Sunday, October 06, 2013

Breathing space

Today I'm with my students in Koya-san, a Buddhist monastic enclave in Wakayama prefecture, where we've been for three days.  Founded 1200 years ago, this place has a long history of contemplative practice.  And after the first four days in Kyoto, where we sometimes had to move quickly from one spot to another, standing up from sitting zazen to run to a bus one morning, dashing up the hill to make an appointment another afternoon, there is more breathing time here.  Right now I'm sitting outside in the garden at the temple where we are staying, catching my breath, catching up on some writing. 

The evening meditation at the temple where we are staying is among the most utterly still and silent experiences I have had.  The monks chant, sitting as typical Western choir monks would sit, then the priest leading the service settles himself on his cushion in the front, facing the same direction as the assembly, rings a bell and we settle in for 40 minutes of silent meditation.  The walls of this hall are thick, the setting dim (candle lit) and the ceiling low and I wonder if that adds to the sense of enveloping silence and stillness. It is an extraordinary experience.

Tomorrow we have another long day of travel taking us to our final stop, Kamikatsu, where we will stay for 4 nights. 

Meanwhile, the cover of Liguorian this month is apt.  You can see it and a teaser for my article here.

1 comment:

  1. however did you find out about it and sign on?