“Share Peace” is the 2014 theme for the Hongwanji temples of Hawai’i. A few months ago there was a photo/art contest for the upcoming 2014 calendar put out by Honpa Hongwanji. The contest asked, “Can you picture peace?” I thought long and hard about the different ways that peace can be manifested, and in the end decided to illustrate a path to finding peace within.
Inner peace is an essential component in being able to share peace with others. When you have peace in your heart, it radiates outward. The Nembutsu can not only lead to inner peace through entrusting Amida Buddha, but can also inspire compassion to share with others. The Japanese characters radiating outward are 南無阿弥陀仏 Namo Amida Butsu – mindfulness of Amida Buddha.
Hawai’i is the first state in the US to officially recognize Peace Day (September 21st, same as the United Nations International Peace Day). Peace starts as an idea, powerful enough to transcend all boundaries. A day when people of all backgrounds can come together to share their dreams of peace is very powerful. There are many roads to peace, but they all start with what you choose to share with others.
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Yet pumpkin carving is an art that I really should dabble in more often. It’s lots of fun, and with the right tools, not too difficult.
I picked this pumpkin at a local farm (yes there are pumpkin farms in Hawai’i). The weather was perfect, and it was fun to stroll through the rows of sunflowers, corn, green beans, and pumpkins. A friend and I each carved our own pumpkin. I was surprised at how easily the tools from the pumpkin carving kit sliced through the pumpkin – much easier than the knives I used to use growing up. It makes me want to create an even more intricate design for next year.
How did I get inspiration for an Amida Buddha pumpkin? It just popped into my head. Hardly traditional Halloween decor. But just as Jack-o-lanterns light pathways, the Buddha also illuminates a path. On this night celebrating the connection between this world and the next, it is a reminder that not everything on the other side is scary.
One year ago, I started posting on seasreflectingstarlight.com!
It’s hard to believe that it was really that long ago! The time has gone fast! I’ve had visits from people in 61 countries, and gained over 100 followers. All of you are wonderful, and I appreciate your support and friendship!
To celebrate (and say thank you) I have two specials this weekend:
The Giant Buddha at Le Shan (乐山大佛) is carved directly out of the mountainside overlooking the river. It is located in the southern part of the Chinese province of Sichuan, and together with Mount Emei is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built during the Tang Dynasty (618–907). The seated Buddha is so large that humans are dwarfed by a single toe of the Buddha. This photo was taken about halfway down the perilous walkway carved into the cliff-face next to the Buddha.
Although Le Shan is rather short compared to many mountains, and the Chinese character “shān 山” can refer to hills as well as mountains, Le Shan is typically translated into English as a “mountain” and therefore will be considered one for the Mountain theme of the travel photo challenge. Indeed it is a mountain of great historical, religious, and artistic importance, and still attracts thousands of tourists and pilgrims every day. I had to wait in line for two hours before I could walk down the steep, uneven, and narrow stairway that lead from the Buddha’s head to his feet, and I was told that I wasn’t even there during a “busy” time.
Thai Laughing Buddha In Garden by Seas Reflecting Starlight
This photo of a Laughing Buddha statue was taken in a garden near Bangkok, Thailand. The Laughing Buddha (Budai in Chinese, Hotei in Japanese) was inspired by a Chinese Chan (Zen) monk who is considered to be an incarnation of Maitreya, the future Buddha. Through Chinese influence, the Laughing Buddha became popular in Thailand and other East Asian countries. He is portrayed as a laughing bald and plump man, often carrying a bag and prayer beads. He symbolizes happiness, wealth, prosperity, and luck.
This design is based on my photo of the Nara Daibutsu (Large Buddha), one of the largest indoor Buddha statues in the world at 15 meters tall. It is located in Nara, one of the historical capitals of Japan, in Todaiji – a temple that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I love Nara. It’s only a short train ride from Kyoto, and is a small easily walkable town. The cute little friendly deer are everywhere, and will eat crackers right out of your hand. It’s a very picturesque and peaceful setting, that’s also great for a history buff like me who likes to wander around ancient temples, museums, and historical sites. Nara is a place where you can feed a few deer, visit a great awe-inspiring Buddha so large you cannot even reach his hand, stop to relax under the falling momiji leaves while sipping a nice hot cup of matcha, and still have ample time to stroll through the various winding trails around the town. It’s a window into the traditional Japan of olden days, without the same modern bustling of nearby Kyoto.
This art piece illustrates Amida Buddha’s Golden Chain of Love. Inspiration for this artwork came from a popular verse:
I am a link in Amida Buddha’s Golden Chain of love that stretches around the world. I must keep my link bright and strong. I will try to be kind and gentle to every living thing, and protect all who are weaker than myself. I will try to think pure and beautiful thoughts, to say pure and beautiful words, and to do pure and beautiful deeds, knowing that what I do now depends not only my happiness or unhappiness, but also that of others. May every link in Amida Buddha’s Golden Chain of love be bright and strong and may we all attain perfect peace.
The verse was written right here in Hawai’i, and is one of my favorite Jodo Shinshu verses because of its themes of compassion, unity, interconnection, peace, and love – as well as for the beautiful imagery it inspires. May we all attain perfect peace.