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Some Thoughts on the Rebuilding of Notre Dame

I am so pleased in regard to the announcement by French President Macron about the rebuilting of  Notre Dame. This reminds me of a similar rebuilding of a sacred shrine in Japan. This is an excerpt from an early novel I wrote after I lived in Japan. It is an illustration of the Buddhist concept of impermanence. 

 

     The shrine of the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu, the holiest of holy Shinto shrines, is in Ise, near Kyoto. It embodies a mystery which is typically Japanese. It takes time to walk there, through outer gates and the grounds of buildings, through a sacred grove of cypress trees, past a sacred river filled with sacred carp, until finally you reach the inner shrine, an elegant building made of cypress, which is torn down every twenty years and rebuilt accord to the same ancient architectural plan, by the same family which has done nothing but this from time immemorial, at least a thousand years. When you finally reach the inner shrine, your destination, it is empty, the classic example of empty space. The shrine is a mystery, nothing less than a place for the spirit to descend to earth.

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