I managed to get out for a longish walk this afternoon however by 3.00 pm the sun was nearly behind the hill, sinking fast towards Alston in the next valley.

In practice we talk about climbing up the trunk of the tree and being careful not to stray off along a side branch. As you can see from this tree, once on a branch it is just so easy to get lost in the maze of little branches leading in every direction.

So how does one go directly. Climb the tree, so to speak, and not waste time exploring this that and the other thing? During an introductory talk recently I found myself constantly bringing the focus of the talk to ‘returning’. Simply returning. One could say it is to the trunk, the fundamental, that one returns having noticed oneself dangling dangerously from a twiggy branch, waving in the wind.

Side branches have their place in practice, helping to reestablish where the trunk is, however I’d advise against lots of side trips if you can avoid them.

In one of our scriptures are the following words, which relate to the above.

The absolute upright holds within itself,
Many phenomena within it’s own delicate balance,
Both function rest reside within.
Lo! Hear! Set up not your own standards.

Tomorrow is mid-Winters day, the shortest day of the year in terms of day light. Have a good one. It will be summer before we know it!
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7 thoughts on “Mid-Winter”

  1. Hi Rev Mugo,

    I’m a Buddhist of about 6 years who is thinking of becoming a monk. I hope in the summer to visit Throssel Hole and / or Amaravati [Zen and Theravada are my favourite traditions] to try the life and thus hopefully answer my questions. The monastic question has come from a deep place – deep enough that it cannot be ignored. It is causing trauma, as I guess almost any potential withdrawal from ‘the world’ would do. The increasing certainty I feel about trying out the monastic life resulted in my fiance and I calling off our engagement, and eventually any romantic involvement. It’s difficult.
    Partly because of the trauma and partly because I need to, I’m trying to get as much information and counsel on monastic life as possible, hence my coming across your blog.
    Actually, the reason for this first post to you is a bit selfish; I emailed Rev Galen & the guest dept some time ago and have not received and answer. I know that some or all of you are on retreat and really do not want to pester you, but was just wondering if my mail was overlooked.

    OK, been meaning to introduce myself for a while. Nice to e-meet you.

    Yours in the dharma,


  2. Duncan, Thanks for stopping by. I understand that you will be receiving a reply to your email. You would be wise to seek individual councel on the matter of a monastic vocation. Well I guess you know that already.

    Just so you, and anybody else who reads this knows, what I write about here is only a very narrow window on my monastic life. Essentially I’m providing a place where people can sit down and ‘have a cup of tea and a chat’, with a flavour of the teachings within our tradition in there, in the background for the most part. Good fortune to you and please don’t do anything hasty.

  3. If you climb up the trunk of the tree far enough, do you still not end up hanging onto the twiggy bits at the top?

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