Friday, February 29, 2008


In this moment there is nothing
which comes to be.
In this moment there is nothing
which ceases to be.
Thus, in this moment there is no birth
and death to be brought to an end.
Thus, there is absolute peace in this
present moment,
Although it is just this moment,
there is not limit to this moment.
And herein is eternal delight.
Hui Neng

Sitting and working in the priors office at Reading Buddhist Priory near London. It is getting late, I'm attempting to catch up on a weeks worth of unanswered emails. This quote popped out at me from her notice board earlier in the day. Now it can be on yours.

The photograph? Taken in the Chilterns north of Reading on Friday.
What is it? Not at all sure.

Monday, February 25, 2008


I've cast my vote, my choice for Canada Reads is Icefields by Thomas Wharton. Tom writes the blog The Logogryph which has Buddhist content I've linked to in the past. I support both the book and the author.

As for the nomination mentioned a couple of days ago. It went to the late Michael of One Foot in Front of the Other. The poem Fatigue was recommended to me by a sangha friend.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Complimentary Tea

Progress with the new Jademountains site is going ahead apace. It will however take me some time to learn how to 'drive' the new behind-the-scenes machinery. Nothing is hurting for Jade being off-line so there is no rush to open up the doors before all is ready.

Being away from the monastery and my usual daily schedule provides me with an opportunity to contemplate the direction I'd like to take in terms of my on-line activities. It's likely I'll continue to write chat-over-a-cup-of-tea style and perhaps there will be more overt Buddhist teaching as well.

Now traveling down through England on the east coast line. Somehow I've been seated in the First Class section of the train and nobody wants to move me. Tea madam? I'm asked. Yes, with milk please, I reply. How much will that be? Oh that's complimentary, as is the Wifi connection to the Internet. Uh! here comes the tea trolley again.

Thinking about it the nomination of Movingmountains for an 'award', as mentioned yesterday, is complimentary in the other meaning of the word. Not something to get all worked up about of course however it is helpful to know the Buddhist blogger community thinks what is written here is worth looking at.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Blogisattva Awards

Well here is a bit of fun, Moving Mountains has been nominated in the following category for the 2008 Blogisattva Awards.

Best Achievement Blogging in the First Person [as a diarist; writing of events in one's life; offering thoughts; or by venturing out into the world, gonzo style]; 5 nominees; [blog, blogger]:
Hardcore Zen; Brad Warner
Integral Options Cafe; William Harryman
Kathmandu for You; michael smith
Moving Mountains; Mugo
One foot in front of another; Michael

I only found out about this nomination by accident while I was poking about this evening trying to see if I could still login to Technorati and a couple of other sites I'm signed up with.

Here is how I describe Moving Mountains on Technorati for your interest: Spiritual encouragement to walk the every-day Way of the Buddha's and Ancestors within Soto Zen as practiced within the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives. Offered by Mugo, a female priest in good standing within the OBC.

I'll be on the train heading south tomorrow and may not be able to post until Thursday or Friday. In the mean time I think it is worth taking a look at the sites that have been nominated in other categories.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Minor Miracle of Modern Life

When I typed in a recent blog entry hose instead of host, bogging instead of blogging I knew my brain was close to the edge of optimal functioning. When I hear today that I'd mained (there I go again) a package of valuable items addressed with just a name and a neighbourhood I know for sure my brain is spent, but not completely. (I'll be taking a break during March BTW.)

Thankfully the wonderful G.P.O., the Royal Mail, took up the challenge and delivered my package. Is that not a minor miracle of modern life? It proves that organizations can be intelligent and responsive in ways one might think have been lost in the rush. My package went into the slow lane and reached it's destination non the less. Is there something to be learnt here?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

When the Day is Over

Meditation may not be for you. It is boring, it is difficult, it is confronting. But it is also a few other things, things that I will leave up to you to experience.
Yes life is short, but it is deep.

Thanks Ed in Australia.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Living with Pain

For many people physical pain is ever present in their lives, it is something they feel they could well live without. However there are those who have learnt not only how to live with pain but find it has helped them to deepen their practice. Recently a book, Turning Suffering Inside Out A Zen approach to living with physical and emotional pain, came into my hands. It's written by a woman who knows what she is talking about, she is also a teacher of Buddhism connected to the San Francisco Zen Center. Here between the covers can be found practical advice and accessible Buddhist teaching for all. I've made a note to read it all the way through. In the mean time here is a taste.

Darlene became bedridden with rheumatoid arthritis gradually needing more and more help with basic daily life activities such as cleaning, doing laundry and washing her hair. At first, my conscious life was all pain. Acknowledging the pain and its power eventually allowed me to explore my body fully and find there actually were experiences in my body beside the pain--here is pain, here is bending, here is breath, here is movement, here is sun warming, here is unbearable fire, here is tightness--something different where ever I looked....I kept telling myself this must be the world of babies and animals. Everything is fresh and fascinating.

Darlene Cohen writes about pain in a recent edition of the magazine Buddhadharma, as does Bhikkhu Bodhi and others.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Lonely Moon

Walking along the lane to the second meditation period. Six forty and light is in the sky, rosie red on the rim of the Eastern moors. Gazing around, the moors to the West are pink frost. All is quiet, not a sound, no bird song, not a hint of wind. So very still, whisper still. The moors draw my eyes further westward and then WHAM! what a surprise, the moon is resting on the horizon. How did that get there? It's a huge round orb, yellow-orange hanging in space, what a treat.

Morning moons are not sulky or moody like the night ones. At Shasta the moon over the mountain at night could have had even the hard hearted out writing poetry about loneliness and lost love. I just gazed at it in awe. But the morning moon, this mornings moon, had me wanting to scuttle back for my cameras - still and video. Silently I walked on congratulating myself for my restraint. Meditation comes first, the choice was clear, it wasn't a struggle.

This post is for the late mother of one of the monks. Some of her belongings and the contents of her food cupboards came here today to find a home. It's important for a deceased persons belongings to be cared for with respect and love. My teacher once said the belongs of the newly dead should not be lonely. By that I understood her to mean one should not abandon items out of hand but to give things a home where they will be taken care of. I have an old biscuit tin, which I love.

Perhaps it is good to remember not to abandon ourselves to loneliness. Just a thought.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Mountains Have Been Moved

You know how it is when you know it's time to move house but well, you think of a million good reasons to stay where you are. Who likes change? Who enjoys packing up and moving and then having to learn new ways. That's how it has been with both Moving Mountains and also Jade Mountain. Each for different reasons needed to be moved, it was that or build on extensions to both of them!

Today with deft hand and steely nerve, the content of Moving Mountains was copied from here to Jade Mountains by a kind volunteer in Texas. When all is ready and presentable the doors of Jade Mountains will be opened and I'll blog on. There will be more options to post audio, video and a whole host of other stuff. Gently as she goes though, we don't want to scare the horses.

Here is how the move was made:

We have a minor miracle here (in Texas). Your moving mountains posts are now in drupal. To do this I had to install two different versions of wordpress, import your blogger content into wordpress 2.3, export that and import it into wordpress 2.2, then export it again. After that I had to install special software to convert the content into the drupal format, break your content into 5 sections and run the program for several hours - while not being sure that the whole process would work. Now I remember why I decided to move out of programming and into management.

Well done, and more thanks than I can say.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Age Will Not Weary

When my mother reached 60 she was jubilant. Any reductions for O.A.P.'s? she'd ask, fairly much anywhere she might be in with a chance. She'd be proud of me to-day since I applied for my National Bus Pass Scheme pass at the local Council offices in Hexham. Senior Citizens (over 60?) have long been able to travel free locally during off peak times. Come April 1st that privilege will be extended to cover all of England. The woman at the council offices praised the scheme, Helps them get out of the house she said, then looking at me and realizing I was about to be 'one of them' moderated here enthusiasm. Well obviously I'm talking about the elderly, not the younger ones (like you?). All taken in good part and I've not quite achieved 60 years however when I do I'll be ready to climb aboard and proudly, jubilantly, show my fancy new pass. There are amazing opportunities to be thrifty. I wonder what my dear mother would make of all this. Born in 1908, would she have embraced the Internet had she lived on?

O.A.P? = Old Age Pensioner, a term we tend not to use these days.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Preparation for Retreating in Traffic

In March 1997, the year after my teacher died, I stayed at our hermitage in the mountains of Northern California. I'm glad I made the time to reflect on her passing and benefited greatly from the opportunity to concentrate on just sitting. Her death, like any death, brought about profound changes for those remaining. The retreat time helped me to adjust and redirect, it was however a testing time both spiritually and physically. Being out in the woods on my own dealing with the complexities of running a generator and 'fetching' the water from a distant hillside via a garden hose, not to mention the wild life, all contributed towards an interesting time! I remember particularly the day I caged a small mouse and walked three miles to liberate it so it might live, but not return? Being on retreat in such conditions is not all one might imagine, the stress of simple survival and the fear of not doing so can occupy a mind. Yes and it is sometimes 'good' to retreat in solitude, to be with oneself and 'be', especially when life changing events are calling for some reflection.

Yesterday during a conversation I remembered how I'd come out of my first retreat, in Wales as it happens, knowing I could live with myself. Not a small realization which comes in handy when sitting in stationary traffic on the M25 for unending hours. Of course knowing this is not dependent on camping out on a mountain side in bear infested woods, but it does press the issue, as does being stationary on the M25.

For those of you who have a yen to retreat alone Solitary Spiritual Retreat Facilities is a good first stop. Or if closer to home, your back garden for example, is all you can manage Shedworking is an absolute must. Or if you are bonkers about sheds anyway do take a look, but be warned reading about sheds is addictive. I was particularly pleased to see outhouses have been included on this site.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

We're Smokin'

Why do some stars twinkle? Why do some cycle through yellow, cyan and magenta so impressively? Thus we ponder this evening, my walking monk companion and I. We spin on the subject of stars and colour balance and photo printing for awhile, we then move on. There is no lack of subjects to talk about as we walk in the dark. One sojourn with this monk and I have enough material for a blogging week. For some odd reason the thought of smoking a cigarette came to mind towards the end of our walk. I've not lit up for over 30 years and have no intention of starting again, however old thoughts surface, and pass. Not a problem.

Walking up the lane after meditation this evening the stars were no longer visible, the sulky moon no where to be seen. The whole valley is filled with smoke, somewhere something is burning. This is unusual and no doubt we'll hear about it.

But what is really smokin' (an American expression I believe) is the behind the scenes work on both this site and Jade Mountains. Heavens! if I hadn't been so busy this past week(s) I'd have been occupying myself trying to understand the process of the two sites becoming one site. So, very soon this page will be looking rather different. I hope you will remain patient while all of this is happening. I cannot pretend to know what this development means in practice however it feels to me as dramatic as a house on fire. What will be left when the smoke clears?

Many thanks to my friend in Texas, a fellow Buddhist blogger and all round generous chap, who is beavering away behind the scenes in his spare time. And thanks also to my walking companion who helps me unstintingly in so many ways.