Saturday, June 15, 2013

From Tokyo's Tallest to Mountain Temple

Ready for Tokyo?
View from Tokyo Skytree, where we started our week.

The city was "somethin' to see" but  we're country folk at heart.

I (Doug) woke up this morning and my body said to me, "If you can help it, let's just not move." Unfortunately 6:30 was fast upon us. I moved slow all morning but managed to harvest six heads of lettuce. Summer season is in full swing. Weeds do God's will by growing anywhere they can. Luckily the vegetables do too. We've been busy harvesting greens, weeding rice paddies, and planting a few extra rows of sweet potatoes. I'm proud to say that my sister Kimberly has been here through the thick of it.

Though we were dirty and beat tired when Friday night rolled around, we still managed to stay up with our ARI family to watch the movie, "Life of Pi." Some of you might remember that Jenny has read the book, Life of Pi, since she's been here and also gifted the Japanese translation of the work to Nishi, here beloved friend and kitchen supervisor. Nishi loved the book too so she stayed with us and watched the movie too.

It turned out to be a wonderful movie for the ARI community. The movie says a lot about the search for God, inter-religious dialogue, the sacred art of storytelling, and faith in desperate times. One line really struck me. When starving on the ocean, Pi catches a fish to eat. He cries to the heavens, "Thank you Vishnu for coming in the form of a fish to save our lives."

We harvested God in the form of garlic from Knight field. 
When we are well fed and there is food aplenty it is easy to view food as a commodity, just another common household item we need to pick up at the supermarket along with the laundry detergent and paper towels. If we were lost at sea on a row boat like Pi, we might shout such a prayer as well. But my time here at ARI has made me see that we shouldn't have to be near starving to see how sacred our food is.

So when I said the prayer over our heaps of rice, lettuce, and scrambled eggs this morning, I used Pi's prayer. I thanked God for coming in the form of this food to save our lives. Though we seldom realize it, we would die without the food we eat, and we receive that food only by the universal harmony that allows the biosphere to exist on this little drop of water we're on here.

Another interesting part of the movie is Pi's religious stance. Before his big adventure on the ocean came, he had grown up a Hindu, was baptized a Christian, and learned how to pray like a Muslim. He considered all paths to be valid expressions of his spirituality, or ways of connecting with God.

In the same spirit, Jenny, Kim, and I accepted Nishi's invitation to go to a Zen Buddhist meditation. We drove to a temple in the mountains and spent the morning sitting on tatami (rice straw) mats, meditating, chanting, listening to lectures, and drinking tea with the monks.

Peace and wholeness to you all,

Doug and Jenny

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