Would you want to meet them in a dark alley?

I’ve recently been away in the mountains again. It was lovely there–for the early part of the week it was crisp and cold and even snowed a bit; on the last day of my trip the temperatures climbed into the low 70s and we were all walking around in jeans and t-shirts.

We took care of a lot of business. We helped each other out following the recent death of our teacher.

We cuddled the inscrutable cat.

We watched a movie, did a little salsa dancing (and let me tell you, my people do not have this in our genes), worked on our art projects, read a lot, and were up every day by 4:30.*

We also did lots of work. One of my tasks that week was to get these fine fellows polished up. Aren’t they fierce? One of them alone is impressive, but the lot of them together look like a rather determined army. I certainly wouldn’t want to come face to face with them in a dark monastery hallway.

This is Bodhidharma, who is credited with many impressive feats: bringing Buddhism from western to eastern Asia, revitalizing it (upsetting plenty of people as he did), developing martial arts to fit lazy monks for long hours of sitting meditation, and cutting off his eyelids so he himself would not fall asleep on the cushion (and, in casting the offending lids into a pot of boiling water, inventing tea–think of that the next time you sit down with a comforting cuppa).

There is also a legend that after his death, Bodhidharma was often spotted  continuing his teaching, wandering through the desert wearing ragged robes and just one shoe. He was, in his own way, sort of a rock star, so these encounters were not unlike the Elvis sightings we hear about today (hey–I’m from Tennessee and I believe them all).  Finally, it is said, someone decided to prove this was nonsense, and dug up poor old Bodhidharma’s resting place. You know what they found there, right? Nothing but a single shoe, of course.

I’ll bet it was blue suede.

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*It occurs to me that this description makes it sound like I spent the week in some kind of spa, or possibly a helpful hospital–I assure you I did not do either.

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