Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Year Approaching

The end of the year always feels like the appropriate time to take stock and reflect a little on the past, and maybe also to think about changes to introduce in the future. 2010 marks my tenth anniversary of having moved to Berlin as a result of an intuitive decision I made on waking up a few days after my ordination into the Western Buddhist Order in Guhyaloka in Spain in 1997. I was 40 and it really feels like my life began then. Because I had never been to Germany before, and being of a naturally somewhat sceptical nature, I visited the city a few times before following my intuition and actually starting a new life in a new country.

I have never regretted that decision. Although there have been periods where life has not been particularly easy, I have never seriously wanted to leave Berlin. Indeed, within a couple of years of my arrival, it was clear to me that Berlin would probably be my home for the rest of my life, however long that may be.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I arrived home rather late this evening at midnight after a very pleasant end of year dinner with some of my English students, and having already decided to check on line whether registration for next year's Berlin marathon had opened, I was delighted to discover an e-mail inviting me to do just that. So now I have paid the 60,00 € fee and am registered. Immediately afterwards I registered for the Berlin Big 25 in May, which finishes in the Olympic stadium. I had hoped to participate in this year's run, but less than 24 hours before the start I became ill.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Order Forum

Yesterday evening I arrived home after a long weekend at Vimaladhatu in Sauerland. The event was the annual Central European Order Forum, a mix of retreat and convention, and was attended by around 30 members of the Western Buddhist Order (WBO) living in Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Poland and Russia. Very harmonious and inspiring, the event gives us all a chance to catch up and appreciate each others' endeavours. Being set among wooded hills, the weekend gave me a chance to do some hill-training, something I'm not at all used to, since Berlin is very flat.

On Monday I stayed in Essen and spent the day with Jnanacandra, the Chair of the Essen Buddhist Centre, discussing issues of common interest.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Weekend in Luckenwalde

When time allows I often spend weekends with Claudia in her weekend cottage on the edge of Luckenwalde, a small town just a half hour train journey south of Berlin. This weekend we pruned a couple of fruit trees that had clearly grown too large, enjoyable and challenging work, which undoubtedly helped build up my arm muscles. It is remarkable how much wood accumulates from a few hours pruning. I totally enjoy working in the garden, something I have done on and off for many years.

On Friday I introduced some Fartlek into my training, which means occasionally increasing my pace for short periods, followed by a period of recovery. Today I ran 12.7 KM at a gentle pace.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How it all began

I used to run as a child. My dad has been a runner as long as I've known him. Even now at 75 he runs 10KM faster than I can. Until I was 11 or 12 years old I used to run with him sometimes. I was a child member of Blackheath Harriers running club, occasionally even running in club events, including the 100 x 1 mile relay in 1969 to commemorate the club's centenary. In September 1967 when I was 10 years old, during a family caravaning holiday in Scotland, dad ran in a race up and down Ben Nevis. This photograph shows me running around the caravan site in Fort William. Around 1970 I stopped running. As a teenager it was no longer cool!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Day in my Life: Tuesday

Tuesday is usually a full day for me and today was no exception. It began when the alarm went off at 6.30. After a cup of tea I meditated with the others in the community from 7.00 until 8.00 and then helped to prepare breakfast which we routinely eat together from 8.30 to 9.00. After half an hour checking e-mails and catching up with the news from the BBC and the FWBO, I had a meeting for three quarters of an hour about the purchase of the new Buddhist Centre. Then a 20 minute cycle to the Buddhist Centre for a meeting of the Centre Team. Another couple of hours busying myself with e-mails and administration before going out for a bite to eat at the Chaussee Grill with Mathias, the centre manager. At 5.00pm I lead a small 'Buddhism in English' class which was immediately followed by Sangha evening. Back home on my bike, a half an hour telephone call with my mate Amrta in Norwich, England, and finally another check of e-mails and a brief blog-update. And now, its time for bed.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Busy days

The days go by so fast with very little time to reflect on events and make comments here about them. Well, I have managed to get back to some kind of regular training, 10 KM three times a week. I also bought and have read Das Gro├če Buch vom Marathon (The Big Book of the Marathon) by Hubert Beck, which is full of info and interesting facts about running. I could easily become an armchair marathon runner as an alternative to actually running one in September next year.

I've also started trying out running with a pulse monitor, which was lent to me almost a year ago, but I have only just managed to find time to read the instructions. Just used it twice so far so it's too early to say whether it will prove really useful.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kiss Kaffee and St. Trinian's

5 KM run this morning along the Landwehr Canal. My usual route. A rushed shower before heading off for breakfast with a friend in the Kiss Kaffee, an extremely tasteful and pleasant small cafe in Charlottenburg. I don't often get over to the West of the city. It has quite a different feel to my usual haunts around central and east Berlin, more affluent and less 'raw'.

This evening I watched a DVD of The Pure Hell of St Trinian's, a nostalgic trip back to the very English black and white world of 1960 politically incorrect humour.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Starting up

Yesterday the Berliners celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. I arrived in Berlin just over nine years ago to help run the Buddhist Gate Berlin, a public centre run by the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order. To celebrate my tenth anniversary of living here in September next year, I have decided to participate in the Berlin marathon. At the same time I hope to raise some funds towards the cost of the new Buddhist Gate Berlin, new premises we have bought and hope to move into around the start of 1011. If you want to help, please have a look at my JustGiving page.