Category Archives: Uncategorized

Lonely Moon

Walking along the lane to the second meditation period. Six forty and light is in the sky, rosie red on the rim of the Eastern moors. Gazing around, the moors to the West are pink frost. All is quiet, not a sound, no bird song, not a hint of wind. So very still, whisper still. The moors draw my eyes further westward and then WHAM! what a surprise, the moon is resting on the horizon. How did that get there? It’s a huge round orb, yellow-orange hanging in space, what a treat.

Morning moons are not sulky or moody like the night ones. At Shasta the moon over the mountain at night could have had even the hard hearted out writing poetry about loneliness and lost love. I just gazed at it in awe. But the morning moon, this mornings moon, had me wanting to scuttle back for my cameras – still and video. Silently I walked on congratulating myself for my restraint. Meditation comes first, the choice was clear, it wasn’t a struggle.

This post is for the late mother of one of the monks. Some of her belongings and the contents of her food cupboards came here today to find a home. It’s important for a deceased persons belongings to be cared for with respect and love. My teacher once said the belongs of the newly dead should not be lonely. By that I understood her to mean one should not abandon items out of hand but to give things a home where they will be taken care of. I have an old biscuit tin, which I love.

Perhaps it is good to remember not to abandon ourselves to loneliness. Just a thought.

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Mountains Have Been Moved

You know how it is when you know it’s time to move house but well, you think of a million good reasons to stay where you are. Who likes change? Who enjoys packing up and moving and then having to learn new ways. That’s how it has been with both Moving Mountains and also Jade Mountain. Each for different reasons needed to be moved, it was that or build on extensions to both of them!

Today with deft hand and steely nerve, the content of Moving Mountains was copied from here to Jade Mountains by a kind volunteer in Texas. When all is ready and presentable the doors of Jade Mountains will be opened and I’ll blog on. There will be more options to post audio, video and a whole host of other stuff. Gently as she goes though, we don’t want to scare the horses.

Here is how the move was made:

We have a minor miracle here (in Texas). Your moving mountains posts are now in drupal. To do this I had to install two different versions of wordpress, import your blogger content into wordpress 2.3, export that and import it into wordpress 2.2, then export it again. After that I had to install special software to convert the content into the drupal format, break your content into 5 sections and run the program for several hours – while not being sure that the whole process would work. Now I remember why I decided to move out of programming and into management.

Well done, and more thanks than I can say.

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Timing is All

Conducting a funeral yesterday in a room 6ft by 8ft, containing seven people and a coffin presents some difficulties, but non insurmountable. Timing is all at these events especially when the body has to be moved across town mid proceedings. It’s the funeral directors we have to thank for ensuring everybody is in the right place at the right time. And to leave afterwards, briskly. Thankfully all went well with both the Funeral at the funeral home and the Memorial at the crematorium afterwards. Fifty, very sad, people attended.

Funeral directors perform a much needed service and they do it with dignity and firmness. Being sensitive to the potential wrath from those in charge I was keyed up to keep within our alloted time! At the last moment I discovered we actually had forty five minutes from getting everybody in to getting them out. Ceremonies happen one after the other in quick succession in busy Crematoriums so I guess that fifteen minutes ease room is there for over running or unforeseen circumstances. At the very last moment the director gave me his last and closely kept secret. The clock in the Crematorium is set five minutes fast! As it happened we were all done and finished in twenty.

One thing about death is that it is hard to predict timing. Funeral Directors are always on call to go and pick up bodies at any time of the day or night and in all possible conditions. They are often on the scene with the police and often the ones who first console the shocked and bereaved. They face death every day of the week, it’s their business. And they retain a sense of humour, behind the scenes.

Well, there is one creature, Oscar the cat, who has made predicting the time of death his business. In his innocence he is providing a service for relatives and friends so they can be present at the scene of death, before the Undertakers.

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The Laughing Buddha

Most of the people who came for retreat have gone, the rain is chucking it down and the wind is wathering (as in Wathering Heights).

The monastery was recently given a collection of small Hotei statues and I adopted the majority, with a view to giving them away. Two went with one person to Newcastle and two more will be going to Malaysia tomorrow, I know they will all have good homes. In the East when people have statues they no long want they take them to the temple and it is understood that visitors can choose one and take it home. There is no price you can put on a Buddha statue.

Here is an extract from a letter I received after giving a talk on Hotei a couple of years ago.

Dear Rev. Mugo,
Your talk touched a spot for me that I had been tangling with for some time. I think I need to take more notice of what Hotei teaches, he sounds like my sort of guy. Do you remember sending me a bookmark? Well I put it on my shelf with my collection of little treasures, shells, stones, seedpods etc along with a small statue of Hotei stretching his arms upwards. The words you wrote read, “may you be well and happy”. I have looked at those words and statue many, many times when I have been feeling low, almost with despair and disbelief. When I’d repeated the words in the Litany of the Great Compassionate One “a joy springs up in me” I had practically choked.

Last night I felt quite emotional for various reasons but something leapt in me, that sounds a rather superior way of describing a sort of jerking, yawning and stretching that was yelling YES YES. Looking at Hotei this morning really made me smile from ear to ear and I felt that I had to share this with you and to wish you joy.

In gassho,

I have a feeling that one of the monks, not a million miles away, will have the statue I’m thinking of and I’ll take a photograph and post it.

The merit of this posting is offered to a good friend of the Order who has given of herself unstintingly and who is facing serious health problems at the moment. May you be well and happy.

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Rev. Yogo’s Wife


Soon after we arrived Rev. Yogo’s wife served tea and brought out the family photo albums for us to look at. There was a very moving photograph of his father, when Abbot of Sojiji, dressed in full ceremonial robes extending his hand in greeting to his wife. She was wearing a blue-green small kesa much like the ones the Lay Ministers wear in our Order (Order of Buddhist Contemplatives).

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