Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy Christmas

Hi Everybody!

Hope you are already for christmas unlike me....Anyway however you celebrate it have a happy time. I remember how at the Zen Center in SLC we used to hold a service in memory of Jesus Christ Daiosho. It was a nice way of celebrating christmas but quite unlike how they do it here.

We had a good time at the sesshin in Beeley (in the English peak district). We just missed the heavy snow by finishing the day before it appeared on all the news programs - the very road we had just traveled devoid of ice and snow.

During the sesshin we made a rakusu for Genpo Roshi and Tenkei Roshi but because everyone was sewing far too fast, Anjo (a monk from Zen River, Holland) and I thought it would be good idea if they silently chanted Namu Ki Butsu (Be one with Buddha) with each stitch, and that worked.

I just heard that her dog Jimmy, a very small black mongrel, is wearing a christmas jacket. She thought that boots would be good but I think I will get someone to knit him legwarmers instead.

Happy Christmas everybody!

love Genshin

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bear Trap Lodge

Imagine forests of pine trees high up in the canyon and a huge wooden chalet with a high, pitch, snowsliding roof to the ground. Inside beyond, a huge room with a long dining table and a coffee table surrounded by armchairs and sofas. In this huge room under a grizzly bear (now a protected species) descending nose-first down the boulderstone chimney breast we sat and spent time with Genpo Roshi. What did we talk about? Really it was what did we hear? Genpo Roshi skillfully wove in his messages to everyone, while responding to one person.

After a very hard few days I finally saw how I had been creating the barriers between Genpo Roshi and myself.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ashes and Snails

After hearing a talk by an eminent escargologist about the homing instincts of garden snails who said that putting a bucketful of them into a nearby field will not get rid of them (of course we wouldn't lob them over our neighbours fence, would we...?) I put an enormous (bigger than your hand) spider in the yard. I wonder if it will return to the kitchen?

Unfortunately all the carers are terrified of mice and spiders and one said, after a terrific scream and leap across the room, that a spider crawling over the top of the washing basket had nearly given her a heart attack! Mind you, I'm just the same with large moths. They may be my sisters and brothers in the dharma but when they are batting around a lampshade all that is forgotten. I try not to kill them, but sure don't like to co-habit with them.

If I were to live in Buddha Mind all the time, not that I can do anything else, how can I kill what is eternal? How can Buddha Nature (or God nature) ever die, it seems only to change form.

Firewood is not Ash as Master Dogen said. Firewood doesn't deter snails but ashes do. (So do broken eggshells by the way!)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Practice hard while the blogs away....

Sorry there haven't been any blogs for a while as I haven't been very well. Hope to write another one soon! Take care and practice hard,

Gassho to you all,


Sunday, June 27, 2010

World Cup and Wimbledon

World Cup and Wimbledon in the same week, not to mention the budget.

Horses panicking as flag-flying cars whizz past, and a drought in the North West. It all feels like Alice through the Looking Glass. The world's gan wud. We are more used to wellies than sandals in these parts. Farmers are complaining that grass does not grow and neither do crops.

This morning when I was sitting I remembered how the parable of the Prodigal Son was my favourite story from the bible. It's very similar to the a tale the Buddha told about a rich man looking for his long lost son. Only in my family I was the prodigal parent, never imagining that my spiritual home could be my ordinary, everyday home.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Oil & Vinegar.

An old friend sent me a lyric, part of which was a quotation from Catherine of Sienna which went roughly like this:

"One day when I was sad I asked an old monk what his remedy for sadness was."
"Sing a favorite song", he said. Then he added "Oil always comes to the top of the vinegar."

Clearly he had encountered one of the problems of salad dressing which persist to this day, when we try to mix them. (I guess *Newman had the answer.) Anyway, ordinary daily life is often a bit vinegary, spiritual things are often soothing like oil. But look at the trouble oil has been causing lately. Ordinary life is full of oil and vinegar but it makes a good dressing.

As the dying lettuce leaf said from the depth of its bowl "I like to be well dressed".

NB * "Newmans Own" is a brand of salad dressing created by Paul Newman.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Hallo everybody. I need some help! In my kitchen there are some chrysophilla - like tiny flies that can't reach my wrapped up fruit. They came in with a houseplant a while ago and lived on the soil. Now in spite of being reduced too two gravel-planted cacti the little flies still appear. Does anyone know how I can get rid of them?

Years of tenzoing taught me to keep a clean kitchen so now that I apparently don't see very well, a blind friend told me once that she uses her sense of touch to feel if worktops and tables are clean...

I am so grateful to have had Zen training and a great teacher because I was shown how to live this short precious life. The Great Matter of Life and Death it's central to Zen. Sex, relationships, children, maturity and old age, sickness and death haven't changed much since the Buddha went AWOL with his friend. I met a glamorous death defying 80 year old in the States, who after many, many plastic surgeries was about to have the skin tightened on her hands to make them also look younger. Good luck to her, but it sounds like a losing game.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Big Day Out

Tomorrow is a Big Day. Shopping at Asda with my home-help, called by one of my carers for whom she also works "The Fairy Godmother". Pushing my trolley transformed by a green plastic shopping basket, I can walk tall and bump my way amongst so many others and each in a dwan, as they say in Scotland.

The highlight of the day is a latte at MacDonalds where the paper coffee cups have collectible stickers on them. Every 6 stickers gets you a free coffee. I guess it's a sign of the recession that stickers are hard to find now except from ones own cup! (Does recession mean stopping again and again?)

At the checkout all my difficulties become obvious-  the garbled speech and confusion, the inability to understand how to put my bank card into the machine and worst of all being shouted at. As though that would help!

l saw a soldier returned from Iraq with terrible spinal injuries. "It's not my disability but my abilities I look at." he said.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


" Life lives between coffee spoons" said TS Elliot in a poem (or something to that effect). Life was indeed like that between coffee spoons and cigarettes in the fifties. I still have a degree of independence but that will go at some point, it must for all of us if we live long enough to complete the circle of life span. Growing old is a gradual erosion of dignity and death is the interesting outcome of all this.

"Dead or alive?"asks the teacher knocking on the coffin lid.
"Don't ask me, I'm not dead yet" replies the master.

Seems to me - but I am just a stupid old grandma - that all our vows and esoteric beliefs are just a kind of life, or should I say death, insurance giving profound comfort and guarantees of survival. So best to put it all into practice this life-time. Must go and have a coffee but I gave up ciggies years ago!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Perfect As It Is

It's not a very original thought - but we are each like a piece of a jigsaw. That is - perfectly formed piece all your own, with all the patterns, lines and colors that are needed to complete the whole picture. We are as we are and perfect for our particular spiritual growth and development. We need to remember and keep remembering that there are no standards to judge by. In fact there is nothing to judge by and nothing to judge by as you are perfect, just okay for your place in the world.

The things that happen to you are perfect for you. My life is the perfect life for me. So we don't need to wish anything to be other than it is. No matter how it looks.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Keep In Touch

Hi Everybody, sorry there hasn't been a blog for a while but after a big fall I am now getting better and beginning to think straight again! Keep in touch. Love Genshin.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Knots And Chains

Here's a tip from my old Art Therapy days. If you have strong feelings about a situation or someone, try doing a doodle when feelings are overwhelming. Then ask yourself "What is this about? And where do I put myself in the picture?" If you just sit first with it, you may transcend it but you probably won't untie any knots or undo any chains but you will spare your teacher some work.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Most Important ...

It really is important to have a teacher, properly qualifed and acknowledged by his/her own teacher i.e. part of the ancient lineage - bit like the apostolic succession but of course even older. Only the true teacher who manifests the love and compassionate action of ones true nature is able to remove all our barriers so that the great ocean of Buddhism and compassion may flow unhindered.

May you all encounter a true teacher.

Love and gassho, Genshin.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pandoras Box

Are you depressed after seeing Avatar? Pandoras box, or rather its' contents, bits of Pandora here and there is Pandora. I heard a good joke the other day about 2 blondes calling to each other across a stretch of water. The first blonde shouted to the other "How do you get to the other shore?"The other shouted back "You are already there!" (Thanks to Malgosia Sensei for this joke) The Christians say heaven is right here now and the Buddhist say Samasara is Nirvana, Nirvana is Samsara, so Avatar devotees could say Pandoras Box is Pandora. P.S. Written in ignorance, because I haven't seen the film yet - anybody got a car and a spare seat? :-)