Life Personal

Letting Go

Tanzan and Ekido were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling. Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the road lest the mud ruin her clothes.

“Come on, girl” said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud and put her down safely on the other side. The monks then continued on their way.

Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he could no longer restrain himself. “We monks don’t go near females,” he told Tanzan, “especially not young and attractive ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?”

“I put the girl down back there,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?”

— traditional Zen koan

The past year for me has been about letting go of attachments. It’s not until you do this that you realise how many there are. People, places, objects, knowledge, experiences, expectations, the past, the future. Fortunately they are all manifestations of the same underlying pathology – the ego-mind. One technique is helping me overcome them all, and it’s very simple. It just needs practice. And the ego finds all sorts of reasons to avoid practicing.

The big one I’m wedged at presently is the past. I am no longer traumatized by “bad” past events. But the above koan makes an important point – it can be just as dangerous to dwell on pleasant past experiences as unpleasant ones. There is no difference; you are still not present, and scratching around in your memories for a reason to feel good Now produces only a fading echo of positive emotion that soon gives way to blues because you are no longer in that situation. It also allows the ego to continue investing situations with the power to “make you feel good” or “make you feel bad”; if situations have that power, You don’t.

It’s only quite recently that I discovered I had the choice to feel good (or bad) irrespective of my situation. Having realised that, you may think, it’s easy to choose to feel good. Oh no. The ego intervenes. It throws a tantrum. It does everything in its power to stop that choice being made. At times it can be tough to remember that I have more power than it.

It was easier being a Christian. You don’t need to be powerful, in fact the more weak and feeble you are, the better, the more you need God to come and save you from Satan. You are absolved from any responsibility for your own life. And God is more powerful than Satan, so will win the war in the end, even if he seems to be losing most of the battles. It’s all part of the plan.

Without that safety net, you need to find your own source of power. I had to go through some dark, dark times to realise just how much I needed a light. And then my wife walked away to show me that no-one, nothing outside of myself, could be depended on. I and I alone had to find my power, and in so doing, become whole. This is my quest.

Eco FamilyLife Mammon/Babylon UK

Credit Unions can offer CTFs

Thanks to a bit of synchronicity I just found this statement from the Inland Revenue:

The present regulations were laid on 24 March [2005]. These make changes to the CTF regulations to allow credit unions to offer their cash deposit accounts for the CTF.

I think this is good news and could well be the best place to put those pesky government cheques — get them invested in your local community. Sure, cash deposit is low return, but also low risk. Doesn’t seem to have been much publicity about this, perhaps unsurprisingly. Well, you know now. Spread the word!

FamilyLife Mammon/Babylon UK

Are Child Trust Fund accounts the best investment?

Having read through some information sent to me by The Childrens Mutual, and done some more digging, it looks to me like non-stakeholder CTF accounts (which are the only option for those wanting a truly ethical/eco investment), seem to offer very poor value for money — and even stakeholder accounts aren’t that great. If you intend to put aside a regular monthly payment for your children, you might be best to put it somewhere other than a CTF account.

Eco FamilyLife Mammon/Babylon UK

Ethical and Ecological Investments for the Child Trust Fund

So, your youngster(s) have just got their cheque for £250 from that nice Mr Brown. Now, what to do with it?

Many people will want to put their child’s trust fund into ethical and environmentally sustainable investments. After all, there’s not a great deal of point in them having a pot of money in 18 years time if the planet has gone to hell by then. You want to invest in their future, right?

Unfortunately, the vast majority of CTF accounts do not assess any criteria of ethical, ecological or social responsibility. And, depressingly, most people probably won’t realise that their CTF is being invested in arms, tobacco, environmental destruction and oppression.

So… where are all the CTF funds to cater for our requirements?