Enrico Ferni, the famous atomic physicist, was once giving a lecture on the principles of quantum physics to a lay audience. At the end, he was keen to know how his lecture had gone and whether it had been simple enough to be understood. He collared a student as he was leaving, and asked him.
The student, slightly embarrassed, is said to have replied, ‘Professor Ferni, to be honest, after our lecture, I’m confused. But I’m confused at a higher level’!
Many thanks to Paul who sent me this story on a card some years ago.
What remains after the chairs have been put away, the cups washed, lights switched off and the door locked? Do the words linger on? I’ve been pondering, as I do quite often, both the words offered during a talk on Buddhist practice and what the listeners carry away with them afterwards. Knowing for myself that I rarely remember strings of words spoken during a Dharma talk I imagine that must be the same for others.
Last afternoon as we were preparing to leave the Friends Meeting House in Lancaster after our mini retreat somebody came to me to say thank you and good by. He indicated good-naturedly that he would probably not remember the details of what I talked about, and I understood completely. Later a woman came to thank me for my sense of humour. Is that what she will remember I wonder? Yet another person said maybe what I said was a bit too ‘advanced’ for some since I seemed to be suggesting people take a leap from the known to the unknown. Perhaps she will remember that for herself, and leap!
All I can say now that it was good to go, and good to be back.
The Buddha’s death is termed Parinirvana and is celebrated in a variety of ways around the world at about this time of year. This evening was our time to remember the Buddha’s Death.
I’d not seen a stupa as a symbol of the Buddha’s death and if you keep going back on this site you will find The Great Stupa at Amaravati (which) was a large Buddhist monument built in south-eastern India between the second century B.C. and the third century A.D. It was a centre for religious activity and worship for hundreds of years.
The Buddha died in Kushinigar By this account it was not a huge place: Then Ananda said to the Lord: “Lord, do not pass away into final Nirvana in this wattle-and-daub town, this jungle town, this town in the woods.”
That’s enough education for to-night. I’m off in the morning to Lancaster which is a short hop skip and a jump over the Pennines and down the M6 Motorway. Just a one and a half hour journey. There is to be a half day retreat at the Friends Meeting House.
In this world there are people who think to check the wiring of the plug before throwing a lifeless vacuum cleaner away. They will take a machine apart, put it back together and it will work again. They do not complain or make a big fuss when the brushes or bearings need replacing. No, they go and find another identical appliance in a skip down a side street, and take it home to their workshop. This person will strip it down for parts and enjoy every moment. They derive pride and pleasure in getting an old machine back on it’s feet again, when others like me with less faith, and little knowledge, would have given it up for dead.
An interest can become a full time occupation, a passion that becomes a way of life and a way to make a living too. Who could ask for more? So people with such a passion open shops selling electrical appliances and offer a repair service for old machines. Where ever they find themselves in life, at work, at home, working within organizations – religious organizations, they end up mending things. But first their talents need to be discovered.
I’m glad to say I made such a discovery, completely by accident, within our midst in the monastery. Dave (not his real name) volunteered his story over a broken Junior Hoover 1334 upright vacuum cleaner on Monday last. The Junior Hoover is mended now, it was just faulty wiring in the plug and the fuse had fallen out. Dave has agreed to teach me all he knows about vacuum clearner maintenance and repair.
Know-how needs to be passed on, and people passionate about vacuum cleaners like to share their knowledge and passion with others. From now on I’ll be regarding old machines with a whole lot more respect, and regarding older people with a refurbished attitude.