Is been a long time since I first got at Hoboji, one of the main Zen temples in the Eastern Europe. I went there for one of the four Ango periods, or sommerlager as is called in Hungary.
At that very first Hoboji sesshin it felt like the hearing senses could go far beyond the temple’s wall. In the depth of the late evening Zen practice you could easily distinguish the zephyr’s smooth leaf touch and the spring’s youthful play over the rocks.
All these sound journeys were stopped from time to time by the master’s never heard before voice with everlasting statements like “Here and now” or “always return to the posture” and again … deep … deep silence.
Then, for the first time, I heard something like a smooth walk on the roof and a jump on the floor, followed by a long squeak. Something like an echoed squeak came back from outside with a rush on the rooftop and again a jump on the dojo’s floor.
At that point, I really got scared and wanted to turn, because all those sounds were new, unexpected and quietly unfamiliar, but since I couldn’t hear any human movement or voice, I forced myself to keep calm and continue the practice.
However, I couldn’t stop following that sound up to a point that I could tell exactly where it was coming from. It felt that these two beings started to walk on the dojo’s floor unsure at the beginning and then more and more confident, apparently ignoring all of us there.
Then they started to squeak again as if they were fighting for something. You could easily hear the scratches on the floor, unrest in their voice, changing in their tone and a volume that became too loud.
I started to get confused especially because there was no sound whatsoever coming from the master or the shuso, the only ones who could actually see what was going on in the dojo. The attention was pulled back in my mind by a wave of thoughts that were trying to put a sense on what happened there.
But that strange quarrel faded away as if never existed when the word kaijo flooded the room. Then the gong backed that sound up with such an intense flow that the candle’s flame started to shiver.
When we all turned and faced the center of the dojo for the evening ceremony there was nobody on the dojo’s floor.
I’ve started this article with this story in order to create a brief background of what is about to come.
It actually happened a few years ago at Hoboji and it was for the first time when I ‘met’ Pele. No, I’m not talking about the renowned football player, but a small, long-tailed and big eyes rodent species that is almost extinct, hence protected by law, with the last families living in forests around Budapest.
It was then when I learned about their existence and when I first thought about an animated movie in which we should include these beings in the life at a Zen temple as an endless journey throughout the time. Hence the movie’s name, Pele at the temple.
However, it is only today when I reveal the dream that had to be pulled out from the fire and shaped on the anvil by a sangha that wants to talk about the Zen history in a different manner.
Somehow, it felt that the story of this species transcended their existence as a reflection to all the beings that live on this planet and at some extent to the Zen practice itself, because if not practiced the Zen will be nothing but a bunch of dusty books on some forgotten library shelves.
I believe that Zen practice is a gift to humanity, a gift that has to be preserved and cherished.
As you all know, it all started with Buddha and then through the patriarchs, the practice has been transmitted ishin-den-shin for more than 2000 years. However today, when life became more money driven, people tend to forget some of the most important things in life. The Zen practice is not an exception.
Of course, Zen will be understood and known only through practice, but we need a kyosaku to wake us up. The movie wants to be exactly that thing.
Furthermore, I hope you understand that this is not and it should not be a personal ambition, it has to be a collective mushotoku endeavor. So, if you like the concept and would like help us make it real please support us with whatever you can.
That’s why in this very first stage of the project we need your help in choosing Pele, the main character of the movie.
Hence, the question: Which one of these two characters you think will be the best choice for the movie and why? Please comment with your thoughts.