Friday, July 8th
- Martin Goodson

A Taste of Honey

Forthcoming events for w/c 11th July 2022



Once upon a time a man was being chased through the forest by a tiger. Rushing out of the canopy of trees he was dazzled by sunlight and stepped over a precipice.

As he falls he managed to grab hold of a vine trailing over the edge. Holding on for dear life, he looked up and saw the tiger panting looking down upon him, licking his lips. Looking down he saw another tiger waiting for him to fall. Where the vine bent over the edge the man spies two mice, one white and one black, come and start nibbling the vine. Overhead a bee flew and as it passed over him, the man, now fated to fall, a drop of nectar falls from the bee onto the man’s lips.

“Ah!” He exclaimed, ‘How sweet it tastes!”

Living in the temple, back in the day, we had little contact with the daily news. Although we were not forbidden to read newspapers it was not encouraged. Of course, on our weekly afternoons off I found myself pulling the odd copy of the Evening Standard or a Sunday paper out of the park litter bin (as one passing homeless man said: “Nothing quite like getting it for free.”).

As we had a fairly constant stream of people passing through the temple the major events of the day did manage to filter through to us. However, much of what passes as news did not.

I had duties that meant giving talks or having meetings at various venues around town and beyond. It was a curious experience to read newspaper headlines, which sounded like snatches of conversations, dialogues that were ongoing but to which I had no reference of what went before and was unlikely to hear their resolution.

The truth is that, at the time, I did not really miss it.

Once I left the temple and moved back into lay life I had a bit of a reaction and became a real news-junkie. It may well have been an unconscious need to re-adjust to lay-life and play catch-up with the new people amongst whom I moved.

A few years out, along came the Brexit referendum, then the aftermath. After this we had the pandemic and now we have the break up of an old order, cost of living crises and war.

Now, some people might think that what appears on the news is, what is colloquially called, the ‘real world’ and that ‘hiding away’ in a temple akin to living in an ivory tower. However, I will beg to disagree on this point.

It’s true that we didn’t read the news of the day but we did read. We did talk to each other about things that had caught our attention but the subject matter was more likely the Dharma, or mythology, or human nature (our own and others). These conversations and this literature gave me a sense of what I can only call - something ‘perennial’.

What strikes me about the news is that it always presents itself as the most important thing. In this way it is like any desire. The stronger the desire the more important the object of desire becomes. But desire, like news, distorts what is real.

What is real? In dharmic terms - coming to be and ceasing to be - and in that statement lies hidden depths. This is what I would call a statement from the ‘eternal’, those things are are just true always and in all things. Year’s ago I saw someone on the London Underground wearing a badge that simply said; ‘Why not you?’ I laughed upon seeing it. What an antidote to that cry that goes forth when my well-laid plans once more collapse ‘Why does this always happen to me?’. Being trapped by desire and just this latest news agenda item, if we do not have access to some kind of eternal wisdom in which to frame it how can ‘I’ not be carried away?

And yet, we cannot live in the eternal only. That is to be truly removed from the world and would be in defiance of the Bodhisattva Vows, to be in the world but not of the world, to steal a quote.

The horizontal world that comes to be and ceases to be in ever changing garments can be tempered by the vertical realm of the eternal truths we find in the Dharma. How do we enter that eternal world? By learning to let-go of the temporal horizontal world which is just what our daily life practice is. That moment’s respite and opening out is followed by once more giving myself back into what at this moment is. What has changed is that something of the ‘eternal’ realm comes back with us and tempers and informs the world. It truly is nectar of the gods that falls on our lips and the lips of those with whom we come into contact.


The Dharma Centre events for w/c 11th July 2022

Tuesday 12th July at 1900hrs BST - a tutorial on Zazen meditation over Zoom. This event is open to all Dharma Centre members. A short presentation will be given but this is an opportunity for you to ask questions about Zazen and any difficulties you are having and would like to discuss.

The Zoom details will be sent out in the dedicated Telegram group. Any member who is not in the Telegram group can always send an email request for the join details to:

Thursday 14th July at 1900hrs BST - Our regular weekly online Zazen meditation meeting. See the meditation page in the Dharma Centre for details.