Walking Roots


In 2005 I made a journey to East Asia. It was a spiritual journey, a pilgrimage to visit temples and people that form the roots of our linage. In one sense such journeys are not necessary and in another sense they are. And I am very very glad I went and perhaps there will be an opportunity to go again.

While I was at the temple in Germany last week I talked to a small group about the actual significance of Dharma connections and about ways of honouring them. Basically we honour them by giving expression to, keeping alive, the heart connection that exists by going to the roots, or the source as it is sometimes put. Sometimes that is given physical expression by going somewhere, as I did. To visit a temple, a teacher or grave marker.

I have been thinking of ancient times, say in Tibet, when devotees actually walked to a pilgrimage site. A holy mountain or shrine. They used their legs to get them from A to B. Often this involved spreading out their entire body in a full prostration between every step. One step, bow. One step, bow. Huge act of devotion, growing faith and resolve along the way.

The devotional aspect of journeying is less obvious now with mechanical means to get from A to B. But as I prepare to fly to the US on Tuesday bound for Shasta Abbey, there is a sense of joyous anticipation. This trip has a strong element of giving expression to, showing my love and devotion for, my direct Dharmic connections. What does that mean? Yes I’ll offer incense and make bows at the Stupa that marks where my Master is buried. Yes, I will connect up with trainees lay and monastic and that will be wonderful. We will sit together, sing together, eat ice-cream together no doubt! What does that all actually mean though?

Well, again at the temple in Germany, it came to me that while it is essential to grow deep roots and a strong stem of faith if one fails to look up and see the magnificent blossom attached to the top of the stem – well one has missed the point completely. And sadly that happens.

Patiently we wait
When already
the lotus
And smiles eternally.

That’s it! The smile in the heart is there, in every step. Pilgrimage? A journey without a destination. While holding aloft the smiling lotus.

Thanks to Tony for the photograph.

This post was slightly edited June 3rd.

Of Walking In Ice

Unimaginable stellar catastrophes take place, entire worlds collapse into a single point. Light can no longer escape, even the profoundest blackness would seem like light and the silence would seem like thunder. The universe is filled with Nothing, it is the Yawning Black Void. Systems of Milky Ways have condensed into Un-stars. Utter blissfulness is spreading, and out of utter blissfulness now springs the Absurdity.

Thanks to Dan for pointing me to his posting about Werner Herzog and the long walk he (Herzog) took from Germany to France to, we would say, transfer merit for a friend who was dying at the time. See article about Herzog’s account of his walk, Of Walking In Ice.

These film people references are leading me ever deeper into my continuing, rather inept, attempts at video. Trogs ‘dad’ is emailing me a serialised version of his lecture on How to Conduct an Interview. And,on filming, from one who does it: The only rule really is to pick up the camera and try it out yourself. That would be Herzogs advice, along with taking a long and arduous walk…and writing about it. But I’m just on Pilgrimage, with a camera.

Thanks for the encouragement chaps.

What Remains?

Trog with May Tree in blossom, Hampshire.

The Anniversary celebration at Reading Priory was well attended with probably over 60 people circulating through the building and garden. Lots of singing, eating and talking and many memories of the past twenty years were shared. Midway through the afternoon I was whisked away to stay a night with long time practitioners, and regular blog readers, Tony and Virginia – and Trog. With the warmth finally reaching our shores everything in the garden is bloomin’ lovely as you can see in the picture. This mornings walk, out across the fields with Tony and Trog, was a magical treat for me. There were sights and smells, flowers and birds, trees and wet meadows ringing memories from my early years growing up in the south of England. Wonderful!

Now, I don’t quite know how to say this. I wrote a whole post about it last night and promptly sent it to the Valley of The Lost Post! Yep, I am still doing daft things like that, especially when I’m writing close to midnight. Anyway. What will stay with me from our celebration is this. It would seem that once one has spent time in a place, and joined hearts with people, there is a sense in which one doesn’t actually leave. This thought was confirmed during a conversation I had yesterday. I’d wondered about my leave taking, or lack of it, over the years since I was Prior at Reading. There was never an event that marked my leaving. The circumstances at the time made this impossible. Talking in the back-garden, with a woman I know well, about this lack of closure she said, Well Rev. Mugo, you never really left! And I’ve known that all along, it just took a wise woman to point that out.

And I guess there will always be a part of me who remains in, and loves, the countryside I grew up in. Perhaps I should go and see if that treasure is still buried under the holly tree in deepest West Sussex. Even so young we have a sense of history and of our enduring place in it.

I am not talking about nostalgia by the way.

Born Alone, Die Alone…..

We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and — in spite of True Romance magazines — we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely — at least, not all the time — but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.
Hunter S. Thompson

Thanks to Julius for this quote.

How true, how very very true. And humbling actually.

Search – Engin


Restlessly I searched for her thousands, hundreds of ways.
Suddenly I turned, and there she was in the receding light.
From a Song Dynasty poem Baidu, now the name of a Chinese search engine

Thanks to Jack for the link.

I’ll be flying tomorrow.