A funny thing happens after sitting in meditation for a long time, gazing at my Jizos, who are gazing back at the not-me — my mind becomes at ease. I promise it only took around 20 years for me to stop controlling my breath and just let it be. For years, my mind would always go straight to, “Am I doing this right? Can I let go the breath?” There was usually a resounding, “No, you’re breathing is all wrong.” Sigh.
I am not certain of the time, perhaps it was at Webster College in 1972, John Lennon and Yoko Ono were on TV, was it Dick Cavett? Or maybe David Frost? Yoko brought a broken tea cup to mend a piece of each day of the interview. I liked the metaphor; a seed was planted. It lay there a long, long time.
Two days ago, I committed to 30 days of non-complaining, a Buddhist concept I sort of made up, to go with non-striving. I awakened feeling as if I was getting ill. I fought it, saying I had things to do. My mind said, “No complaining, just be curious about your symptoms.” And so I was.
You may be wondering what this has to do with Kintsugi. (Wondering is good. It deepens a kind of healing trance, different from the trance of complaining and yearning we often live in.)
As I slept in another hour, my symptoms became only 1% of my consciousness and the other 99% of me felt like getting up and feeding the dogs. That done, I felt 100% peaceful, not worrying about whether or not I was getting sick. I was actually right there, right then.
I was taking out some trash for recycling. I saw a brochure at the bottom of a box. It was from a ceramic piece I purchased last week for my office, while I was avoiding writing. Etsy is good for that. Jizo & Chibi have a little presence on the Etsy site, so I can go there and make myself look like I am “working,” but I am really walking the aisles as if I were in Bangkok’s Night Market.
This story may take a while. In fact, it may take several blogs and I am smiling because non-complaining and non-striving go so well together, that I don’t care if I finish this story just yet. I like where it is going on this sunny morning.
So, I see this brochure that has kanji at the top: two Zen like circles and two other characters. Beneath are the words Rebirth (Saisei). “The Story of Kintsugi” then tells about a 15th Century shogun who sent a damaged tea bowl back to China to be repaired. It was returned, held together by ugly staples. The shogun then challenged his artisans to find a way to repair the bowl that made it look as good as new or even more beautiful. They pulled the staples and mended the bowl with gold. It was more beautiful for having been broken, returned, stapled, taken apart and put back together.
I have been aware of the concept of alchemy since I was 18 at Webster, where I read Carl G. Jung for the first time. It is a metaphor for transformation: of ore into gold. In this case, it is the transformation of us broken people into something more beautiful, more whole, for having been broken.
Perhaps this explains why so many people like the little banner I have posted a few times online:…and I will write more about Kintsugi, non-complaining and putting together pieces later. And then again after that, certainly.