Category Archives: Daily Life

Smiling Broadly Above Edinburgh

Portobello and beyond

Arthur’s Seat is the main mountain in Edinburgh, Scotland which form most of Holyrood Park, described by Robert Louis Stevenson as “a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design”.[1] It is situated just to the east of the city centre, about 1 mile (1.6 km) to the east of Edinburgh Castle. The hill rises above the city to a height of 250.5 m (822 ft), provides excellent panoramic views of the city and beyond, is relatively easy to climb, and is popular for hillwalking.

With a brisk wind blowing and brilliant views all around we walked up to the top of Arthur’s Seat late afternoon on Monday. (Thanks to my hosts for the walk, meals, bed, roof and good company.) An article in the latest Eugene Buddhist Priory Newsletter helped me turn the corner and move out of natural shyness of being seen, close up, on screen A Bit More about “Welcome”. To find it scroll down and on the way you may recognize the photograph of a Buddha statue amidst fallen trees.

I’ve found it hard, since mid November, to accept the deserter in the front row. Dentistry is a wonderful art and I’m grateful for the replacement tooth. But never mind the teeth thing, what stands out this evening is the gift of freely appearing. Just that.

Watching Paint Dry – Watching Beached Seals

Wait a moment! That light house is for sale. Nope, that was back in 2013. Sorry. I’d imagine living in a light house is as close as one can get to living on a boat – at sea.

Light House South Walney Island, Lancashire.

Ah. On Wednesday a brisk walk out to South Walney Island where there is a Nature Reserve – lots of birds and some seals. There was a brisk wind and sand dunes underfoot, eyes pealed for seals. And the seals had their eyes on us, bobbing up and down in the water sailing along keeping pace as we walked towards the light house. This is as wild as you can get, and remote too, hanging on the edge of Morecombe Bay. I’d an idea to go and look at the seals pulled up onto the beach however at high tide they waft and play in the water, which was entertaining. Their ease of movement is pleasing to watch. Then this morning I found there is a live webcam trained on the seals and there they are pulled up on the beach. Bit like watching paint dry! Not much action however lovely to see them.

I’d driven to Walney Island to visit a long time sangha member and it was so good to see her and to walk out in the wind. We paused by the sea to remember her mother who loved the area. Lots of photographs and information can be found in this post on Tammy’s Tour Guide. I’ll be back for a look around the site for more wild places to visit.

Thanks to Betty for your company. Always good to connect.

2 – When Faith Seems Thin

Read and be inspired. Here is a remarkable and brave, not to mention cool-headed, woman. Mary Dohey an Air Canada flight attendant who in 1971, in the face of overwhelming danger appeased the hijacker (talked to him) and as a consequence saved the lives of passengers and crew. She was the first living person to receive the award Cross of Valour, Canada’s highest award for bravery, for her conduct during the hijacking.

At the risk of losing her life, Dohey declined an offer of a safe release from an Air Canada DC8 to remain with her fellow crew members and pacify hijacker Paul Cini, on flight 812 from Calgary, Alberta on November 12, 1971. During eight hours of terror, the hijacker, with a black hood over his head, was armed with a shotgun and two bundles of dynamite. Mary had to hold on to the wires of the dynamite and not let them touch.[2] Cini threatened to take the lives[clarification needed] of the crew and all the passengers on board the airplane. Although continually threatened with the gun, Miss Dohey spoke to the aggressor and succeeded in discouraging him from undertaking violent measures which would have killed many people. When the aircraft was diverted and landed in Great Falls, Montana, she was able to persuade the hijacker to allow all the passengers and part of the crew, including herself, to disembark.[1] With absolutely no assurance that she would come out of the ordeal alive and because of her concern for the welfare of the remaining crew members, Mary Dohey turned down the offer of release. The hijacker wanted $1.5 million.[3] The plane landed and the demands were passed over. There was only $50,000[1] in that briefcase unknown to the hijacker. Mary continued to appease the hijacker until the drama was brought to an end.

Wikipedia
Another hat tip to Rev. Master Koten for the link. The early 1970’s saw a number of plane hijackings. I remember the time well since I was flying back from Australia when there was a hijacking – thankfully not on the flight I was on. Can’t help but wonder what my response would have been had it been my flight.

When ‘Winds’ are too Favorable

Morecambe Bay – Jenny Brown point path, Silverdale.

When Danger
Encircles you,
Show yourself
Steadfast and
undaunted,
But when the winds
are too favorable,
fail not to show
wise caution and
haul in the billowing sail.
Horace

Oh how easy it is to run when the wind is at your back. To break out into a run, so to speak, when a steady, steadfast, enduring walking-on would be wisest all around.

We are The Birds That Stay

‘Tis not that Dying hurts us so –
‘Tis Living – hurts us more –
But Dying – is a different way –
A Kind behind the Door –

The Southern Custom – of the Bird –
That ere the Frosts are due –
Accepts a better Latitude –
We – are the Birds – that stay.
Emily Dickinson

So continuing on with the theme of ‘the¬†immoveable/indestructible you’. And now adding to that thought, why is being mortal such a drag! Buddhism puts it bluntly: We have what we don’t want and we want what we don’t have! Living is about turning that little problem on it’s head. The continuing attempt to do that leads to constant frustration/anger. Which leads to our protecting ourselves by believing things are not the way they are. Or at least not as bad as we think, Oh, and we didn’t want/not want (what ever it was) anyway which is delusion. That’s suffering and the teaching contained within the Twelve Steps of Dependent Origination.is a detailed description of WHY it’s endless. That link takes you to an explanation that could be educational without too much brain pain!

I’m sure I’m not the first person who has thought or wondered about death and become afraid or at the very least disturbed. However for the most part we don’t, we get on with living. Best we can. However when in more reflective moments we may wonder why living is oddly unsatisfactory even when we have what we want. Being alive, or dead, are not choices however the HOW of living (and dying) is. Here is a story.

A nun I’m acquainted with told of a letter she had received from a woman in a prison in Asia somewhere. The details of why she was there I can’t remember but I think she might have been a political prisoner. The woman wrote, Every day the guards take me out of the cell and beat and abuse me. And every day I do my sitting and walking meditation. She concluded by saying, ‘And I am FREE!’ That is an example of spiritual indestructibility. She had passed through the gate, or door, of life and death and found ‘Kind’ behind it.

We are the birds that stay.