Portuguese Zen

In the distance a sailboat glides silently into the pale horizon. It speaks of tranquillity and offers the question – what lies beyond? What lies beyond the bend where the water merges into the sky and all becomes one? Suzuki says there is no answer. I would say there are many answers. But maybe answers aren’t relevant because the question itself has its own response built in. I feel therefore I am. If I don’t feel, I am not.

Gentle, gliding boats, smooth lines on a peaceful sea. It is like taking a deep breath of calm, a precious moment extended over time.

Zen is in everything. But Portuguese Zen is special. It offers up the visual metaphors that encompass the universe in a straightforward simplicity. Look at the face of the cliff jutting up from the beach. You see the history of time spelt out in the sedimental layers. Look out to the sea and your eye follows the horizon until you are lost in space. No need to ponder the eternal for it surrounds you - it encompasses. Walking over the cliffs, the rich odours from the sun-drenched herbs filling your head, incredible vistas opening, how can you not be swallowed up by the sheer beauty of life in all its grandeur? As the land merges into the sea and the sea merges into the sky and there is nothing between you and everything else, you cease to be and all is melded into a universal sense of harmony. No matter that the sedimental layers speak of ancient cataclysms nor that the sea can swell into an angry torrent that consumes all in its wake. No matter that the sky contains a wind that howls and shrieks like Banshees vengeful and forlorn. No matter. All is peaceful now. All is calm. Harmony and grace are universal ends to chaos and suffering. Safe in the eye of the Calm the world looks good. It is a momentary perch for sure. Uncertainty prevails. But the perch is there. And its name is Salema.

9 August 2001