Japanese Buddhism, Kukai (774-835), and Koyasan: A lone cloud has no place to settle
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Japanese Buddhism, just like Christianity and Islam internationally, is divided into various sects and thought patterns. One of the great Buddhist spiritual teachers of old Japan is Kukai (774-835). This is based on the teachings he provided and his rich legacy that remains to this day in modern Japan.
Shingon Buddhism in Koyasan is a fusion of spirituality, the reality of nature, esoteric Buddhism, the flow of knowledge, and a living city that beats to the heart of Kukai. Tourists, not surprisingly, flock to this delightful part of Wakayama in order to connect to bygone times when Buddhism and Shintoism were central themes connected to existence. Of course, in connection to Koyasan, then this bygone time applies to the richness of Shingon Buddhism based on the powerful words of Kukai.
I stated in a past article, “In modern Japan, the old world still survives in places like Koyasan, Kyoto, and Nara. Therefore, if you want to feel the richness of culture, visit amazing architecture, enjoy stunning scenery, feel the souls of the dead within mysterious graveyards, feel the allure of history and art – and understand the old world of Buddhism in Japan – then a visit to Koyasan is a must.”
Kukai, who in time became known as Kobo Daishi, established the first monastery of this new Buddhist sect in the ninth century. He searched far and wide but immediately understood the natural power of Koyasan based on the amazing geography and landscape of this part of Wakayama.
In modern times endless wars continue, old ways are being challenged by new thought patterns irrespective of the values given, and many indigenous traditions are fading into dust. In this sense, cosmopolitanism seems to hide behind powerful corporations, rampant materialism, divided communities, fractured families, and a depleted world that is moving at a speed where knowledge is secondary in comparison to technological comforts.
Therefore, the words of Kukai below, despite the meaning belonging to a different time and space, appear apt. Kukai said, “When the lamp of wisdom is already extinguished, at what spring shall the dharma strike?”
Central to Kukai’s philosophy is that enlightenment could be attained in one lifetime. This idea was very radical in his day and provided a great freshness to Japanese Buddhism.
Kukai said, “A lone cloud has no place to settle.”
http://www.koyasan.org/ (Information about Koyasan)
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