My great awakening!

 This day 8 years ago was when it all changed for me. This was my great awakening. 

Somehow I find myself rowing this Viking boat down the Shannon Erne waterways in County Cavan Ireland pissed out of my mind and the rain was pelting down that heavy it was bouncing on the water, I was absolutely drenched and my beer had just ran out, I threw my last bottle overboard and said to the other Vikings I'm getting off!

They were all like, "you cant get off here"

but something made me run and jump that day at probably the lowest point in my life.

I was 35 years old and had just lived a roller-coaster life in the underworld and business world, you name it I've sold it.

I grew up in a Loyalist housing estate in Belfast, my father a Protestant and my mother was a Catholic from Ardyone, that had big complications here in Northern Ireland but I always knew I was a mongrel, a bit different!

My dad was a delboy ( a buyer and seller of everything and anything) and from I could walk he had me a mini Delboy, from selling round the doors to off loading lorry loads of bootlegged cigs and booze straight in from Andorra, he had me street trading and playing part in his delboy tricks to help him sell his dodgy goods!

I learned fast how to make money and school for me was my business, I had more money than the teachers, my dad would have stocked my bag up at lunchtimes for me with more of his dodgy goods, perfume, tobacco, clothing, all sorts I had in my bag, even sold some of my goods to the teachers!

When I left school I was financially embarrassed for a small time, 1000 pupils to me was 1000 people with a pound in their pockets, people were pounds to me!

My wee mum God rest her didnt want me ending up like my dad so I then became a chef for 1 year to keep my wee mum happy but I made more money selling my dads dodgy goods out the back door!

I left and went on my journey to get rich!

From then I had chippies, mobile pound shops (great deals on wheels) glow sticks at raves, king Billy kebabs cooked by Pakistani prods on the twelfth, even put red, white and blue food colouring stripes on them, markets, carboots, house clearance, cash for gold, furniture shops, mattress manufacturing, importing and lots of other stuff, I had my finger in so many pies and that's not to mention my underworld activites that I'm not about to mention on here! 

I was rich by the time I was 21 and when I was 25 I had more money than I could ever spend in a lifetime!

From 25 till about 35 life was a blur, more money bought me more problems, more addictions and more people around me just for my money!

I got fat, unhealthy, angry, unhappy, I was a lost mess!

I then hit rock bottom and lost the lot!

I went from riches to rags and was on a massive downward spiral when suddenly found myself on this Viking boat dressed like a Viking with my big Glaswegian pal who I call now the fat Buddha!

For some reason this big man has been with me all through the madness of the underworld and some how finds himself with me dressed as a Viking rowing down through sleepy Ireland not knowing where we're going or what we're really doing, we were both pissed. 

Both of us were not supposed row that day, we had rowed for 10 hours the day before and we were meant to have a day off and we hit the bar to play pool and have some pints, we always played pool so serious together, my big pal plays so slow which wears me down as I'm a very fast player, he does this on purpose you see trying to wind me up, often his cunning tactics works and on many occasions the pool tables have been over turned by me in temper and cues javelled at people!

That was me, a hot headed short tempered maniac at times. 

But we are sitting in the bar in Ballyconnel playing away and the drinks are going down nicely and one of the viking dudes comes in and says can we row for the day, I said no way man, this is our day off and we're half pissed, he promised that we only had to row till the next jetty and other rowers would be there to take over and we could bring beer on the boat with us, we said ok and got back in our viking suits and rowed the boat again with our hands blistered from the day before.

About 10 jetties had passed and still we didnt stop or see any other rowers to take our place, so I thought f**k this im out of here, I had just finished my last beer and run and jumped into marsh land, I seen a house at the top of the hill and headed straight for it soaked right through to my skin.

My Big Pal said after that all the cows were following me up to the house. 

I knocked on the door and 2 lovely young girls answered and I said can you get me a taxi please to Ballinamore, this was the next town the vikings were stopping at and I had a hotel booked there and all I was thinking off was a hot bath.

The 2 young girls brought me in and one said my god we just seen you jump off a Viking boat and crawling out of the swamp, dont think they seen anything like it before. 

I got out of my wet  clothes and they give me a towel and they dried my clothes for me and gave me a hot whiskey, not like I needed anymore alcohol but it went down a treat at that moment.

They rang their uncle and he came and give me a lift, when he came into the house he asked me was I Buddhist? I started to laugh saying a drunken Buddhist who just jumped off a viking boat, strange thing to say!

He then said there was a Buddhist monastery down the road and thought maybe I got lost. 

I remember thinking what a strange thing to say but something stuck in my head about this Buddhist place, I wanted to go!

The uncle gave me a lift to Ballinamore and I went to my hotel to get a nice warm bath and the Buddhist place was not leaving my mind, I went down to the bar after my bath and waited on my Big pal rowing into town.

He came and met me and we had more alcohol but I was saying to him im going here to ask the Buddhist monks can I stay with them, not sure what he made of this but he always knew things were never very straight forward with me.

I asked the bar man to call me a taxi for Jampa Ling which I managed to find out that thats what you called the place. 

As we were sitting outside waiting on the taxi the strangest thing happened to me, this American nun comes walking down the street and stops and says to me that I have the most beautiful teeth, I said thank you and then she asked what was I doing in Ballinamore? 

I told her I had just rowed a boat here and now I'm off to Jampa Ling. 

Well she went into one about the Buddha, telling me about how much of a bad parent the Buddha was and all sorts of other criticisms on his teachings and what do I want to go to that place for, its not a good place at all she was saying.

I was a bit taken back to be honest but looking back now she was one of Mara the Tempters little messengers trying to put me off going to this place, luckily I ignored all that she said. 

Mara is the demon in Buddhism that does everything in his power to delude you, keeping you under his control. Society and our way of life is Maras web. 

My taxi then arrived and it was one of them really old Russian Lada cars with no head rests in it, these types of sleepy towns dont do taxis so this dude was probably the only one around. 

I got into the taxi and I said take me to Jampa Ling please.

All I seen was a massive mop of hair from behind that looked like it had never been washed, it was like the Jackson five hair doo but ten times bigger and then he looks round at me and you could have fitted a pound coin between the gaps in his teeth and all he said in this really rough and loud accent was "Jampa Ling"....!!!!

I thought I had just got into the grim reapers car or something and after bumping into the crazy American nun who seemed to know alot about Buddhism it was a kind of an eerie experience for me.

We drove deep into the country side, County Cavan is probably one of the most rural parts of Ireland and off we went up all sorts of dirt roads with the Jackson fives grandad not saying a word the whole time. 

We then turn into the entrance of Jampa Ling and I seen the sign saying Tibetan Buddhist centre, we drove up a very windy driveway into it and as soon as I pulled up there was a monk standing with a smile on his face like he was waiting on me. I got out and said I need to stay with you guys, can I stay with yous, he said no problem at all, we have a room just for you. 

He put me in a room and there was this wall hanging cloth type thing on the wall with a picture of the Dalai Lama on it and it reads, 

“We have bigger houses but smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; We have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicines, but less healthiness; We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. We’ve built more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communications; We have become long on quantity, but short on quality.

These are times of fast foods; but slow digestion; 

Tall man but short character; Steep profits but shallow relationships. It is time when there is much in the window, but nothing in the room.”

I remember reading this and my life like flashed before, but I felt at home or something in this place, I was at peace for the first time. 

I was thinking where the f**k am I, what is going on!!

I stayed with the monks for 3 days and I could hardly speak the whole time, I was in a state of shock and awe.

I felt a deep deep calling for something, I knew this wasn't just some coincidence and so the makings of the new me were put into motion - The Phantom Planter was born!

Hope you enjoyed guys and if you did plese plant a tree. 


Peace and love...


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