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HIS HOLINESS IN JAPAN: November 2, 2009

November 5, 2009

Tibet House of Japan
November 2, 2009

His Holiness began his third day in Japan by
flying from Tokyo to Takamatsu, on the island of
Shikoku, where bright blue skies in some parts of
the sky and heavy rain in others created what the
Japanese like to call a "fox wedding" day.
Shikoku is largely famous for the 88-temple
pilgrimage circuit that many Japanese follow in
honor of the great Buddhist pioneer from the
early 9th century they call Kukai, who was given
the name Kobo Daishi (or "The Great Master of
Spreaing the Buddhist Teaching"). His Holiness
made his first stop, therefore, at the temple
known as Zentsuji, which Kobo Daishi spent six
years building after he traveled to China in the
year 804, and brought back a version of Vajrayana
Buddhism, with mantras, mandalas and mudras,
quite similar in parts to Tibetan Buddhism.
Zentsuji is the Sohonzan, or main temple, of this
esoteric school of Buddhism, known as Shingon, or "True Word.".

His Holiness was met at the temple by its Chief
Abbot, the Venerable Zencho Kashihara, and began
by praying in one of the main temple-halls. Then
he enjoyed a private discussion with the abbot
about the temple and its history, centered around
the Medicine Buddha, and explained, among other
things, the debating practice in Tibetan
Buddhism. "These days," he said, "I really urge
Tibetans to take interest in this tradition. Of
course, at first dialectics still revolve around
Buddhist thought, but, slowly, slowly, I hope it
may extend to other matters, such as modern science.

After an elaborate Japanese lunch in the temple,
His Holiness visited other parts of the complex,
and then traveled for an hour by car across the
island to the temple known as Hagyuji, arriving
on a grey and blustery afternoon to be greeted by
a large crowd of well-wishers, Japanese, Chinese,
Mongolian and Western, many of them shouting out
"Tashi Delek!" and waving Tibetan flags. He began
by consecrating the New Namgyal Stupa, unveiled
today to mark the 50th anniversary of Tibet's
occupation by the armed forces of China.
Proceeding inside the temple, he joined in a
recitation of the Heart Sutra, and held a brief
press conference with the Venerable Yukei
Matsunaga, the chief abbot of the Koyasan complex
of temples, and with a representative of the
Buddhist Association of the Four Prefectures of Shikoku.

Then he adjourned to a private room for a
spirited and often intense philosophical
discussion with Abbot Matsunaga. His Holiness
began with many penetrating questions about
Nagarjuna and Kobo Daishi, and how they are
regarded in the Japanese tradition, and then,
with evident delight, engaged in a kind of
dialectical exchange with the Abbot. "If we say
this tea-cup has a mind, can it commit a sin?"
His Holiness asked. "Does each strand of hair
have mind? What is animate and what is inanimate?
Even if these objects have life, do they have
mind? And if so, then when I ate two bowls of
rice at lunchtime, was I killing 300 individual
grains of rice? If so, then I will have to grind stones to eat in future!"

His Holiness ended a discussion he clearly
relished by saying that he didn't often have a
chance for such a relaxed philosophical exchange,
and was very grateful to the Shikoku Buddhist
Association and to Abbot Matsunaga for making it
happen. He then took the short drive to his hotel to spend the night.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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