October 8, 2008

Koyasan had me completely enthralled:

It felt like I was walking into one of the fairy tales that framed my early childhood. The towering stone plinths, moss covered doorways and the mausoleums almost seemed familiar.

Doors to nowhere have been an aesthetic obsession of mine for the longest , longest time. They absolutely fascinate me. I suppose in a graveyard, they aren’t really doors to nowhere; as little as I comprehend these matters, the symbolism is maybe obvious.

And it fascinates me – thresholds, transgression, the splitting of life and death and the communion of the two…and in this context – this massive, massive wood with trees hundreds of years old, it made for a pretty intense day.

And that was just the wood.

Koyasan is an area of upland, that nestles into its surrounding eight mountain peaks (like a lotus flower?) in Wakayama prefecture. Its devoted to the study and practice of the Shingon Sect of Esoteric Buddhism. I don’t know much about this sect (I don’t know much about Buddhism), however;apparently it does not see enlightenment as a remote entity taking millennia to achieve. Instead enlightenment is a real possibility achieved through living a ritualised and conscious life. Humans, accordingly, are creatures with an innate and luminous holiness which if channelled correctly through Buddhist practises, manifests itself as a sacred and beneficial wisdom.
So there you go eh?

It was a wonderful weekend, we stayed in Dai-en-in temple, I can’t even express how beautiful and important it was. The morning worship, the monk we met who showed us around, the Zen garden, the sound of rain falling on the roof for the ten dark hours we spent lying on our futons; The mists that held themselves around the temple and among the trees all morning. Sitting in the temples, enjoying the peace and the holiness was an awesome feeling, a feeling I haven’t felt for a long time. It felt the same as when I used to sit and meditate at Walsingham Catholic shrine back in the UK. Which was surprising – if not a little pleasant actually.

And wonderfully, my scarf seems to have absorbed some of the smoke and still smells like incense, which of course makes me a very happy bunny indeed.


One comment

  1. I stayed the same place you did!

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