Category Archives: Daily Life

Damascene Moments

Look towards Keswick, Lakeland.
Look towards Keswick, Lakeland.

A moment of insight, a flash of understanding, the clouds part and one sees which way to go. Be that a move in a career, a decision to study a particular subject. Or seeing into the way things are in a most fundamental way, sometimes in a very personal and intimate way.  These are Damascene moment, life changing moments. They do not come in ones either since all through life, my experience anyway, there are many such moments.

Sadly however Damascene moments quite often remain hidden, buried inside. Even flashes of insight one could label ‘spiritual’ go underground for lack of context to place one’s fresh new Truth in.  Or, as in my case, the moment was thought to be one thing when it was something very different! Read on!

A girl of around 5 or 6 in the woods of Sussex. Alone. Suddenly, or so it seemed, the world went dark. The birds stopped singing and there was an air of lingering mystical stillness. After awhile the world returned to normal and she now had a profound secret. Yes, I’d witness the end of the world, and it’s return! Not something to spread around obviously. Obviously a total eclipse of the sun but what did I know about such things at the time.

Only years later did the truth of the moment dawn on me having lived with a background thought that I had a secret. I’d buried it deeply enough to have forgotten I’d witnessed the end of the world.

For those who carry a personal secret, knowingly or unknowingly. Or a secret which they may not divulge without serious consequences.

Few Bells, No Whistles!

Jiso watches over those who are traveling. Women, children and animals too.
Jiso watches over those who are traveling. Women, children and animals too.

The following story of a Catholic nun, who has a huge on-line presence, is interesting in that her motivation for engaging in social media and website development was inspired by her religious vow. An early adopter too with a website developed in the 1990s then going on to produce podcasts and videos in 2004 for her monastery with no walls.  Physically located in Herefordshire.

Sister Catherine’s writing is imbued with humour and wisdom. And she is clearly engaged with issues of the day setting them in the context of her faith and understanding as a Christian. I just nipped over to iBenedictines and her three posts written over Easter speak clearly and compassionately. The following is taken from a recent Telegraph newspaper article.

“….Sister Catherine has taken on external clients, developing websites for computers and smartphones on a professional basis. But, although nowadays her skills are a source of financial support for the monastery, there was a religious motivation for developing them: “The Rule of St Benedict [guidance for monks and nuns in the Benedictine order, written by the saint in the 6th century] is very keen on what it calls ‘hospitality'; that is, welcoming people to the monastery and giving them a taste of what cloistered life is like,” she explains. “And we thought the internet is a brilliant way of doing that.”

I think… you’ll find that practically every monastery in the country [now] has an internet presence with all the bells and whistles.”

I love the above sentence found towards the end of the article. Many bells being rung here at Throssel this week during the ceremonies for Jukai. No whistles though!

In a few days Jademountains.net (formally Movingmountains and before that Jade mountains – started in 2003) will be ten years old. In 2005 when I flew from Vancouver to Japan my motivation for starting to post regularly was to share my Pilgramage with the lay and monastic sangha of my religious order. Few people can make a spiritual journey or to ‘journey’ as I do and sharing practice and passing on the teachings is my basic religious aspiration. I continue here because….I can’t bring myself to stop! It would be like stopping talking! All too easy to think of sound and silence as being opposites, which they are not.

It is my dear Dharma Sister Rev. Master Meiten’s 89th birthday today. Time for celebration, and admiration too.

The Eternal Gem

The following was first published March 9, 2012. I’m republishing it now for all those who are arriving at the monastery today to participate in the week-long retreat called Jukai. During the week a number of people will formally make their wish to practice. Simply coming here and joining in everything wholeheartedly is a remarkable and potentially life changing event. Good fortune everybody.

The wonderful thing
about Zen practice is
that you get to do it
whether you like it or not.

I was talking to a woman the other day who is preparing to receive the Precepts during Jukai at Throssel in early April. This quote indicates that once you have committed to the practice it does itself. One thing that seems to happen during the lead-up to the commitment made during Jukai is to question ones ‘readiness’. Questions such as Am I able to keep the Precepts? Or, Am I adequately prepared, or would it be best to wait another year?

Like anything else one commits to, one enters with the understanding and depth one has at that time. Invariably that understanding deepens as one goes on in life. In the beginning taking up formal practice seems to be all about discipline. Not a word or concept some of us take so kindly too! The rebellious amongst us know how the internal pressure to ‘sit still’ works with that rebellious nature which…well…is in the habit of rebelling. There is always the need to be reflective around what we choose to do and not do. That is true for everybody.

Even after very many years of committed practice that little duality, Discipline v rebellion, can left foot us. At such times it’s good to take a kind look at oneself. Not sitting may not be a problem with discipline. It might be that something is pushing one to take a deeper look as to why one sits anyway. In the beginning it is a ‘good thing’ and becomes a ‘good’ habit which proves we are not the hopeless kid we sometimes think we are!

We have been told that over and over that ‘pure zazen must be done’, that sitting is a good thing. But what is the good, and what is the thing? The kid in us all, the rebellious one, gets some hard knocks along the way but not everything needs to be laid at her door. As the quote says, we practice whether we like it, or like it not. More importantly whether we know it or not. And along the way we struggle but that’s just a finger pointing back to us to ease up on ourselves. Why not sit still and enjoy and appreciate the gem we carry in our hearts. Sometimes we know it’s twinkle and most often not.

The gem, however, can be lost sight of. But not for long though.

Thanks to Chris Y. for the quote. And I’m sorry not to post more often of recent weeks. Right now my Internet connection has failed so nothing much will appear here for a few days. Sitting in the local gift shop where there is a free Internet connection I realize how I enjoy writing in such conditions. The statutory coffee and cake helps of course!

This post is for those who are stepping, those who have been stepping for years and all of us who have been stepping…eternally. For that’s, in truth, how it is. Practice has no beginning and no end. But receiving the Precepts formally is not nothing.

Now is Complete

Complete.
Complete.
I said in answer to a question about purpose:

Could you conceive
of the possibility
that right now
is complete?

The above was a question I posed during a Q & A session which missed the mark but made an impression on the person sitting next to the questioner! One just never knows where one’s thoughts will land. And take root.

Very busy at the moment unfortunately with little spare time for writing here. Hopefully that will change as I catch up with what needs to be done now I’m settled with a desk to return to. Regularly.

Look Up & Let It Be

When all the brokenhearted people living in this world agree
There will be an answer – Let it be.
For though they may be parted
There is still a chance that they will see.
There will come an answer – Let it be.

The Beatles
This verse came in an email recently and I am posting it now for all those who are brokenhearted, one way or another. Loss is a biggie and I know of several people dealing with loss. Look up and ‘let it be’. The pain will pass and new doors open before you.

I’m on the move this morning, from Victoria to Vancouver on the ferry.