November 20, 2017

This is Poppet and Peter, the temple bunnies. I call them Pops and Peetle. As you may be able to tell from the photo, Peetle has cataracts and is practically blind. Pops had one of her back legs amputated last year after an accident. They don’t let this hold them back. They live outside, in a hutch inside an aviary, so they have their own front lawn. Once a day we let them out into the temple garden so they can... Read more

November 17, 2017

Today we find the Buddha instructing Kesi, the horse trainer. The Buddha is very good at meeting his students where they are, and of making use of their existing wisdom. In this case he begins by asking Kesi how he trains and disciplines horses as a part of his business. Kesi replies that it depends on the horse, and to what the horse responds to best. Some horses he trains gently, some sternly, and some both gently and sternly. The... Read more

November 15, 2017

Vocation: “a summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action; especially a divine call to the religious life” (Merriam-Webster dictionary). What is my vocation? I have experienced this summons to particular actions at various points in my life. After growing up with books as a ‘third parent’, I felt a strong calling to become a writer myself. When I haven’t written for a while, this calling starts to nag at me like a child tugging on... Read more

November 13, 2017

Last night I had disturbed dreams, and this morning I couldn’t shake off a sludgy, unsettled feeling. I got on with my morning, doing the chores that needed to be done, but I felt sad and disconnected. Lately I’ve been enjoying the ‘Daily Words of the Buddha’ emails (subscribe here). The emails include a verse from the suttas in Pali and in translation, and you can also deliciously listen to the chanted Pali version which really brings the teachings to... Read more

November 9, 2017

This morning, after letting the temple bunnies out of their hutch, I wandered down into the garden. There were holes gouged into the entire length of our lawn. Deep holes. The turf from each hole had been tossed aside and was dying in the cold air. These holes had been slowly appearing for months, but last night was a disaster – this morning there were more dark holes than there was green grass. If I thought that someone was sneaking... Read more

November 8, 2017

I’ve been reflecting on how I’ve changed over the past twenty years. In some ways, I’m the same old person. I still love to read and write, and have a connection with cats. I still hate exercise. My hair is still (mostly) the same colour. I have the same laugh. In other ways, I’m completely transformed. I was an atheist and I’m now a Buddhist priest – the photo is of when I first shaved off my long hair, just before... Read more

November 3, 2017

I am still on my retreat in Shropshire, writing like a demon. This morning I left my little apartment and went downstairs to the kitchen for my first cup of tea. As I came back into the stairwell I noticed a crumpled leaf on the floor in the shape of a little frog. I looked more closely. It was a little frog. I lifted her into the palm of my hand, gently closing my fingers so she wouldn’t jump out,... Read more

November 1, 2017

Yesterday I arrived at my week’s writing retreat at the Clockhouse in the Shropshire hills. I had been anticipating it all month, wondering what my fellow writers would be like, and whether I would manage to finish my novel as I hoped. I brought with me a heavy black rucksack full of greed, hate and delusion. In it was chocolate biscuits, posh crisps, marzipan, treacle biscuits, nuts, fruit bars, lemon and cardamom chocolate… After unpacking I met my fellow writers... Read more

October 30, 2017

This morning I noticed a new review on our book, Just As You Are. It was our thirteenth five star review. I felt a familiar rush of warm excitement – ooh, someone has been impressed by what we wrote! They liked it enough to give it five out of five stars! Receiving praise is so delicious. I wanted more. I clicked to see the other reviews this person had written, interested in what else she had read. I was hoping... Read more

October 29, 2017

My name is Satya and I am a Pureland Buddhist. The primary practice of Pureland Buddhists is the nembutsu. Here’s what Zen Master Hakuin had to say about nembutsu in a letter to a lay student in 1748, sternly warning him about what happens to students who aren’t diligent in their zen practice: In the end, they are reduced to fingering rosaries and tearfully reciting Nembutsu, a pastime that brings them no more relief than one of those ready-made toothache medicines... Read more

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