June 23, 2010
Stones are living things in the gardens of Zen.
They are the essential and aesthetic components for expressing the peaceful worldview of Buddhism.
Although they are immovable, they are changeable and continually changing depending on seasons, weather, the lights of the sun and other surroundings.
The stones are always altering their appearances and meanings. They are beautified with fresh green leaves and vivid flowers in spring, shine in the bright sunlight in summer, are blanketed with colorful fallen leaves in autumn and are covered with snow in winter.
They are silently and firmly sitting here and watching over us in this uncertain and transient world like enlightened mentors of Zen.
Summer is the best season of reproduction in the dense undergrowth.
Insects are crawling and flying around zealously and wholeheartedly for mating and ovipositting.
These small creatures know their fates and are doing their duties silently and joyously without any waver.
By the side of the statue of Buddha, the pentacle violet flowers of Iwatabako are bashfully showing their small faces from between the dazzling green leaves in the bright sunshine.
This hand gesture (Mudra or "Inzo") of Buddha is called "Yogan-in." This helping hand sign declares his infinite mercy to all living things in this universe and means that he grant the sincere wishes of all living things and save them from suffering.
June 13, 2010
"Kinshi-bai" blossoms in the gray rainy season of summer and its vivid golden flowers and fresh green leaves look brilliant in the gentle rain of June.
The name "Kinshi-bai" means "a plum-like blossom with golden threads" because its flower looks like a five-petalled blossom of plum and the yellow fine stamens of the flower look like the threads of gold.
I encountered the group of trainee monks who were walking about briskly for religious mendicancy or "Takuhatsu" in the clear sunlight of June.
Every year, around this time, a group of trainee monks of Engaku-ji visit each of the houses of Kita-kamakura for the spiritual practice of begging as an essential part of the Zen Buddhist training of Rinzai-sect.
They walk around yelling out the word of "Hou-se" which means "we shall preach you the Buddha's teachings" and sincerely chant a sutra in front of a house to pray for the merciful protection of Buddha.
The loud yells of "Hou-se" and the beautiful sutra chants that those monks are uttering can be heard across the hills and valleys of Kita-kamakura like the sound of the enchanting and charitable chorus dedicated to all living things in this universe.
Although the weather in this early summer was unsettled, the delicate violet flowers of Iwatabako have bravely risen up from the moist rock surface and come into bloom in the garden of Tokei-ji at last.
It seemed to me that these tiny star-shaped flowers were quietly talking to me about the beauty of the universe to which they belonged.
The beam of gentle sunshine passing through trees was softly lighting up the newly blown flowers of Iwatabako as if to treat them tenderly.
June 7, 2010
In the bright sunlight from the clear summer sky, I saw a small butterfly flitting absorbedly from flower to flower to seek floral nectar as if to enjoy its brief life to the utmost.
I had a fantasy that I could perceive the beautiful world it saw and the sweet floral aromas it smelled. I clearly sensed the ecstatic joy of living that the butterfly felt flying around freely in the cheerful sunshine.
In summers, butterflies fly about ecstatically and freely without any doubt and fear in the dazzling light of the sun.
It is said that, in the old days, a glowing firefly was caught and put into this pouch-like flower and children played with this flower as a toy paper lantern in the evening.
Every evening at this time of year, I can see many fireflies floating around winking their faint white light as a sign of deepening summer in the narrow streams of Kita-kamakura.
The gradational Persian blue of this flower made me think of the beautiful Ukiyo-es of Katsushika Hokusai.
Various picturesque flowers of hydrangea are beginning to bloom vividly all over Kita-kamakura and foretelling the arrival of the rainy season just before midsummer.
A Aosuji-ageha (common bluebottle or Graphium sarpedon) butterfly was busily flying about and sucking nectar from the small vivid flowers of Mushitori-nadeshiko (garden catchfly or Silene armeria).
The Japanese name of this plant means "insect-catching gillyflower." This plant secretes sticky liquid from its stems to attract insects and makes insects to stick to the stems although this plant is not insectivorous.