As if in disharmony with the grey weather I get up in a great mood to meet my Chinese friend Yan who have been asking me in days to go with her to the Buddhist temple.
As we get there we find out that the temple is closed on week days. We knock on the door of a little wood house where apparently monks gather to meditate. The door slips open and in the room in front of the narrow hall a monk, a man with shaved head wearing an orange coloured robe, is sitting on the floor in a profound state of meditation. He stays stood there in silence observing us. He blinks several times, as if focusing and trying to read inside us. I feel uneasy. I leave before he could read too much of me and let Yan do the talk. That image of him meditating stirs up something in me that have been dormant for a long time: faith.
It could be routine, it could be apathy. “What am I doing in front of a Buddhist temple? I thought. Although I haven’t attended services in years, I’ve always considered myself Christian. Why do we even need to give things name? In the end, isn’t it just faith?
Suddenly hit me what Rodney Smith once explained. Naming occurs because of our attachment to knowing, our fear of not knowing or our desire to know. We are afraid of the terrible implications of the unknown and we feel the need to protect us and to always have an answer. What we don’t understand is that our world becomes narrowed around what we think and by doing so we creating dualism and divisionism. When left wordless, all things assume their natural order and open beyond themselves into an inexplicable force and union. Even some of the greater thinkers and philosophers such as K. Marx and A. Schopenauer were ready to admit that perhaps life is kept going by our ignorance of its fundamental meaning.
I take a look at the garden, scattered along dead leaves we find miniature of sacred statues representing diverse religions: Chinese, Hindu and Buddhism. Under a slim tree Buddha is sitting in his favourite position with his torso upright and his legs crossed. He’s wearing a crucifix necklace. Somebody must have put it around his neck. I shiver. I half expect him to open his eyes and smile at me, showing his big white teeth.
“We should see the unity, not the differences,” says my friend. “Humans are funny and contradictory creatures: they gather together either to make war or peace.”
Along the wet and mouldy path back to the gate a sign catches my attention: “Though one may conquer a thousand men in a battle, the one who conquer himself is the greater warrior.”