Temple Chronicle: February 2016

hiiden gem

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 29TH FEBRUARY

look no further 1

The light of day comes and it goes from my personal theatre. Objects and people come and they go, they wax and wane, as I watch from the gallery. This appearance and evanescence can affect me in two ways, but I am free to choose only one of them.

Either I can swallow the beauty I see as it glimmers and gurgles, calmly enjoying, marveling, weeping, smiling in the centre of the moment, and moving smoothly without flinching on to the next to supersede. I look and listen in absolute trust at these arisings and descendings because I know and accept that they are finite, that they will run only for a limited number of seasons. My indestructible essence of love is the lubricant which brought me to the theatre and will convey me back to the ether high above the lit streets.

Alternatively, I can hold the beauty in my mouth, refusing to let it go, to swallow it, wanting to immortalize it and make it permanent, to possess it so that no-one else can have it. The emotions that arise as a result of the stimulus are negative, inverted, flinching so that they separate me away form everyone else in the world, from my race and from the natural world. They are rooted in my fear that the supply of beauty will end, and so I must create my own stores because I have no shred of trust. My love essence has brought me this far smoothly, but I sabotage it deliberately so that I do not have to leave, and put it aside as spent fuel.

In the same way, I can accept that my form is imperfect as it ages, becoming worn and weathered. I can humbly embrace its decay in concert with all things in the universe, accepting this physical withdrawal of flesh and bone, but constantly delighting at the sights and sounds that flow around me now and here. There is no astringent peak of the taste of fear, just a subdued broad flavor to savour. Everything is exactly as it is. There is no friction of ownership or cloying. I gently polish myself, restrained, quiet – disturbing no-one, content to cherish my steady but gradual evanescence along with that of everything in the universe.

As a saboteur, the taste of fear though momentarily thrilling and rousing will never allow me to feel contentment, will always block the free flow of the essence of love, my spiritual essence. It will always isolate me, remove me from now and here so that I am likely to miss the show entirely. I will become marooned in my archives, dependent on my storehouse, and unable to embody the love that I was endowed with. I will never trust and will live outside the theatre of all life on the wet streets, unable to believe even in the blue ether.

Which will you choose?

uchu-A
This is the final post of this series ‘Temple Chronicle’ for the whole month of February 2016. Each daily entry will be combined into a single continuous document entitled ‘Temple Chronicle: February 2016’ to be stored in the main menu of the site should you want to look back at them.
It is snowing intermittently here in western Japan as the winter austerities come to an end. Spring will be welcomed on 20th March and the year ahead looks bright when viewed from the very centre of the moment in this very spot on the Earth’s crust.

May you have determined exactly what kind of light will you become for the year ahead.

 

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 28TH FEBRUARY

knowledge 6

We are living in the age of space travel so there are many images and films appearing. This is no coincidence. We are getting further and further away from ourselves, from putting our own Earth in order. We are moving into a gravitation-less state, in pressurised capsules full of flashing alerts and less and less direct contact with other humans, unable to put our feet firmly on the Earth. Such space exploration demands courage and vision, but they are visible emotions, displayed on large screens. It is probable that we are running away from our invisible Earthly responsibilities. We cannot afford yet another clean slate: indeed, there is no such thing except for those who are deluded.

It is salutary that indigenous peoples have no desire to physically conquer space and the universe. They are custodians, not conquerors, content in their spiritual territories. ‘Developed’-humans are marooned in a spiritual wilderness, in a neon-lit world, and so they restlessly search for new thrills, playing with their special toys, and feeling so proud of their advancement, their sophistication.

As they zoom through inner and outer space, they look back at the beautiful planet with sentimentality. It is ‘home’ with all mod-cons, and they created it from scratch. They turn a blind eye to all the destruction and conflict, all the failed states and ecological deterioration – sweep it under the carpet so they can see only a broad expanse of gleaming living space.

But more significant than this ignorance created by extreme filtering is that the gravitational field of Earth is brought about by the special consciousness of divine love, and we are choosing to look elsewhere for it as aliens might. Love is the special energy we and only we are endowed with. No other creation can utilise it. But we squander it, converting it into a possession, a commodity, a currency because we have become so arrogant and gone so far away from our true nature. We prefer instead to float around in our heads synthesising to embodying our divine energy here on Earth. Our blindness and defiant pursuit of pleasure and kudos help us to justify our lack of responsibility, to turn away from the mess we have created as a race.

Fear and delusion drive us into the stratosphere and beyond, breathing artificial air instead of pure oxygen and ozone reserved for our beings of love in the field, encapsulated away behind ever thicker artificial, space-resistant materials, and lost perhaps forever to the Lands of Pure Love.

link between father and son image

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 27TH FEBRUARY

reality

Our human lives may bounce around on an unpredictable ocean – our emotional responses to the incidents and occurrences in daily life combined with our karma, both bad and good, and the emotions of others around us also creating incidents and occurrences, and their karma. We never know how the weather will change and we are rarely prepared for its storms or for the becalming or sea fog. We are not in control because we allow external circumstances to control us. This is the conditioned mind, reacting and forcing responses, compulsive, not content, and it seems that there is nothing behind that unrelenting action and respite, action-respite. So we become afraid to look. In the end, we blame and protest and perhaps even try to resign from life. Our happiness seems as short-lived as a warm sunny day when there is no trace of a cloud in the sky.

This drama of our life is a like a fast-moving dream which we think we can only stop by waking up. But we never wake up from it because we have allowed it to become our reality, our view, our way of seeing and being. The only way we can wake up is by taking control and changing the way we see everything: in other words, by investing in our neglected ship and its equipment, especially the sails, instead of the ocean and the weather.

The first step in that process is quelling the continual dialogue perpetuated by the media and perhaps by people around you. You need your own vacuum of silence and stillness so that you can truly look inside. You need to appreciate yourself, and examine your sincerity with yourself because the revealing of your original core, which has been temporarily submerged, depends on that entirely.

Honesty expresses honour and virtue. If we are dishonest with ourselves our core becomes unstable. Honesty wakes us and others with its strong scent. It will allow your divine flame to burn more brightly, and then you can go forward and enjoy restoring your ship, repairing or replacing its sails, making new ropes, scrubbing the deck, and pumping out the bilges.

When you set sail on life again you can deal with any kind of extreme because you are equipped. Your core is stable and glowing, the weather is always tolerable and you accept its changeability without flinching; your ship is somehow part of the ocean now.

And then you wake up from the terrible dream forever and move on to the next phase of the restoration of your core.

human potential 2

Thank you dear followers. This series of posts will have lasted for the entire month of February. It represents Buddhist Winter Austerities and spiritual training in Japan, a time to cultivate wisdom, and I have learned so much from the discipline of writing everyday for you. I apologize if I have swamped you with posts, but I hope that you can allow at least some of the notions to work for you in everyday life. Future posts will be intermittent.

May you be truly and enduringly happy for all of your days immersed in the vast ever-changing ocean of energy.

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 26TH FEBRUARY

let go 4

Materials, possessions, appropriations. Membership. Rivals. Ambition. Boundaries, nationalisms, differences. Ulterior motives, agendas. These are the bywords of life in the world of form. They are either repeated internally consciously or allowed to drone away in the unconscious. They are built into our conditioning and our education, but they are a fabrication, a conspiratorial dream which we are forced to participate in if we want to find human success and respect, and approval from our social witnesses.

700 years ago a small group of Christian mystics moved around Europe defying the dominant Church of Rome and living out the opposites of these bywords in their lives. I was one of them. We had no church, no fabric to ostentatiously display our faith or our liturgies and dogma in; instead, we found secluded meeting places in the mountain passes and forests to listen to those who were ready to receive their final blessings. We had few possessions, needing little to live simply, and our only fabric was understanding. We appropriated nothing for ourselves.

There was no congregation to be a member of and to parade our great virtue in attending regularly, no opportunities to be ‘holy’ before witnesses and then crooked behind the screen. Those who received blessings and joined our numbers themselves did so from their private and total commitment. They did not need encouragement from a group or to feel a sense of belonging in a human way. They had touched their own true nature and realized that spirit is indestructible. They had experienced the full truth of the vast invisible world outside their skin.

We had no personal ambition because we understood that we were only short-stay tenants in our human form. We understood that there was no ‘person’ to have earthly desires, to accumulate and hoard, and so there could be no rivalry with others, no comparisons, no competitions. We understood that our unique spirit wanted nothing except to edify, to build a sacred bridge for each human angel trapped in their body of flesh to escape back into their source.

We served others tirelessly and silently with our unconditional love and compassion. Pure love emanated from each of our precious breaths as we worked behind the scenes of the greatest religious inquisition of all times.

The supreme Church of Love was branded heretical by the materialist Roman Church, by the vendors of expensive pardons and blessings which guaranteed humans entry to heaven. But for us, known as the ‘Good’ Christians, there were no rewards either in the world of form or no-form except for the ineffable joy of being and loving. There was no ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’ because hell was this life on earth, and by touching our true nature heaven was possible in this hell. There were no other fictitious realms created by fanatical power-mongers as inducements.

Goodness in human form feels no shame or fear. It is the eternal witness in the oneness of the visible and the invisible. We knew then and we know now that as humans are the world and the way, they will change themselves.

lotus seed pod

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 25TH FEBRUARY

torii

Buddha taught that if we become enlightened we will have full clairvoyance (seeing) and audiovoyance (hearing) in the past, present and future. When our conditioned mind is quiet, idling so that it can deal with the demands of daily life, and all our cravings have been extinguished, the clarity of our perceptions will intensify. We will no longer simply react in the ups and downs of subjectivity or duality, being swept along trying desperately to get our feet down on the ground for a few seconds. I have witnessed and experienced past lives and future lives, and I have lived with indigenous people who naturally have these extra-sensory tools at their disposal.

Karma is an absolute proof of our past and our future to come (DNA is the scientific equivalent) which we hand on through the birthing process and the closeness of related spirits to our families. It is a marvel how we inherit our parents’ physical appearance and structure. We also inherit their predispositions and proclivities, their cellular conditions, and very often their diseases, sorrows and losses, come to the surface in our lives. It is also, therefore, logical that we will pass forward our karma and our wisdom to future generations, and that is our responsibility.

How do we create good and bad karma? – respectively the karma to live happily, safely and to fulfill our life’s course; and the karma to have tragic and restless lives, crippling disease and deformity, to be criminals and make others suffer. It is useful to see karma as a seed which we sow with our thoughts, words, and deeds: eventually, the seed germinates and ripens at an indeterminate moment we ordinarily have no control over. But with spiritual practice and elevation, we gradually take some control.

We must accumulate as much merit and virtue as possible while crossing the river of life so that our negative karma will be neutralized and our positive karma will increase. These are the challenges of the world of form which we are deliberately manifest in to overcome. Having good karma will ensure our happiness in temporality, and if we cut the negative karma and console our ancestors their spirits will reside comfortably in the spiritual world. If our ancestors are suffering in the hell realms, then that will reflect in our lives. All things that appear to us are simply reflections of the invisible world.

Look back at photos of yourself as a child, a young adult, and older adult, and you may be so surprised at how different your appearance is. The camera catches glimpses as your karma and DNA flows and transforms, and at any moment, you may resemble your ancestors right back to the beginning of human history, the seeds being planted and germinating as you travel through life encountering suffering and joy. Pure gratitude and appreciation for your parents and theirs, and so on, is the best way to console their continuing journey in the spiritual world. ‘You’ would not exist to have these incredible opportunities if they had not given birth to you.

Floating lanterns inscribed with prayers on the ocean or rivers is one moving way we remember and console our ancestors in Japan. The torrii, large orange gateways to be found all over the country, were expressly constructed to allow the spirits of ancestors to return to the physical plane at certain periods of the year. They visit briefly to gather our prayers and wishes and then return, representing a golden chance to feel their closeness to us.

I am my parents and my grandparents. I can never walk in any other footprints than theirs along the beach, although the conditioned mind may convince me I have taken a new direction.

I smile and shed tears and love and feel and breathe as them. It is my true nature to eternally tend their garden of karma as our seeds ripen and stock dies while they recline on a shady verandah, always watchful. 

lanterns

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 24TH FEBRUARY

incongruence 9

I have no need to consciously meditate or pray or recite mantras, to sit carefully before exquisite images and light and incense, arranging time to sit and the particular mind to do it with. Buddha, Jesus, Mahavir, Mohammed never self-consciously sat to offer themselves to the deities, because they knew they had nothing to offer as there is actually nothing in the world. Once I make conscious gestures I must examine the motivation behind them. It is dangerous to make myself separate in such an act.

Of course, I may seek to quell the tormented mind in a beautiful sanctuary, to take refuge, but images can distract me if I gaze on them with emotion, surveying their materials, adoring their form, and ultimately becoming dependent.

I create something which can be dispersed in an act of total generosity, empty of attachment. I create a deity of mud, moulding it with calm un-grasping hands and momentarily worship it – make it worthy or divine – then I throw it back into the river or ocean so it can be dispersed. In this way, I connect directly with the energy river. I make a worthy momentary image and then give it back to the Earth, to the invisible realm. I make a beautiful feast with empty motivation to momentarily make it worthy before I throw it into the forest. I cook a banquet with no agenda except love, and then feed my loved ones making the produce of the Earth worthy before they consume it. Everything is energy and vibrations made sound and light. There is no need to interfere with it: I just leave it alone. This is my true nature.

Our individual good energy temporarily housed in the flesh in the world of form is a prayer, a meditation, a mantra in itself. But with our arrogance we interfere and rearrange trying to make meaning from it. There is no meaning in or of energy.

It is. So be.

energy

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 23RD FEBRUARY

 

rindou
We have the ability to make everything in our life divine. It is merely a question of the humility and clarity and our view.

A beautiful flower may appear before your physical eyes: it is perfect in every respect, at the peak of its energy, vivid, vibrant. There are many ways you may view it: a decoration for your living room, in memory of someone, an evocation of someone because it was there favourite, the emblem of a certain country or group, its species, and so on. There is so much visual information and background to this flower that we can become consumed by it and cannot see the flower for its own sake, in its own right, at all. This is how we mostly live – indirectly, always librarians and archivists, tucking multiplicities of images and information into our incredible memories.

If we close down the clicking conditioned mind and just gaze at this flower with no agenda, for its own sake, and merely for the sake of being with it, then it becomes divine flowing energy embodied for our viewing. We turn our gaze away and the flower disappears. We turn back and it is there once more. The images we hoard will never replace that momentary divine embodying, but because we have lost contact with our own divine energy and have made our own images permanent, we are fearful that the whole world will one day disappear so we immortalize. Once we accept that we are flowing energy embodied just like the flower, a light for others to see momentarily, then there is no fear, just love-flow.

Once we see and accept that flow then we can live in the field of awareness in peace. We can clear out all our archives and records, making space to use other tools like deep listening, compassion, telepathy, bodhicitta (the power to gather up all the suffering energy in samsara and neutralize it), and illumination – using our bright light to bring light to others with just a smile. Once we clear away our collections we can breathe in full concert each glorious breath having gratitude for the one that has been breathed, and awe for the one to come.

When we truly listen to a beautiful melody, we cannot make an image of it and secrete it away, but because sound is concrete, a constellation of vibrations that resonates with our own, we can recall it, imitate it, whenever we care to. If only we could use our eyes as ears, listening and imitating the divine frequencies, then there would be nothing to lose or immortalize.

wheel-31 

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 22ND FEBRUARY

drinking

We need to work so hard to get approval from our societies at large. If we are different and honest about our differences, then we are shunned. There is silence when we walk into a room, averted eyes, deliberate disinterest displayed. We are a threat to the masked committees and there will be no compassion, no concessions of any kind until we decide to put aside our honesty and our difference, put our masks back on, and behave in the interests of uniformity and social rank. How can we expect to be accepted if we are living our true nature?

Social groups are often empty and congealed with their dishonesty, so the members busy themselves auditing credentials. Is their behavior exemplary according to the rules? But most important of all, what are their sexual proclivities and urges? They form a group but they are separate liars behind their masks.

To live according to your true urges and nature takes enormous courage and the dropping away of all fear. But you are no longer separate when you refuse to lie and go along with other fabrications and bullying. You are integrated into the flow of goodness and love, back swimming in the river instead of sitting on the banks. We may not get approval but we have been honest with ourselves and that matters more than anything.

Entering the world of form, our spirits need a clear purpose. They need to bring light, but also be a model of self-truth for others, bringing the light and holding it high so others can ignite their own lights.

Buddha clearly instructed that we should not associate with those who gossiped and bad-mouthed others. We should avoid negative influences; we should stay silent rather than talk carelessly, but we can use eyes and hands to gently display our purity and inspire courage with our own courage while we do so. We should not be scared of losing our reputation and not say anything detrimental about others because it only makes us look better in people’s eyes. We have above all to be true to ourselves. How else can we be honest with others if not?

The tiny hummingbird moves around so quickly and quietly that it is almost impossible to detect. It takes the pollen it needs from the bells of tropical flowers and then moves on its way unnoticed. It does not disturb anyone or anything. This is how we should live, quietly, stealthily, without making any disturbance. But many of us put so much energy into interfering in other people’s lives and business when we should be just playing with light and love. We take life so seriously, trying to teach others and instruct, to over-protect them, when they could instead just notice our playful lightness and imitate us. All we need to be careful of is obstacles which break the flow of energy.

We allow others to tear us away from integration, to distract us from our breathing and our awareness. They deter us with their needless words and gestures from our gratitude and awe for our existence and all things natural. Our core should be solid and not so easily distracted from its joy and contentment. After all, we are so lucky to have become flesh and been given so many opportunities and messages to elevate ourselves spiritually.

sensory deprivation

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 21ST FEBRUARY

architects of our world

Our human lives are a process, a means whereby, but what is the result, the end-product? Our story began with the moment of birth and it will end with the moment of death. Between these two points our physical form develops and matures, and then as its season draws to a close, it starts to shrink and slow. We, our spirits, are temporarily housed in a flesh form to participate in the visual material world which is subject to varied and numerous conditions. It is logical then that the conditioned mind expects results from the progress through the years of our lifespan.

Religions use certain terms for this end-product, this resolution of the years and the effort – Heaven or Hell, Nirvana, Enlightenment, Paradise, Zion, Avalon, Swarga, Valhalla, and so on. But words and images die the moment they appear or are uttered or thought. ‘Birth’ and ‘Death’ are also only words, but we identify ourselves with them – ‘my birth,’ ‘his death,’ and so on, and once again they are dead, in the past, dropped like a heavy stone into a deep pool.

Without using any special labels or grand proper nouns, we have always flowed in the vast wide river of all energy, and we always will. Energy is vibration and light which is subject to no conditions, not even human’s facile ‘time’ or ‘space.’ It goes where it will dependent on nothing, consuming the darkness, flowing and flowing. There are no rewards or results in any dimension except the joy of being and loving with company in our human boats, and breathing in concert.

The conditions throw up obstacles in the way of our flow which create detours, sluggish pools, and rapids. The build up of the heat of negative emotions and violence acted out in the form world, the jarring of separations and limitations, the tattering and fraying of the fabric of the universe at our human hands, causes drought and the flow dwindles to a trickle, or floods which extinguish the divine flame of the flow.

Can you desist from throwing obstacles into the flow now and here? Can you give up your addiction to collecting, to hoarding, to getting and spending, to violent acts of separation from your fellows? Can you say you will no longer depend on creating parallel worlds in your mind with words and images so that you can just flow and flow, laughing and loving? Slap bang in the centre of this moment and in no place in particular, can you accept that there is nothing you have to do except be, and in your full being the flow flows without end?

self-knowledge

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 20TH FEBRUARY

Homa

The world of words demands that we churn out concepts and assertions mindlessly. Each word creates an image in our visual libraries and memory banks. The bridge of the mind leading out to the vast field of consciousness is so cluttered with verbiage and images that we cannot move. We are blocked in.

But unblocking is not just a matter of clearing out, discarding our highly documented lives out on to the scrap heap. No matter how badly they make us suffer by living always indirectly, marooned in our own minds, we have created them in our unique way. They are what we amount to so far, our materials. But we can be sure that materials are not permanent.

So we can first acknowledge them, accept them as our way up to this point, and then we can tenderly build a fire and set them alight, watching them burn with gratitude.  They are a means whereby and without them we would be deprived of their richness.

In the desert, in the Dreaming Lands, aboriginals set light to large tracts of land to promote new growth in the universe, and to send cleansing smoke up to the sky travelers. Japanese Buddhists write prayers and mantras then burn them in a special Homa fire to convey them into the invisible world, and to burn away human delusions. Fire cleanses and promotes new growth, so let go of the archives and new growth is guaranteed to appear. The bridge will instantly be unblocked.

We must keep creating because that is our modern way, teeming with diversity, but we can discard, empty the trash on a regular basis, and spend a little more time each day in the great still silence where words and images have no purpose. Then we can slowly and steadily intersperse listening with looking because sound is concrete whereas images are abstract.

And words? Concentrate your attention on the sound of the words instead of the meaning. Listen to the heart behind the words that reach you and linger lovingly there without reacting or categorizing, or trying to make them permanent. They are the utterances of a fellow true spirit after all.

With a sincere heart and awareness, you can cease to assert and window-dress your ego when you interact with other true natures in your vicinity. Asserting is merely a desperate attempt to make yourself and your world permanent in someone else’s eyes, and in your own. It excludes and separates.

When you speak remember that you are essentially spirit so you must express yourself in an artfully vague way like a breeze, the rapid flapping of the wings of the hummingbird, or the constant fluttering of a candle flame.

We actually have no single ‘claim’ to make via our soft lips or balanced on plump tongues because we are pure love energy, and the human throat is best-suited to singing. Instead of words, fingers and eyes and warm breath and our unique fragrance will register our sincere heart with perfection. Therefore, it is wise to refrain from talk until you have checked your free flow of love.

humming bird

 

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 19TH FEBRUARY

wave

Embodying love, being the universal energy of love, cannot be limited to your thoughts, or added to your tomorrow to-do list.

Once we have put our visual accessories ‘time’ and ‘space aside,’ then reality consists only of ‘now’ – this moment not the next or the one before, and ‘here’ – without borders or differences, regardless of weather or religion. Our conditioned mind may think this notion ’embodying love’ is interesting, intriguing even, but it will immediately disappear as thoughts always do the moment you have thought them. By thinking about it, you immediately make it indirect, a mere interpretation. So, create a mindful gap around this seed that has been dropped into your being, and stay in that gap. In other words, resist thinking about it or even giving it a name. Mark it as that ‘thingy,’ or your favourite song – music is concrete so cannot be erased as abstracts can.

Then in this gap, this opening, use your borrowed muscles and limbs to flow or swim into your day ahead. Staying in this fluid state you enter a crowded space, a train carriage, a shopping centre, a classroom. With every square inch of your body and your energy aura you can live that divine love that you have eternally embodied if the conditioned mind is quiet, held back outside the gap, prevented from its usual destructive, interfering activities. Then the love can flow freely, indiscriminately, for all of the people around you: A mountain stream cascading across everything in its path.

You make eye contact only to love. You spread your lips in a smile only to love. You extend your arms and stride forward with your legs only to love. It is absolutely the only ‘agenda’ your spirit has. Then, staying for as long as you can in that identity-less gap, radiate into ‘now’ and ‘here,’ and others will radiate in answer.

This human form your spirit is using has absolute power to touch the other spirits around you. The exterminator ‘thought’ with its negative entourage, is utterly powerless.

In this ‘gap’ is where we truly belong, our true nature. There are no labels or identity. It is the flow and flux of our energy origins, of our love and light.

changes 2

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 18TH FEBRUARY

attached

When someone you thought was so close to you dies, you will see it as a desertion because you are attached, in some way reliant, leaning on them. They have seemingly aborted their journey by your side, breaking their contract. Naturally, there are moments of aching loneliness and the glaring need to make changes, to adapt to a new style of life in their absence. There is also the profound shock that the object of your love, and perhaps your entire life, has vanished forever, perhaps suddenly.

We can easily project our feelings of need or possession on to others, contaminating them, forcing them to feel guilt if we do not get our own way, or if they do not feel or act the way we expect them to. And so, in the name of ‘love,’ we pressurize the people around us exactly so that we can get our own way, and use fixative from the mind to make love permanent. This manipulation is not ‘love.’ It leaves others with no choice but to wear masks, to be dishonest, to spare our feelings, and ultimately under the duress of these acts of violence and separation, they cannot bring out their true nature. This creates something unnatural, a museum piece, a stagnant pool, a plastic flower.

Divine love, the energy or force of our essence as humans, flows like light going wherever it can, indiscriminately. Its focus is as wide as the horizon, and it is not bound by likes or dislikes, by fads or fashions. When we embody love we know there is no choice and that the energy of our loved one is required to be combined with ours for a universal invisible purpose. The love embodiment of others will find us if we remain open, unprotected, standing always in the full flow.

Love is like the weather or the perpetual blue sky behind clouds. The conditioned mind has no power to change it because it is limitless, way beyond the visual aids of ‘time’ and ‘space.’

A beloved husband drowns while swimming in the ocean with his wife. She eventually finds his body along the beach. There are sparkling grains of sand on his lips, and that is what she remembers most of the last sight of him. She grieves, haunted by their significant moments together during a lifetime, but gradually she picks up her life and continues on with a strong sense that her love for him will never end. Then one day after she has healed, she visits his favourite local art gallery and there, walking towards her, she sees him. She wants to look more closely, but he is wearing a hat obscuring his face, and he quickly leaves, so she follows him, and presents herself in his art class.

Looking directly into his eyes, ravaged by his voice, she collapses with the shock of this appearance, and he is predictably bewildered by her reaction. She is certain he has come back to her exactly so that she can love him without fixing him in stone, without turning him into an object, and by letting his true nature run free.

Soon he dies, for a second time, and she receives a memorial card inviting her to his final exhibition consisting of all the paintings he did once they were together though briefly. And there, he has captured her swimming fearlessly full in the flow, and the painting sets her true nature free at once.

At last, they are both embodied in their love and breathe together as one eternally.

teachers

 

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 17TH FEBRUARY

incense smoke

We become absorbed so easily in such trivia, in time-wasting. We even play cards to ‘kill time’ when the universe is frantically beckoning us to open the window and go outside. Our conditioned mind distracts us persistently with a circular unstoppable dialogue which is speculative, judgmental of others, envious, and all manner of negative and distorted views. One of our great talents as a species is our phenomenal memory and our consequent susceptibility to influence which strongly links us together as one energy. Why then do we surround ourselves with trivia and games, with pornography and gambling, frittering away our precious life?

We are utterly impressionable, our unconscious mind a vast storehouse of every instance of our short human life. Our individual identity comprises that storehouse of experience and accumulated knowledge, combined with our genetic inheritance and spirituality.

Everyone around us is ‘killing time.’ It seems that they are killing time until they die, or until the next rite of passage, and the next, and the next. Completing their innings, their social requirements, filling their quota, frittering precious human life away playing chess, completing puzzles, and using frantic thumbs to gather as many red balloons to put in a net on their mobile phone as possible.

Time is a man-made concept and so we have the power and the right to kill it in any way we like. Every human is capable of such aimlessness and potential murder under the control of the conditioned mind. In fact, many of us reserve the power to destroy willfully what we build just as children do. We even destroy what nature has created so arrogant are we.

A Christian story tells that the origin of this phrase ‘killing time’ comes from an American organization (C.L.I.T. – the Cult of the Literal Interpretation of Time) which reacted to the rigid Biblical literalism of New England Protestantism in the 18th century. Their belief was that Time had a literal, physical, tangible body and that he was older or roughly the same age as God the Almighty, and a friend of his. Animosity grew between them when God created the Garden of Eden and Time wanted to seduce Eve instead of Adam. He befriended all the humans in the garden who surprisingly decided they needed the presence of Time to get them through their lives until their deaths. So, members of C.L.I.T., regarding themselves as direct descendants of Adam, wanted literally to kill Time. To achieve this, they lived mindfully, making each moment of their day count, each mundane activity a glorious absorbing event, so that they could murder the tyrant Time.

Mindfulness is the key to living beyond human limitations imposed by the limited conditioned mind. When we have realized that opening our awareness by silencing the conditioned mind transforms our borrowed body into a living temple, we can move through the river of energy marveling at every turn. We can stay fully alive during every instance of our fleshy lives. Then, consciously breathing borrowed breath from the universe in concert with all our species before we close our eyes to sleep, even our dreams will be mindful.

greater awareness

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 16TH FEBRUARY

 

persecution 1

At the close of World War 2, the victorious American forces occupied Japan and ordered a complete social reorganization. It was especially concerned about new religions, so the government scrutinized every new organization or cult and demanded that they justify their existence. Many Buddhist organizations were ripped apart, their founders imprisoned and interrogated, their instruments and holy books confiscated, and many were banned from continuing. Religion was generally outlawed and viewed with the greatest suspicion, and this legacy continues today. The Buddhadharma struggles to survive here more than almost anywhere else. Its survival fills the prayers of many spiritual leaders.

The master was imprisoned and tried. His children and wife were persecuted. Humans often intimidate innovators from a sense of envy or fear. He continued to deepen his faith throughout this disgrace, counseling murderers and common thieves about their faith in his communal cell. He continued to be kind and calm even under duress, and his interrogators recognized his quiet determination. His core of conviction was not touched by blows to his pride, by social shame, by degradation. His Buddha nature shone through and dazzled everyone, and this year the teaching celebrates its 80th year and boasts 2 million followers worldwide.

Our true mission in human life will undoubtedly require courage and conviction. Therefore, we should not be concerned with our reputation because if our innate goodness is shining through others will recognize it eventually. Dark forces may try to destroy us, to persuade us to stay in line, to put aside pipe dreams, to choose to have a quiet life. But we must follow our heart and make our contribution during this limited time. We have arms and legs, we can give vocal expression to our vision, we can smile and shine, radiating our loving kindness to give form to the invisible. But in this dangerous world of form where we are capable of being monsters or angels, of creating beauty or destroying wholesale, of preserving our innocence and purity or spreading poison and lies, it is our motivation that we need to always be mindful of.

So, although you may never have consciously experienced persecution, be sure that some of your ancestors did, and it was then that they intensified their courage, their conviction, and their motivation became as clear as a bell. This is our karma and indelibly written in our DNA. Clarity rises as your Buddha Nature, your true nature, is polished by adversity, so walk straight towards it and face it head on.

You can surely do this at some moment during your day today. There is something you are avoiding – a difficult relationship or situation, a decision, or simply telling someone your honest feelings. These people and situations are exactly your best teachers, so embrace them fully.

persecution 2

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 15TH FEBRUARY

imprints 3

Hindu deities are fashioned out of mud exactly so that there is no danger of them or the spirits behind them becoming permanent. Tibetan Buddhists make the most exquisite mandalas out of coloured sand outdoors and then walk away abandoning their delicacy to the weather. Japanese Buddhists copy sutras and prayers on to parchment and hang them from trees or bury them to welcome future Buddhas millions of years in the future. Indigenous people place their dead on high platforms or in the upper limbs of trees so that the weather and creatures can clean the flesh from their bones. There is no clinging in these acts. There is nothing to be saved and stored away.

If we can live in this way, avoiding sticking to anything, avoiding the heat of static, then we can find happiness in everything, every moment. Our emotions may flare up – anger, hatred, envy – but we can just walk away from the hot flames. Turn away our faces from such violent heat, and walk away from the site realizing that nothing can be accomplished by projecting these distortions on to other targets. Emotions spark a fire in the mind which burns others. We must ask ourselves if we truly want to be responsible for burning and mutilating other humans.

Everything except our loving kindness and our unique energy is impermanent. This human life as tenants flows on towards the great ocean of Nirvana. Our best contribution is to join the flow and shower our loving kindness on all our fellow bathers.

bones

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 14TH FEBRUARY

wheel 3

Objectivity or conscious awareness necessarily creates a division or separation because objects need a subject to perceive or be aware of them. The perceiver and the perceived. The aspiration and the aspirer. The lover and the beloved. To avoid the necessity for this duality, we must go beyond all craving and clinging, even for and to deities and gods. We should even let the gleaming sacred images of the Buddha and of the King of Suffering, Jesus Christ, fall so that others can use them as we have. If our hands are full of images and gods how can we hold compassion and heal others from our unique nature?

Guilt. Compulsion. External obligations. Fear. The conditioned mind will throw these spanners into the spokes of our wheels to distract us. But our wheels need to spin naturally without sticking so we can freewheel down the eternal hill of true freedom. We need to let nothing and no-one interfere with our absolute sincerity to ourselves, and it is our wheel which is designed to turn eternally, so nobody else can initiate the spin.

All around there are people separated from others and from themselves. Their wheels cannot continue to spin because they interfere with what is natural. The practitioner says she is desperate because she cannot practice the teachings. ‘Practice’ and ‘Performance.’ ‘Practitioner’ and ‘practice.’ ‘Practice’ of the ‘Buddhist teachings.’ My ‘practice’ is superior to her ‘practice.’ We can find so many dualities here. Employing and becoming attached to these words prescribed by religionists is adding many and various cogs and electrical devices to our already perfect natural wheel.

Another ‘disciple’ clings to my hand and tells me how she envies my western mind, yearning for my culture and white skin. This lack of acceptance of her personal reality and mission has rusted and broken her wheel. There is no contentment even while taking full refuge in the Buddha. How then can others take refuge in her?

The few freely spinning wheels are of those who suffer and have recovered from death. Only in this extreme of physical extinguishing can some allow their wheels to spin. They are no longer afraid or dishonest because they have faced reality full on.

Akira speaks with difficulty, his eyes moving slowly, and as he searches for the foggy words he turns away to reveal long white scars down his neck from two of the 8 surgical operations he needed to allow him to be revived and restored. Now in his second year of daily rehabilitation, he has no roles in life except as an invalid, and this he embraces. He is his broken self, and he is the patches which have put him back together. He is not separate from his condition, and in that oneness he freewheels. He is content to be the misfortune which has uprooted the smooth passage of his young life. There is no barb of blame in sight.

Only when we go beyond all expectations and hopes, any and all fixed ideas, will our wheels spin freely. Only when we let go of the permanence of the physical and material form, of beginnings and ends, will we find contentment and the unimpaired flight of our true mission.

wheel 2

 

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 13TH FEBRUARY

 

purity

We modern people have become dis-integrated. This is not surprising as we live under the tyranny of time and space, success or failure, approval or disapproval, love or lovelessness. These extremes roll us between them like a ball on a board.

Our daily moments are spent by choice sailing on a stormy ocean lifted and dropped by massive waves. There is no respite from this manipulation, or what we judge as manipulation. Someone else creates the waves and the wind, and forces us to be on board! There is seldom calm on this kind of sea. We may induce it though with a soothing substance, with anesthetic, or instead, bury our dreams and honesty with ourselves and let a trespasser deal with the danger.

If we do not have a stable core, a beautiful background to the absurdity of human behavior lived out under tyrants, then we are literally moving from one wave crest to the next relentlessly. We are not in control because we are outside our spirit, trying to hold everything still in the midst of great flux, trying to make meaning of the nightmare with the conditioned mind. One thing finishes and we rush on to the next, galvanized one minute, recuperating the next, always reacting to some prodding from an external source.

The conditioned mind combined with the constrictions of society and our communities have snuffed out our inner light, the connection with our true nature. We are inhabiting our physical form, but our spiritual essence is lying stagnant. Another automaton being has been created by the conditioned mind to fill the fleshy shell, and to take over ownership.

Our stable core has not disappeared entirely, but the strata of meaningless life have been laid over the top of it. If we want to integrate once more, we need to find a way to activate and unearth it. Moist moments of meditation, of stepping briefly into the great still silence, will start the process of removing these strata. But it will happen more quickly and effectively if we can take more control of the ship: loosening the sails, off-loading unnecessary ballast, or smiling for no reason because we know that no terrible situation can last forever – it is certain that the waves will subside and the sun will emerge.

Adversity is inevitable in our human lives, and as the French origin of this word points out, we should turn towards the negativity and challenges that we encounter, not try to escape from them. Only fear makes us resist, but fear is only a tactic of the conditioned mind to make us turn away. Turning towards? Turning away? It’s our choice.

If we turn towards our suffering, if we go with the massive swell of the waves, then we can embody it and better deal with it. Fear and other delusions are random flashing lights which distract us from our native stability. Looking full in the face of our suffering will shift away the strata so that our true nature will overcome anything.

The master tells us that fully facing a difficult relationship which we shy away from is exactly how will find our way back to our stable core. We ‘are’ that situation. It is not something the we ‘have,’ or that is imposed on us. If we say the words, ‘I am suffering,’ and not ‘I have so much suffering,’ we step into control, no longer a pitiable victim of life’s cruelty. We are neither separate nor exempt in reality.

natural practice

 

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 12TH FEBRUARY

self-knowledge 1

It is fear that makes us inflexible, and forces us to suffer. We are first taught it as helpless children by our kind parents, who are passionate for our survival. Our reflexes are honed, our target sights are set. The regime of training by other adults with experience and knowledge, who themselves are highly trained, is usually strict.

It is then that masks and social apparatus are issued so that we can receive approval from our community, fitting in and gaining respect; wealth and fame, being paramount. But fear easily lodges in these intricacies like dust on an elaborately carved choir screen. We gradually become insensible to it so it mounts up until the gaps for air and light are covered over.

The heavily conditioned mind thrives on this substance ‘fear.’ It efficiently suppresses originality and the courage to be truly ourselves, first with others, but then eventually with ourselves, so that we are no longer familiar with our true nature and become self-dishonest. Dishonesty frets the perpetual dialogue in our heads until eventually we cannot glean the difference between it and honesty. Then our strings of words create a new being, a permanent resident in the house of our flesh and blood.

So, our spirit energy has been trapped, caught up in a million meshes! Incarcerated so that we will follow the rules and fulfill the expectations of our communities. We are anxious about the rapidly approaching age of robots and our possible obsolescence, but those who live in massive urban communities have been system slaves for several centuries. We abdicate everything to mediocre leaders, even the kindling of our divine spark which becomes a mere pipe dream.

Fear has been heavily utilized by governments, religions and educators to maintain control of individuals, and as a result, the goodness at the core of each individual has gone underground. Endemic fear has become focused only on the negative, the evil, the destructive, the anarchic so that goodness has become a cliché, a pleasant myth, a triviality, something in the background. It is a by-product of the domination of the visual sense, detected in everything we see, and in the commentary we produce to accompany it. But if we close our eyes and stop the babble, it recedes with each grateful breath.

Above all, in our human journey, we must find the truth according to our individual divinity, and in it our mission will be patent, our exact contribution in the visible world outlined. Our specific talents and strengths are in great need at this time of disintegration to reunite us in one bright light.

The master promises us that the visible and the invisible are one, and fear will vanish if we remain supple and bring goodness into the forefront of human life. We are each a piece of the unfinished puzzle.

gravitational field

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 11TH FEBRUARY

self-honest

The master’s voice is unconditional. Only one tiny part of it is used to convey information, practical inspiration, instructions for those who can only follow. The greatest portion is from inside the torrential river, fizzing energy of spray and turbulence, which is silenced and stilled.

A white voice with no function, no advice, no expectations. It allows. It is empty of anything but the vibrations of pure unconditional love. It has no end. It opens locks and chains and brings us into the bright sunlight.

Can we also speak in light waves of lovingkindness to everyone we encounter with no trace of discrimination? It is better to be silent than speak from a stone of logic, from the hard drive of boundaries and imperialism, from prescribed patterns and reaction-seeking. Better not to speak if we are blind and deaf.

Can we possibly realize that all the sounds in the world are permanent once expressed? We cannot change them. They are stored in vast banks in the emptiness of the invisible world with the wind, the water, comet beds and moon streams. They are the only permanence. Our beings are composed from sheer sound.

The master asks what the quality of our light will be for the year ahead? And what kind of voice will we have? We need to be certain that it is coming from the field of full awareness, not from the conditioned mind with its devices and tubes, its trumpets and clauses. We are capable of irreparable damage if we speak from the material world: if we speak with the eyes for other eyes to hear. Sounds are jewels, fragments of our diamond which we vibrate through the air, so we must use them so carefully.

Sound is concrete, beyond interpretation. Close your eyes to the world of ephemera and open the ears of your soul. Feel the body shell naturally vibrating in unison with the vibrations of goodness and pure light.

The waves of the high soprano touch unceasingly.

The singing bell awakens every cell.

The energy of the land is a bass hum on and on.

But the sound of the great silence is the most sublime of all.

Listen beyond and beyond!

divine link

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 10TH FEBRUARY

 

knowledge 1

It is only the conditioned mind, the bridge or verandah around the house as it is sometimes called, that is sustained by knowledge and cannot tolerate any other kind of sustenance. That clinging, that fastidiousness, is a massive block to freedom.  It is the spoiled child in all of us!

It is impossible to live via knowledge alone, always in its shadow, deeply longing to create it, to possess it, to make it permanent. It is only a ‘means whereby,’ a raft, a rope bridge to cross the roaring torrents threatening to overcome trapped angels. Knowledge consists of useful and fascinating patterns, but it is a digression to make its analysis and amassment our life’s work. Instead, we just need to immerse ourselves in shifting across that unstable bridge and stepping into the infinite field of awareness. Or, simply open the door of the house, and walk inside.

‘Attachment’ needs to be our major concern in our lives as humans. We live mindlessly, constantly searching for a warm place to rest then dozing off there, only to be awakened suddenly by a crisis, a demand, an accusation, a parking ticket, the wisdom of a master. But why do we crave warmth and the oblivion of sleep, intoxication and excess? Why are we desperate for a change of scene, something new, a thrill or the presence of a jester. Dozing and feeding the senses in the pleasure gardens of life is a procrastination, so as Gautauma Buddha and Jesus and all the gurus did, we must go forth now, right now, to find the middle path for ourselves blowing them a kiss as we go.

Tomorrow? Yesterday? They are figments, contrivances, thrown up by the conditioned mind. ‘Nothing is Permanent!’ we are told, and we know it in our knowledge base, but we never actually experience the raging torrents of the energy river beneath us as the masters have.

There is no logic behind a smile, a loving word, an aria, the aroma of nutmeg. Why would we want to turn them into stone libraries, and probably never look at them again? We have bred cultivated versions of flowers in order to preserve them on our human terms, but they are synthetic when compared with the native species that only botanists record the individuality of. Millions of unique seeds, blooms, dead stalks and roots eternally fluxing through infinity – this is giggling of our natural world.

We can inhabit the natural world and unlearn all the knowledge and experience of the mind world by lingering in the stillness and silence between loving encounters. What a glorious tapestry! Stepping into true nature, stillness, silence and the vibrating pulsing energy of live love.

knowledge 5

NB:  please be sure to let go of these words and go beyond for yourself!

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 9TH FEBRUARY

 

no demons or dialogues

Our minds trick us into living constantly with negative and unnatural thoughts. All around us, there are many other negative energies exhibiting themselves in the world which overcome us with their cheap perfume. But they are unreal and regularly projected onto vulnerable beings. The state of ‘LovingKindness’ means that we gently but firmly refuse to take on these negative missiles, and with the vibration of pure love and light, bring a new awareness to the projectionist. A smile, a loving touch, can bring something new to someone who is jostled by fear. Those who project have wide staring human eyes, but they are outcasts from their own hearts, shivering in the cold. They understandably lash out at the nearest person, and likely those they are closest to.

The outcasts are not separate from us. We cannot reject them or escape from them because they are mirror images. All humanity is viewable in the cosmic mirror in one vast sky. It is only the thoughts which prize us into separate beings, arms and legs, parted lips, and certain permissions – to condemn, to adore, to decline from comment. The awakening of the entire species is our collective concern. A sincere smile is sufficient to rouse the oblivious, and eventually, the fragrance of divinity will seep through the strata.

LovingKindness is not something spiritual traditions have created or generated. It is eternal and interstellar, but we have found a way to uncover it. It is the fragrance of the flame of divinity which we can kindle with our wisdom at this time of disintegration.

Each flame is different and essential to the completed glow of full harmony and happiness.

image

 

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 8TH FEBRUARY

 

massive diamond

 

The field of energy humans inhabit is not as it appears to diverse human eyes. The arts give expression to the vast differences in individual views: today, the disparate imaginations of around 7.4 billion are at work every moment. These local energies are surely not separated by skin and skeletons though the logical brain insists they are. Therefore, if we close our eyes and our mind’s relentless analysis and classification, our energies merge into one fabulous multi-faceted diamond. Such a gem can illuminate every dark corner of the universe with divine light, purging away all the accumulated impurities.

Our sensitivity to each other has been deadened as the eyes have gained the monopoly on the material world. Progress and civilization have gradually removed the necessity of using the spiritual eyes and along with it unconditional looking. But we can once again use our ancient tools of divination and healing by cleaning away the accumulated detritus on our diamond facets. Our suffering, our conflicts, and doubts, form the grinding wheel that will remove the layers. The masters invite us to accept and embrace our adversity so that we can uncover our true nature, our Buddha nature and cut away all our negative karma.

Light exists without conditions. We humans are beings of light in our divine form, and light is love and goodness. It needs the darkness and evil so our deteriorated and diluted essence can apprehend it. So let your light flow to consume the darkness so that everyone can see with their spiritual eyes.

grinding wheel

 

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 7TH FEBRUARY

 

healing 4

She dreamed that she was talking to a group of people, looking into the eyes of all her spiritual children, when slowly, outside her control, her own eyelids closed and she could not open them ever again.

There was panic all around, urgent movements, many different fingers touching her arms and shoulders, voices of such tenderness and tears rising in the air.  But she continued to talk from her sincere heart, and gradually the sobs and cries died down. She invited everyone to close their physical eyes as she spoke.

‘We need to close our physical eyes so that our inner spiritual eyes will open. For the physical eye, though a remarkable anatomical evolution and a powerful tool, sees only through the graded lenses of the ego. The material world becomes the only reality that it can perceive.  It is blind to the vast invisible world which is our real home.’

It takes practice to be able to look into the physical world with spiritual eyes.  To gaze without taking possession, without categorising or judging, without accumulating worldly status and merit.  To perceive directly instead of interpreting, making copies. The desperate craving of the worldly human incarcerated in constant suffering while careering towards oblivion in their death is acute.  They cannot let go, always hedging their bets, having reserves, in case they are left with nothing and fall into an abyss created by their terrible fear.

This way of looking can dominate in the presence of sacred images.  The serene Buddha images and altar adornments are rendered permanent by the physical eyes; continual shots are taken by the acquisitive camera and then archived.  The master carved sublime images of all emanations of the Buddha so that disciples could overcome this kind of obsessive greed and self-centred cherishing.   The spirit does not need to rely on memories and labels, or stored images.

We have the choice to gaze on these images without greed so that they connect us firmly to the spiritual world. In this way, the spiritual eyes are wide open. Holy sculptures are manifest as permanent in their gold and bronze inside man-made temples exactly so we do not possess them. This is for our spiritual growth.  The Buddha is mere energy just as we are.  We give this powerful energy the name ‘Buddha’ but that label can be abused. To find enlightenment we need to let go of it and allow the power to merge with our own power. To allow all divisions disintegrate.

When will she have paid all her debts?  Debt is such a negative state which worries and disturbs the natural equilibrium.  Debts to parents, to masters, to husbands and wives, to employers; an endless queue of beneficiaries. They make an elaborate maze in the mind which we get trapped in.  This cannot possibly lead to spiritual liberation. If we are in touch with our divine origins, if the flame is lit, then we naturally give to others, we trust unconditionally, we breathe with a genuine smile, and we truly love people because we are not separate from them.  Debt makes us separate and exacerbates the suffering of samsara.  It suspends us in murky water above the mud so that our lotus cannot bloom freely.

If we are motivated to practice spiritually from our thoughts, then this is flawed.  Thoughts are dead things which obscure the truth: They are worthless in spiritual terms.  Spirituality is living organically, is only being in the great stillness and silence.  If we manufacture thoughts of a religious kind and then use them as our propeller, we are creating everything from our side.  This is not the truth, the suchness, the shinnyo, but we can habitually mistake it as such.

And if we merely imitate the masters, cloning ourselves in their likeness, then we are ignorant of our individual mission, our unique spirit. The master engraves Buddha images not only in physical form, one bow for each tap of his chisel but in each disciple’s heart.  We can embody that heart in each moment of our daily lives, living as Buddhas, undistracted by the trivialities of the worldly mind.  This is the only way we can change the suffering world because our environment in the world of flesh is exactly a reflection of our minds. And if our minds expand into the field of consciousness, then the world will truly be a Buddha world.

She is restless in the temple precinct because she is attached to it. It has become her temple and everything is invested in it. Her living space, though full of light and the warmth of loving kindness, has become oppressive because of the outside view.  Beige concrete buildings with identical balconies, impede the view so that she cannot see beyond them to the mountains.  This way of viewing the environment is bedded in her DNA, has been the way of looking of her ancestors for aeons. The view reflects the mind, so she is keen to change it and live in a penthouse. Never content, and she will never be so until she lets go of physical dimensions.

May she put aside her physical eyes, open her spiritual eyes and so live with panoramic vision now and here, plum in the centre of the moment.

May she climb the temple steps of her own divine heart where ownership and mementos are unheard of.

spiritual practice

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 6TH FEBRUARY

 

ellipse 2

 

It is entirely possible to become attached to practice, to achieving and succeeding, either cheered on or envied by our Dharma siblings. It is a human characteristic to compete with others, but it is not natural because it involves a separation. These distinctions that we make when comparing ourselves with others both outwardly and in our own mind secretly are imaginary. Status and its indicators have become a requirement of modern life, and in achieving that status many of us come to believe that it is due entirely and exclusively to our own effort. The mind gets carried away with itself and forgets all the myriad conditions that allow us even to take a breath of oxygen.

In short, we are liable to place too much emphasis on achievement and success in human terms. This is perhaps inevitable in our huge urban communities in which most people have a strong survival instinct for themselves and their families. The way these large groups are managed also provides perfect conditions for self-centredness to thrive: we are forced to comply with education, health and governing systems, often abdicating responsibility for ourselves and so losing contact with our own hearts and talents.

To adapt to and flourish in these situations that most of us cannot avoid, we need to treasure ourselves without over-cherishing, so that the ego does not become an impenetrable but transparent screen. If we are intimate with ourselves, entirely self-honest and appreciative of our innate goodness, then we can use the mind as a bridge to pass into the limitless field of consciousness. There, we can live each moment without escaping the suffering, without creating a gap between what is suffered and the one who is suffering. They are not different. We don’t have suffering like a possession, we are suffering. We are suffering. But it is the habit of the mind always to be at the side of our experiences, interpreting, analyzing, judging.

Loving-kindness or compassion is the main constituent of our nature, so if we let the mind fall away and stop all resistance to what is natural, extending it universally to every being we encounter in daily life requires little effort. We imagine that we have to do something, to achieve, to struggle, to reach out in kindness to others. But there is nothing to do. We only have to be.

Breathing is a wonderful practice in this respect. Focusing on the breath closes down the doing, achieving mind. The breath links us to the universe, so the Buddha taught this as his first meditation. Without borrowing oxygen from the atmosphere, our lives would be impossible. It is the basis of chi, fundamental life force or energy. Breathing occurs automatically in the majority of creatures when a demand for air is made. The breath is invisible, so it links us with the infinite invisible and natural world and removes our arrogance. Watching the miracle of the breath rising and falling takes us into our unique core in the same way that sound does.

Sitting together with sangha members, she watches her breath and listens to the voiceless voice of the Dharma. There is no duty, no guilt, no comparison because there is no achievement to make or end to gain. Allowing air inside where it is purified, then the detrimental gasses expelled, makes her part of everyone else and the master. The master breathes with them all linking them to the spiritual current of the Buddha-dharma. Breathing with the Buddha as he reached enlightenment under the Bodhi tree out in the field of all awareness. Breathing as a Buddha. Benefits and concerns have no place in the breathing field.

self-knowledge 2

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 5TH FEBRUARY

 

higher mind

The objective of all Buddhist training, of any spiritual training, is to first become a better, happier person, and then to look after other sentient beings, developing unwavering respect and compassion in that pursuit. The majority of humans aspire to ascend and so get clarity on themselves and their place in the world. They have deliberately sought a method of getting control of their negative emotions so that they can allow their natural goodness to prevail at every moment.

According to the Buddha, we are each a stupa, a shining tower to house the essence of the Great Truth (Tathata {Skt} Shinnyo {Jpn}), but the divine can only work in us when we are empty of delusions, self-serving desires and attachments. There are numerous ways we can ‘practice’ to realize this emptiness, but there is a danger that we ‘practice’ with ego, becoming attached to the practices themselves, forcing and striving to achieve these states. The word ‘practice’ is unfortunate in many ways because it implies imperfection, apprenticeship, and an impending performance. However, immediate realisations are numerous in the same way that performances can be spontaneous and their performers unknown.

This struggling against the current of the natural, this shouldering and manipulation and grasping by religious means, is perhaps burying our true nature even more deeply. Aspirants in Japan must start from scratch in terms of their faith, so are often initially benefit seekers, believing that they can acquire protection and benefit from the deities. These expectations are ingrained in the popular Shinto practices, and the line between Shintoism and Buddhism is quite blurred. So, they often barge into zealous practice, giving it their best for a probation time, and then, if they are not happier, wealthier and wiser, they may go on to try some other faith path.  These tactics often come from fear and superstition in my experience.

It is interesting and at the same time quite shocking that human beings often long to wipe clean the slate of their beings, to erase everything so that they can be reborn, totally transformed. Many of us view our thinking as flawed so we block it, hide it away; we experience a frisson of guilt at having such thoughts and then bury them, perhaps forever. We have rendered thoughts permanent and visible as everything and everyone else is. But it is possible to just let our thoughts appear, let them surface as detritus or debris in water. We do not need to condemn ourselves for having so-called bad thoughts, in the same way as we do not applaud ourselves for having so-called good thoughts. Thoughts are epehemera.

It is impossible to wipe the slate of our human existence and our spirit entirely clean, unless we synthesize amnesia or undergo brain-washing. Instead, we can adapt and accept – making the effort to free the flow of the water of our life. We humans are essentially beings of light, formless tennants. Water is similarly formless; in its natural state it flows wherever it wants to, wherever it can. Sometimes over-zealous practice can freeze that flow, fixing our nature into a glacier. Emptiness is the free flow of our waters, which are healing and cleansing, refreshing and exuberant.

Once we did not need to make an effort to keep our divine flame alight by spiritual practice. We were truly living out our original nature, flowing freely, merging with the fluid natures of those around us in loving harmony. Then, we learned to utilize the intellectual mind to interfere in this natural process, and our blindness began, leading us to go our own egocentric way towards the secular and personal power.

We may meditate, we may reflect, we may take empowerments and initiations, we may doggedly follow the letter of our teacher’s advice, but we must not lose sight of the truth, the suchness, which is deep inside ourselves, inside our unique stupa. We must not rule out the possibility that our ancestors were divine beings who handed on their divinity through the generations to us, and that in simply being, sitting with ourselves exactly as we are, that spark will burst into joyful flame once again.

The master invites us to appreciate ourselves, our inner beauty, while at the same time making certain we are completely honest with ourselves.  What are we really feeling?  What are we imagining we are feeling?  What are we hoping we will feel?  This is the true basis and function of meditation. Before embarking on a spiritual path, we must come face to face with our deep selves, naked, so that our true nature will be revealed.

Do we truly feel the icy stab of the first pail of water poured over our own warm flesh? Or do we feel it vicariously as our Master pours it? Do we rise before dawn with our entire consciousness, 100% present, in order to watch the reality of the sun rise in the sky, the sun rising inside our sky? Is it really our true nature which takes the prayer beads now, in the centre of the moment, completing it with all our might? Is our stupa dedicated and perfectly purified in order to embody the light of the great truth?

Mindfullness engenders enlightenment.

stupa

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 4TH FEBRUARY

divine link 1

There is no escape from suffering for Japanese Buddhist lay practitioners. Daily life and stark reality are the anchor of life here: no time for dreams and personal ambitions. Endless conversations about how foreigners practise the teachings of Nirvana often lead to the subject of retreats. Only monastic practitioners here have that opportunity.

The wide temple halls are filled with neat kneelings, the corridors polished with slippers, and escalators well trodden by hordes of attendees who travel long distances. Mass purification is advocated by the founder, the cutting of negative karma achieved in countless ways of purification. Vigorous practice takes on many forms. There is so much to do here to let the clouds of Dharma float freely, the traces of so much massacre and ritual suicide vanish.

Today is the embarkation day for the Masters so it is marked every year at this time. They followed their hearts and their mission to act on their compassion for all beings, giving up their comfortable way of life and of fulfilling the expectations of society. They had no idea what each day would bring for themselves or their children, but they shared the journey totally, supporting each other no matter what.  This is what Buddha Shakyamuni did also, in the firm belief that he could overcome anything by walking away from creature comforts, from his family.  Cutting off his long hair and giving his princely robes to his servant, he set off into the unknown.  There was no belief system to support him, and there were no fellow-travellers.  He had only his compassion and his knowledge that suffering was a tool to reach true liberation from the stranglehold of the mind.

We can renounce every day.  In your mind, you can die a little death, the death or extinguishing of human craving, human fear.  Fear can die and wither away just like the body does, and with that, true nature reveals itself.  Fear narrows the spirit, roping it in, forcing the poison of greed and ignorance and hatred through the veins.  By letting go of everything we have ever known, standing naked, blind, deaf, decommissioned, in the great stillness and silence, our original goodness can fragrance everything. We become able to wear physical death like a veil, and human life a tunic.

Living with no system or framework to slip unconsciously into:  Living full-time in our individual temples of goodness and beauty: Here and Now, truly settled in the dead centre of each second of man’s time with no thought of being anywhere or anyone else, the mists and dust clouds clear so that we embody the divine light. It shines eternally thanks to the enveloping darkness.

Especially here in Japan, the land of the collective conscience, individual and diverse lights are badly needed, and the inner beauty of each soul is bursting to emerge.  The fear of not-conforming and being undutiful is a paralysis.  The fear of not wearing the masks of ‘following’ or ‘accepting’ are prohibitive to the true flourishing of Buddha Nature, to catching the lightning glimpses of enlightenment which persistently suffuse in the air.  The joy of actually overcoming the extreme difficulties of human birth and all hardships to follow is our contentment.

The master gently invites us to put aside duty and compulsion to conform so that our true nature can shine out. 

The lotus blooms only when its roots anchor  in mud.

reclining Buddha

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: FEBRUARY 3RD

interfering

Those who follow.  Those who are followed.  Followers or leaders, there need be no division. What prevents us from taking the first step to being different from the conformists surrounding us?  Fear?  Prohibitive karma?  Ignorance of the millions of opportunities staring us in the face each moment?

Followers are by their very existence separated from the followed one.  They are the victims of a small act of violence which places them at a disadvantage, rendering them passive to superior instruction.  This is not the Buddha’s way, not the middle way. In adulating even a Buddha, we are being excessive, servile, insincere, because we turn away from our own Buddhahood.   By maintaining an even breath and softening our gaze on what is not real, we become one again, in one heart.  We become one with the master because we are the master.

Such purity is hobbled by a complex system of filters and refineries designed to keep us back, keep us quiet in our sprawling communities, to make way for so-called leaders. This is all enacted in the blind tyranny of the visual world.  Close your eyes and mute your memories and conditioning by embodying your breath, and you will quickly realize that such differences, such separations, are imaginary.

In each tiny interaction with others – a smile, a murmur, a passing fragrance on skin, a positive thought, a word – we leave our traces behind. We cannot see them, count them, or erase them. But our influence endures and we echo it.  Each entity of goodness sparkles and  remains, eternal, but we are blind to them because of our deluded view.

Only when each unique moon of goodness is glowing in its place will the chaos of the sighted be dispelled, and the ocean its original calm.    

Gaia

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 2ND FEBRUARY

healing 3

 

The moon is perfectly round.  It is segmented during its cycle so we may only see certain parts of it, but always the segments are divisions of an object which is perfectly spherical.  This perfection represents our true nature, our Buddha nature. It exists in our deepest consciousness, in the submerged mass of the iceberg.

The sky moon is virtually indestructible. Its light is constantly radiant although it is not always available to human eyes. But the moon in the sky is merely a representation of what is within each of us – our true, cool nature, calm, unconditional, silent and still.  External disturbances need not deter its loving, accepting consistency, just as meteors and solar storms cannot destroy the moon.

Today, the master reminded every one of their inner moons.  Disciples were encouraged to embody their glowing beacon for the benefit of people around them, exactly so that others would be inspired to contact their own moons.

One man talked honestly about his negative emotions and his arrogance.  Has grandmother had become seriously ill and so he spent as much time as possible with her.  But he found her suffering and the sadness of her impending death too much to bear at times. Then he remembered the positive light of his inner moon and with it the realization that his negative feelings about her pain and hopelessness were not connected to the reality of the situation. Those negative feelings of intolerance were attributable to his selective ego.  So, he smiled outwardly instead of wincing inwardly, able at last to display his sincere feelings.

That day, his grandmother told him how she was able to benefit from his clear strength, and that it, in turn, gave her strength and dissolved the fear that pain and the unknown can engender.

We underestimate how knowing we are about each other.  His grandmother could sense his negative energy. It actually accentuated her fear and pain.  But once he had allowed his lunar radiance to shine through, she was bathed in it. His moon then lit her own inner moon.

These subtle energies are concealed from us if we are always loitering outside our divine nature, regarding the sky moon as an external object, a commodity we can possess. Outside, we compulsively filter reality to our own liking and the levels of our tolerance.  Inside, it’s all simply a question of ignition; our moon can light up countless others through our very presence in the human world.

Innate faith, like language and culture, is embedded via the influence of those around us and our environment.  In Japan, spiritual feelings or energy have for so long revolved around duty and custom that most people first have to learn how to peel away the layers so they can contact their inner moons. Then they have to understand and accept that they have the power to influence those around them.  The heavy conditioning of modesty and humility in social life often covers individual potential from view.

So, she must continue to go often to climb the temple steps and catch a glimpse of the rising of her radiant moon.  She will attend until her last breath, repeatedly mistaking determination and devotion to the masters and other beings for her own inner radiance.  It takes time to establish faith in oneself when the seeds were not planted as a child.  She must plant them methodically by hand, and wait for their unpredictable germination.

the moon

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: 1ST FEBRUARY

waterfall training

Again cold and unforgiving weather today.  It is thought to be a good sign because it will help those following to truly remember what the masters did 80 years ago to found this special teaching.  Freezing weather seems to have been the appropriate time to begin austerities in Japan, like the rainy season in India in the time of the Buddha.

Waterfall training was one of the main ways to purge the ego. So today, aspirants must walk in their footsteps in their minds, up the steep narrow path along the ridge to the waterfall. They will feel the freeze of spray on their face as they get closer, then the immersion of skin habitually covered with cloth, the sound deafening arousing the dread of that first cold death.

Photographs of their waterfall training etch themselves into the memories, the consciousness, of aspirants. The blood-stained white cotton robes, the hands pressed into gassho despite the shivering, the slate-blue of feet and hands.  And they are told this teaching takes the middle-way, and that only masters need to do this hard training.  That they do it exactly so that disciples living their daily lives, ‘householders,’ do not need to.  But does this create a dependence despite its magnanimity?

Wondrous powers will be activated through the Dharma current of correctly linked streams.  The spiritual current is something seekers can plug into, connect with, through the rituals and spiritual tests.  The mandala or succession diagram for this teaching is complete, reaching far back to Shakyamuni Buddha, 2600 years ago.  So, if they go under the freezing waterfall in their minds, in their deep minds, they are assured of going further on to enlightenment in oneness with their guides.  This is the mysticism of blind faith.

The Masters were flesh and blood, warm-blooded mammals with soft eyes and physical and emotional vulnerabilities. That they were driven to take these strict actions following in the footsteps of their masters, and those before, is about tradition, validity. The further we get away from the founder of any religion or organization, the more checks and balances we need.

But it’s not what the masters did, it’s the way they did it, out of pure compassion for all human beings, for their suffering and their joy.   There was no other motive.  It is this pure intent that is so impressive, and that disciples can easily emulate.

She is feline in her enthusiasm to collect the cards which mark each day of training. They are beautiful, each with their message carefully conveyed in the hand of the Master, reproduced in their several million.  She buys a little case specifically designed to collect them in, and then as the end approaches, she feels a sense of completion.  These masters have, drop by drop during 33 years, fed her with faith. She was born not knowing the taste of it, not naturally knowing there was something for her in the invisible world.  Her innate purity stood for nothing in a culture in which merit and maleness mean everything, and their opposites nothing.

The religious treasures have amassed over the years, and now she can never be parted from them.  They enliven her spirit and allow her some action. Her complete happiness can be found in following perfect models, in belonging, in constant gratitude and humility.

Today, in a city temple under the central Osaka freeway, one long-term disciple talks of how she was saved by the teaching’s power in 2001, at the time of the aerial attack on the Twin Towers of the New York World Trade centre.  She was standing outside the main entrance when the first plane crashed into the tower, waiting to go up to a meeting on a high level floor.  In the panic, she ran for cover into the subway where she could take refuge until the emergency teams came.  Winter training is the time she can show her gratitude most.  She always tries to bring a foreigner to the sessions to say thank you to the foreigners who rescued her from that tragic disaster.  She will never forget her debt. It is her mission to expend her life paying back.

The Masters can be role models through their faultless lives devoted to all beings. But we must be careful to live out our own individuality, our own Buddha Nature, and to bring to fruition our unqiue mission.

uchu-A

TEMPLE CHRONICLE: WINTER AUSTERITIES

Kobo Daishi

The morning air is fresh, the severe coldness has receded for a few days.  But it will return. The edifice of the temple reposes as the sun rises. I want to write about my daily life here living in the Shingon temple precinct: devotions and insights, spiritual signs and moving towards emptiness and beyond.

She has gone, thinking she had not woken me, but I felt the duty and devotion rising in our rooms, borrowed rooms like our breath. I heard the sluicing of water, and the whispered chants deep in the shower room. Cold water poured over head and alternate shoulders, a chant for each small bucket full. Kneeling on salt. Shivering and moving without control in a jagged way. Rising. Sitting again. Rising.  Her mind breaking the imaginary ice on the barrel the way the Master actually did.

What is it that wakes you?  She says it is ‘Gohozenshin Sama,’ that she just asks them before she sleeps to wake her.  They are the fierce and brave Guardians of the Law in their towers outside the temple inner sanctum.  The Guardians of the Heavens and the Earth that make it possible for us humans to walk the pathway, to seek the way.

She walks before dawn through the centre of the white 5 story apartment buildings arranged like cakes on a beach. The sky is heavy and ice-clad.  She walks quickly wearing temple shoes, decent, soundless, repeating mantras, and holding her fluorescent orange dustpan and brush both with long handles. She rustles as she walks, the white plastic bag shivering. She is going to brush the temple precincts in preparation for the Buddhas to walk there.

She has told me about her ancestors indicated in meditation training.  They were mountain ascetics living wild in the forests of Wakayama, pacing up and down narrow pathways made by raccoons and red deer, ridding themselves of their ego minds.  They sheltered from nothing and no-one, taking refuge only in their spirits connected to the universal source.  Standing in pouring rain and blazing sun with oblivious stomachs, slowly unlearning, de-culturing, de-conditioning. Solitary, in human terms, in caves, climbing trees to pick seeds and nuts, and confronting gongens, evil emanations,  then driving them away with sheer determination in a stare. No human distraction for 20 or 30 years. But some of them were so lonely they committed suicide.

She industriously brushes the leaves into piles, stuffing them into her bag using a torch in her mouth. It is still dark in front of the main temple gate; the guard-house quiet, young men in suits snoozing and taking 15 minute shifts throughout the night, then changing into their white ablution robes, and chanting at breakneck speed to squeeze the sharp pain of ice out.

Yesterday, Baba, her guiding parent, came for tea.  Talk of the schedule and the spiritual goals this year.  She lives 5 minutes away on the south side of the temple where she carefully watches her charges, advising them on their daily life, on how to wake up to the spiritual aspects of existence. Her eyes see the bald truth and she’s not afraid to relay it even though it may hurt. Fearless, but thought of as insensitive and un-Japanese by many.

She has devoted most of her life to these teachings, the teachings of Nirvana. The wide world is encapsulated inside her temple precincts, so there is no need to go very far outside. Sharp questions are asked about the regularity of visiting the temple whilst on holiday, and how many hundreds of certain mantras were said on certain dates.

Today we will go to the city temple to meditate on the tenth floor on an office block. This period of austerities is softened because the masters did all the severe training. We will ride in a comfortable car and an elevator thanks to them paving the way. Gratitude must fill our very nostrils especially during this 2-week period.

Gassho