Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Wow, what a beutiful day!

It's been so sunny today! It's like summer is finally here! (except that it's forcast to be horrible tomorrow...). I went into town today and did some busking (playing music in public for money). It's the first time I've ever done any busking in England, and I have to say, I was a little nervous. So I set myself up at the opening of a nice little cobbled street called "Church street" which opens out onto the Cathedral Close, a small park outside the Cathedral. After I'd sung about 3 songs, a guy came over with a guitar case and said

"You jammin?".
"Ummmm", I said.
"Great", he said as he pulled his guitar out.
"Tanglewood huh?", he commented pointing to my guitar.
"Uh huh", I replied, wanting to carry on singing my next song.
"Are those heavy gauge or light gauge strings?".
"Ummm, heavy i think".
"Ahhhhhh" he said, nodding sagely. "What's the action like?".
"So what do you play?".
"Ummm, all sorts really".
"Yeah? Well I'll just play to you then, I can play pretty much anything. Been playing for 15 years".
He looked at me waiting for my acknowledgement of this achievement.
"Uh huh".
"Ok", I said, "this is one of mine. It's pretty simple, just four chords: Am, Em, Dm, F". I played it through to show him the rhythm. He started joining in, but every time he would start one bar too late, so i would play Am, then as I moved on to Em he would come in with Am as if we were playing a round. After about 10 mins of this I finally managed to convince him to start and let me join in....

I managed to play the song through despite his noisy uptempo twanging beside me, and when i finally finished he turned to me and said, "I was pretty good considering I never played that before huh?". "Uh huhhhh". I started trying to play another song, but now he began to play something completely different right next to me, banging out seemingly random chords and riffs. All through this encounter, a girl who I assumed to be his girlfriend was standing in front of us with a walkman on and only one headphone stuffed in one ear, dancing to a combination of her own music and my guitar, and grinning inanely. In the end I decided enough was enough. "Actually to be honest mate, It's a little bit distracting having you playing stuff next to me like that...". I was expecting him to be a bit offended and tell me to piss of or something, but he did the complete opposite. "Shit, sorry mate!! I'll come back later and see if your still here then. You gonna be here long?". I wasn't quite sure where this was leading. "Ummm, I'm not sure, probably... it's a beatiful day for it". Alright then mate, well I'll pop back in a couple of hours and see if the spots free.. I'm homeless you see.", and with that he was gone. Yes, I am officially a bastard. It's just as well I didn't play him my song about the homeless guy... But how was I to know?! He was wearing all clean clothes and looked pretty ok to me... Oh well, maybe next time he'll get the spot first and I'll be able to give him a couple of quid...

right, somehow it has manged to become 10pm, but it has only just got dark so I still feel like it's early evening! better go and watch tv!! Who knows what treats I could be missing!!!! (for interesting cross examination of Billy's reassimilation, go read february's posts...).

Friday, May 14, 2004

Hey guys!

Remember I was working with street kids in a small school in India? WEll they've just finished a new website, and it has lots of great photos (some taken by me, some of me) on there, so go check it out. Also, if you've got a bit of spare cash and you feel like helping a worthy cause... Anyway, check it out: www.joshuakids.org

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Owwww, my eyes hurt!! I came on to write a post, and ended up reading other ppl's blogs for over an hour... I discovered that there is some really fascinating perspectives on the Iraq situation coming from Iraq itself as people begin to to gain access to the internet there.... check it out for yourself:




Also, I've added some updated songs I've written to download in MP3 format at http://www.billysalisbury.com/songs

right, bedtime.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004


Names Steve. Steve Pratt. I'm jus riting to say that billy won be writn vis fing anymore cos he dusnt exhist anymore. I av taken control of iz body, due to ve fact that mine died free weeks ago. So ver I was, floatin around the buildin site, lookin down at my crushed body liyin lifeless under the collapsd pile of brix, and i finks to myself, ang on, vis aint right, so i decides jus to ignor it n wanders off. aneway, efenchally i finds this place wiv all these people sitting cross legged in a big room, and i sees that all their heads is wide open like, wiv lights comin out and stuff, so i goes over for a beter look, n before yoo know it, I've jumped inside this blokes head, and I'm like, in his body and stuff. Obviously he's not too happy, an he starts shouting and screaming an evryfing, telling me to pis of out of his head, but he's a bit of a pussy, so i just give im a few slaps an e shuts up in the end...[im still here....!]...so anyway, I dusn wanna raise any suspishon, so i goes on doing what evrywun else is doin...[helllllp meeeeee]...n evenchally after some more days of bein bored out my face, i get's picked up by this nice old gal who takes me home and makes me tea.... I bin ere evr since [got...to...regain...control......]...just angin out n shit... this bodys a bit shit mind...[Oi!]...it's all puny n skinny...not like me old one...but then again me old ones all crushed so i spose i cant complane...[If..I...can...just...reach..the...frontal...lobe...]...apparntlee i gota start a new job tomora tho which is a bit of bummer... [Yes!...I've done it!...Now if I can just seal off the main ventricle.... done it!! ................................. Yes! He's gone!! I'mmmm Baaaaaaaack!!!!! Woo Hoo! Hi Guys! Well, after 5 days of being posessed by Steve, my body is in a right state. He's been using it to binge on alcohol and eat large amounts of red meat ever since we left the meditation centre, completely ruining my karmic credit rating! So I suppose you'll want to know what happened in there huh? Ok...where to begin...?

Arrived. Met 2 guys I was sharing room with. Both nice guys. Good start. had food, went to bed. Next morning, noble silence began. This means you cannot speak to anyone, or even make eye contact. All forms of communication are a no no. Get up at 4 am, meditate all day, go to bed at 9:30pm. 12 hours of meditation a day. That's 12 hours of sitting (in my case kneeling) on a cushion. After a few days you have to start kneeling without moving at all for at least one hour at a stretch, no matter how much pain you are going through. Sounds like torture doesn't it? Well it kind of is, and for the first few attempts I got really pissed off and angry at the whole situation, but then things started changing.... here's a quick explanation of why:

Accoring to the teachings of Buddah (Not buddism, just his pure teachings), all misery and suffereing are the result of craving and aversion, i.e. wanting things you don't have or not wanting things you do have. This doesn't just mean material posessions. Take the pain in my knees for example. I didn't want it to be there. I disliked it. I had an aversion towards it. This made me miserable, angry, frustrated. I wanted it to go away, I wanted to move, I wanted to go back to bed, lie down and go to sleep. This also made me miserable, angry, and frustrated. So did the pain make me miserable? How could it? It's just a physical sensation. A biochemical reaction. A bunch of sub-atomic particles behaving in a perfectly natural way as nature intended them to behave. So what made me miserable? My reaction. By reacting to my pain with craving and aversion, I made it double. And did it help in the long run? Not at all, becasue after the hour was up, i stood up and walked around, and the pain went away, so all the misery was for nothing. The next time I went to meditate, i tried to do what the teacher said.... observe my sensations... be completely equanimous towards all my sensations, i.e. be objective and simply observe, whether they are pleasant or unpleasant. The pain returned to my knees and I went down to take a look. In my minds eye I watched as my knees began to throb with searing red pain. I measured how far the pain spread from it's epicentre, observed how it caused shooting pains up the muscles of the shin, stood by and watched, fascinated, as my pumping heart caused tremendous pulsing waves of pain the flow around my whole lower leg. Every now and then a voice in my head would cry "What are you doing?!! You're going to permanently damage yourself!! This is too much!! This pain is UNBEARABLE!!!". Unbearable. What does that mean? It just means that you can't resist the urge to react. After all, if your leg was trapped under a bus and the pain was unbearable, what would you do? Bear it, obviously. By the end of the week I had named my various pains and grown quite fond of them! My ankle pains were tracy and jenny. When I became bored of just observing, i would sometimes invent little games for them, getting them to compete against one another to produce the most intense sensation. "Come on Tracy!!!! Jenny's making a laughing stock of you girl!! You can do better than that!! Put you shin into it girl!!" and so on. My knees were called Tom and George. They weren't quite so manic as tracy and jenny, and I would usually just sit and have polite conversations with them: "Mornin Tom, how's things? You seem a bit angry to be honest tom. You can calm down if you like you know? No? Ok, never mind, I'll pop back later....".

It's not all about enduring pain of course, this is just one of the most striking examples I can give. It's about training your body not to react to sensation with the blind reactions of craving and aversion. What buddah discovered was that our reactions are not a direct result of stimuli from the external world. What actualy happens is that something happens outside, we see/hear/taste/feel/smell it, and that triggers and sensation within our body, which we then react to. We get the impression that we are reacting directly to the external world, but that is not the case. Because of this, it is possible to train your body to become more aware of the sensations within, to recognise them when they occur, and to refrain from blind reaction, giving you the opportunity to evaluate the situation logically with your wisdom and intellect, and react accordingly.

For example. Somebody sitting near you on the train decides to test out all the ringtones on their mobile phone. You hear the sound, and understand what it means. This triggers a number of physical reactions in your body. Your muscles tighten, your breath quickens, you pulse begins to race, your temperature rises... all in the space of a second. Then you feel anger rising in your throat. What a fucking imbecile!!! doesn't he know there are other people on the train??!! God it makes your blood boil!!! This anger triggers more physical reactions in the body, more intense than the last, and so the cycle continues. You become more and more angry. You lose interest in your book, you can't read anymore. Even with your headphones in, you can still just hear his phone in the background, and it's enough to keep you angry. You think about going over and grabbing the phone off him, shoving it down his throat.............. but ultimately you do nothing. Later on, once you have calmed down, you may think to yourself, "I wish i hadn't got so angry, cos it didn't change anything", but by now it's too late, and you still haven't taken responsibility for your misery.

Now imagine it again. The phone starts going. Your body starts producing sensations. You notice the sensations, and before the emotion of anger has even begun, you start to observe the physical changes taking place within your body. "Oh! Look at that! It looks like i'm about to get angry!! Mmmm, do I want to get angry? I mean his phone is pretty annoying, but me getting angry will just make me miserable, so there's not much point really... and after all, it is just some noise hitting my eardrum, and it won't last forever......".

By now you may be thinking, "Hey, this actually makes a lot of sense! I might start doing this! I'm sick of being miserable because of my own reactions". But it's not that simple. There are three levels of understanding. The first is to believe it because I said it. The second is to analyze what I say, maybe go and get out a few books about it, use your intellect to assess all the information, and then agree with what you have discovered and understand it. The third is to know and understand it through personal experience. Only with the third level of understanding is it possible to actually change the habit pattern of your mind.

All of this is the teaching of Buddah, but is is not the most important aspect of his teaching. Buddism tend to focus on the knowledge aspect, i.e. the second level of understanding, but Buddah himself emphasised time and time again that all this knowledge was practically useless without the knowlege of personal experience, which is why his main goal was to teach people a practical technique that would enable them to experience these thruths for themselves, and ultimately come out of misery and become truly happy. The technique is vipassana meditation. It's not complicated. In fact it's so simple that if I explained it to you here you'd probably try it once and then write it off as a load of bollox. You need to do 10 days to really experience what it is for. And it's not all pain. There are times when you feel amazingly pleasant sensations where you lose yourself in a sea of tingling. But this is almost more of a challenge then the pain, because as soon as the sensation leaves, as ultimately it must (nothing is permanent!) you find yourself craving for more!!! And if you can't get more.... Arrrghgh! Misery! Another lesson learnt..... but not just at the intellectual level of the mind. This lesson is being learnt at the deepest level of the mind, which is in the sensations of the body, and therefore is actually changing the habit pattern of your mind.....

Anyway, if you want to know more, you can go to www.dhamma.org

There is a centre in herefordshire (www.dipa.dhamma.org). To attend a 10 day course is free. All your food and lodging is free. This is because previous students have made donations so that others can recieve the benefits they recieved. At the end you have the option to give a donation of any amount, but it's not compulsory. The people taking the course come in all shapes and sizes (not just a bunch of new age hippies). The food is bloody great (total steiner food).

I'll write some more about my own personal experiences later... like how 10 days of not talking made me talk to pheasants.... :)