Category Archives: Films/Books

Zen – The Movie

Zen tells the story, the film version anyway, of Dogen Zenji. I watched it several times while in the US last summer. It is worth a watch. I understand it’s been hard to find copies so I’m glad to point you to a site where Zen, the movie, can be bought.

Zen is an elegant and fascinating look into the life and times of 13th-century monk Dogen, founder of the Soto sect in Zen Buddhism. Offering a fairly faithful depiction of what is known of the monk’s life, the film follows Dogen, handsomely portrayed by kabuki actor Nakamura Kantaro, from an orphan child inspired by his mother’s dying words to a young monk wandering in China where he experiences his awakening. After reaching enlightenment, he returns to Kyoto to spread his teachings of silent meditation, attracting both dedicated followers and fierce detractors who cast him as a heretic. In his travels and teachings, Dogen encounters many different people. Some guide him, some follow him, and some test him, but all become crucial figures in his spiritual journey of peace and meditation.

Thanks go to Rod in Canada for the link.

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Californian Sun – Shining

Walking up the hill in the early morning
to find Hotei had arrived already. Full of joy – together.
Later, in town. Oranges – on a tree!
and from Disneyland, or maybe outer space….these trees!

Film Review:
K-PAX. This is a film in which a psychiatrist comes up shining, compassionate, thoughtful and kind. And patients get better. What could be better! Serious matters such as life and death and cause and effect are set against a backdrop of mystery. All this, coupled with humour, making this a must watch again film.

Dharmaflix has a review too.

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Stop In Readiness

Photo by Maria

Awhile ago I wrote a post titled Stopping. In it I talked about settling. How easy it is to rattle on through ones day with not a gap, not a crack of a moment to catch up with oneself. Let this photo be a reminder to notice the gaps, cracks and spaces, however brief, perhaps just a breath, to stop. To simply just stop, poised as this bee is, ready to take flight.

Watched the film Grey Owl this evening. Maybe it is the love of Canada that has me enjoying this improbable, yet true, story.

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‘Weather’ Patterns

Here’s a snippet overheard in the mill of monks in the cloister after morning service this morning:

…it depends on which side of the divide we are on.

That’s our unofficial weather monk at work. Here in the middle of the country we can catch the weather coming from the West, from the East, or from all-directions-at-once! Our weather monks’ authoritative forecasts, gleaned from the BBC, have me assured that somebody knows what might happen.

Turning to the East…

turning to the West…

Coming back from shopping in Hexham or Newcastle, or latterly coming from the west, with the valley rounding into sight our weather is all our own. Sun glancing across the folds, walls and farms with the high moors raining. Or, and I believe this happens more often than we know, our valley is beset with a storm while all around – sunshine. Did you see the hail Rev. Mugo! and I think having just returned: Yep like golf balls, and only here in the West Allen Valley too!

Nobody wants to think, or believe, they live in severe weather conditions. It can drag one down, mentally, emotionally and physically too. (There is an informal understanding here that we don’t complain about the wind, or that’s what I remember and endeavor to refrain from complaining – at the very least, out loud.)

As a young monk my Master, during informal teas, would have a chuckle about The Beverly Hillbillies and the permanent storm cloud which hovered over their truck where ever they went. The teaching, intended or not, was obvious and memorable. It had most of us privately checking ourselves for personal clouds!

I’ve a book beside me, Time by Andy Goldsworthy. The following is from the first chapter, Time, Change, Place:

Time and change are connected to place. Real change is best understood by staying in one place. When I travel, I see differences rather than change. I resent travelling south in early spring in case I am away from home when I see my first tree coming into leaf. If this happens, I see the leaves, but not the growth or change.

…returning here.

Our minds tend to make that which is impermanent, and therefore changing, into something permanent. Andy Goldsworthy‘s book of photographs is about, time…and change. The images are oddly disturbing.

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On Creativity

Here is a link to a talk on the nature of genius and how we regard that in our society. The talk is by Elizabeth Gilbert whose recent best selling book Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia has brought her much acclaim. In the talk she ponders on why it is that creative people tend to die young, and often tragically.

Thanks Julius for the link.

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