April 23, 2019
Over the stone steps leading to the old "Sangedatsumon" gate of this temple, the white cherry blossoms are now fully blooming with all one's might and are shining brightly in the liquid spring sun to celebrate the true height of spring.
By the side of these blossoms, the fresh young leaves of maple have just erupted in a breath to accompany this grand celebration of spring.
The "Sangedatsumon" means "three gates for entering into nirvana" to pass through before reaching the true enlightenment. This gate is symbolically composed of three gates, that is, ku-mon (the gate for awaking us to the emptiness of our realities), muso-mon (the gate for awaking us to the formlessness of our universe) and mugan-mon (the gate for awaking us to the delusion of our desires and passions).
I recently visited Mt. Yoshino (Nara Prefecture of Japan), which is the most renowned place for magnificent cherry blossoms in Japan.
Mt. Yoshino is also one of the most important places of mountain worship in Japan, where the ascetic practices of Shugendo (Japanese mountain asceticism-shamanism comprised of Shintoism and esoteric Buddhism) have been continually inherited from the remote past.
Kinpusen-ji temple, which is located in the center of this sacred mountain area, is said to have been founded by En no Gyoja, who was a legendary holy man known for his practice of mountain asceticism during the second half of the 7th century.
For over a thousand years, numberless "Yama-zakura" cherry trees have continued to be planted in this area as the sacred trees dedicated to Zao Gongen which is the principal image of Kinpusen-ji temple and the highest object of worship in Shugendo.
(Additional new photographs of the cherry blossoms of Mt. Yoshino and Kyoto will be uploaded to my another photoblog, "Like floating clouds and flowing streams.")
With the deepening of spring, the splendor of life is gradually overflowing in the gardens.
It is one of my greatest pleasures in spring to see countless cherry blossoms fully blooming again. Cherry blossoms gloriously bloom in unison as if to muster up all their vigor and soon scatter all at once like a brief daydream in the sudden sweep of warm wind.
According to the teachings of Buddha, what has a form is just a fleeting illusion which must pass into nothingness, no matter how beautiful it is. Each mid-spring, I am awoken to this eternal truth under the splendid cherry blossoms.
March 29, 2019
As spring blooms into full glory, the bright sunlight reaching the ground increases more and more. In concert with this deepening of springtime, every living thing, which starved for the glaring sunlight in its winter sleep, rapidly regains its true life force for regrowth.
As if to suddenly release the rich vigor saved in quiet winter, various kinds of young leaves and colorful flowers instantly appear in the lively gardens which are full of the gentle warm sunlight.
A cascade of silky Haku-mokuren flowers are blooming radiantly in the deep blue sky like the white lotus flowers ascending high into the air, which gives me heartfelt joy of spring this year also.
A tiny stone image of Jizo Bosatsu (Jizo Bodhisattva), that looks like an innocent infant smiling benevolently, is enshrined quietly in the shallow hollow on the thickly moss-covered rock-face.
The young leaves of Iwa-tabako (Conandron ramondioides) have just come out from the narrow cracks in the stone-wall and are surrounding this small avatar of Buddha as if to offer up spring prayers.
Jizo Bosatsu reveals the Buddha's salvation for the lost souls cast into Hell and is also widely accepted as a guardian deity of children in folk beliefs in Japan.
In accord with the earth's revolution and rotation, living organisms keep cycling the sequence of their lives.
The flowers of each season bloom beautifully and fade away quietly by their own private nature.
The cherry blossoms are silently blooming above me without unveiling their secret stories and histories. Although I rejoin them every spring, I know nothing about them but their curious given-name and touching beauty.