May 21, 2013

The Moppan (wooden board) in the So-do (meditation hall) of Engaku-ji

In the quiet temples of Zen, the routine of day is notified by the vibrant and sharp sounds of "Narashimono (sound instruments) ," which are usually a Kane (temple bell), a Mokugyo (wood block), a Moppan (wooden board) or the like.

In particular, a Moppan, which is a wooden board about 50 cm wide by 25cm high, is commonly hanged at the entrance of a So-do (Zen meditation hall) and used to announce the starting and finishing times of the training practices and other daily routine by striking this board with a wooden hammer.

In the Zen temples of the Rinzai Sect, the following words are generally inscribed on the Moppan;

"Shoji jidai," which means that our ultimate purpose is to realize the true nature of our life and death,

"Mujyo jinsoku," which means that our life is always transient and uncertain and death soon comes to all,

"Ko-in oshimubeshi," which means that time flies fast and so you must not waste every second, and

"Shinmotsu houitsu," which means that you must keep training yourself toward your final awakening with all your effort.

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