Letters to Milena
"Make of yourself a light,"
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal -- a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire --
clearly I'm not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of
that frightened crowd.
Jizo is a Japanese god who’s thought to protect children who die before their parents. There are more than one million small Jizo statues spread throughout Japan at temples or along the side of roads.
The Japanese care for these statues — giving them hats and bibs.
I was talking to a dying friend. He was having trouble breathing and was in a lot of pain. He was telling me how, despite the pain, it was all perfect somehow, in a way he couldn't explain. That in the midst of the blood and the sleepless nights and the immobility, he had found a place of serenity. A place of freedom from his story of himself as 'the dying one'. A place of freedom from all dreams and hopes for the future, and a deep acceptance of things as they were. Life had radically simplified itself - the moment was all that mattered now, and all that had ever mattered. He told me, "Despite all this, I wouldn't swap this life for any other."We are constantly reminded of the fragility of our hopes, dreams, plans and beliefs. The foundation of our world has cracks in it, and time and time again we are invited to remember the preciousness of life itself prior to "my life", the gift of existence prior to "I exist". Existence is our temple - the ground on which we stand is deeply sacred.from Jeff Foster