Nanzenji

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The polished black taxi turned at the light, weaving a path down the left side of the boulevard, following the tracings of a shallow river.

A single white water bird stood motionless at its center, as if plucked out of the gold leaf of a screen painting from a 10th century palace. The silent driver navigated smoothly up the gentle slope towards the pine green mountains.

The quiet Sunday scene unfolded. Two women sat poised on fragile stools at the edge of the narrow rock canal, focused intently on postcard size sketchbooks. Children taking their parents on stroller adventures, skipped up the narrow walks. A petulant two year old with tilted helmet sprawled out in his father’s bicycle basket.  Silently we watched as the scenes rolled by our window. Was it something in the quality of the light? The deep angles of mid October deepened the shadows. We stopped talking about what we saw and observed in silence. This is Kyoto Japan, and we are going to see Nanzenji Temple.

Even a week ago, I did not know I would be here today.

fullsizerenderThe trip was so hastily planned, I had no time to pack any preconceived notions. No room for worriment in our new lighter, sleeker luggage, still dusty from Tel Aviv. Cautious rumination on potentials and possibilities was just too ponderous for this brief window of opportunity. When an unexpected blessing flies in your window, best not to pick up the fly swatter.

Unforeseen adventures have been thrown down before us like shiny pebbles on a path, daring us to follow; demanding our expansion. It is an unexpected pleasure to find myself right here, breathing on the other side of the world. Without question it is the mysterious workings of the divinities on our behalf, ours is not to plan, ours is to accept the challenge.

The seats of the Toyota “COMFORT” were covered in spotless white knit with tatted lace edges.

The white-gloved driver paused at the traffic light waiting for the grandparents and some children on bicycles to pass. With a grand wide arc of a right turn I was jolted out of my “Zen flute” reverie and reminded of the left side drive when a passing car appeared to sport a toddler driver. Differences, opposites, are disconcerting in habitual behaviors like driving, language, customs, and affectations.

Yesterday we galloped across the Japanese landscape at 180 mph on the bullet train, released from urban Nagoya by the un-breach able Japanese standard; a five day work week.

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The first bullet train was invented in 1964 by Hideo Shima from Tokyo, Japan.Its launch occurred in October and coincided with the Tokyo Olympics. Bullet trains travel up to three times the normal speed of a train.(https://www.reference.com › History › Inventions)

I reserved a tour for Saturday afternoon, a useful practice for understanding “the lay of the land” in unknown territory. After an accidental circumnavigation- twice actually-of the Kyoto train station complex and it’s multilevel shopping areas we located our tour bus and cheerful guide.

Five hours later we tumbled out the left hand door, having completed a very brief acquaintance with three magnificent Buddhist Temples. Time was short, but “Hit and Run” tourism is not what we do. It did however solidify our intention on this, our only day here, that we would to find a quiet spot in nature for personal contemplation. To choose one sacred place to welcome into heart and memory was the task. This is Kyoto Japan; there are 1600 Buddhist and Shinto temples and shrines in this ancient city. What began as a choice, became a quest.

When moving north to south the movement of the wind of “un-creation” called “hurricane” changes direction.

Northern hemisphere whirlwinds, be they tornado, hurricane or even “dust devils” spin in a counterclockwise direction. Conversely in the Southern hemisphere, it is clockwise motion that marks a Tropical Cyclone or a Typhoon. I imagine it all balances out on some planetary scale. Otherwise wouldn’t we be moving through the universe like a Catamaran on a breezy day?

I don’t know what reversals of energies might operate on the longitudinal axis. What elemental polarities exist here in the land of the “Rising Sun” that move in the opposite at home. Could it be the frenetic multitasking of the West is an antonym for this culture? There is something different here; a single point focus to the task at hand that seems to generate deep layers of practiced mindfulness.

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In the predawn hours, by the glow of the ipad, I studied the possibilities.

Wading through countless comments and reviews of the “important” temples it became obvious; like faces and cultures, they are all interesting, all beautiful. The survival of these places of worship and understanding across epochs; political upheavals, wars and destruction are a reflection of the devotions of thousands of caretakers, across 100 generations. I choose a Temple, pinned it on my Google map, and went back to sleep.

My plan was to show the taxi driver the map on my phone showing both Japanese characters and English name and address; all potentialities covered. Ditching our overnight bag in a locker, we sprinted the two escalators, across the plaza of a thousand tourists, past the city buses, around the Cube café selling everything with fish in it, and found the Taxi stand. Spotting the curving lines of family cadres waiting for taxis, I assumed I had plenty of time.

注文     単純    バランス

 With the efficiency and speed of a Toyota assembly line, the long queue of impeccably dressed Japanese families on outing were dispatched into cabs. We found ourselves almost next up, phone in hand, glasses on nose and my map point was gone! Believing it to be rude to fumble our directions while others are waiting, we panicked, and stepped out of line. As seems to be the custom here, out of the ethers assistance appears. In a person whose sole function is to alleviate whatever congestion may impact the flow, a young uniformed English-speaking avatar of Japanese hospitality stepped up and asked,

“Can I help you?”

Glasses abandoned, my finger pointed to the green swatch on my map, its center marked with a swastika; the symbol for a Buddhist Temple. Yes, it’s the energy reversal thing. Take the reviled symbol, turn it the other direction and align it flat with heaven and earth, it means “All is well”, a symbol of life to Hopi, Celts, Hindus Jainists and yes, Buddhists.

“We would like to go there, would you tell him please?”

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A smile, a bow and we were installed in our white-seated chariot. We had moved beyond the contained clamor of a thousand weekend escapees from Tokyo and Osaka.

Unlike a New York City or Tel Aviv taxi ride, the car was quiet. Our driver’s musical preferences remained a mystery and his cell phone was silent. He was, in fact, doing only one task; taking us to our destination.

I looked down at the map and finding my glasses in my pocket, I came to realize. We were headed someplace else. We were going to a different Temple, a name I didn’t recall seeing. Nanzenji

It too was situated in a green space at the edge of the mountain, marked by a swastika. For a fleeting moment we considered attempting a change mid route and realized the futility of communication. We also realized all that had transpired for the purpose of rerouting our mission.

Nanzenji was chosen for us, the magic had begun.

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Silently we ascended into quiet neighborhoods standing with shy elegance behind their wood gates and stone walls, gliding directly into the waiting arms of ancient the Holy Cedars, Camphors and graceful Pines on the steep side of the mountain. My heart sunk when I saw the parking lot crowded with tour buses and hustling tourists. But our driver didn’t stop there, he moved upward down a small street, and then a lane. He pulled up at the base of a stone walkway and stopped. Pushing his front seat control, the back door opened and we were deposited on the damp street.

We stepped out of the car and climbed the steep rock step, at the gate between the worlds. The sense of stillness was so dense it seemed we could lean into it and not fall down. It was the sound that entered our awareness first. Before even looking up to our destination, there was the sound. The sound of moving water against cut rock.

As we stood on the veranda of this sacred space I heard a quiet whisper, “ In this place there is no sense to struggle for separateness.” As we turned to climb the hill towards the first gate I heard only their grateful sigh, as souls dropped into the sacred patterns of the water element, each ending this journey and beginning another.

And so began the journey.

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Water from the mountain, flowing down the cut rock path

washing clear the traffic of mind and senses

Water from the mountain, flowing down the cut rock path

dressed in a sparkling pattern of diamonds

Water from the mountain, flowing down the cut rock path

dancing the song as given, singing the mantra

Water from the mountain, flowing down the cut rock path

order simplicity balance order simplicity balance

                                                                                                                                                               Cak Kyoto 2016

http://www.nanzen.net/index.html

Color Me Yellow and Sing Me a Song

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If you believe your life is random and separate, read no further

Move along down your uncertain path, unencumbered by mystery

Pay no attention to the music that underscores your life

It will only confuse and befuddle an only ME

 This life I have chosen a fine concerto written for the key of WE

Optimistically performed in the chaff of a corn field, on a stormy day in October

A melody of connection sent out on the wind, set free by design

Not a prudent choice, but mine to make, this time ‘round

We imagine the perfect phrases from a polished instrument

A clear tune moving through time- forward and back, illuminating the revered

Human egos and the flotsam of strong currents render their divine melody

Be lost to whirling winds, gnawing teeth, and inattention

I am not a mid age woman with a crow on my head

I am actor and audience in the Opera of matter, movement, and miracle

The symphony of connection is a birthright, a codex to be savored; one life at a time

Perfect phrases from a polished instrument we can all hear

 

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We took a ride to see the leaves in October.

We went to celebrate our harvest of good health with the glorious colors of autumn.

We went in search of apples, cider doughnuts, blue skies and red Maples.

We went with a sense of immediacy; defendable to those living close to the earth, or those not long for this world. “Hurry let’s go, before they are gone….”

It is one of the miracles of impermanency that in their last glorious days, any leaf, on any tree, will individuate with glowing authenticity. Even as it drifts back to its Earthly origin a single leaf shouts out “This is who I am and this was my experience here, let me sing my song and shout my colors. Let me share this with you!”

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We took to the road to witness our world as luminous, by the leaves made numinous

North out of Florida, through Georgia and into the mountains, we journeyed heavy of tire, but light of heart in the roving ranchette that is Minerva. Having spent many months in a forced retirement community known as “Storage,” Minerva was ready to rumble. The quest to savor and sample the glorious days of Harvest is an ancient tradition in my family. Three generations wandering country roads on a Sunday afternoon after church. Our elders named the trees, read the colors for weather omen, happily radiating us with multi- generational layers of earthly experience.

“Remember the Nor’easters last year that took them all down? The ice storm of 58?”

The colors on Kodachrome forever preserved in my mind. Musty sweaters and piles of squash, an over ripe apple, the last yellow jacket; sounds and smells illuminated by the Halleluiah chorus of falling leaves in sun bright colors, these images live in my soul.

Life isn’t a sure thing. Learn from the imperative of the “Beautiful Day.” Go now!

 

The Leaves were honored in countless tributes in October.

We saw them. Red Maples and rusty Oaks, Hickory and Beech standing against a clear blue sky swept clear of humidity. After the brilliant but monochromatic gold of New Mexico, then multi-textured, perpetual green of Florida, I thought I would weep at the beauty. I think my brain hadn’t processed color and light at this magnitude for a very long time. I drank in the colors by the gallon. My ancestors wiped pie sticky fingers on worn aprons, and smiled.

The leaves sang their colors simultaneously. A vast chorus, all singing a different song. They had been the subtle back up musicians of green; anonymous and safe. These individuals in their last days were accorded all due respect as they announced their own demise. Remember the childhood celebration of the single leaf? The favored one plucked out from thousands by a small hand. It’s beauty enshrined between ironed wax paper and hung in the window.


 Individuation is a philosophical, spiritual and mystical experience (Jung, 1989b, p. 294). It is the goal of                   our psychological development and in metaphysical terms amounts to God’s incarnation (Jung, 1989b,                         p. 157). Individuation is the central concept and purpose of Jung’s Analytical Psychology (Jung, 1989a, p. 209


single leaves

So much diversity; clear and brilliant as they prepare to fall and rejoin the ultimate unity. All is exposed in the autumn of life; nature and nurture, character and cultivation. Attached and entwined, the scarlet poison ivy insinuates itself into the heights crawling its way up on the bark of trees. The woody grapevines and their clever corkscrew wrappers; we can see their trickiness clearly in October. The artifice of expansion is useless in Fall. Drop the yearning; a leaf life is but one season long. Better to go out singing.

In what was once a wall of analogous green, each different species is shouting out their identity, “Look at me! I am not a Maple or an Oak. I am a Beech and my essence is yellow!” Each leaf differentiating their experience from the thousand on the same branch. A fungus here and caterpillar there, a sunny spot or shady struggle, its time for the finale. As a leaf, in the bright short days of October, is this the best time to self actualize? Or the only time?

This magnificent display of innate creativity just before returning to dust, is it a last ditch dump of all the glory you came with, but never used?

Are you really any wiser or more beautiful than the “Greenies” of July? Or are they just too engorged with tomorrows to create extraordinary colors today?

Or is it the grace of clarity that arrives when we realize we are leaves and not the tree.

Happy Harvest

 

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A self-actualizer is a person who is living creatively and fully using his or her potentials.

 “What a Woman can do, she must do”

http://psychology.about.com/od/

theoriesofpersonality/a/hierarchyneeds_2.htm