A few weeks ago I was in the middle of a children’s craft program. We were making mini collages on magnets and I was thumbing through a stack of old magazines to find stuff for my collage. I happened on the book review page for People Magazine from last year and a book cover caught my eye and I thought I would cut it out for my collage. Something also told me to read the review and I did. I immediately knew I needed to read this book. That very moment I searched our library’s catalog for it and downloaded the audio version of the book. It was serendipity.*
This is the story of Nao, a 16 year old living in Toyko, and Ruth, a middle-aged writer living in British Columbia. Their stories are separated by the Pacific Ocean and time.
Ruth finds Nao’s journal when it washes up on the beach near her home. She begins reading it and is quickly drawn into her life as she tells the story of her Great Grandmother (who is a Buddhist Nun), her father (a failed dot com bussinessman), and her great-uncle (a Kamikaze pilot who died in WWII). Nao also tells her story, which is sad but also, sometimes, full of hope as she finds her “superpowa” through zazen meditation. Ruth and Nao are drawn together, despite the limitations of time and space. They develop a relationship and grow to care for one another. Nao is writing the journal to someone, she doesn’t know who it is, but in her writing of it she finds solace. Ruth wonders what happened to Nao, she grows to care about her well being.
I can’t begin to express how much I loved this book. I love how it came into my life – being a zen Buddhist myself. Reading it has made me think a lot about my own practice. I loved the storytelling. I love the study of space and time and the relationships that develop despite this apparent divide. This book gave me lots of food for thought. I’m sure I will be thinking about it for a long time.
*Another bit of serendipity noted: as I was searching for the cover art on Amazon I saw that the book was released on March 11th 2013 (my birthday!)
A few days ago someone shared an article at The Onion about a Buddhist extremist cell threatening to unleash peace and tranquility on the West. Being both Buddhist and a fan of satire, I thought it was hilarious.
Then I thought, “you know, this isn’t a bad idea.”
I am weary of all the hate and violence in the world, especially at the moment. I am tired of us hating each other and killing each other.
You can’t fight hate with more hate.
So I am going to unleash a torrent of love on the world.
The month of December will be a meditation on love.
I am going to start here, with this thought:
In Zen Buddhism, when we come together as a group and meditate we “give away” our merit at the end by dedicating our meditation to those that we know (or don’t know) who are sick and those who have passed on. This idea of giving away merit is an interesting idea. I have been doing this not really knowing what it means until very recently. I always thought it was a beautiful part of our meditation session, but now that I know what we are doing I really like it all the more.
Meditation is one way of earning merit in Buddhism. I guess you can look it as earning good karma points, or something sort of along those lines. when we earn this merit we don’t hold onto it. We give it away. The idea is that it is unleashed into the world and relieves it of suffering.
I like this idea of giving away these things once you have them. This is love, don’t you think? When you have it unleash it out into the world. Don’t hold onto it.