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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 13, Number 1, March 2019
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Ray Rasmussen’s “Twice in the Kurimoto Garden," A Commentary by Pravat Kumar Padhy

I often visit our local temple with family. Metallic bells are hung in the entrance and it is a practice to ring the bell while entering the temple. The auspicious sound awakens our minds to devotional ardor. I would lift my young daughter to ring the temple bell, and she would ring it repeatedly out of pleasure. I remember the joy of resonance in her face.

Today, I think of that bell again when corresponding with my daughter who is studying at San Jose State University in California. Curiously I enquired about its Tower Bell while sitting in India at more than 13,000 km away from her. It is kept in the Spartan Rose Garden, weighs 3000 pounds and was installed in the tower in 1881. The bell is an enduring symbol of the university and graces special occasions like University Foundation Day with its chimes.


Ray Rasmussen
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Twice in the Garden

A long lineup at the gate. I had hoped for a quiet day with my camera, an escape from the noise of traffic, the frenetic pace of city life. But there are three groups of people lingering on my favorite bridge, the one I came to photograph with its foreground of yellow day lilies, and its gently curved wooden span weathered to wabi-sabi perfection. So I fold up my tripod, move to a more remote part of the garden – to the bell gazebo. It's there I hope to escape from the hot sun and crowded, noisy pathways, and especially from my complaining mind.

Standing next to the gazebo's bronze bell, cast in Japan, I open the small volume of Japanese haiku I’ve brought with me and read Buson's haiku:

on a one-ton temple bell –
a moon-moth
folded into sleep
~ Buson

Eyes closed, I use it as a mantra, repeating it over and over again – a meditation on Buson's mindset.

Stepping close to the bell, I reach out, my hand becomes the moth, my fingers its legs and antennae, exploring the etched surface. I give the bell a gentle push and feel its resistance. And I’m the bell, a massive weight of family issues, political chaos and war, the plight of the world’s poor, the poor in my own city.

Settling on the nearby wooden bench, eyes closed, I continue the mantra, and the moth now settles on the bell of my mind.

Then . . .

Footsteps, a child's voice, "Mom, can I?"

"No. Don't touch, dear."

"Just once, mom, please."

The bell’s chain clanks as its massive wooden clapper is pulled back and released.

An endless "goooooong" fills me with vibration and sound, and slowly diminishes until at last I receive its blessing of a quieter mind.

moon moth –
floating peacefully
through the garden

 

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