Category Archives: photograph

Understanding Emptiness

Rev. Master Jiyu would say, “It (emptiness) is the fullest emptiness you will ever know”. She was talking from her own experience and understanding and when ever I heard her say that I thought, “well that’s good” but didn’t ‘get’ what she was saying.

Here is a quote I find rather helpful in understanding the Buddhist concept of emptiness.

I often use the example of a hand in speaking about emptiness; we can call it a hand or we can call it a collection of five fingers. As a collection of five fingers, each finger is independent and has a different shap and function. We cannot exhange the little finger with the thumb because each has its own function, shape, and unique way of being. A thumb cannot do precisely what a little finger does and a little finger cannot do what a thumb does. Each finger is truly independent. And yet, from another perspective as one hand, all five fingers function together, and there is no separation between them. When we see the fingers in this united way, there is really just one hand

Realizing Genjokoan, Shohaku Okumura, p17.
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The 10,000 Grasses

The morning dew on the tips of the ten thousand grasses reveals the truth of all the myriad forms of this great earth. Zen Master Dogen

Each thing, each tip of grass, each dewdrop, each and every thing throughout the whole phenomenal universe contains the totality of the universe. That’s the truth of the myriad forms of this great earth. Copied from this article on Dogen’s Mountains and Rivers Suttra, commentary by the late John Daido Loori, Roshi. Bless him.

The photograph shows the West Allan Valley looking north(ish) towards the monastery. Lovely day today. It is nearly the end of a week-long retreat in the monastery with lots of guests. The merit of this post is offered to all those in extremity, in particular those preparing for surgery. The morning dew reveals the truth, the third position beyond the opposites. In the article refered to as the ‘third thing’. There is always the third thing.

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Live Your Life

Ashgill Force on the South Tyne

I can stay
Skip the wedding
No problem
Really.

Close to death.
Massive stroke.
Speaking difficult
Message to partner.

Struggling to form words
Her partner said
I want you to
LIVE YOUR LIFE!

What a gift!
Last words a life
friend could speak
A gift for us all.

What does it actually mean to live ones life? Is it to squeeze every last drop out of ones day filling it with memorable experiences? Not for me, although I’ve been blessed with many a memorable moment in my life. Let me think….to me, at the moment, living life is to appreciate/be with the life of THIS. Just this. That can be as simple as feeling warm water running over my hands, listening to a bee gathering food or catching a sight of the wide sweep of this West Allen Valley in Northumberland, where I’m currently living.

Here a short video showing the waterfall in all its glory. Twas a great few hours in Autumn sunshine walking up to this fantastic waterfall.

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The Important Thing?

Distant Fells.

Is it easy to lose sight of the ‘important thing’? That which calls one back to sit still when it makes no sense. Sometimes the longing to ‘touch base’ gets side tracked by matters that seem more important. Even the side tracks, perhaps especially the so called side tracks lead one back to….the important thing.

Not easy, yet rather simple, to touch that which calls us back. To return, not having left! A nudge, a whisper, a sight, a sound, a touch. The wind in the trees, the stars in an inky blue-black sky, a view of distant beloved fells. Somebody said on a call this evening, ‘it’s those times when I’m suffering the most that bring me back to the deepest place’. What ever it takes I’d say.

It is easy to lose sight of the ‘important thing’. Because and this is the rub? There is no separate ‘thing’ to lose sight of! (sorry to talk in riddles.) And still as Great Master Dogen says in Rules for Meditation ‘pure Zazen must be done’. I could go on and on however I’ll refrain. And as it happens refraining/ceasing is central to the matter.

That’s another story.

This post is for Will Pegg recently deceased, and for his dear wife Lou and innumerable friends.

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The Great Ungraspable

Really.
Get a grip!
All those tears
aimless arms
Flailing.
Is that so bad?

Really.
Get a grip!
Oh, deep sighs.
Furrowed brow.
Is there an end? Ever?
Is ‘ever’ so bad?

Really.
Get a grip!
At what ever age
We ‘lose it’
Early, middle Elderly.
Is that so bad?

For all those who, from time to time, feel like their grasp has deserted them. Happens to me sometimes. And at the end of life, sooner or later, our grasp will open to an embrace unimaginable. This is for Will in particular who is fast approaching the great ungraspable. If we didn’t hang on how would we know about letting go?

I’ll have to think about all of this. It’s getting late, better get to bed.

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