On one of our drives to the Byodo-In Temple, a non-denominational Buddhist temple made without any nails, we pass through the Valley of the Temples with a number of cemeteries of various ethnic persuasions. On the hillside there are also a few mausoleums, one of which had a long and high series of steps leading up to the entrance. The last time there I stood at the bottom of the steps looking up at the mausoleum wondering “What must it be like to be locked in?” Almost immediately that thought triggered other thoughts about our inner life. Like setting out for Miami and then somehow winding up in Chicago there might be parts of our inner life which confuse us! We might feel bewildered as if we’re hostage by what we don’t understand about ourselves, about our past and about some of the choices that we have made. (click any pic for larger)
One way of dealing with that inner confusion is by trying to understand WHY we made the choices that we made. We sometimes choose to eat a candy bar not because we are hungry but because we want the high that comes from the sugar. So, too, some of our past choices were made for reasons not made readily apparent by the results. One of those choices is to withdraw from people. The problem with withdrawal as a solution to inner pain is that the resulting isolation can exacerbate that pain! We have various ways of building a fence around ourselves so that we won’t get hurt again but by locking others out we also unwittingly lock ourselves in.
Does the occupant of the Valley of the Temples mausoleum have feelings? Unlike them we can unlock our own prison by reaching out to others when we don’t feel like reaching out! It is our feelings that often take us prisoner, urging us to make short-sighted decisions which in the long-run turn out to only give birth to even worse feelings. No matter what we are feeling, reaching out to others can take us in a healthier direction than choosing isolation.
In Waikīkī at nighttime Kalākaua Avenue becomes an unscheduled open-air nightclub. Artists, performers of various arts, street mimes, and living statues come out to entertain the tourists in the hope of making a dollar or two. One of the living statues is the Silver Man whose clothes and skin are all silver. He stands perfectly still until you go to approach him or pass him by and then he abruptly moves. I’ve often wondered when he goes home and takes off his silver clothes and makeup, what is the color of his inner life? Does he have an inner life somehow separate from his exterior silver one? Does he know what it is? Do we know what ours is?