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.