In Buddhism we often talk about the present moment. And in each life there are billions of present moments.
Most of them are noise. But every so often we have a deeply profound moment. We need to cherish and remember those moments. They are our connection to a greater reality.
There is a lovely article in today’s New York Times about a young woman in Japan. Her village and the local Buddhist temple – where her father is the head monk – were destroyed in the 2011 tsunami. After spending a lot of time providing relief for the local community, she was inspired to succeed her father as the chief monk at the temple.
This story reminded me of one of those moments in my life. I went to India in 2004 on a Buddhist pilgrimage. We had a free day in Bodh Gaya, the Mecca of Buddhism. We were free to walk around, visit the main temple, and do whatever we pleased.
I found myself mainly going to all of the wonderful temples there. Bodh Gaya is full of temples from Buddhist countries around the world. Each temple is in its own native country’s style. It is like a Buddhist United Nations.
After a fashion I found myself in a Japanese Zen temple. I wandered in and there was a nun giving a talk to a group of Japanese. It was in Japanese so obviously I could not understand her. But the mood in that temple was so serene and so deeply profound that I found in that temple a Dharma talk that did not need words. I was completely overwhelmed by the power of that moment.
When I first began practicing the Buddha’s path, a teacher of mine said that even in Asia true Dharma is hard to find. To tell you the truth, at the time I did not believe him. Now many years later I have found that, sadly, that is too true.
But every so often you get a moment like that one. One of the beauties of the Buddha’s path is that in those moments there is no nationality, no religion, no gender, and no race. There is only being, in the most transparent and transcendent way that can be meant. And it is in those moments that the possibilities of this path are revealed.