As I was visiting my dear friend and Shingon priest Yasuo, he took me to visit a priest in a remote Shingon temple, far away in the valley of the river Yono. This priest had organised a Goma ceremony, a purification ritual through which wooden slats written with prayers and wishes are burnt in front of the Mahavairocana Buddha and within the body of its mandala. So we were met by this great fellow with a heart bigger than the sky wrapped in his robes and okesa, he invited us to write our wishes on wooden slats and he started this incredible ceremony. Various sounds, mantras and purification mudras were performed first and then the little stake was lit and we all recited the Heart sutra while flames were leaping into the darkness. As the ceremony ended, snow was whirling outside filling up our shoes and turning the whole space into moon-like glow, making silence so vivid and clear. Pure magic. The perfect merging of the extraordinary of a very esoteric tradition and the absolute ineffable experience of ordinary and simplicity itself. Fire giving birth to snow. Snow shining like fire. Both moments perfect as they were. We shared a very hot coffee and bicuits later on, laughing and just happy to be together. The priest invited me to stay as long as I wished to sit and also to sing and learn some traditionnal Shingon rituals. That will be for the summer to come. What really stroke me is that this apparent complexity of gestures, sounds and procedures arises from the space we all unfold when we sit. A way to translate into the phenomenal flow the vast body of suchness. And the fact that it all returns to It.
Indeed Shikantaza is the source and through its simplicity, one can turn this day to day reality into a colorful mandala.
The flames of goma
outside snow in my shoes
For the very first time
this silence bathes me