Saturday, September 03, 2005
I just discovered garage band on my computer and have been recording my album (to be released by then end of this year), which is one reason why I haven’t been updating you as frequently. We will begin this story time with Sunday of last week. At the temple I got to see a monk raking the Zen garden, as well as a cicada lodged in an anthill. Then on Monday I had a party at my house. I made a vegan dinner of Quinoa, rice, veggies, bbq tofu, and salad, and some people brought sake and fruit. We watched Mystic River then 4 people stayed the night, and I have four futons, so that worked perfectly. We all slept on the tatami floor in my room. The next day I had my last Japanese lesson in Matsuyama. We had a little party. I ate lunch at the University down the street, which brought back sweet memories. That evening I met the owner of the pet store down the street from my house. He saw me holding a little spider plant I found and I said (this is my new pet) and he pointed to a large one in front of his store and said, "I give to you." So now I have two new plants!
Thursday I got my schedule for this semester. I have 6 middle schools, one a week, as well as a different grade school every Wednesday. My first lesson will be a self-introduction. I have prepared a jeopardy game and a gambling game. At one school they wanted me to teach an art class so I planned an exquisit corpse lesson, calling it "misfits." I also made a little zine about myself, including picks of my family and hometown, for all my new English teachers.
I was introduced to my own soft spot Friday at work, reading the news on the internet, and imagining my sister, who lives/used to live in New Orleans, having to watch the city she loves die. My compassion, my desire to alleviate the suffering of others, crashed into me like a storm, and at the same time, a sorrow I cannot describe, but I will try.., a heavy, haunting sorrow stirring deep inside my center, for my sister, for my countrymen, I feel that ethnocentric level of care alive and wailing. I did not feel this deep aching sorrow for the tsunami victims. Not like this, anyway. This is new. I heard that meditation and spiritual unfolding involves deeper sorrows. Deeper identity, larger embrace, bigger burden of inclusion, and sure enough, here it is, the muddy waters of a flooded city, the muddy waters of my sorrow flooding my heart. And yet, the beauty of it all, the secret of suffering is that it turns into compassion, the great vehicle, the Christ. Suffering is grace, for it delivers us to the other shore. To quote my frined Mike, "understand that all of this suffering is the birth pangs of a luminous
New human consciousness." well put. Suffering is a sign of the capacity to care. Which is love, which is behind everything. God is love.
You know the song. And that soft spot, that painful open wound that reveals itself in sad times, is one reminder that our deepest coar is Love.
I just heard that Jane is safe. She left this morning in an army helicopter. But the silent heaviness in my chest and stomach is still there, and I am so close to tears I can feel them rippling behind my eyes, waiting to pour. It is such a great lesson in impermanence. And that nature will do whatever it wants to. It will take out whole cities. It will attack itself, kill itself with planes and bombs, it will wash itself away. Impermanence, transiency, runs the whole show here. And we cannot predict it, and we cannot control it. Storms wash away cities, and life goes on.
But the fact that it was my sister over there…. I imagined having to buy a ticket home to see my dying sister who was beaten senseless for her wallet at a tent city in Baton Rouge. The suffering and tragedy in this world is so immense, how can anyone's heart even begin to feel the pain. But there is also so much joy, so much birth and beauty, our hearts cannot stretch wide enough to feel all these things. I think Huxley said that our brains are reductions valves, because if we could actually know who we are and what is going on, we would fry out. The love and pain we get is nothing compared to what we are really involved with.
Today, Saturday, Dennis, my new friend who looks just like Mike Parker, took Jesse and I to his favorite place deep into the mountains. “this is where I went on my birthday.” We parked by a bonsai farm: fields of tiny trees in pots. Being in the presence of one bonsai is breathtaking enough, but to be surrounded by them! The old man training the trees smiled as we passed. We hiked into the mountains, tiny frogs jumping out of our way. We passed secret, moss-covered cemeteries, stone buddhas hidden in shadows along the road, water trickling from above, the sound of the river echoing off the rocks. The water hole we went to was emerald green, cold, and smooth green rocks cradled the entire scene like the soft hands of a goddess.
Afterward we walked down to a temple next to a humongous tree, whose moss covered roots were the size of my apartment. Tiny pools of rainwater in the roots reflected the blue sky, and rows of old warn down Buddhas and graves stones stood watch.
This was the first day I got to escape into the raw nature of this island, the mountains, the forest, the secret temples and cemeteries, the green rocks, the mushrooms, the water trickling down, tiny crabs scatter, the frogs hop, the cicadas sing, the water rushes, the trees stand, and we, the people, pass by, eyes twinkling. The smell, the perfect perfume of nature, I new that somehow this was the smell of my ancient body, Gaia's BO, and I felt so alive and fresh out there in the forest.
Posted by David at 4:35 AM
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