Category Archives: Teachings

Old Life Completely Past and Done

Here a poem which resonates with me today. It’s two days after a dear Buddhist Sangha friend, Brenda Birchenough died. ‘The Deer’ speaks of sitting with the dying which I’ve been doing for the past week. And before that there has been anticipation. Dear Brenda has spread her wings and taken off into the bright light of the ‘sun’. This short piece below came in an email which fits the moment perfectly.
I now have the impression of them (parents) having moved on and out into huge, sunlit spaces. I think of dragonflies, that spend years crawling in the mud at the bottom of a pond, and then one day just leave it all behind, climbing a stalk into the air; split their skins, and emerge winged, to take off into the sun. All the old life completely past and done.

The Deer
January. Empty days.
The deer, hidden among the trees,
don’t come out any more
to look for the cold, fallen apples on her lawn.

She lies there, not moving;
only her lips, only her hands –
two snails wanting water,
two dry leaves, hardly stirred by her breath.

Over the lawn, the rain,
a cobweb in the uncertain light,
and last autumn’s apples, never picked.

She lies there, not speaking;
only, Water
only, It hurts
only, Leave me now

And the deer, in the early dawn,
don’t come looking for her fruit.
They hide among the trees,

while she dreams, and dreams,
through falling threads of rain,
of ancient summers rich with apples,
and her hands freighted with gold.

By Mark Rowan

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The Middle Way is Not Straight


Green is bursting out all over the place. This lane is in the Black Forest Germany where I’ve been spending some time.

Meanwhile, in the Southern Lake District, there has been a whole lot of ‘greening’ going on too. Lakeland Fells are on the horizon.

From my vantage point a small gathering of young deer lurk behind me. The sheep persistent in her presence.

Artful Nature

Then there is nature up close. This dandelion caught my eye,  extending one of it’s fluffy seed heads into a notch at the end of a rural bench.

As you will observe from these photographs the sun has been shining, the weather has been great. So much so one wonders if is will stay this way for ever. Well, nothing lasts for ever and rain today is in the forecast. There is the weather outside and there is the ‘weather’ inside.

This post is for those whose internal weather is testing them mentally/physically and in all ways. We call that having health ‘challenges’. Challenge covers a whole spectrum of pain, discomfort and worry. The question is, how does one meet the challenge. Practically speaking, how does one tread the middle path? That’s between: having ‘further tests’, ‘living with’ what one has, escaping. From my own experience the middle path includes all three: tests, living with (acceptance) and finding ways to escape if for a brief time. Oh yes, and medication.

In particular this is for three people I know who have had, or about to have, further tests or in one case a medical procedure.

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Buddhism in Plain English – a Book Available

For those of you who have not read Rev. Master Daizui’s book Buddhism from Within there is now the chance of buying a print on demand from LULU, downloading a .pdf or buying a copy when visiting either Shasta Abbey or Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey. I’ve a particular connection with this books since Rev. Master Daizui finished writing it sitting in my mobile home/trailer in Cornwall when he visited in the spring of 2002. He was a monk with a mission striding to my trailer each afternoon to work. In the mornings we would do Order business.

We are pleased to announce that Shasta Abbey Press has arranged a second printing of Rev. Master Daizui MacPhillamy’s book, Buddhism From Within: An Intuitive Introduction to Buddhism. Rev. Master Daizui was a senior disciple of Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett and served as her successor as Head of the Order from 1996 to 2003. The content of the book remains the same.

Buddhism from Within can now be purchased through Lulu.com as a print-on-demand book. This means that when someone orders a copy from Lulu, the book is printed and mailed to the person. The proceeds from purchases help support the Order.

The book is also available for sale at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey and Shasta Abbey; it can be downloaded as a free PDF on the Shasta Abbey Publications webpage.

Copied from an OBC Web Page

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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.

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‘So’ – Like a Noxious Weed

So, another day draws to a close full of activity, notably celebrating my cousins 80th birthday with him and his family. And, since I’ve been staying close by, I once again have had the opportunity to view the art installation at Crosby beach near Liverpool titled Another Place. But that’s not my main thought tonight. My thought is about language, and my use of it. In particular the use of ‘So’ at the start of a sentence. I have also noticed a growing habit of mine of starting sentences with ‘and’ which everybody knows is simply not on. But I’m apparently wrong. Starting a sentence with but? Not on either.

Anyway back to the use of ‘so’ . Consider this from John Humphrys, our very own presenter for the ‘Today’ program on BBC Radio 4.

He blamed the rise of ‘so’ on bumbling academics who use it ‘perhaps to buy a bit of time when they’re not quite sure how to answer the question’. However, he lamented that: ‘Now the misplaced “so” has invaded everyday speech like some noxious weed in an untended garden’.

At the very least paying attention to what comes out of ones mouth, considering what is broadcast, refraining from words better not spoken, is a good practice.

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