Category Archives: Falls Between the Cracks

Timely Rain and The Buddha’s Influence

Late afternoon light on Lake Siskiyou.
Late afternoon light on Lake Siskiyou.

A late afternoon saunter with a fellow monastic walking companion. A lake-side saunter. Wonderful! The sound of water lapping gently on the shores of Lake Siskiyou! Double wonderful! Double wonderful because the lake has been not much more than a muddy puddle for several years. Now, water to the shore-line telling of the recent heavy rains. All is well with the world, very well. To have the lake restored to its  deep watery glory is a boon beyond measure.

At times of drought in the almost long forgotten past in the East Buddhists priests performed a ceremony invoking the name of the Dragon King, who controls water, politely yet insistently asking for rain. We have records of such a ceremony and when push comes to shove, we use them. Does rain fall as a result of performing this ceremony? I’m not saying. Eventually rain does come whether due to the Dragon King’s good grace or not would be difficult to say.  We Westerners can get overly squeamish around religious ceremonies at the best of times, praying for rain might just tip the balance, for some. So I encourage an attitude of creative doubt in this regard. In other words, best to keep an open mind.

Back in September we had been under threat from forest fires, we desperately needed rain. One night it rained. I remember hearing water dripping from the guttering outside of my room. I could smell the dampness coming in through my window. Next morning I was celebrant for morning service. It is our custom to say a few words as we offer incense at the start of the ceremony. I said thank you for the timely rain. Had I been asking for help from the watery dragons? Not at all.

What I can say is that sincere Buddhist practice, sustained over time has unseen and unknowable consequences. I’m content to not know and be grateful for what ever comes.

But you know, the idea of good-natured and generous dragons has a certain appeal. This post is for all those who are thirsty, for water or anything else.

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Short film in the making

A 2nd year short film project has captured my imagination. The film is called The Priest and the chap behind it is Mathew Herbertz. Here is a brief idea of what the film is about.

In a world where organized religion has become violently persecuted, an aged priest, Father McNalley, searches for a safe place to start a new church. After a long journey, the priest collapses on the doorstep of a family farm. The family takes the priest in for the night without knowing his true identity. Father McNalley must decide whether or not he should trust the family enough to let them know who he really is. Will the family help the old man continue his ministry or will they hold his faith against him?

Today is day one of Mathews fundraiser on Kickstarter. I particularly like that he has posted a short video saying thank you for pledges so far – his dog features in the video and does a great yawn too!

It’s rare for me to publicize something like this. I’m not soliciting funds or support although if anybody is moved to do so that’s great. It is more the wish on my part to support this young man just starting out on his film making life and the thoughtful subject he is tackling. Non of us know just how long Buddhism will be able to be practice peaceable here in the West.

Good fortune Mathew and crew. I hope this short post helps spread the word for you and this project.

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Age Does Not Define

In 1975 four sisters stood together poised and elegant, youthful. Each year they came back together to poise in front of a large format camera (nothing digital about these black and whites). Now forty years later this remarkable set of documentary photographs have been gathered together into a book.

These images talk of that which is ageless while at the same time tell of human life and of our mortality. Spell binding to view. When exhibited in Spain viewers openly wept apparently.

Throughout this series, we watch these women age, undergoing life’s most humbling experience. While many of us can, when pressed, name things we are grateful to Time for bestowing upon us, the lines bracketing our mouths and the loosening of our skin are not among them. So while a part of the spirit sinks at the slow appearance of these women’s jowls, another part is lifted: They are not undone by it. We detect more sorrow, perhaps, in the eyes, more weight in the once-fresh brows. But the more we study the images, the more we see that aging does not define these women. Even as the images tell us, in no uncertain terms, that this is what it looks like to grow old, this is the irrefutable truth, we also learn: This is what endurance looks like.

Forty Portraits in Forty Years.

Thanks to Julius for the link. I’ve scrolled through these images many times.

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Soaring In The Wind – Together With Friends

A walkers cake.
A walkers cake.

Because mountains are high and broad, the way of riding the clouds is always reached in the mountains; the inconceivable power of soaring in the wind comes freely from the mountains” (Eihei Dogen – Mountains and Waters Sutra)

After the solitude of the early morning on Sunday, sitting on the doorstep observing the neighbour’s garden came a companionable walk in the Lake District. There must have been about 15 sangha members and friends striding up towards this minor mountain chatting as we went.

Not to the top!
Not to the top!

It was a lovely morning. The sun shining with not a hint of a threat of rain and it remained that way for our eight mile hike. Some fairly vertical sections but nothing that required a scramble or offering much in the way of exposure. (Meaning no need to hang onto rocks for dear life, lifting and placing feet while keeping impermanence in mind!)

At a certain point there was a choice to make a side trip to stand atop the hill (Mellbreak). I’m not that interesting to gain the tops of mountains so I reclined on the grass and enjoyed the view from where I was. The others came back eventually and in the dim distance I heard, Do you think we should wake up Rev. Mugo? It’s sooo relaxing in the mountains. We lunched and walked onwards.

With bows of thanks to Jenny who’s 60th birthday we celebrated on returning to the valley floor. Splendid cake, with strawberries and cream and good company. Jenny has been leading Green Mountains Walkers from its inception. Now the baton has been passed on to another able leader.

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Ebook On Leadership

Kind Leadership: A free ebook on how to make a difference in your organisation.

There is often an assumption that leadership involves being authoritarian and bossy. This assumption is based on the belief that this is the most effective way of obtaining good results. It is possible to achieve results this way but this is often at the cost of worker stress, absenteeism and low morale. This book show how being kind is a more effective form of leadership, one that can obtain excellent outcomes and good sustainability.
From Kind Leadership

I’ve not read this book cover-to-cover, however what I’ve seen has me wanting to read the whole thing properly. And my intentions to talk about the Ten Decisions from the start of The Scripture of Brahma’s Net have fallen by the wayside as I’ve direct myself these past days to preparing to travel.

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