A Will to Wander

Not all who wander are lost.
Lord of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien

Ending, Beginning, Returning

Photograph taken from Blencathra, the forth highest mountain in England.

As the time comes closer to leave North America and return to the North of England my mind has been turning to the green uplands, especially the fells of the Lake District, Cumbria. So it was especially heartening to receive an email from my monastic walking companion who’s been awalkin’ where I first saw, and fell permanently in love with, high rocky places.

I look forward to traipsing the moors with you again, which will probably be even more fun than the dream walk I made yesterday. I climbed the 4th (correction – 18th highest) highest mountain in England!! – in the Lake District. It was blummin’ foggy up there (2800 ft) but well worth it (the climb).

Tomorrow is a traveling day. First sliding down through the verdant mountains to Redding and then slithering through the liquefying heat of the Sacramento Valley to the Bay Area.

Before that journey there will be goodbye’s to the community here at Shasta. It’s customary when visiting a Buddhist ‘establishment’ to offer incense and make (three) bows at the main altar and again when leaving. The formality of such occasions helps to bring to the fore the beginingless and endlessness of practice. And the endlessness of bowing, of gratitude.

For The Love of Cats

My time in North America is coming to a close. Here at Shasta for just a short time I’ve re-connected with old sangha friends and made new ones too. I’m so grateful to all for the wonderful greetings-and-meetings-and-tea’s-and-meals-and-conversations-and new animal friends and a parting with an old animal friend too.

While waiting for the tea to brew at a home this afternoon I spotted this verse on a kitchen counter. It comes from the children’s book The Cat Who Went to Heaven. The words were read at a funeral for the family cat who died recently. Considering my continuing interest in the Okesa, the sewing of it and the deeper meaning, as well as my close association with a number of cats over the past months, I thought it fitting for today’s offering.

This is too great a mystery
For me to comprehend.
The Mercy of the Buddha
Has no end.
This is too beautiful a thing
To understand:
His Garments touch the farthest
Grain of sand.

The story is based on an old Buddhist folk tale, and is a highly symbolic work dealing with the concepts of Buddhism and warnings about the attachment to the pursuit of material gain.

This post is dedicated to Rosemary and to the group of feral cats she feeds each evening.

With The Ideal Comes The Actual

Ian in Australia reflects on learning how to make hospital corners, and then on how not to make hospital corners.

In this hand you have the theory, and in this hand the practice, and in the difference of their unfolding we make the beds our patients lay in.

Yes indeed. As we say in one of our scriptures, with the ideal comes the actual. When in the hands of our betters the transition from the innocent following of procedures to the full-on reality of the actual can be testing, or as we say good training!

Reflecting, years later, on the painful teachings coming from our seniors can be inspiring of our deepest respect, and gratitude. Especially for their patience and for their enlightened sense of humour.