there be Harmony in the Home"
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PLBF Southampton Sangha home dojo. (File
On 28th October 2007, a Buddha Rupa
statue that once belonged to an English Zen monk named Venerable
Zenko was ceremoniously inaugurated into our home dojo.
is the place in which daily I teach tai chi to individuals and
pairs and where, on a weekly basis the Southampton Shin Sangha
meet to meditate, study and try to put into practice the Buddhas
Geoffrey Croysdale, born the son of Mr. Nelson Charles Croysdale
on 2nd March 1919, died on the 23rd February 2007.
Pic: Golden Buddha in our Garden
of the Three
Wheels Buddhist Temple in London conducted his funeral
on the 5th of March 2008 and the Rupa is a small part of his bequeathed
the Ceremonial Inauguration I delivered this short speech:
less the last thing you pass before entering this dojo is a small
wooden plaque, pinned against the door frame - up at about eye level
on the right. It has hung there outside this dojo since day one,
which was September the 18th 2005. Before this it had hung there
in a slightly higher position just above the door into my previous
dojo in St. Mary's.
Here, as there,
it is easily missed because one passes all manner of inanimate two
or three dimensional objects on the way to the dojo; notwithstanding
the fact that then, as now, one has to walk through my 'living space',
up the stairs and past my bedroom to get to the actual dojo in the
first place! In other words, a person that is welcomed into this
"my" dojo is at one and the same time welcomed into my
Golden Garden Buddha
By the same
token, a person who gets as far as this dojo becomes, before they
get there, quite aware that they are not visiting a monastery, or
a temple - or any kind of 'centre' of learning, religion or commerce.
The plaque outside this door is easily missed because, I am pleased
to say, my home has in it lots of pretty things to look at; to be
distracted by - or drawn to. Furthermore, this house is also home
to my partner Mary and her 11 year old son Lawrence. Her feminine
touch has added pretty distractions to this home that were not present
in St. Mary's.
She tells me that following her first visit to that place - more
than three years ago now and as a prospective Tai Chi student -
the 'message' she left with was the essence of those words written
on that little wooden plaque above the door. It says:
there be righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the
If there be beauty in the character, there will be harmony in
If there be harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation.
When there is order in each nation there will be peace in the
Credit for these
words is given there on the plaque as being a "Very old Chinese
Proverb". This may, academically, be debated but this is not
really necessary because the thing is only a trinket and indeed,
many cultures or religions may lay claim to recommending the same
or being the first or last to say, preach or endorse what amounts
to no more than "personal responsibility" and good old
If the statement
was very old and of Chinese origin then it would I suppose (academically)
best be further categorized as either Buddhist
Just "Chinese" is not enough; we need a date. The older
it is, the more likely to be Taoist. If this were so the proverb
would be referring to the Taoist concept of "household priest"
wherein the head of the house had a 'parish' that extended no further
than to the front door. This, they suggested, was enough!
was once asked questions that inquired as to the nature of "the
moon and the stars". He eventually replied "Look at the
place you stand".
If we were just
able to understand ourselves in our own homes - we might go on to
try to understand our next-door neighbour
and all of those
that live in the road, both sides, and the next road, in this town
and in the next town, in the county, in the country
Should we come
to understand all of this - we might then be ready to understand
the moon and the stars. Till then we should at least "look
at the place we stand."
a predecessor to the two dojo's already discussed. This first
one however was part of a community hall and unlike like those that
followed in so much as that it was not intrinsic to or part of my
This, my first
dojo, was opened to the public in February 1996 and, because I provided
what some people said they wanted, this being a mish-mash-mix of
the exotic this and that, this venue quite soon became quite popular
and its reputation as a 'centre' grew.
can be pleasant, it does I have found, has its drawbacks.
Dictators can be awfully popular - this does not mean they are always
right! To maintain power and influence a dictator must see to it
that he gets it all his own way and then things stay the way they
I am not in the position of a dictator. Thankfully, I am as confused,
as insecure and as lost as the person next to me - just as he or
she is as confused, insecure and as lost as the person that is next
to him or her.
If ten years
of study of the Buddha's teachings has taught me anything it is
has taught me that! We all suffer - we are manipulators and we are
the manipulated - and we can always justify our actions. Likewise,
if we can put ego aside, we can learn from our mistakes. In hindsight
I consider the mix that I offered at my first dojo was a mistake.
It confused maters.
So, when I moved
the dojo from the hall to within my home I took that opportunity
to make certain delineation's and clarifications. Tai Chi has in
this room henceforth been taught on an individual and personal basis
only - and a fair fee is charged. Furthermore I explain to all students
before they begin that the decoration and ornamentation in the room
reflects only the fact that they are being taught Tai Chi by a person
who is a practicing and apparently devout Buddhist.
Over the years
I have begun to learn that one need not go out to try to change
the world or put right wrongs. I have learnt that it is more important
to 'take care of the home' and go about ones business with non-ado.
This is the manner in which I have sought to run this my dojo since
it has been here in my home. There is room here for Tai Chi because
I (with Mary's assistance) have made sure that this is so. The Amida
Buddha Shrine is here because the Sangha through their generous
contributions has made sure that this is so - and it is their devotion
that will be blessed and acknowledged on this day of inauguration.