Waiting for Godness, an extract
I’m due to die sooner rather than later. My wife of sixty-seven years has already gone, her mortal remains, in ashes waiting for mine. Together they’ll go, somewhere as part of the seasons or the tides ebb or flow. She is still with me, I talk to her often, burning incense twice a day and telling her “incense is dispersed for the soul of the young girl.” Many people say ‘when you’re dead you’re dead.’ Sceptics hedge their bets, ‘no one knows,’ they say, (not sceptical of their own scepticism.) Atheists say they do know: ‘it is all over when you’re dead and gone – bones or ash ‒ no God, no Heaven, no Hell, no thing to carry with you. All is finished, except things you leave behind, genes or work to remind everyone you once were here.’ Opposite to Sceptics or Atheists speculative thinkers of the ancient past ‒ expressed in myth and legend ‒ suggest a world beyond our world where everything exists in forms of knowing we can’t know and will probably never know, the way humans know. Hindu thought, Judaic beliefs, Buddhists, Christians, Islamic thought and others, all embracing eternalism in one form or another. All gods exist in many forms but no form contains the formless. Speculative philosophers speculate ‒ but only speculate ‒ no one knows for sure. Some think though that everything is recorded and stored, and the storehouse whatever it is, or might be, has a consciousness, a part of consciousness itself. ‘The so-called departure, the final curtain-call of our role in the greatest thespian tragedy of all, Life itself.’
Milton Moon is a leading Australian potter. Now in his 91st year, he studied painting and drawing at the Central Technical College in Brisbane, with private tuition there from artist Margaret Cilento. At this time he also learnt the traditions of pottery and wheel-throwing from Mervyn Feeney. Moon has been the senior pottery instructor with Brisbane’s Department of Technical Education, art tutor at the Architecture Department of the University of Queensland, and senior lecturer, Head of Ceramics at the South Australian School of Art. As a Myer Foundation Geijutsu Fellow, he made one of his many visits to Japan, living and working there and studying Zen. He has since also studied Shinshu.
Following his return to Australia, Moon left lecturing to establish a workshop, home and gallery in a restored 1850s stone mill at Summertown in the Adelaide Hills, but has since moved to Norwood. Other awards include a Churchill Fellowship, Australian Government Creative Fellowship, Order of Australia (AM), Member of Honour of the International Academy of Ceramics, and Life Membership of the South Australian Crafts Council. He has exhibited widely in Australia and internationally, and is represented in major Australian collections worldwide.
More of Moon’s poetry, including the full narrative poem today’s extract is from, can be found at the Shin Buddhism website Muryoko here and in previous appearances in InDaily here and here.