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Walking with Kukai-1

Updated: Aug 20, 2023




Three weeks ago, I traveled to Shikoku and walked with a straw hat and stick that symbolizes legendary Buddhist monk and teacher Kuukai (空海), a.k.a. Koubou Daishi (弘法大師). It was part of the circular Shikoku Pilgrimage route, or o-henro.


Although I saw many Japanese people driving around the temples in their cars, I felt it wouldn't bring much spiritual benefits if I could do that way. I took public buses to most of the temples and had to use a taxi only for a few.


I started from #48 Sairinji (西林寺) in Matsuyama, where I met a nice o-bachan who said she lived nearby and came to the temple every day.


I cannot forget the feeling I had in #55 Nankobo (南光坊) in Imabari. It was so quiet. I didn't need anything. Just a gentle breeze. It was what real bliss should be.


The last temple I visited around Imabari was #59 Kokubunji (国分寺). Again, the morning breeze and the smell of insense.


What did I find?

Well, we cannot find what we already have.


What did I feel?

First, I felt deep gratitude for all the people around me who made this trip possible. Also, I felt gratitude to everyone who built and restored those roads and temples.

Second, I felt things were not as important as I thought. Many issues I feel stressed get resolved in one or another.

Third, I am not so important either. Getting lost and perishing in the middle of nowhere on the way to one of those temples was quite possible. Things are simple.

Things get overly complicated because we get obsessed.

We fear.


As I was going around, I kept reflecting on The Hearth Sutra:


Avalokiteshvara
while practicing deeply with
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore,
suddenly discovered that
all of the five Skandhas are equally empty,
and with this realisation
he overcame all Ill-being.

which continues,

Bodhisattvas who practice
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore
see no more obstacles in their mind,
and because there
are no more obstacles in their mind,
they can overcome all fear,
destroy all wrong perceptions
and realize Perfect Nirvana.

Of course, the text should be digested in its entirity to remember that,

Whoever can see this
no longer needs anything to attain.