Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Faith and Science

A woman said to Ajahn Brahm that her Catholic faith was threatened when she looked out through a telescope and began to understand the vastness of the universe. She asked him, as a Buddhist teacher and a former member of the Cambridge astronomy society, to respond. he said "Madam, if you look back... through the fat end of the telescope and see who is watching then science becomes threatened." 

He said that great scientific findings are not understood but rather something that we just get used to. "All those big numbers and equations" and the vast vast distances of the universe are really lost on even the greatest scientists. We do not deeply understand it we just get used to it. He encouraged a spiritual approach to really understand. 

It is good to try and understand the vastness of the universe, "If you stop at a mystery and leave it as a mystery then you are coping out of the adventure of the mind which seeks for truth and knowledge." But he encouraged us to look to our human compassion and link these findings to human suffering, to suffering in the world. The answer for Ajahn Brah, and his encouragement to become a monk: 'watching the watcher'; looking through the 'fat end' of the telescope and seeing who was looking out. 

"Deeply in meditation" he said "you realize that that time and space is created by the watcher". Perception is reality. 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Autobiography by Nanao Sakaki


Born of a humble & poor family,
Received minimum education,
Learnt how to live by himself at fourteen,
Survived storms, one after another.
Bullets, starvation & concrete wastelands.

A day's fare - a cup of brown rice, vegetables,
Small fish, a little water, & a lot of wind.
Delighted by children and women,
Sharing beads of sweat with farmers,
Fishermen, carpenters & blacksmiths,
Paying no attention to soap, shampoo,
Toilet paper & newspapers.

Now & again
Loves to suck the nectar of honeysuckle,
To flutter with dragonflies & butterflies,
To chatter with winter wrens,
To sing song with coyotes,
To swim with humpback whales,
And to hug a rock in which dinosaurs sleep.

Feels at home in Alaskan glaciers,
Mexican desert, virgin forest of Tanzania,
Valley of Danube, grasslands of Mongolia,
Vulcanoes in Hokkaido & Okinawan coral reeds.

And - one sunny summer morning
He will disappear on foot.
Leaving no shadow behind.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Love is the beginning of loneliness

A poem by Shuji Tereyama.

(The original kanji is included in the translation to make the wordplay apparent)

I wrote down the word tree (木)
but it looked so pitiful all alone
so I added another tree (木)
and the trees became a forest (林)
When I look at the word lonely (淋)
I know why the trees are crying (涙)
It's just because when love begins
loneliness comes in

This poem plays on the words 木 (ki), 林 (hayashi), 淋しい (sabishii) and 涙 (namida). A 木 is a tree, and when you write two of them together, you get the word 林, which means woods or forest. Finally, 淋しい means lonely, and it looks like a 林 next to the left radical of 涙, or tears —  like a crying forest.