Category Archives: Daily Life

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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CRASH!

Light goes with darkness as the sequence does of steps in  walking.

At the end of the first meditation period of the day a drum is struck seven times, symbolizing the coming of the seven *six Buddhas before the historic Buddha, Shakyamuni. We use a bass drum mounted on a stand. Depending on how and where on the surface of the drum it is struck the sound is anything from a resounding CRASH to a mild thump. The intention is for a deep resonating sound, neither too loud nor too soft. Yesterday, more of a crash! It happens.

And so it is with us. Actions, including speech are, at times, harsh and jarring, at other times filled with compassion and gentleness. Resonating deeply in minds and hearts. It is all too easy however to label a person ‘harsh’ or ‘compassionate’ and evaluate that person accordingly good or bad, nice or nasty on the basis of their actions. Or the quality of their actions.

Is this right though? However human it may be to judge in this way I’d be rather sad if, for example, what I said or did even years ago had me for ever cast as a ‘nasty person’. The act may not have been out of the top drawer, raising my voice for example, but does that make me a nasty person, an unkind person? Is it possible to see the person apart from their actions? At least as a starting point for exercising kindness and compassion.

In ‘darkness’, when separate features do not stand out, is used in our end of Buddhism to mean emptiness and ‘light’ to mean multiplicity. You could say also; one and different, empty and full.  The two seeming opposites fit together, are together ‘as a box all with it’s lid’, to quote from one of our scriptures.

What this means to me at least is, wether or not we beat the drum with a crash, a subtle tap, or an unthoughtful wallop there is a leap of faith needed. Faith that takes one past the reasonable and the reasoned, the right and the wrong, while at the same time acting or not acting – what ever is called for. This is the koan of daily life arising naturally. This is not easy. Nothing and nobody is ever all light or all dark although we can forgive ourselves for believing this to be so!

Thanks to Mark for the photograph. The Alhambra in Spain, I think?

*See comments

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Brief Encounters

It doesn’t take much, really.
To notice, appreciate.
To touch, be deeply touched.
And out of that, gratitude?
It doesn’t take much, really it doesn’t

Out of one conversation
From a book read
A lecture heard
A film
A taste
One sound
Just one thing – remembered
What would it be, today?

From today: the Orange/Carrot/ginger soup we had for supper and this heart warming story about a man who turned around arrows of hate (speech) and returned with an act of compassion. With far reaching consequences.

Really, it doesn’t take much.
No effort needed, to be honest.
Just Buddha recognizing Buddha
and Bowing.

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Exercising Faith – The Bodhisattvas’ Path (Dharma Talk)

This was first published October 2017. Will Pegg died in September.

Today at Shasta Abbey, Northern California, we celebrated the Festival of Bhaisajya-guru Tathagata, the Healing Buddha. I was honoured to be asked to give the Dharma Talk after the ceremony. The title is:  Exercising Faith – The Bodhisattvas’ Path.

Towards the end I mention three people by name: Michael Stone (who died mid July), Will Pegg and Rev. Master Meiten all from (or near) Vancouver Island  British Columbia Canada. I dedicated the merit of the talk to them, and although I didn’t say it at the time, the merit extends to all those who have supported them, learnt from them and continue to be inspired by them. All three clearly exercise faith and walk the Bodhisattva Path. The world is full of people, Bodhisattvas’, who each in their own way inspire others to live a life of faith and generosity.

That is enough for tonight.

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