Offering Merit

Time flies quicker than an arrow
And life passes with greater transience than dew.
However skillful you may be,
How can you ever recall a single day of the past?
Shushogi, Zen Master Dogen.

Here is an extract from an email I sent today which inspired today’s posting.

Very many thanks for the feed back on photos and the site generally. That’s always helpful. I’ve decided to add another category to my postings which is ‘Merit’. We so often think of transferring merit as an offering to beings in trouble or who are suffering seriously. Youngsters are such a breath of fresh air and are for me an inspiration just by being themselves as they are. However I know they have a lot of life ahead of them, involving many ups and downs. They can surely benefit from spiritual merit, as can all of us. So from time to time I’ll write ‘Merit’ postings and it was you and your family who inspired me to do that. You’re all an inspiration.

Ways and Ways Two

Rarely do I go back and edit old postings. However the original article titled There Are Ways and Ways was the product of a very tired mind and I felt it unskillful to leave it for posterity as was. So if you read the first version you might want to go back and read it again, it’s changed. As has my mind!

I guess there are ways and ways of writing and posting. Doing so while ones brain/mind is trailing several yards behind is not one of the good ways.

End and Beginning Return Unto the Source

Wahkeena Falls. Wahkeena is a Yakimar Indian word for most beautiful.

The Wahkeena Falls emanate from a spring 900 feet above the Columbia River in Oregon. Yesterday I walked two miles to its source amidst lush greenery, an abundance of wild flowers and enveloped in welcomed damp cooling air. My walking companion described the flowing water cascading down the cliff side as rumbustious. What a wonderful word and aptly used to describe the boiling, whirling waters as they raced towards the Columbia. The mighty Columbia which in turn emanate from above the Columbia Ice Fields in the Canadian Rockies.

We are rather like whirlpools in the river of life. In flowing forward, a river or stream may hit rocks, branches or irregularities in the ground, causing whirlpools to spring up spontaneously here and there. Water entering one whirlpool quickly passes through and rejoins the river, eventually joining another whirlpool and moving on. Though for short periods it seems to be distinguishable as a separate event, the water in the whirlpool is just the river itself. The stability of the whirlpool is only temporary. The energy of the river of life forms living things – a human being, a cat or a dog, trees and plants – then what held the whirlpool in place itself is altered, and the whirlpool is swept away, re-entering the larger flow. The energy that was a particular whirlpool fades out and the water passes on, perhaps to be caught again and turned for a moment into another whirlpool.
From the book Nothing Special by Charlotte Yoko Beck

I liken the traveling life I’m leading at the moment to that of being carried along on a river. The whirlpools the encounters for shorter or longer periods with people, events, animals, temples, homes, business people, a gas station attendant. The list is endless. As with the whirlpool of a life so with these encounters, they are lined with gems of every possible kind.


On Monday I’ll be riding the Greyhound bus from Portland to Spokane in Washington. The route follows the Columbia for quite a bit of the seven hour journey.

Thanks to Nic for sending the quote. A deep bow to your family for all you have created to help beings these very many years.

There are Ways and Ways

28th June. This posting has been edited and in places rewritten.

The women’s waiting room early in the 1900’s

Amtrak? Not quite a ‘plane, not quite a ship, not quite a bus and not quite a train either. I’d call it a land cruise. Train travel is a sedate and dignified business here in the U.S.A. People arrive at the station well in advance and might board the train as much as half an hour before departure if starting from it’s station of origin. Train travel may well be coming back in fashion due to the sharp rise in gas prices. The train conductor is beside me, resplendent in a hat similar to ones worn be the Gendarme in France. There is an old fashioned formality in dress, decor and manner which is attractive and a tad disconcerting at times too. Passengers may alight for a cigarette but should stay close so as not to miss the All Aboard! Such announcements take me back to period films like Brief Encounters.

The Compass Room at the entrance to the Seattle train station.
Old Wooden seating in the Seattle train station.

After five days braving the highways and byways of Washington State in a rented car, I’m glad and grateful to be sitting on the train traveling from Seattle to Portland. The station in Seattle is being refurbished and restored to something of its former glory days in the early 1900s.

In the 1960s the station was renovated and in the process tiles in the toilets were covered with Formica and a false ceiling hung in the massive waiting room which obscured the chandlers and elaborate plasterwork decorations. The woman’s waiting room is to be returned to its original spacious elegance and the exterior will be renovated. As I walked out onto the platform to climb aboard I noticed vegetation high up on the clock tower. A clear sign that the renovation of this station is well due.

The Pacific North West where I’ve been traveling for the past days is a watery place, and a mountainous one too. On San Juan close to the main port of Friday Harbour where I stayed the snowy Olympics could be seen emerging from sea mist. Quite a sight! Mt. Hood and Mt. Baker stands sentinel to the East but not visible from San Juan Island itself. Mt. Saint Helen is another remarkable mountain in the area.

Traveling too San Juan through the maze of small islands I caught a whiff of what it must be like to be water born. Or rather born along on water in boats and ferries. I found it exciting in a certain kind of way, but it’s probably routine for residents and would be for me if I traveled this way regularly.

Early in my introduction to Buddhism as a laywoman, I said to the prior at Throssel that something was ‘exciting’. He said, If it is exciting it isn’t training! Now many years later with a bow to that monk, I’d say, Nothing, no feeling, is outside of training, excitement included. There are however ways and ways of being excited. Precepts are all important. While I’m traveling I know they protect, when kept to. I’m taking care out here.

All Is Embraced

All can be embraced.
Nothing left out.
Nobody left out.
No matter what.

Nova High School graduation corsage with attached plastic dead rat

Nova High School in Seattle, from which the young woman in the photograph has just graduated, has a rather strange mascot. A dead rat! From all I heard from the two youngsters who attended the school it would appear to be an exceptional one. Dead rat or no.

Nova is a small alternative high school in the Seattle Public School District, created in 1970 by students and teachers. Nova is an alternative school whose mission is to be a democratically governed learning community of broadly educated, diverse, creative and independent thinkers who work collaboratively and demonstrate a high degree of individual and social responsibility.

Published for the one who graced the house (in Seattle where I stayed last week-end) in a pink dancing costume and calm presence. May all be well with you.