Please start at Day One

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Day 36 - Prayer Books

I bought two books of Buddhist sutras, in Japanese, today at Temple 80. These sutras are the Buddhist texts which are recited at each temple. I had initially resisted this as it was alien to me, I didn`t understand it and so didn`t feel comfortable joining in. I did not initially buy the `prayer books` at the Temple 1 shop, so I had been paying my respects and reverence in my own personal way, and quietly reflecting and meditating at each temple. Previously in the UK, I had also initially resisted Buddhist chanting at the Western Buddhist Order centres that I attend. I felt a desire to join in but I feel uneasy with any kind of ritual that I don`t understand, but after listening to the chanting for some time (weeks / months) and listening to what people had to say about the mantras they were chanting, I eventually joined in. Similarly with the Japanese Shingon Buddhism prayers, I did not want to join in, and recite something I didn`t understand, simply to please the Temple Stamp Office staff, who sometimes glare at you reproachfully if it looks like you are not praying properly! My admonition from the attendant at Temple 75 yesterday was still ringing in my ears.

Anyway, I don`t like doing things just because I am told to, but after a couple of weeks of listening to other people at the temples reciting the sutras, some in monotone, others quite melodic, and after talking to people about the sutras and doing a bit of research on the web and in my guidebook, I had started to join in, a bit nervously at first, in a very quiet voice. My guidebook has easy to follow instructions with all the characters in Roman alphabet, but I am supposed to be practising my Japanese too, so I bought books of the sutras today, in Japanese. My routine at each temple is constantly developing, I am still enjoying a quiet moment of reflection and meditation, but I have now also included reciting the sutras, even though I am probably getting the pronunciation all wrong; but I feel better for it, and the temple staff also seem happier.

My feet were quite sore today, the previous two day's walking had been tough and I had covered a lot of distance. The joints in the balls of my feet are aching. I thought I had passed through the 'blister stage', but two new blisters have suddenly appeared. I think I have become a bit smarter now though: straight after Temple 79 I went to my hotel, it was too early to check in, but I have found that hotels are happy to let me dump my bags, and then I walked, with a much lighter step, to Temple 80. After Temple 80 I then backtracked (on the train) all the way back to the hotel, from where it will be much easier to approach the next temple tomorrow morning, I think I saved about a 2hour / 9km walk. At Temple 80 there was a 'mini pilgrimage' within the temple grounds, consisting of 88 shrines/statues/marker posts, representing each of the 88 Temples of the Shikoku Pilgrimage. Maybe this is for the busy Salaryman who cannot take a couple of months off work to complete the 'full size' pilgrimage.
  • Distance walked today =  18.6km
  • Distance walked so far = 730.8km
  • Temples visited today = Temple 78; Goushouji, Temple 79; Tennouji, Temple 80; Kokubunji.
  • Kouban visited today =  nil
  • Accommodation =   Hotel and breakfast ¥5,640, Hotel New Century, Sakaideshi, Kagawaken 〒762 0003 
  • Expenditure today = three Temple Stamps ¥900, food for evening and snacks / lunch tomorrow ¥1642 , two books of Sutras from Temple 80 ¥1050, train from Kokubu Station near Temple 80 back to Sakaide City for the hotel ¥210, plasters ¥399.
  • Settai = while walking between Temples 79 and 80 a lady drove past me in her car, then stopped suddenly and ran over to give me a ¥500 coin.

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