Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Return (Day 11) Engyoji

Today we caught a No. 8 bus and a ropeway (cablecar) to the Engyoji Temple Complex at Mt Shosha. 8 of the temple buildings and 7 of the Buddhas are classified as "Important Cultural Properties."

The 2km walk from the cablecar station to the top of the mountain is lined with dozens of statues of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy also known as Boddhisatva. Some of the images are senju-kannon, the thousand-armed incarnation who is capable of helping all.

Ryan rings the giant bronze bell which on New Year is tolled 108 times - one for each of the human failings which Buddha is said to have overcome.

At the top of Mt Shosha we met our monk guide who explained something of Buddhist philosophy.

The Daikodo - the beautiful 15th Century wooden lecture hall in the background - has found fame in contemporary times featuring in The Last Samurai. We had the special privilege of a calligraphy lesson where we traced over sutra -"shakyo"- (thoughts of the Buddha) with sumi-e brush and ink.

Sam, Jack & Shaun concentrating.

My very poor attempt at kanji calligraphy.

Then our monk guide gave us instruction in za-zen (sitting meditation). He explained the "here and now" philosophy and the need to allow thoughts to flow - to "come and go". We all surprised ourselves by sitting relatively still in the ancient darkened hall for about 20 minutes and achieving a feeling of silent calmness. Afterwards our monk demonstrated the "light whack" on Shaun. This is requested by the "whackee" by the prayer gesture to correct posture and avoid sleepiness!

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