Friday 8 June 2012

Vesak, Moving Office and Cloudy Skies

Welcome back to normal at Autism Works after the circus of the bunting and red, blue and white over the long weekend! It would be unfortunate for some, but fortunately for me, I managed to avoid the majority of the Jubilee celebrations by stepping back from the flow at Harnham Buddhist Monastery in Northumberland, where I have been participating in Vesak, celebrating the birth, enlightenment and passing into Nirvana of the Buddha.

During Vesak, Ajahn Munindo, Senior Abbot at Harnham gave a series of Dhamma talks after periods of meditation. most interestingly, he gave one on literal interpretation of the Buddhist scriptures. As a person with Asperger's Syndrome, literal interpretation of written word is a topic of interest to me. Literal interpretation of metaphors by people with Asperger's Syndrome can sometimes be comical, but where it can also be problematic is when it collides with an Asperger aspect that is considered a strength - rules orientation. What is often difficult for a person with Asperger's Syndrome understand though is the context in which such texts or rules are written. Ajahn Munindo also said that when reading the scriptures, it helps for one to detach from the written words of the scriptures, so that you don't become 'conditioned' by them.

The Jubilee celebration wasn't the only thing that I missed this week, as due to weather conditions, along with many others who had woken up early, was the Transit of Venus. Cloud cover obscured the event, which won't be seen again until the year 2117. Though it was a disappointment not to see the black disc of Venus cross the Sun, the clouds and rain didn't stop the happy and joyful atmosphere within a group of members of Sunderland Astronomical Society at Roker Beach who had brought flasks of hot drinks and containers of food. That we won't see the Transit of Venus again until 2117 shows us just how insignificant human lifetimes are within the broader context, especially in the context of astronomical events. As Ajahn Munindo also said during my monastic stay, no being that has ever lived is immortal, for nothing is fixed or permanent.

Having been a short week at Autism Works, other than finally having broadband installed in our new office and a process of shifting furniture, computers and cables downstairs, there really hasn't been too much to report. I can happily say though that we have a little more space in our new office, including an extra room, which Peter is especially thrilled with! However, I have a very busy two weeks coming up with four speaking engagements including at the Autism Show at London Excel, before heading to the North West to speak at the Cheshire Branch of the National Autistic Society. In between all this though, I will be watching Euro 2012, which kicks off today with co-hosts Poland facing surprise 2004 champions Greece, and will also see Bruce Spirngsteen at the Stadium Light as well as continuing my training for the Bupa Great North Run. I have my fist 5km Park Run  in Sunderland this weekend. To find out more about my challenge, visit my sponsorship page at

To see how this all unfolds, stay tuned to Adventures with Autism Works.

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