Category Archives: Daily Life

Daily Life Practice On the Road.

Since the last posting I found out that the road we had taken from the airport was closed due to flooding soon after we passed in the small hours of the morning. So, glad we got through.

The first day in Taiwan? Can I remember back that far? Yes, lunch with the Master and his newly ordained disciple and maybe up to 15 lay practitioners as well. Then to the lecture hall in town to sit and drink tea and attempt to communicate what it is I am hoping to do while in Taiwan. Latter we (the Master and his three disciples)climbed into the temple mini bus and drove for perhaps two and half hours, at a sedate pace, to the temple in the central mountain area. I am growing used to the scale of the temples here however that first sight of the place where we were to stay was breathtaking. Since then, the following day in fact, we went to a temple where over 1000 monks and nuns live and practice.

The next day, at 6.00 am the nun and I were eating breakfast in the kitchen of the guest house and by 8.00 we were in the Master’s car heading off for a tour into the higher mountains. I could see that the nun was driving with full awareness that she was driving her Master’s car although there were a couple of times I couldn’t help myself and encouraged her to drive closer to the right side of the road! (As I write this she is trying to tell me something via an electronic dictionary, it might be something about the virus attack warnings that keep popping up on this computer which I would really like to fix but the owner seems not to be concerned. Language difficulties again….). The most memorable place we visited was a temple above a lake where we met an 85 year old nun who had become a nun when she was ten years old. (Now the nun traveling with me is trying to tell me not to be anxious about the virus attack! The dictionary has come up with “to be affected by poison”, yes I think that describes this computer so I had better get off quickly….)

To cut a long story short I am in the high mountains using the computer in a store next to the place where I will stay tonight. We have walked in the tropical mountain forest this afternoon and it is all captured on video. Today I’ve also been aided by Millie, a young woman who kindly took a day off work to translate for me. Thank you Millie if you are reading this, please post a comment if you want to.

This morning we went to a temple where there are 60 nuns training. We had tea with the Abbess and I think it has been arranged that we will go and stay there on Friday night so I can get a feel for monastic training in a medium size temple where only nuns practice. If things sound vague it is because arrangements have the habit of changing very quickly. For example I thought we would only be away from the city temple one night and it turns out we will be away for three…or is it four!?

I really do need to get off this computer as the pop up messages are getting more and more serious, the nun is standing to my right mentally wringing her hands – well I would be in her position – and the TV is loud in my left ear. This is just a small picture of how life is for me on a moment to moment level.

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The Entrenching Tool

Idaho, summer 2003.

I used an ex US Army entrenching tool this morning. It was good to do some physical work for a change since I, of necessity, spend a large part of my day using a computer. The task at hand was to break up and clear away a ridge of gravel and earth on the side of the road created by a snowplough in the spring. The ridge was in the way of getting a good wide swing around into the drive, so I ‘had at it’ with the entrenching tool. The ridge was baked solid by the Idaho summer heat. The sharp end worked well to
The Entrenching Toolbreak up the concrete-like obstacle. The spade was good for breaking down the remaining lumps and moving the dirt to make a smooth surface to drive over. Half an hour later and the obstacle on the road had been dealt with. An obstacle, a simple tool, applied effort, obstacle smoothed out, the road cleared.

I’ve been pondering the first entry for this web site. In fact, I have been pondering the whole question of persevering with a web site. It has, at times, seemed a daunting project especially for one with no previous experience in this field. This morning, while I was breathing in the dust on the side of the road, one potential purpose for the site came to me. It was to do with roads and obstacles and ‘taking the next step’. The other part was ‘insights’, those thoughts that pop into consciousness to inspire, teach and encourage. They come, are learned from and then forgotten, however, some times they are worth repeating.

Some years ago my mother asked me to choose some books from the mobile library since she and my father would be away shopping when the van turned up at the gate (this is a system in rural England where the library comes to you). “What kind of books do you like,” I asked her. Stories about people overcoming great difficulties – biographies, she replied. I related this book choice to a fellow monk who, it would appear, knew my mother better than I did. She likes them because she has to overcome great difficulties herself! In my eyes, she had been a tower of strength throughout her life. It hadn’t consciously occurred to me she had grown strong through working hard and enduring tough life circumstances. My mother was an avid reader; she read for personal inspiration and did so to a ripe old age.

So, these pages are here, hopefully, for spiritual inspiration; inspiration to keep travelling the road and overcome difficulties. They also provide information and insights; information about the practice of the Serene Reflection Meditation Tradition (Soto Zen) and insights into how that practice unfolds in daily life.

May the spiritual merit accrued creating and writing for this site be offered in eternal gratitude to my parents, Dorothy and Tony White, and to all beings.

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