Electro Positive.

We were talking about plumbing at tea this evening. The conversation ranged quickly through the pros and cons of copper over plastic and how a mouse had, some time ago, eaten through some plastic piping causing a leak. Then we learnt that copper if pressed up against another metal, such as a nail could, by magical means, spring a leak too. It was explained that copper is strongly electro positive and thus reacts (strongly?) with certain other metal and so on. And I could not resist telling my story having got such a perfect lead in. “Well, I have been trying to be electro positive myself lately” and then the whole sorry story of my new laptop, now lost in transit on it’s way to Toshiba HQ to be mended, came tumbling out. And it will not tumble out here, as the point I am coming to is the place of humor.

Many years ago a number of the monks at Shasta Abbey were part of a study aimed at assessing the effect meditation and Buddhist practice had on personality. The results were published in a professional journal and we all received an off print. The one thing I remember, among the many points made, was that the monks had retained, and even developed, a keen sense of humor and that was ‘a good thing’. That humor helps one to keep the trials and tribulations of life in perspective. Humor is then, perhaps, a ‘saving grace’. At least when the intention behind it is right. Personally I like visual humor so here, for your laughing pleasure, is a sign seen in southern California.

A good friend of mine left a comment to the previous posting speaking about ‘following’. Well, there is probably a lot I could say however tonight I want to applaud her sense of humor which has uplifted me time and time again for over twenty five years. “I will follow you…” or at the very least attempt to emulate your singing heart.

With Dignity and Grace.

While staying with Iain and Edera in their home in Japan I was introduced to Edera’s Kimono teacher who had come round one afternoon. We first celebrated the tea ceremony at the dining room table, with Edera as the assistant to the celebrant, and then we went into the formal Japanese room. There I was shown a thing or two about how to get up off the ground. The art of the Kimono, how to put it on, how to move in it, how to take it off and fold it is all incredibly detailed. Edera’s kimono teacher imparted grace and dignity with every small gesture and movement she made; it is good to think of her now.

Learning how to get off the floor in formal robes the Japanese way.

In the east I was shown in great detail several ways to make full bows. This included which hand goes down first onto the floor and which one to push off with, not to mention all the hand movements one makes on the way up and on the way down. The culmination of all this learning and practice comes before me when I make bows during morning service in the monastery. I do them along with everybody else however I notice that I have now incorporated small features I learn in the east. Nothing major but they are there. This brings up quite a lot especially around the willingness to follow; the readiness to drop what one has learnt, to follow what the form is in ones present circumstances. My present practice is to do what ever it is with as much dignity as I can muster and the meshing with current practice will follow with repetition. Learning takes repetition and so does unlearning it would seem. Thinking about it that holds true for so many things

Heavenly Beings.

While preparing to travel to Japan back in the spring of this year there was little time to be making a wish list of places and things I wanted to see. Just making the basic arrangements was about all I could manage at the time. If I’d made one this triptych would have been on the list. I have always admired it and was so pleased to behold it in a temple near Nara. (perhaps somebody could enlighten us as to where I saw it please).

Having mentioned angels a few days back I want to point out that we having beings in our iconography called ‘heavenly beings’. You can see them in the screen behind the statues in the photograph. This image was copied out of a book.

I remember standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon a few years back and finding myself thinking “Oh, so this is the Grand Canyon”. Having seen so many photos of it I realized that I’d built up a image of how it would be, how I might feel etc. It was big and magnificent and it took me a moment to get past the slight disappointment of it not matching up to what I’d, unknowingly, expected. Seeing this triptych was similar, I had thought it was much larger than it actually was, I had imagined it to be part of an altar in a temple when it was, in fact, in a section of the temple where the temple treasures were on display. I love it, and like the Grand Canyon I had to pause a moment to get past what I had built in my mind. I guess this all points to the condition nature of the experience of the senses. In Buddhism we talk of six senses, the mind being the sixth. Interesting eh?


“Seven times down and eight up” is a saying linked to Bodhidharma who, it is said, sat for nine long years facing a wall. Hope you enjoy the photos.

The writing reads, “Seven down, eight up” reminding us of Bodhidharma’s well know quality of perseverance in the practice of meditation.