Saturday, January 28, 2006

What a wonderful life

Last night I went to a “progressive party” that took place at three different homes in Ehime. We began the party at Alexa’s house in Kawanoe (three towns over from me), where we enjoyed banana and strawberry dacaries. I was among a handful of people who got there first, and it was such a treat to see beautiful face after face arive. Some people had to travel two hours by train to get there, but the fact that so many people (fellow JETs) took the time to actually show up made the whole night very special. Next we went to another English teacher’s house for dinner. He made us all curry. There I met a beautiful japanese girl painter who looked like an angel and we talked about the philosophy of art (why do we paint: to spread ideas, to get in touch with our feelings, to explore the natural world, etc) and how in truth we never think about that stuff while we are actually painting but instead just delight in the feeling of the brush and paint sliding across the canvis and the way the colors move and vibrate and I fell in love and asked her what she was doing this summer and she said she was moving to slavania or someplace to get married. I also met a facinating guy (who’s appearance reminded me of the anarcho-punks I love in lawrence) And we talked about how effective counter culture is to the progresssion of society. He asked me strait up “I mean seriously, How has the punk movement beniffited the world?” We had a great discussion, covering topics such as vegitarinaism, teh tabacco industry, prisons, mysticism, and totoos. He was the kind of person who you feel like you know after the very frist glance, even before any words are spoken. A great new friend.
After dinner we all got on the train, at least 20 of us, mostly slightly drunk and very happy foreigners, and, well, to say the least, we gave the people on the train, who were mostly tired high school students, quite a show. we made it to our third and final destination, Dennis's for drinks and cookies. Most everyone also slept over at Dennis's, "packed like sardines." Last night I was surrounded by the most beautiful people, each one glowing. It think we all had a really good. Everyone seemed so happy, so appreciative. I planned to go to sleep a little early because I new I had to take the first train home in the morning (6:40) so that I could meet the Mormons at the Zen temple ( I asked them if they wanted to go and they said yes!). I didn’t get to sleep early, or at all, really, but instead cuddled with one of my friends, which was also wonderful. (It’s been a long time since I have slept next to someone).

So, up bright and early, the cold air holding the creamy glow of the morning above the farmland. I biked to the Zen temple as soon as I got into town, and when I arrived I found a small group of people gathered at the base of the stairs with cameras. I forgot that some of the monks go begging in the mornings during winter and as they descend the stairs it is quite a sight. So I decided to wait with them and take pics of the monks. The Mormons showed, smiling, and then the monks appeared, putting on their large conic hats outside the gate, and then quickly and quietly they walked down the stairs single file, begging bowl in hand, everyone absolutely silent, silent except for the camera shutters, and then, as if in a dream, the monks were gone. It was breathtaking. Literally. And it happened so fast. IT was like a butterfly suddenly appearing in front of you and then disappearing. Or, no, it was like a shooting star skating across the sky, holding you transfixed and breathless for what seems like eternity, for all time and thoughts stop in that moment of breathtaking beauty. And they looked so cute in their big hats and rope sandals, beautiful robes, no faces. After the meditation we went to the Mormon church and I saw about dozen Japanese people there who looked very tired and distracted, two kids playing in the front row, we sang songs, and the service was long and quiet and in Japanese. Afterwards I met man who had the same beads as I do around his neck and he immediately said smiling, “To ward off demons!” and then he made a secret, esoteric mudra with his fingers. I immediately new that he was a practitioner of the secret religion, the mikkyo, of Soto Zen. I asked him and he said he was, a look of complete understanding and friendliness shining out from his eyes. We talked about religions, he explained the pyramid idea where there is only one Truth, one God, and the light of that single Reality disseminates out creating many different religions. He drew a triangle in the air. I have no idea why he was at the Mormon Church. He asked if we could become friends and I said yes. So, that was great. Now I am going to nap.

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