Category Archives: Information

Sandokai – Study References

By an amazing coincidence, I found this old post from January 2009 pointing towards teaching on the Sandokai, the very scripture we were looking at during the New Year retreat this year.

This is a talk on the Sandokai, a profound religious poem by Sekito Kisen one of the great masters of the Soto Zen Tradition. The talk was given by Rev. Master Saido in the meditation Hall at Telford Buddhist Priory for people familiar with the text, which is recited regularly.

Mugo talking January 31st 2009: Our Winter Monastic Sangha Retreat ended to-day. It has been an opportunity for much reading, study and meditation. I hope you have an opportunity to study the Sandokai and that the links (all the links were broken that were in the original post, unfortunately. You can find all the scriptures in text and in audio on the Shasta Abbey site)in this post help. More than that I encourage the practice of formal meditation.

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The Throwaway Box

to-keepI’m showing solidarity with a couple close to me who are going through their life long ‘treasures’. ‘Downsizing doesn’t even begin to describe the process they are going through at the moment. In this article, A Beginner’s Guide To Swedish Death Cleaning, (It’s nowhere near as horrifying as it sounds) there is a compassionate and practical idea to help the process of letting go of ones ‘treasures’, by retaining some of them.  That is to create a Throwaway Box filled with a few carefully selected items that mean a lot to oneself, but nothing to anyone else. This is part of the article mentioned above.

This box could hold anything from “old love letters, programs, memories from travelling” to “a dried flower, a stone with a funny shape, or a little, beautiful shell”. The idea is that your friends or family may look through the box, but have permission (from you!) to get rid of anything inside. And of course, while you’re still around, you get to enjoy all your lovely little things.

I started my box this evening. It looks like I want to retain items that harbour fond memories of people, places and events, it might be my ‘gratitude’ box. The striped piece of fabric relates to my mother who kept it in her sewing box. The purse was given to me by a ‘Dharma Uncle’ when travelling in Japan in 2005. Symbolizing my dharma family, through Rev. Master Jiyu, to multiple ‘relatives’ in Japan. There is another item that will go into the box from relatives in Malasia and Taiwan.

It is proving quite easy to gather these items since they have been populating several draws I use for stationary. Already I can see I don’t need to have so many pens!

Let the Swedish death cleaning begin. You’ll have to read the article to understand what this is all about. No, I’m not about to die, as far as I know, just that I’d like to make the task a of dealing with my belongings a pleasant one when, I do.

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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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