Tolling The Bell Of Kanryuji (1)

■Book 111 - Roving Over The World

■Written by GrandMaster Sheng-yen Lu

 

I have been to Kyushu, Honshu, Shikoku and Hokkaido, the four major islands of Japan. In fact, I can claim to have toured the whole of Japan.

I like to pay visits to Japanese temples. As the founder of True Buddha School, which cultivates Tantra, I look forward to cultivation centres of Shingon school , Tian Dai School, Zen school and Pure-land school.

I have been to:

Takanoyama - erected by Hung-Fa the venerable monk as the headquarter of Shingon (Eastern Esoteric) school of Buddhism.

Hieizan - erected by Transmit Abhidharma, the venerable monk as the headquarter of Tian Dai school of Buddhism.

I have been to many Ling Chang (reijio), Japanese temples built by such venerable monks as

Honen Shonin, Shinran Shonin, Nichiren Shonin, Eisai Shonin, and Dogen Shonin.

Visiting Buddhist temples is like taking a course in the history of Japanese Buddhism!

Apart from looking forward to the future of Japanese Buddhism and cherishing the memory of its glorified past, what other value can we derive from this ?

Maybe, this is how we are brought up in between the past and the future.

Most of the Buddhist temples in Japan have antic looks. They are majestic, peaceful and have scenic views. The cleaniness of its bamboo and pine gardens gives the viewers space for reflection and meditation. Most of the temples are in the state of hiberation.

Most of the temples are dimly lit. Some of them are very dark inside so as to protect the carvings from being exposed to light. We must try to feel what is present in the darkness after paying homage to the Buddhas.

The temples are quiet, lonely and gentle, suggesting that we must transcend, forget about all our other thoughts, detach from other worldly affair and reach a state of no ego.

I have an insight that life is :

baseless

confused

hopeless

full of fear and 

yearning for many things.

Maybe these situations will help the propagation of Buddhist Dharma. As a result of these, we are able to transcend, to comprehend them.

I talked to Mr. Nishiyama Iko, a professor at the Japan Buddhism University.

He was a tall elderly man who shaved his head bald. With penetrating eyes and well-dressed in fitting coat, he look very witty. Mr Nishiyam told me:

\` Japanese Buddhism started its decline.\`

\`Why?\` I asked.

\`Modern Japanese frequent the temples for the sake of asking for material benefit; they are not aroused by Buddhism. On the other hand, most of the cultivators are interested in running the Buddhist enterprises; and they do not have enough time to reflect themselves and do mediation, let alone to develop a spiritual insight.\` 

\`What Buddhist Dharma do you teach in the university?\`

\`I don`t teach any Dharma in the university. I teach Buddhism history instead - when Shakyamuni was born, his biography, the influence of Buddhism, the doctrines of Buddhism; the people, times, places and event sorrounding Buddha. Modern Japanese do not understand what is Dharma, moreover, they do not like to do mediatation and seek the truth.\`

Nishiyama asked me : \`Master Sheng Yen, what is your objective in life?\`

\`Realizing my mind and letting my self- nature emerge, so as to control my life and death.\`

\`Oh ! I am afraid it is too difficult to achieve.\` He shook his head.

I added :\`Maybe this is the reason why Buddhist Dharma is so valueable !\`

My mettle and preservance must have impressed him quite a lot. After studying my face, he said : \`Grandmaster, your eyes are full of endless wisdom. And your ears resemble that of Shakyamuni who came to succour all the sentient beings in this Samsara world.\`

Mr, Nishiyama broke into smile when he said this.

 

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