Nohman made his way to Meredith’s building by bicycle, by far the most expedient way at this busy time of the morning when there are long traffic queues. It was his favourite mode of transport around Kyoto, too, because of the gentle ticking of the spokes in the breeze and the excitement of using gears.
He rode along on the wide pavement, as was the custom here – cyclists having great power, and the design of the roads themselves not allowing for bicycles – down the hill and towards the huge junction at the green metal arching bridge. It was here that everything converged – roads carrying heavy and light traffic, cyclists weaving in and out of the mixture of vehicles, and trains also, because there was a level crossing at the entrance to the narrow bridge spanning one of the main rivers in Kyoto, the Uji.
The electric gates closed, the alarm sounded, and Nohmen wobbled into the squadron of cyclists and the crowds of pedestrians waiting for the trains to pass them by very closely.In Japan, trains and people are very comfortable together, much more so than in the west. he thought how amazing it was that there were so many people busily moving around, and yet the mountains were always nearby, dissected by monumental rivers rushing into the sea.
Kyoto is well-known for its lack of pollution despite being a busy city. The mountains are covered with pine and larch mixed with bamboo, dotted with wild plum and cherry trees, which keep the air clean, except in the summer when the slab heat holds the air still and even the trees perspire.
He breathed deeply and with incredible gratitude to the invisible world.
The train crossing gates opened and the crowds moved off hurriedly. he cycled in a line along the narrow enclosed footway of the bridge, dodging pedestrians, and eventually reached the other side where the pavement broadens out. He turned off the main road on to a side road which followed the river bank, which he always enjoyed taking because he could watch the herons in the shallows spotting fish.
Across at the mooring, he could see the houseboats of the cormorant fishermen wearing their traditional black Chinese kimonos, with their distinctive long beards called agohige, flowing down from their chin only. Their skin was dark from living in the open air, constantly paddling their small boats up and down the river. The cormorants, content to serve humans, equally dark except for their copper neck rings, lined up along the edge of the boat, waiting fro their turn to fish.
During this airy ride, Nohmen put all his energy single-pointedly into thinking about Meredith and her struggles with dominant ego and pride coupled with deep fear and attachment. He knew how painful the transformation from head to heart is, and how Meredith’s karma was now coming to the surface. he also knew what it feels like to take off your mask, which you have become so dependent on. What is behind it?
As he free-wheeled down the hill, he felt a deep sadness that people cannot realise that they do have a spark of divinity within them, that everyone does. But that gradually through conditioning, through being squeezed into a mould made by society, culture and education, it becomes covered, alien, and for most people, entirely lost. If only could live out their true nature the world would be a paradise for everyone.