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It's probably obvious from my lack of writing that I've not been that well a bunny over the darkest part of the winter. My routines didn't quite fall apart, but, by the time evening rolled around, I was always far too tired to write anything beyond the occasional quick comment to a post. Anything requiring deep thought was out.

I've finished my Making Sense of the Arts course, that's all been handed in and is done with forever. I am so very pleased. It's not that I didn't enjoy the work, but I found doing a course with deadlines quite stressful. So, naturally, I want to do another course. I took some days off but already I am back to my morning routine of getting breakfast and sitting down with some books. Currently, it's hieroglyphs. Because I like hieroglyphs and I've been studying from this same book for ten years now and would like to actually one day finish the thing.

On Saturday, Random took me to Oswaldtwistle Mills, where they sell fabric remnants and clogs, cushion covers and fabric, duvet covers and beer, carpet and meerkat statuettes. There is also, close by, a carpet showroom which smells (so I'm told) like the palm house at Kew, and a papercraft shop which has a man-crèche with (so I'm told) good coffee and Sky Sports. It's only Tuesday, and already I am pretty much recovered from the visit.
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So, I am doing a ten point OU course on the arts.

Part two is about Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of Aung San, who led the anti-British movement towards Burmese independence. Aung San Suu Kyi is an activist from the country currently known as Myanmar. (Burma and Rangoon are referred to as Burma and Rangoon throughout the course material. The names used by the current administration are Myanmar and Yangon. Deciding which terms to use is a political statement in itself.)
Aung San Suu Kyi moved to the UK to study, married a white Brit and had children there then came back to Myanmar/Burma to head a pro-democracy party. She's been under house arrest and had her movements curtailed for a long time.

Much of the material at the start of this section is interviews and parts of a documentary by John Pilger, a British journalist.

One question during the course asks if Buddhism has informed her political views regarding the role of violence or non-violence in resisting authority. We are pointed to the first five verses of _The Dhammapada_, a Buddhist text (I've chosen the online translation which is closest to the one we are given in the course). The particular translation we are shown is the one that is published as a Penguin Classic, and is by Juan (Joan) Mascaro, a Spanish man who spent a while as VP of a Sri Lankan university then came to Cambridge University and where he wrote his translation of _The Dhammapada_ from Pali to English. Mascaro's original interest in texts stems from his interest in occultism.

We're shown these five verses and told that they preach non-violence, and they are Buddhist thought, and Aung San Suu Kyi is a Buddhist and therefore thinks this way and thus preaches non-violence.

So we've got an English-educated activist, seen through the eyes of a British journalist, and whose religion is being judged by popular UK-published English translation by a Spanish occultist. I can't help but feel that the Burmese point of view is missing - but then Aung San Suu Kyi *is* Burmese, so I am discounting her just for going to Oxford University and living in England for two decades. I think it's the choice of translation of the Dhammapada verses, and the focus on John Pilger that make things feel 'off'.

So, does anyone know more about Aung San Suu Kyi and/or Buddhism who might be able to help me untangle all of this? It's *not* helping me do my homework: examining the lens that Aung San Suu Kyi is being viewed through would almost certainly cause me to fail that part of the course. My job for the course is to ingest, digest and tidily regurgitate the John Pilger point of view.
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I get a comb-bound copy of my main textbook from the Open University. It allows me to read while lying down without getting tired arms, and it lets me drop it and not lose the page. It is nifty. (I get a normal copy of the text book with all my other study materials, as well).

It has Activities in it, usually 15 minutes, give or take, or as much time as I have 'guaranteed' study time each morning. There are 89 of these. They are not marked, but they do look useful. If I do four of them every week, that takes me into March - it does let me keep studying hieroglyphs, equality studies, religious studies and my project, just more slowly than before. Or I could drop *everything* and just do Y160 exclusively and end up with extra weeks to actually write my TMAs. But I don't want to. I especially don't want to give up studying Norse mythology on the day that is holy to my Goddess, even if such putting aside of one day per week is a bit Judeo-Christian.

So, I was flailing a bit, until Random sat me down and went over a 10 point course she's successfully completed already, with the TMAs and the Activities, and discussed what *actually* happened when she studied them. Her advice was really good. Most of it was that if an Activity is a struggle, ignore it and concentrate on the TMA that actually gets marked.

She also said it was normal to have three schedules, one of which was the 'ideal' one of what you think you should do and one is what actually happens. I forget what the third was.

She gave me a journal book to write in, which saves me having to get one. It will be *festooned* with stickers. I could be very twee and add one every time I do some work on the course.

It does feel as though doing the 10 pointer is very necessary preparation for my doing a 60-pointer. I looked at her 60 pointer and I would have been completely overwhelmed if I had gone into it cold. My approach to my A-levels was to read *everything* and then put off writing anything down outside of class until, if possible, the day of the exam. For my NVQ, I worked flat out at college then ignored all the work completely until the evening before college. I can't work like that now. I have to do a small amount of work every day and schedule it, because most of the rest of the time I am a Gumby and my brain hurts. The 10-pointer is doing its job of letting me test the waters and learn how to keep afloat.


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May 2014

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