Thursday, 23 October 2014

Dharma Combat

Chùa Hoa Yên Hermits are sometimes accused of cowering in the woods, hiding from reality. Cloistered monks too, of huddling behind their walls. These are the delusions of a snotnosed civilian; both are battlefields, every minute of every day, and no foxhole for atheists.

Thus I've discovered what all forest monks know: that most of what we call "getting over" grief and hurt is just distraction. On the mountain it all comes back: the jagged jobs, the ruined relationships, the opportunities missed and messed. Harm I did others, harm they did me. And all the times I've been left for dead. Old wounds reopen, raw as recoil. And there is no morphine: no television, no radio, no music or books. You have to sit with it.

Sit with it, stand with it, sing with it, sleep with it.


(Adapted from 100 Days on the Mountain, copyright RK Henderson. Photo of Chùa Hoa Yên in Quảng Ninh, Việt Nam, courtesy of Bùi Thụy Đào Nguyên and Wikimedia Commons.)
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