The green mountains are forever walking

*From the Shobogenzo, (The Eye and Treasury of the True Law), chapter Sansuikyo, “The mountain and river Sutras” by Great Master Dogen. Note: In some translations of this chapter the above quote reads “The green mountains are forever moving…”

This morning I woke with the words of something I wrote while I was out walking a couple of days ago. You can see part of it over there to the left under the title to this ‘Blog’, (that’s short for ‘Web Log’ by the way). Here is the whole piece:

Rise up!
Rise up and greet the dawn.

Step out!
Step out and the Great Earth,
Leaps joyfully.

Walk on!
Walk on and forget…

It is said that the Great Earth is the foundation of gratitude and refers to the fundamental ground of Everything. That’s a ‘great’ larger than normal conceptions.

So, now there are many hours in the air with Air Canada, 18 hours I think.

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Vancouver, Canada.

I am in Vancouver at the Lions Gate Buddhist Priory where Rev. Master Koten is the resident priest. Tomorrow, April 11th, I fly to Tokyo, Narita landing on April 12th at 3.55 pm. The time on this Blogger is set to Japanese time.

Please feel free to leave a note via the comments, I welcome that.

There will be more postings so do check back from time to time.

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A Pilgrimage to East Asia

The following article was first published in the Journal of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives and is reproduced here with some edits.

In early April I’ll be high above the Canadian Rockies and a few days later, after a brief stop in Vancouver, I’ll land at Tokyo, Narita. There Iain Robinson, a British lay minister who lives in Japan, will meet me. This will mark the start of a two-month pilgrimage to Japan, mainland China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore. Iain will accompany me in Japan and China. Points of call will include Dharma relatives and temples associated with our tradition in these countries. I’ll be arriving back at London Heathrow in early June on route for Throssel. The underlying question is, “Why do this? Why leave the comfort of the known?” For anybody who is poised on the brink of a next step, small or large, this sort of questioning can often be part of the process of taking it. Here is my story, so far.

The original inspiration came from a simple welling up of gratitude towards the Ancestors of our tradition. Looking closer, I found a reservoir of gratitude associated with being joined to the line of ancestors and having a proven path to follow. What a gift! At that time I saw myself offering incense and making bows at Keidō Chisan Kohō Zenji’s grave at Sōjiji, Japan. That was four years ago and thoughts of following through with the incense offering have come and gone within the ebb and flow of daily life. The thought of travelling to Japan was essentially filed under, ‘maybe one day’. Now, however, all conditions seem to have ripened on their own, unbidden, and this is the time to take to the sky.

For me, the essence of practice is to point forwards and answer the call of the day, do the very best one can, and know contentment in that. There is a sufficiency in this that does not require more. However, we all know that while this may sound simple, training is not easy. On the practical level just preparing for this journey is no easy matter, as would be the case for anybody to carve out two empty months. On a deeper level, the preparations present constant challenges to dive beyond the arising fears. I am in no doubt that this pilgrimage is an act of exercising faith, every step of the way.

While there are a number of known reasons for this journey, in essence, the fundamental purpose of taking it remains a mystery. For me, this is not a problem. At heart, facing life is every person’s unspoken story, a life journey of moving from the known to ‘unknowing’.

I currently do not have a permanent home temple; however, you are welcome to visit my personal web site Jade Mountains where you will find articles chronicling my progress as well as details of my schedule while I am travelling for the next five months.

If you are encouraged and inspired by what you read here, that is good. If you are poised at the brink of a next step, as I am, then raise your foot and the road will appear before you. Be willing to not know where that step will lead.

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Monastic Family Gathering

Today Rev. Master Haryo Young, the recently elected Head of the Order, was the celebrant at a memorial for the late Rev. Master Daizui MacPhillamy, former Head of our Order. During the first incense offering, Rev. Master Haryo said the following:-

I offer this incense in memory of the Great Priest Houn Daizui, the second Head of our Order, and a true friend to all who knew him. As we return to our temples and sitting places I pray that we carry with us, what I know would be his wish: That the Sangha flourish, be harmonious, and continue to transmit the Truth of the Buddhas and Ancestors.

This memorial ceremony marks the end of a ten-day gathering of Order monastics from Europe and North America at Shasta Abbey in Northern California.

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‘About’ circa 2003

I retrieved the following from the Internet Archive Wayback Machine and republish here as a record of where and when Jade Mountain(s) Buddha Hall came into existence. Bit of history; much has changed since I wrote this.
Mugo Dec 2, 2012

Rev. Mugo’s Biographical Details.

Rev. Mugo White is a disciple of the late Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett, having been ordained by her at Shasta Abbey in 1981. Rev. Mugo became a Teacher of Buddhism in 1989 and, in 2000, was named a Master in The Order of Buddhist Contemplatives.

Since 1996 she has served as the international OBC Lay Ministry Advisor.

The Last Ten Years.

During the past ten years or so, due to circumstances that unfolded within the Order, I have been traveling a great deal. While priests of the Order do travel they are usually based in one place, the majority live in a monastery. I make this point lest a reader mistakenly think that what I describe below is the norm. Physical stability, especially in the early years of training, is considered to be important in growing spiritual stability.

In late 1993 I left Reading Buddhist Priory in England, where I had served as prior for about three years, and went to Shasta Abbey to assisted my master until her death in 1996. From then I was based either at Shasta Abbey or at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey. In early 2000 I moved to Cornwall, England while caring out my monastic responsibilities as a priest of the Order in Europe and North America. At that time a 25 ft. trailer, on property belonging to lay sangha members near Helston, served as my ‘monastery’. I understand, in the time of the Buddha, even a grass-thatched hut would be regarded as a monastery. This being so, and it being our custom to give one’s residence a name, I called the trailer Jade Mountain Buddha Hall. The trailer and its surroundings provided a safe haven to which I have returned for months at a time.

How the Site Got its Name.

The name Jade Mountain Buddha Hall came to me one day in late 2000. In Zen, we have the term ‘mountain still sitting’ and Jade Mountain seemed an appropriate name for my trailer. Over time, and due in large part to my being on the move, the name ‘Jade Mountain’ has become less linked to a physical location in Cornwall and more to me as a priest. This being so, and there being a need for sangha members to find me somewhere, I set up this site.

The Purpose of the Site.

I am committed to the Serene Reflection Meditation Tradition (Soto Zen) and to passing that tradition on to others. This site is one way of doing that. There are articles offering spiritual encouragement, personal insights into training in daily life as well as ones explaining the forms and practices of this tradition (as they have been passed on to me). Jade Mountain is my ‘personal web site’. The views expressed are mine and do not necessarily represent those of the Order as a whole.

Dedication of Merit.

May the merit accrue through creating and writing for this site be offered in eternal gratitude to my parents, Dorothy and Tony White, and to all beings.

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Practice Within The Order of Buddhist Contemplatives