Today, I visited the Kurama-yama, a mystic and beautiful place in the hills north of Kyoto. It is one of my favourite trips outside the city, and I try to go there every time I visit Kyoto.
What means mystic place? Do I hang on some pagan beliefs, or any, at all?
In Japan, I love visiting the Shinto shrines (not all of them, that is…), and especially those surrounded by old trees, hidden away in nature, on the hillside or in a forest.
I do not much care about who or what is enshrined and why. Sometimes even the Japanese devotees don’t know, I have heard. Let aside some anthropologic interests, I don’t need to know about this god or that, causing this effect or the other after listening to your prayers … washing my hands at the basin, bowing and clapping is for me expressing my gratitude to the nature, to the many things around me, which support our life, although they are beyond our understanding. It is the acceptance of my limited brain, of an existence beyond words, and maybe my expression of love for the nature…
Does that contradict Zen? No! I believe, Zen can integrate any religion, which respects other human beings and the nature, which is non-aggressive and does not contradict the idea of a happy life for all.
Don’t worry if you feel a conflict between your Zen-practice and your religion! Doing Zazen will help you to understand yourself and your religion much better!
You don’t have to give up your beliefs before coming to my Dojo, just don’t let them disturb your Zazen! No problem, since you now know I am sometimes clapping hands in front of old trees …