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The Birmingham Post: Reflections.

When I was young I searched for answers to nagging questions like 'why are we here?', 'what's it all about?'.

The answers I got from my elders made no sense to me.

Then at 14 I was whisked off into the hurly-burly of work and had a lot more to think about.

My first job was in an aircraft factory and then for a while I was an assistant zoo keeper.

Where I ended up was in a Dickensian jewellery workshop, ordered about by gaffers with distinctly Victorian ideas.

To supplement my income of pounds 2.10 a week I learned to play the drums.

Regular sessions in jazz or dance bands round the smoky, boozy halls were hardly conducive to the pursuit of spiritual answers, though the same questions still arose.

Many years went by and then I had the good fortune to come across a Buddhist monk in the city.

The answer that he gave to my problems was amazing. Would knowing all that really make me happy, he wanted to know, or would I settle for what would bring me peace of mind instead?

So here I am in old age, grateful for my experience of the more earthy side of life.

It has given me the ability to maintain a sense of humour and to be at ease with the human condition without getting religiously po-faced about it.

But it's thanks to you that I know this, Dr Rewata Dhamma, and to you too, Dr Jazz!

Bill Strongman is a meditation instructor at Birmingham Buddhist Vihara and lovingly tends his garden in Great Barr. Tomorrow, the newly opened Dr Rewata Dhamma Hall has its religious dedication in the grounds of the Dhammatalaka Pagoda in Ladywood.
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Title Annotation:Leaders
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 28, 2007
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