by Donnie Hayden © 2014, all rights reserved
Right before you reach the gate to the temple, the picture on the left is a familiar sight. It is a Buddhist Priest. He is bowing continuously and continually.
He was at the exact same place doing the exact same thing, hours later after we left the temple.
He is holding an alms bowl. Yes. he is begging for money. But he is not poor.
In the United States, we may have seen people begging for money, but they are either really poor or trying to ‘guilt’ people out of their money. But this monk is begging, not because he needs the money, nor is he trying to ‘guilt’ anyone.
By the way, there are at least two things in Japan that are protected and precious, land and shrines! If you purchase property to build or to live there and it has a rice paddy and/or a shrine, you are responsible to maintain them, for as long as you own the property. This also includes, caring for any of the priests associated with the shrine.
But anyway, the priest here, is just simply showing his willingness to be an example of humility, in order to obtain a higher level of consciousness. It is a purification process, much like burning a stick of incense to purify oneself, before entering the temple.
The dear, deer below is, just outside the gate to the courtyard of the Temple of Buddha. Even though he could walk through and he is probably hoping for one last biscuit from you, before you enter into the courtyard, no dear, deer will pass through.
Notice the size of the people in the above picture, in comparison to the size of the temple! The three sets of double doors are approximately 15′ tall and each pair are around 15-20′ wide. This temple is located in Nara Japan and is the largest wood temple of Buddha in the world. If memory serves me correctly, this was not the original structure, but was it was moved here and re-built, sometime in the 8th century and it still stands today!
As one walks through the large doors into the temple, it is supported by massive wood beams. The height from the floor to the ceiling is about 30′ feet. This temple was hand-made thousands of years ago. Directly in the center as you walk through the doors is, the focal point of the temple, the Great Buddha.
Directly beneath him are huge petals of the lotus blossom.
These are called: The petals of the Lotus Pedestal on the Great Buddha Vairocana. This is the Great Buddha’s celestial or cosmic embodiment. The Vairocana is regarded as the highest form of the three Buddhas, as a god of light, whose reflection throughout the universe is represented as endless. The petals are incised with pure gold in hairline engravings with identical designs, dating from the Nara period (8th century), which depicts the “Lotus-Matrix World-System.
Each petal is divided into two main parts. The upper half depicts a seated Tathāgata (name the Buddha uses when referring to himself) and means, “One who has thus gone” or “One who has thus come.” Those two opposites are interpreted to mean, “beyond all coming and going.”
He is seated in this upper petal, expounding the truths to eleven Bodhisattvas, those of great compassion that have obtained one of the four highest states of sublime consciousness in this life.
In the lower half there are twenty-six horizontal lines with small Buddha-images and palaces arrayed between them, and below these are seven pairs of lotus petals, each consisting of one petal turned upwards and the other facing downward. Stated simply, this is a pictorial representation of the spiritual world.