Monday 27 July 2015

Amazing experience

An amazing experience...

I have just had the most amazing experience.
Last week on the 22nd I felt ill. At 4am I went to the local hospital emergency area.
I was met by a doctor who spoke English and tried with drugs to treat me, but it didn't work.

The next twenty minutes are a blur, but I remember being taken by ambulance to a major hospital in Urasa one hour away.

It's now 5:30am and I am met by the doctor in charge who speaks English and many nurses who use iPhone translators to talk to me. My pulse rate is over 210, dangerously high. 
The doctor decides that as drugs didn't work to bring my pulse down, I should have shock treatment.
I am sedated and awakened 15 minutes later, my pulse is normal. 

I am admitted to an emergency bed. I meet with the professor in charge who speaks English. He tells me I have pneumonia and have had a heart attack. 

Five days later and after many tests and blood letting and drain things in every orifice I am feeling great. Apparently I also had a blood and kidney infection. All fixed. 

The hospital is fantastic, all first class, world class. The food, even the room I was given on the seventh floor had a view down the valley to my home. 
My own TV. 
Constant supervision, almost hourly visits by a doctor or nurse. Most had mobile translator apps or spoke a little English. 

Unfortunately I have no insurance and even if I had travel insurance, old heart defects make it impossible at my age.

I got a surprise when a social worker told me that she could speak to the Governor and ask for his help if I could not pay.

Of course I paid the account.
Including all medication, anti biotic and saline drips every few hours, CT scans, echo things, X-Rays, I paid under $3000. 

Not to be too dramatic but what price does one put on a life.

Thank you Professor Takaaki Ishiyama and all doctors and staff for your care and compassion. May you all be guarded and guided.

On a lighter note......

For those who love fortunetelling......

In hospital I am reading a book  
'In Ghostly Japan' 
by Lafcadio Hearn. 

He writes Japanese stories about different times, of unusual rituals and ceremonies, places and people.

This story is about the famous Chinese fortune teller who in Japan is called Shoko Setsu.
He is written about in the divination book Baikwa-Shin Eki.

While still a young man Shoko Setsu obtained a high position by reason of his learning and virtue. Within a short time he resigned and went into solitude so that he might give his whole time to study. 

For years thereafter he lived alone in a hut in the mountains; studying without a fire in the winter, without a fan in the summer; writing his thoughts on the walls of his room, for he had no paper, using only a tile for a pillow.

One day, on the hottest day of summer, he felt overcome with fatigue and lay down on his bed, with his tile under his head.
Scarcely had he fallen asleep when a rat ran across his face waking him with a start.
Feeling anger he threw his tile at the rat, he missed the rat, but his tile was broken. 

Shoko Setsu looked sadly at the fragments of his tile and reproached himself for his hastiness. As he picked up the fragments he saw on the exposed part of the clay some Chinese writing. 

He saw to his amazement seventeen characters obviously written some days before the tile was baked.
The characters read 
'In the year of the Hare
 in the fourth month, 
on the seventeenth day, 
at the hour of the Serpent, 
this tile, after serving as a pillow, will be thrown at a rat and be broken'

Now the prediction was fulfilled at the hour of the Serpent, the seventeenth day of the fourth month in the year of the Hare.

Greatly astonished Shoko Setsu
again looked at the tile and saw the seal and the name of its maker.
At once he left his hut, and taking the pieces of the tile, went to the neighbouring town to find its maker.

He found the tilemaker in the course of the day, showed him the broken tile, and asked its history.

After careful examination, 
the tilemaker said;
This tile was made in my house, but the characters were made by an old man-a fortuneteller- who asked permission to write on it before it was baked.

Do you know where he lives?
asked Shoko Setsu.
He used to live not far from here and I can show you where, but I do not know his name.
replied the tilemaker.

Having been guided to the house Shoko Setsu presented himself and asked to be bought before the old man.
A student asked him to come into the apartment and was shown to a room filled with students. As Shoko Setsu took his seat the students all bowed very low. The one who showed him in bowed low and said
We are sorry to tell you our master passed away a few days ago. But we have been waiting for you because he predicted you would come on this day to this house at this hour.

Your name is Shoko Setsu and our master told us to give you this book which he believed will be of service to you, please accept it.

Shoko Setsu was surprised and delighted, for the book was a manuscript of the rarest and most precious kind containing all the secrets of divination.

After having thanked the young man and properly expressing his regret at the death of his master 
he went back to his hut and immediately proceeded to test the books worth in regard to his own fortune.

The book suggested to him that on the south side of the hut at a particular spot good luck awaited him.
He dug at the spot in the corner and found a jar containing enough gold to make him a very wealthy man.


My friend Shoko Setsu left this world as lonely as he had lived in it.

Last winter whilst crossing a mountain pass he was overtaken by a snowstorm and lost his way.

Many days later he was found standing up at the foot of a pine tree, eyes closed and hands in meditation pose. A statue of ice.
I suppose he had fallen asleep in meditation and the snow drift had risen over him.

Hearing of his strange death I remembered the old Japanese saying; 
"Uranaiya minouye shiradzu"
"The fortune teller knows not his   own fate."

My thanks to Lafcadio Hearn

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With love

Friday 17 July 2015

Our choice.......

Our choice.......

Every moment of every hour of every waking and sleeping day, we make conscious and sub-conscious decisions.
These decisions affect not only ourselves, but all around us.
It is our actions and re-actions that create the situations we find ourselves facing.
These situations, pleasant and unpleasant, are of our own doing, and no one else's.
Should we not like our present circumstance, then we have the power to change.
Should we not believe we have this power to change, then we must realise we are the cause, and find the strength to change.
When we change, our entire world changes. All around us also changes.
The choice is ours.


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With love

Thursday 2 July 2015

Friends and relatives ask;

Friends and relatives ask;

How was your trip to Japan?
Was it successful?
Did you like the food?
Etc etc...
The questions don't stop.
So in answer to all,
I offer the following....

What would you do if you had sold your business, moved from your home, and had no place to live!!!!!

Would you leave the comfort of what you know and move to another country and to another environment?
That would be so totally different.
You don't even speak the language!!!

What a change that would be.

Well, that's what we did.

We have not only met the challenges but embraced them and purchased a home.

Jodi saw a small booth on the side of the road. The signs are in Japanese and of course we don't read Japanese.
One sign said rice and 100yen.
There was also a 10 kilo sign.
Jodi could read those.
Inside the booth there was a chute, so she put her $1 or 100yen in the slot and put a plastic bag under the chute waiting for the 10 kilos of rice, or at least one kilo. Maybe the sign meant 100yen per kilo. Maybe not. Anyway....
There was much whirring and the sound of cogs and machine type noise. Then all of a sudden out plopped four grains of rice.
Jodi yelled, you ripped me off!
No rice and I lost 100yen.

We found out later, after complaining to a local who speaks English, it is a rice washing machine!!!!!
The farmers put their unwashed rice into the machine.
Back to the supermarket for Jodi.

Then there is the Onsen culture.
An Onsen is a public bath house. One for males and one for females.
I don't know what goes on in the female one, but the male one is fabulous. The super heated spring water that is pumped from underground, does wonders for aches and pains.
I could hardly walk with arthritis in my left ankle and heel.
Two visits to the Onsen and a new form of massage, and I am pain free. The massage is magic.
The masseur told me, using his translator on his iPhone, that my chi is blocked causing my toe to be numb and pain in ankle and heel!!! How did he know!
He then proceeded to remove the bad chi.
I don't know, but it worked.

I love Japan, its people, culture, food, and of course the magnificent scenery.

Did I say we bought a home?

Well it's actually a ski lodge on an actual ski slope with three different lifts and some four to five meters of snow that keeps building up daily in winter from somewhere in Russia.

It's now summer so the snow is gone and it's a jungle out there, and it's warm.
The monkeys come to pick fruit by day, and at night Mr Badger and other creatures visit.

Should you feel inclined,
come over, and visit, and see
Mr Badger, and us, in person.

We have a spare room.

Hiiragi Lodge

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With love

Saturday 30 May 2015

"The path to awakening.."

"The path to awakening.."

Geoffrey Shugen Arnold Sensei is the head of Mountains and Rivers Order and abbot of the Zen Center of New York City, Fire Lotus Temple.

He explains that ordinary mind is the path itself, and that we can only see this truth if we look through unconditioned eyes.

To understand ordinary mind,
we have to understand Tao.
To understand Tao, we have to go beyond all knowing.
So to do this, we should look to the ordinary mind,
with unconditioned eyes.

Chao-chou once asked Nanchuan, "What is Tao?"
Nanchuan answered
"Ordinary mind is Tao."
"Then should we direct ourselves toward it or not?" asked Chao-chou.
"If you try to direct yourself towards it, you go away from it."
answered Nanchuan.
Chao-chou continued,
"If we do not try, how can we know that it is Tao?"
Nanchuan replied,
"Tao does not belong to knowing or not knowing. Knowing is illusion;
not knowing is blankness.
If you really attain the Tao of no-doubt, it is like the void,
vast and boundless.
How then, can there be right or wrong in Tao?"

At these words Chao-chou was suddenly enlightened.

My next question.......

'What are we doing when we sit in meditation?"

Practice is not mechanical, it's not a method or technique, it's not blank consciousness.

Buddhist meditation emphasises quieting the mind and incisive thought.
Ultimately we realise they are inseparable.'

Wu-men's commentary says,
"Nan-chuan shows us that the tile is disintegrating, the ice dissolving and no communication is possible."
"This is true intimacy" he said.

"Hundreds of flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
A cool breeze in summer,
and snow in winter,
If there is no vain cloud in your mind,
For you it is a good season."

When Wu-men wrote this poem, he was talking about a life well lived, full and free, attending to what is needed but without a cloud in the mind.

The final question....

"What is Tao?"

It is at the very heart of Zen practice.
Tao means a passage, a path, a way. It also means the essential truth, or the underlying principle of our universe.

In Buddhism the path to awakening is not separate from enlightenment itself. As we travel the path, we practice living as an awakened person.
We tend to think of practice as a preparation for a time that hasn't arrived, however there is no future moment that we are preparing for.
Practice is living, cultivating virtue is being virtuous.
Practice is life.

Sensei tells us;
"The way is vast and boundless.
The way is not apart from this mind. Study, train, and realise your original mind, the mind of all beings, sentient and insentient."

My thanks to
The practitioners quarterly.'


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With love

Thursday 28 May 2015

Thus I have heard:

Thus I have heard:

The Buddha said;

If you speak or act with a kind
bright heart, then happiness
follows you,
like a shadow
that never leaves.
Dhp 1-2

insulted me,
hit me,
beat me,
robbed me,--
for those who brood on this, hostility isn't stilled.

Insulted me
hit me
beat me
robbed me,--
for those who don't brood on this,
hostility is stilled.

Hostilities aren't stilled
through hostility,
Hostilities are stilled
through non-hostility :
this, an unending truth.

Unlike those who don't realise
that we are here on the verge
of perishing,
those who do,
their quarrels are stilled.
Dhp 3-6

"Did you know that some people just exist to spoil others joy?
Ones whole life should not be dictated to, or even bullied by another, albeit someone mentally ill.

I suppose when one sees ones time is finishing, fear starts to take over. Unfortunately there are those who refuse to accept that this type of suffering can be overcome.
What to do?

Mental illness is so sad.
To be compassionate,
so hard.
What a lesson!

When we learn to let go of the minds rubbish, we start to see reality. We don't add extra rubbish, to the rubbish,
that's already there.

"Why does this happen to me?
What's wrong with me?
Maybe it's my fault?"
Etc, etc, etc.

We let go and avail ourselves of the wonders that are around us.


"Out of every seed of adversity, comes a benefit."

When we sow seeds,
we reap huge benefits.
Hostility is stilled,
Quarrels are stilled.

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With love

Sunday 15 March 2015

Thank you...

Thank you...

It's been a joyous fifteen years
working with Master Jodi at her Feng Shui shop at the Queen Victoria Market.
After much deliberation, Master Jodi has finally sold the shop, to a most capable and talented couple, Katina and Allan Hamilton.

I thank all the wonderful friends and customers that I have been blessed to meet through the shop, and feel graced by your presence.

From the 'bag lady' who visits twice a week to remind me that 'they' are watching.
To the lady who asked 'how much are the $5 Buddhas?'
To the man who just stands and stares at the ceiling for a full three minutes and then leaves.
To the miscreants and addicts,
I love you all.

My friends new and old;
A huge thank you for keeping me young and entertained.

To Master Jodi for allowing me to help in the shop 'Without Pay'

I thank the Market for all its heritage, tradition and a seemingly total lack of management, albeit they have been most kind to us.

Finally to the amazing young Chinese helpers, who without your help and guidance I would not have had the cultural knowledge.

We are blessed to live in a society that encompasses most beliefs and religions.
It is in this world that we have stood out as a beacon for Feng Shui and Chinese culture.

To the wonderful folk who have taken over our work, Katina and Allan, may you be guarded and guided.

May you all be as blessed,
as we have, with the joy and happiness, working in this great environment.

Thank you, and please keep in touch through email or Facebook.
With Metta

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With love

Thursday 12 March 2015



We are going through massive changes right now.
Jodi's business has been sold and the last day is this Sunday.
Our home of fourteen years has also been sold and we leave on Monday for overseas.

The cleaning out in our life, of what's unnecessary, has been most rewarding. The feeling of letting go of attachments has given us great relief.

Of course our friends and family are now offering advice of what we should do next.

One friend advised that we should cleanse our minds of panic of not having a base to call home.
This they determined would be achieved by prayer.
Another said we should try meditation.
This clears the path, they said.
So in answer to all those caring sharing folk, I offer the following;

The purpose of prayer, meditation, or going to a Temple of any faith, is to free ourselves from our agitated uncontrolled state of mind.
We only free ourselves when we stop attaching ourselves to things that happen.
When we release the delusions, the fears, the past or the future, then peace prevails.
We believe we receive peace and harmony in the presence of The Divine or some other entity other than ourselves.

So, there was a wealthy man who had three sons and he loved them dearly.
He didn't know who to entrust his business to when he leaves his present life.
He was wealthy for a reason,
he was clever.
He gathered his sons together and told them;
"Here is a room, empty, absolutely empty.
Please fill it, to represent how you will run my business.
The one who does it to my satisfaction, will take over when I am gone."

The first son, the eldest, filled the room with earth.
He told his father that this represented his earthiness.

The second, middle son, filled the room with paper.
He told his father that this represented the money he would make.

The father said to the first son "thank you, your earth represents objects of clutter, earthiness, but it is messy.
Clutter leaves a home empty and it loses it's attractiveness with time."

To the second son, he said
"thank you, your paper represents stocks, bonds, shares, but has no real relationship to family.
On paper, you are a millionaire, in real terms, you have no friends, no true joy,
a lonely life.

The youngest son had not filled the room with anything but a candle.
When the father saw this,
he was most pleased.
He said, "thank you my true wise son.
You know how to fill a vacuum.
All emptiness needs light,
a candle of light,
a candle of joy.
The candle of inner peace,
to fill our homes and lives with light and joy and love."

The lesson we learn from this Dharma is not to fill our lives with attachment to anything,
other than light, joy and love.


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With love

Tuesday 3 February 2015

A Kings Dream........

A Kings Dream........

One night, in a dream,
the king saw death.
He was so afraid,
he asked death;
"Why are you in my dream,
why are you frightening me?"
Death replied; "I have come to tell you that tomorrow at sunset I will come to get you, so get ready and it's out of compassion I tell you, so you have time to prepare."

The king was so shocked,
that in the middle of the night,
he called his ministers and asked them to find people who could interpret the dream.
The king asked them what could be done as time is short and maybe the dream is true.

So the dream interpreters and scholars came with big books, and started to discuss,
dispute and argue.
The sun was already up and the king was getting more worried by the minute.

An old trusted servant came to the king and whispered;
"Don't be foolish your majesty,
these scolars will never find the answer, they will argue for ever.
I suggest you leave the palace since death visited you here,
if you are not here, then death may not find you.
By sunset you can be far away."

The logic seemed right.
So he left the palace.

The king had a fast horse and he travelled far, and by sunset he had reached a beautiful tree.

He patted the horse and said
"You did well and we have come so far, death will never find us here."
As he was patting his horse,
the king felt somebody standing behind him.
He turned and he saw death laughing.
"Why are you laughing,"
asked the king?
Death answered,
"I was worried because you were destined to die under this tree and I wondered how you would get here in time.
Your horse did well.
I came to you in your dream last night, as I wanted you to escape from the palace.
You have come so far and only one day left, your horse did well."
As death said this, he touched both king and horse, and they passed into their next life.

Wherever we go, death is waiting for us, in all directions,
in all places.
We know this is unavoidable, but the mind starts to spin some stupid ways to avoid death.
We want our lives to last forever,
in perfect health, with lots of money.

Our prayers go out to all misguided souls who do not follow the way of natural occurrence.

We must realise we are guarded and guided.

The more we practice and cultivate, the happier and more successful our lives become and death does not enter our thoughts.

Thanks to our practice,
all is well.


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With love

Friday 23 January 2015

Some Zen....

Some Zen....

Some fifteen years ago David Bell wrote a funny inspirational book of Zenisms.
Great book.

A young monk walked up and down the bank of a wide swiftly flowing river deciding how to cross.
He noticed a great Zen master on the other side.
He cried out to the wise master;
"Great teacher, how shall I get to the other side of the river?"
The master called back;
"You are already on the other side of the river!"

Thanks David.

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With love

Wednesday 21 January 2015

My calendar....

My calendar....

I have a Zen calendar that gives daily inspiration.
Today is particularly apt.

"A Hasidic Rabbi, talking about daybreak, the time for morning prayers, asked his students how they knew when night ends and day begins.

'It is when you can see an animal in the distance and tell if it is sheep or a dog.'
'No' said the Rabbi.
'Is it when you can see the lines on your hand?'
'No' came the answer.
'Is it when you see a tree and can tell if it is a fig or pear?'
'No' said the Rabbi.
"You are all wrong."

"It is when you can look on the face of any man or woman and see that they are your brother or sister.
Until then it is still night."
Hasidic Mondo

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Friday 16 January 2015

"A Monks power"....

"A Monks power"....

I don't know if this story is true, or not.
The Monks that I am privileged to know do not have any of the powers in this story.
On the other hand,
maybe they do,
and maybe I need to talk to a few of them about my dreams.....

A most worthy follower of Buddha, who was compassionate and loving, explained to a Monk his most dire financial problems.
He had been very wealthy, but through bad investments had lost the lot.
Now, he explained, he was in big trouble as he not only had to pay back his creditors, but also marry off his daughter.

"My advice is that you should buy a lottery ticket," the Monk told him.
The follower told the Monk that he didn't doubt for a moment that he could arrange anything including a lottery win, and he would wait till the end of the month to pick up his winnings. However he was slightly skeptical of how he would organize the win.

The Monk told him he would fix everything through the Grace of the Universe.

So he bought the ticket and told the ticket seller that the Monk had guaranteed him a win and he would be back for the money.
He then went to the local inn to stay the night before going home.

Staying at the same inn was a wealthy merchant.
That night the merchant had a dream about a Monk having guaranteed a lottery win and that he should exchange his worthless ticket with the winning one.
The merchant asked his servant to find the Buddhist to swap tickets.

The merchant's deal was refused even when offered a few gold coins as well as the ticket.
After much talk the merchant finally offered one thousand gold coins.
Our friend of course had to accept, and so the tickets changed hands.

Our Buddhist friend returned home and married off his daughter in grand style.
At the end of the month the ticket that the merchant swapped won the lottery.

The compassionate Buddhist decided to visit the Monk and ask what happened, and how a worthless ticket could win so much money.
The Monk explained that he had asked the Master of Dreams to visit the merchant and convince him to swap tickets.
"I also saw the merchant give you a thousand coins to marry off your daughter, and after paying your creditors you also donated a great deal of your winnings to the Temple",
said the Monk.

The Buddhist went home most pleased with his donation to the Temple and he became more prosperous than he had ever been before.

"Thank you to the Universe for showing us that even our dreams can be organized by an enlightened Monk."


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Sunday 11 January 2015

A story of re birth:..

A story of re birth:..

(My thanks to Fred whose birthday bought back memories of our time together in Fang)

Everything we say,
think and do,
effects our future.

An old man came to the Temple with two ladies.
One was aged about sixty five, the other fifteen.
It was assumed the elder woman was his wife and the child his daughter.

The man then began to discuss with the head Monk his plans to build a meditation hall.
He said he needed to build this hall within one day of his death.
He said that his death was not far off and he had been told this by his first wife.
When he said this,
he pointed to the young girl.

"One moment,"
said the Monk,
"How can this girl be your first wife and the old woman your second?"

And so the old man began to tell the following Dharma:

"This young girl was my first real love and we married when she was fifteen.
I was a wealthy merchant and we were very happy.
I loved her dearly and she was most beautiful and I cared for her every need.
There was however a problem.
She liked to steal things.

We would go out to friends houses and she would steal from them.
I did not know of course as the saying "love is blind" is true.

She would also go into our rice fields and when the harvest was ready and the bundles of rice were placed neatly, she would send our workers next door to steal their rice."

After a moment of silence, he was too upset to continue and the girl

"I was happy with him for some twelve years, but one day when walking to the fields, I had a feeling I was about to die.

I was wearing two heavy gold chains my husband had given to me as a wedding present.

I decided to bury them under the foot of a large tree beside the workers hut by the rice field.

And so I died and went to hell.

In hell they told me I had been so bad I had to spend one hundred years before I could be reborn.
My husband of course did not know I had gone to hell.

He missed me so badly he gave a large donation to the Temple in my name.

The head of the hell realm told me that because of his merit I had been given twenty years off my time in hell.

My husband then built a school in my name and again I received a twenty year deduction.

This happened twice more and the head of hell said I had to only serve twenty years for my wrong doing,
not one hundred.

My husbands merit had earned me eighty years off my sentence.

When I finished the twenty years,
I was told I was to be reborn in a town near my husbands home.
When I turned fifteen I was to marry him again and look after him in his old age.

I was told that he was to build a meditation hall in one day after his death.

And so I was reborn.

When I turned twelve,
I started to remember the past and I would go and stare at my husband.

He had now remarried and it made his second wife uncomfortable to have a beautiful young girl stare at her husband.

They thought me mad.
It became worse when I started to tell the people at the village and my school, that I am here to marry an old man who is already married.

On my fifteenth birthday,
I went to see my husband and told him of the gold chains.

Of course I looked and sounded familiar to him and when he finally decided to dig, I was happy to say not only found the chains, but said he would re marry me.

So now we are here to offer and gain merit by building the hall."

The merchant passed away a few years later, and a day after he passed, the meditation hall was built.

The girl died within the week and both were sent straight to heaven.
She to be ordained and to continue to help those afflicted and he to become an Arhat .
(perfect person or saint)

This story was told to me by my Dharma Master,
as was told to him,
as the truth,
by his Master who met the merchant and his two wives at his Temple.


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With love