Category Archives: Teachings

Not a Comfortable Place

Have you recently thought about the state of the world?
A couple of proselytising persons had found their way to the isolated cottage where I was staying these past couple of weeks. They had come in a large 4 x 4 with a spiritual mission, and I accepted that. They looked like regular folk. But how to answer the question? It was one of those moment when the mind goes literal. HAD I thought about the state of the world? Recently?

My answer, not thought through and following quickly on the heels of the question. Uh! sorry I’m really very busy with something inside. I excused myself and went indoors and they turned and left, no hard feelings. It was the best I could do at the time. I’d excused myself from the inevitable debate, politely and respectfully I hope. There was not an intention to deceive or to tell an untruth yet all the same, looked at from a certain perspective, I’d not been completely truthful.

The end of the poem that has been posted these past couple of weeks has the protagonist telling a fib. Moved by profound emotion while reading, his tears had soaked the book. A neighbour came by and asked about the wet book. Our friend said the rain had come in during the night and soaked it.

Actions, such as my response, are not without consequence of course, however the basic guiding principle is to do as little harm as possible and intention is paramount in terms of keeping the precepts. In a way the above two examples are about saving both self and other from lengthy explanations about subtle matters, which are difficult to negotiate at the best of times even with like minded listeners.

We will just have to continue to sit balanced on the tip of the sword of justice. This is not a comfortable place, as any parent with small children know only too well! Maturing to spiritual adulthood is our task.

Thanks to Miles for raising the question about truthfulness of speech, an important question.

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Self Reassurance

Sister Ruth, who is looking for a place to live, is one of just 600 Christian religious scattered around Europe who have made a vow to live as hermits.

This is her philosophy behind living a solitary life. “It is all about stopping the craving for interaction with other people – the addiction to all the things we think we need in order to reassure ourselves that we are loved and valued as beings,” she explains. “Identity literally translates as ‘to make a thing of yourself’. So much of our contact with others is hollow and about creating feedback about ourselves.”

See also this, from a few weeks ago.

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Training Merit

I’ve learnt my lesson; I’ll not do it again. Just how many times have I said that? How many times have you said that? Last night, late, I struggled to type a posting. It was to be the absolutely last one on death, for awhile anyway. I pressed the publish button and what I had written left the screen, for ever. Sometimes Blogger ‘goes down for repair’, last night was such a time. From now on, without fail I’ll make a copy of postings before publishing.

Sometimes when something bad happens the response of frustration/anger is skipped over to a calm acceptance, effortlessly. I believe this to be training merit coming into its own. That’s what happened last night, I got whisked past habit. It happens. More often than not though, the practice of deliberately refraining from fanning the flames of frustration is what’s needed. In this way practice grows training merit, which helps both oneself and others. So, at the moment of death, which must be a huge shock to the system, and having practiced refraining, you and I will be well equipped to face the next step confidently. Perhaps training merit will kick in too, who knows.

We are preparing for the New Years Eve Meditation Vigil and ceremony which will happen tomorrow night and for the festive meal the following day. How I love to cook in quantity.

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More to Dying than Death

I came across the teachings of Lama Shenpen Hookham and spent a good part of yesterday reading what she had to say. She has recently published a book called There’s More to Dying than Death, a Buddhist Perspective. I find her writing very accessible and truly wise. There is a chapter on Bereavement which I could not equal, as well as practical and spiritual instructions for people close to death and for the people around them.
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Planning a Buddhist Funeral

Following a request to talk about Buddhist Funerals I took a look around and found this article partly written by Rev. Saido Kennaway of Telford Buddhist Priory. He is a senior priest of our Order. It’s a gem in terms of resources and ideas for planning a funeral.
That’s it for to-day.
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