Sunday, March 23, 2014

Carpe Diem #429, Zentsu-ji (temple 75)

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

Today is a special day we are visiting the Zentsu-ji temple in Zentsu-ji Kagawa Prefecture. This temple is built in the early 9th century and is built in the birth place of Kobo Daishi. This temple was built by his father, Zentsu Saeki.

Zentsu-ji (temple 75)

The Shikoku trail is based on the life and actions by Kobo Daishi (or Kukai) and is established in honor of him. This Shikoku Pilgrimage is for Buddhists, what the Hajj is for the muslim. It's a once in a lif-time to do pilgrimage for the Buddhists.

Zentsu-ji is devoted to Yakushi Nyorai or the Buddha of Healing and Medicine. Starting in the 7th century in Japan, Yakushi was prayed to in the place of Ashuku (Akshobhya). Some of Yakushi's role has been taken over by Jizō (Ksitigarbha), but Yakushi is still invoked in the traditional memorial services for the dead. 
Older temples, those mostly found in the Tendai and Shingon sects, especially those around Kyoto, Nara and the Kinki region often have Yakushi as the center of devotion, unlike later Buddhist sects which focus on Amitabha Buddha or Kannon Bodhisattva almost exclusively. Often, when Yakushi is the center of devotion in a Buddhist temple, he is flanked by the Twelve Heavenly Generals (十二神将 Jūni-shinshō?), who were twelve yaksha generals who had been converted through hearing the Bhaiṣajyaguruvaiḍūryaprabhārāja Sūtra:

"Wherever this sutra circulates or wherever there are sentient beings who hold fast to the name of the Medicine Buddha [Yakushi Buddha] and respectfully make offerings to him, whether in villages, towns, kingdoms or in the wilderness, we [the Twelve Generals] will all protect them. We will release them from all suffering and calamities and see to it that all their wishes are fulfilled." (Source: Wikipedia)

Zentsu-ji (temple 75)

Buddhist monks think and believe that Kobo Daishi isn't dead and that he still is alive hiding in the mountains, especially on Mount Koya. They bring food to this place for Kobo Daishi to keep him healthy and comfortable.

Buddhist Monks bringing Kobo Daishi food on Mount Koya

On Mount Koya a temple is once built named Kongobuji and a village, Koyasan, was established around it. Koyasan has become a small town during the centuries and was until 1872 only a place for male monks. In 1872 Koyasan became also open for women. Since then Koyasan has grown and in 2004 it became an UNESCO World Heritage. It's now the headquarters of Koyasan Shingon Buddhism and the Kongobuji temple is the heart of their religion.
Kongobuji tempel has one the worlds greatest rock gardens in which they practice Zen-Buddhism.

Kongobuji's Rock Garden

What a wonderful garden full of Zen and spirituality must be a joy to walk through it.

in deep silence
monks cleaning up their garden -
willow leaves fall

(c) Chèvrefeuille

What a joy this must be ... to have such a Rock Garden and meditate in it while cleaning it up ...

chanting their mantra
broomstick and rake in hand
true meditation

(c) Chèvrefeuille

This episode will be open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until March 26th 11.59 AM (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, Sanuki Kokubun-ji (temple 80), later on. For now ... have fun, be inspired and share your haiku, senryu, tanka, kyoka or haibun with our Haiku Kai.


  1. Two wonderfully informative and fascinating post ~ love the haiku with reference to meditation and silence ~ both very healing ~ Happy Week to you ~ xxx
    artmusedog and carol

  2. Deep meditative post and haiku my friend. It reminds me of that beautiful zen story - There was once a group of learned Buddhist monks who spent all their time in scholastic
    debate. As part of their banter they would often wonder, half-joking, half-seriously, which
    one of them would attain enlightenment first. Whenever this topic came up, the only thing
    they could all agree on was that it would not be Stupid, the illiterate monk who was capable
    only of sweeping the monastery floor and whom nobody has any time for. Of course, it was
    Stupid who got enlightened first. The jealous monks went to the Abbot. How come Stupid
    had attained enlightenment first? Had he been overhearing their intellectual conversations?
    "Not at all," replied the Abbot. "It's just that while he was sweeping the corners of the
    monastery he made sure he was also sweeping the corners of his mind."