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Lions Roar : March 2012
41 SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2012 covered her shriveled body from neck to ankles. Some- one had placed a small, white handkerchief over her face, and as a young man seated beside her, perhaps her eldest son, suddenly lifted the cloth and kissed her cold forehead, Toshiro felt his own face stretch and his back shiver. The experience of ruin and abandonment that overcame him during his own parents’ funeral welled up inside him once again. In spite of himself, he surrendered to the people at this funeral his personal anguish, his pain, the powerful energy of his emotions, and this transference made the images on the screen feel so palpable that the young priest’s nose clogged with mucus and his eyes burned with tears. Yet even as he sobbed uncontrollably, he saw himself to be locked in a cycle of emotion which these fleeting, black-and- white images borrowed, intensified, and gave back to him in a magic show produced by the mind, a dream- land spun from accelerated imagery. After a second, he realized that this—yes, this—was what the sutras meant by kamadhatu, by the realm of illusion, by samsara. All at once, the ribbon of film in the projector broke, returning the screen to an expanse of emptiness completely untouched by the death and mis- ery projected upon it. For these last few moments he had experienced, not the world, but the workings of his own nervous system. And this was truly all he had ever known. He himself had been supplying the grief and satisfac- tion all along, from within. Yet his original mind, like the screen, remained lotus flower pure and in a state of grace. At that moment, Toshiro Ogama knew. He saw clearly into his own self-nature, and lost the sense of twoness. Outside, wind wuthered through yew trees and set chimes on the porch to ringing. Inside, the temple seemed to breathe, a gentle straining of wood on wood, then relaxation. Tucker clicked the lights on in the cer- emony room. She saw tears streaming from Toshiro’s eyes, and took a step toward him. “Ogama-san? Are you all right? I didn’t know this would upset you.” He rubbed his red eyes and stood up, self-emptied. “Neither did I. Thank you for working the projector.” She gave him a fast, curious look, and then moved to where her black leather briefcase rested in a corner. “I guess I’ll be going now.” “Why?” asked Toshiro. “In that film, I saw how Anraku-ji once was thriving with parishioners. There was a sangha here of all sentient beings, and with no religious officials in sight. It should be that way again. Later this week I want to invite the villagers down the road to visit. Would you join my temple as its first member?” The pilgrim did not speak, for words can be like a spider’s web. She simply bowed, pressing both brown palms together in gassho—one palm symbolizing sam- sara, the other nirvana—in a gesture of unity that per- fectly mirrored Toshiro’s own. ♦ All at once, the ribbon of film in the projector broke, returning the screen to an expanse of emptiness completely untouched by the death and misery projected upon it.