Word Wednesday – Animateur

Animateur:- The word is French and referrers to someone capable of presenting abstruse and complicated philosophical ideas in clear, vivid and attractive form.

I first encountered this word on top of the moors above Throssel, Northumberland. My companion used it to describe his teacher’s exceptional ability to explain Buddhism with great clarity and vision. I’d agree completely.

Now having taken a look around the Internet I see that there are people employed as Animateurs. In the case below such a person can help bring music, the understanding and appreciation of it presumably, to the general public. Perhaps to those who would not normally go and listen to classical music.

The tradition of having an animateur as an integral part of an orchestra is, curiously, British. Many orchestras in the U.K. have animateurs on staff (some are orchestra musicians and some are composers); they are musicians who are committed to community work. That’s what an animateur is, but what does one do?
An Animateur’s Journey: A report from the field

Again, Animateurs are being employed to address community issues, such as health.

Animateurs are recruited from the local community and can receive fees and training for a fixed time period. In Doncaster Health Action Zone, people were recruited from the local community to work as community health animateurs. They became involved in included community audits and delivering training on community issues. They also undertook work placements in a range of community and health organisations.
Community Scotland.

This word brings with it much food for thought, that is in terms of developing wise ways of animating Buddhism, especially here in the West. Perhaps Buddhist blogs play their part.

In Case of Emergency

Dave, who died recently, was taken to the Emergency Department having collapsed in a supermarket. He had a cell phone on his person and, as good fortune would have it, his lunch date phoned to see why he was late… The ER nurse answered the phone and the lunch date came running, and with her came the information needed to treat him appropriately.

Now. What about if you or I were to be taken off to the ER department in a state of major disrepair. Maybe we are unconscious. Who is our next of kin? Who can make decisions on our behalf? Does this person have any medical allergies? And…just who is this person? There are just a few major pieces of information ER nurses need to know and need to know fast. We can help them, and ourselves, by carrying the information on our person. There is the on-line ICE (In Case of Emergency) service however Ed of Impacted Nurse suggests, urges, people to make themselves a low-tech ‘ICE’ ID card.

It only takes a short time to make up these things and believe me, this low-tech ICEcard is much more likely to be of use to us. Such a small thing, it can make a big difference to the quality and appropriateness of the care you will get.

Today I’ve been preparing to be the temporary priest in charge here at the Berkeley Buddhist Priory. This is earthquake country. One needs to be prepared. So it was with some relief that I read about the 19 Commonly Held Myths about Disasters. Maybe an earthquake does not mean instant death after all. And yes, the house has been retro fitted to withstand earthquakes.
Thanks to Ed, once again, for the information.

There is a Buddhist saying: Hope for the best, Prepare for the worst and do the possible.

Anticipatory fear can cause one to become paralyzed into inaction however being prepared can dissolve that fear.

Reflections on Age

Here is Iain in Japan, a lay minister within our Order, reflecting on age and what that might mean in practice.

…time really does fly like an arrow. there’s many things I’ve done already and don’t need to do again and also if I’m making a long term plan to do something now perhaps there should be a very good reason to commit that time because even taking an optimistic view it isn’t an infinite commodity is it? There’s the difference. I’m still ‘me’ and yet out of the corner of my eye I can see that in addition to that long list of those one-time ‘to do’ items I can now already cross off the list as impracticable – the Mt. Everest thing, becoming Prime Minister etc. – I ought to be bearing in mind more that the tank is no longer full of petrol. It is somewhere between half full and ‘E’ for empty and who knows just exactly what that gauge is actually reading?
From Little House in the Paddy.

The section of the Shushogi referenced here goes thus:

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?
‘Putting the Teachings into Practice and Showing Gratitude’, Zen Master Dogen

Thanks Iain for your reflections on the event of your turning sixty one.

Token Kesa Up Everest

Around 170 people came to a Remembrance Ceremony this afternoon at Oak Hill Cemetery, San Jose. There was a lot of talk about ‘birth and death’, about impermanence. And there was a lot about the life lived by Dave the chap who died recently. Lots of remembering. Lots of memories. Lots of grief and emotions of every shade. Lots to say and probably a lot not able to be said, right now.

There were photographs of people grouped in smiling rows and animal friends too. (We have one, Dave’s cat, lodging upstairs at the Priory.) There were pictures of an attempt to climb Everest, of Dave and others encircled by snow. But what’s that? Looks very much like a Token Kesa around Dave’s neck. It IS a token kesa! These are a small everyday-ware version of the kesa given at the time of receiving the Precepts and officially becoming a Buddhist. Generally they are worn for meditation and ceremonies and at times when it’s good to have an physical reminder of ones practice. So, not a bad plan to wear the symbol of ones commitment to follow the Buddha’s Teaching when facing the real possibility of imminent death, on Everest. Just one slip is all it takes.

Driving back from San Jose to Oakland on Highway 880 this evening the traffic, for me, was terrifying. Just one slip is all it takes…and always one wears the kesa of training. Mostly that’s worn out of sight in the form of ones silent inner vigil to keep true to the Precepts. That’s to be still in the midst of conditions. Up Everest or driving in four lanes of fast moving traffic, makes no difference. There is no let up on the inner work, where ever one happens to be traveling. Brightly alive, dying or dead.

When Dave’s article about the Precepts, written back in 1981, comes back on line I’ll link to it. Oh, for the sake of remembrance and for love, here is the link anyway.

In the mean time, be careful out there.

Buddhist Funeral

A Buddhist altar set before the open coffin of David Powers, a long time congregation member within our Order.

Here is an excerpt from the Introduction to a booklet, now out of print, titled The Funeral Ceremony of a Lay Buddhist, copyright 1977, Shasta Abbey.

Buddhist ceremonies are an expression of the “Truth” or the “Buddha Nature” which is within us. The basis of Buddhist practice, which includes the performance of religious ceremonies, is faith in this Buddha Nature. It is we who fill the ceremonies with meaning through our meditation-faith. There is no meaning apart from wholehearted participation. The ceremony is the vehicle of our sincerity, and the form is tailored to meet the needs of the occasion. Teach individual celebrates the ceremony for himself/herself and everyone else. It is not the priest alone who does so; their faith is only the catalyst for others. In celebrating the Buddhist Funeral we know through our meditation, even in the midst of personal grief, that death is an expression of Buddhahood and that there is no beginning and no end to life; zen is eternal life. We cannot understand this with the intellect or emotions – only through our meditation.

The Funeral for David will be at 2.00 pm Pacific Time at Berkeley Buddhist Priory. See also previous posting, Thus Shall Ye Think.
Now I’d better get out from behind this computer and help set up for the funeral.