This is an experiment in trying an alternative way of posting. This is a video montage showing two shrines in Himeji, Japan.
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.
Saitō Goma is a Shugendō fire ritual. The Yamabushi prepare a structure made of logs and cover it with green branches. Through a series of actions and prayers, the Yamabushi invoke Fudō Myōō to burn away defilements and to solicit blessings.
When I visited the Ruriji temple, a series of paintings depicting the passage of souls after death was being exhibited. One of the images showed O-Jizō-san and the souls of children by the Sai beach on the Sanzu river. In the book “Glimpses of an Unfamiliar Japan” (1894), Lafcadio Hearn reproduces the story of O-Jizō-san and the souls of childen….
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.
Shugendo is an amalgam of magico-religious practices coming from Shamanism, Taoism, Shinto and Buddhism. Yamabushi, the Shugendo monks, seek spiritual growth through ascetic practices in the mountains. Fudo Myoo, Zao Gongen and Vairocana Buddha play a central role in Shugendo’s pantheon.
The Tōdai-ji temple and the Great Buddha of Nara were built in the 8th century. For Buddhists Tōdai-ji is a place of reverence. For all visitors, Tōdai-ji is a special place because of its large dimensions, its long history and the numerous objects loaded with symbolism that are preserved there.
You will find a water fountains at the entrance of most Buddhist and Shinto shrines. People go to a Shinto shrine or jinja to have a closer contact with the Spirit or Kami that resides there. They go to thank and to ask divine assistance. But a Kami can only stay and resonate in a Jinga if the space is clean.
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.
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.