Category Archives: Information

There are Always Guests Here

skanda-altarIt is still very much daylight at this time of year at around 10.00 pm when a senior goes around the monastery locking doors and switching off lights. I was scheduled to do this the night before last and was hard-pressed to remember which lights needed to be switch ON! For security reasons, we keep several outside lights on during the night as well as a number of night lights in corridors. However there is more to it than the physical security and safety of the monastery and all staying here.

In the past when we used mostly Japanese terms the ‘lights out’ monk was called the Tenkein, now translated to ‘Heavenly Guardian’. The spiritual safety of those resident in the monastery is primary and so the Tenkei’s task is to help settle the ‘air’, so to speak after the busy day of activity. The monk on duty processes around the halls purposefully and formally; wears a full kesa, makes bows in several places, offer incense and also recites the Three Homages in front of the main altar and main gate. Needless to say one remains very still inside – it’s basically a ceremony. The whole thing a blessing.

At a certain point by the Skanda Altar at the entrance to The Hall of Pure Offerings, the lay guests came into mind in the form of a wordless blessing. Immediately I thought, ‘Oh! there are no guests here’! Then I thought, ‘there are ALWAYS guests here’!

Sleep well, stay safe where ever you are.


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In Memory of Rosemary Dyke – RIP

It seems fitting to post this short video with the animal cemetery in the foreground on the occasion of remembering Rosemary Dyke. She was devoted to animal welfare having ‘rescued’ and lived with numerous cats and dogs as well as feeding a tribe of ferel cats in Mount Shasta every day. For years.

Rosemary died in Mount Shasta surrounded by her friends yesterday, having had Psunomia several times in the past weeks, possibly months. I could say so much about dear Rosemary; her dedication to practice, doing the Shasta Abbey town trips, running the Dharma Tape program in the late 1990s.

I’m left with the image of her standing just inside of the door of the ceremony hall at Shasta handing out scripture books on Sunday mornings. With great kindness. She was everybody’s friend.

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The Medicine Buddha

Up to now I’ve tended not to write a lot about the more devotional aspect of Buddhism, however here I go! The custom within our religious Order is to celebrate, in the form of a ceremony, a number of Bodhisattvas. Today is the turn of Bhaisajya-guru Tathagata, commonly referred to as the Medicine Buddha.

This is in honour of Bhaisajyaguru, the Buddha of Healing
who sits radiantly in the pure land of this moment.
Whenever we give ourselves in trust
to the mind of meditation we call upon Him
and receive the medicine that ends all suffering.
This medicine He offers is the acceptance
of all causes and conditions
that make our lives what they are.

Such acceptance releases us from grasping
and brings serenity in the face of death.
His teaching removes frustration,
despair and the need for
dreams and unreal hopes.
All activity and purpose is within
the stillness of His heart.
His vows to heal all beings is His true body
and it appears whenever we respond
with compassion to the needs that surround us.

When we give ourselves in trust
our lives are fulfilled.
We cannot judge the worth of our offering,
it is enough that it is made with a pure heart.
For those who give themselves, all questions vanish
and there is nothing to ask for that is not already given.
The body of the Buddha is constantly emerging
and yet it is never moving.

We bow in gratitude for the great compassion of all the Buddhas and for their limitless teaching.

See also this post, The Healing Buddha

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For subscribers

I just published the Guest Post ‘Realizing body/mind Together’ prematurely! I’d not added ‘Guest Post’ to the title so you might be wondering if I am, or was, training to climb mountains. Not. Absolutely not. That’s John, he recounts his efforts to get fit to climb mountains, which he did quite a few years ago.

I’ve known John since 2006 and have enjoyed many a phone call and received much help and encouragement and advice around my blog and online presence.

And for those of you who are not subscribers…you can do that by filling in your email address in a box, top left of the website. I don’t do anything with subscriber emails. They are private and only I see them.

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Did I sign up for This?

I have been thinking about the relationship of developing dependence, over time, between ‘carer’ and cared for. Mother and ‘child’, husband and wife, professional carer and client (live in carer especially.) Not to mention all the other multiple relationships that grow when an individual needs help.

I’ve also been thinking about people I have worked with who developed some form of Autoimmune Disease MS (Multiple sclerosis) for one and Parkinson’s Disease for another.

Back in 1972, I worked for a voluntary organization coordinating young volunteers. Calls would come in for help needed for the elderly and infirm: gardening, decoration, shopping, cleaning.  These requests would be matched to the volunteers. Peter, who had just been named ‘Man of the Year’, was the coordinator of the organization. Bound to his chair and not able to move his limbs, only one finger worked to switch on his speakerphone and his speech was weak.  He had MS, was totally dependent on his mother for EVERYTHING, disarmingly handsome and ready for a laugh. When we met we would talk about his life in particular difficulties around dependence and his relationship with his mother. Months after I’d left I learnt he had got married! Imagine? While his mother was devastated, he had found love and perhaps some level of liberation.

Then there is a whole raft of people I know who developed Parkinson’s Disease. Mr Cook my employer, Alexander my colleague, Brian the ebullient one. My heart goes out, at times the outlook appears grim and hopeless both for the individuals concerned and for those who support them. Dancing for Parkinson’s people and in an interesting turn of events, my former Alexander Technique teacher is working wonders in Edmonton Canada to support those with compromised mobility.There are other AT Teachers working in this field all around the world.

Returning now to my original thought. To the relationship, human, emotional, practical between those in need and those who can and do meet that. I’ve been that person. I assisted Rev. Master Jiyu towards the end of her life, in the mid-1990s. I was never her ‘carer’, she was always my teacher. That was the basis, teacher/disciple, heart to heart along with all that goes with assisting, Testing times for sure. So looking past the dependence relationships talked about in this post, there is the unseen heart to heart level. Which sometimes gets lost sight of.

Let Candace have the last word, Parkinson’s has become interestingly and unexpectedly, my passion’.

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