Dharma Glimpse by Dayamay Dunsby
As I set out for a walk in the rain during a period of covid convalescence the other day, I realised that I was too cold without my hat. I had already walked about 100 yards but turned back and trapsed upstairs to find a suitable covering to protect my balding head from the elements.
When I set off again, I realised, in my weakened state that my legs were too cold and I could already feel dampness in my jeans as the wind drove sheets of rain sideways into me. So I made my way back to the house to get another layer.
After a third trip back to get a brolley, I was finally set to enjoy some quality time in nature, despite the continuous nagging of my worry, reminding me how fragile I was.
When I emerged out of the front door it had stopped raining altogether and the wind had dropped significantly. I suddenly felt overdressed, too hot and bored of the idea of having a walk.
However, I was somewhat amused by what felt like a universal conspiracy to teach me a lesson about my human nature. I realised that this is a pattern that repeats itself over and again in my life. I try to insulate myself against suffering, building defences in every direction, only to find that the worst of my troubles has tunneled underneath, undermining the very ground that I stand on!!
But what is the lesson here? Because I don’t believe that it can be to reach an attitude of indifference towards the trials and tribulations of being human. Or to be more efficient in the defences that we create, ensuring that we’re ready, come what may.
I think it is more just a gentle nod, a friendly pointer, towards the fact that we are not, and never can be, fully in control of our circumstances. It is uncertainty itself that prepares us for adversity. And adversity that informs the way we proceed in troubled times!!
Namo Amida Bu!
Dharma Glimpse by Dayamay Dunsby
As I sat alone the other evening after I heard that my cousin had passed away, I reflected on friendship, how we all rely to a certain extent on others. Some is through what we have now, and some what we had in our past. With me I tend to get confused to a certain extent with the two. Let me explain.
When I heard of my cousin, I immediately thought of days gone by. I am 62 and have not had a lot to do with him since I was in my 20s. I did see him a couple of times ten years ago when my daughter was living close to him in London. Therefore, why such a sense of loss, I miss him, but how can I miss someone now that I have not seen for over ten years and no real relationship for 40 years.
This is not about me being cold, I am soft to be honest. That is part of the reason. On reflection, I thought of several things. I am human and have feeing’s so hearing he’s passed away will hurt. The thought of his family’s pain will make me sad.
To a certain extent some of the pain I think is due to remembering him when we were young, so is it partly my own vulnerability that upsets me? The realization that I am Older, the lost memories of my childhood that comes rushing back. Sitting in an upstairs room with him and his older brother as they excitedly talked of a new soldier they had seen; both had asked for it for Christmas. It was an action man. Playing monopoly, their frustration of the 3- or 4-year-old who was playing with them.
All that hurts and is partly due to missing him and I believe it partly due to me missing me. My childhood, dreams, excitement, so many people that have gone that I now long to talk to.
Then I remember the teachings and so much of what the Buddha teaches in the 4 noble truths is within that thought process. Longing for the past unable to let go. The fear of, getting ill, growing old and dying. But can I let go? I do not believe I can, I can try to live by the 8 fold path, follow the teachings. Ultimately, I will fail, due to my bombu nature and the fact that I am a foolish being with all the emotions that brings with it. So, I will turn to Amida, I will chant Namo Amida Bu, and hope that will support me in my sadder moments.
Dharma Glimpse by Dayamay Dunsby
Can you remember the moment that you first grasped the profundity of what it means that you’re alive?
One minute you’re not here – next minute you are.
Like a puppy licking a strangers face. Confronted with an alien landscape.
Each new thing engaging the mind of form and feeling. Every mindless breath drawing us deeper into the nature of things.
We are propelled into a stream of unconsciousness, perpetually manifest by our collective scrambling for actuality…solidity. This stretches back into the depths of eternity.
Nature occurs as an anchor, the ground upon which we gradually sense the ephemeral and turn towards the unconditioned.
It never stops coming forth. Just as the mind never ceases, so nature endlessly secretes life and the capacity for experience and understanding.
Nature and mind are co-extensive with one another. They are coterminous.
Can they be both…or nothing at all?
Buddhas buddhas everywhere…everywhere you look…Buddhas!!
A Dharma Glimpse by Sam Johnson
I have been enjoying a period in which I have felt very energetic and done lots of things that I have found valuable. It has been wonderful. But as always happens sooner or later, I am now in the crash. One or two nights of poor sleep, some low-level illness, I lose momentum, and the streak is over. I am like a cartoon character running off a cliff, remaining suspended a few moments against gravity, before realising the situation and then falling into the chasm below.
In time, I will get going again. I know this from experience. Life comes in such cycles. Maybe it doesn’t have to be exactly like it is now, but it will always come in cycles. I look out of my window to see the patches of yellow and orange beginning to appear on the trees, and it is a reminder that these cycles are natural and unavoidable. There are aspects of where I am now that are not pleasant. But the scenery reminds me that there is beauty to be found in all seasons.
A Dharma Glimpse by Jenn
So I’m away this weekend finishing off the coast to coast walk. This is a walk right across the north of England from St Bees on the west coast of Cumbria right across Cumbria and Yorkshire to the North East coast at Robin Hood’s Bay. It was invented in the 1970s by Alfred Wainwright who has become a bit of a hero for those who like long walks. He was very interested in self-power (he probably wouldn’t call it that) and a lot of his writing about long distance fell walking is about grit and determination, about mind over matter, about being a person alone conquering the great outdoors.
I actually was entirely conquered by mother nature as when I set out to do this walk in July I had to abandon the last two days (40 miles) because of the heatwave. I’d have been walking across high and unshaded moorland in the 35 degree heat with only the water I could carry. I could not mind-over-matter that set of circumstances. So i gave up and I felt terrible about it. I felt like I’d been a weakling and really quite pathetic and it took me a long time to look after myself and make a good decision and comfort the parts of me that were really unhappy about that decision. And to make those parts happy I’ve come back this weekend in cool and windy autumn weather to finish the walk.
I did 22 miles today and my body is hurting. It’s really good I didn’t try to master myself and the world and actually accepted the limitations of my body. As I walked today through miles and miles and miles of very desolate moorland, seeing nobody for hours and hours, I realised how far away from help I would have been if I’d have persisted during the summer. How much water I would have needed to carry. I don’t know how many times the world is going to need to teach me about my own smallness and the benefits of surrender but I had that lesson again today.
A Dharma Glimpse by Dayamay Dunsby
I recently had an interesting conversation with a fellow community member about the value of community – Sangha, in Buddhist terms. As is often the case in these community discussions, tantalising questions and ideas came up that made me think about how important the Sangha is, as a spiritual model for the world at large, and, as a practical method of survival in a time of planetary emergency.
Every now and then I am inclined to stop and evaluate my place in the world. I’ve lived in community for a long time now and sometimes wonder whether it’s time for a change; whether there might be a home somewhere out there, waiting to accommodate and fulfill me in ways that my current situation can’t. Whether I might be taking up space that would better serve somebody else or just simply out staying my welcome.
And, as usual, the more I think about leaving, the implications of ‘independent’ living and the potential benefits in most aspects of the idea, the more absurd it seems. It is not even necessary to turn on the news anymore, in order to see or even feel the deterioration that is unfolding on a daily basis ‘out there’.
The world is getting darker. The Buddha’s prediction of Mappo – The Dark Age or Age of the Dharma decline, has never been more relevant than it is today. Which makes the model of the harmonious Sangha ever more important. We are charged with the responsibility of demonstrating an alternative to apathy, ignorance and the superficial values of a broken culture.
The phrase that came up for me in our conversation was “Sangha is a lifeboat”. It was inspired by imagery that was used in teachings to describe to me and others the vital importance of exemplifying a way of life that reflects sanity and stability amid an ocean of chaos and turbulence.
Those of us lucky enough to be aboard the lifeboat have to take turns to row and navigate towards a brighter horizon. We have to bail out the water as the leaks spring up and plug the holes that appear as our human dramas rock the vessel.
Of course, this ideal doesn’t come naturally or sit intuitively with most of us. We have been indoctrinated into a social climate that sells us individualism, and presents arrogance as some kind of a virtue. To transcend this corrosive trend is to risk alienation and isolation.
Our spiritual practice, both individual and collective is cohesive and unifying, as is our friendship and companionship. They help us to join in a vision of a better world, which is always possible if we can prioritize the needs of the collective, rather than contributing towards the fragmentation that threatens to capsize us.
Namo Amida Bu
A Dharma Glimpse by Izzy Ellis
I woke up one spring morning and as I left the temple to get to an early shift, I found my car window had been smashed in the night. The stone that was usually used to weigh down the lid of the bin, to stop the lid blowing open in the wind, lay on the floor next to my car. I remember wanting to believe that a strong gust of wind had blown the stone off the bin into my car but given the distance between the car and the bin, unless there’d been a transient departure from the laws of physics at some point in the night, it was unlikely. More likely, someone had thrown the stone at the window. I was flooded with anger. A part of me was searching for someone to blame. I remember trying to blame the sangha member who’s idea it had been to weigh the lid down with a stone in the first place! “They were tempting fate! Of course people can’t be trusted to walk past a stone so close to a car window. The urge to throw the stone is just too strong!” This part was desperately clutching at straws.
I remember picturing scenes in my mind. A group of young men walking back home from the pub, drunk and rowdy. Someone throwing the stone for a laugh or to assert themselves. In it’s attempt to find some explanation, my mind created elaborate tales.
I remember thinking, “Who would do this?” and wondering whether it could have been someone I knew. I felt my faith, trust and love in people waver. Some of that was restored later that day when the daughter of the person I was caring for came back home with a package of pastries and insisted I take some. I don’t usually eat dairy but I was eager to accept this gift from a stranger, to lap up any love going, I gratefully accepted.
Pieces of the puzzle came together later that day when a templemate told me in the kitchen that they’d heard commotion in the night. Someone screaming, the sound of smashing glass. They said it sounded as though the person was upset and in distress. There was glass on the ground opposite the temple too, so it looked as though the person had smashed other windows.
On hearing this, I sensed a shift in my understanding.
The selfish, vindictive, hateful person I’d fabricated in my mind suddenly evaporated. In it’s place, a person in pain, wounded, unable to contain their suffering. Someone overcome by this human impulse to destroy. Someone I could instantly empathise with. In that moment, my heart reached out to them and I wished them well.
Every now and again, when I spot the dent in the side of the car or feel it’s rough surface, I think of them and I feel this warm glow of love in my belly. It extends out to them and all those who suffer in that moment.
Namo Amida Bu.
A Dharma Glimpse by Angie Pell-Walpole
As I was preparing to leave for an appointment earlier today my scarf caught on a hook. As usual I was on the edge of running late and my initial reaction was to tug the scarf away, but the threads were strong and didn’t snap, they only pulled tighter around the hook. I realised this was going to need a little more attention so I paused, looked closely at the patturn of colourful threads winding their way around the hook and picked them out, one at a time, until the scarf was freed.
This tiny incident seemed like a clear metaphor to me. The action of tugging and rushing only made the situation worse and fed a more constricted mental state, whereas slowing down and taking the care to unpick each thread both freed the scarf and me, creating a more attentive and care-ful state of mind. It also reminded me of how using force to try and break a habit or create change only causes the threads of causes, conditions, needs and desires to tighten their hold. Whereas moving gently, paying attention to each thread and noticing it’s relation to other threads, can facilitate an organic, unforced, change.
Namo Amida Butsu x
A Dharma Glimpse by Beth Hickey
Who made the worm?
Why make a worm?
Gendering is not an issue.
When I first decided to start a compost I knew nothing about worms.
In fact for the first few months they stayed well clear of my bin. Do you know that in an acre of land there can be over a million earthworms… so where are they!
I looked longingly over the fence at my neighbours sweet smelling compost, oozing with worms. I had a moment’s thought of rummaging with my trowel but that would be thievery and I’m not allowed to do that!
Worms. How do you get them? Where do they come from? Do they start as foetuses?
Long worms, earthworms, flatworms, ringworms, roundworms, tapeworms, computer worm….which one is best?
I Google worms and learn that Worms gobble up our left overs and out it comes as compost. Wow That’s truly amazing!
If there is “too much left overs” and they overheat they climb to the top to get some breath before diving back in again. Perhaps they should have snorkels. They work in a clockwise direction and can dig down up to 7 feet.
If you don’t look after your worms they pack their segments and head to your neighbours home! Oh blimey…
I start to reorganise my diet in order to improve my scrapes bin. If worms don’t like onions, orange peel or banana peel, then neither do I!
They like to be kept warm and not too wet, they like to be churned so they don’t get too bored or overwhelmed. And if you play it right they have babies, lots and lots of them, until your bin is full to the brim.
Worms have a brain and nervous system and feel pain, so we need to care, nurture and respect them. It claims they have free will.. I guess they can choose which bin to frequent. That’s why you have to spoil them, 5 star all inclusive for my invertebrates.
It’s now a year since I started my compost and I think I recognise some of my worms. They can live up to four years. They let me now what mood they are in, or if they require more bedding, food or water. Or just a bit of loving x
I love my composting worms, we work as a team.
This spring my flowers will look stunning and that’s thanks to my little squidgy mates.
Namo Amida Bu.
Dharma Glimpse by Philip Wallbridge
I haven’t shared a Dharma Glimpse for a while. It’s been on my mind for over a month now, along with a sense of guilt and uncomfortability. I have been busy with a university assignment which I handed in a couple of weeks ago so I have had a bit more internal space in my mind. But nothing has come. No inspiration or wisdom. I think I have, at least for now, run out of deeper philosophical and spiritual topics to explore and share. These are more my comfort zone. And I don’t think if I share more everyday experiences and thoughts people will be interested, even though that’s something I’ve enjoyed hearing from others. From the beauty and calm of the Malvern Hills, compassion to cockroaches and moving house, I’ve loved hearing everything others have shared.
I went out for a walk along the beach here in Morecambe this afternoon. I decided it was ok to write something about having nothing to say. As soon as I had decided that, I passed a small old rowing boat at the top of a short flight of steps up from the promenade that has been made into a flower bed. There seemed to be some new flowers I didn’t recognise. Red ones with a multitude of intricate, overlapping petals. Wow. For a brief moment they took my breath away.
By not seeking inspiration in my mind or in nature and, perhaps more importantly, by freeing myself from the self-imposed shackles of expectation and perfectionism something opened up. Like a portal into a kinder, more vivid and alive world. If only briefly. Surrendering a tiny bit more of my ego. Surrendering to something wiser, more loving and accepting than I will ever be. That something which could be Amida Buddha. Maybe I was seeing more with my heart than my mind or my eyes. Whatever it was, it was a beautiful moment I am grateful for. And I am grateful, however it is received, to be able to share it with you as the conduit through which a bit of beauty and dharma seemed to briefly flow.
Namo Amida Bu.