Eschatological Being

Eschatological Being
Vertical Particularity meets Horizontal Universalities

Saturday, October 3, 2015

My First Kyoto Visit

Muso Soseki wrote this poem:

A runaway son
will never own savings
throughout his life
My treasure
is the cloud on the peak
the moon over the valley
Travelling east or west
light and free
on the one road
I don't know whether 
I'm on the way 
or at home

This week I spent three memorable days in Kyoto.   Here are some of the places where I was able to sit zazen at these locations:

Tenryu-ji (this garden was actually designed by Muso Soseki.




Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Jesus and the Suffering of Children – A Devotion and Prayer

The image of the drowned three year Syrian boy reminded me of a devotion I gave in church some sis years ago on the same day.   It seems that suffering is an ongoing reality of our age that leaves us wondering why.   And certainly that question must be asked and never ignored as long as one person suffers in this world.   But that doesn't mean that we also shouldn't ask, where is hope or what is our response?   These questions, too are important.

Last week thousands camped in tents in southwestern China on Saturday after a magnitude-6.0 earthquake destroyed thousands of homes, killed one person and injured 320, state media reported.
At the epicenter of Thursday's quake in Yao'an county, nearly 22,000 people took shelter in some 3,000 tents, and emergency crews rushed in quilts, rice, cooking oil and other supplies, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
The quake displaced some 250,000 people.  Yunnan is part of a quake-prone region bordered on the north by Sichuan province, where a magnitude-7.9 quake last year left almost 90,000 people dead or missing.
In 1988, a magnitude-7.1 quake in Yunnan near Myanmar killed 930 people. More than 15,000 people died after a magnitude-7.7 quake in the province in 1970.
What is our coping strategy when we see so much suffering in the world?  I don’t know about you, but sometimes when the numbers get so big and the country is so far away, it leaves me numb. 

It reminds me of a story told by the author Phyllis Wheatley, that once in 2001 she was visiting a spiritual friend who had constructed and established multiple orphanages and schools in India. 

When she mentioned to him about a devastating earthquake in India that had occurred that year where many had died or were left to suffer unbearable conditions.

His reply to her was,  “I can’t deal with it or even think about it.  It is just one more overwhelming devastation visited upon a third-world country.”

So often when we are bombarded with suffering we shut down.  We turn away and try to get on with our own lives. 

But that is not what Jesus does.    And I probably could have picked a hundred stories from scripture that highlight this, but I chose this week, one that deals with children, since we are in the midst of Music Camp this week.

Mark 10:13-16

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

Jesus was always saying come to me.  He was always gathering up the suffering of the world into his arms, always turning to it.  He was always compassionate. 

He knew that compassion was the answer to any tragedy, no matter how big or how small. 

In his gathering of the children, in his healing of the sick and demon possessed he was bearing witness to the suffering of the world and to the promise and hope that his redeeming love has for the world through his Kingdom.

How we respond to suffering can be shaped by Jesus.  We can feel hopeless or overwhelmed – we can turn away and just live the best we can.

Or we can turn toward that suffering and bear witness to it.  Acknowledge its existence. It might not seem much, but in doing so we are not hiding from the reality of the suffering of others or that perhaps Jesus is in the midst saying to those who are suffering come to me.

One way is through our prayers.  To bear witness to the reality of the world and its suffering.

Since it is music camp this week and we have so many children on our campus during the day, I thought I would share a prayer with you written by Ina Hughes that bears witness to the reality of our children today.

A Prayer for the Children… by Ina J. Hughes

We pray for the children who put chocolate fingers everywhere, who like to be tickled, who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants, who sneak Popsicles before supper, who erase holes in math workbooks, who can never find their shoes. 

And we pray for those who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire, who’ve never squeaked across the floor in new sneakers, who never had crayons to count, who are born in places we wouldn’t be caught dead, who never go to the circus, who live in an X-rated world. 

We pray for children who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions, who sleep with the dog and bury goldfish, who give hugs in a hurry and forget their lunch money, who cover themselves with Band-Aids and sing off-key, who squeeze toothpaste all over the sink, who slurp their soup. 

And we pray for those who never get dessert, who watch their parents watch them die, who have no safe blanket to drag behind, who can’t find any bread to steal, who don’t have any rooms to clean up, whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s dresser, whose monsters are real. 

We pray for children who spend all their allowance before Tuesday, who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food, who like ghost stories, who shove dirty clothes under the bed, who never rinse out the tub, who get visits from the tooth fairy, who don't like to be kissed in front of the school, who squirm in church or temple or mosque and scream in the phone, whose tears we sometimes laugh at and whose smiles can make us cry. 

And we pray for those whose nightmares come in the daytime, who will eat anything, who aren't spoiled by anybody, who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep, who live and move, but have no being. 

We pray for children who want to be carried, and for those who must. For those we never give up on, and for those who never get a chance. For those we smother with our love, and for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Koan to Consider

Muso Soseki writes at the end of a poem:

From the beginning
    the flying birds have left
          no footprints on the blue sky

These verses reminded me of not only a beautiful fall sky here in Yokohama but a Salvador Dali painting I saw in Roses Spain this summer.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Pavilion with a View of the World

 I got this close to Muso Soseki's Henkai Ichirantei, the Pavilion with a View of the World, perched above Zuisenji Temple, where he would sit zazen and share poetry including possibly this verse he composed:

The heavens allowed me
     to settle myself
          on a small piece of land 
Looking into the distance
    digging far down
          I delight in my own freedom
All who come here
   feel the lids fall
         from their eyes
This View of the World 
   without end -  
        there is no where to hide

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Kamegayatsuzaka Kiridoshi Pass Kamakura

Originated in the 13 century in order to connect major centers of trade in the Kamakura region.   It now is an easy short cut between Kita-Kamakura Station and Kamakura Station.   In the Edo period is was labeled as one of Kamakura's Seven Entrances.   The first picture shows the Kita-Kamakura entrance directly next to Chojuji Temple and almost across the street from Kenchoji Temple.   The the last picture shows a small building at the intersection on the Kamakura side that leads to the pass.

Kaizoji Temple Kamakura

Formerly Shichidogaran Temple, it was lost to fire and rebuilt in 1394.  The original temple grounds had a cave with 16 wells, still visible, thus the temple is sometimes known as the "water temple". It is said that Sakonuke-no-i composed the following verse here, "Chiyono's bucket has not bottom, it cannot hold water, it cannot reflect the moon."

Yokuoji Temple Kamakura