This bilingual (English & Japanese) Dharma Talk by Rev. Henry Adams was shared at the June 4, 2023 Shotsuki Hoyo Monthly Memorial Service.
Wednesday, May 3, 2023
A conversation with Buddhist author Chenxing Han about her new book one long listening: a memoir of grief, friendship, and spiritual care.
Photo by Lan Le
Institute of Buddhist Studies Alumnus
and Buddhist Author
Immigrant daughter, novice chaplain, bereaved friend: author Chenxing Han (Be the Refuge) takes us on a pilgrimage through the wilds of grief and laughter, pain and impermanence, reconnecting us to both the heartache and inexplicable brightness of being human.
Eddying around three autumns of Han’s life, one long listening journeys from a mountaintop monastery in Taiwan to West Coast oncology wards, from oceanside Ireland to riverfront Phnom Penh. Through letters to a dying friend, bedside chaplaincy visits, and memories of a migratory childhood, Han’s startling, searching memoir cuts a singular portrait of a spiritual caregiver in training.
We welcome you to join us in person at the San Mateo Buddhist Temple or via Zoom Meeting on Wednesday, May 3 for this Dharma session.
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It is a commonplace of life that the greatest pleasure issues ultimately in the greatest grief. Yet why—why is that this child of mine, who has not tasted half the pleasures that the world has to offer, who ought, by rights, to be as fresh and green as the vigorous young needles on the everlasting pine—why must she lie here on her deathbed, swollen with blisters, caught in the loathsome clutches of the vile god of pox? Being, as I am, her father, I can scarcely bear to watch her withering away—a little more each day—like some pure, untainted blossom that is ravished by the sudden onslaught of mud and rain.
After two or three days, however, her blisters dried up and the scabs began to fall away—like a hard crust of dirt that had been softened by the melting snow. In our joy we made a boat with fresh straw, and pouring hot wine ceremoniously over it, sent it down the river with the god of smallpox on it. Yet our hopes proved all in vain. She grew weaker and weaker, and finally on the twenty-first of June, as the morning-glories were just closing their flowers, she closed her eyes forever. Her mother embraced the cold body and cried bitterly. For myself—I knew well it was no use to cry, that water once flown past the bridge does not return, and blossoms that are scattered are gone beyond recall. Yet try as I would, I could not, simply could not cut the binding cord of human love.
The world of dew
Is the world of dew,
And yet . . .
And yet . . .
(The Year of My Life: A Translation of Issa’s Oraga Haru, by Nobuyuki Yuasa, p. 103-104)