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Japan Chronicles: The Great Buddha May 28, 2016

Filed under: EDITORIAL,EN ROUTE,GOD,JAPAN CHRONICLES — gozarks @ 2:57 pm
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I took over a hundred pics of the gardens, statuary and structures that are the Hasedera Temple and the Great Buddha Kotoku-in Temple, both of which are in the port town of Kamakura, population 175,000, which is about 6 miles (as the crow flies) north west of Yokosuka, where we stayed with my youngest son.

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Kamakura, home to many Buddhist temples and gardens, is (as best I remember) about an hour’s commuter train-ride from Yokosuka.

Our day touring the temples started with a walk along Blue Street to the train station, about which I must say that Japan’s public transportation system is highly efficient, clean, modern and provided my introduction to ‘heated toilet seats’…!!!

It also provided very easy access to all the places we visited, fairly inexpensively.

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One of the few times on public transport that we were able to sit together… and as you can see, we were all elated with the experience <lol>!!!

The down side, however, is that the physical capacity (ie: available seating) on trains and busses is routinely filled beyond the max, thus making for (shoulder-to-shoulder) standing room only… which is especially challenging when ‘trying’ to stay together as a group –and/or- carrying several bags of groceries or luggage.

Thus to a Michigan girl like me, born and raised in the land of FoMoCo, there will never be anything quite as comfortable and convenient as my own private automobile… Unless <ahem> it is my own private RV… <smile>… but I digress.

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The Great Buddha is nearly 40 ft. tall and weighs roughly 121 tons.

The courtyard surrounding The Great Buddha – a national treasure cast in copper by priestly fundraising efforts and anonymous artisan hands back in 1252 – is open for visitors to stroll at their leisure. Formally known as ‘The Seated Buddha Amida Noyorai’ and also by the familiar name Daibutusu, The Great Buddha is the principle deity of the Kotoku-in Temple.

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The child standing at the base of The Great Buddha gives you some idea of the grand scale of this magnificent work of art.

As much now (if not more?) a cultural (tourist) attraction as a pilgrimage and worship site, visitors of various denominations bask in the sublime poise of ancient arte-factual antiquity, dappled like a stone-hewn canvas with colorful bursts of fragrant blossoms and lush greenery.

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Beauty, simplicity, endurance hewn of stone.

When first built, The Great Buddha was enshrined in a hall, but over the course of a few hundred years the building was damaged and ultimately destroyed by two typhoons and an earthquake. Since 1498 The Great Buddha sits in the open-air Kotoku-in Temple, visited by vast numbers of Buddhists of all sects from around the world and all over Japan who come to pay their respects and invoke the wisdom taught by the Jodo Sect of the Kotoku-in Temple: “To liberate all beings.”

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The courtyard is awash with glorious blossoms.

According to Jodo teaching, one only needs to chant the phrase “Namu Amida Butsu” (I take refuge in Amitabha Buddha) to be liberated from the karmic wheel of ‘good vs evil’ and reborn in the ‘pure’ land, aka: Nirvana. Aka: Happiness.

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Tucked back in a side-pocket of the courtyard: this old well with a bamboo cover, strung together (I imagine) much as such would have been ‘way back when.’

All of which (and the following several photos) I’ll leave you with this time around, noting that of the hundred pics initially mentioned, today I managed to go through about a third of them, selected those that I wanted to use, set-up and photographed the last image you’ll see below, then cropped, resized, color- and contrast-corrected, resolution-optimized, uploaded and published the batch…

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Have you ever seen a tree-crutch quite like this…???

Also noting that, obviously, I have yet to travelogue the photos from Hasedera Temple (which shall be forthcoming next time around) and all the while reflecting on the ‘sacred truth’ of Buddhism as nicely articulated by Debra Maxwell in a comment posted to this Youtube of the Buddhist “Heart Sutra” Chant

“To know the truth of life, to make your life a meditation, you don’t need to shave your head, go to a cave or chant.”

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Many who entered the temple washed their hands with water dipped from a ceremonial cleansing station.

As I would say, just think of every breath, thought and action of your life as ‘sacred’ <smile>… Mainly because you are and thus it is… (((hugs))) ~Christine

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The ornate dragon cast in the stately work of art speaks to the Mystic Law and Celestial Magic of Enlightened Devas in Nirvana.

 

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The pronounced circle in the center of The Great Buddha’s forehead is representative of an enlightened being’s ‘third eye’ which sees through the superficiality of matter to the heart of the invisible from which pure love, sublime peace and blissful pleasure emanate.

 

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I got this key-chain with the tiny bell on it (symbol of Buddha’s voice which sustains the order of the universe by powers that come from within the devotee’s own life) at the gift shop on the grounds of The Great Buddha Kotoku-in Temple. Also got the ‘smudge stick’ there and, of course, the admission ticket. The sweet elephant change-purse came from a shop along the way from one temple to another in Kamakura.

 

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disruptive forces February 17, 2010

Volcanos, earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, blizzards and floods: All to our human eyes constitute disruptive forces. Yet to Mother Nature and Father Time, these dynamic bursts of energy are essential creative tools, making way for new generations of topography, atmosphere, ecology and aquatics; new dimensions of flora, fauna and landscape.

And the fact is that for all our might and bravery, we mere mortal humans have next to no impact or influence on this all-encompassing matrix of environmental events. That is, while our collective behavior (as a single specie) does contribute to such global circumstances as climate change, poverty, genocide and plague, the accumulating stage for most life-quaking events is set over countless of our own generations yet is equivalent only to a day’s work for Nature and Time.

Factually, the cumulative environmental and ecological consequences we now reap were initially set and are perpetually kept in motion by forces far greater than our own and so long ago that it is beyond our human capacity to consciously recall. Still, this does not translate to our impotence in the effect we can and do have on the daily quality of human life. In fact, we humans now have more autonomous power over the shape and quality of our respective and collective existence than has (to our knowledge) any other creature ever before on the face of the earth. Yet to fully utilize this tremendous capacity, we must (first) recognize and understand two critical things:

(1) That our ‘point of power’ exists only in the present moment, primarily in our own backyard and strictly in the approach we choose to implement in the here and now. That there is no ‘tomorrow’ and there is nothing we can do about anything that is going on ‘over there’. More positively put, that the standards, ideals, principles, ideologies, treaties, testaments, convictions and philosophies we (choose to) live by ‘today’ are what constitute (our own individual) ‘quality of life’ as it aggregates to govern and ripples-out to influence the circumstances of generations yet to come… one moment at a time.

(2) That at baseline, there is only one single standard, ideal, principle, ideology, treaty, testament, conviction and philosophy that is ‘worth’ the personal cost/investment incumbent upon the adoption of and dedication to ‘giving one’s life to’ any overarching creed… and it is to only do unto others what one would sanction being done to one’s self. AKA: If the community prospers, then I — a member of the community — shall equally propser. Thus it is in my own best interest to work for the well-being of the whole, in every act I commit, all of the time.

Yet even doing this does not guarantee that one will never be subjected to disruptive forces. And in fact, until all of everyone ‘gets it’ — aka: chooses to behave concordant of items (1) and (2), above — the most devastating of all the disruptive forces that we humans must daily reckon with have to do with way people treat each other when there is non-compliance with this fundamental statute of ‘living the good life.’ 

Over the decades, I have experienced the effects of such disruptive behaviors by various individuals who — supposedly with all the very best of intentions (covertly aimed at ‘promoting their own self- interests’ essentially because they suffer from the ‘dominator disease’) — wreaked havoc in organizations, families, workgroups and marriages. Always, this disruptive behavior demands authority and control over e free will of others: one person (or group) is tenacious to stop or prohibit another from doing something that they (the dominators) do not personally approve.

Always in such cases, when viewed thru a clinical/analytical lens, there is no logical, scientific or reasonable explanation for their (usually aggressive) againstness… just the potent contention that such-and-such ‘must’ be done this way or that because ‘I’ know it is the best/only way to go.

Such behavior is a contradiction of respect and courtesy. And I know it is asking a lot to expect human beings to behave with respect and courtesy all of the time. But then frankly, at baseline, the conscious and willful making of such choices is the only thing that distinguishes our ‘human’ behaviors from the (compulsive/memetic 4-F) behaviors of animals.  And sans pompousness, I’ve been asking myself and my friends lately, just what exactly can, should or must a courteous and respectful person do when encountering and encumbered by those who simply don’t get it…??? Those who — while expressing grave concern about some foreboding ‘something’ — find substantive satisfaction (ie: a sense of purpose) in the activity of  ‘shooting down ideas’ and ‘bringing things to a standstill’ or ‘picking a fight’.  

The obvious and most superficial answer is to simply shun the disruptive person. Dis-include and exorcise him or her from your guest book, email list and life. The reality is that doing this is nearly impossible as it seems that a wide swath of society is daily made vapid by the  boorish behavior resultant of this dominator plague. The disruptive behaviors of the Wall Street Bangsters Bailout offers a tragic case in point of how the greedy, arrogant, self-serving behaviors of a handful of ‘elite’ individuals have devastating consequences on the lives of the common multitudes around the globe.

What can we, any of us, do about this? How do we make things right?

For starters, we must come to grips with the fact that such tragedy does not suddenly thrust itself upon us overnight. It takes years and decades and centuries of complicity with ‘the status quo’ and millions of individual actions of ‘not rocking the boat’ of the (powerful) dominator syndrome.

The malingering tragedy that was New Orleans or Haiti before or after the hurricane or earthquake exists because we who are basically respectful and courteous do not know how to deal effectively with people whose disruptive, rude, greedy, arrogant and cruel. Our nature is to shy away from them because we know from experience that their behavior is symptomatic of  the ‘dominator disease’ — resultant of which there is no possible means of ‘reasoning’ with them as they are pre-convinced that ‘their way’ is the only/right way to do anything and that anyone who questions their authority over validity is not just wrong but is moreso an evil threat and thus must be put in their place.

To shun a person who behaves this way is to reciprocate disruptive behavior, tit for tat. Thus knowing that it does no one any good to compound the injustice, I have been asking my friends, how does one do what is right?

And the only thing that any among us have concluded so far is that there is no simple answer to this question; that if we knew the answer to this question a whole lot of things in our lives would have come to pass very differently than they actually did; that at bottom line, all that we know to do is to measure our own conduct by the ‘do unto others’ standard, and that always, in the activity of being accountable to any ethic one must be willing to stand. ~~~

 

beatification… February 4, 2010

I was poking around in gozarks archives and came upon an editorial I wrote 5 years ago, in February of 2005 which I repost here as it seems ever-appropriate to the moment:

For those of us who grew-up with some semblance of Judeo-Christian learning, the word beatification has almost exclusively been associated with pronouncements of sainthood and/or in divine association with prophets, sages, enlightenment, seekers of wisdom and/or in reverence to Jesus Christ.

This morning I was proofing and tweaking some copy I’d written for a client last night, describing the “features, advantages, and benefits” of their organization. In one of the lines of text I came upon the phrase: Focus on community beatification…

Well at first, my mind clicked on “typo” and my fingers started clicking keys to correct the error. But then, on a whim really, I decided to go and look the word up. I mean, I was pretty certain that I knew what it meant, but still I wanted to confirm. What I discovered, however, came as an interesting surprise.

I learned that the primary definition of the word beatification has no religious/spiritual connotation whatsoever. Mainly, beatification means simply a “state of supreme happiness” and “well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.”

As I though about this, I realized that I have achieved this measure of gratification with my work: as a homemaker, as a journalist, as a marketing professional, as a graphic designer, as a business owner, and even to some degree as a civic activist.

I have celebrated this bliss in family relationships: as a mom, as a daughter, as a parent who has essentially given my life over to seeding, cultivating and nurturing the enjoyment of beatification (I really like that word) in, of, by and for my children.

And I have enjoyed the sweet flavor of this precious gift, bestowed upon me for no reason that I can ever imagine myself being worthy of, as the humble beneficiary of enduring friends and loyal clients.

Considering this, I thought long and hard about my apparent typo, and what I decided was that maybe it wasn’t an error at all. Maybe it was a Freudian slip of the virtual tongue. Because maybe, I decided, just maybe… ‘community beatification’ is what we all should be focusing on. ~~~

 

MEMETICS November 17, 2009

I have become increasingly intrigued with the science of ‘memetics’ — being the study of the ‘systems dynamics’ of cognitive evolution as a parallel track to the biological kind.

The other day, for example, I was half-watching an old-ish movie on TV; a comedy about a handsome young man who goes celibate for 40 days and his office-buddy who starts a betting pool at work, hedging how long the handsome young man will be able to keep the self-imposed vow.

At one point the ‘office slut’ decides that (on behalf of women everywhere, but mainly on behalf of her own frail ego) she can’t afford to allow the handsome young man to ‘have the power’…

The ‘power’ of course being that she (aka: women) is somehow ‘entitled’ to use sex as a weapon; a tool of manipulation; a means to an end of getting her own way; having whatever she selfishly (no matter the consequences to others) wants.

And by strict terms of biological evolution, such ‘dominator’ behavior is not only sanctioned… it is genetically encoded as the ‘key to survival’.

In fact, the whole strategy of all biological genes is self-satisfaction. And the memes (aka: cognitive genes) which collaborate (in a chicken/egg duo) to compel dominator behaviors have no morals.

By prime directive of what science calls ‘4-F memes’*, the better a single member of a given specie is at establishing hierarchical superiority — no matter the bullying, trickery or abuse — the greater is that individual’s chance for survival and thus the better the odds to pass along his or her own biological and cognitive predispositions, ie: to achieve genetic/memetic immortality.

Still, as memetics clearly points out, humanity has the power to transcend 4-F reactions by ‘choosing’ to ‘look at things differently’, ie: to ‘rise above’ our engendered behavior code. That is, at base-line in our unique humanness we each still recognize a somewhat uniform ideal about how things ‘should’ be in terms of egalitarian equitability… but for the most part such altruistic morals are subjugated by fear-driven 4-F reactions.

The good news is, of course, that we do not have to be slaves to our preconcieved dispositions. Having the ability to ‘think’ and to ‘reason’ and to ‘evaluate’ and to ‘decide’, we have the innate capacity to self-determine our own behaviors. The only question then, it seems to me, is why would we choose to do otherwise? And the only logical answer I have arrived at so far is because we do not recognize (aka: are unaware) that it is a personal choice. ~~~

* 4-F memes: By strict biological terms, the four ‘prime behaviors’ which ensure ‘perpetuation of the specie’ are Fleeing, Fighting, Feasting and F*cking. By strict cognitive terms, we are each (to various degrees) slaves to these memetically encoded behaviors — until and unless we (1) recognize the validity of this paradigm, and (2) appreciate the fact that — as thinking beings — we have the everpresent liberty to ‘choose’ how we will (or will not) behave.

 

Sunday August 16, 2009

My Studio made marked progress today. Major movement of things to appropriate places. Twenty days (by my agenda) to having the project done, at least in the sense of having all my available resources (tools, supplies, workspace) in good order and having a yard sale of my excess over Labor Day weekend. 

My big project of the moment is figuring out how to get the locker full of refuse that accumulated in the course of cleaning to the local transfer station… which would be a snap if I had a pick-up truck… which (how blessed I am) my eldest son does… but his work schedule is the same as the hours of the transfer station, and thus he cannot do the deed for me. So we have to swap vehicles which hopefully will be tomorrow… but may have to wait until Tuesday.

Beyond that, tomorrow will be another day of modest labor with the objective of starting to organize merchandise for the yard sale, which means that I will be going thru every closet and cubby, winnowing wheat from chaff.  And I must say that I am mildly excited about all of this. It feels good, like the ‘right’ thing to be doing. And it always amazes me how, when I am totally in the groove of doing ‘the right thing’, things so sublimely come together as if by magical grace.

Today, for example, sweet Shawna and I had managed to sort and organize a mish-mash of lawn & garden equipment, household maintenance, plumbing, woodworking, and craft-resource things in a manner to enable us to relocate an old steel-cabinet sink to a place on a different wall where it will (eventually) be hooked up with drain and running water. And just as we were ready to move the beast, two young gentlemen friends of Shawna’s serendipitiously arrived and insisted to do the job for us.

Geeze, I love being a woman (grin). Not that we couldn’t have moved the sink… but it was so much easier for these two strapping young men. Thank God for the difference of the sexes!!!