The Key To The Gateless Gate

Here are a couple of photographs. The first one from Angie, faithful reader in Yorkshire. The second from my walking companion at Throssel, also faithful as far as I am aware. I’m soon to be there in Northumberland walkin’, talkin’ and eatin’ and generally joining in the life of the community for a week. I’m looking forward to that.

on the moors, my walking companion stands tall.

in Yorkshire, islands of snow with skirts of ice.

We have the saying, and who knows where I am quoting from, which goes something like: When it is hot be completely hot, when it is cold be completely cold. And there are lots of opportunities to be cold in Britain this evening. And all next week probably. What is being pointed to in this quote is to accept what is, what conditions actually are. There is nothing like extremes of temperature to force one to accept conditions. But that is not the end of it, of course.

Last week we were being warned of a lot more snow to come. It didn’t come. At least not where I am staying in the Upper Eden Valley. I went into snow denial, snow? what snow! People on the street were saying, Snow? What snow. They have it wrong. Again. Gradually as the days went by I realized I wasn’t preparing as one should for winter road travel. So I have now packed for extreme conditions. I’ll be driving away towards Throssel tomorrow morning with the full kit aboard. Including a set of Autosocks. Good on snow, good on ice.

And there we have it: All acceptance is the key to the gateless gate. However if we don’t pick up the key and open the gateless gate, we are likely to be left spinning our wheels. In other words acceptance of conditions comes together with taking action.

Thanks for the photographs. This wasn’t quite what I had in mind for this evenings post however this is what came out of my fingers.

Snow Haiku


first snowballs
whizzing past
the orange-berried bush

Thanks to the Leeds Meditation Group Sangha.

Go On

In a lava tube Northern California


Go and open the door.
Maybe outside there’s
a tree, or a wood,
a garden,
or a magic city.

Go and open the door.
Maybe a dog’s rummaging.
Maybe you’ll see a face,
or an eye,
or the picture
of a picture.

Go and open the door.
if there’s a fog
it will clear.

Go and open the door.
Even if there’s only
the darkness ticking,
even if there’s only
the hollow wind,
even if nothing is there,
go and open the door.

Miroslav Holub Russian Poet

This is for those who go on when the signs seem to read Go Back!

Squawk This Christmas

The Upper Eden Valley

Looking up, and who wouldn’t considering their call, a pair of Scarlet Macaw. Beak to beak, long tail feathers flying, wobbling atop a TV aerial. Well above the dripping icicles. So, the thaw has come. A welcome relief after two weeks of harsh weather. The Macaw said it all. Bringers of joy, uplifting stressed spirits. Noisy, funny and tropical exotic! Not your typical winged Brit. Not at any time of the year. They said so much. Spoke of much more.

This is the time of year when one would wish for cheer. For, perhaps, the thaw to set in where there is need of that. Hearts. Families. Extended families. Families of interest and of shared heart. Communities spread distant or neighbours in a row. And, thinking as wide and deep as can be. A call for a general thaw. A world thaw. However for now, here, to see the pavements again is a start.

There has been talk of family. Difficulties. So much suffering. And the incredible human ability to walk through. Scarred, yes. And not without huge persistent feelings of loss, rejection. Real loss. Real rejection. Incredible then, that general persistent life-time thaw is carried within all of that. We talk about people turning their life around. People can and people do. Safer to stay peeping from behind the curtains? Or so it might seem. However, sooner or later one has to go out and face the weather. Like the Macaws we tend to gather together in groups. The harsh conditions has people talking on the streets. Smiling shyly at the kindness of strangers. Weather unites like nothing else. Given half a chance and buckets of intention, in good directions, thaw happens.

Watching the Macaw. The bright scarlet Macaw. Now! What on earth are they doing? Pecking and preening. They’re rearranging each others feathers! Bless ’em. Birdie community building? All the while they squawk. Loud, low-pitched, throaty squawks. Apparently these sounds and their squeaks and screams are designed to carry for miles. They are calling to their groups.

‘Tis the time to squawk! While looking up.

Grace And Ease In Simple Activity

Even the easy things are hard
if you do them halfheartedly.
From the movie The Final Season.

Thank you to the person who passed this quote to me in Edmonton.

Perhaps living wholeheartedly,
easy living?
difficult living?
brings grace and ease,
poise and vitality.

Perhaps this pondering
points through to where
concepts of easy and difficult
cease to have the power
to stumble us.

Perhaps when fixed ideas
fall away….
we can be flexible.
Like life dancers!
BE life dancers.

And here is a team dancing something remarkable. A different take on Swan Lake.

At last dear Virginia I have linked to this remarkable video. Thank you so much.