Category Archives: photograph

The 10,000 Grasses

The morning dew on the tips of the ten thousand grasses reveals the truth of all the myriad forms of this great earth. Zen Master Dogen

Each thing, each tip of grass, each dewdrop, each and every thing throughout the whole phenomenal universe contains the totality of the universe. That’s the truth of the myriad forms of this great earth. Copied from this article on Dogen’s Mountains and Rivers Suttra, commentary by the late John Daido Loori, Roshi. Bless him.

The photograph shows the West Allan Valley looking north(ish) towards the monastery. Lovely day today. It is nearly the end of a week-long retreat in the monastery with lots of guests. The merit of this post is offered to all those in extremity, in particular those preparing for surgery. The morning dew reveals the truth, the third position beyond the opposites. In the article refered to as the ‘third thing’. There is always the third thing.

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Live Your Life

Ashgill Force on the South Tyne

I can stay
Skip the wedding
No problem

Close to death.
Massive stroke.
Speaking difficult
Message to partner.

Struggling to form words
Her partner said
I want you to

What a gift!
Last words a life
friend could speak
A gift for us all.

What does it actually mean to live ones life? Is it to squeeze every last drop out of ones day filling it with memorable experiences? Not for me, although I’ve been blessed with many a memorable moment in my life. Let me think….to me, at the moment, living life is to appreciate/be with the life of THIS. Just this. That can be as simple as feeling warm water running over my hands, listening to a bee gathering food or catching a sight of the wide sweep of this West Allen Valley in Northumberland, where I’m currently living.

Here a short video showing the waterfall in all its glory. Twas a great few hours in Autumn sunshine walking up to this fantastic waterfall.

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The Important Thing?

Distant Fells.

Is it easy to lose sight of the ‘important thing’? That which calls one back to sit still when it makes no sense. Sometimes the longing to ‘touch base’ gets side tracked by matters that seem more important. Even the side tracks, perhaps especially the so called side tracks lead one back to….the important thing.

Not easy, yet rather simple, to touch that which calls us back. To return, not having left! A nudge, a whisper, a sight, a sound, a touch. The wind in the trees, the stars in an inky blue-black sky, a view of distant beloved fells. Somebody said on a call this evening, ‘it’s those times when I’m suffering the most that bring me back to the deepest place’. What ever it takes I’d say.

It is easy to lose sight of the ‘important thing’. Because and this is the rub? There is no separate ‘thing’ to lose sight of! (sorry to talk in riddles.) And still as Great Master Dogen says in Rules for Meditation ‘pure Zazen must be done’. I could go on and on however I’ll refrain. And as it happens refraining/ceasing is central to the matter.

That’s another story.

This post is for Will Pegg recently deceased, and for his dear wife Lou and innumerable friends.

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The Great Ungraspable

Get a grip!
All those tears
aimless arms
Is that so bad?

Get a grip!
Oh, deep sighs.
Furrowed brow.
Is there an end? Ever?
Is ‘ever’ so bad?

Get a grip!
At what ever age
We ‘lose it’
Early, middle Elderly.
Is that so bad?

For all those who, from time to time, feel like their grasp has deserted them. Happens to me sometimes. And at the end of life, sooner or later, our grasp will open to an embrace unimaginable. This is for Will in particular who is fast approaching the great ungraspable. If we didn’t hang on how would we know about letting go?

I’ll have to think about all of this. It’s getting late, better get to bed.

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Old Life Completely Past and Done

Here a poem which resonates with me today. It’s two days after a dear Buddhist Sangha friend, Brenda Birchenough died. ‘The Deer’ speaks of sitting with the dying which I’ve been doing for the past week. And before that there has been anticipation. Dear Brenda has spread her wings and taken off into the bright light of the ‘sun’. This short piece below came in an email which fits the moment perfectly.
I now have the impression of them (parents) having moved on and out into huge, sunlit spaces. I think of dragonflies, that spend years crawling in the mud at the bottom of a pond, and then one day just leave it all behind, climbing a stalk into the air; split their skins, and emerge winged, to take off into the sun. All the old life completely past and done.

The Deer
January. Empty days.
The deer, hidden among the trees,
don’t come out any more
to look for the cold, fallen apples on her lawn.

She lies there, not moving;
only her lips, only her hands –
two snails wanting water,
two dry leaves, hardly stirred by her breath.

Over the lawn, the rain,
a cobweb in the uncertain light,
and last autumn’s apples, never picked.

She lies there, not speaking;
only, Water
only, It hurts
only, Leave me now

And the deer, in the early dawn,
don’t come looking for her fruit.
They hide among the trees,

while she dreams, and dreams,
through falling threads of rain,
of ancient summers rich with apples,
and her hands freighted with gold.

By Mark Rowan

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