Category Archives: Teachings

Admirable Friendship the Whole of the Holy Life.

We meet on Sunday mornings for meditation and morning service. Afterwards we generally do some working meditation together. Yesterday, and for a few Sundays to come, it was leaf raking the back lawn and pruning the longer branches of a couple of ‘volunteer’ trees growing close to the house wall. (They are probably not doing the foundations of the house much good in the long term when I think about it.) Anyway, we have left the leaves in plastic bags in the garden, with holes punched in them, to over winter for use as mulch in the spring. That will be around…err mid to late March! Afterwards we had ‘tea on the lawn’, a British tradition which my Canadian friends were happy to participate in.


Chris, Terry, Dan and Mike.

Speaking of friends, here is material relating to the subject of friendship in the Dharma that I’d asked about a post or two ago. Thanks to the two adventurous readers who found the quote. Looks like Access To Insight is a good site to remember for references.

Samyutta Nikaya XLV.2
Upaddha Sutta Half (of the Holy Life)
Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was living among the Sakyans. Now there is a Sakyan town named Sakkara. There Ven. Ananda went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to the Blessed One, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, Ven. Ananda said to the Blessed One, “This is half of the holy life, lord: admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie.” “Don’t say that, Ananda. Don’t say that. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life. When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, & comrades, he can be expected to develop & pursue the noble eightfold path. “And how does a monk who has admirable people as friends, companions, & comrades, develop & pursue the noble eightfold path? There is the case where a monk develops right view dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in relinquishment. He develops right resolve … right speech … right action … right livelihood … right effort … right mindfulness … right concentration dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in relinquishment. This is how a monk who has admirable people as friends, companions, & colleagues, develops & pursues the noble eightfold path.
“And through this line of reasoning one may know how admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life: It is in dependence on me as an admirable friend that beings subject to birth have gained release from birth, that beings subject to aging have gained release from aging, that beings subject to death have gained release from death, that beings subject to sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair have gained release from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. It is through this line of reasoning that one may know how admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life.”

I hope it goes without saying that, while the Buddha is speaking of monks, the practicing of the Eightfold Path with admirable friends is for all who resolve to tread the path of Buddhist practice and choose to do that along side others.

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Two Weddings and a Memorial.

June and Mark on Saturday and Ian and Rachel on Wednesday. They made their solemn vows and were married at Reading Buddhist Priory with Rev. Master Olwen, the prior, officiating. If somebody had told me that the priory could contain forty plus people at once, all in one room, I’d have been doubtful. These two weddings proved it possible, just!

I’d been invited to witness these two weddings and although I’d originally not planned to attend them my schedule in the UK is flexible enough to allow for change. To go seemed good to do. So last Saturday I caught the train from Exeter, where I’d been staying with Rev. Master Myfanwy at Dragon Bell Temple, to Reading near London. I was glad to be present and to personally wish these couples well in their lives together and to join in the celebrations with their family and friends, many of whom had not been to a anything Buddhist before.

Years ago I attended the annual religious conference at Atlantic College in Wales. The youngsters at that school, along with the religious teachers, were invited to ceremonies from different faith traditions with a view to nurturing tolerance and greater religious understanding. One evening we had a Shabbat Supper, a ceremonial meal within the Jewish tradition. The wife of the officiating rabbi gave some orientation to help us be at ease. She explained as follows, “When you attending a friends wedding you go and participate whole heartedly. However when you leave you do not end up married!” She continued, “So it is with our meal together. Please do join in wholeheartedly, and at the end of it be assured, you will not be a Jew”! This helped tremendously and I have used her words at occasions, such as weddings, to help non-Buddhist relax in the unfamiliar Buddhist setting and ceremonial.

As it happened, at one of the weddings this week, there were people of the Jewish faith. The bride had already mentioned that she was slightly concerned about how her Jewish father would respond to being at the priory. During the ceremony, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a gentleman who at first seemed far away and who then gradually entered into the ceremony as it proceeded. It was touched to catch a fleeting sight of his soft face turned towards his daughter as she made her vows. I related this latter and was told that hearing of her fathers attention was ‘the best present she could receive from him’. I was glad to be able to pass on what I’d observed.

On route from Exeter to Reading, and now on my return journey to Cornwall in what is called the West Country, the train passes through Taunton in Somerset. It is a special place of remembrance since my father died on the platform just before meeting me off a train in January 2000. At that time, as my trained pulled out of the station, I was silent witness to a touching scene. I observed from across several tracks the paramedics arrive and attempt to revive a gentleman, unknown to me at the time. Considering the odds of being present at the time of my father’s death, given my tendency to travel, I am always so grateful for what happened in Taunton since I was able to be there for him. There, even though I didn’t realize it at the time! I was also conveniently placed to attend to all that follows the death, identifying the body followed by funeral arrangements. My father and mother are buried in the grounds of Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey in Northumberland.

Each time I pass through Taunton on the train, as I have just done, I remember my father with great gratitude. I also remember with a smile, at the circumstances of his death, he would have smiled too!

So there we have it ‘Two Weddings and a Memorial’! For those who don’t watch movies the title of this posting is a sideways reference to ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’.

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Every Day, is Every Day.


And then there are the people who do the hard work sweeping up the fallen leaves and petals.

There is a saying in Zen Buddhism which goes “Every day is a good day”. Ms. Yoko, who we met for lunch yesterday in Nagoya, remembered her teacher Yogo Roshi saying “Every day is every day”!

The late Yogo Roshi was one of Rev. Master’s Jiyu Kennett’s Dharma teachers when she was in Japan.

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Eiko the Cook.

You might want to go and read one of the comments attached to the posting titled Eiko. Edera, Iains wife, kindly translated a posting Eiko had put on her blog around the time we had lunch at her place. Eiko is a cook we might want to take example from in terms of her attitude of mind as well as her wonderful ability to make food that feeds not only the body.

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Crossing the Road.

This afternoon when we were out in the car we gave way to a school girl who wanted to cross in front of us. First she bowed to acknowledge the offer then walked briskly across the road and then turned and bowed again in the direction of the car. This, apparently, is relatively normal behaviour for young school children.

Earlier Edera, Iain’s wife, saw this Haiku on the side of the road:

If you hold the wheel
With the Buddha Mind
No accident will happen.

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