19 October 2011

The Ancestral Line

As an in-point-of-fact chronicle of patriarchal descent over some 2500 years it's not exactly credible, to say the least.

As an expression of humble gratitude and most noble aspiration it is incomparable. 

Sometimes I pick it up and, without being in any hurry, just take my time pausing over each name.  When we chant the line together it's a bit too much like business to really savor the import of each life, each practice, each expression of the Buddhadharma.  Every one of them is unique; each is of one single continuing voice.

We're talking years here, folks.  Winters and summers.  Times of plenty and times of hardship.  We're talking moments of insight and lots of years of steel-nosed determination.  We're talking India and China and Japan and now the Americas.  (What an amazing thing that is in itself!)  We're talking men and women in every stage of life, in all forms of health and the lack thereof, in cities and in the mountains.  Some must have been quieter than others, and some might have been the life of the party.  Some left volumes, but some we only know by name. 

I hope one day to get to know many of them better by working through the Denkoroku.  Until then, I put my hands palm-to-palm in deepest gratitude and resolve to be worthy of the family name.

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