☆ English version Religious Key words ☆
☆ Japanese view of nature seen in "Tower for the repose of
dead plants and trees"
There is a "tower for the repose of dead plants and trees", which is very rare in Japan,
in the precincts of the head temple of Kinoene-daikokuten. These kinds of stone towers
were built and spread during the Edo period and are seen especiallyin the Okitama area.
In 1780 the area around Yonezawa castle was destroyed by a big fire and logs from nearby
mountains were brought down to reconstruct the area. People feared that the timber supply
would be exhausted. As a prayer for the repose of dead trees and the growth of new ones,
the village people built a stone tower. That was the beginning of the stone tower tradition.
These simple but noble stone towers show our ancestors' gratitude and awe for plants and
trees as the source of life. Right after the deforestation, trees were planted and protected
with a special grant by the government. There was a long-term planto secure the coexistence
of people's lives and the conservation and cultivation of timber in mountain areas.
The village people were determined to pass on thesenatural resources to coming generations.
We can have a glimpse of the Japanese view of nature in this. Unlike western views,
in which people conquer or oppose nature, Japanese believe they are a part of nature
and that nature allows people to live harmoniously within it.
This idea is seen in different forms here and there in the history of Japan and it forms
the basis of many cultural traditions, such as the tea ceremony and flower arrangement.
In this materialistic age, we are facing the dangers of natural destruction andenvironmental
pollution. It's time to take another hard look at the balance between people and nature,
and to examine our affluent modern life.
☆ Engi (interdependent origination)
"Engi" another very significant Buddhist belief is derived from the word "in-nen shou-ki".
The first word "in" means "cause" or "a/the cause." The second word "en" can be roughly
translated into the word "Condition" or more specifically "the condition or determination
that connects cause and result." Let us cite an example. Let's say that
Mr.A meets Mr.B accidentally. Buddism has concluded that this was no accident.
The experiences from their past lives have caused this meeting to happen.
That condition is refered to as "en."
The experiences from their past lives are known as "karma" in Sanskrit.
It refers to actions in one's former life such that benefical destiny in this life
brought about by philanthropic acts in a past life, just as, conversely,
misonthropic acts bring on negative destiny. This is called "karmic retribution".
This retribution is not only limited to repercussions from past lives, it can refer
to the reactions brought on from actions in the present life as well. In other words,
prosperity will be invited by commiting acts of goodness just as unhappiness will be
brought on by evil acts. This is known as "good cause good effect, bad cause bad effect".
"Gen-naoshi" means "to mend our destiny." Gen is a shortened form of engi spelled backwards
in the Japanese alphabet and "naoshi" is "to mend". Because it is true that we can not return
to a past life to correct our evil actions. Gen-naoshi mainly refers to the changeing or
amending, of our actions and feeling in this life in preparation for the next.
It is very important for someone to determine what past actions may be causing present
problems so that mistakes will not be repeated. In this way, We will be able to create
"en" that will bring about positive results in the future.
Mandala is the expression used to describe certain Buddhist outlooks of the world.
It is usually symbolized using a picture, image of Buddha, a temple or a small structure.
These Mandala are represented by Buddha, Bodhisattva, Got, other gardians of Buddha, and so on.
Their essence is the very thing within the world that Buddha has awakend.
There are many kinds of Mandala, but in Japan mainly only two types of Mandala are recognized.
They are called "Kongoukai-mandala" and "Taizoukai-mandala".
The first symbolizes "wisdom": the sanctuary that we attain after our effort or progress,
and the latter symbolizes the "mercy" of Buddha.
English version No.4