stepping stones of truth

A journey along the path of life - the stones can be rough, smooth or even wobbly!

Monday, December 01, 2008

After Kyoto

I wrote in Kyoto Postscript "I felt that the trip had the atmosphere of a retreat", and there was the opportunity to go on a retreat with my meditation group on the edge of Dartmoor. I thought this would consolidate the Kyoto experiences nicely, and somehow set the seal on the visit.

It was with the group who follow the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh and was based in a Victorian house on a wooded hillside above a Dartmoor valley.

We got there just after dark on a chilly weekend, and woke to find that the world had changed.

It was as if we had been transported to a monochrome world, living within a Chinese scroll painting. No familiar hillside or fields across the valley.

There was a light dusting of frost on every thing in the landscape, and on the hillside garden.

Who needs to go to ancient Japanese temples on a Kyoto mountain? Here was the western equivalent. The Barefoot Barn is created from timber, and has underfloor heating and a crackling wood burning stove. Cosy meditations indeed! And such views from the windows across the valley to the moor - when you open your eyes.

We went, mindfully walking as a group, down the hillside between the bare trees to the still lake at the bottom of the valley.

It could have been Kyoto - but there was only the moor next to us, not a busy city - and no temple with curving eaves nor a tiled wall to surround it. Just a leafless hawthorn hedge.

But hidden under the autumn leaf litter, was this herald of spring. Ive only just come to terms with the chill air of winter. Spring is many cold grey months away.

We found stepping stones across a stream. I walked mindfully across at the back of the group - thinking of the title of this blog!

We stood and looked deeply at the water as it tumbled and rushed over the stones and down a small waterfall. And I was reminded of the words of a poem based on The Diamond Sutra.

You should see this world -
a drop of dew....
a bubble in a stream....
lightning in a summer cloud....
......a phantom, and a dream.


At 5:31 pm, Blogger Kerri said...

It sounds like a peaceful time, Val, and your photos show the beauty of the surroundings.
Lovely poem. Thank you!


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