Monday, April 03, 2006

Chiiori




Yasu’s going away party was a total success. At about 2 AM he left in tears.
Early the next morning Stacey and Sebastian picked me up and we headed down to Chiiori, the 300 year old farmhouse deep in the mountains. Please visit www.chiiori.org if you havent already. its a wonderful read.) On the way there we stopped by one of the famous vine bridges in the area and played on the rocks below it.
Chiiori is one of my favorite places in Japan because beyond the quiet isolation, the breathtaking landscape, and the earthy feel of the thatched roof and terraced farmland, the house is adorned with humans that are interested in such things. Beautiful, beautiful angels show up from all over the world to help farm, learn the ways of ancient Japanese architecture, or just be there to watch and rest. I was there to spend time with my friend Junya who I met there last time, as well as, of course, to retreat to the mountains.








And JETs from all over the world meet there. I met Matthew, a Canadian graphic designer, brilliant theologian, and devout Christian (in the best sense) with whom I shared hours and hours of discussion. He told me about his town in Takamatsu and how they have to separate their trash into 32 different categories (resulting in a decrease in waste by 80%!) A few spiritual questions we discussed: If we are the Image of God, made in his likeness, then is the universe some sort of cosmic mirror, and when God looks in he sees a reflection of himself? And when we look at God, are we finally looking directly at ourselves. (Eckhart: “The eyes through which I see God are the same eyes through which god sees me.”) And does that mean that we are to find God (or fully actualize God), by becoming as fully human as we can, finding salvation by complete involvement and immersion into this Life? (As apposed to the popular belief that is it in denying or avoiding or escaping from the human emotions and feelings and desires that causes salvation.) Matthew also helped fill in many gaps in my understanding of Christian history (he was a true biblical scholar), explained his form of Christian prayer “waiting in silence,” explaned some of the ways God communicates answers, and, the fascinating etymology of biblical words such as Jesus, Christ, and Satan. We discussed what humans have accomplished up until the present, and then, together we strained to see into tomorrow. We decided that nothing can stay long removed from God, the Timeless Being outside of which nothing exists anyway. Our very nature is to worship. With this understanding, we both relaxed (or at least I did) trusting that God is indeed the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, the ground and the goal. We also agreed that without suffering we could not grow, so we should thank God for the good and the bad things that happen to us. (and we agreed that one of the major mistakes people make is only thanking god for the good.)
























It was so wonderful. I must say that it is quite impressive that we can have inter-religious dialogues, arriving at profound points of agreement, when so much of the world is still bickering, fighting, and killing over what name to rightly call the Nameless, or what word we should attach to That which should probobly just be called "the Word." Or what we should know about the “Unknowable.” It is also my belief (and I share this with many others), that if we can find truths that all the religions agree on, then we might want to pay close attention to those points of agreement, considering those, above all else, as real truths, for they are not confined to any one language or culture. So, where all the world's religions agree is perhaps where we should spend a considerable amount of attention. Not to discard the diversity. No. In my opinion, the more diversity, the better. The more religions, the better. The rich multiplicity and variations in all the world's cultures and languages is proof that we are indeed creative (and therefore, we are indeed created in the image of God).



Anyway, in the early evening we took a break from the talking and all visited the nearby onsen. This one, if you remember, is co-ed. About ten of us all naked enjoying the sunset from a large, hot stone bath overlooking the mountains. I love getting naked, especially with a group of young, beautiful people from around the world who I just met in a three hundred year old farmhouse deep in the mountians of Japan.

The painful part of Chiiori house (and Life) is that it is like summer camp; You go there, you fall in love, and then, its over, and you return home. As the Buddha said: what comes together will fall apart.

I also got to meet some chickens that live on the farm, spend some quality time talking with Jackie the dog, and also one of the owners of the house, Mason Florence, who is, umong other things, a writer and photographer for Lonely Planet. All in all, (“God is the All in all.”) and it was a fuckn great night.

IN the morning I got to drum and sing on the porch with Matthew and Junya to the clouds that were dancing and spiraling upward like ballerinas skating across the valleys. The ever so soft pitter-patter rain and the roaring river below played deep within the music, as well as beneath and beyond it. And a crow, to our utter amazement, flew by and called out right on beat. Kaw kaw kaw. And after we all laughed and shook our heads in disbelief, the same crow did it again, kaw kaw kaw.


Matthew, Junya, and I left Chiiori round noon, and in the car we discussed the importance of Satan and sin for showing us exactly what not to be, and for showing us a more direct path to the light, to the truth (“Don't go this way.”) IN this way we depend upon Satan and therefore we can see why he was created and why he is an indispensable part of God’s plan. I made the comment, “so we could actually thank Satan for showing us exactly how not to be.” And Matthew casually replied, “I don't think we should give attention or thanks to Satan. We can thank God for creating Satan. Its important to always keep our attention on God.” Good Point.




Junya took us to his favorite vegan (!) café. That's right. A vegan café in Japan. The owners were a gorgeous couple who love world music, vegansm, health food, alternative energy, simple living, rare musical instruments, and Indian Philosophy. We had a “Live,” (“raibu”), a jam session on the tatami, and I tell ya I couldn’t have been happier. After that I felt like I was family. They made me some coffee out of roasted brown rice, with sugar made from sweet radish (Hokkaido daikon), spinach curry, and delicious banana tofu cake. I really want to open a Vegan Café with Charlie Meers someday, so this was another affirmation that it is doable and important.

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