Immaculate Action

Human beings must work.
When you are not competent, learn.
When you are competent, do it yourself.

When you are not familiar, practice more.
When you want to work,
start immediately.

When you are poor,
work all the more.
When you are rich, work harder.

If work is done wrongly,
correct it.
When you are old, enjoy working more.

Seen at a Chinese Buddhist Temple in Malaysia.
Translated from the Chinese.

If one thinks of work as action then, indeed, we are working all the time. And I believer that is what the above quote is pointing to. It’s not about the work ethic in the way the word work is commonly understood.

What I am getting around to in this post is to tell you about the meaning of my name. Mu means empty or immaculate and go means action, or karma, or work. So Mugo translates as immaculate action, empty action, empty karma, immaculate karma.

Change the word work to act or action in the saying and something rather interesting comes through. Right there is that begging question. What is my purpose? Why am I alive? What’s my motive? From whence does action spring?

Mugo – (the word) points to the (smiling) heart of the great matter. My name has been, and is, my great teacher and guide. It was given to me here at Shasta Abbey.

This post is dedicated to the recently elected Abbess of Shasta Abbey and the community both lay and monastic. It has been a privilege and a delight to sit and walk and talk and, this evening, eat ice cream with you all!

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2 thoughts on “Immaculate Action”

  1. Work (having ‘stuff’ to respond to) the purpose it gives etc. is, as you know an area I’ve faced very much square in the face; quite a koan that! Right now a bit of ‘work as love in action’ is doing me a power of good.

    I’d not considered that your name was ‘built up’ from two parts like that, and had looked the meaning up (without finding it). What a beautiful name to be given! I can see it suits you well. Many thanks for your bringing your name to life.

  2. I think this points to our actions being the reason that we are what we are. I certainly find lately that whatever activity I’m engaged in that is my reason for being at that time. A lifetime is complex, never simple. I only need look at my own: lover/husband/father/grandfather, or from another angle: schoolboy/foundryman/nurse/artist. Going on/becoming for ever.

    May I offer my congratulations to the new abbess at Shasta?



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