My children, Floor and I have been at Eleusis for a week visiting Dharmavidya. He had had another attack of new embolisms in his lungs a few weeks ago, and had gone to see a specialist at the hospital who then kept him in the hospital for just under a week and was back home the day before we arrived.

When we arrived, he told us of another serious blockage problem. He lives in the countryside, quite remote, and is on a septic tank system. He asked Floor to get in touch with his Buddhist neighbours, Patrick who is a builder, and Annette who speaks English fluently so that she can translate. We had no idea what the problem was, and just assumed that the pipes were completely blocked. This is not the first time that we have had problems with the sceptic tank and were already accustomed to putting toilet paper in a bin rather than flushing it down the toilet from previous visits, however, this time was worse. You could see that the water was bubbling back and that nothing was draining away properly, so similar to the clots in his lungs, we were being redirected away from the blockage if nature happened to call. Nothing like visiting your teacher to give you a lesson on the earthy nature of existence.

Blockages or obstacles are disruptive. They can upset our normal habit patterns and make us see what we have taken for granted. As human beings, we are remarkable because we can chug along slowly with a bit of blockage, ignoring the fact that something is wrong until it is actually broken and needs attention. 

The first time Dharmavidya collapsed, roughly 3 years ago, was a shock, but after a year of blood thinners, not travelling and working around the grounds of Eleusis he recovered back to better health than he had had in a while. One learns one’s limitations and at the same time we learn how resilient we are too. So, when the symptoms came back he knew to get it checked out and because of not wasting time the doctors found news small ones that could be treated with blood thinners. As for the septic tank, Patrick came over and dug away all the top soil until all the pipes were uncovered and that was when we could see that Dharmavidya was in better health than the first time because he was in there with Patrick digging away, not to mention that the pipes that we all assumed were blocked were actually broken and had come away from the tank completely. No wonder the flowers and the strawberries over the tank were so healthy.

It took Patrick two days in total to remove the old pipes and replace them with new ones and now everything is working properly. Mary Midgley, the great philosopher, said that philosophy is like the plumbing in your house. We don’t know that we have one until it stops working. And when it stops working we have to do something about it, sometimes a complete renovation is required and sometimes just tweaking the system will do. 

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Akshobhya Buddha by R. Althouse

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