Kevin Statham used to be a bit uninspired by cherry blossoms . . .
I have discovered that when I am reflecting on something then other teachings seem to appear magically. This serendipity seems to happen quite naturally as though the teachings are around in the air and are just waiting for me to open to them. And this has been true with my cherry blossoms this spring.
The cherry blossoms have reminded me of the film The Last Samurai. (Spoiler alert here if you haven’t seen it!). Set in 1876, The Last Samurai is about American mercenary Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) who goes to Japan to help train and modernise the imperial army. He is captured by the Samurai lord Katsumoto. Katsumoto summons Nathan to the garden at his family temple which is full of blossom trees. Kamatsu says with a beautifully calm and reflective voice “a perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one and it would not be a wasted life”. At the end of the film after a battle with the imperial army Katsumoto, held by Nathan, lies dying and with his last breath, he looks at the petals falling from a blossom tree and says “they are all perfect”. Although a throw-away quote from a Hollywood film, these words have stayed with me and how would it be to see this beauty in everything?
A profound teaching from Dennis Potter
Whilst writing this, my attention was drawn to a magazine article about Dennis Potter, the British playwright who passed away from cancer in 1994. In his last interview he knows he is going to die soon and he is in great pain. I watched the interview as a young teenager and can still remember his arthritic hand holding a cigarette as he talked. He talked not of dying but of living. He says, “the only thing you know for sure is the present tense, and that nowness becomes so vivid that, almost in a perverse sort of way, I’m almost serene”. And he continues “you know, I can celebrate life – last week looking at the blossom through the window when I’m writing, I see it is the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be, and I can see it. Things are more trivial than they ever were, and more important than they ever were, and the difference between the trivial and important doesn’t seem to matter. But the nowness of everything is absolutely wonderful.”
So maybe I can enjoy the beauty of the blossom spectacular framed in the Mediterranean blue sky, but also enjoy the beauty of the cold grey nothingness days. Maybe I can start to transcend my likes and dislikes and see the beauty in things as they are: impermanent. Maybe I can start to enjoy the importance and trivia of each moment as they are all perfect , , ,
A haiku from a lesser known English poet
Goldfinch rests and sings.
White blossoms in the blue sky,
The petals fall.