Friday, May 17, 2019

Hosshin No Dōjō (v1)

Standing in front of Temple 1 for the very first time it’s difficult to imagine what you are getting yourself into as you contemplate your plans to walk all day, every day, for the next month and a half. Try as you might, if you've never been here before it is almost impossible to know what this will be like.

To simplify the process, try wrapping your head around only the first prefecture and the first 23 temples, leaving all the others until you get to Temple 23 in a little over a week.

Regarding the first prefecture, this is what i wrote when i first put this web site together 20 years ago…


Hosshin No Dōjō
The Dōjō of Awakening Faith

The first step of a four-step process — the awakening of faith. Some henro are devout Buddhists and for them having faith is a given. There is nothing to awaken. Other henro consider Buddhism an integral part of their culture but may have no religious leanings. For these henro, faith may be something that needs to be shaken awake, but it won't take much effort as the faith is already there, lying dormant just below the surface of their everyday superficial lives.

Then there are henro like myself. Buddhism isn't a part of my culture. I was raised in a country where Buddhism is considered different, where not believing in God is considered just about as bad as not believing in Money. For us outsiders, this first step is a look inside. A time to ask 'Awakening the faith in what?’

Are the next 1,400 km about faith in Kōbō Daishi? Or, about faith in ourselves. Faith in our ability to complete what we are about to start? Faith in our ability to persist and endure? Faith in our ability to open up enough to learn from the island, the temples, the people, and the experience as we walk day after day for the next several months?

I wish they had simply called this province the Dōjō of Awakening. This is the key, in my opinion. Simply being awake. Most of us aren't when we first get here. And, you can't proceed to the second step until you have at least awakened. Awakened to the possibility of doing something different. Awakened to the possibility of learning something different. Awakened to the possibility of possibilities.


I still think this is a reasonable way to look at what you are about to undertake — if this is your first time around the island. As we'll see by the time we get back here again for our second time around, though, this will only be like dipping your toes in the water. With a little more investigation, we'll see that the water is really much deeper than we think.

So, you’ve already visited Temple 1, your first attempt at the routine at the Hondō and Daishidō is under your belt and your first stamp is in your nōkyōchō.

Let's set out, keeping in mind that right now, our goal is to open ourselves to the possibilities of what may unfold for us as we walk. We may have very fixed ideas about what we are attempting to do, what we think we will find, what we think our daily experiences will be like; but with these first steps, remind yourself that you don't really know. What you think you know are only assumptions; only thoughts based on nothing more that you past, the history you bring with you to the trail. As we take these first steps, let all of that go, let all of that fall to the wayside. Accept that the possibilities are endless. As your first step hits the ground after passing back out through the salmon of Temple 1, say aloud, "I don't know what is coming, but i am open to everything."

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