When Mountains are Not Mountains

It can be said, in fact, that the Mountains and Rivers Sutra is not about mountains and rivers at all, but that the mountains and rivers themselves are the sutra, the true buddhadharma.

These clouds appeared this morning looking for all the world like mountains rising from behind our plain old Northumberland moorland. They spoke of illusion, how easily we can become fooled by what we see, hear, smell, touch, taste. How we can be fooled by our own minds. To believe something is true simply because we want it to be true. I call that delusion coming to the aid of desire.

If you want poetry, take a look at the Mountains and Rivers Sutra by Zen Master Dogen. However to fully appreciate what is spoken there one has forget everything one thinks one knows. Not easy. Not a bad plan, sometimes one sees mountains and sometimes clouds. And sometimes one just sees. End of.

From Splashmob to Flashmob!

Couldn’t resist! No doubt we have all seen flashmob recordings. The  link to the one below was sent to me by a dear Canadian reader. Thanks Diane it just seems to fit the day and times following on as it does from the frogs yesterday. I went to look at the pond this lunch time and the frogs are still cavorting.

Nature – Frogs at Throssel

Here a homegrown, home-recorded video of Frogs going bonkers in our pond in the garden at Throssel. Next time I video I’ll use a tripod to cut out the wobbly image, hope this doesn’t detract from your viewing pleasure. Many thanks to my ‘walking companion’ and all-around good person for helping make this less shaky.

The Singing will Never Be Done

Everyone Sang
Siegfried Sassoon – 1886-1967

Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on; on; and out of sight.

Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted,
And beauty came like the setting sun.
My heart was shaken with tears and horror
Drifted away … O but every one
Was a bird; and the song was wordless;
the singing will never be done.

This is apt for our times. Thanks to Mark for sending me this link.

Not a ‘Tin’ Buddha

Back in the 1980’s Rev. Master Jiyu was the celebrant at the funeral for her beloved dog. Called Dog interestingly! He got quite the send-off with his body in a box on the main altar and the whole community turned out in full ceremonial robes for the event. Many of us had sat with Dog the previous week as he slowly died in our community common room at Shasta Abbey, He was a bit of an old reprobate, a hound with many a story to tell. One couldn’t help but love him even when he would escape and do bad things locally, involving chicken!

During the ceremony, Rev. Master became choked up with emotion and paused while she composed herself. We were just still with her even though it was an awkward moment. Afterwards, we all met in the common room for tea, and cake probably. By way of acknowledging she had become a bit tearful earlier, she said with force, “I didn’t bring you all up to be tin Buddhas you know”. And so it was that we learned something rather important that day.

Our humanity, our emotions and attachments are an acceptable part of our whole selves which we do well to acknowledge, show our acceptance of and be able to be light-handed with. And so it is now with our facing, dealing with, accepting the facts of and the ramifications of the virus that has taken our world by storm.

And so it was for me a couple of days ago as I lived through multiple emotions on returning to the monastery. Emotions that others no doubt have, or will have while negotiating tricky decisions around possible contamination, spreading the virus unwittingly and oh so many other complex issues. I’m no tin Buddha and I can live with that!