The Arts

FLAGS

 

Flags are separate symbols

that blow and wave, unfurl,

express our pretensions that

we, too, are separate,

country from country

body from body, mind from mind.

Our bars of belief and superstition

have bound us and in thrall to habit

we are ready to kill in the name of a priest,

an imam, a language, a symbol that flutters in the wind.

We must belong, see ourselves as having kinship

with others to protect from the draw of the jungle,

the real division from our true selves

that lies deep down in our true nature.

World Peace Flag

Why is there, one must ask, this division—the Russian, the American, the British, the French, the German, and so on—why is there this division between man and man, between race and race, culture against culture, one series of ideologies against another? Why?

Where is there this separation? Man has divided the earth as yours and mine—why? Is it that we try to find security, self-protection, in a particular group, or in a particular belief, faith? For religions also have divided man, put man against man—the Hindus, the Muslims, the Christians, the Jews and so on.

Nationalism, with its unfortunate patriotism, is really a glorified form, an ennobled form, of tribalism. In a small tribe or in a very large tribe there is a sense of being together, having the same language, the same superstitions, the same kind of political, religious system. And one feels safe, protected, happy, comforted. And for that safety, comfort, we are willing to kill others who have the same kind of desire to be safe, to feel protected, to belong to something.

This terrible desire to identify oneself with a group, with a flag, with a religious ritual and so on gives us the feeling that we have roots, that we are not homeless wanderers. – Krishnamurti, Krishnamurti to Himself, pp 59-60

 

FROM: WHEN SNOW MOUNTAINS WEAR BLACK HATS

 

May the blessings of the exalted sources of refuge,

The Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, the Three Jewels

And the Lama Yidam and Protectors, the three Roots,

Pacify the terrors of illness, famine, war

 

And chaos in the elements: the temperatures

Unbalanced, grand snow mountains – hard firm glaciers –

Will melt and disappear. Rivers and lakes

Will become parched, so the primeval forests

 

And trees of beauty too, will near their deaths.

There is the terrifying danger the world’s reaches

Will become a great wasteland. May these imminent

Dangers  be fully extinguished, and sublime

 

Good fortune and happiness spread all around.

May all beings nurture one another lovingly

And kindly, so their joy may fully blossom.

May all their aims be fulfilled, in accordance with the dharma.

 

Requested by John Stanley

Composed by Kanchen Thrangu Rinpoche

Translated by  David Karma Chopel.

At Thrangu Monastery Kathmandu, Nepal  2006

 

From ‘When Snow Mountains Wear Black Hats –  A Buddhist Response to Global Warming’.   J. Stanley D. R. Loy, G.Dorje  Prajna Press , Ireland 2008.

 

love Annie

 

 

THE BRIG

For those who like to see things in a unity, and in time for the opening of the beautiful Queensferry Crossing in a few hours, here is the entire sequence of the Brig poems:

The Brig

I

Too often the ford had been impassable.
The river tormented with a thunderous divide
between the landholds of opposing tribes
that weighed their worth in lineage and cattle.

Wild weathers brought them together at last;
deep quarrels of blood were cast aside
so the need of exchange could override
the lust for revenge through constant battle.

They gathered up stones that the hills had shed,
assessing their value by texture and grain,
and split them to size with wedges, not swords.

With each side anchored by the river’s bed,
on a scaffold of pine they arched a span
locking a keystone stronger than words.

©Angus D H Ogilvy August 2017

II

On crystal days the bridge and the water
made a circle of light in which birds and
insects, air and thought might pass through time
without a single ripple of reflection.

People came, not to traverse the bridge, but
to be where the gurgling silence was full
and to wait with no burden of expectation till
the moon would tremble the halo with glow.

Lovers met there where arms reached out
and touched, and pilgrims on their way
to penance stopped for ceremonies
of soft water and the sanctuary of trees.

When rain roared with the river in full flow,
fox spirits crossed on the parabola of night.

©Angus D H Ogilvy August 2017

III

Stones don’t groan, but there are times when
the load placed on them calls out for a sound
to complement the burden of enforced departure,
the weight that presses in a bitter leaving,
to harmonise with the lament of grinding wheels
and shuffling feet against greased cobbles,
the scrabbling masses of submissive sheep
squeezed through parapets towards course shearing.

Dragoons and brigands on iron shod horses
clattered across with cloaked intentions;
and hearses, too, rigid as covered guns,
returned for burials in the heart of the glen.

With the advent of engines, the brig, disused,
decayed, evoked in photographs of then.

©Angus D H Ogilvy August 2017

IV

Sometimes it seems that the brig is one
with the stone from which it sprung, as if
the rock was reaching to rejoin itself after
the wearing of millennia of water.

There is a fragile solidity to
the cupping of time in a curve that lifts
the whole of the sky as an offering
to be passed to the clasp of another
in a gentle continuum of transference.

Or is it, perhaps, the space that wears away,
and time that erodes to wasted sand
with the water as its messenger;
and emptiness that makes the solid
of the hole in the stone it leaves behind?

©Angus D H Ogilvy August 2017

V

People stopped to marvel at the skeleton
of the brig, how its rickle of stones still stood
in defiance of gravity and hard weather.

Coaches and minibuses spilled out tourists.
Soon it was listed amongst a selection
of ‘must see sites’. Guides were hired to invent crude
myths of secret trysts and black bloody deeds with their
associated hauntings. Teens on study trips
queued at caravans for brigburger
specials and chips. Engineers sweated
to preserve the brig’s dilapidated state
in perpetuity. Nothing could be allowed to disturb
its rich antiquity, the wealth it created.

Pipers piped pibrochs, donations gratefully accepted.

©Angus D H Ogilvy August 2017

VI

The dome of a morning was stirred by a note
that hollowed the bowl of hills and fields.
It loomed as though through a ring of fog;
an upwelling out of the stubborn soil
shivering dying grasses with impending;
water being strummed in a goblet of innocence;
the songbreath of an aeolian vowel
captured in the curvature of a bell.

Horses snorted, stamped, drew back their ears;
dogs turned docile, lolled below lintels,
their jaws held tight to the tremulous earth;
birds cocked their heads, refrained from flying.

Wind touched a wavering harmonic in the brig,
brushed the tension in its stone with a fingertip.

©Angus D H Ogilvy August 2017

VII

When the support about the keystone crumbles,
and the dressed blocks of the arch collapse
into the rough and tumble of the torrent,
once again we’ll have to learn to stumble
over the random stepping stones, and clasp
at overhanging foliage to prevent
being taken by that relentless force
of water thrusting from the thunder of the gorge.

By then we’ll have forgotten the beauty of the bridge.
Our attention will be focused on the placement of our feet,
balancing the power we’ll need to take those leaps
of faith that sudden bursts of courage,
and a fixed will to succeed, should help us reach
those paths we lost through arrogance, conceit.

©Angus D H Ogilvy August 2017

VIII

Once there was a brig here. That much is known.
We find it in the lore of stories told round fires
after the inundations, the re-formation of the ice.

Who envisaged it, who argued its cause,
who laid down the gold, who worked it, all are lost
to time and fern and moss with those who loved
and fought in consequence that it was here.

Water has renewed the great divide.

What remains is a bridge of mist,
the suspended condensation of a truth
emerging like a halo out of night,

What continues is the conjunction
of all that hangs upon the arch of a rainbow,
a perfect precision of art, and light.

©Angus D H Ogilvy August 2017

 

 

 

angusAngus was born in Glasgow, grew up in Galloway, and was educated in Edinburgh and Dundee. He has had a career in education which included 25 years as an international school teacher and administrator in Spain, China, Nepal, Indonesia and Zimbabwe. Since winning his school poetry prize in his youth, he has had an abiding interest in poetry and his poems have appeared in various publications.  He returned to Edinburgh in 2008 and spends his time writing, doing voluntary work, and addressing conferences, seminars and symposiums about the patient experience of cancer using his poetry as an aid to communication. He has recently published a collection of poems, Lights in the Constellation of the Crab and House Clearing by Moonlight, in aid of Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres.

 

SOWING THE SEED: SITAR ROSE

“Sowing the Seed” is the follow up to “Blue Poppy” a film following the journey of traditional Tibetan doctors who came to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh in 2008 to learn how to cultivate their endangered wild medicinal plants.The project was conceived by Choye Akong Tulku Rinpoche who co- founded the Samye Ling Tibetan Centre in Scotland and Rokpa Charity which works in the Tibetan areas of China to support education,medicine,nourishment and culture.
The Tibetan doctors who studied in Edinburgh tell the story of the challenges of building a plant nursery from scratch since 2011and how they are now starting to see the fruit of their labour. They are dedicated to continuing Akong Rinpoche’s vision of preserving Tibetan plants and medicine for generations to come.

Sitar Rose: Openhand Productions

 

SIKKIM HAIKU SEQUENCE PART 2

(Written by Maeve O’Sullivan on the month long retreat with Donal Creedon and Ringu Tulku Rinpoche at the Bodhicharya Retreat Centre, January 2017)

January sunshine…

leaves still falling

roses in bloom 


***


humming a tune…

I haven’t played a guitar

since Kathmandu 


***


‘Meditate on the sun’:

his words on page 99

awash with sunlight 


***


teaching on emptiness –

the wind fills a curtain 

for a short while


***


evening meditation howling jackals break our silence 


***


change in the weather –

three pairs of stripey socks

in the yoga room


***


3am
 thunderstorm   its eerily quiet aftermath 


***


morning silence –

inside, pans clattering 

outside, the thrush’s song  


***


the day after 

Rinpoche’s departure –

cloudy and cool


***


breakfast outside:

would you like some scrambled egg

little green spider?


***


chanting from a Hindu temple  St. Bridget’s Day


*** 


last day of retreat:

gusts of wind release leaves

onto the newly-swept path 

 

Dubliner Maeve O’Sullivan’s work has been widely published and anthologised for twenty years. Her collections  poetry (Vocal Chords, 2014), are from Alba Publishing. www.twitter.com/maeveos

haiku

Maeve O’Sullivan’s new collection of haiku poetry, A Train Hurtles West, is available from the publisher, Alba Publishing (info@albapublishing.com). 30% of profits go to Ringu Tulku Rinpoche’s charity Rigul Trust (www.rigultrust.org). You can find Maeve on Twitter (@maeveos). Her blog post Why Haiku? is available here: bogmanscannon

ODE TO MANCHESTER: Ani Rinchen Khandro

The blood of Irish, Catholic immigrants
And Russian, Jewish refugees
Flows through the veins of this Buddhist nun,
A seeker of wisdom, compassion and peace,

Whose path has encircled the world and alights
Now in Edinburgh, where it has stayed.
But my heart cries out for Manchester,
For Manchester where I was made.

And I weep to see your suffering,
Caused by minds deluded by hate,
Yet tears of sadness are mixed with pride,
Seeing what makes my hometown so great.

Strength and kindness in adversity,
That brave, indomitable spirit,
Bred by love that welcomes diversity,
All embellished with pithy, street wit.

Mancunia, Mancunia!
That fortress of northern souls,
Your red brick streets and fields of dreams,
Bear witness to impossible goals.

In grief we stand united,
United we’ll rise from the ruins,
Like so many who’ve gone before us,
For in Manchester, that’s how we do things.

by Ani Rinchen Khandro, AKA Jackie Glass, Mancunian.

A Muslim comforts an elderly Jewish woman (Independent News)

 

 

Makara

NOVEMBER 22, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-11-21 at 10.57.18 PM.png
Calligraphy: Sincerity, Serenity, Fairness, Enlightenment and Benevolence 

This poem was inspired by the opening chapters of the Infinite Life Sutra, which outline Dharmakara’s (Amitabha) creation of the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss.

In a time before time began,
In a distant faraway land,
There reigned a wise sovereign
Most mighty and valiant,
Honored by many as the
World’s Bounty and Mercy.
Upon hearing the Dharma
Of Lokeshvararaja Buddha,
He melted into joyful repose
And cast aside desire’s shadow,
The fetters of the world’s cares,
And vowed to become the heir
Of the True and Utmost Way!
Thus, he abandoned his crown,
Robed himself a humble monk,
And marched forth upon the Way,
Cultivating through night and day
Until he became the renowned
Bodhisattva Dharmakara.
With profound wisdom peerless,
Faith and patience matchless,
He swiftly mastered the Dharma,
Rose far beyond the Samsara
And high above the snares of Mara.
In triumph, he sought the Buddha
And piously vowed and bowed before
Him, revering his great grandeur:

“The Buddha’s august demeanor
Is wondrous without compare,
His halo the ten quarters illume,
Bright beyond the luminous moon
And the lucent beams of high noon,
The World Honored One’s voice
Enlightens all beings to rejoice
Within the Dharma in native speech,
And he appears to all and each
In the body of their honored liege.
I yearn to emulate you and preach
Sermons of Dharma to everyone,
Without bounds like the shining sun,
To teach Sila, Samadhi and Viriya,
The profound and potent Dharma.
Wisdom as vast and deep as the sea,
Heart neither stained nor weary,
Gliding o’er oceans of sin and woe,
To the halcyon shores of Bodhi,
Untainted by gloomy wrath,
Unfettered by lustful avarice,
And blessed with serene Samadhi.
I shall follow the footsteps of the
Infinite Buddhas who precede me
And act as a great guiding light
For the masses, to be their sight,
Uprooting the temporal bequeath
Of birth, old age, illness and death,
Always generous and ever virtuous,
With diligence and eternal patience,
Forever within Samadhi and Prajna,
Faithfully abiding by the Six Paramitas,
Bestowing Bodhi upon the dull and lost,
And lifting Sages into the Buddha host!
As he who rains alms upon the Sangha
Is less than he who becomes a Buddha
Through single-minded faith,
I vow to in diligent Samadhi stay,
And glow brightly with everlasting light,
I shall build a splendrous paradise
Unrivaled across the universe entire,
To serve as a refuge of lasting respite
For those benighted in the Samsara!
With kindness I will shatter every klesha
Of every poor soul tortured by dukkha.
I shall not waver for I am determined
To shoulder every pain and burden,
So let the Buddha be my witness!”

After hearing Dharmakara’s great
And dauntless resolve and praise,
The Buddha arose from his Dais,
Gleaming with utmost admiration
For the one before him who is salvation
To the endless many lost in perdition.
He then declared:

“Your vows are not made in vain,
For even the oceans can be emptied
By but one who bails unceasingly,
And all its hidden pearls revealed,
What is there the sincere cannot attain?
I will show you the path and Way
To your glorious and imperious day!”

And so the Buddha parted the sky and
Revealed to Dharmakara every plane
Of rebirth, each and every Buddha Land,
All the galaxies, worlds and Sagely domains,
Revealing their cities, peaks, gorges and seas,
Their prairies, hills and fertile valleys,
The villas of devas dancing in divine weal,
The nature and condition of their peoples,
Unveiling their barren ghostly ruins, animal
Kingdoms and bleak narakas most infernal.
Uncovering all of their vices and virtues,
So that Dharmakara may with ease build
A pure and gilded land of wondrous bliss,
Free from evil and woe, a supreme harbor
Of every good found across the ten quarters.
The Buddha then said: “Pronounce your vows!”

“For the relief of all sentient beings,
Including those mired in the suffering
Of hellish, ghostly and beastly rebirth,
I have built a Pure Land of true mirth,
Open to all who are willing to share my
Merits and forfeit darkness for light!
I have paved for you fine gilded roads
Of precious stones, purple and gold,
For you I have filled rivers and lakes
With cool azure waters of soft ripples,
Swirling with fragrant flowers most graceful,
With beds of aurulent sand, and laid
Before you villas, pavilions and canopies,
Groves of beryl, emerald and agate trees
That ruffle and sway in the blissful breeze,
Adorned by jade leaves and scented petals,
Berries of Mani-jewels and crystal.
I give you clear skies and peerless paradise,
A glorious afterlife of endless delight,
With singing songbirds perched on amber arbors,
Humming hymns with lyrical harmony
And the most soothing of melodies!
I bless all who arrive in my land with
August, aurulent and ethereal bodies
Untainted by the greed, fear and foul odors
That flesh, desire and delusion harbors,
I bless thee with all the powers of Bodhi,
Its wisdom, eminence, bliss and glory,
Its serene Samadhi and tranquil purity!
Divine provision shall appear on demand
And so too the finery and robes of my land.
Any being who chants my Buddha-name,
Wholeheartedly abandons evil and repents
With faithful resolve, shall enter my domain
And rise to Sagehood upon the Lotus Lagoon.
I am Amitabha and my vows have come to pass!”

Upon hearing Amitabha’s august vows,
The entire assembly before him bowed,
Moved to joyous tears by his great resolve!
They beheld his unsurpassed compassion,
His merciful uprooting of all evil passions,
Granting each the chance to taste the Samadhi
Of the highest, most true and utmost Bodhi!
On this glorious and regal Dharma day,
The Earth shook in the six auspicious ways,
Gleaming gods and goddesses were seen
Gliding over the stars stroking harp-strings,
The ethereal heavens soon resounded with
Gilded notes of splendid divine bliss,
And the courts of the heavenly lords feted,
Raining down golden lilies like confetti!

Poem released into Public Domain

I started translating Chinese Mahayana Pure Land Buddhist sutras in 2014 after realizing that many important  sutras and scriptures that I had long taken for granted were mostly unavailable in the West. What had begun as a project for a short tractate turned into a delightful three year odyssey of translations, essays, poems, discussions  and correspondence with new friends. All of my posts, articles, translations, poems and essays are free and in the Public Domain, and I encourage other authors to donate their works into the Public Domain as well. In October of last year, a Dharma friend encouraged me to start a blog to serve as a doorway to my translations, and that is how this blog started.
Taipei, Taiwan

purelandsutras.wordpress.com/blog/

 

THE MIDDLE WAY BY TIMOTHY BARROW

I took a road

Called middle way

Where two arrows pointed up:

One for Svatantrika

One for Prasangika.

My road map said:

Try both ways

Don’t turn off

Head for both

But which one? I asked.

Later that night

Rose a full moon:

Its light shone a fine thin beam

Between two closed shutters

Where a tiny gap has always abided.

I live in Portsmouth. I go to a Bodhicharya group in Bosham, West Sussex, and have been going since it began in 1998. I have been interested in Tibetan Buddhism for nearly 30 years, mainly within the Gelug Pa tradition and originally started going to a group that met in Southsea in the late 1980s. My main areas of interest within Buddhism are the Two Truths, and Emptiness.  I have also been writing poetry for much longer, around 36 years, and I go to a couple of local open mic nights.
I work in a young person’s hostel on the night reception.

Poetry by Balach “Thutob” Kohjar

 

Stream Enterer
a hundred paths, a thousands tricks,

the sea is green, the sky blue,

many years for a moment.

Remembrance
How does the past delight and haunt, but as a thought?

How else do you experience future, but as a thought?

It is all real, but not really,

Seeing that, we continue playing.

Letting go of perfection, and of rejection,

Engage appropriately, contented, equanimous.

Acknowledging the role, joyfully we play,

Knowing it, thoroughly we love.

Continue mindfully, skilfully,

Until wisdom comes without effort.

No two sufferings, no two sufferers,

With compassion, we end, even the idea.

Wonder, wonder at the space,

Inner and outer, there is no boundary.

That too is a thought, remember!

Seeing that, letting go, be free. be. free.

What then remains? just the suchness,

I drink to the smiling stars, the great Buddhas.

Thank you and have a beautiful time!

Poetry and Prose: Bruno Nua

Here is a poem I wrote after retreating in India and doing pilgrimage with Ringu Tulku Rinpoche and the Sangha around many of the Buddhist holy places in 2006/2007. [Many of his students might remember seeing it around that time]

Then some Haiku from the same period.

Next a poem about my mother and Bodhicitta, also from 2007.

 The last piece is a very short story i wrote with a Dharma theme.

None of these have been published before. I’d be delighted if you shared any or all of them, either now or as the need arises for material in the future.

WALKING WITH BUDDHA
[Lumbini]

Buddha is born in the here and now.
The trees and the blossoms, the forest bears witness.

[Kapilavastu]

The cocoon of the familiar, in time, is renounced
To wander and search in the vast present moment.

[Bodhgaya]

After so many gurus, exertion and hardship,
Stretched almost to breaking, you chose a new path.

Oh what a release just to sit on this cushion,
The simplest of grasses, beneath a great tree.

As every day opens to night, into daytime,
From evening to morning, from dusk into dawn,

The Mind also opens and drops all delusion.
The Heart lotus blossoms, all grasping released.

The morning star dawning, sun’s rays shine impartially,
Completely awake, free from all complexity.

So vivid and peaceful, in openness and contentment,
The true perfect Buddha is found in one’s heart.

[Sarnath]

The truth overflows and the parkland rejoices.
The deer all come closer to hear the good news:

The mind with its torments and all of its grasping,
Cut through by Awareness, for all time, is free!

[Rajgir]

A Song of Perfection is sung from the mountain
To valleys and hilltops, to trees, to the sky:

All things are empty and yet they appear,
Like so many rainbows, mirages, and dreams.

Remembering this, be a child of illusion,
With purest perception, beyond hope and fear.

Rejoice all who hear this, the plants and the stones,
The breezes that carry it in every direction.

The great panorama, the view, chants its answer:
Halleluia! Hosanna! Gloria! Amen!

Thus have I heard… Halleluia! Hosanna!
Thus it is my dear friend… Halleluia! Amen!

Gaté, gaté, paragaté,
Parasamgaté, bodhi, soha.

[Kushinagar]

Everything that is born also must die-
Kings, beggars, buddhas, and me.

A last sip of water, a few final teachings.
Oh child of illusion, remember these words:

You are the Buddha, remember, remember.
And you are Salvation, remember these words.

The deathless unending Nature of Mind,
Unborn and unceasing, with Nature like the Sky.

Sit like a mountain, reflect stars on the water,
Like the wings of an eagle about to take flight.

Rest in Natural Great Peace, my dear friend.
The Natural Mind is Pure Light, remember.

Lux aeterna, requiem aeternam,
Parasamgaté, bodhi, soha.

(Bruno Nua,

January 2007, India.)

………………

walking with buddha

through india and nepal

my soul sings for joy!

22.1.07

sitting in your cave

openness and contentment

not looking outside

19.12.06
Guru Rinpoche’s caves in Sikkim, India.

a grey moon shatters

the glass in the zendo door

my neighbour’s football

8.5.07

seasons come and go:

jessye, georgie, mikey, me.

another leaf drops

8.5.07

bamboo bends and sways

my house is blowing away

or is it just me?!

8.5.07

fireworks boom above

even the stars are frightened

a twig snaps below

22.1.07

puppies chasing dad

daddy snarls and growls and runs

i want, i don’t want

22.1.07

…………

Mammy

20 years after your death in 1987
I put pen to paper for the very first time.

I can barely imagine just how hard it must have been for you
To finally let go, that night, in your bed.

Your loved-ones have suffered great trauma and sadness
But those memories dimmed now we honour your life.

Mother

I love you so much and with utter devotion,
So grateful for everything you have given and taught me:

Be gentle and strong, live a good life, remember
your spirit – your True Nature – has always been pure.

Like an old ‘cine’ movie with bright colours fading,
A shining example, we remember your life.

Kathleen

You were always so loving and I was so selfish
But positive karma brought me into your home.

This one human life is so precious and rare.
I’m determined not to waste it – I promise you that.

I’ll live it with love and compassion, rejoicing,
In great equanimity – these 4 sentinels in mind.

Ma

I’ve day-dreamed of finding your reincarnation,
Loving and caring for them as you did for me.

But a more fitting tribute and commemoration
Would be to love all beings everywhere like each one was you,

As if each were my baby, and I was their mammy,
With the love of a mother, with all of my heart.

June 2007

……………..

 

a simple glass of water

The snow creaked and crunched underfoot as I made my way down along the path.

In all my life I had never been to such a spectacular place. The heavy sky was shining silver, full of change.

Special days like these were extremely rare indeed. Almost everything I did, I did for the first time. Arriving in India. The thick odour like burnt biscuits and ancient dirt that saturates the earth, the air, your hair. The chaos and misery of Delhi. Another flight further north. Then the 20 euro helicopter ride from Bagdogra up up to Gangtok – a happy, busy, little town clinging to the two sides of a Himalayan ridge, in the ancient kingdom of Sikkim. For all I knew, I might just as well have been in Afghanistan, or Kashmir, or Peru. But I had arrived, all in one day. I felt open and light.

From the first moment I read about you, I wanted to visit your monastery. I wanted you to merge your Tibetan wisdom mind with mine. I wanted you to explain the mysteries of life and the universe to me. I wanted, I wanted, I wanted.

But then – no sooner had I discovered Buddhism, during that fiasco of a mid-life crisis I had concocted, than I read on the internet that you had passed away. My imaginary new world began to implode. The teacher I was just about to choose to be my master, my lama, was dead. And I feared I may never get to the Land of Snows or even the foothills of the Indian Himalaya. Or worse still that I myself could die as foolish and ignorant as the day of my birth.

But I didn’t lose heart entirely. Without really knowing why, almost instinctively, I framed your photo in gold and moved it around the house till it settled on a low side-table beside the telly – the focus of the room – you always seemed to be smiling at me, wishing me well, reminding me never to give up on myself … my true self… under the surface.

After about a year I attended a Tibetan meditation group and learned to sit still, relaxed yet alert, while observing the natural flow of the breath. It became my new spiritual practice, my constant companion and new best friend. After a few months we were sitting around chatting after the class and I asked the meditation instructor if he had ever heard of you. He had. I dug deeper and such stories overflowed from him I could have sat there all night. Although I didn’t know you from Adam, I realised that my instincts had been right about you. You were indeed a living saint, a maha guru. My heart broke to think of all that might have been. Just as I was on the verge of tears the instructor concluded his tales with an almost throw-away punchline, ‘You know his reincarnation has been found. In France. She is the daughter of a homeless couple in Paris. They’re going to bring her and the parents to Gangtok in Sikkim so she can be trained in the Buddhist tradition and resume her work in her monastery there’.

I had so many questions: Reincarnated? A girl? Where’s Sikkim?

So now, less than 6 months later I am walking down that slippery slope, the snowy winding path that leads to your door. I have no clue what I am doing here really or what I hope to learn from a two year old. But here I stand.

The monastery gate is enormous. The wooden panels are painted red with intricate carvings around the edges in richest gold. The perimeter walls are so high I can’t even glimpse whatever lies beyond. So I pull the multicoloured braided rope that rings the bell that lets them know I have arrived.

After many long periods of waiting and trying again, I decide to tie a long string to the rope and sit below it, my back against the wall, in the shade of the late afternoon. Occasionally, I pulled on the string and rang the bell again. To no avail. I could hear the bell ring out across the valley to Rumtek and beyond the snowy peaks to Tashi Ding and the now-inaccessible retreat caves of Guru Rinpoché. After a while, although I kept on trying, I just settled patiently and without expectation, and observed the breath – letting go more and more with every exhale … Ah.

It occurred to me that either nobody was home, I wasn’t welcome or I was just going to have to go away and try again tomorrow. Before long I was asleep. Despite the sunset breaking through, there had been no melt whatsoever and it had started to snow again. A drift was forming against one side of me but still I didn’t wake up.

I did awaken suddenly though, with a dart of pain in my hip. A Tibetan monk was kicking me. He was shouting something and his boots were drawing blood. I couldn’t believe what was going on.

No. It’s a nightmare, I thought. This can’t be real. Eventually, I gathered he was very angry with me and wanted me to go away. I had imagined a much warmer welcome and was shocked to receive such a kicking from a monk into the bargain. I drew myself up to my full height and looked him in the eye. Now I was very angry.

‘I want to see my teacher – the little girl. I’ve come all the way from Ireland you idiot. Can’t you understand plain English?!’

He replied in Tibetan, equally unforgiving. It sounded like he was incanting some kind of a shamanic curse. The more I saw him as an obstacle to me, the more he appeared to see me as a nuisance, a hippy vagrant who was just looking for a free meal and a bed for the night. Then he marched off away from the monastery. He had shown me! I wouldn’t be hanging around there again in a hurry. Not if I knew what was good for me … I looked at him stomping off up the hill and wondered what on earth that was all about. Really, I just couldn’t believe it. My first day and I had been attacked by a monk – who seemed to be just passing by!

My head was spinning. I didn’t know which way was up. The monastery gate opened quietly and a smiling monk said: ‘Oh. Hello. How are you? Where come from?’

Honestly, I thought to myself. What the hell is this? Good monk bad monk?! I was beginning to lose the plot and couldn’t get a reply out.

‘Would you like to come in? Why didn’t you just push the gate and walk right in?’, he said. ‘It is always open. Were you ringing the bell? Have you been waiting for long? So sorry Dear, we never come when the bell rings. Everyone round here knows to just push open the gate and come in’.

Open? I thought to myself. Did you just call me Dear?

‘I was attacked! Kicked in the side, by that maniac monk’, I blurted. ‘Did you see him? Do you know who he is? Where’s the nearest police station? I want to report this. I’m not going to let him get away with it!’.

‘Oh yes. He is mad, poor thing. They let him live in the other monastery over that side’ – he gestured over the hills and far away – ‘out of compassion. Please forgive him. Please come inside and we’ll take a look at that hip’.

+

… The following day, I was told to wait in the Temple shrine-room while they went to arrange an audience for me with the girl. Soon they would bring her to me so I could receive her blessing. Now it was all much clearer. They knew who I was and what I wanted … even if Ididn’t. The senior monk’s last words before he left me were quite shocking. He said I had come too soon, that I should’ve waited at least 10 or 15 years until she actually had something to say. I was crest-fallen. He smiled and handed me a glass of water to sip.

My eyes wandered about the spacious room: the colourful brocade wall hangings, the throne-like raised seat, the large burnished Buddha beyond – his vast gaze beaming in every direction. I imagined what the child would look like when she arrived … a blue-eyed bundle wrapped in orange, wrapped in crimson … a fair-haired angel with pale porcelain skin.

Then my mind turned towards the drink in front of me – a simple glass of water.

A shaft of sunlight penetrated it exposing microscopic particles in the water that appeared to slowly settle and disappear altogether, revealing the natural clarity that had always been the water’s true nature.

I found myself mindfully investigating the water’s composition to see what else might be said to be in it. I concluded there was hydrogen and oxygen. They had somehow come together to allow the water to appear. But of course there is nothing called water therefore. It is simply the co-emergence of other less complex elements. These elements themselves could be further subdivided ad infinitum. I followed the logic til I concluded that everything in the universe, including myself, must be like that. Everything is compounded, and so inter-depends with everything else for its very existence. Nothing exists in its own right. My insight lead me to believe that, like the water, the very essence of all phenomena must be a combination of Pristine Clarity and Emptiness of self.

Just then, as the door opened, I realised maybe I had come far too soon. Maybe the hidden truth of water was the mystery I had come so far to unravel.
My mind seemed to drop away altogether as a giggling small black girl ran into my lap.

Bruno Nua [Tashi Rabjay], 2009.

 

I have been a professional Buddhist Philosopher and a student of RTR since the early 90s, i come from Dublin, and have been supporting the spread of the Dharma in Europe and Asia.  These days i am writing Buddhist Philosophy in the form of Dharma Contemplations, and writing novels with a dharma twist [I call the genre Dharma Noir].

 

 

 

The Buddha’s Masterplan

 

JANUARY 21, 2017

PURELAND SUTRAS

Beneath the sea of glistening stars,

Between the ethereal evening air,

Lies a forest of glowing dreams,

But as diverse and rich as they are,

None escape the same Moonbeam.

Under the lucent morning glow,

Roll waves of raving emotions,

Turbid fortunes and cruel woes,

The burning craving of billions,

Yet the same Sun illumines them all.

Princes, beggars and pretenders,

All dance their own tango with

Fortune’s jeering taunts and tantrums,

Each gambles to grapple with fate,

Yet upon the same soil they all tread.

The canopy of a grand old oak

Casts a wide and mighty shadow,

Ruffling with a myriad of leaves,

Adorned by blooming blossoms

That sprout in spring and wither in winter,

With branches amber in autumn,

Green in summer, and lean and bare

In Saturn’s season of barren frost.

Yet for all its lush richness, it still rests

Upon one abiding unchanging trunk.

 

So even as human affairs steer here and there,

And wander and meander like wetland streams,

The timeless source remains the same,

For all ripe fruits return to Buddha’s root.

Brian Chung
Taipei, Taiwan

https://purelandsutras.wordpress.com/blog/

 

 

Sikkim (haiku) Sequence

(Written by Maeve O’Sullivan on the month long retreat with Donal Creedon and Ringu Tulku Rinpoche at the Bodhicharya Retreat Centre, January 2017)

waxing wolf moon lighting the road to our retreat 

***

less cloudy today first sight of Kanchenjunga 

***

thunderclap!

the new prayer flags

get their first blessing 

***

walking meditation…

the cream-coloured butterfly

circles me twice

***

sitting practice –

a gust of wind sets

the yellow curtains dancing 

***

mini prayer flags…

white stitching camouflaged 

by the syllable ‘ma’

***

 

lunchtime salad:

the spring onion turns out to be

a hot green chilli!

***

more complaints 

about the honey…

still the level goes down 

***

steep ascent to the gate – 

the only sounds the wind

and my beating heart

***

afternoon tea break…

strains of Bollywood music

floating uphill

***

sweeping steps –

her camera catches me

in a shaft of sunlight 

***

early morning song

of a Himalayan bird:

‘I’m over here. Here!’

Dubliner Maeve O’Sullivan’s work has been widely published and anthologised for twenty years. Her collections  poetry (Vocal Chords, 2014), are from Alba Publishing. www.twitter.com/maeveos

haiku

Maeve O’Sullivan’s new collection of haiku poetry, A Train Hurtles West, is available from the publisher, Alba Publishing (info@albapublishing.com). 30% of profits go to Ringu Tulku Rinpoche’s charity Rigul Trust (www.rigultrust.org). You can find Maeve on Twitter (@maeveos). Her blog post Why Haiku? is available here: bogmanscannon

 

When You Are Old

 

 

william

 

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,

And nodding by the fire, take down this book,

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

 

How many loved your moments of glad grace,

And loved your beauty with love false or true,

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,

And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

 

And bending down beside the glowing bars,

Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled

And paced upon the mountains overhead

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.