If our practice is to simply notice natural awareness, a quality of mind that is already present right here and now within every moment, then it is counterproductive to try to make something special happen—even to bring about a meditation state (jhana) or meditative stability. Those practices, so prevalent in Buddhism, draw us toward thinking about a before and an after, pursuing special states of being.
Natural awareness has no before and after; it is already awake. It is already happening. It cannot happen later. There is no special event, other than noticing with increasing depth and intensity what is happening right now. Sometimes natural awareness is also called “ordinary awareness,” emphasizing that it is nothing exotic or special. It is ever-present and ordinary, a constant reality. And yet to witness something this subtle directly is extraordinary and the essence of awakening
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.
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!
Just sometimes, when you are smack in the middle of some trauma or anxiety provoking situation it is best not to jump too quickly to thinking about what the teaching was/is. But it’s tempting if only to bring oneself comfort in the midst of pain. So it is for me at the moment. I’m tempted to write about my recent dental travails however that’s still ongoing and better left to settle down. If nothing else I’ve come to accept that it’s no good blaming the dentist for my tooth problems and pain. I know where the responsibility lies. Really simple! In the scheme of things my troubles are small.
It is heart rending to hear about the hard places people find themselves in. A woman on the phone today with a serious heart condition. So bad the consultant is not able to do anything, too dangerous to proceed with surgery. She said, It’s the nights that are worse, wondering if this pain is a heart attack. or not.. The night magnifies everything especially if alone. I offered my mobile number. Call me in the night if you need to.Thank you darling, God Bless. She replied.
There is a litany of people I know who are facing or have just gone through major surgery. There are others who live with chronic pain, chronic fear of dying and diminishing cognitive abilities. What stories people have to tell, life lessons to learn. The most compelling story to tell is the approach of death and few people live well enough to tell the tale.
But something remarkable has been happening on Mondays on Radio 4 around 5.30 am. Star broadcaster Eddie Mair has been interviewing Steve Hewlett, star journalist and BBC correspondent and much more. Steve was diagnosed with cancer last September and Eddie for the Radio 4 PM program has been following Steve’s progress allowing his story to unfold with gentle good nature and with tender good humoured questioning. So how did it feel when you were told there was no more treatment that could be given? Asked Eddie, Steve’s response….? Here are all the interviews starting back in September last year.
The last episode:
Steve has had to continue his stay in the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, so Eddie Mair went to visit him again. During their conversation, Steve told Eddie that his consultant had said his liver would not be able to handle any more treatments and that the outlook in the long term was not good.
On a happier note, he and his partner Rachel decided to get married.
There’s a journalist telling his own story as it happens. He blames nobody. He speaks not for entertainment but for education and for uplift. For those who are in extremity themselves or who are beside somebody who is. Guess that covers all of us.
The Undying One
Enclosed with this
Wrinkling Skin Bag
Think to abandon?
This is for a monk who is approaching a juncture in monastic training. And if the words seem slightly familiar I’ve taken the last few lines of a well known poem and reworked them. Song of the Grass-Roof Hut. Considerably!