Reading the Air: moving on in the temple courtyard

Jizo 2

Next after the Earthly and Heavenly deities, stands in front of the large then life form of black Jizo, the Bodhisattva of children and of ancestors, which stands as tall as the two towers of the guardians. This ancient Japanese deity can be seen throughout Japan and is well respected for having tireless compassion in rescuing people from their sufferings and giving them protection, and especially children, in his domain in the spiritual world.

At the feet of the Jizo figure. standing close, is a small child, and in the open palm of the adult form is another tiny baby, which Jizo's feetrepresents the souls of all unborn children. This is testimony to the invisible world in which spirit energies wait for the appropriate moment to be manifested as flesh, and to begin the lessons of life.

There are many lower realms in Buddhism, which represent many forms of suffering, so when one reaches the stage of spiritual development when we are ready to be born a human, this is a considerable release from much worse sufferings, even though some would say that being a human is agonizingHell Realms enough at times.

Standing in front of Jizo, Nohmen always thinks about his own incredible fortune at being born a Buddhist amidst many other religions, and in a western country, the probability being as unlikely as a sea turtle swimming in a mighty ocean pushing its head through a tiny hole in a piece of driftwood floating on its surface.

When standing before the Jizo deity, which towers above the rock garden, with its Japanese waterwheel bring water down through different levels to make a beautiful pool filled with ornamental carp and tiny freshwater turtles, he also remembers the Australian nativeJundal Giangaaborigines he lived with in the desert. they believe totally that the unborn spirits of their children swim round in a large waterhole, and that when the right moment comes for them to be born, a creation midwife figure scoops out their spirit, and places it in exactly the right place and situation for it to thrive.

Nohmen walks forward across the small granite bridge over the pool and bows looking up into Jizo’s eyes. Then picks up the wooden scoop and takes water in it to trickle over the small child’s head and the feet of the Bodhisattva.  It is the duty of Buddhists to console not only the spirits of the dead, but also those of yet to be born, or those who do not survive birth or are aborted.  The act of pouring pure cool water over Jizo is meant to quench the terrible thirst of those suffering from the fires of hell.

Jizo was originally an Indian god called Kshitigarbha which traveled with the missionaries across the Silk Roads. He was installed in Japan, and even to this day, images of Jizo are to be seen occupying most of the 30,000 shrines and temples of Kyoto, and throughout Japan. The compassion of this spirit will never cease working for all sentient beings to be brought into human form in order to learn the teachings and become enlightened.

Kyoto temples


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