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ei-tai ji, temple of eternal peace

Updated: Nov 23, 2019

second pilgrimage of the year after visiting rumi's shrine in konya, turkey, in september. returning to ei-tai ji temple, in the lower french alps, after 12 years of absence. it is here that i spent the most time practicing with master tokuda, was ordained monk in 2000 and wrote poems that after long years i can go back to and not regret having written.

it is also here, through the teachings of sensei, that i realized that the journey of the soul is not one of gain but one of loss; losing all the things we carry with us, including our desire to be enlightened or to become realized. to become whatever as there is nothing for us to become, we just are. yet there is no way our mind could wrap itself around this. we sit and sit not to achieve or attain but to slowly wear the resistances to accepting ourselves as we are out. there is nothing to mystify or glorify about this process.

what we are is the mystery as it is shrouded in the unknown. an unknown that will always remain the unknown but welcomes us to deep intimacy with all that is; all that is, intimacy with it, is what opens us to who we are.


the temple is as run down today as it was when we first moved in it about twenty years ago. the silence and stillness emanating from this modest abode and its surroundings, a sense of serenity and peace from overlooking valleys and mountain ranges with no end in view, is uplifting, to say the least.

there are moments when we feel a deep sense of gratitude for certain beings whose encounter leaves a deep and lasting impact on us. more, they reveal an essential dimension of ourselves that had been veiled and obscured; meeting master tukada has been such an encounter.

it has been rather than was as there is an intemporal element to this. you met them somewhere in your past, you may never meet them again, yet, whilst that be so, something of them has touched something in you so deeply that you carry the quintessence of their being with you as they have also mirrored something of your essence back. in this sense they belong more to your future than to your past. here we touch upon what martin buber meant by the i-thou relationship.

wherever you go, they go with you, they go with you even if they are no longer with you. this is how we can define agapé, disinterested love. the reversal of absence and presence.

agapé, we love the deepest when in love we are absent to ourselves. sheer remembrance, we fade away so that in love, agapé, the other is present in us through this absence. by absence i mean forgetfulness of self so as to leave all the place for them, the loved ones, the lost ones, the dead ones. space for the other, the others, the world.

' To be full of things is to be empty of God. To be empty of things is to be full of God. - Meister Eckhardt.'

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