Was it the moon light was it the sun? What ever it was these bulbs opened and blossomed as night turned to day.
There were visitors here for a festival ceremony, the Festival of Maitreya Bodhisattva, the Buddha yet to come. Or as it was pointed out in the lecture that followed the ceremony, the as yet unrecognized Buddha within.
Tonight to the west was a bright star, such a very big bright star. I’d not seen anything like it before. I wanted to run into the dining room and drag everybody out to see it. It was the most star like star I’d ever seen. It was just like pictures of the morning star. That’s the one the Buddha saw at the time of his enlightenment. But I just stood and stargazed for awhile. And then later while walking back to my room after doing the washing-up, the star had gone. But where?
I’m not the only one looking to the sky. The moon has featured in a couple of blogs recently. In northern England where the moon is milky luminescent. In Alberta Canadawhere the word luculent was used. Wonderful word which can be used to describe language, as being ‘transparently clear’. Something to aspire to while speaking out and speaking up.
There are probably more mentions of the full moon on the Internet, it certainly had a number of mentions here on the cloister. It was like a spot light, couldn’t have missed it. Yes, and there it is still, with a white ring of cloud around it this evening.
The wish to share sights and sounds and smells must surely be part of the practice of generosity. Let me share a gift I received in an email this evening: “I went for a walk through the Chilterns today and saw hares boxing, herds of deer, red kites a plenty and buzzards, quite apart from the wild birds you’d expect to see or hear. It always pays to look up and out”.
We meet walking up the lane, there’s a dry stone wall beside us. Hi Larry! He inclines towards me and, not for the first time, patiently reminds me. It’s Leroy Rev. Mugo. Sorry! Err. You’re dead aren’t you? I know the test. I poke his arm. Crikey! he does have a body. We continue chatting up the lane avoiding the subject. He’s changed, a little older, content I’d say.
Later we are sitting in a row. Larry…no sorry Leroy is sitting one down from me. I stare. It’s definitely him and he’s alive.
Then morning came and I got up and went about my day.
Dreams like this, of departed friends coming alive, are not uncommon.
“Time flies…gasp…as an arrow flies from a…gaaaaasp…bow, I wish to sit beside…wheeze…..you…gulp…and learn from you”.
Phew! I remember so well that ceremony when, just a few months after my ordination, I had to recite that verse. Alone, aloud and in public. Everybody present was probably silently willing me to get the words out soon, to save themselves from further embarrassment.
I was so lost. Caught up in the struggle to find wind enough to propel something, anything from my already dazed and dizzy self. I got through, I didn’t faint and hours latter I was answering questions at the Chief Juniors Dharma Ceremony. I didn’t loose it although I thought I might.
These ceremonies marked a huge step towards my challenging a life long struggle with ‘shyness’. That’s doing anything in public that marked me out as separate. Reading aloud in class? Well I was never asked as far as I remember. The school Christmas play at the village hall? What a nightmare, all those wretched fairies with wings and wands and sticky-out white dresses. Primroses, primroses and violets sweet as the…….sweet as the…. Nope I still don’t remember what they were as sweet as.
Ten years into my monastic life I found myself in Liverpool, at the Friends Meeting House in the center of town. I was about to give my first public talk on Buddhism. Calming myself, pausing briefly, I launched in with a clear head, and sweaty palms. I survived! I more than survived, I had a ball! Talking in public to total strangers, lots of them, had been my number one ‘can’t do/won’t do’. According to research I stumbled across, people would rather die than talk in public. Such is the level of fear involved.
Life has a way of throwing up opportunities to challenge ones fears. To prove to oneself, perhaps just once, that there IS something deeper than fear which can be relied upon. To find this is to change ones life, for ever. Never mind river rafting, climbing the Matterhorn or biking around the world. Just stand up and speak before strangers, it does it every time.
After the Liverpool talk I remember my mother saying, I can hardly believe you are the same person my dear. I wasn’t.