Friday, April 27, 2007

Living the Teaching

Towards the end of my masters life I was fortunate to be one of her assistants. We were based at Shasta Abbey in Northern California. As an assistant, or Chaplain as we term that function, I spent a great deal of time in her company, basically doing what needed to be done.

One autumn I went back to England to visit my parents and I stayed at the Reading Priory where I'd been the Prior before returning to Shasta. One of the priory members greeted me with enthusiasm and said how wonderful it must be to be around my master and receive teaching from her. I cast my mind back and forth and couldn't remember anything specific she'd said about Buddhism in my presence. Then out popped, We are not getting the teaching, we are living the teaching! That was the truth of it although only at that moment did I realise it.

My master wrote a diary while she was training in Japan as a young monk. An edited version, titled The Wild White Goose, makes it very clear that learning about Buddhism is predominately a practical matter. A reader recently wrote his own review of the book.