The color of the mountains

This is one of my favorite scrolls. The words in English:

The color
of the mountains
purifies
the pure body

These words have been a favorite of mine for a long time. I remember a ten-day Vipassana retreat in the desert of Joshua Tree in southern California: it was spring, the mountains far in the distance were framed by the blue endless sky. I walked for hours outside  in meditation Рthese words in mind with new blooming flowers carpeting the desert floor under my feet.

These words are with me now as they were then, but I usually associate them with spring or fall and hang this scroll in the tea room when the Catskill mountains across the river show different hues of color depending on the changing seasons.

I never thought about these words for winter until yesterday when I saw the mountains dusted with the first snow. What could be more pure than white? The snow, the early blooming narcissus, the white paper to hold the black ink?

Sei Shonagon has a list titled “Things worth seeing.” Indeed. But how about a list “Things worth being?”

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