Sunday, April 16, 2006

Homeless Kannon

Kannon, Sanjusangen-do

As I was finishing my begging round, just in front Higashi Honganji, the very street suddenly disappeared. A very old woman, creased yellowish marked skin, shaggy hair of an ash colour, dirty clothes and wrapped in and old and faded jacket, was sitting on a mat spread on the pavement. All around her, a surprising kitchen equipment: broom, teapot, bags of all sorts, noodles, boxes,newspapers…apparently she was very busy doing her own thing playing like a little girl with plastic plates and cutlery. She had obviously lost the plot and found another one in dreamland. Dementia, old age, senility, plenty of words would come to mind to precisely keep this well under control, to avoid communicating directly with the disturbing fact. That what words do sometimes, their seal conceals and screens things from view. This granny could not see beyond her own territory, removed to another plan, a different sphere that no one could enter. She was sitting on a mandala-mat like an angry deity at the corner of the temple. As I looked around her, the street with its noises and activity reappeared but, clearly, not in the same way.
Buddhist tales are packed with stories of the ineffable coming in the disguise of an old woman, with black nails and a foul breath, dressed in human rags. Was she a form of Kannon silently preaching a stupid priest passing by? Was she a reminder that we are all doing our own thing, in our own world? Was she showing people their unbearable shadow? I bowed at her, I bowed at the form of my teacher. I bowed at Life itself.


Blogger anu said...

I loved this buddhist tale Pierre

10:40 AM  

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