Apr 27, 2018 Working the Rice Paddies
Mother Earth is luscious and green in the China Mountains with ancient misshapen trees that surround us like a comforting protective presence. The clay roofs peak out between the rice paddies that are terraced on the emerald mountain. The rice here has to be tossed just right for the seed to sprout. Then protected from birds and animals. To harvest there is constant connection to the earth as their hands and feet work the yield. For the first time I realize, as I eat my second bowl of steaming rice and look out at the rice paddies, the journey from seedling to rice bowl is long and laborious.
I’ve now personally experienced the big difference between Western and Eastern ways of faith. Here Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism are the dominant religions. However, I have seen how religion is viewed very differently from the way I was raised in the West.
In the West we are taught that there is a distinct right and wrong. One religion is right so another religion is wrong. For example when one converts to another religion culturally it is taught to disregard the religion one left. It is now wrong and the new faith is right. One will also worship in a completely new building as well.
In the East if one changes religions they don’t disregard their former one. They keep it and add to it. They say this is right for me and this is also right for me too. Hence why several temples in China are not just Buddhist or Taoist but will be a temple for both. As you grow and change you don’t disregard the previous knowledge you add to it. Right and wrong are such vague terms here where in the West they are highly defined. Right is the goodness you carry in your heart. Wrong is anything that comes between you and that love.
Life’s purpose is to grow and they believe that we have time in abundance to do this- an eternity- to repeat our mistakes (reincarnation). The mistakes only need to be corrected once to learn our lesson and then we will reach enlightenment; our own hearts finding peace.
It is a way of thinking that is truly foreign to me. Honestly, I haven’t fully grasped it; I don’t know if I ever will because of how differently I was raised to think. But I have adapted two things that spoke to me personally.
#1 They remind me of an ancient duty to think on my ancestors. Learning to love them through their myths and legends, burn incense for them because as long as you are alive their light burns within you.
#2 In the West people believe they must pursue happiness. In the East they believe they are born with happiness and life’s important task is to protect it.
Like I stated in the beginning the journey from seedling to rice bowl is long and laborious. The seed needs to be tossed just right for it to grow then safeguarded until it’s time to harvest.
It is backbreaking work.
It is rewarding work.
It is calming work
It is a life’s work
and in the end I hope we all are safely harvested home to a maker that is nothing more than pure love.