Sangha

One definition is those who walk the way with you. More specifically and correctly it refers to the monks and lay people, male and female who follow the Buddha’s teaching, who may come together in  Buddhist communities. I’m using it in the broader way. We walk our way together straight – fabulous Sangha sisters.

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The next day after the gathering for the Kwan Yin festival we went for a walk in the hills. Selfies were done. Then, a walk in the hills complete with a picnic lunch on the Thompson River.

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From Kamloops, from Vancouver and from the wee house. Converging to celebrate the festival and be grateful. Pretty good.

 

 

 

This Place

 

by Jennifer Firestone

This place previously in a vision      Wet pen drawn at the line
A place religiously tied     religiously religiously
A person, place or thing
Bring thy pebble or thy flowers or thy inscription
Bring bring bringeth your love
Dear ones bringeth your love
Ashes to trees
The trees!

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The Chinese cemetery in Ashcroft has been beautifully restored. There has been great care taken with cleaning up the grave sites and a talented local artist is responsible for the dragon and the tiger you see on the altar. The central plaque details the formal apology the provincial government offered in 2014, an apology for centuries of racist practises, both institutional and on the part of the citizenry.  The cemetery sits right next to the train tracks, up on the hill out of the village.

One offers incense without lighting it, given the extreme fire risk in this windswept region. It struck me that this is a place that would benefit from offerings of merit.  I recommend a stop and a walk around if one is in the area.

 

The poem was one of the daily ones I get by email, seemed to fit.

The Cariboo Road

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Hard to believe isn’t it? This is the beginnings of the road that I drove yesterday, taking oh, about three hours to get to Lytton from Vancouver. The road took three years to complete, and took weeks to accomplish what a fast car and light traffic does in barely any time at all.

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View of the meeting of the rivers, the Fraser and the Thompson yesterday.

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This statue has travelled much further than that. It comes from the Rajgir area of India, not too far from Vulture Peak. From there to here – many miles. I had no altar cloth so a handwoven towel will do for now. In our practice we light incense so that it may permeate the surroundings. This particular type of incense is used at a lot of the temples I visit, and while subtle, being a light Japanese pine incense, it immediately invokes home. This was the first incense lit at this particular place.

 

 

 

 

Sewing as a Kind of Practice.

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In our particular practice after the first meditation of the day we place a small vestment on our heads and recite a short set of words. Those who have formally taken the Buddhist precepts in our tradition do at least. Other Buddhists do it other ways.

Anyhow, when its done in our tradition, this taking of the Precepts formally, the small vestment called a wagesa is given to the person as part of a ceremony. When I received mine, I didn’t give much thought to where the wagesa came from. I had my mind on other things. I’ve never forgotten the kind eyes of the monk who gave it to me and placed it around my neck – “come a little closer” he said. I think he just needed to get at my neck, I was sitting a bit back but honestly, those words have stuck, and they have been taken as a teaching too.

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I have bemoaned my sewing skills on this blog in the past. And frankly I doubt I have the interest to follow up on this. I have had opportunities do more sewing and it seems I would rather spend the time on new knitting techniques, learning to weave, doing other things.

Wagesas though, are essentially long slim tubes. Straight lines, a bit of ironing. And within this simple sewing it is interesting how the whole gamut of daily life, how thoughts come and go through my poor old brain as I sew.

These objects are cared for deeply. When somebody makes the decision to take the Precepts formally its a big deal. I can’t even begin to imagine what goes through someone’s mind when they do this. All I know is how momentous it was for me, with reverberations continuing to this day.

I have been offered help on the knots – they are Chinese knots of eternity. Not that hard to make, but a bit tougher to connect and sew onto the wagesa so they look tidy and dignified.

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Sewing this morning was good. I wonder who made my wagesa all those years ago.

The Thousand Hands, in a Glass Shop

The car spent some time in the glass place today, which meant a wait and an opportunity for a good long walk. Fraser Street is not the first place one thinks of for an urban hike, at least this end of it. One either strolls past the plumbing shops or heads for the cemetery.

This photo, which I retouched for privacy’s sake gave me good pause for thought.
Look at the dates. (His: 1964. Hers: 2007. In case the photo can’t be read.)

That’s a lifetime’s difference.

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This new set of clothing, this uncomfortable suit of widowhood, it scratches and pinches and does not fit just yet.

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This one is a monument to a beloved wife and mother and was likely placed at the same time as the trees that shelter it. I read the inscriptions in the heavy rain as I waited for the car.

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The thousand arms as depicted in this statue represent compassion. There are implements in each of the hands, and some statues depict each hand with an eye in the palm, showing that all is seen. Its a way of demonstrating the myriad ways we are all helped.

The car was picked up and the (significant) leak fixed for less than quoted. It immensely relieved this stressed mind, given the records we are setting for rainfall.

Knitting etc. to come.

(Photo of Avalokiteswara lifted from the internet, not sure which temple it is from.)

Mustard Seed Story – Starbucks Version

At the big name coffee shop at the grocery store there is a barista. She has worked there for quite a while, some of the customers call her by name. She’s a bit older, and has a rather kind face, though you can see that life has touched her. She is consistently courteous and patient even when the lines up are long. When I was there this morning she asked each customer if they had a good holiday season. It was a bit busy so the answers were of the “oh yeah, fine variety.” On my turn, as I waited I asked her if she had a good holiday. She met my eyes, and we smiled at each other for a heartbeat or two. Then she kind of laughed and said “oh yeah, fine. But I am glad it’s over.”

In a small coffee shop one eavesdrops without meaning to. A few customers after me, as I sat and drank my americano, an obviously regular guy came in, he was one of the ones who knew her name. The barista asked him about his holiday season as well. He clearly just needed to talk – was at that stage of the game where one just needs to say it out loud. I heard a bit of it, how “she was on the floor for two days…she won’t be coming home they say…” and tellingly: “its all I can think about right now.”

Just another rainy day at the coffee shop. So – try to find a household where grief has not been felt, where sorrow has not landed, where being human is not a mix of joy and pain. Kind of gives one perspective.

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Sweater done, and fits. And the snow on the mountains around Lynn Creek the other day – just beautiful.