Thursday, 30 July 2015

Oomawari - the big round trip. Lake Biwa, Mountains and the Stoics on 'retreats'

“Men seek retreats for themselves, houses in the country, sea-shores, and mountains; and thou too art wont to desire such things very much. But this is altogether a mark of the most common sort of men, for it is in thy power whenever thou shalt choose to retire into thyself. 
― Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius


The idea of Oomawari is that you can by a one stop ticket with JR (Japanese Rail) and go all over the network, eventually ending up one stop from where you started.

Yesterday I headed off from my local station, went up to Osaka Central, Kyoto, Otsu, around the lake and back down to Osaka and the next stop from me on a 120 yen ticket.

Along the way I found the place I've been looking for, where I would like to live perhaps in Japan, Shiga, in Shiga prefecture, a small town squeezed between the mountains and the great lake.

I spent some time in Switzerland many years ago and the mountains have been calling me back ever since. 

Marcus has a lot to say about mountains and the call of retreat.








 "For nowhere either with more quiet or more freedom from trouble does a man retire than into his own soul, particularly when he has within him such thoughts that by looking into them he is immediately in perfect tranquility; and I affirm that tranquility is nothing else than the good ordering of the mind". 

― Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius





Constantly then give to thyself this retreat, and renew thyself; and let thy principles be brief and fundamental, which, as soon as thou shalt recur to them, will be sufficient to cleanse the soul completely, and to send thee back free from all discontent with the things to which thou returnest.

― Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius




Quotes above in context

“Men seek retreats for themselves, houses in the country, sea-shores, and mountains; and thou too art wont to desire such things very much.

But this is altogether a mark of the most common sort of men, for it is in thy power whenever thou shalt choose to retire into thyself.

For nowhere either with more quiet or more freedom from trouble does a man retire than into his own soul, particularly when he has within him such thoughts that by looking into them he is immediately in perfect tranquility; and I affirm that tranquility is nothing else than the good ordering of the mind.

Constantly then give to thyself this retreat, and renew thyself; and let thy principles be brief and fundamental, which, as soon as thou shalt recur to them, will be sufficient to cleanse the soul completely, and to send thee back free from all discontent with the things to which thou returnest.

For with what art thou discontented? With the badness of men?

Recall to thy mind this conclusion, that rational animals exist for one another, and that to endure is a part of justice, and that men do wrong involuntarily; and consider how many already, after mutual enmity, suspicion, hatred, and fighting, have been stretched dead, reduced to ashes; and be quiet at last.

- But perhaps thou art dissatisfied with that which is assigned to thee out of the universe.

- Recall to thy recollection this alternative; either there is providence or atoms, fortuitous concurrence of things; or remember the arguments by which it has been proved that the world is a kind of political community, and be quiet at last.-

But perhaps corporeal things will still fasten upon thee.

- Consider then further that the mind mingles not with the breath, whether moving gently or violently, when it has once drawn itself apart and discovered its own power, and think also of all that thou hast heard and assented to about pain and pleasure, and be quiet at last.

- But perhaps the desire of the thing called fame will torment thee.

- See how soon everything is forgotten, and look at the chaos of infinite time on each side of the present, and the emptiness of applause, and the changeableness and want of judgement in those who pretend to give praise, and the narrowness of the space within which it is circumscribed, and be quiet at last. For the whole earth is a point, and how small a nook in it is this thy dwelling, and how few are there in it, and what kind of people are they who will praise thee.”

― Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius




All night long 
the Coyotes howled from the mountains of the moon

sending all timid men into closed doors of peace 
and solitude

and still the snow capped peaks 
reached for the stars.

laying alone, 
heart cold as stone
a mountain came to me....

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Sushi, Soba and Apatheia

SUSHI











SOBA
















apatheia
"...apatheia, meant cleareyed judgement rather than lack of concern and is in line with one of Buddhism's greatest truths - all suffering is rooted in desire and indifference to passion is liberation. Tadao Ando, one of Japan's most famous architects, who fjorded the east-west divide to win the architecture Nobel, the Pritzker Prize, describes Japanese detachment as follows: "... the temple is made of wood. The divine spirit inside the building is eternal, so the enclosure doesn't have to be." It chimes with the early Stoics' argument "wherever I go it will be well with me, for it was well with me here, not on account of the place, but of my judgments which I shall carry away with me." 
from Zen and the art of stoic silence

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Heian Jinja Kyoto


Kindle Paperwhite arrived, love it actually, never really got on with electronic books before, tolerated them on the ipad but this is wonderful.

barriers, Kyoto
 Next group of photos from Heian Jinja, Kyoto

Heian Shrine garden, Kyoto
"In 1895, a partial reproduction of the Heian Palace from Heian-kyō (the former name of Kyoto) was planned for construction for the 1100th anniversary of the establishment of Heian-kyō. The Industrial exposition fair (an exhibition of development of Japanese and foreign cultures) was held in Kyoto that year, where the replica was to be the main monument. However, failure to buy enough land where the Heian Palace used to stand, the building was built in Okazaki at 5/8 scale of the original".
Wikipedia

always seem to stumble upon something in Kyot, here a wedding.

oldest train carriage in Japan supposedly, resting place in Heian Jinja garden

moss on tree





Koi


Bonito eaten with just a little salt and the thinnest slice of garlic

Izakiya yoga tiger

Honey bourbon slush puppy

 new tenugui





Thursday, 9 April 2015

Mount Yoshino, Nara, Japan (Cherry blossom mountain). PLUS Shugendo


吉野山こぞのしをりの道かへて
     まだ見ぬかたの花をたづねむ
yoshino yama kozo no shiori no michi kaete mada minu kata no hana wo tadzunemu

I'll forget the trail I marked out on Mount Yoshino last year, go searching for blossoms in directions I've never been before.
Saigyō Hōshi 











Shirt

Sakura everything




Sacred Sites & Pilgirmage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range (Japan)
The Ōmine range and Mt. Kinpusen are located in the Yoshino-Kumano National Park 吉野熊野国立公園 in Japan’s Kansai region. The park area was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2004. This area remains a popular pilgrimage site and ascetic (yamabushi 山伏) training ground. Hiking along the pilgrimage routes in this area is considered “a must” for Shugendō practitioners. Such treks are known as Okugake 奥駈 or Mineiri 峰入り. 

Sacred Sites and Pilgirmage Routes in the Yoshino and Kumano area of Japan's Kii Mountain Range

Yoshino-Kumano National Park in the Kii Mountain Range. Famed for centuries for its mountains and temples and shrines (also the home of the legendary Tengu Goblin, the slayer of vanity), this region of Japan is very mountainous, with steep ridges, complicated peaks, and vast gorges. One of the most prominent religious sanctuaries since the Heian Period. The Yoshino region southeast of Osaka is the northern entrance of the Nyūbu 入峰 (mountain pilgrimage). The Ōmine mountain range between Kumano and Yoshino includes places of seclusion and ascetic practices such as Ozasa, the Shō rock carvern, the Zenki valley, and Mt. Tamaki. The pilgrimage path leads from Yoshino through Ōmine to Kumano.





Shugendō (修験道?) 
Shugendō (修験道?)  is a highly syncretic Buddhist religion or sect and mystical-spiritual tradition that originated in pre-Feudal Japan, in which enlightenment is equated with attaining oneness with the kami (神?). This perception of experiential "awakening" is obtained through the understanding of the relationship between humanity and nature, centered on an ascetic, mountain-dwelling practice. The focus or goal of Shugendō is the development of spiritual experience and power. Having backgrounds in mountain worship, Shugendō incorporated beliefs or philosophies from Old Shinto as well as folk animism, and further developed as Taoism and esoteric Buddhism arrived in Japan. The 7th century ascetic and mystic En no Gyōja is often considered as having first organized Shugendō as a doctrine. Shugendō literally means "the path of training and testing" or "the way to spiritual power through discipline."

practice gate
Those who practice shugendō are referred to in two ways. One term, shugenja (修験者), is derived from the term shugendō, literally meaning "a person of training and testing", i.e. "a person of shugen." The other term, yamabushi (山伏), means "one who lies in the mountains". Supernatural creatures often appeared as yamabushi in Japanese myths and folklore, as is evident in tales of the legendary warrior monk Saitō Musashibō Benkei and the deity Sōjōbō, king of the tengu (mountain spirits). Shugendō practitioners are the most direct lineage descendants of the ancient Kōya Hijiri monks of the eight and ninth centuries.[5]
Modern shugenja in Japan and throughout the world are known to self-actualize their spiritual power in experiential form through challenging and rigorous ritualistic tests of courage and devotion known as shugyō. Pilgrimages involving mountain treks are embarked upon by shugenja and, through the experience of each trek, as well as years of study, "rank" is earned within the sect. The rituals are kept secret from the neophyte shugenja and the world at large. This denju ensures the true faith of the neophytes and maintains the fear of the unknown as they embark upon the austere journey. This secrecy was also borne out of previous episodes of persecution and oppression of shugenja as a threat to the ruling military hegemony. Many modern shugenja maintain the practice of relative anonymity in their daily lives".


Saigyo's hut at the end of the long, long trail.

Saigyō Hōshi 
Saigyō travelled extensively, but one of his favorite places was Mount Yoshino, famous for its cherry blossoms.
吉野山こぞのしをりの道かへて
     まだ見ぬかたの花をたづねむ

yoshino yama kozo no shiori no michi kaete mada minu kata no hana wo tadzunemu

I'll forget the trail I marked out on Mount Yoshino last year, go searching for blossoms in directions I've never been before.

Looking down on Saigyo's hut


*

more on Shugendo here

and here on the Shugendo-Yoshino pilgrimage 


"Then, Lord Krsna blew His conchshell, called Pancajanya; Arjuna blew his, the Devadatta; and Bhima, the voracious eater and performer of Herculean tasks, blew his terrific conchshell called Paundram". Bhagavad Gita


giant conch

LINK