The Cherry Blossom Blooms….

Cherry Blossom blooming.
Cherry Blossom blooming.

The kind woman who made it possible for me to stay on Cortes Island left some twigs of Cherry Blossom in a vase. She said, ‘I hope they bloom by the time you leave’. They have as you can see. And the sun shafts in the windows of the house by the beach while I pack to return to Victoria via Gabriola Island.

Rev. Alicia is on the move too. 24 years ago she came to Throssel to be a monk. I admire the Reverends up-beat optimism conveyed in this post. I’m glad you became a monk and glad to be part of your journeying onwards.

Good fortune to all on this lovely day as I look out on Desolation Sound. So named by a George Vancouver. Reflecting on his sailing through these waters, “there was not a single prospect that was pleasing to the eye”. One sea sick sailor I’ll be bound! Just shows you how the body influences ones outlook on life don’t it! Oh and how the condition of ones body can impact ones outlook too. So easy to miss in the rush to go places and do stuff.

Old Growth – Memory, Like a Movie!

My start point was at the top left hand corner of the map seen below.  

Thanks to Ourcortes.com and all the folks who maintain the trails.
Thanks to Ourcortes.com and all the folks who maintain the trails.

Phew! I am so glad to look at the map of the trails I walked late last afternoon. It would have been kinda handy to have had it in my hand at the time! From my understanding, and befuddled mind, I must have walked all around the edge of the map! It was over two, and nearer to three, hours I was on my feet deep in the magical mossy old growth forest. It was getting dark by the time I completed the walk and I was definitely getting anxious considering I didn’t know where I was, or how much trail lay between me and where I’d parked the car! Somehow all turned out well and I had one of the most memorable walks. Ever.
Gunflint Lake and Hague Lake
I think I took the Swim Rocks trail. It was a choice between that and this way…!
Cortes Hike
Yes a walk which is linked to an adventure back in 1967. I came to Cortes with two friends by water taxi, stayed a night with their acquaintances, swam in Gunflint Lake and then flew back to Campbell River on Vancouver Island the next day by sea plane (or float plane as they are called). The whole experience left a deep impression and almost by chance I find myself here again AND yesterday I walked in the forested-edge of Gunflint Lake! Forty + years later.

I have had the time and the mental space to reflect on the intervening years. Nothing and everything has changed. How so? Time, and space, have a way of twisting and curling and evaporating and reemerging which defies the ordinary mind and its capacity to understand. I’ll say no more!

With much gratitude to those who have facilitated this trip including those who have donated CAD (Canadian Dollars). Rain and sun, mist and blue sky – all magical. And memorable – in the way a movie is memorable when it touches ones heart. Thank you to those near and far for making this trip possible.

Join Me Here

Desolation Sound morning
From the bottom of the garden of the house where I am currently staying. Early morning mist clearing. Then later in the afternoon at a massive 200 ft above sea level.

View from Sally Rock.
View from Sally Rock.

I’m so very fortunate to have five nights in a cabin on Cortes Island offered me where the sun is shining out of a clear blue sky and a sighting of Dolphins said to be a sign of good luck! It took me around six hours by road and two ferries from Victoria to reach the island and by the time I got here I really felt like I was on an adventure.

Over the desk where I am typing is the following quote:

Out beyond the
idea of
wrong doing
and right doing
there is a field
I’ll meet you There

Rumi
Please join me, at least in your imagination, in this magical place.

These past couple of weeks I’ve been with the Vancouver Island Zen Sangha and visiting Rev. Master Meiten who is rehabilitating from a fall. All good thoughts for the sangha and for Rev. Master Meiten.

Words In Repose

Words sing from my heart
Unformed.
Like air in the feathers
of a bird in flight.

What Joy!

Words can land
Take form.
You said where there’s wind
there’s ‘hot air’.

Hum, what’s that mean?

The bird folds
her airy wings?
Hot air condenses
Onto the cool page?

Ah! Rest, repose.

Anyhow
This is a start
standing in the kitchen
making marks.

Need, lunch.

This is for Gerry with unbounded gratitude for your writing encouragement. Yes. OK. You said I have an ‘ear’ for words, I bow to your long life experience. I heard you, every word. And saw your smile too. Thank you. No ‘landing’ is every happy (for long), just presents new challenges. Good fortune.

A Place To Sit

[The following article first appeared in the Spring 1992 (volume 19, number 1) issue of The Journal of Throssel Hole Priory. Used with permission.—ED.]

21st February, 2015. Now I’m republishing this post again. My thoughts of gratitude to all those who have hosted me in Victoria, B.C. Canada these past two weeks.

The place in which we truly sit
Is within our own body and mind.
Since body and mind embrace the Universe,
Nowhere can this place be found.

When we approach our sitting-place we do so as we would the altar, with great reverence and respect. We bow to it, turn, and bow to the room. This bowing can merely become a form, the meaning lost in yet another point of etiquette—at first to try and remember and later, after much repetition, to forget. Entering the meditation hall at Throssel Hole Priory while there on a visit, I found my usual sitting-place occupied; and in addition, through an oversight, a alternate place had not been allocated for me. When the indignation (I regret to say) had died down, I began to view my sitting-place in a new light: namely, that it is not there as of ‘right’ and not to be taken for granted. It is offered and received with gratitude in the place where giving and receiving come together.

Immediately after a monk is ordained, there follows a Meditation Hall Entry Ceremony. The new monk is welcomed by the community into the hall and shown to his or her seat where three bows are made. Welcoming a new person to the group or priory, showing them where they can sit, how to bow to that place and how to regard it, is less formal and yet is essentially the same in spirit to the above monastic ceremony. It is welcoming a being into the embrace of the Eternal where, together, we come to realize the Truth of this embrace. This sitting place is offered to those who agree—albeit tacitly—to keep the Buddhist Precepts. The identity of training and enlightenment is very clear here. In order to be Buddha, we do our very best to act like a Buddha. It is false to imagine it can be otherwise. Everyday life and meditation (training and enlightenment) are not separate, they are identical when the Precepts are taken to heart and lived. Great Master Dogen states in Rules for Meditation, ‘…pure meditation must be done’1—the longing to do this takes expression in the incredible pains some people are prepared to go to in order to get to a meditation group meeting each week or to attend regularly at a priory, monastery or temple of the Order. Here, at least, there is a place and the time to sit still in meditation along with other like-minded people. The function performed by both temples and meditation groups in offering a place to sit with other trainees is, perhaps, their prime and most immediately valuable one.

One lay trainee told me of her struggle to find a place to sit while living in temporary accommodation. So much did she long to sit in formal meditation that on one occasion, having cleaned the room thoroughly, she set up her portable altar in the bathroom, offered incense, and meditated there. Often I hear accounts of how people skilfully weave in a few minutes of meditation whenever they can—for example, before the children awake, or sitting for a moment or two on a park bench at lunchtime. So often group members become over concerned about the numbers of people who attend the meditation group. If there has to be a measure, it is the willingness to welcome openly all who wish to meditate and train in the Buddha’s Way: to offer them a place to sit.

When bowing to our place
Gratitude knows no bound.
The longing to be as Buddha strengthens
And our True Place is found.

Notes
1. Rev. Master P.T.N.H. Jiyu-Kennett, The Liturgy of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives for the Laity, 2nd ed. rev. (Mt. Shasta, California: Shasta Abbey Press, 1990), p. 99. Also Rev. Master P.T.N.H. Jiyu-Kennett, The Monastic Office, (Mt. Shasta, California: Shasta Abbey Press, 1993), p. 77.

Practice Within The Order of Buddhist Contemplatives