Category Archives: Curiosities

The Benefits of Breathing – Re post

Have you ever paused to notice?
if your mouth is closed
when you breathe in
and when you breathe out?

Have you ever considered?
if your mouth is OPEN
while you walk in silence
and have you wondered why?

Have you ever paid attention?
to the soft touch of top on bottom lip
and noticed the wonder of it
in your toes?

Have you ever paused to ponder?
if mouth open or closed
while breathing through your day
matters?

A friend pointed out the merits of nose breathing, whenever possible, as against mouth breathing.

Why wander the world panting? Surely life is not one long emergency.
Is it?

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Cheap Tin Trays!

Imagine.
A bored child
In Sussex
By the sea.

Poetry.
Rhythm
Music
Imagination.

Rhyme
Dance
Playful
exotics.

Today guests arrive for an ‘intensive retreat’, with a difference. Here is the write up on our website introducing the retreat.
One of the themes of this retreat is around seeing the reading and writing of poetry as a potential ‘path of awareness’. In finding ways to express what seems unsayable, poetry can reveal and clarify our understanding of ourselves. During the retreat, there will be talks/discussions on this topic, which will be integrated with sitting periods.

Those coming to the retreat were encouraged to bring a poem. Below is my poem.

‘Cargoes’
Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amethysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

John Masefield

Everything from the exotic, hard to pronounce words, to those cheap tin trays, pig lead and firewood captured my bored wandering attention. Sitting at my desk I could picture that dirty British coaster filled with earthy items, contrasting with emeralds, amethysts, peacocks and palm-green shores. How unlike Sussex by the sea! The poem fired my imagination and pointed to a distant world beyond the waves I knew. It probably set me yearning to see the world.

There is something to be said for poetry.

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Alternative Fireworks.

Success! Sorry to you lovely subscribers for giving you a false alarm earlier, I was having difficulty uploading however the problem is solved.

Here it is an ‘interesting’ short video to celebrate the opening up of the year 2020.

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Training hand, heart and mind

This letter, first published in 2006, is reproduced now in slightly edited form.

Dear Rev. Mugo,
I thought I would write to let you know what I have discovered about Trinity College of Music at the time Rev. Master (Jiyu-Kennett) would have been in contact with it, in case it is of interest.

Trinity was started in 1872 by Bonavia Hunt who was deeply concerned by the quality of church music which was becoming poorer and poorer. Trinity was first known as the Church Choral Society and College of Church music. It was open to members of the Anglican Church, and men only! The college started with a view to teaching so that quality could be restored and the long tradition of church music continued. As it developed, the college trained teachers and offered exams throughout the world so that standards could be maintained. I’m not sure of the date, but women were also welcomed in to study before the war.

By 1939 the numbers at the college grew and the college ethos was one of welcome and the doors were opened on Sundays as well as all other days, “to keep the lamp of music burning during these dark days.” The choir was open to those who’s choral societies had had to disband for war reasons. Trinity hosted concerts throughout the war and two concerts in 1942 were given by the children of London county council and Middlesex who studied on Saturday mornings with Gladys Puttick, a pioneer who arrived at Trinity in 1934 and was one of the first to teach musicianship beyond the instrument. She was also the founder of the Saturday School and Trinity was the first music college to have a Saturday junior department. Distance Learning also started to help those unable to get into college to study, in fact Prisoners of War were able to do distance learning with help from the British Red Cross offices.

Gladys Puttick arrived in 1934 and stayed until the 1970s. Three other notable people were at Trinity from the 1930s – mid 1960s. Charles Kennedy Scott was keen on the study of Plainsong and the chanting of Psalms and gave regular lectures and led rehearsals. Dr Lowery was passionate about organs, organ music and is noted as giving superb lectures. The Principal of Trinity from 1944 -1965, Dr Wilfred Greehouse Allt was also an organist who was the President of the Incorporated Association of Organists from 1956-1958 and then of the Royal College of Organists from 1962-1964. Rev Master would almost certainly have come into contact with Gladys Puttick and Charles Kennedy Scott, whether based at Trinity or as a distant learner.

Gladys Puttick gave a lecture in the 1940s and it reveals an approach to learning that often goes unnoticed. She said that music was, “essentially a pivotal subject of education, since it could be the means of training, at once, the hand, the heart and the mind.”

It would appear that Rev Master was in good hands.

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The Eyes of My Eyes – are Open

We meet in high places.

Will Pegg. The poem is an offering of thanks and gratitude to Wills friends, family and fellow 12 Steppers, as well as fellow life travelers. The poem comes at the beginning of a long post on Facebook by a man who is facing death. Very soon. He is saying goodby. godde is his word.

i thank You godde for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is YES

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

e.e. cummings
1894-1962

Unimaginable You, the infinite ungraspable! Indeed. A poem; a prayer echoing in the hallways of all existence, where the idea of a separate self dissolves. Sir Edwin Arnold in The Light of Asia says it seeking nothing, he gains all; foregoing self, the universe grows “I.” What is there to say? Well lots as it turns out. We can imagine a Bodhisattva as superhuman, but watch out when they blaze in! However no, a Bodhisattva, this chap Will, is no super human. He’s every bit human with the human frailty that comes with this state. Countless people have benefitted from his living his life and countless people have taught him too. Humility is the watch word.

I met Will in a cafe in Victoria, Canada July before last. In the way that it can happen between people our eyes met, and a deep spiritual connection comes about, well past words or understanding. So it was and so it will be. Here I sit in England, Northumberland. Merit and meditations winging their way to a far off bedside. Join me why not.

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