Cannot Be Given or Stolen

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Ryokan, it is said, returned to his hut late one evening to find a thief there. He took this calmly – it was clear to both of them that there wasn’t anything worth robbing in his hut.  Ryokan was troubled because he didn’t want the man to leave empty-handed having walked up the mountain to see him. So he took all his cloths off and gave them to the thief. The thief took them and slunk off down the mountain…..

After he had left Ryokan mused, ‘Poor fellow, I wish I could have given him this beautiful moon’. Ryokan sitting naked gazing at the moon wrote the following poem.

The thief left it behind:
the moon
at my window.

Thanks to Mark for the beautiful photograph of the moon, apparently taken a short time before, or was it after, I made my last post.

No Finger No Moon!

I have been sitting with this small piece by Zen Master Ryokan. I love it. It has been a long time since I ventured into his work. However the other day, while passing though the library, a book as good as fell off the shelf.  And here I am – sitting with Ryokan again.

You see the moon by pointing your finger.
You recognize the finger by the moon.
The moon and the finger
are not different, not the same.
In order to guide a beginner,
this analogy is temporarily used.
When you have realized this,
there is no moon, no finger.

We must not allow ourselves to imagine that the moon and the finger are abandoned. Ever! However tempting it might be to think, or say, Oh yes, I know that, no finger no moon. Truth is we both do and don’t know, at the same time! I guess that’s why I’ve been sitting with this poem. Join me.

Thoughts? Beware or Be Aware

1cattleSometimes, most often, thoughts come in crowds. Herds of them. They get our attention but at a distance and they generally disapate if left alone.

2AttentionSometimes they get closer and particularized. They move in, get closer. Get our attention.

3attentionCloser still into consciousness. Seems there is not much space. They crowd in. But even with the huffing and puffing of persistent thoughts, one can sit still. Like cattle in a field getting closer and closer, eventually those thoughts lose interest. Have less energy. They just remain for a bit, then take off. Only to return. But we know their game.

4attentionThen there is your ‘in yer face’ thoughts and emotions. Wow! Wait a moment, this is something I need to sit still with right now. Even so there is always a space. I am not the ‘cow’ it is not me! I’m not my thoughts. As real seeming, and as huge an impact as up close and ‘in your face’ thoughts, life events, tragedy, close to death/or birth events – there is IS space. And then there is……

5attentionThe Chinook Helicopter of thoughts/events/news which just are THERE, taking one over. They are the back story to everything. Benignly there, yet with constant menace and threat. They hang out in every waking moment. And in dreams as well.  Life threatening illnesses are as this, impending death is as this, impending birth is as this. I guess we all have our own versions – and yet…..

There is space.
That’s what one knows
as one who can
sit still
in the middle of
a mind full of
‘bulls’!
Be Aware.

This is for Anne right now. See how the bull is really a ‘pussy cat’ all dressed up to look mean and nasty?

Throssel Hole Priory – As It Was

1976 signHere is a photograph from the monastery archive. For those who know this place you will see just what an impact the planting of the thousands upon thousands of trees has had on the general landscape. Back in 1976 this is what the land looked like from the road. There wasn’t a lane running up through the bottom field to the side of the main buildings, as now. Brr, it looks bleak. However with the trees now all grown up into a mature woodland the main buildings are hidden from view and the open land above the farm-house is now wooded.

The Throssel website was relaunched a couple of days ago and is working well. If you go to the Galleries section there are a number of collections of photographs, a number of them taken just about a week ago, which will give you an idea of how things look now. The above photograph is in the gallery titled As it Was in the 1970/’s. Uh! But that I could get that forward slash out of the title but try as I may it isn’t ready to shift.

My part in the relaunch has been confined to photographs and I’m keenly aware that more photographs of How It is Now, especially how it is for retreat guests, are needed.

When I ask visitors who have been coming here since the 1970’s what is the biggest change they invariably say, the trees. And the thousands upon thousands of Rabbits! Anybody have a photograph of them on mass on the lawn?

Bows to those who did the behind the scenes technical work  which has made this re-launch go so smoothly and seamlessly. 

Take Heed

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Iain’s bequest:
to point us in
the right direction, yet
you really have to
look them out
before they’ll
invite you in.
A perfect posture:
not bending
over backwards
to gratify you –
rather bending
towards you,
to meet you
half-way.
Even sunlight,
brought to its knees,
only half-illumines
such a purpling
of the blues.
No impulsive gusts
can fluster
the playful attitude
of bowed heads.
It may seem that
all is easy
as gazing
off a mossy log,
but, take heed,
or all you will see
is flowers.

June 2015
Paul Taylor

In memory of the late Iain Robinson, who showed Paul this wood in Garstang.

Practice Within The Order of Buddhist Contemplatives