We are lovers of novelty, we want all that is new or clinging to what we imagine are our roots. It has long been this way, you need only look at the map. Hampshire, York, Jersey, and for that matter Brunswick and Mexico. We crave innovation, we always want to be on the cutting edge, forgetting that all too soon it will become the bleeding edge, and we will curse its failures, its shortcomings. So ask yourself if those who live in Hampshire, York, Jersey, and Brunswick, Scotia, and Mexico think they live in a place that is no longer new, left behind in an endless search for something other than what we have right now.
I am a distant grandchild of saints and Herod, kings and lords, and Visigoths for good measure.
That half of me is woven of ever thinner branches on a tree that threatens to topple from the lightness of its other side, roots deep in the rich soil of Lithuania, the roots hitting bedrock, and the branches stunted and there a simple Ashkenazi Jew.
There was a time, still within memory’s ever more tenuous grasp that I imagined myself, at this age, as a monk in a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, that I had assumed a silence imposed by lack of language, not faith.
I am certain that the Japanese are pleased that I let that dream pass unfulfilled, that I confine my practice to that American form of Zen, softened and gently bleached from its shogun watered roots.
I recall my visits to Senso-ji, Todaii-ji and countless other small temples where I would often find a zafu and sit, but only the youngest monks I met could understand that it was there, among them, that I felt spiritually at home.