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I’m reading a book right now called ‘Why Buddhism?’ which is a set of interviews with various westerners who have become Buddhists. They explain what led them to follow the dharma as well as the benefits and difficulties they have had from their practice.

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about.

I was talking about the book with my wife – about the book jacket, in fact. It’s one of those pictures that seems such a cliche – a pile of irregularly shaped pebbles, pefectly balanced – that was probably taken from a picture library somewhere by a graphic designer who probably lumps Buddhism in with a vague concept of ‘new-ageyness’. Why, we both said, don’t they use a picture that means something?

So why do I find myself adding a photo of a spiders’ web hanging off a fern?

The answer, I think, is to do with mindfulness, specifically the deep joy that can come from truly entering the present moment. As I was writing this piece I had in mind an episode from a silent day retreat I went on a few weeks ago; I remember lying in the sunshine over lunch, arm under my head, entranced by the dance of the hairs on my wrist as the breeze moved this way and that. It was a feeling of contentment that is too rare in life, but that was achieved by simply meditating in company for a few hours. It got me thinking that there is so much we could enjoy in life, but we pass it by. So many things that we could be aware of, that we ignore as a result of our conditioning. And all it takes is to slow down and experience what we have, there in the moment. And that’s what mindfulness is all about.

NB. The picture? That delicate spiders’ web takes me right back to that moment in the sunshine. I hope it acts as a stimulus for you to go there too.


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