Honouring the Buddha

When I am gone.
And the house seems empty.
Do not thou.
O plum tree by the eaves.
The spring forget.

The above verse appears on the side of the stupa at Shasta built in memory of Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett.

Gathered in the gloaming last evening the community at Shasta circumambulated the stupa three times, all the while singing exquisitely. A new chant I was not familiar with. Simply walking and listening surrounded by the gathering night, in the presence of this magnificent white marble stupa, was yet another treat I wish to mark here. The circling of the stupa three times, a Buddhist way of showing respect and honour, was part of a ceremony performed on the fifth day of each month. On the sixth day there is a ceremony in remembrance of Rev. Kennett’s death; sixth November 1996.

This evening I found out the route of this poem, which is essentially a death poem. I felt sure that Helen Waddell was part of the picture and I was right. At the very end of her biography there is an excerpt from a letter written 9th April 1918. It reads thus:

H.W. to Dr. George Taylor
A scrap of Japanese verse from an old book of my father’s that I turned up the other day.
When I am gone,
And the house desolate,
Yet do not thou, O plum tree by the eaves,
The spring forget.

(My camera has died. So until it is resurrected, or I get another one, photos will be absent. Sorry about that.)

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