Kintsugi – 10 Days Until the Lunar Bodhi Day

This rhyolite is nature's kintsugi.
This chunk of rhyolite cracked and patched with green jasper. How many would have picked up this chunk of rhyolite if not for that contrasting green band?

Life cracks us in many ways, but when we heal, the scar leaves us more interesting than before. When we inconveniently discover a gap in our skillset, the wise soul fills the gap. Is our skillset then merely patched? It’s much more than patched. The pieces now form a different whole.

That patching can result in something much more interesting. Something like those hilarious, bi-pedal, creative creatures that emerged from the aftermath of a big meteor strike that killed off the big dinosaurs 65 million years ago. The shattering of Life on Earth wasn’t destroyed by that meteor. It merely shifted Life’s direction.

It may not feel good at the time of the shift and the direction we face may look scary. But what we see when facing that new direction isn’t necessarily where we’ll end up. There is a universe of possibilities between now and then. It’s all headed somewhere with us kicking and screaming or with eager fascination.

That patching and the resulting whole reminds me of the art form called Kintsugi. Kintsugi is a rather unusual Japanese art form. Say your favorite coffee mug (for example, “World’s Best Cat Dad”) falls and breaks into pieces. We would normally just throw it away after a little bit of cursing. But what if instead, the mug is glued together. Perhaps the repaired item is still usable as a coffee mug. Perhaps we were able to do such a good job that it would be hard to notice the patched cracks.

What if, however, we couldn’t hide the cracks well enough to not notice? Would it offend the sensibilities of our guests to be served coffee in a broken mug? Would we think less of something that is no longer in the shape it was born with?

Instead, what if we embraced the cracks and highlighted them in gold leaf? We celebrate the uniqueness of the cracks. We celebrate that our minds wouldn’t have broken the mug in the way reality broke it.

Life is constant creation and destruction. The Earth wouldn’t have formed. None of those species of plants and animals we so treasure, including us, would have otherwise evolved. Kintsugi makes something good as new, but not like it was before.

Kintsugi is a fundamental Zen lesson that incorporates all three of The Eternal Fishnu’s Zen Stories that teach:

  1. An open mind is needed to reflect the relentless change of reality.
  2. We’re relieved from suffering when we are 100% accepting of what is here and now, not clinging to where we were or where our brain demands us to be.
  3. Without change, there is no life, just a static picture. Find your innate wonder for what is beyond the top of the hill you’re climbing.

A Kintsugi art piece, such as the rhyolite rock in the photo above, is a focal point of pondering mediation. What if the cracks were not filled with jasper? Will the rock now last forever or will it someday be subducted? Does it matter to our human form?

I mentioned Kintsugi in my previous post of my Raku Christmas cookies.

The lunar/real Bodhi Day is in 10 days, January 20, 2021 – the 8th day of the 12th moon of the lunar year. I’ve written a series of blogs posted before the “secular” Bodhi Day, which was on December 8, 2020. This Bodhi Season is about the Heart Sutra – the Heart of Buddhism. It’s the subject of all of the recent posts on this site from OctoberNovember, and December 2020.

Lastly, be sure to get your ingredients for Mrs. Hanamoku’s Bodhi Day rice pudding.

Faith and Patience,

Reverend Dukkha Hanamoku

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