By Rev. Master Jisho Perry
This time of year is a time for celebration. I’ve associated it with Handel’s hallelujah chorus from the Messiah for many years. This year the poet/singer song writer Leonard Cohen died the day before the election. I had listened to his music in the 60’s but not since becoming a monk in 1971. I read recently of his life and heard his song “Hallelujah” which is a very Buddhist song. It is a song of joy in the midst of suffering. He had been a Buddhist monk for 4 or 5 years so it is not a surprise that Buddhist teaching manifested itself in his music.
This is not a jubilant hallelujah of Handel welcoming a savior. In Buddhism we have to save ourselves by converting our ignorance into understanding and wisdom through Compassion. The Buddha’ First Noble Truth is to accept the inevitable reality of the human condition, that suffering exists. I once asked a high school class: “what is suffering?” A young woman replied: “Wanting things to be other than they are.” The Buddha then went on the explain the cause and the cure of suffering. He described his enlightenment as “Seeing things as they Truly are.” He’s referring to Absolute Truth, which understands on a very deep level the Purity, immaculate Emptiness, of the Radiant Buddha Mind that fills and contains all things. The Buddha is also referring to seeing the perfection or the ideal within the actual.
I have faith in the Buddhist teaching that evil is vanquished and good prevails, even if I can’t always see it yet. Suffering is created in our minds and hearts when the external circumstances are not what I would like or want. Meditation is the opening of the Heart to convert the actual by inviting Compassion to arise and cleans our distress. There is joy in this practice. It is frequently a quiet, restrained hallelujah, seeing of the glimmer of light within the darkness.
So this is a holiday greeting of a quiet and restrained Hallelujah. And a recent photo of the mountain in its winter clothing. With thoughts of loving kindness, Jisho