Category Archives: Teachings

All Relationships End?

Well yes, all relationships do end if you look at the matter from a ‘nothing is separate from anything else’ perspective. However the fact of and the living through the end of a relationship, be it through death or incompatibility or all the reasons people end relationships, the non dual seeing doesn’t take the pain away. Even though I find Rilke hard to follow I get what he is saying. And I think most of us can wish for a split that has some life and goodwill left after the explosion of separation. I remember the pain as more like an internal explosion which lasts some time. Disturbing.

Rilke on how to break up with integrity and preserve friendship after romance.
As soon as two people have resolved to give up their togetherness, the resulting pain with its heaviness or particularity is already so completely part of the life of each individual that the other has to sternly deny himself to become sentimental and feel pity. The beginning of the agreed-upon separation is marked precisely by this pain, and its first challenge will be that this pain already belongs separately to each of the two individuals. This pain is an essential condition of what the now solitary and most lonely individual will have to create in the future out of his reclaimed life.

He considers the measure of a “good breakup” — a separation that, however painful in its immediate loss, is a long-term gain for both partners, individually and together:

If two people managed not to get stuck in hatred during their honest struggles with each other, that is, in the edges of their passion that became ragged and sharp when it cooled and set, if they could stay fluid, active, flexible, and changeable in all of their interactions and relations, and, in a word, if a mutually human and friendly consideration remained available to them, then their decision to separate cannot easily conjure disaster and terror.

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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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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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