Tuesday, September 10, 2013

When Some Great Priests Visited

These are the Tendai priests from Japan and the U.S. who did the dedication of the HOSHU-IN goma-do at the monastery. Front row, left-to-right are: Tendai Assembly Chairman Ven. Kayaki Kansho-sama; Keisho; Ven. Uehara Gyosho-sama, the 'Marathon Monk' veteran who performed the initial fire offering; and former Tendai Chancellor Ven.Nishioka-sama. In the 2nd row from the left: Ven. Sono-sama, representing the connection between Mt Hiei's Enryaku-ji head temple and all Tendai units outside of Japan; Ven. Shibayama Hokai, the great artist and calligrapher; Ven. Prof. Ichishima Shoshin-sama, one of the top scholars in Tendai; and two other Tendai scholars. In the back row: standing tallest near the center is Ven. Monshin Paul Naamon, leader of the Tendai Buddhist Institute, as well as being administrative chief of the Tendai Sect in North America and Europe; and on the right is Ven. Douken Unkai, the president of this monastery.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Simple message in Rorschach-like Calligraphy

Produced for our monastery and donated by Ven. Gyokan Hayashida, the head of the Tendai Calligraphy Association, to the untrained eye, such as mine, the characters are unreadable, at least the left and right ones, and it appears more to be a Rorschach test.  One time there were four senior Tendai priests from Japan viewing this calligraphy together and trying to decipher it. After about 3 minutes the first to understand let out a laugh, pointing out to the others that it was the very familiar motto of the sect: BRIGHTEN ONE CORNER. The calligrapher had achieved his purpose of getting the viewers to apply their minds and then surprising them. (The single horizontal stroke at bottom center is 'ichi', meaning 'one'. Starting there and reading clockwise, the four characters are ICHI GU O TERASU.