Happy Birthday Buddha

My father would have been 87 today. Looking around my room I don’t see anything of his to remind me of him. But I do remember… There was my dad’a old belt and his knitted wool hat, which he wore on the back of his head on cold days. I always thought he could have done better, but he loved that hat and kept it to the last. There was his walking stick, probably cut from a hedge. It was rather a twiggy looking affair. It had a bright orange spent rifle cartridge rammed on the bottom to stop the stick from wearing down. Maybe there was some binder twine, picked up from a field, wrapped around the stick to strengthen it. He was a man in the country where function came first.

I’ve disposed of the old belt and hat, and the wool demob coat that followed us unrelentingly from one house to the next. I think he wrapped his saws in it. The stick? That now supports a tree by a lake in Cornwall, planted in his memory.

In Buddhism there are said to be three objects of reverence of a Buddha; the physical remains such as the ashes after cremation, a tooth or lock of hair, objects appertaining to personal use, such as tools, clothing etc. and lastly objects of reverence reminiscent of the Buddha. This last object has no physical basis it is simply what we remember, what we remember gladly. And I have a lot of those for my dad, my Buddha.

Many thanks to Christine whose comment left after the posting A Beacon of Hope inspired me to write this today. I’m sorry I missed your contribution and didn’t respond at the time.

Gardens are like Friends and Family

Gardens, like friends, are rewarding when they bloom and grow. Frustrating when things don’t go according to plan. Disappointing when after hours and hours of back breaking work results in one small step made. Perhaps one stone removed in a path to make it flat. Is it all worth the effort?

What else is there to compare? Some days are better than others, some years are better than others! Often conditions for growth or resolution are not optimal and still the need is there to DO something, none the less.

AND there are the small simple things that go unnoticed, too often. Not good or bad, not right or wrong, or beauty set against ugliness. Not any of that kind of thing.

Within all of this is a belief that things must/should/aught be a certain way. They don’t.

Talking of gardens and gardening, a reader sent me a link to this garden near Lancaster, looks like it’s worth a visit. Maybe worth a visit with a friend, or family member? Or just go alone for a change.

Light and Air

How about this:

You can think your way into suffering in an instant; however you can’t think your way out.

How easy it is to have the words of others take hold in ones mind. Those words, or what ever ‘it’ is, can remain for hours, days, months or even years. Now lodging firmly in the mind, what is to be done?

People will sometimes speak of something that has been bothering them, and for some considerable time. By just spreading out what’s there and letting light and air in and around can be just what helps the lodger to leave. Or at lease start to loose interesting in staying. This is essentially an internal practice, requiring courage and compassion. And the long view.

The Fragrant Hill

Know that it is by the means of the self that we find the Buddha Nature. Know that it is by the gateway of the body that we find the spirit. Do not be concerned with places and things, with heavens and hells; do not be attached to your training: Gyatei, gyatei, haragyatei, going on, going on, always going on to the Fragrant Hill; Ten thousand miles in a flash of an eye.
-Rev. Master Jiyu Kennett

I was so glad to come across this quote amongst the pile of lecture notes and papers I’ve been sorting through. I’m not sure of its origin however it certainly sounds like my Master alright. She would quite often answer a certain kind of spiritual question with Gyatei, gyatei, directing us to keep going.

What of the Fragrant Hill though? Can it be anywhere other than right here, right now? And still there is the Gyatei, Gyatei.

A New Dawn

Dawn light in Northern France

Look far beyond the twilight vale,

Let go the dying day without regret,

For now’s the time to gaze in wonder

at the glory of the sunset.

Fear not the coming of the night

that from the fading light is born.

Always given……..sufficient stars

to light our way towards the dawn.

This was given me by a dear Sangha friend who, some years later, took her own life. The poem, which may well be original, was pasted onto the back of a post card. It was of the sun setting behind St. Michaels Mount, Cornwall. Now there is a new dawn for her.

I watched a TV program on DVD I’d mentioned a couple of weeks ago about children who were dealing with the loss of a parent through suicide. The interviews were sensitive, the commentary thoughtful and the subject obviously difficult for all concerned. There is a lot of shame and self blame and all shades of emotion tied up in these families that continue on for years after the event. It can never be as if it hadn’t happened, yet memories fade. One small boy reflected that the storm is over however now and then there are flashes of lightening or a clap of thunder. How true that is. How true for traumatic memories in general.

The one thing the children all appreciated was to know there were others who were living through the same thing. In the program Winston’s Wish, a counselling service for children and especially for the grieving was filmed running a week long ‘camp’ for around twenty children who had a parent take their own life. There were smiles and laughter and tears. And some resolution and moving on.

A loyal friend and blog reader wrote me today letting me know she had just moved into her new home. Let this be a new dawn.