Category Archives: Information

Bare Foot In London

Years ago a friend who contracted polio as a young child, and was confined to a wheelchair until he was six or so, described how it was to walk for the first time, barefoot on grass. He luxuriated in the memory and I shared in it.

There is something about the contact with the ground which we all know about but lose touch with as we graduate from sensible sandels to fashionable foot torture!

So. Please join me in my joy and enthusiasm for my shoes bought in London today. Barefoot shoes, Vivobarefoot shoes. Yes the shop window says it all, Beautiful Feet…..are happy feet. Which makes for a happy memory of a chap from long ago. Imagine remembering in detail ones first steps!

This post is for all those who walked on the ground for the first time, and lived long enough and had the words to describe it. Viva Vivo!

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Nothing Worth Worrying About

I stumbled upon a book in the monastery library the other day, looking for the map I seem to remember. While there I checked the ‘new arrivals’ shelf and I’m so glad I did. It is called The Zen Teaching of Homeless Kodo with Kosho Uchiyama and Shohaku Okumura commenting on selected sayings and teachings of the Great Master Sawaki Kodo. He was himself, he spoke in a straightforward manner and I love what he has to say. Wise person and he didn’t wrap up the teaching in technical words which then needed explanation. Here is a taste from the start of the chapter, Opinions Gone to Seed.

Kodo Sawaki: Some opinions have passed their prime and lost relevance. For instance, when grownups lecture children, they often simply repeat ready-made opinions. The merely say, “Good is good; bad is bad.” When greens go to seed, they become hard and fibrous. They aren’t edible anymore. We should always see things with fresh eyes!
Often people say, “This is valuable!” But what’s really valuable? Nothing. When you die, you have to leave everything behind. Even the national treasures in Kyoto and Nara will sooner or later perish. It not a problem even if they all burn down.

Soon after Rev. Master Jiyu arrived in Japan in 1962 to study with Koho Zenji at Sojiji she had an understanding sometimes referred to as a first kensho. Koho Zenji sent her to visit Sawaki Kodo who was in Tokyo at the time to have the understanding confirmed. Which he did. He has a special place in my heart and I’m so glad to have run into this book full of his often irreverent words which point deeply and directly to the heart of practice.

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Bigger Than We Can Think

This morning on returning to my room after meditation and morning service I thought to myself, Yes, all my brain and body molecules have now arrived in the UK. And appear to be arranged as they should be. What a relief. Traveling internationally can seriously disrupt ones functioning that’s on subtle and not so subtle levels.
Then later in the morning, with perfect timing, a beautiful hardback book arrived in the post. Not one I’d ordered so it’s something of a mystery as to who sent it to me. (I’ve a good idea though). I opened the book at random, titled The Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel, and read this:

Subheading The Embodied Brain, The Organization of the Brain.
The brain is a complex system of interconnected parts. At its most basic level, the skull-based portion of the nervous system consists of over one hundred billion “neurons” and trillions of supportive “glia” cells. Collectively, these neurons are over two million miles long. Each neuron has an average of ten thousand connections that directly link it to other neurons. Thus there are thought to be about one million billion of these connections, making it “the most complex structure, natural or artificial, on earth.

The brain is a wonder to behold. Complex beyond our imaginings yet infinitely ‘plastic’ in that the wiring can be changed, re routed around damaged areas, mentally spoken to in such a way that faulty wiring can be corrected. And that is just for starters.  So nothing much ‘hard wired’ up top, contrary to how the brain has been conceived until relatively recently.

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Every Day – Is Every Day – Is a Good Day

 Flying tonight. Vancouver Canada to London Heathrow. Then onwards to Newcastle and Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey.

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Canine Friends and Human Enemies

Well, it turns out dogs are not just our best friends they, at least, regard us as their relatives. Closer to humans than their own kind! Link.


Cats feature in most charming ways in the film, The Cats of Mirikitani. Another story of rescue and transformation in this case of an elderly Japanese man found on the streets of New York drawing cats for a living. A talented artist discovered, his story told including an insight into the Japanese Internment camps in America during WW11.

So much suffering and SO hidden from view, then and now. Jimmy Mirikitani at least ended upright and walking forward. We can do that too.

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