[Re Exercise 17, Time Space and Knowledge]
Before retreating in Nova Scotia, I’d experienced only the purple water lily blooms common to our gardens in Florida, which are indeed glowy and beautiful, but small. This photo (left, below) was my reward for balancing precariously at the edge of a pond in the middle of wild overgrowth at Windhorse Farm.
On the right, is a photo of my first encounter with a giant lotus in Kyoto, which until that point I’d believed to be the stuff of myths and fairy tales. We happened upon this bloom when peeking through a crack in the gateway of a smallish, I think, temple (there are so many that it can be hard to know which structures are still operating as temples).
Although the photo isn’t is insufficient to capture the awe, tales with magical proportions of deities born from lotuses, made much more sense to me upon this encounter.
And then there is this glowy moment, which still speaks wonderful things to me, all its contrasts of rough and subtle. My great grandmother was particularly fond of ferns, and I was particularly fond of her.
The blooms may be no more, yet the glow imparted, that we shared and I now conjure up, does not fade.
Some say the following story is the origin of and even ‘contains’ Zen. This is the simplest version I found to share, although the last bit is a bit specialized in its wording:
“Toward the end of his life, the Buddha took his disciples to a quiet pond for instruction. As they had done so many times before, the Buddha’s followers sat in a small circle around him, and waited for the teaching.
But this time the Buddha had no words. He reached into the muck and pulled up a lotus flower. And he held it silently before them, its roots dripping mud and water.
The disciples were greatly confused. Buddha quietly displayed the lotus to each of them. In turn, the disciples did their best to expound upon the meaning of the flower: what it symbolized, and how it fit into the body of Buddha’s teaching.
When at last the Buddha came to his follower Mahakasyapa, the disciple suddenly understood. He smiled and began to laugh. Buddha handed the lotus to Mahakasyapa and began to speak.
“I have experienced the true Dharma eye, the marvelous mind of Nirvana, the true form of the formless, the subtle Dharma Gate that does not rest on words or letters but is a special transmission outside of the scriptures. This I entrust to Mahākāśyapa.” (www.katinkahesselink.net)