Category Archives: Out and About

Well of Suffering, Joy in Living- Video

Although this video is not directly pointing to the recent horrific events in the world however what’s behind it is a wish or intention to offer spiritual merit into the deep well of suffering that we all have been witness to. And are part of.

Traveling (air, land and water), walking, being on pilgrimage is considered to be a merit generating activity. Not in themselves of course. Its the attitude of mind which is open and embracing and generous that makes the difference. Hearts cannot be other than pouring out into the deep well of suffering all around.

Yesterday while walking along Striding Edge towards Helvellyn, the third highest mountain in England, my trusty monastic walking companion took some impromptu video. When he has edited the material down to a decent length I’ll post it. Scrambling along the Edge looks more scary than it actually was although, that said, there were ‘moments’! One can walk along the spine of the ridge which is a bit of a balancing act however for the most part I took the path to one side.

While taking my time, feeling no pressure to rush or be rushed, I found myself deriving great pleasure and along with that gratitude for the rocks as I placed my hands on them. And carefully placed my foot. Feeling the shape, the surface the temperature with my hands and feet finding their surfaces rough, smooth is a joyfulled matter.  As is washing pots and pans or walking across carpet bare foot.

Scrambling along I thought I would share my thoughts with others  using video. Not so much the physicality but more the gratitude that comes from simply being alive. Further to this: to be in a position where the support, of rocks and earth is so full of meaning. Life saving actually, because when up in precarious circumstances (nothing too very precarious by the way) in the high mountains a loss of awareness can have very serious consequences.

So too when walking along city streets. Or going about ones business indoors.

These past weeks have been heart breaking haven’t they. Its been a time of reflection and of offering merit. This post is for all those who have died, are suffering still and have had their lives pulled apart.

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Like Clouds and Water

See also photographs on FB: hounmugo is my name

A rare moment of rest during a long train journey. No complaints there.

For the past eight days I’ve been ‘on the road’. First in The Netherlands staying at the Clouds and Water Hermitage in Friesland, to the north of Holland, then in Utrecht to stay with a Sangha member. And now with a brilliant wi-fi connection on a German train on the way to stay at a temple within our Order in the Black Forest. I’ll be meeting Sangha members lay and monastic, sitting a session, attending a lay ordination and celebrating Wesak. That’s the Buddha’s Birth and Enlightenment. Oh, and sewing a robe for one of the monks.

It is awhile since I have ventured away from the lovely Lake District for extended travel. From now on until late July when I will fly to North America I’ll only be touching base but briefly. However there are plans for a few good high-level walks in the lovely lakeland fells.

As I’ve been filling in my diary for May and June I’ve noticed a certain gladness when I see a week here and a few days there open to be at ‘home base’. Away time and home time. Movement and (kinda) rest. Yesterday I turned a corner mentally, or in attitude, towards this division of my time. Basically counting days until I’m back ‘home’. This is no way to live obviously. What changed? I just stopped counting days into the future. Simple. Might have been something to do with a boat tour around the canal system in Utrecht. Being afloat seems to send me into a nowhere in particular time zone.

Or. It might have been the reminder of living the life of an Unsui, a traveling monk moving freely like clouds and water. Sounds great less easy in practice and more to do with a mind not dwelling anywhere (not for long anyway) than movement across the planet.

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Respect

From a train heading north to Friesland, The Netherlands
I’m in the Netherlands. Think tulips, think windmills, think water! And much more. This morning my host was driving us, and her Greyhound, to a forest where dogs can run free. Vast swaths of land have been reclaimed from the sea, we were at one point driving along the original dyke wall. For as far as the eye could see where once water now forest, fields and dwellings. Amazing engineering when you think about it.

Anyway, this isn’t a travel blog. I’ve a thought to pass on picked up from a meeting in Manchester Thursday evening:
‘Don’t judge my story
By the chapter
You walk into!’.

For a woman I was with today whose story I was invited to read, Respect. Never judge her, nor pity her either.

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Looking Up?

Elf Cups

Now is the time to look up. Literally. Not because there are black clouds gathering with threat of rain chasing you off high places for shelter lower down. For many good reasons rising eyes from the ground and above the horizontal is advised. While, of course, glancing down, to step safely.

Walking with eyes down cast. Sitting with eyes down cast. Standing looking into a ‘device’ all have an impact both mentally and physically. And this morning as I prepare for a walk around Stocks Reservour in the Bowland Forest I’m thinking of ‘aiming up’. Meaning I’ll be raising my eyes above the level of the horizon, frequently. Not just because there are birds and wild fowl buzzing about. butterfly’s too. All interesting to be marveled at.

Nope its because raising my eyes is ‘uplifting’. Who would have thought it only takes look up to uplift oneself. Nothing more required. Well except for also remembering not to fly off (mentally) into the treetops and leave the rest of me behind, dangling unknowingly nowhere in particular. Better stay back with that which is the rest of me!

No thrills, no spills.

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Mabel Sit!

Ah Mabel. Yesterday a photo call by the milky white waterfall in the aptly named Sourmilk Gill above Grasmere.

I’ve know Mabel since she was a wee pup. She just turned three years March 1st and is as lively as ever and loves the lakes almost as much as I do. Whatever the weather, wetter the better for her.

I’ve traveled this path about four times in the last year and as I walked this time memories swam in and out. In my mind walks jumbled together along with the different companions, the walking conditions, stops to snack etc.

Memory snap-shots all jumbled out of sequence. And it maybe the out-of-sequence nature of memories generally that has me wondering just how much of memory is made up, unconsciously. Imaging, imagining, visualizing events and conversations so as to make sense of the jumble. Brains are brilliant at keeping us safe mentally and emotionally. But not necessarily accurate. As we know to our cost sometimes.

So my thought now is on what my teacher taught us. To remember to think when in contention, ‘I could be wrong’, or alternatively ‘I could be right’! An aid to nurturing humility and confidence, depending. All relative though.

Thanks to friends who tolerate my leaky memory. Wars are made of this! Careers are lost and broken because of this.

Plain outright fibs are another story. Mabel! Did you roll in Fox poo? Who me!

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