Before The Altar

Moon eclipse

At the end of the day.
Ring the gong. Twice.

At the start of the day.
Ring the gong. Thrice.

If nothing else is possible
At least RING.
Clarify intention.

At the end of the day
Recite thus:

Hail to the Mandala
Let us so be engulfed within
its praises ever more that
By our own wills and vigilance
May we our fetters cut away
May we within the temple of our
own hearts dwell
Amidst the myriad mountains
Hail! Hail! Hail!

There’s a lot in that simple verse to Achalanatha. The Bodhisattva known as the immovable one.

Lived with conviction,
recited regularly,
lives change
at a profound level.

Even when there seems little reason for jubilation, no cause for merriment, no sun shining, no uplift, there is always the temple of ones own heart. To return to. Hail!

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12 thoughts on “Before The Altar”

  1. Thank you RM Mugo,
    This is what popped into my mind upon reading your post.

    Lyrics from the swing tune “It Ain’t What you Do.” written by Lisa Stansfield


    When I was a kid, about half past three
    My ma said daughter, come here to me
    Says, things may come and things may go
    But this is one thing you ought to know

    Ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it (x3)
    That’s what gets results…


    But remember not to try too hard or it don’t mean a thing…

  2. Thank you for this Reverend Mugo. Seems just right for me this morning. I often find reasons not to do an evening sit, but I can surley sound the gong and recite the scripture. With bows.

  3. This little Temple
    Of thatched roof
    And wobbly bamboo poles
    Sometimes lets the rain in,
    Tears from self or friend,
    A temporary deluge
    That washes the floor;
    But also the sun
    Often comes for a visit
    Steps across the threshold
    In dappled shade and
    The birds’ songs lift the heaviness
    From the far away
    Grumpy village echoes

    Not always sturdy,
    Shaken by wind
    Or wild thoughts;
    Sometimes the night beautiful
    With stars or
    Cold with remorse

    Feeling weak, or
    Simply feeling
    What is there
    I sit in the strength
    Of Its open space

    My bows and crossed legs
    Giving rise
    To a trail of incense


    The Temple of my heart

  4. Dear Jack,

    I thought came while reading this, A Ryokan poem? The hut reference…that sort of thing. And then reading on down the page, I see it is you.

    This morning, before seeing this poem and other comments, I was pondering on Jade. Not with downward thoughts so much as….well, asking myself, Whence comes this blog? Whither Jade’s direction and along with that, mine? And similar thoughts. (I have been thinking about ‘live’ content for example. Enable this place to be interactive, immediate.)

    And so with this crop of comments I derive a greater sense of things. People come here and as a consequence, affirm.

    Maybe see you and others this spring.

  5. Isn’t that so interesting. I read you post, in particular the preambling paragraph about overt religious language once putting you off (in blogs). We sit in the same place there. Oh, and I am glad you lifted my ‘poem’ into the purple clouds!

    While posting last night I did wonder about the wisdom of it considering the context, the internet and a broad, and largely unknown, readership. And anyway I tend to keep what I have to say about practice to the practical – gong ringing. Mention the word ‘mandala’ or the like and most are tempted to take off, mentally, into the sky there to wander for awhile – while dinner burns in the oven and dust piles up on the stairs. I tend to assume people are digging into themselves for the core/the unbounded, the ‘whence cometh’. Everybody wants ‘a place’, ‘a source’ and long for direction and ‘teaching’. Obviously that is part of the picture, the Dharma, however…..

    What I see at the moment is a dirty great signpost with every arm of it saying, NOT THAT WAY!

  6. There is a rythum to our days isn’t there? Marking it with those delicious sounds, the gong, the voice, the swish and thump when bowing mark that in a most satisfying way. I sound the gong last thing, along with the scripture. Mornings? ‘Adoration to all the Buddha’s’….know that one I am sure.

  7. Thanks Helmut. Love the last part: But remember not to try too hard or it don’t mean a thing. The word momentum comes to mind – Our promise, made every morning within the Kesa Verse, gives the wheels on the car a gentle nudge – to move right along into activity. The promise is always active, and SO significant isn’t it?

  8. It is interesting. I wrote the pre-amble because I know I’m getting a wider swathe of readers since Fiona and I started our online writing project together (a river of stones) and I didn’t want to put them off other things I’ve written – or at least to acknowledge the strangeness of it all.

    Communicating from the position of being in a tradition whose language and ritual is so different from the ambient culture is difficult.

    I like the idea of assuming everyone is digging…I wonder how one can best support that – given that one is in a tradition of wisdom etc….

  9. Yes I agree Nancy B. The comments today have been brilliant light. Heartening. Now all I have left is to wonder just which Nancy B. you might be! Which ever one it is wonderful to have you leave a comment. Thank you.

  10. Good question. Support the exploration/digging? I guess my way is/has been to demonstrate that, to show what daily life training looks like. Continue to point out the ‘spade’, talk about how to use it and every now and then sprinkle in some encouragement.

    I do not understand the ‘given that one is in a tradition of wisdom etc….’ did I miss an important point?

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