Thursday, 2 July 2015

What a Friend We Have in Jizōs 38

When Rudyard Kipling, who George Orwell once called a ‘good bad poet,’ came to see the Great Buddha in 1892, he thrilled to the full toothsome guilty pleasure of the idealization of things Asiatic, stuff that is before all else evocative.

                                  ‘And whoso will, from Pride released, 
                                   Contemning neither creed nor priest, 
                                   May feel the Soul of all the East 
                                   About him at Kamakura...’
                                            Rudyard Kipling, Buddha at Kamakura 

In 1923, the statue’s base was damaged in the Great Kanto Earthquake and required repair. In 1960, the statue’s neck and base were reinforced to help it survive future earthquakes.
Seven years later, Barack Obama visited the statue with his mother. He was six years old. He ate matcha green tea ice cream, like he did on his return 33 years later. 
“The first time I was here, I was this big.” Obama had said, putting his hand up to his waist. 
“The first time I was here, I was bigger than Obama.” I said.
“You always will be.” Said Robyn.

                                ‘But when the morning prayer is prayed, 
                                 Think, ere ye pass to strife and trade, 
                                 Is God in human image made 
                                 No nearer than Kamakura?’
                                          Rudyard Kipling, Buddha at Kamakura 

Anyone I know who had visited the Great Buddha of Kamakura has come away awestruck. A statue like that, subject to typhoons and tsunamis, over and over, and over 700 years without collapsing, deserves to be ranked as a wonder of the ancient world. Yoritomo couldn’t have wished for better.

                      ‘Long have I searched, cathedral shrine, and hall,
                       To find a symbol, from the hand of art,
                       That gave the full expression (not a part)
                       Of that ecstatic peace which follows all
                       Life's pain and passion.  Strange it should befall
                       This outer emblem of the inner heart
                       Was waiting far beyond the great world's mart -
                       Immortal answer, to the mortal call.

                       Unknown the artist, vaguely known his creed:
                       But the bronze wonder of his work sufficed
                       To lift me to the heights his faith had trod.
                       For one rich moment, opulent indeed,
                       I walked with Krishna, Buddha, and the Christ,
                       And felt the full serenity of God.’
                        Ella Wheeler Wilcox, On Seeing the Diabatsu at Kamakura, Japan

No comments:

Post a Comment