from Immortal Wishes, Chapter Five,
Mother's Garden: Ascetic Discipline on the Mountain"
"The gray sky
seemed to be enveloping us, as cold wet wind beat our exposed
faces. Fumiko careened down the mountain ahead of me half flying,
sometimes disappearing altogether around a curve in the path.
Her eyes never seemed to glance down; it began to seem to me
as if she were moving on the wind itself. As before, Fumiko
stopped occasionally to allow me to catch up. I would arrive
panting, out of breath, always more awkward in my negotiation
of the slippery rocks, marveling aloud that Fumiko managed to
make it look so easy.
As we set off again
after one of these catch-up stops, Fumiko began to reassure
me that I too would learn how to walk on the mountain the way
she did, without ever letting her feet rest on the ground for
more than the slightest instant. She said, "The mountain
will teach [you] through your body" (Yama ga karada de
With that she leaped
effortlessly over the boulders and turned back, demonstrating
how easy it would become for me. Just at that moment it began
to snow. As the snowflakes swirled around us, the clouds above
us shifted rapidly in the wind, casting alternating patterns
of darkness and brightness on the rockface. In spite of the
bitter cold it was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever
seen. Fumiko suddenly became very still. Looking back at me,
she declared solemnly, "Always remember this moment, all
right?" (Ima itsumo oboete, ne?) She gestured skyward to
the falling snow and shifting rays of light. Once more looking
back at me she said: "I hope you will never forget."
(Immortal Wishes, p.157)