He ceased to see his friend Siddhartha’s face. In its stead he saw other faces, many, a long series, a flowing river of faces, hundreds, thousands, which all came and went, and yet all seemed to be there at once, which all constantly changed and became new ones, and yet were all Siddhartha.
Jacob Needleman On God Without Religion
But if you really give your full attention to nature, it does speak to you. If you’ve ever been out in the woods and suddenly experienced a shock of grief or awe or a sense of belonging to something greater, that’s because nature has spoken to you. That’s why there’s a timeless, universal tradition of experiencing God in nature. It’s one way of recognizing that we’re part of something greater than ourselves.
In the house where I grew up, the war never ended. All of us were infected with hatred. This was their real legacy. If my mother and grandmother had been pearl divers, I would be able to hold my breath for a very long time. But they were Holocaust survivors, so instead I have an infinite capacity for hatred.
Nikkō has many temples and pagodas, but the architecture didn’t move me. It was the forest; it was the quiet. It was obvious why this had been a sacred Buddhist site for more than a millennium. You could feel it. There was an interiority to the forest, a layering of quiet. The temples; the forest; you. And the snow, yet another layer, placing a hush on everything, taking you one step farther inside. I shivered. I lingered there by a shogun-era drum tower, its flared roof dusted in snow, a stand of cedars rising above it.
I’m driving on Route 91, going ten miles an hour over the limit, on the way to my divorce — or, at least, to its announcement. My husband, Jake, and I decided we would tell the kids tonight. We’ve waited way too long. Our marriage died of natural causes years ago. We are pretending our children will be shocked by the news, but we both know better.