Give Away

We celebrated the Festival Ceremony of Avalokiteshwara, Bodhisattva of compassion and wisdom. It was good to see some old friends, and blog readers, here. There never is enough time to talk to everybody I’d like to on these occasions.

The monk giving the Dharma talk after the ceremony made the point that compassion and wisdom go together, seamlessly. Well, there was a news item last week about money being left anonymously in all sorts of odd places in Japan. Men’s toilets, posted through letter boxes and showering down into the street from above. This has left people very anxious and much if not all the money has been handed into the police or local authorities. What ever the intent it looks like this project backfired.

Here it seems inconceivable that people would hand in free cash to the police. Although one of our monks did hand in a £20 note he had found on the beach at Portobello near Edinburgh. Later they gave it to him. I’m wondering what will end up happening with this large gift cast into the unknown by somebody, perhaps with compassion in mind.

Pushing the River

Rivers flow. They can gush, trickle, meander, rush and tumble. And sometimes they hardly seem to move at all.

The other day somebody made the following observation. Speaking softly and assuming I would understand, she said Humm, pushing the river.

I understood!

In the same conversation she said she understood ‘refraining’ as being like one long continuous note playing in the background. Rather than a string of staccato commands, which are hard on the ears and often harsh on the heart.

Smell the Roses

The door of the office is rattling. The window beside me whooshes and all around the sounds of the rising wind, rising to a gale. On the hillside fledgling trees are waving and wafting in the greyblue of approaching night. It’s like a dance. It is a dance! A crazed dance of the trees before they turn in for the night. And that’s just what I’m about to do.

Getting adequate rest. Taking a break. Taking time to smelling the roses. Listening to the wind on the window. Sitting quietly doing nothing. All good things to ‘do’.

Alston Moor

Unfortunately I’m not able to upload the photographs I took while out walk this morning on Alston Moor. My monastic companion and I followed the Gossipgate to Blagill trail following the River Nent. Here is a paragraph from a guide published by the East Cumbria Countryside Project.

The path approaches Corby Gates and crosses the wall beside the ‘castle’, a former outside toilet! Corby Gates is one of the oldest homesteads in the area, and is mentioned in documents of 1314 and in the Pipe Rolls of Henry ll in 1279. It was then known as Corbriggate, and is believed to have been on the main road from the Alson mines to Newcastle. via Corbridge. In one of the byres of the farm is the entrance to a now blocked underground tunnel. On those occasions when the Scots border raiders braved the long Tyne Valley to come to this wild area, local people may have hidden in such tunnels. Several very old houses in the area have such mysterious underground passages, whose original purpose is unknown. This one is believed to run to Randalholme on the far side of Alston, although there is no proof. Some say that a boar’s head full of gold coins is hidden in the tunnel.

I should mention that the ‘castle’ has battlements and the whole thing stands at about 8 foot, and about that wide. Quite something.

As rural and isolated as this valley is the people of Alston and Nenthead have broadband. I believe it is one of the smallest communities to get the necessary funding. Cybermoor is the organization that provides the broadband connection. Looks like it is reasonably reliable too.

In a Moment Life is Gone

Zen Master Dogen reminds us time and again, in a variety of ways, that life is precious. It is rare to be born a human being, rare to find Buddhism/a spiritual path, so do not leave ones life exposed to changeableness. In other words take care, take great care. Do not waste time.

The following message, left in the comments section by Dave, struck a cord with me to-day: Life is precious. That which helps you see that life is precious is precious too. So please take good care of yourself. Yes indeed.

Struggling through my day; not feeling 100% up for whacking at thistles on a windswept hillside, not managing to get my brain to function well until late in the afternoon. I’m feeling sorry for myself. Then answering emails; to a chap in serious trouble with an immune system gone wrong, oh and a phone call with somebody facing surgery and then prolonged immobility. Stressed people and stressed for very good reason. How can I feel sorry for myself? Hardly! Hardly at all.

In Britain we are familiar with John Simpson reporting from war torn somewhere. But not near here. However quite often there are people living in a ‘war zone’ right next door. Maybe not with bullets coming in the window or the door being battered down. But internally, spiritually, the level of pressure is notched up to what I call ‘war zone training’. The thing is people often don’t realize. Perhaps they are not able to take in the the multiple factors that add up. Perhaps that’s just as well…

Then, on the cloister, a chap tells me about something that had happened: …and then I knew for sure that everything in the world is fine. That there is not a (fundamental) problem. Is this OK? Yes, this is normal, I reply. Oh, OK! I didn’t even remind him not to hang on to this insight. He knew that too.