The history I wrote in my previous post about bodhisattvas kidnapped in bunkers reminded me of one of my first excursions in Japan, when I went to visit a temple that was popular for the artistic quality and the miraculous power of its main image, a sculpture of Kannon Bodhisattva, the epitome of compassion.
The temple was located in a rural area poorly signaled, so I had to ask at least to half a dozen people before I could reach my destination… which turned out to be a bunker closed tight. I sat in its concrete stairs with the frustration of someone who thinks has wasted a day.
However, after a while, I turned around and bowed to the ground before the whitewashed walls, with tears in my eyes, not of frustration but of joy.
While I was sitting there, the movie of the day was being played by itself in my mind, and, one after another, the trivial happenings acquired a different quality: the official of the train station drawing a map with indications for me, the smiles of the locals, the fleshy persimmon that a peasant gave me, the pleasant weather of late summer, the water terraces full of rice ready for the harvest, the greenish-eyed old woman who gave me the last directions…
My frustration due to not having seen the Bodhisattva Kannon turned into shame and humility for not recognizing that, in fact, I had been seeing her every single moment of that day.
Heading home I reflected on all of those moments we feel that nothing is going on yet all is happening. I was walking along a country road thinking about the extraordinariness of the ordinary when, suddenly, I found 2000 yens on the ground (it was a really far-out solitary road)… I could not help laughing at how ordinary seemed something extraordinary.