Thursday, October 20, 2011

Enlightenment and Uncertainty at Genko-an Temple

When I posted the last post, how could I know I'd be hospitalized the next day!  It was out of the blue as I had confidence in my health.  I went to hospital for the treatment of the acute disease and one week later earlier than expected I came back when I got cured.  Now I'm alive and kicking!

Genkoan Temple (源光庵), established in 1346, is located at Takagamine, Kyoto.  Koetsu-ji Temple is also at Takagamine.  "Susuki", or Japanese pampas grass, and Kitayama Cidars welcome visitors around the gate.  Susuki were on the verge of coming into ears at the end of September.

view from the gate

Asters on the right side of the picture above

Cluster Amaryllis

Hello, butterfly, take care not to be trodden on by someone.

Main Hall

In the Main Hall、there are two windows side by side, the round “Window of Enlightenment (悟りの窓)” and the square “Window of Uncertainty (迷いの窓)”.

According to the leaflet of the temple, "Window of Uncertainty" symbolizes human soul filled with the sufferings of the aging, being ill, and dying. 

"Window of Enlightenment" represents the spirit of “Zen and Entsu (円通)”, the calm state of mind free from any worries and the Great Universe.   What I saw was the shades of green of moss and foliage.  Now I'd see some colored leaves like maple leaves.

Looking up, the ceiling of the corridor is bloodstained.  The ceiling is made of the floorboards used in Fushimi Castle.  Blood  soaked the floor when Torii Mototada, a loyal follower of Tokugawa Ieyasu, and others committed suicide in the fall of Fushimi castle in 1600.  They chose suicide in the traditional Japanese way instead of being killed. The boards were brought into this temple to console the soul of the dead people.   (Full story, here.)

This is an inner garden with rocks, stone lanterns, shrubbery of various height, and trees. Other than that ceiling, anywhere in the temple is so peaceful and serene that the disurbed minds are soothed.

When I passed by the asters again on my way back to the gate, I noticed a butterfly with broken wings.  I doubted my eyes - isn't it the one I saw before?  Where did it get hurt?   One stroke of wind could have made it fall to the ground, but I hoped it was much tougher than I thought. 

At home, I made sure it was the same butterfly from the photos.  I should've moved it from that ground.  I was harshly reminded of the uncertainty of life.  Like this butterfly savoring the nectar to live, there are people trying to live their lives with broken wings.  I wonder if the difference is only whether with or without worries?

These are not fruits but flowers, very rare flowers of 高野白玉 (koya shiratama) special to Genko-an.  I don't know the English name.

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  1. Hello Yoko:
    It is so very unsettling when, completely unexpectedly, something very serious happens. We are so relieved to read that you are now better and have overcome the health problems which you encountered so suddenly.

    We have so enjoyed visiting this temple with you and particularly like the idea of the windows of enlightenment and uncertainty. Everywhere looks to be so beautifully and carefully planted with attention to every detail. The myriad of greens we find to be particularly attractive and calming.

    And, thank you so much for your kind words on our previous post to which we have made a general reply. It is such a comfort to know that people are thinking of you in times of difficulty. Take care!

  2. Hello,Stardust.

  3. Good to see that you are fine now. Very interesting post, what a calm and peaceful place. The two windows, with their unique names, add so much mystic to the place. Love the colorful flowers, very nice. And that Genko is so pretty, the soft purple color looks pleasing.
    Have a fabulous week ahead Yoko:)

  4. Good to hear that you're fine, now! I'm always happy to see your posts, and this one is no exception! What a gorgeous and peaceful place - I love both windows and the garden is fabulous!
    Have a nice day Yoko!

  5. It's very interesting there are two windows representing enlightenment and uncertainty; the former is round and the latter square.
    The bloodstained ceiling! Cruel evidence of bloody battle but it's good to know they have rested here in peace.
    The episode of butterfly also makes me think about life; you don't know what life has in store for you but don't be too much afraid of that. Like your case this time things will get better.
    Thank you for sharing such an interesting post.

  6. As your sudden illness shows the uncertainty of life surrounds us all. I am so glad you are better now and “alive and kicking”. Your photos are lovely as always and the butterfly with part of its wing missing illustrates perfectly how we go on despite our deficiencies to seek the nectar in life. :)

  7. Stardust,
    I’m so sorry to hear of your injury.
    I love pampas grasses, I do not know why, but I feel autumn in them the best.
    The butterfly in autumn seems to tell us the essence of Zen, transience.
    I’ve heard about circle and square. The circle represents the heaven and the square symbolizes this world.
    Oh, the bloody ceilings are so scary!
    Best wishes,

  8. Congratulations to recovery. Welcome friends to the blog. I am glad that I can be back at your beautiful photos. Temple of Light is a wonderful monument. Gardens then an excellent addition. I send many greetings. / Peter

  9. My beloved friend Yoko
    Welcome back and I wish to be always good!
    I am very glad that you are well!
    Your photos are wonderful and interesting, really is a place very quiet!
    A hug in a very friendly love

  10. I am happy to hear you have recovered! Such beautiful photos and an informative post as always.
    Be well.

  11. so glad to hear your health has returned! and that place is beautiful - the blood-stained ceiling is so tragic, though.

  12. Sorry to hear you were in the hospital, but glad you are recovered. Your pictures are lovely, I especially like the cluster amaryllis.

  13. Extremely sorry to hear you have been ill, Yoko, but happy to hear you are fine after your week of hospitalization. Your post of enlightenment and uncertainty is so fitting.

    Genko-an Temple is beautiful, love the windows and what they represent. Your photos could go on and on forever and I would never tire of them, Yoko. Take care!

  14. Glad to hear you have the fright behind you. And didn't you come back with a fantastic post to treat us. Wonderful images.

  15. Celebro que ya estés bien!!!
    Precioso templo, intrigante historia de las muertes del palacio y las maderas con el rastro de su sangre... y las mariposas y las flores... todo belleza y aware...Bss

  16. I am very happy you now feel better and i wish you all the best!
    I love the temple you are showing us today, especially the Window of Enlightenment, it is round like a circle of Eternity!
    As for your beautiful butterfly, he has broken wings but it still flies...this is the resilience of life! Keep well dear Yoko.

  17. Perhaps the butterfly mimics your own situation - and that of us all. In an instant, Life can change - for either better or worse. I'm glad that in your case, the bad has already changed to good. The temple photos are beautiful - I especially love the graceful Amaryllis and the pink berry-like blooms. The stained ceiling is a jolt of tension in the other wise peaceful surroundings - perhaps again reminding us of the fragility of life. So glad you're feeling better, Yoko.

  18. Mam nadzieję, że czujesz się już całkiem dobrze :-). W piękne miejsce nas zaprowadziłaś, ozdobione piękną zielenią i kwiatami. Pozdrawiam serdecznie

  19. What a beautiful place, although that corridor is disturbing to my Western sensibilities. I'm glad you're back and feeling better.

  20. Hello Yoko
    I too am glad that you are once again healthy and well.

    Your butterfly does seem to be the carrier of a message for today's story. The message of fragility and of constant, even unexpected change.

    The round window is so soothing and calm. Thank you for the visit to Genko-an.

  21. I am happy to have known your blog.
    It 'a little as if I was traveling and discovered new worlds.
    Have a good day.

  22. First of all, I'm so happy that you are back to good health.

    What marvellous shots you have shown us of the temple - so stunning and very peaceful. The window of Enlightenment is gorgeous.

    I hope that butterfly enjoys its days in spite of its tattered wings.

  23. It is horrible when something strikes out of the blue, and frightening, so I am very glad that you are now better, and I was glad to read your latest posting. (I read it a little while ago but I didn't post a comment then). I love the idea of the window of enlightenment, but of course what I remember is the butterfly. Are you sure it was the same one? It is quite hard to tell one individual butterfly from the next. But I am glad that it was still flying.

  24. A wonderful place. I liked especially the windows of enlightenment and uncertainty. Life is full of uncertainty and sometimes enlightenment comes too late or not at all...

    But we live with hope. I don't know what happened to you but I'm so glad you're "alive and kicking"! I had a similar experience when I went to play golf recently, slipped on a wet piece of wood, fell and tore the tendons from my knee. Now, 8 weeks after surgery, I'm beginning to feel somewhat "normal."

    I, too, am alive and kicking after a sudden physical disablement.

    One of our better psychologists always spoke of how what is most personal is also most universal. We are one race and what one of us experiences is often commonly experienced by all of us.

  25. Jenny – I can’t tell apart one swallowtail from another, so I’m not 100 percent for sure that it was the same. Howevere, there were no other swallowtails there at that time. I don’t know well about butterflies. I wonder if they can fly as long as they have minute scales on their wings even if some parts are missing.

  26. Hey Yoko,
    I am so pleased to read that you did recover. Thanks for sharing this beautiful post.
    Warm wishes

  27. Hi Yoko
    So glad that you are well again.

    Thank you for the tour. As always, I love your photos - wow, I am intrigued by the bloodstained ceiling.

    Hope you have a nice restful weekend, Evelyn

  28. Take care of your health.
    According to the shape of window, the atmosphere is quite different.
    I feel solemn and calm with the square window On the other hand I feel the peaceful and eternity from the round window.

    I didn't know koya shiratama. How unique.

  29. I noticed your latest post and I'm very surprised that you hospitalized... You seem all right by your new post that tells much about our lives. My brother is fighting with his illness, so I feel lucky when I can do what I want to...
    Please take care of yourself.

  30. I'm so glad you're alright now, Yoko!

    This post has so many shades. Fragile butterflies, solid stone lanterns, blood on the ceiling, Window of Enlightenment - a poetic story unfolded. Do you have any plans for writing a book someday? :)

  31. Greetings, Yoko! I hope you are still "alive and kicking"! Thanks so much for your very kind comment on our blog.

    I wanted to tell you we were invited for an afternoon get-together with one of our neighbors two days ago...the woman is Japanese but has lived for some years in the U.S.

    She had prepared a banquet of Japanese food, none of which I had eaten before. Naturally, I had to try most everything. It was delicious!

    Her name, by the way, is Tsurumi.

    Best wishes!

  32. Wonderful your photos and post! I have enjoyed it very much, because I love to read about your country. I am also very glad you are fine, alive and kicking again jejeje! Take care and don't work too much, enjoy and rest!

  33. Hello, Yoko!
    I have so relieved to read that you are now better.
    Wow, I simply sighed throughout this post.
    I like Cluster Amaryllis.
    Thank you for the beautiful walk through Genkoan Temple garden...

  34. So glad to hear your illness was short-lived and that you are able once again to enjoy the incredible beauty around the temple. I love the amaryllis. I have never seen this variety before. I learn so much from your descriptions. Thank you.

  35. Hello Stardust!
    Glad to hear you are again in good health.Thanks for the interesting tour of this inspiring temple.The materials look so beautiful and loved,and the views of the garden really lovely.I think it helps a lot if we can live our lives without worries.....whether or not our wings are broken!

    Beautiful photos!
    Enjoy your week,

  36. I would love to have a 'window of enlightenment' to look through at a wonderful scene as this one.

    I am also glad that you are back in health again. It is very frightening when one becomes ill suddenly.

  37. Life is really a fragile thing. I'm really glad that you are feeling better. I always await your exquisite posts.

  38. So glad to hear you are better. "in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." (Attributed to Benjamin Franklin).

  39. Ekaterina – No kidding, please. I enjoy reading books, and in terms of writing, I’m just content in blogging or letters. Thank you anyway.

    All the Friends and Visitors – Thank you for your concern and kind words. Sorry for not being able to say thank you to each of you individually. I’m fine. What with family events and caring of very old parents, I might be away from the computer for a while someday again, by which I hope I won’t cause you unnecessary concern.

    This was a good experience for me. We don’t know what will happen in future but I’m not afraid because fear is much danger than danger itself. I’m the one who “cross the bridge when I come to it.”

    Take care of yourself. I’ll take care, too.


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