Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bodhisattvas Arising From the Cracks in the Earth

The past couple of weeks have been fraught with unusual events, some joyful, some not so much.  High winds from storms with the names of women have disrupted life in many ways.  One small event that has happened again and again here at the Temple is the fall of one particular string of Tibetan prayer flags.  The city has an ordinance against street signs on this residential block, and so we use the prayer flags to signal our presence to the world as a Zen Buddhist temple.  (I have heard some remarks that the flags also make our parking lot look a little bit like a car dealership, but this is a minority opinion.)

One day, with winds blowing strong, I was attempting to put up the flags once again.  It was a hopeless task, due to the fraying of the string and the fact that I needed three hands -- two to hold the ends of the strings, and one to tie them back together.

A car driving by gently stopped,  backed up and came in to the driveway.  A lovely woman called out, as she exited the car, "do you need some help?"  She had driven by the flags, and the Temple, and the big Buddha, many times, but she said that she had never seen them until today.  All she saw was my struggle, and she appeared, ready to help, and with some twine that she carries in her car, because one never knows when one will need twine.  A Buddhist practitioner from another tradition, she was astounded to know that there was a Zen temple right on the main road into Worcester.  We tied up the prayer flags, and she offered a stick of incense to our big granite Buddha, and went on her way.

Yasutani Roshi used to say that, when we call out to the universe,  bodhisattvas arise from the cracks of the earth to come to our aid.  And so it was this windy day.  The suffering world is full of compassionate beings, ready to help.  They come in many forms, and some drive cars and carry twine with them, because one never knows when one will need twine.

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