Report on Robert Kennedy's Visit

See below for report, poems and pictures from the event


The Christian Experience of Enlightenment


By Phil Kerrison


Buddhism is just rice and tea - Some guest speakers might double as guest preachers but not so Father Robert Kennedy. He came to us as ‘Teacher’, ‘Sensei’, ‘Travelling Companion’ and ‘Friend’ to share his experience of Zen, a gift he describes as ‘an open door through which anyone who wants to can enter’. He didn’t seek out Buddhism or enlightenment but life took him to Japan where he encountered ‘Zen Buddhism’ and he now strives to live as an enlightened Christian. We are delighted to have had the opportunity to spend time with him and – to soar with an eagle’s joy.


The white flowers in the moonlight you must see for yourself - Father Robert’s teaching over the weekend was developed around a series of koans - questions or statements, the meaning of which cannot be understood by rational thinking. These were followed by meditation and at the end of each session the forum was opened for shared discussion.


I sit before mystery in silence and gratitude - The insights Zen meditation offers can complement our Christian way of living and deepen our understanding of the divine. During meditation, we were encouraged to allow words, ideas, images and thoughts to disperse so that the wisdom of the moment might be revealed. We are all living in God and He in us.


Heaven and earth are of the same root - The ‘Zen Way’ is not ‘The Way’; the ‘Zen Way’ is gentle but provoking, inspiring but not imposing, expansive but not dogmatic, nourishing but not a diet. Zen is inclusive – there is no conflict. We’re encouraged to live life courageously, ‘to live the deed and to live it in the Now!’


Poems by Tim Lenton, inspired by the event


For just such as you, 
standing on a precipice, 

stepping from pole to pole 

          or hole to hiding hole
For just such as you

stagnant in this absence of dragons,

crushed by inertia
For just such as you
I have come, because
you are filled with light
I am the light,

and for just such as you, 

disinterred and dancing,
I have come

          Tim Lenton

Spring sun fixes river margins
like a photograph,
and nothing moves,
not even yesterday’s prayers
No muse comes

into this silent, country crucible

created for the focusing fire of God

Fear weighs us down,
feet shackled by inertia,
and we forget to listen
as the beauty of reality calls
Send someone else, we say
          Tim Lenton
Hearts that do not ripen
are cursed
never to see white flowers
in moonlight
          Tim Lenton
Bare, thin branches 
against a flatfish sky
as winter bites back

Feet planted firmly in mid-air,

leaning against all kinds of emptiness,

you try to see the future
or change the past
Across the marshes, 
torn sails repainted, 
adorned with ribbons, 
going nowhere

And you caught by time and place,

see the bell ring 
but hear nothing
                    Tim Lenton
Rejected by those I love,
I am a work in progress
falling upwards, 
looking for a way 
round the law
Will you also leave?

                                                                           Tim Lenton

Phil Kerrison and Tim Lenton, 01/04/2011