Build a Stupa

Tiny House in the forest....

Tiny House in the forest….


So delighted to stumble upon this tiny work-site shed on wheels while out walking the other day. It is clad all over in wood unlike the ones you see next to holes in the road and building sites in Germany. I guess they are the generic ‘site hut’ where workers brew up and generally commune. I could have put it in my pocket and taken it home! I loved the image so much I’ve used it on my Twitter front page. The hut is calling as a hermitage hut for reflection, rather than it’s real life use. Speaking of hermitages…

As mentioned in the previous post Zen Master Dogen teaching and writing is rich with references to The Lotus Sutra. So much was he inspired by this Sutra that he named the house in Kyoto where he died Lotus Sutra Hermitage. The house was owned by his major lay disciple who was caring for him during the time leading up to his death. Dogen was said to have spent his last days walking around a pillar reciting The Supernatural Powers of the Tathagata, Chapter 21 of the Lotus Sutra. In this passage the Buddha says that whenever the sutra is kept to/recited a stupa should be built and offerings given. It is understood that in such places the Buddha Dharma will spring up and continue to flourish.

Awakening Space and Time

Forest as far as the eye can see.

Forest, for as far as the eye can see.

These past days, or is weeks now, I’ve had the space and opportunity to do some spiritual reading. This book fell off the shelf at me: Visions of Awakening Space and Time – Dogen and the Lotus Sutra by Taigen Dan Leighton. Zen Master Dogen quotes from the Lotus Sutra regularly in the Shobogenzo and clearly he holds this sutra in high esteem. For example it was Dogen, apparently, who added The Lotus Sutra at the end of the recitation of the Ten Buddhas which is spoken during formal meals and during a number of other ceremonies we do. The Lotus Sutra is included as a Buddha.

A few weeks ago while walking in the Lake District a woman asked about how I regarded the ‘flowery language’ of the Lotus Sutra and to be honest I’d never really applied myself to thinking about it. Off the top of my head I’d said I regarded such writing as helping the reader/listener to expand into a wider and deeper frame of mind, beyond the opposites, from where we are able to receive the teaching that follows. From my recent reading I understand the language of the Sutra and also the language of Dogen and where our Soto Zen emphasis of locating ‘practice’ in everyday living comes from. I’m so grateful for the chance to study a little.

Here is a verse Dogen wrote which appears in the last volume of Eihei Koroku (talks given to his monastic community). This verse is the first in a series called Fifteen Verses on Dwelling in the Mountains.

How delightful, mountain dwelling so solitary and tranquil.
Because of this I always read the Lotus Blossom Sutra.
With wholehearted vigor under trees, what is there to love or hate?
How enviable; sound of evening rains in deep autumn.

And spring rains here in this Black Forest valley are pretty wonderful too.

Holy Days Of Obligation

Roof Tiles1It being a VERY Holy Day and this being Germany we can hardly draw a breath. Certainly not lift a finger. So what else to do but sit still and then sit still some more. And it is raining after all.

Drip, drip. Much needed rain

Drip, drip. Much needed rain


Having a day/time scheduled into ones days/year for ‘religious observance’ is not half a bad thing. That’s considering how the bustle of life tends to fill every nook and cranny to the point when one can actually believe there is no time left to do anything other than….fill every nook and cranny with activity. You could describe formal meditation as ‘deliberately deciding not to do anything’.

Arriving at a full and complete STOP is easier said than done. May body and mind find suitable relaxation – every day.

In The Black Forest

For reasons I do not understand, or know how to fix, I am not able to make posts to this blog in the way I am familiar with. This one is being posted via email. Hopefully things will normalize over the next few days. Here a photograph while out and about in the forest above the Gutach Valley.

[attach 1]

Gutach Valley1

Greater Integration of Intention and Action – Book Review

The Hidden Brain is an altogether spectacular read, the kind that gives the best possible hope for changing our minds in the most necessary direction there is – toward more fairness, greater self-awareness, and a vital integration of our intentions and our actions.

The Hidden Brain: How Ocean Currents Explain Our Unconscious Social Biases from Brain Pickings.

The review of The Hidden Brain on Brain Pickings makes for disturbing reading especially since at first glance, a superficial glance at the cartoon style drawings, you might dismiss the whole review. I advise reading on. Fascinating and informative to say the least.