Category Archives: Overcome Difficulties

Maintaining a Sense of Proportion

#lovethelakes #cumbria #lakedistrict #picturecumbriasharp-edge-and-tarn

Hold a true friend with both your hands.
Nigerian Proverb

Amen to that! And my new friend? Blencathera, mountain of all mountains. Last Monday I walked up one (of a number) of the ‘edges’ that lead to the top. Perfect weather with views out to the very edges of the Lake District. A day to remember with an inside smile. But that’s how I’ll remember today. Nothing dramatic. And yesterday visiting a long time known Buddhist trainee living on one of the edges of the Lakes, Walney Island. The high fells stretching like a frill across the skyline, from one side of her living room window to the other.

Yes, I’ve been taking the opportunity to get out and about and to climb up into the mountains. How fortunate am I? Great Stickle, Swirl How, Crinkle Crags, Bow Fell and the Old Man of Coniston. High Street from Haweswater and more. On the Band and back again, for more. The names are the stuff of poems, there is a rhythm in their walking and I’ve chanted their names as I’ve neared the end of a long day walking.

Yes, and I’ve taken the opportunity to get out and about and meet old friends. How fortunate am I? By phone and email, driving and Skype calling. No mountain climb, however testing, can ever match up to the lived-lives of the people I’m privileged to spend time with. Many of their names I remember as I walk and chant a verse for. Each morning.

It’s the end of a long day and a long hot summer. With rain beating down on the skylight of my just-moved-into new room I’m thinking. Thinking that all experiences pass, relationships all end, shelter keeps the rain out no matter where it is and being able to smile in adversity helps.

Note route marked in yellow when out of view and red when in view.
Note route marked in yellow when out of view and red when in view.

Whats not to love about this mountain? See trailer for Life of the Mountain, film by Terry Abraham released in May.

I’m smiling now, inwardly, remembering the long crampon scratch marks on rocks high on Crinkle Crags. Winter walking? Winter talking? More towards the level of the sea, around Morecambe Bay, visiting an elderly woman there. Enjoy the Autumn golds and perhaps the Winter whites.

Understanding Knowing

From a reader:
I would like to thank you (Mugo) for the link to Reverend Saido’s video on The Four Noble Truths. I found it very helpful indeed, particularly his reference to the need for being careful in the event of the falling away of a ‘chunk’ of the ‘stuff’ pointed to in box one.

This mention of stuff falling off reminded me of something that happened very early on in my life. Why should the falling away happen to a four year old, as it did for me? It was not as if I’d been intentionally practicing anything specific at that age. What, in general terms, did/does it mean for the rest of my life? The following thirteen years were lived in ignorance of what exactly had happened that day?

Now, decades on I wish to at least try to convey a feeling of the event:

Gazing at the blue sky
Fluffy clouds drifting across
Suddenly present way, way up
Nothing but vast light-space-distance all around
Wonderful, wonderful boundlessness, everything encompassed
Whilst returning/descending, a great falling away from within
Rendered transparent, utterly clear, no body here at all
And yet someone still returned
The whole world now my home, the whole sky my roof
Intimate/loving everyone, wanting to know about their lives, but how to ask?

I feel privileged to have known it, although known and it are not quite right. I never have understood why this should have happened and the certainty/clarity I was left with evaporated in time.
Over the years I’ve tried to leave the door open and remain receptive, being careful not to strive for understanding or cling through Zen practice to the experience. And there has been the help of Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey and Reading Priory.
Gassho,
Ross E.

Thanks to Ross for this. Many people struggle with this sort of experience when young, as in this case, and when older too. Most often there is no context, such as a faith tradition, to help somebody to fully appreciate the meaning of such an experience. I’m glad he found guidance.

Unconditional Love

In memory of Iris
In memory of Iris

Remarkable happenings happen when a person is close to death. Not able to see or hear a woman hears and speaks – to her daughter. Then passes on. Amazing. Remarkable the bond between parent and off spring. Remarkable too is the impact of the offering of prayers and spiritual merit. A young man close to death miraculously back to life against all medical odds. Then to make his offering of healing to others, live for a short while. And then die. Over the years very many such events, differing details, come to my ears. Fill my heart.

To all who grieve. For those who continue to grieve. (There’s no time limit.) For those who offer their lives wholeheartedly for the benefit of others while at deaths door (My Luminous Friend). Reflecting now it is clear the distinction between oneself and other selves fades in the face of unconditional love.

There are no limits.

Not Bothered

Lambs. Not bothered!
Lambs. Not bothered!

This year they seemed to come in a rash.  All over the fields, a rash of lambs. Could that be the collective term for lambs? Probably not. And because of the multitude I’ve taken less notice of them. Become less engaged with the wonder of them; their springing and prancing, their rough and tumble playing together. Bringers of life to the former sodden fields of December and January (February and March too to be honest.)! Love ’em but try to catch a picture of lambs in repose and as you can see they got up sharpish and walked away. Not bothered. Have a photo taken? Not bothered.

Which brings me to thinking, at what point does something, some event, some kind of multitudinous abundance bring us to being not bothered, to being numbed. When, what ever it is, becomes unimportant to us due to it having become a ‘rash’. Food for thought.

For all those hungry people in the world who are surrounded by food.

Writing is for:

1 painted desk

Writing is for:
dredging up
unknowing.
Eternal ‘not knowing’

There are people we meet in life who help bring about a profound change. A change in ones life  direction, thinking and most especially take one deeper than ones own mind. Just so. My first writing at my now transformed writing desk was about just such a profound meeting which came through the medium of television.

At age fourteen I witnessed, I was to discover later, my teacher Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett being interviewed for British TV soon after she arrived in Japan to study with Zen Master Koho Zenji. She was standing with shaven head and flowing robes, resolute, in a garden in the grounds of Soji-ji Temple, Yokohama Japan. As the interview concluded up into my mind came, If she can do it, I can do it too. That’s all it takes. A thought unbidden, seemingly out of nowhere which in my case lead me towards  ordination as a Buddhist monastic. At the time I was not in the least bit interested in religion. Far from it.

Anyway, my first piece of writing at my transformed desk was for the OBC Journal, and I will publish the short paragraph after the Journal is published.

For all the people who have come into our lives, for all the twists and turns they have brought about which have us here now. We are alive, breathing. For that, and much more, we can be grateful. But who’s counting?