section in particular,
picked up the telephone
and called the woman whose house we had bought,
to tell her of my ‘find’, and that
her overlooked fish were alright.

“Oh,” she replied … “they’re still there?”
“We just let the fish freeze every winter,
and buy new ones in the spring.”

I was livid.

Said nothing.

Felt the silence.

Ignored her ‘Hello? Hello?”

And hung up the telephone.

A Graceful Turn … One of the two little goldfish that was saved from the ice.

They feel the cold,
they feel frightened,
they feel pain,
and they play when they are happy.

They are fish.
And, like any animal, they deserve the care
of any human being
who has them in their garden.

Nothing is as loathsome to me as Apathy.

The type of vicious, obscenity-spewing savages
that are lauded as “ real men” today
are brute beasts
who openly reveal themselves as such
to anyone of maturity.

But self-centred ingrates who “use”,
and “enjoy”, or in any way ‘benefit from’

the work, efforts, or good will of any person;
or the loyalty or affection of an animal,

and yet refuse to go ‘out of their way’
to lift a finger in gratitude,

are the most repulsive of creatures:
characterless hypocrites who know to do good,
but CHOOSE to do nothing.

No one who has visited this site
and read its contents, will imagine
that I have any admiration for the Internet.

It is the greatest method (the television alone
excepted) ever invented by man to promote
Confusion, Conflict, and Cruelty
amongst human society.

It is the theatre for every form of narcissism;
the soap-box for every quick-buck con man;
and the podium for propagating infantilism,
arrogance and inexperience.

With rare exception, the Internet is
a labyrinth of nonsense, arrogance, and ignorance
promulgated by those who are out to
to ‘impress’, amass ‘followers’, or sell
a personal agenda or business product.

Any occasional truth … comes only after wading
through a cesspool of fantasy, vanity,
malignity, and outright malice.

Common Sense, Empathy, and a Compassionate heart,
will do far more for that rare person
endued with discretion,
than the massed hordes of Internet ‘experts’
combined.

By proposing a few thoughts from experience,
I hope to encourage one person
who would like to give and receive
the mutual enjoyment that comes from
caring for ornamental fish in a garden pond.

BUILDING a Home … on the 11th of January

In the part of the world where we currently find ourselves,
Racoons are nightly visitors to the garden;
and whilst their splash patterns on the stones
evidence that they enjoy a refreshing bath
in the water garden on a summer’s night …
we want them to keep away from the fish.

The answer – from our brief experience here –
was to build a free-standing fish pool.

The first stop was to visit a specialist lumber yard
for the purchase of fifteen, 4x6x10’
heavy ‘landscape’ ties.

After digging down to ensure that there
was no plant life that might one day
reach the surface only to find the horror
of an impenetrable barrier of pond liner,

a base of boulders was laid,
its crevices in-filled with crushed rock,
and then ‘padded’ with a layer of sand.

Upon this solid base, we began the process
of building the shell …

A piece of old pond liner was placed
on the ground to ‘pad’ the liner
that would actually be containing the water …

Special attention – and excessive time –
is always spent ensuring the liner
fits snuggly into the corners;

and that folds are made with meticulous care
to make them as minimal, and smooth, as possible.

THE PUMP and POND FILTER

Now, a little word about all those remedies
and promises that will (I am sure) be found
on the Internet, on the subject of garden ponds,
algae, and ‘green water’ …

Yes, barley straw and ‘oxygenating’ plants are fine
IF you have a large, natural pond. The ‘field pond’
in our previous home filtered itself quite nicely –

there are, after all, country homes in Britain
and Europe, that use reed beds on boggy ground
as a sewage treatment centres
– and they do wonderfully well.

BUT once you move to smaller ponds,
the number of fish, resultant biological wastes,
sunlight, algae spores, and falling vegetation
all affect the confined environment
of smaller ponds.

Please take up my suggestion to INVEST
in a proper, quality filter
that will clean the water, neutralise the algae,
and remove waste from the pond itself.

Do Not frustrate yourself with the ‘advice’
promises, and do-it-yourself gizmos that
might work for one person in one specific location,

but will end up wasting your time, money,
and best intentions –
in a very short space of time indeed.

The Air Pump is thoroughly cleaned,
and all parts checked for signs of wear …

When considering airline hose,
the spiral ribbing is touted as being
much more resistant to crushing.

This it may well be, however, one must ask
quite WHY anyone should be ignorant and careless enough
to be ‘crushing’ the hose in the first place.

( Those ‘valleys’ between the ridges
are a wonderful home for algae
– which cannot be readily removed
by washing alone – here, the ‘clean patches’
are where the sponge has removed algae;
the remainder provides some indication
of the difficulty in getting in between the ridges. )

I have never, in over 50 years of caring for fish,
found any difficulty or disappointment with using
a quality, smooth hose …

The POND FILTER

The filter here is a very ‘standard’ one
that is made for ponds up to 2,000 gallons;
it will provide a clean, happy environment
for both fish and you.

Clean and check the filter unit –

examine the O-ring in the top channel …

clean and set the biological filter bags in place …

clean and insert the actual filter …

secure the lid in place and connect
the ‘input’ line from the pond pump,
and the ‘outflow’ line, which flows into the pond …

( The third outlet is used when cleaning the filter
– a hose is connected, and green algae-rich
fish-fertiliser-soaked water can be pumped
onto the garden beds. )

FILLING the POND

Once both filter and pump are again cleaned out
and rinsed thoroughly,
Water is added to stretch the liner:

With the pond filling ALWAYS ENSURE that crucial
de-chlorinating liquid has been ADDED
to the household water supply.

In the ‘natural’ pond: check for leaks
from water that is flowing backward
and escaping through some area of
liner whose fold lies below the water-line.

Two little birds enjoy a drink from our Water Garden.

In a Formal Pool, it means selecting rocks and plants
amidst which, the fish may play and hide
– and generally not appear to be in a quarantine tank.

Once the pond has been filled,
test the pump and filter unit …

This is the time to scrutinise the back of the
water reservoir for any leaks from the
input hose … as well as the hoses leading into
the water filter unit itself.

I follow the precaution of adding a final
deterrent to particles of muck getting through
the filter and being returned to the pond –

Here, a piece of filter material is simply
slotted into place immediately before
the waterfall return …

Note the colour of the white filter barrier
just Below the waterline … the results,
after three weeks, are self evident …

Plants having been added to give the fish
a ‘feel of their old home,
they are gently caught and placed in a large bag
to float in the new pool for a few hours
until the temperature in bag and pool are the same.

The whole project today has taken 10 hours,
and we are quite exhausted from our labours.

As cedar boards can be added later
to hide the exposed liner and act as a ‘top rail’
without any disturbance to the fish;

and additional stones placed gently, at leisure,
to provide a more ‘natural’ environment
in which the fish can play, and hide,
and generally feel secure …

not wishing to subject them to
an unnecessary stay in a container overnight,
the fish are gently introduced into their new home.

The following day, with completed Cedar Rail …

(In order to accommodate the water heater (here, in January),
the water level is kept slightly lower – being increased
when the water no longer requires heating.

A cover fits is placed on the pool when the fish are
‘put to bed’ for the night.)

All that is left is to add shrubs at leisure in order to
‘break up’ the outline of the pool itself.

Here, fragrant Sarcococca hides the filter unit
and wires leading to and from it
(and the pond heater in winter) …

If you are tender-hearted, patient, and compassionate
enough to want to give an animal a home,
simply remember that they feel the same
fear, pain, misery and contentedness as you …

and treat them with the empathy, care,
and attention to detail
that you would like to have others afford you.

Even a fish will respond to care, and
the joy of seeing them swim towards you
at “tea-time” to feed from your hand,
is truly, a wonderful thing.

P Livingstone
philiplivingstone.org

ちゃしつ … The Tea Gathering – Part 1: The DISCIPLINE of Tea

“Tea tempers the spirit
and harmonizes the mind …
and clears the perceptive faculties.

The refreshing nature of tea …
is especially fitting
for persons of self restraint …

for those who are virtuous in nature
and satisfied with a simple life.”

Such were the sentiments of Lu Yu,
when writing his treatise on tea
– chájīng – The Classic of Tea,
somewhere around 780 AD.

お ちゃ … Tea

From possessions, to professions,
to pets and pastimes … everything, it seems,
is now used as a Vanity tool to dominate
and degrade others,

which is why conscience has always
prevented me from agreeing to teach,
when asked, even the rudiments
of the martial art that I practice.

What I HAD always offered … was
to teach … The Way of Tea.

Offering to teach TEA to those
who inquired about Martial Arts
invariably insured that those who asked,
would immediately make themselves scarce.

Tea … is about extending HOSPITALITY

… seeking the best interests of a Guest,
and taking infinite care to Serve
someone else.

A self centred, domineering thug
will never discern the relationship
– the significance between Tea
… and learning.

Those who possess Self Discipline, Patience,
and a Meticulous Nature, demonstrate
the humility of character that is required

in a person who actually deserves
to be taught anything
that might give them privilege or power
over other people.

Give a savage power … and he or she will use it
to further Greed, Ego, and Personal Agenda.
Which is precisely why the 21st century
is the immoral, vicious, and vulgar Age that it is.

No mature, responsible man or woman
gives a bad-tempered, ill-disciplined,
emotional ‘child’

the ability to harm or dominate anyone.

Those who have no interest in cultivating the
gentility required for tea … or gardening,
are of no interest to me as students –
– their sincerity is clearly lacking.

A Tea Gathering demands
Self Discipline,
Patience, and a
Meticulous Nature –

it requires someone who aspires to
Refinement,
Etiquette, and appreciates bestowing
Hospitality upon others.

That desire to extend Self-LESS consideration
toward others
will transfer over to the daily aspects
of an individual’s life:

the way they speak,
the way they dress,
the way they handle their (or others’) possessions.

Qualities that are observably absent
in the aggressive and slovenly example
provided by the generality of ‘men’

and the women who strive to imitate them.

Those who Make The Time to appreciate tea
from fine tea cups … value tea for the occasion
it provides to Contemplate alone,
or extend Cordiality to others:

qualities, both, that are diametrically opposed
to the frenetic madness of the world at large,
that mindlessly rushes to gratify vanity,
hedonism, and greed at every opportunity.

Gentility.
Hospitality.
Contemplative Thought.

Tea … is all these things.

Tea … it is the Period of Time when
the tea is being enjoyed,
that is meaningful to me.

It may be that you think similarly.

I hope that, in presenting the qualities
of real tea, I can encourage one or two people
to slow down and … MAKE time to:

prepare tea;
and take ten minutes out of each day
for thoughtful reflection …

“How have I lived my life ?
What example has my life been to those
who have known me ?
Lying on my death bed, will I regret
how I have used the time given me in this life ?”

Tea (for me) is the act of meditating upon
what – honestly – is important in life.

I hope that this series of thoughts about tea
may interest one or two folk enough that they
will Take The Time to isolate themself
from the mental and moral sewage of the TV
– or the mindless noise of the radio,

and set aside part of a day to pause,
and … think.

P Livingstone
philiplivingstone.org