Monthly Archives: December 2014

Rengetsu  蓮月 Poems in Japanese and English

The poetess Rengetsu, 1791-1875, is the subject of two books by John Stevens (2005, 2014). These poems were found on  www.RobynBuntin.com, translation by John Stevens, ed. by Okunomichi. Page numbers of the poems indicate the pages of the books on which they are found.

   At Fushimi Inari Shrine

いなり山      すぎの下枝ハ     むかしにて     けふはつうまの     いへづとぞ これ

inari yama     sugi no shitae wa     mukashi ni te    kyou hatsu uma no     iezuto zo kore

On Mount Inari     today, as in times past,     worshippers at the Festival of the Horse     carry sacred branches of cedar     home as a good luck charm.

   Koto in the wind

つまごとの  りちのしらべに  かよいきて  こえ おもしろき  のきのまつかぜ

tsumagoto no     richi no shirabe ni  kayoikite     koe omoshiroki  noki no matsukaze

Along the eaves of my hut     the voice of a koto     searching for the right tune     mingles with the sound     of the wind blowing in the pines.

    Willow of the ancient village     2014 p 51

ひとむらの  けぶりとみしは ふるさとの むかしのやどの やなぎなりけり

hitomura no     keburi to mishi wa     furusato no     mukashi no yado no    yanagi nari keri

  It seems to be a cloud of smoke     but as I come closer     to the old house     of my ancient village     I see it is a billowing willow.

   The horserace at Kamo Shrine     2014 p 67

おくれそね かけよかけよと かみやまの ほととぎすさえ なくわたるなり

okure so ne     kakeyo kakeyo to  kamiyama no  hototogisu sae naku wataru nari

Do not fall behind,     run, run faster!     [we yell for our favorite horse:]     even the hototogisu on Kamiyama     seem to join in the cheer.

   Sparkle of the woodsman’s sickle in the moonlight

やまがつが     あすのいそぎに   とく鎌の     ひかりに々たる   夕月夜か那

yamagatsu ga     asu no isogi ni   toku kama no     hikari ni nitaru    yuugetsu yo kana

At night, the woodsman’s sickle     sparkles as bright as     the moonlight

as it is being sharpened     for tomorrow’s work.

   Akishino First Night mist

はつとぎり たちそめて そとやまなびく うすぎりや まだいりたたぬ あきしのさと

hatsu togiri     tachisomete     sotoyama nabiku     usugiri ya     mada iritatanu     akishinosato

First Night Mist     just starting to     form along the mountain     the thin mist

has yet to enter     Akishino Village.

   Enthralled by the autumn moon     2014 p 89, 2005 p 57

のに山二     うかれうかれて    かえるさを    ねやまでおくる    秋のよの月

No ni yama ni    ukare ukarete    kaeru sa o    neya made okuru    aki no yo no tsuki

In the fields, in the mountains     I was enthralled, so enthralled;     on the way back home     the autumn moon accompanied me     all the way to my bedroom.

   Moonbeams as my hat

つきのさす かさのあられや おちつらん そでもきょらに かかるしらゆき

tsuki no sasu   kasa no arare ya   ochitsuran    sode mo kyora ni   kakaru shira yuki

Wearing only moonbeams     as my hat     sleet begins to beat down,     my sleeves too gradually become covered     with pure white snow.

   Plovers on the Kamogawa path     2005 p 76

ちどりなく かもがわつつみ 月ふけて そでにおぼゆる よわの初しも

chidori naku     kamogawa tsutsumi tsuki fukete     sode ni oboyuru

yowa no hatsushimo

As the moon ascends     plovers cry along     the Kamogawa-tsutsumi path —

night deepens, first frost     settles on my sleeves.

   The bow-shaped moon

もののふの やしまのうらの ゆうしおに ながれもあえぬ ゆみはりの月

mononofu no     yashima no ura no yuushioni     nagare mo aenu    yumihari no tsuki

The bow-shaped [half] moon     reminds me of the brave warrior     in the battle of Yashima Bay     who would not let     his bow float away in the tide.

   Waiting for hototogisu     2014 p 65

ほととぎす いまひとこえと まちしまに しらみはてたる ゆうやけの月

hototogisu     ima hito koe to machishi ma ni     shirami hate taru    yuu yake no tsuki

Waiting for the     first call of a     hototogisu     in the white light     of the morning moon.

   野々み At Nonomiya Shrine     2014 p 58

野々みやの 春の手向の しらうふは    さかきにまじる さくら也けり

Nonomiya no     haru no tamuke no    shirayuu wa     sakaki ni majiru    sakura nari keri

At Nonomiya Shrine     maidens make the spring offering     of pure white cloth;

sacred sakaki trees     mingle with cherry blossoms.

   Koto in the wind

つまごとの りちのしらべに 通ひきて    こえおもしろき 軒の松風 蓮月

tsumagoto no   richi no shirabe ni    tsuuikite    koe omoshiroki    noki no matsukaze

Through the window of my hut:     the sound of a koto     searching for the right melody     mingling with the sound     of the wind blowing in the pines.

   Ode to a new age

ひなつるの ゆく末とほき 声きけば    ミよをちとせと うたふ也けり

Hear the timeless     cry of a young crane—     it is an ode to     the dawning of a new age     to last a 1,000 generations.

   Flourishing bamboo     2005 p 48

このきミ乃 めでたきふしを 重ねつ々 未のよ長き ためし也けり

This gentleman (bamboo)     piles up knot after knot,     year after year,     flourishing quietly,     an example to us.

   Hermitage in the pines     2014 p 154

のちりを よそにはらいて 行く末の    千代をしめたる 宿の松風

The world’s dust     swept aside     no concern about the future; in my hermitage I have all I need:     the sound of the wind in the pines.

   Twin needles of the pine

ゆく末の さちとよはいを 二葉にて    ちとせを松や ひさしかるらん

Let us consider     our aging and     future happiness     as twin needles     from an auspicious pine.

   The fledgling pines of Sumi-no-e

としごと二 若がへりつ々 いくちよか    世二すみのえの きしのひめ松

The tiny pines     along the shore     of Sumi-no-e     have been appearing     for how many generations?

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Women of Haiku

These are only some of many wonderful haiku in the book by

Makoto Ueda, Far Beyond the Field: Haiku by Japanese Women, Columbia Univ. Press, 2003.

ぬれいろ や     あめ の した てる     ひめ つつじ

nureiro ya   ame no shita teru   himetsutsuji

adorned with raindrops     from the shower, a sparkling     princess azalea

          — Den Sutejo. 1633-1698

まご ども に     ひき おかされて     とし の くれ

mago domo ni   hiki okasarete   toshi no kure

Grandchildren come and drag me out of bed — the year’s end

          — Kawai Chigetsu 1634-1718

サびしさ を     わが もの がお や     あさ の はと

sabishisa wo   waga mono gao ya   asa no hato

Crying as though   the sole owner of all loneliness   a dove in autunm

          — Kawai Chigetsu 1634-1718

さと の こ の     はだ まだ しろし     もも の はな

sato no ko no     hada mada shiroshi     momo no hana

not yet suntanned     a village child’s complexion     peach blossoms in bloom

          — Chiyojo 1703-1775

Kurama Dera Message: Gazing at the Light

現代へのメッセージ Message for the Present Generation

光をみつめて
GAZING AT THE LIGHT

信楽 香仁 SHIGARAKI Konin, 貫主 Kansu, 鞍馬寺 Kurama Dera

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山の心 森のことば    Heart of the Mountain, Words of the Forest

For over 1200 years, this temple has been important for protecting the palace of Heian-Kyo from the north. Located in the southern end of the mountain range of Wakasa Bay, in deep green forest, is Shizen-no-Hohko, Nature’s Treasure. These forests serve the people of Kyoto as their source of pure water. Therefore people respect the forest and appreciate the water. They feel awe of the kami and buddha spirits residing there. They pray for the sacredness of the place. The energy of life comes from this place and goes down to Miyako.

In the daily life of this mountain temple, we are surrounded by the verdant forest. We behold the appearance of the mountain, the color of the sky, the voice of the birds, and the changes of the four seasons. All these are teachings of heaven and earth without words. When with a clear mind we harmonize with heaven and earth, nature and people, and body and mind, we feel the Heart of Heaven and listen to words from earth, and we find real treasure. By being humble and respectful, being with nature, and becoming aware of the realm of Great Life energy, this is true happiness.

Modern living and the uniformity of the daily life of people are far removed from nature, and we are so busy that we forget our real heart. While chasing after material comfort, it is hard to taste the deep joy of true abundance.

When we go to Great Nature and inhale deeply the air of the forest full of energy, when we open our hearts and take off all the layers of sadness, joy, and troubles that we wear, then the light of the sun, the breeze of the forest, and the fragrance of the earth fill us with the Great Life energy of nature in both body and mind. Nature is our true home and the cradle that nurtures life.

Nature’s forest teaches us that being born, existing, changing, and dying — these are the truths of life, the Law of heaven and earth. In the places where kami-buddhas reside, let’s leave everything to heaven and earth, leave the future to Mother Earth, and receive vitality!

Prayer is the meeting of the energy of the universe (Heart of Heaven) and your own life energy. Nature’s forest is the place where all these energies come together.

Going up the mountain on the zig-zag paths is seeking Boddhisatva-wisdom; going down is helping others. Heaven, earth, and Great Nature is one great living sutra.

– From Kurama-KouKyou Kyoujo teaching book

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響き会う羅網の世界 Reverberating Net of the World

A single life was born on earth a long time ago. Then it took eons to attain countless life forms. Now there are many humans like me living here. And inside me is life from ancient times continuing to now.
Connecting with many different lives and being one of them, living in the knot of a web of life, we cannot live by ourself. It is only we humans that cannot exist by ourselves. Heaven, earth, and nature — all things make it possible for me to live.

Close your eves and picture life existing in time and space. This is the invisible bond of life, the net of jewels. This is the greatness of the resonance of life. I will call this the Net of Life in the Universe.

The Net is the Buddhist term for a net of jewels displayed in a heavenly palace. This expresses the connection of everything resonating with each other in Amida Kyo Gokuraku Heaven. This explains the greatness of the Pure Land with the seven-layered net of jewels.

In Kuramayama, we revere universal Great Life as Sonten. The main statue of Sonten has a net of jewels hanging in front of it representing the power of cleansing the impure, awakening to true wisdom. The power of correcting the wrong, the light of guidance to true wisdom and compassion, and the love are represented by three symbols. They are the Earth / Power, the Sun / Light, and the Moon / Love. Around these three symbols are different jewels that represent all the different people who are the nodes of the net.

Making this place, Kurama Doujyo, solemn and majestic at the same time, this life connects with the golden thread of life that wraps around everything. You and I, the flowers, birds, insects, and even bacteria, are each one of the jewels in the net. This is the Teaching of the Net.

When one of the knots in the net moves, the vibrations go in all ten directions of life. A single node of the net continues on to the world, and it vibrates to the entire universe. Each one of us has this power, and we want to have the awareness of this power.

Our important shinmei mission is to connect with other humans and all life forms in the Net. When I ponder what energy makes me act on this mission, the answer is kokoro, the heart-mind. Kokoro is the origin of both words and action.

“Everything begins in kokoro, and kokoro makes it happen. If you talk and act with your pure heart, everything will go smoothly, just as your shadow always follows you. We are not alone. There’s a world that vibrates and moves with the movement of my heart. Conversely, other hearts move my heart also. When everyone has a pure heart the whole world becomes a place of pure heart, and the jitsu-gen actualizing the world of harmony starts from everyone’s harmony of the heart.”

– Hokkukyo 法句経

 

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When the wisdom of the Light shines,
you can see everything that has life from Universal Life.
You and I, flowers and birds, too,
we receive life in this world.
The golden Net of Life is displayed in the universe,
linking life from ancient times.
I am one of these lives,
together holding hands reverberating with Life.
You and I, trees and water, too,
we are all living magnificent Life.

 

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人それぞれの香ぐわしさ Each Person’s Fragrance of Character

Flowers survive the cold winter, then mountains turn a fresh green, and life shines in the early summer sun. Trees have different colors and shapes and yet they are all in harmony, making a beautiful and abundant forest which gives shade for people to feel calm and rested.

Ancient people with their delicate sensitivity called the green color in the forest by different names: bush-warbler color, willow-brown, young bamboo shoots, young green, leaf-buds, green pine, light green, deep green, and so on. When we connect with trees, open our hearts to wild flowers, and feel and contemplate on these lives, we realize that the ancient people who thought of all these names must have connected with trees and wild flowers with warm and sensitive hearts. Nature’s scene is not uniform, and it always has variations with overall harmony.

Surrounded by flowers and pointing to Heaven and Earth is the statue of the Buddha over which we pour sweet tea and celebrate the Buddha’s enlightenment. It is a heart-warming spring event and it provides an excellent opportunity for children to learn the true teaching.

The new-born Buddha is quoted as having said, “Between Heaven and Earth I am the only Great One.” This is a deep teaching about the majesty of humanity and the deep and wide Great Life. The teaching is: “Each person is given life with a different character, and we are all different. That’s why it’s good, and we should understand each other’s differences and acknowledge and respect each other, and it is most important that we can still live in harmony.”

These days, everyone wants only material things and they want to fulfill their selfish desires. However, when we think of true joy, as human beings given life in these modern days, we should deeply understand the “Heaven and Earth” teaching and reflect on it.

The wonderful power of the forest is born out of the big and the small, all the different plants living earnestly in all the different shapes and colors, mutually supporting each other. The sacred beauty of the natural forest shines out. The little flowers along this path have different colors and fragrance and characters, and so they are both interesting and precious.

Many lives have been born from Great Life. None are the same. Each and every person is different; it is out of this difference that harmony is born, and the world of shining life is created.

The world of shining life that includes every life is coming when people respect each other, recognize their differences, and live in harmony.

 

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No One the Same

There’s no one the same as me in the whole world,
There is no one the same as you.

It is precious that you are you,
It is precious that I am me.

Flowers and trees and birds,
each one is precious just as they are;

Different personalities cooperating with each other,
the world shines with Great Life.

When people with different attributes
are in consonance with each other,
then Great Life sparkles.

Because the world is full of different things,
you see the depth and grandeur of the world.

 

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夜あけの光
The Light of Dawn

Life continues over long cycles, sometimes visible, sometimes invisible;

visible and invisible are aspects of Life beyond life and death.

Form is Emptiness and Emptiness is Form;

everything around us is manifestation of Great Life Body.

It is Sonten in Kuramayama;

everything is, in fact, Sonten.

Life of flowers, Life of birds, and Life of people:

the origin is the same Life.

I want to live today by feeling like this –

slowly and calmly watching the light of dawn.

 

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This article is a rendering of a chapter in the book, 古寺巡礼 Old Temple Pilgrimage, Kyoto, by 信楽 香仁 Shigaraki Konin, 貫主 Abbess of 鞍馬寺 Kurama Dera, 2007, pp 81-94. Presented by Okunomichi with the permission of the Abbess and the anonymous translators.