Brian Wilcox. 'A Morning Light'
A well-known Quaker, Henry Cadbury, told of a Bible left in a New York hotel room. The Bible included a long list of suggested readings for travelers. For "Worried?," the reader was directed to book, chapter, and verse so-and-so. When the list came to "Lonely?," passages followed for reading. After the suggestions, someone had written, "Still lonely? Call Mabel at 342-1800."
Seems Mabel knew the word "water" cannot quench anyone's thirst.
A disciple who enjoyed quoting scriptures said to the Sage, "You rarely refer to sacred scriptures. Why is this? Do you not favor them?" The Sage said, "I have some favor for the sacred scriptures; yet, I much more favor the living scriptures." "And," asked the devotee, "what is the difference between the sacred scriptures and the living scriptures?" The Sage said, "The sacred scriptures are words printed in books; the living scriptures is truth embodied in a person."
Jesus, in the Gospel of John, says, "Why do you call me "Teacher, Teacher" and do not do what I say?" Possibly, today, he might say something like this to many who claim to follow him, "Why do you say "Bible, Bible" and do not follow the wisdom therein?"
Tetsugen (1630-1682), a Japanese Zen Buddhist, decided to publish the sutras, or scriptures. The sutras were accessible only in Chinese. He planned to print the sutras using wood blocks in an edition of seven thousand copies, an enormous project.
Tetsugen began traveling and collecting donations. A few sympathizers would give him a large donation; most of the time, he received only small coins. He thanked each donor with like gratitude.
After ten years, Tetsugen had enough funds to begin his project. The Uji River overflowed, and famine ensued. Tetsugen, hence, took the money he had collected and used it to save others from starvation.
Tetsugen began his collecting again. Several years afterward, an epidemic spread over the country. Tetsugen once more gave away what he had collected, to help his people.
For a third time, Tetsugen started collecting funds, and after twenty years, his dream came true. The printing blocks that produced the first edition of sutras rests today in the Obaku monastery in Kyoto.
The Japanese tell their children that Tetsugen made three sets of sutras. They say the first two were invisible and excel the last.
To do one act of kindness is more of worth than quoting and expounding all the sacred writings in the world. Tetsugen would agree with that, as would the Sage and the prophet Jeremiah, from the 700s BCE. Jeremiah was well ahead of his time in realizing the scriptures that are the most powerful are those no one has ever spoken or written, but live in the heart.
For this is the sacred agreement that I will initiate with the house of Israel after that time, says the Living One: I will put my teaching in them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their god, and they shall be my people.
©️ Brian Wilcox, 2020
*Brian can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org; his book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, is available through major online booksellers, including Amazon and Books-A-Million, or via the publisher, AuthorHouse.