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About the Blog

These posts tend to be short. So much has been written about Buddhism and it is easy to find out more about any aspect of the teaching that you may be interested in. Sometimes I give book references. What is more important is that you find out your own true nature for yourself. This is what I am trying to give pointers towards.

Walking Lightly

When we do walking meditation we step from one moment into the next, leaving the last moment behind and stepping into this new one with an open heart and mind. We tread softly, we carry nothing with us. We feel the ground beneath our feet, especially if we go barefoot. We feel our muscles and joints keeping us poised. Perhaps we are aware of our clothing moving against our skin, or the touch of the air as we move through it. We walk in harmony with those around us, neither slower nor faster than they. Thoughts may come and go, but we simply walk.

Walking meditation is a beautiful practice and also a wonderful metaphor for moving lightly through life.

Why Do We Complain?

Why do we complain? I’m not talking about complaining to a company if, for example, we receive poor quality goods or services. That, for me, is taking appropriate action. I’m talking about the grumbling that we do, either with others or in our own minds, that is not at all concerned with taking appropriate action.

Why do we do it? I can come up with suggestions: perhaps we feel powerless to take action; maybe we are afraid to actually take responsibility; or we want our friend to collude with us so we feel justified in our opinion.

But what really matters is that when we are in complaining mode we are not looking inward. All of our attention is focussed outward on the perceived injustice or bad behaviour of others or whatever. It is a way of avoiding being intimate with our own discomfort.

So that is why I put this as a question, which we can ask ourselves when we find we are complaining. Why am I complaining? What is it about me – not them – that is causing me to avoid  my feelings? Why am I disturbed by this situation/person?

You don’t necessarily need to come up with definite answers, the point is to direct your attention back inwards. We can’t rely on being able to change the outside world to suit us, but we can transform our relationship with the world.

A couple of days ago I came across a TEDx Talk called A rich life with less stuff, by two guys who call themselves The Minimalists. I’ve talked before on this blog about simplifying one’s life and I continue to enjoy simplifying mine, especially getting rid of stuff.

SL380949Perhaps you don’t expect a Buddhist monk to have much stuff, and perhaps I don’t, relatively speaking, but I know that I have more than I need or want, stuff that I haven’t used in years. So why am I hanging on to it? Because I paid good money for it? Because I might need it one day (even if I haven’t needed it for the last 10 years – I think that’s how long since I last wore these purple flip-flops, seriously)? Because I might not be able to get it again if I need it in future?

There’s nothing wrong with having nice things, if you use them or enjoy them. I’m talking about the stuff that is boxed up under the bed or pushed to the back of the cupboard or stored in the garage, which hasn’t seen the light of day for years. When I moved from Throssel to the Hermitage at the beginning of last year I pulled out the boxes of stuff from under my bed and brought them with me. When the Hermitage moved to Cromford this year some of those same boxes, unopened, moved with me. That’s not going to happen again.

Why are we so attached to our stuff? I reckon it is fear, fear that I may suffer in future if I do not have a pair of flip-flops. Sounds ridiculous put like that, but there is no other reason I have these flip-flops and that is just too heavy a burden. Tomorrow they are going to a charity shop. And not just the flip-flops.

Chanting Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage

Back in March I wrote a post called Inside the Grass Hut, about a new book by Ben Connelly, based on the poem by Shitou called Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage. I am happy to let you know that Ben has published a video on YouTube of him chanting the Song – here’s the link.

It is the season for village festivals in this area, and next weekend we are Celebrating Cromford. It looks like being quite a lively weekend and I plan to get out and about and enjoy the fun. My neighbour, whose courtyard is adjacent to mine, will be doing a pop-up cafe so I will tidy up my courtyard before the weekend – I already have my bunting out.

SL380390Q. What are you wearing around your neck – is it a bag?

A. Nope, it’s not a bag. It’s called a small Kesa (J. Rakusu) and, as the name implies, it is a smaller, simplified version of the Kesa, which is the large patched robe that monks wear for meditation and ceremonies. The small Kesa was created in Japan in the 19th century to be less cumbersome to wear. The Kesa itself dates back to the time of the Buddha, when monks sewed together rags to make their robes. The Buddha is said to have pointed to the pattern made by rice fields and instructed his monks to make their robes in a similar pattern.

P.S. The Kesa is known as a Field of Merit, which is the name we chose for the charity from which the Hermitage operates.

More New Arrivals

Fish arrivingThe fish are here. They arrived yesterday, purchased by the owner of the property to keep the water of the lake clear – and to look so beautiful. There are five different kinds; ghost koi, albino grass carp, rudd, barbel and goldfish, about 40 fish in all. They are around 5″/12cm long, large enough not to be eaten by the ducks. They have brought the water of the lake alive. I am sure that gazing at the fish will become a popular meditative activity around here.

There are willows around the lake, near the little bridge, and some rocks that would make a perfect place to put a Kanzeon statue. You can often find them in garden centres so I shall be keeping a look out. If you have seen a good looking Kanzeon statue at a garden centre recently do let me know.

I got the caravan all set up this week and am very pleased with it. It has electricity for lights and heating and gas for the cooker, fridge and a heater, and of course there is water to the taps in the kitchen section and the toilet. So now it is ready to book, as is the guest room in the house and the Kanzeon shrine (for day retreats) – see the Booking page.