Where To Start?


We say to start where you are. To deal with what’s in front of you. And, the next step is found within present conditions. There are probably lots more ways of saying the same thing. However in the end one just has to move and do something, but what? What a clamor there is in our lives and it’s good to remember there is more to living a life than clamor. Even sitting still can become another doing clamoring away. As is obvious I chose to first write a post here. It’s so good to have the time and space to devote to this activity.

Here’s what’s in front of me this morning. My computer is opened and ready to write a post for Jade Mountains. Further out a dish with two walnuts from Butchart Gardens, Victoria Canada and a piece of picked-up-and-passed-on pumice found during a trip to Medicine Lake and Glass Mountain, California. Next a Kanzeon holding a lotus. Outside, a dusting of snow. This is the view from an upstairs window where I am staying this winter. This then is what’s before me this morning.

Then there is the rest of the desk with papers and items all calling and competing for attention. Petty cash to balance, a short video calling from a flash drive to watch and respond to, a book of poems by Seamus Heaney (Human Chain) quietly whispering to thank the couple who gave it. Oh and there is the bank to deal with, personal business, that announced they had closed my account while I have been away, and to my right a pile of cards ready to be written and sent off. They are thank you cards to temples and their communities for hosting me this summer.

Behind, beside, above and below. The phone, the email, Google Talk, Skype, Twitter (my ID is revmugo for those who even know what Twitter is) and now back to this. This. THIS! And this is what’s here in the midst of the up, down, above and below. How very easy it is to loose contact/awareness with oneself. The skin, flesh, bones, brain, mind, consciousness of oneself.

We in Buddhism call what I am broadly talking about as the five skandas. Form, sensation, thought, activity and consciousness. That which constitutes self and which (very important to remember this) are not fundamentally separate from conditions. And even more import, to know that the important thing is not something other than THIS. All is all in the up, down, beside, below and behind. (I will be had up for sounding Zen if I am not careful!) At Shasta Abbey there are, I think there still are, five red lights hanging in lotus flowers above the altar. We call them the skanda lights. Jim reminds me that I pointed these out to him years ago, it was our first conversation together.

Anyway. Now as I drive off into the tasks calling to me I’ll take a look in my rear view mirror. Like any good driver knows, first check the rear view mirror. For me this has the effect of bringing me back to THIS. Which embraces the this and that’s I’ve been talking about.

At least, at last, here is an actual post for you all. It’s my first thank you note of the day.

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8 thoughts on “Where To Start?”

  1. Happy to read your post: for the moment we are in the same country! The cold, while stimulating, has come as a bit of a shock. Must be getting old. We’re thinking of moving back North when I return for good next June. Strange how the old pulls you back.
    In gassho

  2. North? Yes the cold is keeping me indoors today, as well as all that needs to be dealt with. But, I’m going out anyway.

  3. Good to know that you’ve found an island in the Flow for the winter! We are also receiving a light and beautiful snow this morning and I can hardly wait to get out on my bike. I had a busy autumn, Marc had to have surgery and is now recovering well, a lot to do at work…many new teaching hours and now how nice to be coming to the still time of the year. This was just a short poem I wrote two evenings ago when I sat down with my cup of tea on the sofa to unwind:

    Winter settles
    Night falls
    I turns inwards
    Self lost
    Light rises
    In candle’s flickering

    I like the movement inward in winter, which somehow draws a brightness out. This is THIS. Uh-oh was that too “Zen” of a moment as well! :0)~ Take care of yourself, you mean a lot to many!

  4. Nope, go ahead. Have ‘moments’ all you want Jack. Glad to see you here again. And yes I believe I have found an island to settle to, at least for the winter months. Brooding clouds over the Pennines from this window, with evening lights shyly peeping through. Time for a walk me thinks.

    I just spotted that ‘mean a lot to many’. Thanks for that.

  5. She came from the shop in the Joss House State National Park at Weaverville in California. I believe the Taoist temple there is known as “The Temple of the Forest Beneath the Clouds”.

    She has been pretty well all around the world in the last twenty years and was the first occupant of the new home.

  6. Thanks for the reminder of our conversation in front of the altar at Shasta Abbey. I still remember the flush of fullness in sensing that There is More. Or perhaps it’s more like having someone, in essence, say: “Yes, I see It too”. And though the background is now much more in the foreground,if you will, the conversation is basically the same, isn’t it?

    With bows, Jim

  7. is the same only because of the listening. That I feel is the gift we all give to one another.

    Thanks for responding.

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