Further Encouragement

Two messages of support and encouragement to continue writing came in the mail to-day. It makes me smile just to think of my writing ‘mentors’. I’m so grateful to them. Each week, Sunday afternoon and Monday are assigned for ‘Renewal’. To shop, take a longer walk, clean house, do laundry, maybe watch a video… In other words a time to relax and re-charge in preparation for the next week. It is also a good swatch of uninterrupted time to tackle longer writing projects.

It’s amazing how pressing the cleanliness of the bathroom can become when there is a writing project in line! So, with the arrival of those messages of encouragement to ‘keep going’ I have to take note, take heart, and get stuck in with the hammer and chisel! One has a romantic vision of ancients with quill, ink and parchment; of ‘religious’ carving the sutras for wood block printing and, who ever it was, chipping away in stone somewhere. One mentor wrote, “And it will always be hard work”. Not, for sure, the work of ‘drawing water and chopping wood’ traditional to Zen monastic life, ‘honest’ work though for all that.

Yes, most of us can ‘keep going’ and we don’t need or require encouragement to continue. However, walking on with a renewed spring in ones step and a smile in ones heart can certainly be a huge help. And, to be truthful, I cleaned the bathroom yesterday, just didn’t mop. So, in the end, there are no valid excuses to getting on with what needs to be done. There rarely ever are.

A Rare Gift

His name was Spencer-Chapman, he’d come to address the school after the annual prize giving. I settled down, best one could on the wooden floor of the gym, to zone out for the speach. These occasions were usually directed at the ‘winners’ and I wasn’t one of them. However something caught my attention and I stayed in the room. I listened to what he had to say.

“…and for those of you who have not received prizes I want you to know that…” I can’t remember his exact words. The gist of it was about valuing personal integrity and that ‘succeeding’ in life not being dependent on passing exams and winning prizes. What he said, I heard and it went straight in, and stayed there to this day. He had recognized my inherent worth, and I believed him. Life was a struggle but deep in there what he said remained. What a gift, one that everybody is capable of giving too.

We have a saying in Buddhism, “When the disciple is ready the Master will appear”. I am so grateful that this man made his brief appearance just at the right time. I was ready to hear what he had to say, for that moment he was my teacher. People think they need to find a Master or teacher in order to progress in practice when what is needed is to listen more carefully.

I once had a copy of Spencer-Chapmans book “The Jungle is Neutral” about his days in the S.O.E. in Malaysia.

Great Determination

In the last days a number of people have asked me the same question. The words were different, the question fundamentally the same.

And the answer?
“Yes! Meditation, preceptual living, exercising compassion, expressing kindness…are all worth the effort“.

“Yes! Transformation happens”. “Yes! and that occurs to a schedule not of our own making.”

So patience is the watchword.

For Friends in Need

Emily the guinea pig.

The reasoning behind posting this photo is fairly convoluted: Back in July at the Reading Buddhist Priory, at Ian and Rachel’s wedding, I met Rachel’s dad…see posting for July 21st. (I will always remember the softening of his face as he watched his daughter make her vows.) A couple of days ago I found out, by chance, that the dad is seriously ill in hospital. The truth of impermanence is ever present, sometimes it shouts in your face.

Ian and Rachel keep these cute little critters in their kitchen. Photo posted and merit offered for Rachel’s dad and their extended family.
The source of my information was dated November.

Apart from Beings, no Buddha

Phew! I had all sorts of plans for a posting today but then ‘life happened’ and I’ve run out of time. As good fortune would have it somebody (Michael you’re a brick) sent me this photograph and poem so here they are:

All beings are by nature Buddha,
as ice by nature is water.
Apart from water there is no ice;
apart from beings, no Buddha.

-Hakuin Zenji, “Song of Zazen

Now there is something to ponder on…then move on!