June 30, 2020
Beyond the small bell tower, colorful flowers are blooming splendidly among the dense green leaves in the variable sun of June.
This scene of exquisite colors reminds me of an impressionist painting of a summer garden mounted in a wooden frame.
Ajisai flowers constantly change their colors due to the hidden chemistry between pigments, sunlight, rain, and soil. Such hurried transition of colors is called ”Shichi-henge (seven changes)" after the Kabuki dance in which a leading actor quickly changes his clothes seven times.
Though I never know the reasons why Ajisai flowers need to change their colors so quickly, this rapid color variation makes me feel the wonders of nature and the swift passage of time under the rainy sky.
By the side of the stone monument on which "Kanzan Jittoku-zu" (the picture of Kanzan and Jittoku) is engraved, the magenta and blue flowers of Ajisai were quietly blooming in the shade of trees, waiting for the next rain.
This stone monument was given to Kencho-ji temple by Kanzan-ji Temple (Han-shan-si, Suzhou, China) as a token of the cultural exchange of Rinzai Zen Sect between China and Japan and is a replica of the original monument of Kanzan-ji temple of China.
Kanzan and Jittoku are legendary Chinese Zen-monks who are often drawn as a subject of Zenga (Zen Buddhist paintings) in China and Japan.
Standing alone in the silent grove behind the temple, I felt like I was hearing the roars of laughter from these eccentric Zen-monks, which were vibrating through eternity.
Together with the vivid green leaves of summer, the sky-blue and pale purple flowers of hydrangea are catching the dazzling sunlight that comes from the precious sunny sky in the gray rainy season. Behind these graceful flowers, there is the Chinese-styled gable of the imperial envoy gate in sight.
Our impressions of flowers must reflect our appreciation of the fleeting nature of our lives. Unconsciously we try to perceive the fragility and transience of ourselves from the short-lived beauty and grace of flowers.
We humans may be almost ignorant of the true nature of all living things including human itself. We may be just strolling about in selfish daydreams without knowing any truth of the universe.
June 8, 2020
In the bright garden at the beginning of summer, the innumerable brightly-colored flowers of Satsuki are embracing the small stone image of Sho-kannon (Holy Avalokitesvara) as if to show their deep devotion to this deity of infinite compassion.
Plants and trees must tell us their secret stories of life by the various exquisite colors, forms, and scents of their flowers.
Soon the long rainy season will start and the sky will be filled with heavy rain clouds.
Without finding it bothersome, these flowers are cheerfully blooming and voicelessly chanting the praises of the remaining days of this sunny early summer.
The vivid violet flowers and blue-green leaves of Kakitsubata (rabbit-ear iris) were clearly reflected in the quiet water of the pond.
All of a sudden, a scarlet carp broke the calm water and made a loud splash in the deep stillness like a thundering shout of an old Zen master.
The long-awaited flowers of waterlily are finally beginning to bloom above the calm water one after another in the bright sunlight of early summer.
A Japanese honey bee is delightedly getting into this small graceful flower to receive the pollen and nectar presented by the flower in reward for pollination.
All living things are mutually interdependent and subtlely cooperating with each other to share and sustain the biosphere of the planet earth.
In the mysterious ways that only humans never know, they must be talking with each other privately about the precious blessings which this planet gives them.
May 14, 2020
After going up the worn sandstone steps at the back of the moss-covered stone bridge and passing under the humble San-mon gate (Three Gates of Deliverance), a long, weathered stone staircase leads to the bell-tower gate and the Buddha hall in the quiet and shady grove.
The azalea flowers of various colors vividly decorate the tranquil entrance path to the humble Buddha hall.
In the Buddha hall, the three wooden images of Shakyamuni triad, namely the image of Shakyamuni (Gautama) Buddha flanked by two attendants, are waiting for us.
The framed motto hung on the San-mon gate is saying the zen words of "Housho zaikin" from the Lotus Sutra. This phase means that the nirvana of enlightenment (Housho) is within a stone's throw (zaikin) and you must take it one step further without giving it up.
A long time has passed since the full-blown cherry flowers disappeared completely like a momentary but beautiful daydream of spring. After those flowers had fallen altogether, various fresh leaves are appearing all at once everywhere, which makes me realize how fast time is passing.
In a corner of the quiet garden of Hyak-kannon (one hundred statues of Buddhist deity of compassion), the pale pink flowers of a double‐flowered cherry tree are in full bloom in the gentle afternoon sunlight of late spring.
The flying-dragon in the auspicious clouds sculptured on the Chokushi-mon Gate (gate for imperial envoys), which was once colored splendidly in the old days, symbolizes the virtue and benevolence of the emperor to be received.
Bright foliage is flourishing vigorously and the rich gradation of greenness entirely surrounds the stone steps to the bell-tower gate.
The flowers of Tsutsuji (azalea) and Shaga (Iris japonica) accentuate the deep stillness tinged with the tender green of new leaves.
Invisible birds of spring are singing merrily somewhere in the shady grove around me.
The worn-out stone stairway reminds me of the long history of this old Zen temple. I wonder how many persons have come and gone on this stairway to seek the path to the place of enlightenment.
April 16, 2020
In a manner befitting to the old Zen temple, the humble cherry blossoms are floating peacefully like thin white clouds in front of the bamboo grove.
The camellia flowers are in bloom as if they were quietly staying close beside this solitary tree to lend a touch of splendor to it. The fresh green leaves and small red flowers of a maple tree are adding the lively colors which make me feel the genuine breath of life in spring.
In the bright sunlight, living things have begun to revive everywhere without knowing a sudden epidemic of human angst and agony in this beautiful season.
It was only the other day that the first plum blossom heralded the long-awaited arrival of spring. This flowering season always starts unhurriedly and passes by with very hasty steps.
At a dizzying pace, various flowers bloom and fall one after another to fulfill their roles in the mysterious ritual of pollinating.
Sakura blossoms declare the brief peak of spring and then scatter fleetingly like snowflakes falling in the warm spring breeze.