Gone to Glory

2wynch-hazelOn the day Rev. Master Jiyu died, (6th November 1996) I was at Shasta Abbey, I’d been part of a team of monks attending on her for the last three years. It is regarded as a very great privilege to be beside one’s Master as they approach the end of their life. I was fortunate to be able to be there.

Rev. Master Jiyu founded Throssel in 1972 and, as is the custom in Zen temples, we express our gratitude for the founder’s life on the anniversary of their death.  It has been a beautiful Autumnal day here tucked away in the Northumberland moors, the trees are shedding their colourful leaves. Golden and bronze leaves caught in the watery sunshine as they fall, Lovely.

Back in 1996, beside the building where Rev. Master lived, and had so recently died, there’s a Linden Tree. Minutes after her passing, I found myself gazing at the fluttering leaves, a monk beside me. A slight breeze and the golden leaves, full ripe and ready to fall from their branches, floated down. Glowing in the afternoon sun.  I wondered aloud at the joy I felt at that moment. Just another leaf falling off the tree, they said. And with that we went back indoors, where a steady stream of monks were paying their respects.

It might seem odd to be experiencing joy in the presence of death. And just today I linked that joy with a Buddhist teaching, Mudita, sympathetic joy.  Yes, on a certain level there is grief, and depending on the circumstances of the death, the relationship with them especially, a death can be harrowing to say the least.  And yet, something within resonates deeply, we travel with them in empathy. How could we not do that? Love carries us along with them, and there can be joy and Great Hope while not knowing why.

Gone to Glory?

This is for all those known and unknown who have recently witnessed death in the family. And thank you, Mark Rowan for the photograph.

There is a post called Mudita, Sympathetic Joy here.



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12 thoughts on “Gone to Glory”

  1. Death is life at its height,and sweeps us up with it.At that portal,everything is possible,all human emotion,insight,and ,as you say,glory.
    Reverend Master showed us fearless awareness ,of this potential,beyond ,always going on beyond.
    Thank you for that story,for the reminder of her continuing inspiration.

  2. Rev. Mugo, that is such a touching post. I may have told you this before, so forgive me for repeating it, but Rev. Master Jiyu died on my 41st birthday. Rev. Master Daishin was in Telford to look at a house (now Telford Buddhist Priory) to see if it was suitable for our use. We all ate our evening meal together at the Pelton’s and he had to leave the room to receive a phone call but we would not learn the contents of the call until the next day. One of Rev. Master Jiyu’s last pieces of ‘business’, I was later told, was to approve the setting up of Telford Buddhist Priory. That means so much.
    I love the imagery of the Linden tree and I recognised the leaf, immediately. I bought such a tree, during lockdown, when my mother was dying and I kept it in a large pot, in the garden, until Friday of last week, when I found a permanent place for it and planted it out. It looks so bright and happy. A very meaningful post, for me – thank you! _/\_

    1. Thanks Karen. The leaf pictured is a Wynch Hazel actually. Glad you have a Linden fledgling tree. And happy birthday of yesterday.

      You have been a great source of encouragement and support even before Rev. Master died. You and Dave together are ‘pillars’. I was around Rev. Master when the question of setting up a priory in Telford came up. Now my confession…I remember thinking Oh, I’d like to be the Priory in Telford knowing at the same time my priority was to remain beside Rev. Master. As you know I’d been the Priory at Reading before going over to Shasta to spend, what I thought would be, a year of retreat time and then return to Reading Priory. Less than a month into my retreat I was approached by Rev. M. Daizui asking me if I would help with Rev. Master’s care. Later becoming a Chaplain. Agreeing this I basically had to step down from the priorship in Reading. Only, on Rev. Master’s death to be approached by Rev. M. Daizui to be offered a new full time responsibility which has had me travelling pretty much constantly ever since!

    2. It’s actually a wych hazel, Karen – though everyone now writes it ‘witch’ hazel. ‘Wych’ is an old word meaning pliant, or pliable.

  3. Thank you so much R.M. Mugo for your beautiful writing about a precious moment at the death of R.M. Jiyu!

    I am reminded by my teacher, Willigis Jager and his comment on the Chinese Chan Master Yunmen (Jap. Ummon) using the metaphor of the Golden Wind) :

    ” A monk asked Zen Master Unmon, “What if the tree will wither, and the leaves fall?” The Master replied, “Perfect manifestation of the Golden Wind!”

    The Golden Wind means the winds of Autumn, but here it means much more. Two older monks sitting together ask each other, “What is the nature of reality now, when we are getting old?” The answer? Reality is “a manifestation of the Golden Wind”.

    ZEN Master Unmon supplemented this statement with, “Even though I am old, sick, infirm and suffering, every day is a good day.”

    Nothing manifests in our lives for which this timeless original wisdom does not hold true. This is often not easy to accept, but again and again, people confess that they have experienced what they had considered to be disasters in their lives, and again and again they are now grateful for what happened to them. The fateful crisis has given their life a decisive turn, a decisive breakthrough to experiencing an altered reality….”


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