Friday, June 17, 2011

Script Excerpt

Some of you know the story of Mary Magdalene's visit to the tomb of Jesus following his execution. (John 20:1-18) She goes there to mourn and discovers that the tomb is empty. When she sees the resurrected Jesus, she assumes he is the gardener but then learns his true identity. This is a common motif in Noh drama, the true self of the main character is hidden and then revealed. Noh Garden is not concerned about this story as history or dogma but as insight into enlightenment. It is about the inner life--the mystical--not traditional narrative or proclamation. It is in many ways different from the scripture that is its inspiration. Noh Garden is not a biblical story.

Here is an excerpt from the script that may illuminate what I mean. (All of these lines are sung.)

Now we know each other 
as spirit infuses flesh.
So you are me and I am you.
No embrace can hold us
where we are both dead
and living, dead and living.
This world is a corpse-eater. 
All the things eaten in it 
themselves die also. Truth is a life-eater. 
Therefore no one nourished by truth will die.
I have not gone anywhere,
nor did I come from anywhere.
I have left the world
and come from the world.
How are we to understand
with just the mind,
the rattling cage of memory,
the garble of the intellect,
the useless words that come and go,
the tears we know to be
the fragile being of our grief?
How are we to understand
in our poor ignorance
anything and keep on going?
But my tears, the emptiness
I feel, the pain, my loss--
are not truth but fictions
hiding what you see
before you, not that I am living
no, not living, but
that we have neither lived nor died
but are eternal
and our varied shapes are also
who we are
however painful, as the flesh
is painful and the loss of flesh.

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