|A great day. It was blue and
beautiful, just as I'd hoped for. Today's only disappointment (any
day with only one is a great day) was that I missed a bus by five
minutes; the next bus was an hour and fifteen minutes after that, so I
didn't get to Number 26 today. That means a long bus ride
tomorrow, too. Oh, well. Shoganai.
I got off the bus at Cape Muroto.
What an astounding place. It felt more like Cabo San Lucas than
The weather was balmy, and the
vegetation was tropical. There were agave and banyan and palms
Not that it's all paradise. This
is a truly wild spot; I had to walk with my hat in my hand due to the
fierce wind. What forces were at work here in prehistory to twist
the sedimentary layers of rock like that?
What kind of winds must come here that
a building has to be chained down?
A priest told Oliver Statler, "Muroto
sticks out like a hook and it catches trouble..."
Then the priest added, "But all that
aside, this place is sacred because it was here that the young Daishi
set his life's course."
As mentioned back at Number
21, here is
where the young man named Mao finally achieved satori,
enlightenment, and took a priestly name, "Kukai." This
means "sky-sea," a natural sort of name considering the
surroundings. (It was decades after his death that the Imperial
court granted him the title Kobo Daishi--"the great teacher
who spreads the teachings widely"--or something like that.)
"The" cave's mouth
Inside "the" cave
He meditated in a cave. Or
some caves. Statler places them down on the coast, among the
banyans; Ed Readicker-Henderson goes with the modern signs, and accepts
the cave shown here, a few meters up the trail from the coast to the
temple. (I'm not sure why part of the rock is painted red.)
Where it happened is immaterial
(though I took a stone from this cave as a keep sake); that
it happened changes everything. Without that achievement, he would
not have become the man he did.
Listen: Joseph Campbell distinguishes
the shaman from the priest. The priest is a social
functionary, a person given power by society to do things for that
society. A shaman is an individual who has made contact, who has
re-connected with the source. We call them mystics,
or--sometimes--saints, though some "official" saints were also
merely good administrators.
Kobo Daishi was, by this definition, a
shaman. He had an authentic contact with his personal
manifestation of the Godhead, Kokuzu Bosatsu, whose image is now
enshrined in the temple above this cave (this modern
image is on the temple grounds).
Kokuzo is identified with Venus, the "Morning Star," as I
mentioned when I discussed the ritual performed at Number 21.
Bishop Miyata says that, according to legend, the Morning Star entered
the Daishi's mouth at the conclusion of his meditation--in other words,
he was filled with the spirit of Kokuzu Bosatsu, who represents the
great wisdom of the Buddha that exists throughout the entire universe.
(Notice the connection between this and the name "Kobo
Daishi"--spreading teachings widely.)
This is one key to why a "mere
human being" can be literally worshipped by so many Japanese--and
me, as I pray in front of the Daishido at each temple. When a
Hindu greets another with the Namaste gesture, he is greeting the
god within that person. At Murotomisaki, perhaps in the very cave
where I sat today, the boy Mao at the age of 19 became such a god.
Climbing on up the trail, one reaches the
proper entrance to the temple--at the opposite end of the compound from
where car and bus henro enter.