Bodhicitta – Part Three

So the human pursuit of happiness is natural and good. But problems arise when we lose sight of that essential reason for the search, the original motive. This happens very easily. It is often said that the method unenlightened people employ in life to find happiness is to arrange things as they like them to be and try to keep them that way. That is they look for conditions, possessions and relationships which, when they are in place, provide feelings of satisfaction and contentment. Again, it is not entirely wrong to do that, bodhicitta is within that approach, but when situations change and we lose those things we rely on for our sense of well-being, we often don’t know how best to deal with that.

And we make a basic mistake when we think it is possible to create a life for ourselves where we can control what happens around us and avoid the difficult stuff. In truth it is not possible, even though it might sometimes appear that we can, because we do have agency. Choices we make do result in our life becoming more palatable. Sometimes. The freedom of choice many of us have reinforces the sense that we are in charge of our own destiny, and if only we could prevent those things and people who frustrate our wishes from impinging on us, the course of our life would be a one-way journey to fulfilment.

Note: I was personally touched by this talk and saw the benefits others are likely to derive from visiting his words, published here on Jade over several days. Thanks to the Reverend for permission to do this. Listen to the talk.

Bodhicitta – Part Two

It’s also true that whatever motivates us when we look to religion to find out if it can answer the deepest questions in our heart, is essentially the same search the Buddha undertook when he left his father’s palace, and adopted the life of a homeless seeker of truth. He didn’t, like many of us have, an assumption or concept of what enlightenment was, he was just desperate to find some comfort for the anguish he had experienced when he saw the suffering of old age, disease and death which all beings are subject to. Realizing the inevitability of death – his own and that of all beings – as well as the inescapable pain and sorrow which all beings encounter, shook him to the core of his being, and he had to try and do something about it.

In some ways that’s a more advantageous position to start from. He didn’t know what he was looking for, but he felt there had to be something. We usually learn that there is something to seek, and read or hear descriptions of it which colour our understanding of what we’re aiming for, and which usually don’t match that well with what we find, for ultimately no words can really encapsulate it. Having something to look for means we’re not really making a journey into the unknown, not really letting go and giving up everything. But that doesn’t mean we won’t be successful of course – the opposite is in fact true. Just that the fulfilment of the bodhicitta generally doesn’t progress in quite the way we anticipate.

Note: I was personally touched by this talk and saw the benefits others are likely to derive from visiting Rev. Roland’s words, published here on Jade over several days. Thanks to the Reverend for permission to do this. Listen to the talk.

Bodhicitta – Part One

2021jodo-01-2The text below is from the talk given by Rev. Roland, on the 5th December after the Buddha’s Enlightenment Ceremony.

There was a reference in the scripture we chanted during the ceremony this morning to Bodhicitta. This is usually translated as ‘the will to enlightenment’. It is often understood as something we only embark on once we begin Buddhist practice. It is thought of as somewhat idealistic – a lofty aspiration – it sounds as if we’re seeking for something supernatural, or fantastic. And whilst it does have an element of pointing beyond our human experience, it is also essentially not different from the simple wish to be happy. This is of course just our nature. It is not something we acquire or have to cultivate, it is inherent in our being. It’s the same instinct that is behind our wish to find the answer to all the distress we find in life, to solve the problem of suffering – which is the work of a Zen trainee.
Rev. Master Roland.

Note: I was personally touched by this talk and saw the benefits others are likely to derive from visiting Rev. Roland’s words, published here on Jade over several days. Thanks to the Reverend for permission to do this. Listen to the talk.

As an added bonus you can listen to the entire ceremony with a moving dedication, taken from The Light of Asia by Sir Edwin Arnold.

Before, During and After Storm Arwen!

A tree came down during the storm blocking the lane up to the monastery main buildings.

Enough to say we have ‘weathered the storm‘ and the monastery is now back up and running with full power and internet.  The widespread damage done to the electricity grid infrastructure by the high winds and frigid temperatures, caused by Storm Arwen, had quite an impact on the functioning of the monastery. I believe there are still homes in the North East not yet connected to power and one’s heart can’t help but go out to those who rely totally on electricity.

Our internet connection joined us sometime on Monday morning as well as the electricity supply to the Myrtle Bank buildings. We were without power for about 7 days although a generator was hooked up around day 5 to keep the freezers going and provide light in the kitchen and heat in the lay common room. A welcomed warm refuge. You will be glad to know we were able to cook using LPG (gas), and to heat water for washing up, filling Thermos flasks and…hot water bottles!

Much has happened since the last post here. Just in the last ten days, I’ve driven to the Scottish Border country twice. One trip to pick up a ‘crown’ of red rhubarb ( Fulton’s Strawberry Surprise) and the other trip to pick up a car. Also Red! And there have been a number of excursions locally for supplies and to get essential laundry washed.

For the funeral, the coffin is placed on the main altar and covered with a specially made kesa.

Rev. Alexanders death on November 5th has had quite an impact on us both practically and personally. On the 25th of November, his body was returned to the monastery where we held a Vigil (a meditation period with the coffin in the middle of the room) followed by Rev. Alexander’s funeral.   Later that same day his body was driven in a hearse to the crematorium near Consett – several of us attended a short, lived streamed, cremation ceremony there. Sometime last week we were joined by quite a number of Rev. Alexander’s relatives for the Interment Ceremony for his cremated remains. Memories of last August passed before me as we processed to the monks’ cemetery for the burial.

Rev. Berwyn wrote an article that can be either downloaded as a .pdf or read online. So touching. Reverend Master Alexander – learning from a friend. 

There are very many comments attached to the Throssel blog posts linked to above. Please do add your own comment if moved to do so. Doing so helps us all to honour and remember this monk and for his family to know how much his life as a monk was appreciated.


Memorial for Jademountains Reader

Ian Pearson, RIP.

This afternoon; a perfect autumn day for a Memorial and Interment of Ashes here at Throssel. I really only knew Ian via his comments left here on Jade. He died in October in Ireland and his wish was to be buried here at Throssel.

Rest now in your true home, in the deepest sense you never left, even though it’s nearly 40 years since you joined the community, briefly, as a postulant. You were highly thought of by both the lay and monastic communities. And Richard Branson apparently, but that’s another story.