Friday, 14 September 2007

Today was a sad day.....

Back to my old habits in terms of not getting up early to meditate. I set the clock and woke up when it rang. I was awake. But then I climbed back into bed thinking 'I'll meditate in bed this morning, I can do that. I understand the nature of resistance now. Yeah...right...the next thing I knew it was 7.30am! Also how little time resistance takes to reformulate itself into being something more subtle. It won by persuading me that I could meditate in bed. How frustrating is this path. It feels like I go two steps forward to go three back. But I was determined not to give myself a hard time and so I put on some dance music to lift my mood.

I walked to work and as usual. Walking in nature brings such calm and ease to me. Nature is for me like pouring oil on troubled water. I am so relaxed when I'm with nature. When I go home to visit my family in Ireland there is a mountain close to where I live. I often go there and will sit on some stones and look out and the view is as far as the eye can see. There is often nobody there but I never feel alone. In contrast to how I can be in a room filled with people and feel so alone like I did this evening.

I managed to sort everything out at work. It was quite amazing that everything got done in a very calm and organised way. And something I am not usually is calm and organised. There is a risk in giving work over to be covered. The most obvious one is that mistakes will be found. It is OK after one has left but I intend to return even though I know deep down that it is not the right environment for me. Before I saw resistance in a different way I was finding it difficult at work. Everything was a struggle and I lived in fear of being found out. A right brained woman doing a left brain job is bound to be found out sooner or later. I don't structure or organise things like most people do. No two of us work in the same way so the way I managed my committees is not the same as the way another programme manager would.

Even though I am dreading this operation because of how awkward everything is bound to be it seems to be the right thing to be doing because everything is flowing around it. Let's hope that the surgeon's knife is also flowing in the right way on Monday morning.

I came home and changed and went out to a friends leaving party who going to live in the country. The pub where we were to meet was at South Bank which is on the banks of the Thames. It was an absolutely beautiful evening and the lights of London together with the stillness and calmness of the Thames was lovely. I found the restaurant and went in to find my friend. She was there with a mixture of friends from work, her yoga class, old room mates. I knew a couple of people to see and that was it. I went to the bar to buy her a drink and she introduced me to a couple of guys that she worked with. I find first introductions nerve racking. The usual questions came thick and fast, 'what do I do, where do I live, how do I know the girl whose leaving do it was'. I always answer honestly but because I am not brilliant at witty repartee, it all goes a bit flat. My men guards who are sleeping in front of me rob me of every ounce of humour and wit. I didn't mind because I wasn't attracted to them. But then again attraction and me seem to repel each other.

I left and sat with some other people. The conversations were short and varied immensely. There was no decent discussion about anything important. Even the short conversations on yoga weren't stimulating. I tried to use the 'it is the way it is' line of reasoning but that did nothing to still the boredom and also the loneliness because even though I was surrounded by people I felt horribly alone.

After a while I said my apologies and left. Walking back over the bridge to catch the tube I felt a deep pang of loneliness and then the words of another Elvis Presley from his Gospel CD came into my mind. It sounds crazy but I felt like I was being serenaded. The words were 'and He walked with me, and He talked with me, and He told me I was his own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, no-one has ever known'. The words came through so clear and strong. It wasn't as though I was thinking 'what song do I know to cheer me up'. I wasn't thinking anything like this. I was aware of a sudden pang and then the words of this song came through.

I was filled with the deepest contentment and gratitude which once again welled up from deep within. I don't consider myself to be a good saintly person so why are these experiences happening to me. I am so ordinary. What I have always had though is a kind of child like faith in spiritual writings. To be child-like is not the same as childish. Child-like is to see the joy and wonder in every aspect of life, the small as well as the big. It is about being in the present without being caught in either the past or future. It is making time to stop and really attend to things so that they become more than they seem to be. I will give nature as an example of what I mean. When I stop and attend which means become present to the leaves on a tree, it seems like the leaves expand and come out to meet me. When this happens there are no thoughts, there's simply a deep connection.

The fact that I have no visual component to any of these experiences may make it read somewhat limiting but this by far the case. These experiences fill me and nurture me like nothing else. The also result in a depth of wisdom and underststanding. I do not say knowledge because knowledge is of the mind. The connections that are made are made at a Soul level. What I understand is that the connection is there all the time and always but my access to it is sporadic. A permanent connection requires one to be constantly mindful and aware of this connection.

I remember when I was in boarding school. The same priest who gave the distinction between spiritual and religious also said in his sermon that day. He said 'you boarders, each morning you wake up you say, 'good God it's morning', why don't you say 'good morning God'. I don't know whether it was the rhythm that the words made in the sentence but I really took it on. Every morning and evening for years, they were my first words 'good morning God in the morning and good night God at night'. I can't record any results from doing this in terms of anything to keep me doing but I did it all the time. Then one morning I woke up and after I said 'good morning' I had this thought 'who am I to be hassling God like this. I'm assuming He wants to hear from me' and out of the shame of my arrogance I stopped doing this. I felt that just saying good morning and good night was too irreverent. That maybe I should be down on my knees praying for hours which is something I have never done. Stopping this practice this left me feeling empty. At the time I was studying Mahayana Buddhism and I have a white marble Buddha on my shelf. I turned to that instead of God.

Weeks went by and I noticed that when I saw books claiming to have a connection with God I would get angry and think 'how can this person claim this'. This was particularly strong with the Conversations with God books. I thought it was arrogant in the extreme. I have already mentioned the book by Eileen Caddy called 'God spoke to me'. I guess what lay behind it was that I didn't want to believe that He would talk to others and not to me'. It's funny but I never felt that towards the book 'Mister God this is Anna'. There is something about the simplicity and directness of the title of that book that open and honest.

At this time I worked for Alternatives in London on their book stall as a volunteer every Monday night. The book Conversations with God was there. I would look at it each week with always the same thought towards the author 'how can you be so arrogant'. One week the director came over to the book stall, he picked up Conversations with God book 1 and said to me. 'Have you read this'. I replied 'every week I come here and look at that book, I am drawn to it but also think that it's an incredibly arrogant title'. He then picked up the book gave it to me me and 'said here you are it's a present'. This was amazing because in all the time I worked there that had never happened. I thanked him and brought it downstairs for safe keeping.

I began reading it going home on the tube when the evening had finished. It was gripping stuff. Contained in those pages are all the mysteries of life recorded so simply. But it was on page 60 where I found the message for me in the book. It says 'Think you that God cannot laugh? Do you imagine that God does not enjoy a good joke? Is it your knowing that God is without humour? I tell you, God invented humour. Must you speak in hushed tones when you speak to Me?. It goes on some more like this but the message to me in these lines was clear. Being irreverent is not displeasing to God. I find sometimes when I am reading that lines or words if they have a special message will resonate loudly in my mind when I read them. I will also remember these words. This takes some awareness to pick out from everything that is written words that act as catalysts for our own journey.

The fact that I don't have a teacher or guru means that I am particularly alert and watchful for messages that come for me from the universe. The three main drivers for me on this path are my inner voice, people and books. I don't have a teacher because many years I was involved with what I now would say was a sect. It was a branch of Buddhism which was said to have originated in Japan called Mushindokai. I joined this firstly for Yoga and Kempo which is Chinese kick boxing and then for Buddhism. I knew who the head of the organisation was but I had never met him. One day I was invited to a party where he was going to be. I agreed to go. From the moment I was introduced to him there was something that didn't feel right. To me he was so belittling to the people who sat at his feet. If anyone challenged him he cut them right down. I was confused. This man was head of a Buddhist organisation where was his qualities of wisdom and compassion. To me all he had was a sterile intellect which I wouldn't even call wisdom.

I understand that the job of a teacher or guru is to go head to head with the ego personality and I accept this. But to me it seemed to be a making small and belittling of his students who to me were the most dedicated and conscientious group of people I had ever met. I felt uncomfortable feeling this towards the head of this organisation. It didn't matter how many times we met after that my feelings never changed. I was with this organisation for all of the time I was involved with Mahayana Buddhism which was nine years. During those nine years I left three times. I also began to voice my concern at the lack of Buddhist qualities being shown by this man. This led to me being attacked verbally by the students. The fault being attributed to my over-extended ego.

Eventually I couldn't stand the tension anymore and I left permanently. I heard later that the the organisation had folded due to certain allegations being made against its head. I felt so deeply for those students who had invested so much trust in him and I vowed that I would not have a teacher or guru. I have the answers within me all I need is the access to get them. This thinking has stayed with me. I recognise that there are people who have more wisdom than me and I will go to their lectures. I will listen carefully and humbly but then I will go within and see whether what I have heard fits with either my own experience or backs up what has been written about through the ages. This is way I have progressed on this path.......


Anonymous said...

Hi Margaret,
well done for spotting the nature of the beast long before many of the more 'conscientious' did. You weren't wrong to leave...
The group folded in January 1999 when six of us orchestrated a mass exodus of the last remaining members of the four Mushindokai groups. The sexual/abuse / harrassment issues had in fact been going on for years (since at least 1972 as far as we later found out); it was his way of belittling the women who ventured to 'Kongoryuji Temple' in search of meaning and inspiration. With all the membership gone, the groups could not continue - and neither could Dukes. In 2000, it is with no little irony [Mu-shin-do: the path with an empty heart....] that he suffered congestive heart failure, eventually dying from this in late 2005.
Christopher Jones

Margaret Dempsey said...

Wow, isn't it a small world when it comes to the internet. I remember the many hours we spent studying cheirology with you in Hammersmith. Your dedication and conscientiousness towards the subject was inspiring.

If I had the choice again I would still have joined Mushindokai, not for Terry Dukes but for everything I learned from you,and everyone else. When I heard about how it had folded I was sad for those who had given so many years of their lives being committed to him. But I would never ever think that this was time wasted.

I know that it is as a direct result of everything I learned when I was part of Mushindokai that I am able to write the kind of things that I was writing in this blog.

I don't know what you are doing now because I have lost touch with everyone. I can only hope that you are still active in your search for truth and I wish you every success in that pursuit.

Thanks so much responding to this blog entry.

All the best


Bill Rowles said...

I have just picked this up in my searches for an internet obituary.
Also, it was pointed out that there is a "new" website for Mushindokai, and even more extraordinary, a stupa has apparently been erected to the memory of this enigmatic charlatan.

There are many "survivors" out there, making incredible contributions to the planet.

What, however, is really incredible, is the persistence of ignorance. I mean those who seek to perpetuate the fantasy. I wish those in particular an early disillusionment.

Bill Rowles

Margaret Dempsey said...

Hello Bill

Thank you very much for taking the time and effort to post a comment. I wish I could say that I understood what you have written but the truth is that I don't.

I could ask some more questions and dig a little deeper but to do so would not serve any useful purpose in my opinion.

Thank you

Spectre said...

Margaret, you don't know me but, I too have spent many years in Mushindokai learning Martial Arts. Unlike you, I never met Terry Dukes but, I do know his successor. Yes, Shifu Dukes did appoint a successor before he died.
I think you'd really like his successor if you were to meet him. Shifu Arakawa is unusual in many ways and, I would encourage you to call him or write him an email sometime.
He sort of adopted several of his students and named us. My name is
Shinshi. If I can help you, please feel free to email me. --- Shinshi

Margaret Dempsey said...

Hello Shinshi

Thank you very much for your comment. I would welcome the opportunity to speak to Shifu Arakawa. I still distrust teachers/gurus and it is impacting on my spiritual life so having contact with him as being the successor of Terry Dukes may bring closure for me.

My email to contact me is Please will you forward me Shifu Arakawa's contact details or pass on my email details to him.

Thank you again for taking the time to comment on this site. I don't blog here anymore. My new website is

All the best