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THE STORY AND LEGEND OF THE SACRED

MOUNTAIN TEMPLE KOYASAN

     While Kobo Daishi was in China, the Emperor, hearing of his fame required him to rewrite the name of a room in the Royal Palace, the original inscription having become faded. Kobo Daishi accomplished this, writing with five brushes simultaneously. While on the continent he also competed in calligraphic skill with Monju Bosatsu, the Lord of Wisdom. In this test the priest made a most creditable showing.

     As he was still in China, Kobo Daishi threw his sanko (three-pronged thunderbolt) into the air, and it vanished with the speed of lightening in the direction of Japan, where it was later found in the top branches of a tree growing near the crest of Mt. Koya. The place is now marked by the fifth successive sanko-pine tree to stand upon the site. When he traveled into desolate regions, he was able to cause the land to become fruitful by his enchantments. Soon after his return to Japan in 806, Kobo Daishi submitted to the Emperor Heijo an inventory of the various sutras, commentaries, and religious paintings which he had brought from China. Followers of the Shingon-shu believe that the sect was actually founded in 807. From this time on Kobo Daishi advanced his doctrine, performing many miraculous works and gaining high favor with the Emperor for his skill in writing and painting.

     During religious discourses, streams of divine light would flow form his body. He could purify brackish water, commune with certain deities, and restore the dead to life; so it is said. After his transition in 835, miracles continued to occur. There is a legend that when the retired Japanese Emperor Saga died, his coffin was carried mysteriously through the air to Mt. Koya, and Kobo Daishi came forth from his resting place (Gobyo Grave at the Okunoin) to conduct the Imperial funeral rites.

     In June of the seventh year of Konin (816) Kobo Daishi petitioned the Emperor Saga as follows: "According to Holy Writ, a plateau in the heart of a deep mountain is best adapted for the place of practice of asceticism and meditation. In my younger days, I had a passion for exploring places of natural beauty. One day I started from Yoshino and proceeded southward, and then, turning my course, traveled in the westerly direction for about two days, after which I came upon a secluded plain nestling in a mountain. The place is called Koya, and lies to the south of the district of Ito in the province of Kishu. surrounded by lofty peaks, the place has been little traversed by travelers. It is my earnest desire to have the land cleared of brambles and to erect thereon a temple for holy practices, and this for the welfare of the state as well as for the benefit of devotees."

     Immediately after the property was granted to him by the Imperial Court, Kobo Daishi proceeded to Mt. Koya. When he reached Uji he came face to face with a giant about eight feet tall, with a red beard and dressed in a blue frock. The impressive looking man was a hunter, armed with bow and arrows, and he was followed by two dogs, one black and the other white. The hunter was the god Kariba Myojin in disguise. Guided by the dogs, Kobo Daishi continued on his journey and met a goddess, who led him to the summit of the mountain. She was Nibu Myojin in, according to some accounts the mother of the god Kariba. In order to propitiate these two Shinto divinities, a special shrine was built for them, and they still are venerated at Mt. Koya. This story would explain why dogs are the only animals permitted to enter the holy precincts of Koyasan.

     Kobo Daishi opened the mountain the following year and began construction of the head temple, the Kongobuji. He spent the rest of his life helping to build with his own hands the wonderful monastery now associated with his name. In November 834 he gathered his disciples and told them that he would enter the Diamond Meditation on the twenty-first day of March in the following year. He transitioned peacefully in his sixty-second year on the day he had foretold, and is believed to be resting in meditation at Gobyo, awaiting the advent of Miroku Butsu.

     It was in this way, that Koyasan came into existence.

     Kukai / Kobo Daishi's memory lives on in even the remotest places in Japan, the name Daishi is literally a household name. He is remembered as a saint, a scholar, a savior, a spiritual healer, a brilliant calligrapher, a Bodhisattva, the inventor of the Japanese Kana syllabary alphabet, a water-way engineer, and founder of the first Japanese public schools. Millions believe Kobo-Daishi is quietly resting in meditation, yet still powerfully active in this world, leading all to salvation throughout the planet.

Data on Koyasan

     Koyasan is a mountain about 2800 feet in height. The summit is a somewhat concave tableland, and this irregular plateau is surrounded by forest scarps which terminate in eight points believed by devout Buddhists to represent the eight petals of the lotus. Here, far from the conspiracies of the great feudal families, was built one of the most important religious / spiritual foundations of the Buddhist world. In the days of it's glory, Koyasan is said to have contained over 9,000 splendid temples, shrines, libraries, and other buildings, with a monastic population of approximately 90,000. Gradually it temporal glory faded, and disasters destroyed many of it's beautiful buildings. The great enemy of most temples in general is fire, and many times it swept through Koyasan; fueled by healthy mountain winds.

     "The Great Pagoda (the Garan) , the Golden Temple (Kondo), other temples and towers, and 54 monasteries which have rooms reserved for pilgrims to pay their homage to the Buddha and to Kobo Daishi, along with the university, the library, and other schools, which are administered by the Koyasan Shingon Sect, form a metropolis of Buddhist spirituality. Koyasan is very unique as a religious / spiritual center. There are more religious art works at Koyasan than at any other single temple or monastery in Japan."

Inside Of Törödö Hall

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     Hundreds of oil lamps offered to Daishi by many worshippers kindle in this hall. Two of them have been alight for about 900 years. One is called the *"lamp of a poor woman" , and the other the lamp of the ex-emperor Shirakawa.

     *At the time of Buddha, there lived an "old poor woman" called "Relying on Joy". She used to watch the aristocracy making offerings to Buddha and his disciples, and there was nothing she would have liked more than to be able to do the same. So, she went begging, but at the end of a whole day all she had was one small coin. She took it to the oil-merchant to try and buy some oil. He told her that she could not possibly buy anything with so little. But when he heard that she wanted it to make an offering to Buddha, he took pity on her and gave her the oil she wanted. She took it to the monastery, where she lit a lamp. She placed it before Buddha, and made this wish: "I have nothing to offer but this tiny lamp. But through this offering, in the future may I be blessed with the lamp of wisdom. May I free all beings from their darkness. May I purify all their obscurations, and lead them to enlightenment".

     That night the oil in all the other lamps went out. But the poor woman's lamp was still burning at dawn, when Buddha's disciple Maudgalyayana came to collect all the lamps. When he saw that one was still alight, full of oil and with a new wick, he thought, "There's no reason why this lamp should still be burning in the Daytime", and he tried to blow it out. But it kept on burning. He tried to snuff if out with his fingers, but it stayed alight. He tried to smother it with his robe, but still it burned on. The Buddha had been watching all along, and said, "Maudgalyayana, do you want to put out that lamp? You cannot! You could not even move it, let alone put it out. If you were to pour water from all the rivers and lakes of the world you could not extinguish it. Why not? Because this lamp was offered with devotion, and with purity of heart and mind. And that motivation has made it of tremendous benefit". When Buddha had said this, the poor woman approached him, and he made a prophecy that in the future she would become a perfect Buddha, called "Light of the Lamp".

Ponder this:

     Whatever joy there is in this world
     All comes from desiring others to be happy.
     And whatever suffering there is in this world
     All comes from desiring myself to be happy.
     Namaste my friends.

 

ARAKAWA KYOZO

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(Koyasan Repository)

     This hexagonal kyozo repository of Buddhist scriptures, situated at the southeast of Kondo, was built by Bifukumon-in, the wife of Emperor Toba, for the repose of the late Emperor. Three-thousand five-hundred and sixty-eight (3,568) Issaikyo Sutras written by Bifukumon-in herself on blue paper in gold colored letters were dedicated to the temple. The Kyozo was named after her land Arakawa, which was also donated to the temple. This revolving storehouse of sutras credits the spiritual account if one makes one rotation.

 

DAI GARAN / SACRED PRECINCT

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(Konpon-daito Pagoda at Koyasan)

     The nucleus of Koyasan as a religious place is the sacred precinct of Garan. There are many temples in the sacred precinct. But the most important are the great pagoda (Daito) and the golden temple (Kondo). Daito is the symbol of the Buddha Vairocana, the fundamental basis of the doctrine of the Shingon Sect. The present building was constructed in 1937.

 

Kongobuji

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    Kongobuji (Temple of the Diamond Mountain). Kobo Daishi gave this name to the whole collection of temples at Koya, but today the name refers to this specific temple, the "mother temple" and headquarters of the Shingon Sect. Kongobuji is 30 by 35 ken, about 210 feet in length. The curves of the temple roof are very fine and the entire building is an excellent model of Buddhist Architecture. The chief statue on the altar is that of Kobo Daishi and around him are the tablets of Emperors and distinguished persons. The numerous wall screens in the temple rooms are prime examples of the Kano school

     In front of the Kongobuji is a large bell, given by Fukushima Masanori in memory of his parents. Upon the bell was written: "To ring this bell, all evil existences will be destroyed; to hear its sound one thousand holy ones will be benefited." This bell is not one in which the bell itself is struck from the inside, but is struck from the outside with a huge wooden beam. These type of bells are called kane whereas bells struck by an inner tong are called rin.




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