Monday, February 3, 2014

Carpe Diem #391, Dainichji (Temple 4)

Dear O-Henro ... Haijin,visitors and travelers,

Our next stop on our pilgrimage is the fourth temple Dainichji and it's in honor of Vairocana Buddha which is the Buddha of Emptiness ... Emptiness, is the title of my first haiku anthology which I published in 1998. With that anthology I won a national literture prize. I had titled it Emptiness, because the emptiness around a haiku is even more important than the haiku itself. Haiku is just a verse of three lines, seventeen syllables and sometimes just ten words.
As I was preparing this episode ... a haiku (or senryu) came in mind. It 'plopped-in' so to say and I cannot explain why just that haiku came in mind as I was preparing a new episode about a Buddhistic Temple on the Island of Shikoku (Japan). It doesn't even have to do with it, but ... maybe on a deeper layer there will be a meaning which belongs to this fourth temple, Dainichji. Maybe ... I will discover it while I am writing this post.

hard working ants
building their own sacred temple
to worship their queen

(c) Chèvrefeuille

O-Henro at Dainichji Temple

OK back to our next stop on our pilgrimage. Dainichji or The temple of the Great Sun. The mantra for this temple is the following:

On abiraunken bazara datoban

Dainichji Temple is set far back into a mountain valley on the north side of the Yoshino Plain and this is the first taste of searching for a temple off the main roads. Kōbō Daishi founded the temple and named it for the Dainichi Buddha. He also carved its tiny honzon of Dainichi (Mahavairocana Buddha). For the past thousand years, the temple has been repeatedly destroyed and reconstructed. In the 17th century, it was rebuilt by a monk named Matsu. Hachisuka, the Daimyō of Awa Province, paid respect to, and worshipped at, this temple.
In the corridor between the hondō and the daishidō are 33 statues of Senju Kannon Bosatsu plus several other Japanese and Chinese historical figures.

Dainichji Temple (the name of two temples on route 4th and 13th temple)

Vairocana Buddha or Mahâvairocana Buddha is the overall main deity of worship, and is the fundamental buddha in Shingon Buddhism. His true name is Mahâvairocana Buddha, the Great Shining Buddha, because he is the life force of the buddhas that illuminate everything. In Shingon Buddhism, Mandalas are enshrined that explain the world of the buddhas. The buddhas, bodhisattvas, radiant kings, and the heavenly kings that are in the Mandalas all work, in their own way, to maintain the vow to give life to all of the virtues of Mahâvairocana Buddha in this world. They also strive to create Mahâvairocana Buddha's Pure Land, the Exquisitely Adorned Land of the Buddha. The Mandalas indicate that all things emerge from and are nourished by the life force of Mahâvairocana, who maintains the powerful creation and operation of the universe. A main teaching of Shingon Buddhism is that we human beings also have the buddha nature and the life force of Mahâvairocana.

Vairocana Buddha

The Sanskrit letter that stands for Mahâvairocana Buddha is the letter A, and it expresses life, death, and becoming a buddha that is the emergence from the letter A and the return to the letter A.
The virtue of Mahâvairocana Buddha is explained as the four virtues of a light that dispels the darkness of the world by casting light everywhere, give life to and nurture all living things, continues life throughout the past, present, and future with a radiant light that is neither created nor destroyed, and leads all living beings to the state of enlightenment. These are the virtues much like the sun that shines into every corner of the world dispelling the darkness with an eternal, undying light that nurtures and animates everything.

Vairocana Buddha is first introduced in the Brahma Net Sutra:

Now, I, Vairocana Buddha am sitting atop a lotus pedestal;
On a thousand flowers surrounding me are a thousand Sakyamuni Buddhas.
Each flower supports a hundred million worlds;
in each world a Sakyamuni Buddha appears.
All are seated beneath a Bodhi-tree, all simultaneously attain Buddhahood.
All these innumerable Buddhas have Vairocana as their original body.

Vairocana Buddha has a lot of names, but one I have to share here. Vairocana Buddha is also named The Buddha of Wisdom. 

Buddha of Wisdom
guide me along the path of emptiness =
bright sunrise

(c) Chèvrefeuille

It was a joy to write this episode of our Carpe Diem Pilgrimage along the 88 temples on Shikoku Island and I hope that you have enjoyed the read.

This episode will be open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until February 5th 11.59 AM (CET). Later on I will try to publish our new episode, Anrakuji.


  1. As I read your first haiku, I felt that we are the ants on a sacred mission(purpose): to build this temple, your haiku dream.

    1. I am glad that I can and may create this haiku-community as your humble, but very enthousiastic, host ... no need to worship me ... I just love to share my knowledge about haiku and to promote this wonderful Japanese poetry form.

  2. ...I am also a fan of Kermit the Frog ~Jules

  3. Oh I love this. so inspiring.. filling the emptiness what a wonderful thought

  4. Wonderful and enlightening post and journey for us to share ~ will do my best ~ step by step ~ thanks ~ lots of creativity here and still wonder when you sleep ^_^ ~ your information takes lots of time!
    carol, xxx

  5. ''I had titled it Emptiness, because the emptiness around a haiku is even more important than the haiku itself. Haiku is just a verse of three lines, seventeen syllables and sometimes just ten words.'' Incredible concept, really amazing. With that and about the light I tried to show my understanding of both in the haibun. What an enriching post. I keep thinking you could organise a 'haiku retreat' for one week/two weeks somewhere, charging a group and going through the prompts - or make a real journey, as haiku master and guide, taking a group, and writing a haiku a day after really visiting some temples - or in Siberia! I may write a book yet about that experience, but will chat about it with you first.

  6. wonderful to learn about another temple in honor the Buddha of Emptiness. thank you.