Judith’s Buddha-Land, Part III

We Continue our Hike in the Woods.

 Salt Spring Island- Above Clouds

We begin our hike – again – in a Kingdom of Clouds.
Well above the Waterways, the distant and indifferent
Oceans that separate these Islands from the Sun.

Elements: Sky, so Big.  Water: so far away, yet shimmering,
inviting, calming, serene – millions of sequins.

A Million Stars in the Field of Light

So, the Earth is Next.
As are the Standing People,
the Friends who grow out of the Earth;
Protecting, inspiring, uplifting us.
Helping us, Healing us, Guiding us,
Feeling us, Freeing us, Softening the Blow
of the Pointless and Nasty Architectures
of man-made creation.

Sometimes Flower Solitary

Sometimes it’s a Solitary Flower.
It just calls to you.

No Loud Songs, no Rock’n’roll.
Just a quiet little Entity: happily growing
where they are planted.
Happily adding their delicious and humble
tune to the vocabulary of the local gallery.

Always appreciated because of their solitude.
Their “one-ness”.
Their subtle but sweet
Mirroring of the Human Condition.

We are truly Alone in our own Sweetness.

AND THEN …

Upturned Roots.

Upturned Roots of a SkyRocket Denizen

I had to print this picture BIG.
It’s just so Luscious and so Green and so Edible
and so Incredible.

These sculptures are not arrogant “installation art shows”
by those who pretend to have “insight”
into Human Nature.

These pictures do not stumble over themselves
in Intellectually-Ordained  Descriptives
that need Dictionaries and Law Degrees.

They are simply Found Art of the most Noble Kind.
Jungle Animals whose Days have ended in Glory:
steeped in the Green Benevolence of the Big Painter.
Painter of the Sky.  The Oceans.
Dreams of the Trees in the Burgundy
of Dusk.

The country of your Eye.
The comfort and shadow
of the small resting place
you call “Home”.

Green Infinity, Onward We Go

Green Infinity.
Onward We Go.
These Open Paths
Are simply Doorways into Trust.
Walking in the Palm of Some Big Hand.
Lined with cotton moss,
occasional Crickets.
Eagles Soaring.
And the odd
Skeleton
of things
that Left
the House.

Inadvertent Vertebrae Thoracic

These are simply Bones.
They belong here, more than I do.
Perhaps a deer, a cow, a large mammal.
We have the same bones; these are in our back.
They are delicately sculpted, every facet and dimension
has purpose.

Now covered in Moss and Straw,
it offers shelter to ants and small bugs.
And supplies yet another sculpture;
a true “installation” of true “art”
that someone gave his life
for the immortality of the Hills.

These things Speak to Us.

Just a Play

Sometimes, it’s just a Play.
Of Shadow, light & Love.
The things that Grow inside us,
and the crumbs we feed to our
only Child.

These things are Alone,
and they remind us of US.
They stay alone,
we pretend to “go” …
back to some place labelled “home”.

But we know we’re only travellers.

... and we will travel again.

And
We will Travel
Again.

Judith’s Buddhistic Paradise – Part II

Outdoor Plumbing The Thing about outdoor plumbing is this: if forces you to get in touch with your bowel movements.

Which is about Your Body, and its priorities.

Not your stupid iPhone.  Idiot Phone.  Text Messing.  What who’s neighbor is thinking about the color of your missing teeth or your mother’s favorite night-time fantasy.  Who cares anyway?

The Thing about Outdoor Plumbing, is, it’s part of slowing down and feeling the Breeze, the Breath, the Trees, the Depth.  The stupid silent and fragrant Wind that you’ve been ignoring in your Rush to get Nowhere.

The Thing about Outdoor Plumbing, is … it’s 100% organic, natural and gives back to the earth the very clay that we ingested mere hours ago.  Clay Hamburgers.  Clay Ducks.  Clay Coffee, Sugar and Creme.  Clay Pigeons and Parsley.

The Thing about Outdoor Plumbing, is that it’s You and You Alone with You.  Can you stand the thought of this Blind Date of Dates?  Can you sit comfortably and politely with Who You Are at the Smelly Center of Things and Celebrate Making More Smelliness at the Center of Things?

PART II of PART II – Hike In The Woods.

So, we go on a Hike in the Woods, on the second day of Arrival in the Lost Art of Now, in the Found Land of Buddha, on the Sacred and Unknown Humble mountain-top of South Salt Spring.

And we immediately find two Missing Submarines In The Woods.  The Beatles could have made a Song About This.  But, since they didn’t, I will.  “The Missing Submarines”.  Here we go.

SONY DSC

The Navy was Missing Two Submarines.
They were known to be “Items of Interest” to Captains and Cooks alike.
They fell in Love quietly, while playing with Whales,
and forgetting Guns, Warfare and Sailor’s Small-Tales.

They Eloped One Day.
The Whales helped Whisk them Away.
They ended up on a Mountain-top Buddhist Center
A little Rusty, Crusty and Old
but Thankful for being so Bold
as to Defy Logic, Proportion and Duty
To end up in a place of Magnificent Beauty.

And here they Sit, Passing their Time:
Poor as a Beggar, with Nary a Dime.
But their Hearts are Happy; Light as a Feather.
They endure Snow, Heat and Bugs…
(and all kinds of Weather.)
They Sing like the Whales – when No One’s Around…
They’re true-Blue Buddhists and their Bliss Abounds!

Runaway Submarine

Judith’s Buddhistic Paradise

(a Retreat atop an Island of Serenity).

Well, two days is not a long time to spend in Paradise.  Fortunately, Paradise has many forms, fingers and flavors.  It seeps into our lives through the Cracks In Things.

Judith has been care-taking at the KDOL Buddhist Retreat Center on Saltspring Island for some time.  She’s in charge of Gardening, occasional meals & errands and helping take care of the resident Lama, Lama Karma Phuntsok.

Besides her duties in taking care of residential business at the KDOL Center, Judith has organized a casual, “come-as-you-are” retreat for the end of August / early September  2013.  I was pleased to partake of 2½ days of sublime beauty, nature and gourmet cooking from the Mountain Diva Herself!

Judith Mountain Diva

One of the most pleasurable and spiritually-beneficial aspects of my stay on Saltspring was the delightful culinary creations, offered by Judith, any time of day that struck my fancy.

And being somewhat ‘city-lagged’, my waking hours were an odd combination of unpredictable sleeps, hikes, silences and star-gazing moonlight indulgences, that, all in all, had no rhyme, reason or season to them.

The women’s side of the retreat center, where Judith had staked out her territory, is a rustic village of small 1-room cabins, set around a temple or meditation building, and a kitchen.  The Kitchen was our favorite hang-out, basically because this is truly the temple of the digestive system!  And what offerings this temple does provide!

Deer at the KDOL Buddhist RetreatWe share this idyllic setting with Denizens of the Animal World.  Actually, didn’t see much else than Deer.  And plenty of them. Apparently, there’s nine or so that frequent the hill beside the kitchen area.  Four pairs of Does & Fawns and one occasional Buck.

Judith offers them kitchen scraps, which they make a nightly pilgrimage for, and who’d-a-thunk?  It seems that this indeed is their “pizza-of-the-day” treat; they come from miles for their evening rituals.  They kind of look at you funny.  With those Big, Deer Eyes.  So Cute.

But nervous creatures.  Make a loud noise, and they’re history.  I tried my morning Elk imitation, but they weren’t impressed.

One of my favorite parts of the whole journey is the Ferry Ride.  It’s always kind of a “religious experience”, riding these huge white honking boats across the scenic channel of water that separates the Mainland from the Gulf Islands, and the largest island: Vancouver Island.  Nice on sunny summer days, but nicer still, in its own damp, oceany, “west-coast” way, when the seasons turn – when grey skies prevail and the cool winds sing in the sails (so to speak: ferries have no sails).

Ferry Ride to Saltspring Island

Ferry Rides, for those living in this part of the world, are some kind of Right of Passage. You leave behind some fragment of lives lived, and, face to the wind, breathe in the fragrance of the Unknown, the Vapors, the mists of Uncertain but Fragrant tomorrows.

It’s kind of like a “going”, with no easy and certain picture of where you’re going to.  Perhaps a mini-re-birthing session of sorts.  With onboard Starbucks’ and Boat Burgers to boot.  It’s a treasure-chest of rich sensations.

Opposite ferry in Parallel UniverseSometimes, you can even see another ferry going the opposite way, in a neighboring “Parallel Universe”.  All for a seventeen-dollar foot-passenger ticket.  Cool, eh?  It even gets better when you’re a decrepit 65 years of age: it’s free to travel the ferries on week-days!  Whoa!

So, that’s a little bit of “how we got there”.  There’s two ways from the Vancouver side, one is direct from Tsawwassen; downfall is it’s only 1-2 times daily, and it takes a long time: total of 4 island stops, Salt Spring is the last!  The other way is Tsawwassen to Schwartz Bay (near Victoria), a 1.5 hour ride on the Big Ship, then a short half-hour ride to Salt Spring, one stop. Advantage: many sailings throughout the day.

Well, back to the Retreat.

One of the lovely things about this location, is the view of the ocean, in both directions – north and south, along the east edge of the Island.  You’re far enough above the water – 900 meters or so to scope out a majestic offering of blue shadow and lagoon, enough to inspire an artist, meditator or photographer for sure!

Ocean and Sky Panorama, looking east-ward from the Buddhist Retreat CenterYou can click on the picture above, which will hopefully show you an enlargement of this fabulous view from atop the Buddha’s Hill.

MUCH MORE TO EXPLORE in JUDITH’S BUDDHIST MOUNTAIN retreat … stay tuned!
(“Oh to Live on … Buddha’s Mountain … with the Barkers and the Colored Balloons… you can’t be twenty, on Buddha’s Mountain, but you’re thinkin’ that you’re leavin’ there too soon … you’re Leavin’ There too soon.”)

Island Life

Islands are Places we Visit.

For a day, a Lifetime, a year.

These places slow us down, fill us up,  calm us,  quench us, nurture us.  Remind us of Lost Spaces and Found Friends.   Dried Flowers, Oregano, the Shifting Sands of Time.

The Horizontal Emptiness: Quiet Latitudes where earth and sky blend, in seamless & harmonious misty pearl & granite.

There’s something beautiful about the Pacific Northwest Gulf Islands.  Something not shared by the Tropics, the Prairies or any other ceremoniously industrialized culture.   I first remember feeling this on a trip to Pacific Rim – then, not a National Park, simply called “Long Beach” – on Vancouver island, circa 1972.

We had all finished with High School; there was a Pregnant Pause while we, as young adults, considered our impending voyages and destinies in the machinery of Modern-Day life.   I went out to Long Beach on the invitation of a friend, drove out on my motorcycle.  Walked a long, long path down a tunnel of trees into an unbelievable land of windswept light, ocean air, and the continuous roar of pacific surf.

What my friend – already stationed there for a week – invited me into, was a place of letting go, a place of timelessness.  A place where the engines of City Living were illegal, annoying and unwanted.  A place where you could open up your senses to the vastness, the sparkling beauty of Big Nature and sense something beyond spoken words and named names.   None of the psychedelic music of this era could ever capture the full ambiance of this place; it had to be captured by the Open Mind of the Moment, the Quiet Heart of the deeper pulses of Man, pulses that Long for, and know of – as Kabir states – The Ocean Within The Drop.

So, Nature, our Pilgrimages to these Spots, the relationship that survives and thrives – on a cellular level – with the healing unguents of the naked Elements, is my Religion Of Choice.   If I can believe in Anything, I can believe in the Nature of Nature.  The serene essence of what speaks to us through the nameless beauty of the voices in the Natural Landscape.   Skyscape.  Seascape.

Perhaps it’s one of the few reminders of who we deeply are, inside ourselves.   Deep inside the Protocols, the Agendas, the Layers, the Architecture of Family, Roles & Relationships; deep beneath the Deadlines, the Schedules, the Itineraries.   Something inside aches to be still.  To be opened.  To be Heard, Felt, Spoken, Expanded, Healed, Relieved, Lived, Exploded, Loved, Held, Nurtured, ‘Wombed’, Entombed in the Gentle Hands of the Embrace of this very central, potent and indescribable Lover.

Once again, “Island Life” has reclaimed my Soul.  Fed me – the Deep Me, the Interior Me, the Central Me.   Reminded me of the Gentleness, Beauty, and Undying Hope at the Center of Things.   Inspired me with the Noble, Sensuous Curves of Mother Nature: woman of all women, Mother of all Mothers – all on Mother’s Day, to boot.

And … this was not meant to be a Mother’s Day tribute, but perhaps, in an intuitive, subtle manner, Mother winds her way into our hearts.  Nature is both a Fierce Warrior & Gentle Mother; these facets she has, two of many.  Perhaps Mothering and Mother’s Day embody a deep, significant need in all of us to be nurtured — at a level, quality and depth that is difficult to convey in words.

Finding Earth, Finding Self

“Nature” is not far from “Nurture” … perhaps the challenge is to know our own Nature, and to find our own Nurture, deeper than where the hands of earthly Mothers can reach.

Nature is at best a Mirror, which can reflect, define, acknowledge – the serenity, wisdom, peace and beauty we all contain at our core.    This – to me – is the real gift that we’re surrounded with, both in the Nature of Nature, and in the True Nature of Humans: the reminders of the essence of our Real Self, our True Gift, and our Definitive Journey.