I grew up in the east end of London, where my parents owned a pie and mash shop (a delicacy of the working classes in the 1950s!) on the Isle of Dogs, and when I was a teenager, we moved to the coast of Kent. I worked as a graphic designer in London, before going freelance for a few years.
Fencing was my love: I took to it like a duck to water, and for the first time, realised that there is more to the mind then I had previously realised: I found that I could read someone else’s intentions, and that was the beginning of my spiritual journey. Within a couple of years, I was employed teaching fencing in Israel.
Following the breakdown of my first marriage, in 1978 I made the decision to pursue my interest in fine art, and went to Florence, Italy in order to practise painting, and it was there that I met my second wife (we’ve just had our 34th anniversary, and it gets better every day!). I’ve been painting ever since, and in 2001, we were fortunate enough to be able to spent a year studying classical drawing and painting at the Florence Academy of Art.
I’m one of those people for whom, from an early age, “life” never felt quite right. As a result, I began to investigate spiritual teachings, and spent 9 years as a student at the School of Economic Science, with its teachings that are based on the Advaita Vedanta. Following this, I practised Bhakti yoga with an Indian guru for 5 years, until becoming interested in Tibetan Buddhism 30 years ago. Initially, I studied with two lamas in the Karma Kagyu school, before finding that the Nyingma tradition, with its Dzogchen teachings where the student is directly introduced to the nature of mind, suited me perfectly.
I’ve spent most of my life in heartache – angry and frustrated – and that was the trigger for discovering the cause of this suffering. My inability to “fit in” has resulted in my being kicked out of several spiritual groups, so I can empathise with anyone who struggles to conform. I’m not well educated, and a couple of years ago, my teacher pointedly mentioned that there are people with insight who cannot express themselves: a couple of years ago, I discovered a skill that I never knew I had (my guess is that this is connected with devotional practices, which I actually found difficult to come to terms with).
Although what I write about may seem serious and heavy, I spend my life singing silly songs and joking around…strange, that! You don’t have to act “spiritual” – just be ordinary….
If you’d like to say “Hello” I am Tony Barrs Buddhainthemud@hotmail.com