Emptiness is not Nothingness
One of the most beautiful places I have ever had the opportunity to experience. An “experience” is the perfect term to describe it, far more than just a visit, the experience of entering a place so different than what I have known through my life and so beautiful in its own respect was an unbelievable opportunity.
What an appropriate setting for the peaceful meditation, chants, and daily prayers that take place on these grounds. The scenery speckled with Buhhdist Monks in all manner of action; some sit on steps sketching next to young children, others lighting incense in the square, and in the Main Hall of the Kawasaki Daishi shrine were two monks who were busy burning what looked to be small wooden boards that one could buy outside of the hall.
Having the fortune of being provided some explanation of rituals prior to arriving at the temple, I was instructed to approach the cauldron in the middle of the square prior to heading towards that Main Hall for prayer. In the cauldron are several incense that the Buhhdist Monks maintain, it is said that allowing the smoke to overwhelm yourself helps to ward off illness for a year; though it apparently does not do much to protect against jet lag (R Furmoto, personal communication, June 6, 2010).
After kneeling in silent thought for some time in the Main Hall, there was still much to see. The grounds of the Kawasaki Daishi Temple are quite large and all of it is beautiful. It seems the perfect place to house the Buhhdist Monks who live such quite, spiritual lives.
East Meets West
The concept of Buddhism for Westerners may be even more foreign than the experience of entering their place of worship. At least most have seen a picture of a Japanese Temple as a reference, but the actual religious ideals are not as familiar for most. A complete contrast to the major religions in the West, Buddhism is strikingly different than most popular beliefs in this part of the world (R Furmoto, personal communication, June 6, 2010). Christianity, one of these major religions in the West, has few similarities with Buhhdism. Christianity is a monotheistic religion, which means that it is based around the concept of one divine entity that their followers worship (Fisher, 2005). With the popular Buddhist symbol, that of Buddha, many may be lead to assume that Buhhdism is also a monotheistic religion, this however is not the case. Buhhdists actually do not worship a god at all! The popular Buddha is revered in Buhhdism as he was the founder of the religion; in search of an ending for all of humanities suffering, Buddha was able to reach true enlightenment and went about sharing his secrets with others in search of answers (Fisher, 2005).
Where Christians look for answers, and a sense of morality through the teachings of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: the followers of Buhhdism look inward. This is possibly the most principle difference between the two religions. Christianity looks to the otherworldly, a power greater then themselves for inspiration and answers to how life should be lived. Buhhdists in contrast do not wish to dwell on those things which they have no control over, instead they accept the realities of this life and concentrate with their best effort as a way to make this world as bright and as peaceful as they are able (R Furmoto, personal communication, June 6, 2010).
Though few similarities exist between Christianity and Buhhdism, there are areas of agreement between these two contrasting religions. The similarities begin with the respective religions founders. Though one is worshiped as a god and the other as a man, each flew in the face of social norms during their time (McLelland, 2009). During the time if Buddha, the Indian caste system played a significant role in civilization. Buddha did not except these norms and paid...