Stay at a temple to experience Buddhist practices

I have longed to go to a temple to stay overnight and experience Buddhist practices.  I had been working so hard that I couldn’t think about myself.  So I thought that this trip would refresh myself.  

The temple is located in the middle of the mountain in Saitama prefecture which is (to the) north of Tokyo.  It takes 2 hours from the center of Tokyo by train.  This journey is also a part of the training. It is a bit tricky to go to the destination.  I needed to check the train schedule over and over whenever I changed the train. The farther I went, the more rural the scenery became.  There were old traditional farm houses and vegetable field.  Cherry blossoms and peach blossoms were blooming wildly.  I felt as if I were warmly welcomed by mountains and flowers. 

When I reached the temple at 4 pm it started raining.  After drinking a cup of green tea. I started the first Buddhist practice which is Shakyo.  Shakyo is writing the sutra to obtain a divine power.  I concentrated on writing it with the sound of rain.  It took 1 hour to finish it. However it didn’t feel it took long.  

I moved on to the next practice. It is Dokyo. Which is chanting the sutra.  It was fun to chant the sutra with the rhythm created by drums beaten by the priest. It sounds like a rap.  After writing the sutra and chanting the sutra, I felt refreshed and somehow hungry. 

Next was dinner time which I looked forward to. The dishes were all made of vegetables. It didn’t include meat and fish because of religious reason.  My most favorite dish was Tempura.  It was tasty. The dishes were too much to eat.

Before going to bed, the priest gave a talk about Buddhist teachings and Q and A.  The other guest asked for personal advice.   I listened to the conversation and realized that everyone suffers from something.  I do too.  

I slept soundly and was woken up by the sound of birds at 7 am.  As soon as I woke up, it was time to chant the sutra.  Chanting the sutra woke me up clearly. 

Then next was the main attraction, Zen meditation.  Actually this was my third time to do meditation. Thanks to good advice from the priest, I almost did meditation.  The priest helped me focus meditation. The priest advised me that imagining you are in the bottom of ocean.  It is dark and there is no sound.  On the surface at the ocean, there are a lot of rough waves.  Those are distractions.  So please try to think that you are in the ocean without caring about those waves.  It sounded easy but it was hard to imagine it.  I spent 20 minutes doing meditation.  Soon after I did it, I felt my brain and body were light.  I felt so good.  I never had such an experience before. 

After meditation, breakfast started at 8:30.  I normally eat toast and coffee at home.  There were a wide variety of dishes even for breakfast.  It consisted of rice porridge, miso soup, and three side dishes.  They were so tasty that I could eat them all.  I was surprised!!  

After enjoying breakfast, it was checkout time.  I had a great time there.  I had worried about no wifi and no TV.  However I realized I felt free from e-mails and phone calls which obsess me at all times after this experience.  I hope to go to a temple and do Buddhist practice periodically to reset myself.

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