From the monastery Mount Shasta can be seen towering into the sky, recently covered with snow. Winter is just around the corner. A cooling last week with welcome heavy rain has ushered in a real sense of the season change.
Today a female Reverend and I drove up the mountain road to a trail head leading to Horse Camp. It was a two mile walk to the stone hut the area around it serving as a base camp for those climbing the mountain. The hut a shelter in severe conditions. It’s a long days climb (for most people – see comment) to make it to the top starting out in the wee hours to get back down before dark. This is a real mountain climb requiring ice and snow equipment and experienced guides. I’m just so glad of the opportunity to get closer to this majestic mass. Shasta Abbey is 4000 ft above sea level.
As close as the mountain is and as beautiful as it is I rarely stop and look at it as a ‘sight’ as I go about the day. That’s unless it turns candy floss pink in the evening light. Or as the other evening when we were called away from the washing up to look at a perfect rainbow arching over the mountain.
But that you could join me here. My place of training for so many years. Now returned to appreciate anew the gifts which can’t be conveyed in a photograph. Or in words.
I was on call for Rev. Master Jiyu during the last night of her life. I sensed she wasn’t sleeping, she wasn’t well. Not well at all. A cold had been doing the rounds and she had it, her breathing was laboured. I lay still, very still. Listening. I thought I was having a heart attack – the pain in my chest was intense. My mantra that night was When life comes, there is life. When death comes there is death. Over and over again I repeated. Something in me knew this was sympathy pain yet all the same I repeated the mantra. A mantra of acceptance and of comfort. Mixed with fear to be sure.
Within this place there is no suffering.
No coming. No going. No ceasing. No Way.
There is only endless training.
Later that day Rev. Master Jiyu died. This post is for those whose life is under threat and for those who are left behind after an unexpected death. We cannot but resonate with such circumstances whether they be near or far away.
The monastery will be on silent retreat for three days starting tomorrow. Why not join us by building in some extra ‘sitting still’ time into your day. Where ever you are and what ever you are doing there are generally places to pause if only for a few moments. Silence is generally associated with not talking and cutting down on the chatter can be a good practice in getting to listen to the chatter in ones head.
externally or internally
is not the absence
For my good Sangha friend who has recently broken her leg.