Resting Leaves on Old Stone Lantern

Today’s photo is from an old Buddhist temple in autumn. This stone lantern has seen better days, but there is a certain charm in that. The bright red maple leaves resting on it only add to the effect.

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The Big vs the Small

Big temples are too big. Noisy, busy, crowded. Kiyomizu-deru, for instance, is wonderful, but as busy as Tokyo station. These smaller temples are better. Quiet, tranquil. Easier to think (or not think) and enjoy the surroundings.

There is a zen tale that tells of a certain monk—I don’t remember his name—who was cleaning the temple grounds, sweeping all the leaves away from the paths. An older monk, the master perhaps, was sitting and watching. When the younger finished and all the leaves had been sweep away, he went over to the older and said, “Everything is clean now. Look at that path! Doesn’t it look nice now?” The older stared silently, then went and shook the branches above the path, knocking a great many leaves off onto the path. He came back to the younger monk, smiling, and said “Yes, now it is perfect.”

Amusing story, eh? I get more of a sense of that at these older, smaller temples. It’s a nice feeling.

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