Iris has been to Dubai -:- Photo by Iris Dotan Katz
“Now, there is no better way than nembutsu to take leave of the delusive worlds of transmigration. Even those who disparage and criticise my writings will be born on the petals of the lotus in the Pure Land in the nine different grades by repetition of nembutsu."
- Honen Shonin
: Tuesdays and Thursdays I generally have many zoom meetings. However, I did get time to sit in the spring sunshine between times and was rewarded with the sight of the first butterflies. Also, white blossom is appearing on all the thorn bushes in the hedgerows around the site. Meanwhile, the daffodils continue to bloom, splashing patches of gold in the green fields. As the weather warms, the grass begins to grow, giving me a big mowing job to do.Friday
: I've put the furniture back in place in the library and reshelved all the books. When moving books I readily get side-tracked when I come across an interesting volume that I have not perused for a while. This time it was Lin Yutang's The Importance of Living: A personal guide to enjoyment
, which is a delightful ramble of idiosyncratic distractions - "an idle philosophy born of an idle life, evolved in a different age" - " the pathos and beauty and terror and comedy of life, viewed by a people who have a strong feeling for the limitations of our existence, and yet somehow retain a sense of the dignity of human life." He seems to have a dim view of Buddhism, but, then, the kind of Buddhism he is talking about is not my cup of tea either.
This afternoon I felled a tree and cut up wood for firewood to stack for next winter. It has been a very nice sunny day and I have taken snacks sitting in the garden soaking up the warmth. The cold of winter is still a close memory so sitting out in a tee shirt with a cuppa is much appreciated.Saturday
: For the first time this year, I had breakfast outside in the garden, eating my cereal, nuts, bread and marmalade listening to birdsong with the warmth of the rising sun on my back. In the last few days, it has been pleasant to have afternoon tea in the garden, but the mornings were too cold. I have recently acquired, for the remarkable price of just under 40€ the lot, a plastic table and four chairs. So this was also the first time I have used it. The warmth has also brought out the blossom. Now all of the thorn bushes are cascades of white and today the wild cherries also came into bloom. It looks as if nature is having a wedding feast.Sunday
: The glorious weather continues. This morning the tulips are suddenly in bloom amidst the daffodils and I see that even the hellebore has a discrete flower, less gaudy than that of the bulbs, but nonetheless pleasing. I sit on my bench and write a few lines of verse while I drink my coffee.
My heart is made of melancholy joy.
It never can decide which way to go.
Yet opposites can, in the soul, alloy
and from such alchemy we come to know
that there’s not just one answer to the riddle
(save death which is the answer to it all)
but that the angel’s harp and devil’s fiddle
can play together in one concert hall.
When standing in the light, there must be shadow,
darkly dark just as the light is fine,
a darkness that one cannot fail to know
if one would walk in light that is divine.
The Buddha sits upon a rock and smiles.
The daisies bloom around him at his feet.
The light within him banishes all trials
The rock beneath becomes a lotus seat.
Thus every stone and every blade of grass
is made into a jewelled lotus throne
surrounded by the cherubim who pass
each singing praises - each a unique tone.
For no two blades of grass are quite the same,
but each is what it is and that’s the joy!
That variously they call the Holy Name
with natural faith that nothing can destroy.
I sit here listening to the birds who sing.
I, idly, too, declaim the Sacred Name
surrounded by the blossoms of the spring
my mind reclines, beyond its normal frame.
And so there come such interludes of peace
that break the flowing turmoil of the heart:
times when there comes a magic sweet release,
sacred times when lovers never part
and bliss alone is what this life is for,
where tulips show their gaudy velvet flower
and even shy and bashful hellebore
can put forth glory at the 'pointed hour.
My body is no longer in its prime,
the spring times pass, blossoms all must fall,
to everything there comes its own due time.
Alone endures the Name to which we call.
For here we live within the realm of change
where there's no satisfaction without pain,
which is not just a thing that gods arrange,
but is essential, just as plants need rain.
Now all these tones and shadows, like a dream,
kaleidoscopic, dance within my core,
like flickering glints upon a flowing stream:
and that is life - one cannot ask for more.
I am happy, thinking how the time for drinking morning coffee in the garden with companions, and sharing verses, is fast coming. Soon it will be summer and I hope to see some of my precious friends here in this quiet garden once again.
I planted a few more strawberry plants that I bought in the supermarket and did some weeding in the old garden.