The Precious Gem The Deeper Mind

It always strikes me, after retreat guests have gone, how fortunate I am to meet such interesting and inspiring people. What is there to say except thank you? Thank you. I hope you all got home safely.

Now is the time for reflection, for us all. I’ve been thinking on our ceremony hall, the way it strikes me as I enter there. It’s the whole, the whole space, and then sometimes the details strike me. But mostly it’s the whole.

If I think about it the brilliant blue above the altar catches my attention. I love that colour, my eyes drink it in. It’s the colour of lapis. We used Winsor and Newtons’ Ultra Marine by the bucket-full to paint that. Back in around 1986 I think it was. Winsor and Newton once used ground up lapis in this paint. Not any more though.

There is a verse in an invocation we sang the other week at the Festival of Bhaisajaguru Tathagata, the Buddha of Healing. Here it is:

To reach the sacred mountain peak
Where lapis lazuli is found,
The ancient sages gave their lives
To kneel upon that holy ground;
The precious stone is hard to see,
And harder still to hold and keep,
A radiance pure, of deepest blue,
With flames of gold which dance and leap;
And if the journey seems too long,
The path too steep to climb,
Celestial beings will help us find
This precious gem, the Deeper Mind.

I wish I could sing this into the computer right now, I can hear it in my mind.

It is so easy to look at the parts of a verse like this. What? Sacred mountain peak! What? Holy ground! What? WHAT? Celestial beings! For goodness sake, this isn’t Zen is it? Seems to me we lose sight of the precious gem, the Deeper Mind in the rush to pick at the words, and in the process sweep away the utter beauty that words carry and convey. Left alone they can show us something of the richness of this life of faith. This life is not dry and dusty or in need of being sanatised, it is liquid, with flames of gold which dance and leap…there is joy.

It is so hard to help people past the details, past the statues and the words we use both in ceremonial and in teaching. They are easy to trip over. And then even stumble before the path is even entered. So sad. I might have been one of those people. Could easily have been, given my feelings about religion when I came here first.

Lot of details for new people to absorb when they come here for the first time. Humm, reflecting now I could have said something about that before the guests went…remember the whole before the parts. But I was lost for words by the end of the retreat.

So I’d say now for anybody spooked by the details – look to the whole; to the gem. To the precious gem, the Deeper Mind. Don’t turn it over in your hand like a coin, wondering it’s worth, simple accept it. It’s yours.

To be honest I just don’t go there when celestial beings and similar terms come up on the page. I just sing my heart out. Why not?

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5 thoughts on “The Precious Gem The Deeper Mind”

  1. Your vibrant description of meeting the members of the retreat made me think of the importance of witnessing. It helps me see that true witnessing occurs within the Deeper Mind, with heart open. So often we think of witnessing as important in viewing/being with the suffering of others, but is it not also true of the Joy?

    I think of Kuan Yin (“hearer of the cries of the world”)and cannot imagine how she can witness the suffering of the world on such a scale and not be destroyed by grief. And then I remember that it is through truly knowing the basic nature of all beings that this is possible. Is there not Joy in this as well?

    As far as celestial beings go, all I can say is that so much help has come to me from unseen places (ethereal? otherworldly?)that it is “beyond me”. Perhaps their sustenence is the natural gratitude that springs up in me. There is much more here I am sure….

    In gassho, Jim

  2. Ahhh, I stumbled on that first line of yours – to be inspired by others. I guess I get trapped in trying (just trying!) to be the person who inspires others or trying to be the person who knows. And that’s what’s so inspiring about all the monks at Throssel – humility!

    Sorry to comment on just the first line of your post m(..)m

  3. Thankyou Reverend Mugo for your post. I confess life has been feeling “dry and dusty” lately but you have reminded me of the other side of things.

  4. I wanted to thank you for a very well-organized and interesting retreat. I did not know you had a blog, and was very pleased to find it! Still thinking about the many things I learned there, and I am not talking only about the teaching or tea-discussions, but the whole of the experience, including being exposed to a different way of life, and trying to make sense of it.

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