Saturday, May 25, 2013

Purity in Emptiness

'Wesak is that time at the Full Moon of May in which the Christ gathers the entire Spiritual Hierarchy together in meditation to invoke the forces of Shambhala.
The Buddha, representing those forces, appears and blesses humanity.'

We reached the top of the steps with the moon following, rising from the valley to bathe the upper trees.  The squat, perfectly squared roof of a small temple hall was beginning to glow with blue.  

Close to one hundred people were seated on the ground around the main hall.  I'd seen many of them at the cable car station below, representatives of two of Japan's current 'booms.'  The energy junkie yoginis in Thai pants and form-fitting tops sat cross-legged on the ground, slight smiles covering faces perched above perfectly straight backs.  Yama girls with large backpacks were perhaps a little overprepared for a night spent in the chilly heights.  

On the platform before the main hall, a very small woman of incredible years was chanting loudly, powerfully, as a group of monks wrapped in saffron responding in turn.  Mantra finished, she moved slowly toward the inner sanctum of temple, as a trio of young miko drifted from the wings, mouths covered in white surgical masks to keep their breath from soiling their offerings.  As they came to center stage, the monks started up in what was more song than chant, with a melody strangely reminiscent of a Christian hymn.  The flute, it too Western, came in, notes spilling over the crowd which passed flame from candle to candle.  I could've been in church.

The hymn shifted into chant again, and the whole crowd lifted their candles as one.  The monk's chant was interspersed with the voice of a woman translating it into English, both languages telling us that our combined light can dispel the darkness in the world, and before passing our light from one to another, we must first ignite the light within our hearts.

Moreso than the candles, my daughter was ignited by the light of the moon.  She passed back and forth around people on the ground, coming over occasionally to watch the miko float, or listen to the horns of the monks wail. Her frenetic movement drew angry looks from two or three in the crowd, and within my own self, agitation began to well up.  Yet all of us who'd come here for a dose of the spiritual -- particularly myself  -- should look to my daughter with profundity, at a being without pretense, perpetually in the now, a being completely spilling over with love and light.

On the turntable: Charlie Christian, "The Genius of the Electric Guitar"
On the nighttable:  Amy Chavez, "Running the Shikoku Pilgrimage"

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