Friday, January 14, 2011

"A Place Beyond Knowing"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

There is a line from a poem by a 5th century Chinese poet, Hsieh Ling-yun which makes reference to a state of life that is “Wandering a place beyond knowing.” Our visit to China has been just that in so many different ways. Yet we are getting to know a people and a culture within this place, and it makes our hearts glad.

After a lecture on ancient Taoist principles of balance in food for healthy living, we visited the open herb market where large bags of beautiful mushrooms and spices, roots and branches of various shapes, colors and smells were open to see and enjoy. Owners, families and children were in each stall and people were pushing whole sale containers into place. All of it made for an amazing cultural experience as we began to enter the rich tradition of “wholeness and healing” as experienced in Chinese culture.

Dried herbs.....

and dried snakes....all part of the traditional medicine market in Guangzhou

This experience was followed by a lunch that gave us a very specific sense of how the herbs are used in the preparation of one great tasting meal after another. The balance in food addressed the basic needs of the soul to live in concert with what the earth creates. In some way or another we were all back in the Garden of Eden and we left the meal graced by the tradition.

We then visited the Guangxiao Temple and Zen Monastery. It has a rich tradition that reaches back 1700 years. Our guide was a monk who serves as the Guest Host. While we thought he was leading us through the buildings and spaces of the monastery, we later realized that he was creating space for relationship in which we could “wander a place beyond knowing” with him.

Their 6th patriarch in the 7th century said "Your heart is your Buddha," which is a key thought for the monks of the temple.

              A large statue of Buddha is central in the temple, and he is flanked by two historical figures: his nephew Ananda who memorized Buddha's sayings, and Kasyapa, whose life embodied the hard, disciplined way. Symbolic representations of Wisdom and Compassion flanked them.

Main hall of  the temple
            Radical Hospitality was recognized in the Guest Host, an amazing gift we graciously received.
             Our meal together following the visit to the Temple was a wonderful opportunity to eat together and later to pray as a Pilgrim People, sensing the wider compassion and the deeper wisdom in which we wander throughout our lives. Open before us is the awareness that the Spirit moves among us as we wander in a place beyond complete knowing. And so we resonate and realize our own growing as we share with this great people in this amazing land.
           Our thoughts begin where words end,          
              refining dark-enigma depths.” 
                                                 --Po-Chu-i, 9th Century poet

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