Category Archives: Out and About

Training hand, heart and mind

This letter, first published in 2006, is reproduced now in slightly edited form.

Dear Rev. Mugo,
I thought I would write to let you know what I have discovered about Trinity College of Music at the time Rev. Master (Jiyu-Kennett) would have been in contact with it, in case it is of interest.

Trinity was started in 1872 by Bonavia Hunt who was deeply concerned by the quality of church music which was becoming poorer and poorer. Trinity was first known as the Church Choral Society and College of Church music. It was open to members of the Anglican Church, and men only! The college started with a view to teaching so that quality could be restored and the long tradition of church music continued. As it developed, the college trained teachers and offered exams throughout the world so that standards could be maintained. I’m not sure of the date, but women were also welcomed in to study before the war.

By 1939 the numbers at the college grew and the college ethos was one of welcome and the doors were opened on Sundays as well as all other days, “to keep the lamp of music burning during these dark days.” The choir was open to those who’s choral societies had had to disband for war reasons. Trinity hosted concerts throughout the war and two concerts in 1942 were given by the children of London county council and Middlesex who studied on Saturday mornings with Gladys Puttick, a pioneer who arrived at Trinity in 1934 and was one of the first to teach musicianship beyond the instrument. She was also the founder of the Saturday School and Trinity was the first music college to have a Saturday junior department. Distance Learning also started to help those unable to get into college to study, in fact Prisoners of War were able to do distance learning with help from the British Red Cross offices.

Gladys Puttick arrived in 1934 and stayed until the 1970s. Three other notable people were at Trinity from the 1930s – mid 1960s. Charles Kennedy Scott was keen on the study of Plainsong and the chanting of Psalms and gave regular lectures and led rehearsals. Dr Lowery was passionate about organs, organ music and is noted as giving superb lectures. The Principal of Trinity from 1944 -1965, Dr Wilfred Greehouse Allt was also an organist who was the President of the Incorporated Association of Organists from 1956-1958 and then of the Royal College of Organists from 1962-1964. Rev Master would almost certainly have come into contact with Gladys Puttick and Charles Kennedy Scott, whether based at Trinity or as a distant learner.

Gladys Puttick gave a lecture in the 1940s and it reveals an approach to learning that often goes unnoticed. She said that music was, “essentially a pivotal subject of education, since it could be the means of training, at once, the hand, the heart and the mind.”

It would appear that Rev Master was in good hands.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Another Labour of Love

I was out and about yesterday as the weather was fine and the wind had dropped.  These model villages in the nearby village of Nenthead are quite something, quite the labour of love.

This post is dedicated to all those who are new to practice or finding it a bit of a struggle to either keep going or to get back to formal meditation. In a certain sense practice is a labour of love. Love with no gain, unconditional love if you will. Oh, and good fortune to the three chaps I met on the road after the recent Intro. Retreat.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A Hole in Samsara


There are those little moments, those sights or sounds, which have a powerful impact lifting the spirits when times are hard. Such was the case for a Jade reader, whose wife is on hospice care, who experienced the following while out of the house for a brief time of respite.

A grey drizzly Sunday morning in Lancaster. Walking the dog, we crossed the bridge over the canal and followed the glistening wet cobbles of the spiral staircase specially sloped for the long-gone horses that used to tow the barges. We stopped while the dog raised his leg to leave his mark on the wall.

The drizzle eased for a brief moment and glancing up I saw a tiny hole in the cloudy murk reveal the blue sky beyond. A soft “chug – chug” announced the slow approach of a narrow boat barely making a ripple as it traveled through the water. As the boat past, the man at the tiller and I waved to each other simultaneously and spontaneously. Then he and the boat passed under the bridge and were gone. The dog and I continued on our way.

Nothing special. Yet highly significant. A moment of total harmony. A glimpse of Nirvana through a hole in Samsara.
9th. September 2018

While we teach there is no gap between Nirvana and Samsara such experiences as described above touch a deep part of ones being showing ones heart some much appreciated ‘light’.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Appreciating The Day

Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey at the time of Wesak.

Yesterday, Wesak Day.  We celebrate the Buddhas Birth and Enlightenment sometime during May, the event marks the Buddhist New Year.   Traditionally Wesak is on the Sunday that is closest to May’s full moon.  In Malaysia this year that’s the 29th May.  As a point of interest Rev. Master Jiyu’s Ordination Master, the Venerable Seck Kim Seng, was instrumental in getting Wesak Day made into a public holiday in Malaysia.

As you can see we get out the Buddhist, home-made, bunting and generally decorate brightly around the monastery.  I was fortunate to be at Throssel on Sunday to join in the celebrations.

Moments of repose in the greening of England.

Today, a public holiday.  Moments of repose beside a river:  here  Wild Garlic in profusion, a Blue Heron statue like, birds calling.  A lone duck floats by on the current.  Ah! the sunshine, the warmth. The profusion of greenery.  It’s been a record-breaking day in terms of temperatures.  A good day all around. Even the trash looks good today!

Sitting beside the river this afternoon my mind wandered to those less fortunate all around the wide world.  This post is for them.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Inside Eiheiji – Video

In 2005 I was witness to the training going on here at Eiheiji. We, the late Iain Robinson and I were escorted everywhere and left in no doubt as to where and what was expected of us. Interesting, informative, educational and stressful! The highlight for me was being invited to offer incense at the main altar during Morning Service. All very formal, we survived! Thought readers would want to view this ‘window’ on how young monks are trained to be priests in Japan.

Eiheiji is a world-famous Zen monastery located in the mountains 200 kilometers northeast of Kyoto. As the temple’s founder Dogen prescribed, the core practice is zazen: simply sitting to calm the mind and examine one’s self. Most of the 150 monks are in their 20’s. They live at the temple, devoting themselves to uninterrupted Zen practice. With unprecedented access inside this remarkable temple, where Dogen’s teachings have been practiced unchanged for over 770 years, the program follows the monks’ lives over the course of 6 months.

This video is available until May 2, 2018

Print Friendly, PDF & Email