After leaving the Golden Pavilion at Kinkaku-Ji, we made our way to the Ryoanji Rock Garden and Zen Buddhist Temple where we cleansed ourselves, specifically our hands, and took some time to meditate, relax and soak in the beauty of our surroundings ⛩🌿🌱
The thing I fear most about the singularity is the loss of nuance and mystery. The eradication of the unexplainable deliciousness of awe.
I went to a Buddhist temple once. I didn’t care much about Buddhism anymore, but the building and the landscaping were like a magnet. There was this sweet old monk sitting on a little-raised platform in front of maybe 100 people, reading from a big book. His words were like music. But he could never get more than a few words out before he was interrupted by some young guy who wanted to parse out the exact meaning and translation of one or two terms. Then little arguments and discussions would ensue for 5, 10, sometimes 15 minutes. The old monk would nod and sit quietly while everyone hashed it all out.
Eventually, one of the other monks would quash the whole debate and the old, mostly toothless, Buddha would clear his throat and read a few more magic words. Of course, someone would interrupt and so on…
It was like seeing a beautiful woman loosen the belt on her silken robe only to be interrupted by having to fill out a bunch of paperwork. Suddenly, I realized this was life. Right here in front of me in it’s simplest form. Inexplicable beauty butchered by shitheads. I began to chuckle. Then I began to laugh and then I couldn’t stop. Everyone was silent except for me cackling. I still couldn’t stop. It was like some kind of well of laughter had opened up inside of me. I apologized and began to excuse myself, but the old monk slammed the book shut. “HA!” he yelled and leaped to his feet. Startled, I was silent. The old monk put his hands together as if moving in slo-motion and bowed to me with this booming look of love and I just burst into tears. Again, I couldn’t stop. Then after sobbing a bit, I started laughing again. Then sobbing - then laughing again. Finally, not wanting to be a nuisance I made my way over to the door and a couple skinny old monks took me through a side door out into the large garden. They led me over to a bench by a pine tree. The old monk was already sitting there! He must have ducked out when I was carrying on.
I sat down opposite of him and he nodded at me. We sat for a bit in silence. After a while, he turned his head towards the tree. I followed his gaze and saw a mockingbird on the lowest branch closest to us. The bird began to sing and it was startling. Perhaps it was the silence but the song pierced right through me. The bird went through its rounds of several different calls. And I’ll never be able to explain it, but then it was like I was everything. And it wasn’t weird at all. It was obvious and simple. Then the bird stopped singing and flew away. I stood up and bowed to the old man and he nodded and sparkled in some inexplicable magical way and off I went. I had a wonderful evening. I wandered around as the summer day came to an end, watching the people and the trees and the birds.
I went to a Chinese restaurant and had hot tea and the best hot-n-sour soup I’d ever had in my life. I contemplated becoming a homeless beggar there and just living off that soup and maybe sweeping the sidewalk of the Buddhist temple and garden. Of course, I’d gone down the road before. It was a good and nourishing road, but it was time to set off for new lands.
Karesansui: Tofuku-ji The dry landscape garden, can take many forms. Tofuku-ji, a Zen Buddist Temple, is designated as a National Site of Scenic Beauty. Here master gardener, Mirei Shigemori, did some pretty wild stuff indeed!