Thursday, February 18, 2010

Green Dragon Temple

DHS 99/100

Kūkai wandered far and wide once he returned to Shikoku, seeking out every sacred spot know to the inhabitants of the island. He spent countless hours in meditation, seeking nothing but erasing everything. With out the distractions of all the external teachings he was exposed to while living in the capital, here he was free to focus on the internal, free to focus on the search for who he was, what he was.

By the time he had worked his way to the southeast coast of the island he was ready, he had drained out all the sludge and scrubbed all the walls clean, ready to be filled with a new truth. By the time he got to Cape Muroto he was no longer the person he had been when he left the university. He had walked right up to the gate, put his hand on the latch, and was ready for that last simple nudge that would swing it open.

Once it did open, he was born into a new world. It looked exactly like the world he had inhabited before walking through the gate, yet nothing seemed the same. Nothing seemed to have changed, yet nothing was in any way the same. Where questions had plagued him previously, now there was nothing needing an answer. Where something was missing previously, now nothing was lacking. Where he had doubts previously, now there was nothing to doubt and no one to do the doubting. Everything had changed and nothing had changed.

With that, he packed up his bags and begged and pulled political strings to earn a place on one of the government ships soon to leave for China on a diplomatic mission, where he intended to find a teacher who would confirm what he now knew. After problems they finally arrived and in the capital city of Ch'ang An (now Xian), he met his teacher, Hui Guo.

When i was in China several years ago i told the tour guide that when we got to Xian i was sorry, but i had to leave the tour for a few hours in order to go see that temple. Green Dragon Temple. Qinglong Temple. For a few minutes he tried to tell me that it would be too difficult, but once he understood that i knew about Kūkai he gave up and simply asked me to be back to the hotel in time to join the others for the planned dinner outing. With that, he wrote a note for me to give the taxi driver so that i wouldn't have any problems. Then, with the little Chinese i knew i was on my own. I had to find the temple, visit it, and then find a taxi to get back to the hotel again.

This is the view as you walk through the front gate. I had been reading about this temple for decades, and it was awe inspiring to finally be standing here. I think i just stood there for quite some time, soaking up the atmosphere and experience.

And this is the temple (reconstructed, of course) where Hui Guo taught and Kūkai listened. The temple building may not be the original, but the ground certainly is. The patch of land is the same patch of land where Kūkai received the transmission and was told to take what became Shingon Buddhism back to the Japanese people. This was the ultimate bonus for anyone who has ever walked the Shikoku Henro Trail.

I should add a page to my Shikoku web site someday with the pictures i took while here.

No comments: