Bless ’em All

To be perfectly frank I got back to my room this evening a bit disturbed. I can’t remember the name of the film but I do remember the focus was on the trap of celebrity in the film industry. A satire and there was cynicism in it too. There was a point being made, and I got it!

Earlier in the evening I found myself making up a song to the tune of Bless ’em All, a war song made famous by Vera Lynn. It is a celebration of today, of meeting a shoal of Jade readers here for the Festival ceremony for Manjusri, Bodhisattva of Wisdom and more besides:

Bless ’em all, Alfie, Mum, Da Ad, and all
And Jenny/Sue/Dave/Dave/Brenda/Angie… and the short and the tall
Bless all the readers and contributors three
Bless all the sunshine and the dah-di-dee-dah
For I’m saying good-bye to them all
As back to their billets they crawl
You’ll get no (fill in the blank) this side of the (Great) Ocean
So cheer up Rev. Mugo Bless ’em all.

Anyway, seeing Jim’s post One Perspective On The spirit Of Jade rounded off the evening rather well. I’d wanted to make note of Ayse talking about merit, just in case this aspect of things got over looked, and Jim got there first. I think my little ditty complements his post quite well…. Do I embarrass myself!

One Perspective On The Spirit Of Jade

The first reading of Ayse’s posting on Dealings with Pain had me refreshing the altar in our home on which we have all our memorial pictures and ashes of family, friends, and pets. I made an incense offering and sat watching the smoke rising and curling and dispersing. I let go of the surge of love and liberation that Ayse’s penetrating description of sensing the thoughts of love and compassion directed toward her brought up. Letting it go, letting keep moving, circulating to where it is needed and benefiting from it passing through.

I made a copy of Ayse’s posting and gave it to a friend who has been struggling with cancer for 18 months. I read that Dave Robinson had passed on a copy to his mother and then followed the link to Dave’s blog. And then I read of Angie’s struggles and of her style of wisdom. And then I read of Adrienne and her daughter’s plight. I think of those who have read and not left comments, of those who have read and allowed themselves to feel somehow less than because they don’t feel adept at handling things as well as Ayse. I think of Rev. Master Mugo who has felt her way along with Jade Mountains in the fog, in the sun, and with bright going-on-ness.

And as postings go on, I sense this kaleidoscope of images of us all. As this compassion and love circulates, we are all Ayse, Dave, Dave’s mother, Adrienne, Adrienne’s daughter, Angie, Wick, Andrew, Jim, R.M. Mugo, those of us feeling less than at the moment….. At the same time, it seems so important to see each slice of color of this kaleidoscope, each individual.

I am reminded of a quote from Lily Tomlin, an American actress and comedian, who once said: Let us not forget, we’re all in this alone. May we all look past the either/or choices of a world that looks to be this or that and see that there is More Going On.

Tears Just Tumble

Yesterday I had a brush with physical pain. Walking home last afternoon it was all I could do to put my right foot down without yelping, loudly. I was probably limping at the very least. The pain wore off as I walked. Gone as quickly as it had arrived.

Nothing happens without a cause, of course. The root of this pain originates from a broken tibia back in late 1999. I slipped and fell on a frozen grassy bank, I heard a faint click and the rest is history. Soon after the fall, almost exactly one month when I think of it now, my father died. Dealing with his death, using crutches, while dragging along a plaster cast, was a challenge to say the least. I remember, for instance, loosing my balance at the grave side and almost falling on top of his coffin!

Following the fall and fathers death my life circumstances were such that I was not able to rehabilitate the use of the limb properly. So now, as a consequence, there is ongoing poor use of the limb (which I’m working on by the way). This morning as I walked a strong impression of my dad came to mind. I walked on. Later I engaged in a free write exercise using pencil and paper for a change. I found myself writing to my father telling him about my rehabilitation efforts. Just simple words as a child might pen a letter. Tears tumbled out of my eyes.

What is to be understood here? What indeed! That release/letting go – what ever one wants to call the arising and passing of conditions as I’ve described – come of themselves in the ebb and flow of conditions as they arrise, and arrise. And, given half a chance, they pass of themselves. It is not, as I see it, the particular conditions that are significant – in this story – it’s the wonder right there in the midst of being still within the conditions which captures my heart. Tears just tumble – in that there is both joy and sadness together.

Several posts are lined up in the wings to be published over the next few days. The first one is from a sangha member who is a practicing expert on physical pain. One cannot but bow to the fortitude coming through this post. It is not a light read. One cannot fail to be both disturbed and inspired in equal measure.

Robes Are For Life

There is quite a lot of wear and a huge tear in the robe I’m mending for one of the monks at the moment. I really enjoy the challenge. The cuffs, hem, collar and under arms are the most vulnerable areas for fraying and ripping. Sometimes material from a hem can be cut out and used to make a new collar thus giving the robe literally years more usable life. But one can only go so far. A hem can only be mended so many times before the whole thing is too short, cuffs likewise. Then there are stains to deal with. Oil, grease of any kind and paint are the worst although bleach stains, in the wrong place, can spell the end without any question.

When one wears the same thing day in and day out it’s hard to retire it. My late Master would say with a kindly chuckle, You can take loyalty too far you know, when she’d see a monk walking about in robes well past retirement age. As a young monk I’d mend and patch for the senior monks who were too busy to do it themselves. I knew they would wear what they had into threads and when caught early enough I could extend its life considerably. However those older monks would take a lot of convincing when the moment really had come to hang up that robe for the last time. The one I’m dealing with at the moment will be good for a few more years when I’ve finished with it. Hurrah!

I’m thinking of robes because they are so closely associated with their inhabitants. After my Master died, eleven years ago to the day, I inherited one of hers. Having remade it to fit me, I wear it. Sometimes I think I wear it for her. When it’s time has come though I’ll be washing windows with it. You can take loyalty too far!

Refraining from Avoidance

When I go to the dentist for a filling I asked to be numbed, no hesitation and no doubt about it, ‘Novocaine, please‘. The pain of dental work or more accurately the fear of the pain has dogged me since childhood. Somebody from the congregation has booked himself and his wife in for dental work tomorrow; that’s Valentines Day. “Have you any advice on dealing with the fear and the pain”. My fleeting thought was to suggest they go out for a meal instead! And then we talked, all I had to offer was empathy.

Our conversation stimulated memories of dentists past. A Buddhist dentist whose assistant, also a Buddhist, tried to convince me not to have Novocaine. “It’s only pain, it will pass”! Teaching I was not ready to hear right then. And the Irish dentist, with a jewel set into his front tooth. In his care, while deep in the horror of a wisdom tooth extraction I heard, “everybody’s got to hurt, some times” coming from the sound system. It was such corny good timing, I had to restrain from laughing out loud. One can’t plan for those moments.

It’s natural enough to want to avoid pain, to be put out of ones misery. After that extraction I suffered the worst pain of my life. I remember thinking a deliberate blow to the head could not come too soon. It was that bad and pain killers had already failed me. Years latter I was told that “strong men” faint from having a ‘dry socket’ which is what I, unknowingly, was suffering from.

Physical extremity can be a great teacher simply because there is no getting away from it. Dental pain, so close to ones brain, seems to crush all reasoning power too. I eventually took stock, canceled a trip to the monastery and spent a week at our Hermitage in Wales. I had decided I’d just have to ‘sit it out’ and soon after that decision the pain started to subside; or was it the fear that subsided?