Monday, February 28, 2011

Hawaii –Inspiration and Meditation



In the morning we did not take the Pearl Harbor exit out of Honolulu leading to the historical sites but instead drove to the Ko’olau Mountain Range. This range is the western half of an original volcano that was destroyed in prehistoric times. It is 110,000 acres of beautiful forested slopes of unusual beauty where it rains abundantly. There were heavy clouds above as I mentioned in my last week‘s post on the North Shore of O’ahu.


Ko’olau Mountain Range - Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

It was not raining yet when we arrived at the Byodo-In Temple, which is located at the base of the Ko’olau Mountains in an area known as the Valley of the Temple Memorial Park. This Buddhist temple is in Kahalu'u on the windward side of O’ahu Island, near Kane'ohe. It is visited by worshippers from around the world. As I first glimpsed at this temple I almost forgot to take its picture as I was in awe of its beauty with the rugged cliffs rising as a background and the fog overhead.



The Byodo-In Temple, which means “Temple of Equaliy, not to discriminate” was established on the 7th of June, 1968, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. American businessmen in the Kingdom of Hawai’i actively recruited Japanese immigrants to work on the sugarcane and pineapple plantations. The Japanese, as well as the Chinese, Filipino, Korean and Portuguese labored from early morning to late evening chopping and weeding sugar cane on vast plantations. The temple was built entirely without nails and is a replica of the 950-year old Byodoin Temple in Uji, Japan, on the southern outskirts of the ancient city of Kyoto.


Byodo-in Temple in Uji, Japan, built in 998 and used jointly by the Jodo Shi and Tendai sects (courtesy of Sir Hallo)

Past the entrance and crossing over the wooden bridge into the grounds is like entering another world – a world of peace and serenity. Close to the bridge is the Bell House or kanetsu-ki-do. It contains a five-foot, three-ton brass Peace Bell called bon-sho (sacred bell.) It was cast in Osaka, Japan, by permission of the government of Japan. I went ahead and with the wooden log called “shu-moku” I rang the bell strongly to hear its deep tone. It is said that the pealing of the bell will purify the mind of evil spirits and temptation and bless you with happiness, long life and luck. Bells are typically rung in most Asian Buddhist and Hindu cultures before entering a place of worship. This bell has a very deep lingering sound wave that brings a message of calm and tranquility inspiring meditation. On the top of the bell are little knobs so as to have the sound of the gong generated outwards – all the way to the local town of Kahalu’u.


Click on collage to enlarge then click on each picture to biggify

My husband had gone ahead to the temple and I followed him there. Walking on the path I passed the Meditation Pavilion.



Walking by the sound of trickling brooks and the meditation niches on the immaculately maintained grounds I understood why this is called a place of serenity, for private thoughts and inner peace.



I removed my shoes to enter the temple. I had a lump in my throat when I saw the tall statue of Amitabha Buddha. It is called the “Lotus” Buddha as he sits on a giant lotus flower. It was carved of wood by the famous Japanese sculptor, Masuzo Inui. Painted with black and gold lacquer then decorated with gold leaf it is the largest wooden Buddha carved outside of Japan in over 900 years – it is over 9 ft tall (3m.)



Alone in the temple I meditated a few moments then tried to light some incense. It started to rain and was windy outside so my match would not light the incense. I must have tried at least a dozen times or more but then I had the idea to place the incense in the sand next to the others and it finally lit. The hush of the place enveloped me as I placed my offering of incense in homage of equality for which the temple is named. It was mystical and peaceful there with no one around, just the sound of the rain.



Then I went back out into the Zen-style garden toward the koi pond.



A visitor was feeding the birds and the fish were waiting below.



It certainly was relaxing to look at the large reflecting pond stocked with hundreds of Japanese koi (carp.)



Black swans were silently swimming by.



As I approached the pond the koi would follow me thinking that I may feed them. I did not have any pellets and was already behind.



The Byodo-In Temple is a Hawaii landmark that is not visited very often as visitors prefer to go surfing on the North Shore or in Waikiki. It may be recognized by people who watch television as I understand it was used in shows including Hawaii 5-O, Magnum P.I and Lost (home of the Korean woman Sun’s father.) It was also in the movie Pearl Harbor.



I walked to the original Japanese tea house which has been converted into a gift shop where my husband was waiting for me and I bought some postcards.



The Byodo-In Temple is not an active temple but funeral and memorial services as well as weddings can be conducted there for Hawaiians or Japanese visitors. It is a non-denominational Buddhist temple welcoming people to meditate in its sanctuary. For a time the body of Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos was interred in a private mausoleum overlooking Byody-In Temple until it was moved back to the Philippines.



Byodo-In Temple in the shadow of the mist covered cliffs of the Ko’alau Mountain Range rising to the clouds is a fascinating place of endless beauty. We could have stayed there many hours, but it was time to go. We left for the North Shore.


33 comments:

Tim said...

It looks like you had some great travels. I've never been to Hawaii but would love to go some day.

Vicki Lane said...

The temple is beautiful -- I'd love to visit it. And you captured so many wonderful pictures that I almost feel that I have.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Beautiful photos and interesting information. Even the pictures are very relaxing just to look at. Great post. Diane

Friko said...

Dear Vagabonde, in my two (?) years of reading your blog I have never found you to be moved by any of your experiences. Excited, impressed, awed, yes, but so far never moved.

Until now. Now I realise what buddhism means to you.

alwaysinthebackrow said...

As I read your post, I could almost hear that it was being read to me in a hushed tone of peace and reverence. What an amazing place. It is too bad that more people don't visit it. We could use more places of tranquility in this world. And how did they build it without nails?

Guzmán. said...

Jiddu Krishnamurti telling a joke...

“There are three monks, who had been sitting in deep meditation for many years amidst the Himalayan snow peaks, never speaking a word, in utter silence. One morning, one of the three suddenly speaks up and says, ‘What a lovely morning this is.’ And he falls silent again. Five years of silence pass, when all at once the second monk speaks up and says, ‘But we could do with some rain.’ There is silence among them for another five years, when suddenly the third monk says, ‘Why can’t you two stop chattering?”


http://www.katinkahesselink.net/kr/jokes.html
http://seaunaluzparaustedmismo.blogspot.com/

Pondside said...

I don't think that there is any architecture that compares to that of Japanese temples. There's a purity in even the smallest temple hidden at the back of a parking lot in a big city. This is a facet of Hawaii that I did not know existed and it has made me want to know more about this part of Hawaiian history and culture.

Honest Abe Lincoln said...

It sure looks like places I have seen in Japan. Your photos are very nice as well.

""°o.O Nancy O.o°"" said...

*** Coucou Chère Vagabonde ! :o) je vois que tu as "vagabondé" et pas n'importe où hein !!!!! La Californie pour aller voir ta fille, Hawaii, etc... c'est génial !!! :o)
Je regarde tes photos et c'est toujours un plaisir de venir chez toi ! :o) GROS BISOUS en direct de Paris ! :o) ***

✿ ♥ France ✿ ✿ said...

Et bien tu en vois de belles choses je vois des poissons Japonais dire que j'en ai deux ici et en ce moment j'essaye d'apprendre la langue et oui il le faut je pense. J'aime bien ce style de maisons oui je trouve que c'est mignon. Je ne suis jamais venue à cet endroit mais je pense que la visite devait être superbe.
Merci pour ton passage. Bonne soirée

Jeanie said...

As soon as this post flashed onto my screen, I knew I would fall in -- and fall in love -- with all the images and your wonderful words behind them. Temples such as these remind me of my visit to Japan -- indeed, some of the photos could have been those sites I saw. And you are so right about entering a world of peace and serenity. I could just feel myself fall into that place as I entered, and seeing your images felt much the same way.

A lovely post, filled with so much rich information. I smile. And feel a tad more peaceful than when I started.

kyh said...

I would have thought you took these pics in Japan if you didn't mention hawaii! Amazing architecture. So beautiful and peaceful.

It's called Amitabha Buddha btw. :D

claude said...

Coucou !
Quelle magnifique visite que vous avez fait là, dans cet endroit. Le temple est super beau. Les jardins aussi. C'est un coté d'Hawaï que je ne connaissais pas.
Les seules élément japinsants chez moi, ce sont nos carpes koï dans le bassin et une petite poupée.
Tu sais, nos amis amùéricain l'ont faite la croisière dans les Antilles françaises. Il y a tellement de choses à voir que les visites sur les lieux sont très courts. On voit cela sur la plage des Salines. Des cars amènent les touristes, il se baignent un quart-d'heure et le car les rappellent. On a vu le Queen Mary II dans le port de FdF qui rappelaient ses ouailles.
C'est la raison pour laquelle nous ne faisons jamais de voyages organisés. Une commerçante d'ici m'avait dit un jour être allée dans l'Utah sous cette forme de voyages. Ils ont visité plein de beaux endroits au pas de course pendant quinze jours, Elle et son mari sont rentrés complètement HS.
Bises.

Dutchbaby said...

I enjoyed your meditative post, Vagabonde. The architecture of the temple is beyond belief. The third photo, showing the roof lines echoing the ridge of the mountain behind it, is great.

The Lotus Buddha must have been awe-inspiring in its scale and beauty.

If my kids saw the koi pond with the black swans, they would never want to leave.

I am definitely putting this on my list for the next time we go to Hawaii.

Elaine said...

What a beautiful treasure to find tucked away in Hawaii, and something I would not have expected to see. I have not spent any time on O'ahu, not being attracted to the touristy beach life on Waikiki. I can see we will have to allow some time on O'ahu when we take another trip to Hawaii.

Nance said...

I loved seeing and hearing about the Byodo-in temple. I love that it exists on American soil, as we so deeply need any and all encouragements to avoid discrimination. My favorite shot, because I am so fond of black swans, is the last one.

Zhu said...

Lovely temple! It is quite different from Chinese or Thai temple architecturally speaking. I don't think I ever visited a Japanese temple come to think of it.

~*~ saskia ~*~ said...

Beautiful pictures, they show peace and calmness!

Have a haPPy HapPY weekend xxx

Ruth said...

The Byodo-In Temple has a perfect feng shui position, with the mountain behind, the water in front, the sounds of water trickling.

I want to hear the tone of that bell, even at a distance. And the sound of the rain, its tinkling fall.

I've never seen birds around a feeding hand, like sun rays. The black swan is SO BEAUTIFUL.

Truly, the place is so beautifully perfect that I am moved, and I am not even there. I feel your reverence for it. Thank you.

Bill said...

Such a beautiful and truly exotic place on this planet. It looks like there are still a few untamed areas about the countryside.

And the black swan? As precious as opal!

sablonneuse said...

What a lovelt soothing post. I think it's fortunate that such a wonderful place id not overrun with tourists.

RennyBA's Terella said...

What an interesting, informative and well documented post with great pics!
Thanks for taking us with - so exotic to a Norwegian you know :-)

Vagabonde said...

Tim, Vicki Lane, Food Fun & Life in the Charente, Friko, alwaysinthebackrow, Guzman, Pondside, Honest Abe Lincoln, Jeanie, Kyh, Dutchbaby, Elaine, Nance, Zhu, Ruth, Bill, Sablonneuse and RennyBA's Terella – Thank you for coming and visiting the Byodo-In Temple with me; it is truly a magnificent place. I enjoyed reading all your comments which added a lot of interest to my post.

Vagabonde said...

Saskia – Welcome to my blog. Please stop anytime you can. Thanks.

Vagabonde said...

Nancy, France et Claude - Merci d’avoir visité le temple Byodo-In avec moi. Cela me fait toujours plaisir de lire vos commentaires qui ajoutent à l’intérêt de mes posts.

Ginnie said...

You have done perfect, superb justice to this place, Vagabonde. It's just exactoly how I remember it...even better. As I read "the pealing of the bell will purify the mind of evil spirits and temptation and bless you with happiness, long life and luck," I couldn't help but think about how you yourself have had that happiness, long life and luck. And you deserve it all!

Margaret said...

Such beauty is hard to grasp ... The photos take my breath away, and I'm sure the sounds and the feel of the place is overwhelming. What a treasure to for you to experience this place - a place that you connect with so! The black swan is stunning as is the architecture. What a wonderful trip!

Ola said...

I didn't realize that there was such a big Japanese emigration.
The temple looks so extraoridnary to me.
I like paricularly the picture of the man feeding birds:)

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Such a beautiful and inspiring place---One can feel the sereneness from your pictures. Peaceful and Quiet Beauty....Thanks for sharing all of this, my dear.

livininlb said...

After reading this post, Karen and I were inspired to walk to our little Zen garden (which you wrote about here ).
Again, a lovely post!

Jenn Jilks said...

Beautiful shots. Especially for one who cannot travel! Thank you for sharing them.

snowwhite said...

Vagabonde,
I enjoyed the tour of Byodo-in with you and was amazed with your deep understanding of Byodo-in and Buddhism. The main hall of Byodo-in is nicknamed Phoenix Hall because of its shape. It is very popular.
You wrote "I had a lump in my throat",I hope everything is Ok now,

Thank you for your warm concern about my country. Fortunately Nara where I live is far away from the epicenter. Now the worst scenario has been rewritten every minute. I'm so sad. And for the time being, I'll be absent from my blog. I hope to see you soon.

Roger Gauthier said...

Wow, Vagabonde, tout un message. À lire jusqu'au bout en regardant toutes les photos. Follement intéressant... mais quelle somme de travail aussi !

Pour répondre à ta question, j'ai besoin de savoir de quelle photo tu parles exactement. Mais prenons une chance...

La seule façon de tout mettre au point en même temps est d'augmenter ta profondeur de champ, et tu peux faire ça en fermant l'objectif, disons jusqu'à f/16 ou f/22 si l'appareil le permet. Mais même alors, tu ne parviendras probablement pas à faire ce que tu veux. Tu as aussi le choix de te reculer, mais les boutons deviennent plus petits.

Il arrive souvent qu'il n'y ait pas de solution à moins de faire de la superposition de photos. Je crains que ce ne soit le cas ici.

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