Dying Matters

My transfer of merit list, which I keep on my altar and read through every day, is soon going to run into a second page. Many of those on the list are dealing with cancer. That’s what you do deal with it or so it seems to me. The other day I spoke on the phone to a chap in a hospice, he volunteered that he was not afraid of death or anything like that. He just wanted to talk to a Buddhist. He seemed quite perky and I found myself reminiscing about my days working with Liverpool kids in the 1970’s. It was an attempt to take him back to the good old bad old days of his childhood. He is not going to live for a whole lot longer.

There is, perhaps, an expectation we have that being so seriously ill and facing possible imminent death people should adopt a grave attitude, err…a sullen and serious attitude. This video Last Laugh presented by comedian Alexei Sayle sails in the face of such assumptions. There’s gallows humour which the terminally ill, and elderly, get a lot out of. There is simple joy there too. I hope it does something for you, ill or not. The video is linked to an organization called Dying Matters which looks like it has some interesting and useful information and advice on it.

When Things Break

A posy for Annette

This is but a brief post to acknowledge the work done by Annette at the web hosting company where Jademountains lives. She toiled away for hours today to fix a problem with the site. Some of you might have noticed that the left hand side of the site had disappeared. Anyway it is heartening for me to know there is a friendly person who I can rely on to patiently get on and deal with problems.

Mean while, down at the station the platform serves as a handy table for lunch. A break from oiling, polishing and generally titivating this fine specimin of a steam engine. All ready to go to work tomorrow.


And it is not every day I get to sit on a bench, on a platform, in the sun, eating lunch and drinking tea. In fine company with a steam engine, gently belching and hissing!


I once asked Mike, pictured, why people get so worked up about steam engines and he said with (kindly) force, It is your heritage my dear! How quickly we forget.

Today I remembered, not only our age of steam heritage but also the late Iain Robinson who died almost a year ago. The railways were his passion.


Warning!! This post is a call to faith. If you have a problem with that term try replacing it with trust and leave out a subject or object of trust. See how you do with that. And read on or not as you feel is good.

Buttercup field under a looming sky, Throssel.

In an email just now I wrote of the vainglory of the future and then wondered if I’d used the term appropriately. This quote seems to fit my usage.

Vainglory and curiosity are the two scourges of our soul. The latter leads us to thrust our noses into everything, and the former forbids us to leave anything unresolved and undecided.
-Michel de Montaigne

It fits my usage rather well in actual fact since I was talking to somebody who was, with very good reason, curious about the future and had been doing a goodly bit of on-line research. We all want to be able to predict outcome especially when the outcome does not look so rosy. A potential outcome that is dark. But need that stop us doing our research? I think not. The test is whether or not one is able to then set aside what one has found. Put it on the altar of our hearts, or our physical altar for that matter. This can be done and if on the way to ones altar there are low moments, desperately low moments, then so be it. The light on the altar never goes out no matter what. And can be always found, or even rediscovered, because of that eternal light.

I was talking to somebody yesterday about placing a life situation close to her on the altar and she said, I don’t think there is any more room! Which turned the conversation towards pondering on fundamental emptiness or immaculacy. You could say the fundamental enlightened nature of all existence. There being nothing to add nor taken away from anyone or anything at any time. However to hear that teaching is unlikely to help anybody when they hurt, badly. Not at the time anyway. When the storms are past is more likely to be the time when this teaching and others become true and known deep down.

But as our conversation continued on the phone yesterday I asked, You know that non of this can harm you, the fundamental part of you, don’t you. Her response? A knowing Yes. Yes, our fundamental enlightenment is not a secret kept from us until such time when we get it. Nope not at all. Projecting into the future is vainglory because it misses the shining moment. But don’t let’s allow time back into the equation!

The question is, what or who or where do you go to when the chips are down? There are many twists and turns on the path that brings us back to the altar of our own hearts. Compassion and acceptance are the watch words.

Now I had better get on and cook a meal.

Feast For The Eyes

In Kathmandu it is monsoon time and…well it seems like it is monsoon time here in Britain at the moment. It’s been unremitting grey days for weeks. It is so easy to get dragged down, eyes on the pavement. The summer flowers are non the less soldiering on in mute tones, the birds are doing their thing. I’ve never seen so much green either.

For a bit of uplift why not go to Crystalfists to feast your eyes. A veritable banquet of colour and form.

Thanks to Isan for your blog and your vision.

Field Of Merit Revisited

I just wrote a comment in response to one left by Chris Y. I’d got more and more to say and the comment has turned into post length so I thought I would elevate it to the front page as a post. Here is my response to the comment left by Chris:

An Explanation
By Rev. Mugo – Posted on July 1st, 2012

Thanks Chris for giving me the opportunity to write more on field of merit. What you wrote made me smile even though I am not familiar with either the film you mention nor the quote from it.

It was not my intention behind writing that short piece about field of merit to reference the film Field of Dreams, that is build it, and they will come nor the inspiration behind what I wrote. Although you may have caught in the wind that I do have a ‘project’ lurking in the background not entirely unconnected to the field of merit!

The term is not my invention either although I found out AFTER I used it in a, for me, significant talk referring to the Order as a field of merit which I am committed to. Well it is a commitment to all those who train within the order, as well as those who don’t. You could say it is a commitment to practice ALONGSIDE OTHERS, all living things as the kesa verse says.

The kesa, in whatever colour, form and size, is referred to in Buddhism as a field of merit. I have no handy scriptural reference up my sleeve unfortunately. The kesa, as you know, is deeply connected to the Buddhist Precepts being both *symbolic and *identical really. As I was told just before lay ordination, this is not just a bit of black cloth to hang around your neck! Love those American monks!

The late Rev. Master Daizui, former head of the order, extended the meaning of the kesa to include the unseen kesa, that is wearing the kesa of training whether or not it has been formally given and received ceremonially. So it is, with this extended meaning of the kesa, that the field of merit is boundless/formless. This has direct meaning for me.

Here is the kesa verse spoken daily as one clothes oneself with the Precepts for that day.

How great and wondrous
Are the clothes of Enlightenment
Formless and embracing every treasure
I wish to unfold the Buddha’s Teaching
That I may help all living things.

Somebody asked what the connection between field of merit and Buddha Nature is and whether they are identical in meaning. Looking now at the kesa verse along with what I’ve been saying one can see there is a flow of connection. Namely, is it not the wish/vow/promise to live ones life in harmony with the the Precepts which makes manifest the field of merit? To make manifest non separation/no separate self which is the teaching of the Precepts handed down from the Buddha. See Anatta the teaching of no separate self. Also see Sunyata. BTW, I use Wikipedia as a first stop reference point but that’s all it is. One has to explore teachings widely and within meditation particularly.

**I will need to write some more about that for those not familiar with how the teaching is passed, or flows, through the generations reaching to the time of the historic Buddha and before him.

For all those who just don’t get the idea of spiritual merit, or get worked up about the very idea of it, please do not worry yourself. Most people get on just fine and merit remains a concept. This doesn’t make you shallow spiritually it just shows that we all come at religion/spirituality from different directions. And I am all for that.