Engakuji

Photo 1) Agfa Isolette/  HP5/ HC-110, Photos 2, 3, and 4) Olympus XA/ Tri-x/ HC-110

Engakuji is a beautiful Zen Temple about 10 minutes walk from Kita-Kamakura Station, which is about 25 minutes by train SW  of Yokohama Station. It was founded by a patron of the Kamakura Shogunate in 1282. There are over a dozen different buildings and the public are able to participate in zazen, lectures, and tea ceremonies among other things.  It is quite nice for a relaxing stroll around, soaking up the “zen”. If you ever have the chance to visit the Tokyo/Yokohama area definitely don’t miss Kamakura.

On the brochure it says the following:

The fact that we are living here, now, in the present- this is the true meaning of the existence of Buddha. Nothing is more precious than this. How marvelous this is! How important it is to realize from the bottom of one’s heart! This is the way in which all of us, each in our true fashion, will awaken to the truth and each live, in our own way, a cheerful and happy life. This is the teaching of Zen.

I am guessing but I think it is likely that not many read this at all, but of those that do a very small percentage might wonder what it means.

Well for anyone interested and reading this this far I will attempt to explain as I understand it.  Essentially in Zen Buddhism we are taught that each of us have Buddha nature, and are enlightened already, however the problem is that we cannot see it for ourselves.  Most of the exercises done in buddhist training such as zazen and koans (koans are kind of like riddles meant to stump you and make you think outside the box) for example, are tools which if used over time wear down illusions, ego, and other superficial obstructions we have so that we can truly see. Enlightenment, among other things, is finally seeing this and being able to live in harmony with your true self, nature, and fully appreciative of the present (since that is all there is anyway).

A well known book called The Three Pillars of Zen (by Philip Kapleau) gives an example story from a Zen Master called Yasutani Roshi called The Parable of Enyatta. It goes something like this (long story short):

A girl loved her face so much she looked at it in the mirror all the time.  One day she looked in the mirror and her head was gone. In a panic she ran around everywhere asking who took her head. Of course they told her she was mad and that her head was of course there where it had always been.  She wouldn’t believe them since she couldn’t see it so they tied her to a post before she might hurt herself. With the body bound after a time the mind becomes more tranquil (Yasutani Roshi mentions that this this is comparable to zazen practice). Eventually she came to half believe that her friends might be right. Then at just the right moment someone hit her on the head and said, “There is your head!” At that moment she realized it and ran around telling everyone, “I’m so happy, I’ve got my head after all!” This, Yasutani Roshi says is Kensho (or enlightenment).  He goes on to say that it is really kind of delusional state since you are simply going around overjoyed at having found something you’ve had all along. Eventually this “delirium of delight” subsides and you are able to live a truly natural life. Nevertheless, unless you go through the process you are unable to find what you have had all along.

Ok, well that concludes tonight’s broadcast.  Nighty night:-)

Best!

Jordi

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