Glittering Rays of Hope
Reclaiming the sacred in our lives naturally brings us close once more to the wellsprings of poetry. — Robert Bly
When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it — always. — Mahatma Gandhi
Many years ago, when my wife and I were still getting to know each other, we traveled to Putuoshan (Shan — mountain). It is a sacred island of Guanyin the Bodhisattva of infinite compassion. Guanyin is revered across Asia. In China the island is considered to be Guanyin’s “bodhimanda” — place of awakening. Putuoshan is one of the four sacred Buddhist mountains in China. And so there is an abundance of sacred energy around the island. If I could sum up our time there in one word, I would say “hope”. Since we were still getting to know each other we still had doubts about the future of our relationship, but hope for the future far outweighed the doubts. Guanyin is known across Asia as the goddess of mercy who listens to peoples’ prayers. We both prayed for hope that all our years alone had ended.
Hope is what made me first write to “Happy Hong” — her screen name on the old MS Messenger program. I like how she used the word Happy to describe herself. I had been through some terribly rough times, and just wanted someone to write to. I simply introduced myself and asked her to look at my profile and write back if she liked. On New Years Day 2005 she wrote back, and those initial hope-filled steps led to a remote relationship and over a year later to a face-to-face meeting. Hope has been a foundation stone of my life. Hope leads to trust and to love and so many positive emotions. We went to a temple market, and as is a Chinese tradition, I bought her jade Buddha amulet, and she bought me a Guanyin amulet. These are meant to protect one another when you are apart. I never took my Guanyin amulet off once she put it around my neck, until I moved to China over two years later. Whenever I travel, I wear Guanyin, and kiss the figure as a talisman of hope. In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. — Albert Camus
It is said that Guanyin stepped on Putuoshan as the Bodhisattva reached enlightenment. There are “footprints” in the rock where this occurred. This is a matter of faith, and not created by the government tourism ministry (which published the magazine I edited and wrote at that time). Hundreds of faithful believers light incense and pray at this site. Many people come to Putuo to pray. There are many Buddhist pilgrims and monks. Some perform arduous rituals as they approach the various temples. Hong and I lit incense and prayed at every temple as we walked around the island. There are no private cars allowed on the island, so it is very pleasant to stroll around. Hope has been a kind of magic for me my whole life. And I have always looked for signs of what others might call the “supernatural”, but for me these transcendent moments are glittering rays of hope. All that is gold does not glitter, / Not all those who wander are lost; / The old that is strong does not wither, / Deep roots are not reached by the frost. J.R.R. Tolkien
The ancient cultural aspects of China resonated with something deep inside me. I often felt there were spiritual energies flowing around me. My mother-in-law and I shared these feelings, and she told my wife I had a connection with the more metaphysical realms. In ancient Chinese folk beliefs, moths represent the spirits of the ancestors. If a moth come into your house, it could be the spirit of one of your ancestors come to visit. I found several moths on our journey around the sacred island. Some people may say this is just magical thinking, or half-crazy ideas — maybe. But would you want to live in a world without magic? Some spiritual beliefs are meant to give us hope. Hope that the days up ahead will be brighter. Hope that benevolent gods and spirits are walking beside us. Hope that one day, love will come around the corner and the world will change forever.
Have faith in what you believe in your truest heart. Do not question the magic of hope — embrace it. Hope can build worlds from shattered dreams. Let hope guard the gateway to the future. Lift your spirits with hopeful prayers. Know that the divine Universe is listening. Light the beacon of hope for yourself and for those you love. Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. — LaoZi