Wednesday, November 30, 2011


The Cottage; It is finished, at least my son-in-law's hard work, various photos arrive through the day of the carpet as it is laid, him sprawling on the newly arrived sofa, waiting for his lunch at the garden table we carted down last time.  Emails, phone calls, funny texts and photos have arrived daily so I'm going to miss them and I expect he is going to miss going down to the cottage as well.  Sad times ;)
Yesterday I wrote something else but news flys by at the moment interceded by migrainal headaches which seem to cluster in that familar pattern the last few days.  One of the things i wrote about was Layman P'ang, so I will carry it forward.....

So what I had decided on writing back there at the top of the page before I deviated, was the problem that I have began to acquire 'stuff', if you put a carpet down you need a vacuum cleaner, beds need sheets, kitchen china and pans, so there I was complaining and then learnt of a 9th century Chinese monk called Layman Pang getting rid of his worldly goods. The book was found in the study, and the story goes that this monk decided to turn his house into a temple, he filled his boat with all his worldly goods (and his wife and daughter but I learnt later they survived this clearout) rowed out into the middle of the lake and threw everything overboard. And then with his daughter wandered round the countryside, all his sayings and poetry collected into a book. I must say mostly the sayings are too cryptic and of its time in history but he was instrumental for being a Zen 'ancestor'.

The book is called The Recorded Sayings of Layman P'ang (a Ninth Century Zen Classic) and is translated from the Chinese by Ruth Fuller Sasaki, Yokita Iriya and Dana R.Fraser. Given as a present to my partner in 1971 with a warm dedication for help in choosing the illustrationa of the book. Ruth Fuller Sasaki, an American who intrigues me and I shall go on to explore her character eventually, she was the person who invited LS to Japan and I wrote about her here.
One verse of P'angs musings

To preserve your life you must destroy it;
Having completely destroyed it you dwell at ease,
When you attain the inmost meaning of this,
An iron boat floats upon water.

Funnily enough it brings to mind 'Jesus' of Whitby who wanders around wrapped in a cloak completely oblivious to the world around him, muttering to himself and homeless he manages to get looked after by the community, another personality that needs exploring may be.


  1. The mere mention of migraines makes me shudder. Fortunately they are now rare for me.
    There is much satisfaction in the completion of a big project such as renovating a house. I'm not one of those who can get sorted and settled all at once--I tend to be tentative--getting used to the new space.
    It seems nice that you begin to enjoy the cottage during the holiday season.

  2. Hi MM, yes we are both looking forward to going up North, my son in law will have other preoccupations soon anyway, like looking after the three children before Xmas, as my daughter is going to Switzerland next week with the youngest to see her cousin, badly injured in a car crash....