Full day in Koya-san (Japan 2014 Day 7)

16 July 2014 – Today I spend the full day in Koya-san, Japan. It becomes the midpoint of my trip, where they inner change I’ve come here to execute crystalises.

After breakfast and the morning fire ceremony – where my legs fall asleep – I head back to Okuno-in. It’s just as beautiful in the day time. At the end, by the mausoleum of Kobo-Daishi, I burn some incense for all of my grandparents, to thank them for being the four pillars of my physical being.

The cemetery is just as beautiful in the daytime.

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I find a shrine to Japanese and Australian soldiers who fought and died in West Borneo. There seems a dichotomy between these mantras of peace and compassion and the small island that went to war, and some of whose soldiers committed horrible atrocities.

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“Is there too much willingness to be ‘led’ in the Japanese spirit? a great deal of trust that those in power will act, and then give orders, in their best interests? How can we know what those consequences are unless we have contemplated them, and then considered how they relate to society and the world? Our guide is history. Do not study history to immerse yourself in the past; study history to guide your path in the future.”

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I wandered around town for the rest of the day, being a tourist, and it was nice. It’s a beautiful town.

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Then at night, after dinner and some sake, I returned for the third time to Okuno-in, and did the walking meditation Noburo told us about the tour the night before – clapping your hands together and bowing to the final resting place of Kobo Daishi, stating your intent, then walking along to the ‘wishing stone’ and touching it, stating the same intent and then walking back. Repeat 100 times.

I had bought some prayer beads to help me with the counting. The first step was the hardest.

For a while I was on my own, then a group of religious folk joined me for a time. They did maybe 30 or 40. A few of them regarded me with a degree of very non-religious hostility.

After a while the pilgrims and the monk leading them left, and it was just me and another solo traveller. At first he lapped me a couple of times, but I picked up the pace and we circled back and forth until I was done.

In total it took about two hours. Along the way I ‘talked’ to Kobo Daishi about a number of things related to my intent, such as the how and the why of it, and also about aspects of the meditation itself – like whether to wear shoes or not, whether the pilgrims were tsking me or not, and whether or not my finger had just slipped back one notch and I was going to have to do that one again.

When it was done, and I was walking back through Okuno-in to my temple accommodation, I met a little frog that I encouraged across the path, so s/he didn’t get squashed. Then I had a bath.

When you are going round in a circle sometimes you don’t know who is leading or who is following, who is pushing along and encouraging the other or the other way around.

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My mantra for the two-hour meditation? I want to change our world for the better.

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