Driving over the Pennines to Penrith. Driving on the M6 motorway. South to Preston Lancashire yesterday, back north this morning. In and out of Westmorland Services for coffee and scone. Listening to the car radio, Radio 4 exclusively. Whizzing along, passing lorries, cars passing me. Sometimes raining and sometimes foggy. Headlights on. Headlights off.
Then, getting back to the monastery, walking up the lane with my bags. Monks from A, or B, Team coming out of kitchen clean-up. Walking up the lane. Trees bare. Sky grey and low. Find my slippers in the gloom. Unpack. Place the donation envelope in the Alms Bowl. Put a receipt for petrol on the Bursars desk, for reimbursement. Secure it under the stapler to make sure it’s not lost. Return the satnav to the Bursars cupboard. (What a gem that gadget it.) Quick nap. Hunt up lunch from the kitchen fridge. Microwave. Eat while chatting with a visiting monk from the south.
Yes, it is good to get out and about. To connect up with old friends. To look in the window of peoples lives. To step inside and join them, for a short while. People doing their best to live the practice where they are. Proving the teachings true for themselves. Proving that it is possible to sit still in seemingly intolerable circumstances. To completely live now.
A hat tip to my hosts, and the offer of a brief peek into the window of my driving, windscreen wiping, life. Good to get out and about, and good to get back. And no doubt this is how life is for everybody.
Two women. One in America the other in England. Both have recently received acknowledgment of the contribution they have made in their professional work. They have been promoted. One made President of the company she started out with by doing their accounts from her home. The other potentially being made Head Teacher of the school where she teaches, and as I understand it, in extremely challenging circumstances too.
Such recognition of ones professional ability is no small thing. Yes, there is likely to be all those things that spell ‘success’ in the world of work: all that comes with greater status, more money as well as extra privileges and ‘perks’. Who knows what promotion brings but one thing which is likely is for a rash of jealousy and envy to rise up amongst the ranks. Who has not been disappointed when others receive the public recognition you privately longed for.
I learned about mudita, or more correctly the teaching was pointed out to me, when I was suffering from the private hell of envy. I can’t even remember what that was all about now. Mudita is the possibility, the human potential, to have arise naturally a sense of sympathetic or appreciative joy. It’s chief characteristic is a happy acquiescence in others’ prosperity and success. Knowing that this is possible and can arise out of ones depths naturally, even in the face of crushing disappointment, is one of the great blessings.
One might imagine that Buddhist, religious practitioners, would be ‘above’ such matters as recognition of ones contribution to society. That it might not have any meaning. Water of a ducks back in fact. Or could it be that there is a natural pride that grows in doing ones best and that we humans wish to join our hands, and applaud such efforts. Effort’s which all benefit from, ultimately.
Well done my dear good friends. It really doesn’t matter if you accept the accolade or not, the important thing is it was proffered.
Nearly all the retreat guests have gone. We had a good retreat together and I was glad and happy to be talking about Buddhism, practice and the Precepts. Somewhere in there during the week-end we talked about karmic consequence and how one can recognize negative consequences by a palpable disquiet experienced within ones body and mind. One blog reader who appreciates words and their use was taken with these two words so I thought I’d share them with you all.
There were a few Mountains readers here. It was a delight to meet those known to me already as well as those who mentioned being a regular here who I didn’t know about. I’m generally amazed that real live people read this and even get something out of it that’s useful too. There may well be a few more checking in following the retreat. Welcome if you are one of them.
It’s The Life of the Precepts retreat this week-end.
The dharma talks (during the retreat) will address in practical terms how we can apply the Precepts in daily life and how the practice of the Precepts is inextricably interconnected with mediation and true wisdom. Taken from the 2007 Retreat Programme flyer.
Many people are here who will be attending Jukai next spring. Jukai is a week-long retreat with a number of ceremonies including The Receiving of the Precepts, which in so doing people formally become a Buddhist. People who do not, or are not able to, attend Jukai are no less Buddhist if the Sixteen Precepts are practiced whole heartedly.
The journey to the monastery, priory, meditation group or temple to receive basic instruction about the practice is perhaps the most important ‘ceremony’ of all. In fact we say the first ceremony of Jukai IS the journey to the monastery. Trog waiting at Dinas station on the Welsh Highland line with one of his human family.
I think this little dog is exhibiting bright attention, which is important in terms of following the Precepts and practice in general. My thought for the week-end is ‘intention’, the Precepts are all about intention: to follow, to refrain, to relinquish, to open to Compassion. And the intention to do the very best one can. It is enough.
For anybody who suffers from M.E. (also known as chronic fatigue syndrome)or knows somebody who does BBC Radio 4 magazine programme, You and Yours broadcast a series of programs on the subject. You can listen to the audio and there are also full transcripts. Here is David Puttnam (now Lord Puttnam) the film producer talking about the onset of ME.
I’d just come back from a trip to the Far East, I was at Columbia Pictures at the time, and I got – I’d only been back I think a day, day and a half – and I suddenly came up with this tremendous fever, it was extraordinary. And the doctors first of all – first of all being tested for Dengue Fever. I just remember dragging myself into bed and then for about a week – and this is not an exaggeration to say – when I needed to go to the loo it was literally like climbing Everest, I was – by the time I’d climbed back into the bed, been to the loo, I was covered in sweat and utterly exhausted, I was sort of dragging myself across the room. David Puttnam on You and Yours, BBC Radio 4
While still a novice monk at Shasta Abbey I came back to England on a ‘family visit. It was 1986 and I remember distinctly reading an article about M.E. in the Sunday paper. At that time this crippling condition was not well known about, in fact it was still being called the Royal Free disease. So named after an outbreak of a strange disease at the Royal Free Hospital in London in 1955. There was much speculation, as there still is, about this condition being all being in the mind. As a fledgling priest I predicted I’d be counselling people while on their journey to get a diagnosis for their unrelenting, and strange, symptoms.
As it has turned out, over the years, I’ve had quite a lot to do with people suffering from M.E. I’ve a great sympathy for the mental/emotional suffering, as well as the physical conditions that these people live with, day in and day out. Come to think of it I even diagnose somebody as I was driving from Throssel to catch a train. We were chatting back and forth about his health and I just said, Hum, had you thought this might be M.E.? Turned out it was, sad to say.