Haunted by the Past
Forthcoming events for w/c 31st October 2022
As we approach Hallowe'en a story about how the past can haunt the present.
The end of October marks a number of commemorations/festivals for the dead. In Mexico the Day of the Dead celebrations started on 22nd October and culminate on 2nd November for the Christian festival of All Souls Day.
In Europe and the U.S. we have Hallowe'en when the curtain that separates the worlds of the living and the dead becomes permeable. In my childhood this was marked by how many teeth we could lose eating Mum's home-made toffee apples (my older brother lost three, one year!).
So, to commemorate I thought we might have a story about an incident that supposedly happened to Master Hyakujo.
One day the Master ascended the high seat and told his monks that at one of his recent public talks an old man had approached him. The old man said that 500 years before he had been abbot of this very monastery. One day, a monk had approached him and asked the following question: "Is an enlightened man of the Way free from the law of cause and effect (karma)?" The abbot had replied "Yes". Because this answer misled the monk, the abbot had been condemned to live in the body of a fox for 500 years. This time had now come to an end and the old man asked the Master to say 'a turning phrase' to assist him out of this incarnation. Master Hyakujo agreed to the request.
The old man asked Hyakujo: "Is an enlightened man free from the law of cause and effect?"
The Master replied: "He does not obstruct it."
The old man thanked him and went on his way. The Master concluded his account by informing the monks to go outside where they would find the fox body and that they should bury it with the full honours of a Buddhist monk.
This is a story that can be usefully pondered not just for what it teaches but why Master Hyakujo told it to his monks? We might also ponder how such a story might be relevant to ourselves?
As a pointer, the fox in both Chinese and Japanese folklore is an animal that is considered a trickster that can lead people astray and deceive.
There will be no live-streamed Zazen meditation on Thursday 26th October.
On Thursday 3rd November at 1900hrs BST we will have a 60 minute live-streamed Zazen meditation session. This will be in two 30 minute periods with a short break in-between. This will be followed by chanting The Heart Sutra and the Four Great Bodhisattva Vows. Just to inform everyone that the 30 minute sittings will also remain for other weeks but we will be having these additional longer sittings for those who would like to join in with them.
Our next Practice Tutorial will be on Monday 7th November at 1900hrs BST. This is a drop-in Zoom call for people to come and talk about how the daily life practice and Zazen practice are going. It will be an opportunity to ask questions and share experiences and difficulties with the practice. This is a great way to find out that 'my' problems are often shared by other practitioners too!
That's it for now.
Have a great week!