Speaking to Experience – Poem

Speaks to the heart of experience (mine anyway) like nothing I’ve read in a very long time.

After a while you learn
The subtle difference between
Holding a hand and chaining a soul
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t always mean security.

And you begin to learn
That kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes ahead
With the grace of a woman
Not the grief of a child

And you learn
To build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is
Too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way
Of falling down in mid flight

After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much
So you plant your own garden
And decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers

And you learn
That you really can endure
That you are really strong
And you really do have worth
And you learn and you learn
With every good bye you learn.

Author: Veronica A. Shoffstall

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The Buddhas Renunciation – Dharma Talk

I don’t do well with the word ‘renunciation’, not one I’d apply to myself i.e. that I renounced (rejected) the life I was living in the ‘world’ and became a monk because…? Nope. (Renunciation – Meaning, refraining from, going without, doing without, giving up of, eschewe, rejection of.) Well yes, there is a good bit of doing without and refraining from as a monk, however for me talking this path, all those years ago, was and still is, about embracing, acknowledging what’s fundamentally here and now. Embracing all of existence, oneself included. Ideas of having and not having, fall away. Or rather the clinging to having and not having.

Last Sunday we celebrated the Festival of the Buddhas Renunciation. This, the renunciation, is pointing to the time the historic Buddha took off to live as a wandering ascetic. Rev. Vivian, a visiting monk from Shasta Abbey gave the Dharma talk. She points out at around the 8.38 minute the sort of question people pose themselves. Imagining, for example, that to do this Buddhist practice seriously you have to leave everyday life (practicing as a lay person) and ordain as a monk. This is mistaken thinking, really it is. She talks about making those big decisions such as ordaining and what can influence/drive them for example. Not the little decisions like what kind of mattress to buy or where to go on your holidays, more the biggies, life changing ones. So when you have a moment listen to this talk.

This talk explores the Buddha’s Renunciation in light of what it might offer us in our practice today when we find ourselves making difficult choices, and what that implies about the true meaning of Renunciation.
Bowing to The Great Unborn, Dharma Talk by Rev. Vivian.

Anyway, that’s enough for this evening.

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Of Marmalade and Mountains?

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

The other day I definately committed to making another batch of Marmalade. A creative act. Once committed somebody, by chance heard my plan and offered her hands to help. Couldn’t have done it without you Jenny. And the first batch of Marmalade? Maria, I could not have done it without you! Definitely committing doesn’t need to be heroic, a Himalayan expedition for example, Although I’d have been game for that before entering monastic life. The closest I got was flying over the Himalayas. Fabulous!


… but when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money—booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence.
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:


W(illiam) H(utchison) Murray, a mountaineer, from his book The Scottish Himalayan Expedition published in 1951.
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Near Death

There isn’t a day goes by when I am not in touch with somebody who is dealing with a life close to ending. Or a death approaching, soon or predictably – quite a bit later. The usual measure of time doesn’t seem to come into it – a moment can seem like a life time. Hours slip by in a blink of an eye. My own father died January 29th 2000, quite suddenly and without warning, although he was elderly he was fit and well by all appearance. Nineteen year ago. He is long gone…and yet… Still close.


I see friends and family struggle with the loss of a loved one…and I’ve stayed silent about my experience. While nothing but time can alleviate the pain of loss, I can’t help but feel that as a card-carrying member of this exclusive club ( near death survivor), I have inside knowledge that might alleviate a different kind of pain — the pain of imagining the final moments, what might have been going through their minds, and whether they made it to the other side in peace.


Christen O’Brien – Medium

The above quote is from a piece by a person who experienced near death, and survived. This is not rare.

This post is for all those who grieve a loss and specifically for Norman and for Rachel. And for Kate S too. And so many more.

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View From My Window

Thinking of those who are suffering in the cold. Caught out doors, sleeping rough.

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Practice Within The Order of Buddhist Contemplatives