Oscar – therapy cat. Video

An elderly woman died
this very morning.
A cat curled up
beside her feet.
The cat


And there is a now famous cat called Oscar who lives on a dementia floor in a facility on the East Coast of America. He too curls up beside patients close to death.

The book, Making Rounds With Oscar provides a window on all those; family members, care staff, doctors and the patients touched by the devastating impact of dementia. I found myself educated on the subject while being enthralled and charmed by this remarkable cat.

With thoughts for family, friends and strangers who are supporting and caring for the elderly and infirm. And for all that is involved when somebody dies.

Slow Walking The Way

Yes. God’s Hotel by Dr. Victoria Sweet has been a constant companion these last days. I’ve chosen the following quote from a book review in the Huffington Post because the pilgrimage described is close to my heart. Not so much the actual one mentioned here more my attraction to the wisdom of walking. Of taking a walk or journey for a spiritual purpose rather than a journey to get somewhere in particular.

These past five months in North America while not involving a lot of physical walking have been in a sense a pilgrimage. A personal spiritual journey. Where the path has lead, the events and very much including the sudden death of my Dharma brother Rev. Alexis,  continues to unfold with no end in sight. Although my flight back to the UK is booked for early March.

There is an ancient pilgrimage, 1,600 kilometers to walk, from south central France to the frontier of Spain and then due west to Compostella. In France, the path is called le chemin and the route the Saint Jacques de Compostelle Pilgrimage. In Spain, it is el camino and known as the Santiago de Compostella Pilgrimage. But the term that pilgrims for a thousand years have used is The Way. It is a journey of body and soul, a means of seeing, feeling and being that a person unleashes from within: This is a spiritual force, non-sectarian and universal, and a means of finding the purpose and human connection that are as essential to a life well lived as they are hard to achieve (Journey for Body and Soul).

God’s Hotel opens a window on the evolution of our health services and the evolving of the approach to health care. The most engaging aspect of the book is looking in on the very personal account of the evolution of one doctors growth and insight into her profession. From the traditional ‘professional’ doctor/patient relationship to one less starchy, rule bound and pressed for time. Professionalism is not compromised.

Enjoy The Journey

Driving out of Portland the city at dawn was magical. Then crossing the Columbia River on the road bridge, the water on fire with the rising sun, Mount St Helens waking up in the eastern horizon. On returning nine hours later after attending a funeral I saw only traffic! Driving focused on reaching the temple at a prearranged time I missed the journey. Even missing the yellow light signalling the car was close to running out of petrol! Then relaxing with a cup of tea this quote, attached to a tea bag.

Sometimes in life we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to enjoy the journey.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Appreciating The Impact of Words


Words cannot express things;
Speech does not convey the spirit.
Swayed by words, one is lost;
Blocked by phrases, one is bewildered.

Mumon’s Verse for Chao-chou’s Oak Tree, Case 37
– Two Zen Classics: Mumonkan & Hekiganroku, p. 110
Translated with commentaries by Katsuki Sekida

A word came my way the other day and looking into it’s meaning one could understand it in two, or more, almost completely opposing ways. A shadow side and a non shadow. Positive or negative, or somewhere in between. As children in the playground when a child was ‘calling somebody names’ which nowadays would be classed as bullying we had a well-worn retort. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. Of course they hurt but to tackle the name caller was to court more than nasty names. See, Sticks and Stones: When Words are Used as Weapons, By Miriam Adahan There are some wonderful teachings from the Torah on right speach in the link to the book.

Words or phrases applied to oneself or to others can have a devastating and have a long-lasting impact especially on the young. Words stick and if they come with the background intent to hurt they can stick for a life time. Choosing words and phrases carefully is obviously important however even with the best of intentions people grasp the wrong end of the stick! I’m eternally sorry for all those who have found themselves hurt by words and phrases I’ve written or uttered.

What was the word that came my way the other day? Insouciant. Meanings listed as follows: showing a casual lack of concern; indifferent.
synonyms: nonchalant, untroubled, unworried, unruffled, unconcerned, indifferent, blasé, heedless, careless; relaxed, calm, equable, serene, composed, easy, easygoing, carefree, free and easy, happy-go-lucky, lighthearted, airy, blithe, mellow;
informal: cool, laid-back, slaphappy.

Being Where You Are Not!

The following is from an article in Brainpickings titled: The Spirit of Sauntering: Thoreau on the Art of Walking and the Perils of a Sedentary Lifestyle. How familiar these words below are. How good to hear Thoreau all those many years ago contemplating the simple act of going for walks and the practice of being where one is and not somewhere else.

I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit. In my afternoon walk I would fain forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to Society. But it sometimes happens that I cannot easily shake off the village. The thought of some work will run in my head and I am not where my body is — I am out of my senses. In my walks I would fain return to my senses. What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?

Walking by Henry David Thoreau Free for Kindle users on Amazon.co.uk.

And here a contemplation sauntering.

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks — who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre, to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a Sainte-Terrer,” a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.

Saunter, without land or a home, equally at home everywhere. Let’s saunter!

Practice Within The Order of Buddhist Contemplatives