Buddhism

The mindful practice of Japanese flute (shakuhachi)

Between the 17th and end of 19th centuries, Zen monks of the Fuke sect used the Shakuhachi as a tool for meditation. Shakuhachi playing as meditation is referred as suizen, often as a counterpart to zazen (sitting meditation of Zen) and mantra chanting in traditional Zen Buddhism. A decree enacted in 1614 by the Tokugawa government served as the legal basis for the establishment of the Fuke sect, which only admitted men of the samurai class and rōnin (samurais without a master). The monks of the Fuke sect were known as Komusō: monks of nothingness.

The Heart Sutra – Hannya Shingyo

The Heart Sutra is a revered text in Mahayana Buddhism. It is a short text that condenses central teachings in Buddhism. In the text, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, in Japan also known as Kannon Bosatsu, speaks to Shariputra, who was an important disciple of the historical Buddha. The Bosatsu describes the non-substantiality, emptiness or boundlessness of all phenomena. A main message is that everything is impermanent and interdependent.

Nara Deer

Nara deer

In Shintoism deer have been messengers of the Gods or Kamis and venerated as such. According to the legend, over a thousand years ago Kami Takemikazuchi-no-mikoto arrived to the mountains of Nara riding on a white stag. Buddhist beliefs also influenced the protection of the deer in Nara. In the Western world, the stag has been an allegory of Christ in Catholicism and of Mercurius in Alchemy.

Jizo Bosatsu, protector of children and travelers

Since I arrived in Japan I started to encounter little Jizos everywhere I went. I knew nothing about him, but I was very attracted by the small Jizo statues. As I began to know more, and being myself a traveler, my sympathy for him increased. Jizo Bosatsu was an enlightened monk that postponed Buddhahood to help beings in the six realms of existence. He is a protector of travelers and children. It is believed that when children die they remain trapped between worlds. Jizo helps children to move forward in their path.