This shot was taken from the ISS (International Space Station) on September 20, 2012, and shows the region around Mount Shasta, a 4300 meter peak in northern California. It’s technically dormant – it erupted last in 1786. In geologically recent history it’s erupted every 600 years or so, but that’s not a precise schedule, so geologists keep an eye on it, as they do many of the peaks in the Cascades. As well they should.
Yesterday Field of Merit entered into the world of Facebook! In my post on the website of the same name I ponder on this step and on the use of the Internet to spread the word about Buddhist practice. My conclusion? The Internet can be used in the service of Buddhism if done with care and thoughtfulness.
Quietly I think to myself, Would Dogen have used Facebook to spread the word about Zazen, had it been available back then? Zazen was, as I understand, recommended universally to be taken up by lay and monastics alike. Another thought, or question, that comes to mind: Is being ‘out there’ – on Facebook, on this website, and elsewhere incompatible with being ‘in here’ which is the call of the Hermitage? To stop and be still, to reflect, to contemplate and to turn within. To turn the stream of Compassion within.
Sometimes which ever way one looks it’s not clear which direction to move in. And moving seems to be what’s called for. There is a sense of being stuck, unable to move. This is not an uncommon dilemma and the standard advice is to just take a step. And possibly this might mean it’s a step in in a direction that one ends up not ultimately going in, but at least it’s a step.
What comes to mind are stepping stones across a river or stream. The stream needs to be crossed and there are so many options. Too many options. Stepping out onto the nearest rock, landing there and then looking around for the next best rock is a way to progress. And on and on. Sometimes retracing ones steps is necessary and even going back to the bank and finding another crossing point. At least there is forward movement even if it’s a three steps forwards and two back.
Another way to deal with that stuck feeling is to do nothing! Wait, be patient. Conditions around and within each of us are constantly changing and it has been my experience that the next stable rock to step out onto presents itself in a timely way. I’d say at the right time.
Here’s a post that talks about getting unstuck. Personally I don’t hold with his advice to go down the wrong path because that implies there is a right path when in practice there are multiple choices opening up, constantly.
It struck me this morning at 11.04 am that today, in England, is Remembrance Day. At 11.00 am precisely people are encouraged to stop what they are doing for one simple minute in remembrance of those killed in war. This event stated after WW1 and continues on to this very day. Rare I think that the eleventh of the eleventh falls on a Sunday. People are out on parade, laying wreaths and sporting the Remembrance Poppy about their person. I was driving at 11.00, from North Norfolk back to where I am staying for the moment in North West England. So I am pausing now…and using this on-line timer.
Landing back after three days away it is so easy to hit the ground running. Unpacking, catching up, planning and preparing for the next away time. Tea? No, just this post, a moment to remember and then out for a brisk walk to iron out those traveling/driving wrinkles.
It really does take effort and a firm hand to slow down, and stop. And then start up again refreshed and renewed. Remembrance, deliberately bringing to mind with compassionate attention is to offer merit.
On this day remembering ALL killed in war or who suffered, are still suffering, from the consequence of war.
Each month I do Jade Mountains accounts and send them to the treasurer of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives Activities Trust. This is the charity which receives donations made to support me to live. Food, utilities, my everyday needs basically. Recently I have been using an Excel spreadsheet which a kind fellow monk constructed specifically for my use. For those not familiar with spreadsheets they work like magic! They do all the adding up, saving somebody like me lot of time with a calculator. I love the spreadsheet, or did until today.
Try as I may I could not get my numbers to tally. I keep a running total during the month of small payments from petty cash. I added and re added my numbers but to no avail. After what seemed hours it dawned on me the problem was with the spreadsheet itself. It had added up the numbers incorrectly! How unquestioning I was. Of course a program would not make a mistake. I do that! But as it turned out, ultimately, it was me who was at fault. A program is only as good as the instructions you give it. Change the instructions and the sums come out right. Oh but what a long time it took me to realize this.
There is something to learn from this however it is too late to articulate. Perhaps to remember that programs are only as good as the instructions you give them in the first place. Programs are NOT magic.
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