Simple housewife, accidental priest and spiritual teacher
Greetings, my fellow pilgrim.
Thank you for visiting my website and sharing this spiritual adventure with me as we tread the pathway to awakening together – sometimes reveling in the wide open and glorious vistas, sometimes stumbling lost in the dark forest, sometimes in companionable silence, sometimes eager to share a story, sometimes dancing, sometimes sleep-walking, through sunlight, moonlight and occasionally eerie eclipses… until our ways should once more part. We have touched each other through cyberspace and connected in a bond known as “go-en” in Japanese Buddhism: a meeting that has been fated since time began and has now come to fruition. I am so grateful that we have finally met 🙂
So let me tell you a little bit about me…
I have been a career mother since my first daughter was born in 1980, followed by a son in 1982 and my youngest daughter in 1990. I was living in Japan in the 1990s, as a stay-at-home Mum and during that time I became deeply engaged in the traditional arts and cuisine, and inspired by its beauty and profound, ancient culture. At that time, I had little knowledge of Buddhism beyond an awareness of its considerable influence on all facets of Japanese culture. Then I was diagnosed with cancer. And as often happens when faced squarely with one’s own mortality, it was a great wake-up call to me to carefully reflect on how I had been living my life and to ask some deep questions about the meaning of my life. I was very blessed that the cancer was eradicated with surgery and treatment, and every day since then I have counted as a day might not otherwise have had, and felt a continued profound gratitude for this gift of life.
Whilst in Japan, I lived in a small rural village, on the side of a sacred mountain, next door to a 1000-year-old temple. After my cancer treatment was finished, the temple priest suggested I undertake Japan’s most ancient pilgrimage – the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage – as an act of gratitude for my healing. I traveled the 1000 kilometer pilgrimage by public transport, hiking up many steep mountain paths and meandering through the streets of the cultural capital of Kyoto to visit the 33 sacred places dedicated to Kannon (known in China and the West as Kuan Yin). As the journey progressed I became increasingly aware a mysterious energy, strange and exhilarating, that seemed to emanate from these sacred sites so that by the end of the journey, I felt a profound personal transformation. From this life-changing experience, I wanted to learn more about the spiritual traditions associated with the pilgrimage.
I returned to live in Australia, but continued to undertake the pilgrimage annually, walking long sections of the traditional route and, as the years went by, taking thousands of prayer petitions to offer at the temples from people all over the world who heard about my annual journey. One year, the priest with whom I had undertaken much of my learning, said that it was time for me to become ordained as a priest. I was surprised because it never occurred to me to become a priest. I was actually very reluctant to proceed because I had already heard about the extremely physically and mentally demanding regime required to undergo initiation in this Tantric school of Buddhism, which I thought I could never get through, even if I wanted to! However, I unquestioningly trusted that my teacher, who I believe to be a living incarnation of Kannon, could see something in me, in my deepest being, that I myself could not see, and so I returned the following year and was ordained at Koyasan as a jukai priest in the Japanese Vajrayana Buddhist tradition.
I am still a simple housewife and now a grandmother too, but I am no longer reluctant to be a priest. Since my ordination in 2001, I have been blessed many wondrous and mystical experiences that fill me with awe at the strange beauty and mystery of existence. Although there have been many times when I have been filled with crippling doubt about my ability to pass on the profound wisdom that has been so generously imparted to me by many enlightened teachers, I trust that the deeper vision my teacher had of me is realised when I put on the sacred robes of my lineage that goes back to the Buddha himself. When I speak the words of the Dharma (the profound teachings of the Buddha), it is the wisdom energy that is at the essential core of all of us that is voiced and resonates with the wisdom energy within you waiting to be awakened.
I believe that developing an awareness of the beauty inherent in ourselves and our world is the core of awakening to our own natural wisdom, joy and unconditional love. The Esoteric Buddhist tradition focuses on awakening beauty through rituals, images, and sounds, and I hope to provide you with the spiritual lessons whereby that awesome beauty is awakened in you too.
With hands joined in supplication, I bow to you and invite you to join me on this spiritual adventure to awakening.
Wabi’an, which means “Refuge of Peace and Compassion,” is a Buddhist chapel dedicated to Kannon, known as Kuan Yin in China, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Russell, Cate’s husband, built the chapel using local materials of limestone, with jarrah and marri timbers. It has been constructed using the dimensions of the classical Greek Golden Ratio, considered to have sacred properties because it is ratio that is found in nature. Regardless of your spiritual faith (or even with no faith), it is so peaceful to just sit inside the quiet space surrounded by natural bushland and listen to the birds singing hymns of praise.
Wabi’an has been consecrated as a sacred place, not only by having the traditional Esoteric Buddhist rituals of consecration performed, which includes petitioning the spirits of the trees and earth and wind and sky for their permission, but it has also been acknowledged by a local Indigenous elder as a site that is sacred to the Nyungar tribe of south-west Australia. This is a place that is sacred to the Wargyl, the ancestral Serpent who created the many waterways in this region, including the estuary just to the east of Wabi’an, and who journeyed from the sacred spring on the banks of the estuary, under the ground along a pathway that travels through Wabi’an, to lay her eggs on the banks of the lake just to the south of Wabi’an. The Wargyl’s eggs are also recognised as thrombolites, which are the most ancient living organisms on this planet. There is an altar within Wabi’an that is dedicated to the Wargyl, and it is significant that Kannon takes the form of a snake in the esoteric texts related to the Kannon pilgrimage sites in Japan.