#53 Ross

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Temple: Daihoji – this is a beautiful temple that I skipped this morning because it was 5 and the temple doesn’t open until 7 so I backtracked a bit to get here. That included taking a shortcut through a terrifying tunnel that had cars coming round a tight corner with hardly any space between them and the side of the road for me to walk.

Dedication: I met Ross while I was on a ‘yoga retreat’ in Gran Canaria. He organised dinner for me and Rob, another guy who was on his own. The evening turned into debauched, tearful, hilarious fun. Ross is the best wingman I’ve ever met, can drink most people under the table and can sew a mean pair of trousers.

At each temple you stand in front of the Hondo and recite the sutras and then repeat them in front of the Daishido. The sutras vary but you always say the heart sutra. Here everyone recites it in Sanskrit transliterated into Japanese. That means people don’t understand the words and are often interested to read the English translation I carry.

If there are other pilgrims there I will say it with them but I have been saying my own sutras. These are just a combination of things that came to mind as I stood in front of the temples. They vary and evolve but here’s what I’m saying at the moment:

I come to pay respect to Buddha, Kobo Daishi and the people of Shikoku (bow and think of people who gave me ossetai) [1]
When young dawn with her rose-red fingers shone once more (bow)[2]
Om… vande gurunam caranaravinde (bow) [3]
So are you gay?
Are you blue?
Thought we both could use a friend to run to
and I thought
I wouldn’t have to keep,
with you,
hiding.
Thought I knew myself so well.
All the friends I had.
Took my leather off the shelf.
Your apocolypse was fab
for a girl
who couldn’t choose between the shower or the bath [4]
May I be well
May I be happy
May I be free from suffering
May I develop
May Ross be well
May Ross be happy
May Ross be free from suffering
May Ross develop
May all beings be well
May all beings be happy
May all beings be free from suffering
May all beings develop [5]
(Picture Ross for 10 breaths, then just stand and observe thoughts for some time)
Have fun and have faith (picture us together) [6]
I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine,
You are you and I am I,
if by chance we find each other,
it’s beautiful,
if not,
it can’t be helped. [7]
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha (x3 or more) [8]
Uh… Huh… She done already gone had herses (bow) [9]
Namu Daishi Henjo Kongo (bow) [10]
Arigato gozaimasu (bow) [11]

1. Doesn’t hurt to be polite. Before you subvert things. Something I live by.
2. I’ve never read the¬†Odyssey and probably never will but I love this line. It reminds me of the ever-present past, Ed, beginnngs, that I’m on a journey home, that there are things I will never understand, and – most importantly – it reminds me of Sir Ian McKellan.
3. The opening line of the ashtanga yoga chant. “I bow to the feet of the lotus guru”. Reminds me I am not the most important thing in the universe. I might carry on with the chant if I feel like it.
4. Some pop lyrics. They’re sutras for me. Devoid of much meaning apart from what I layer on them. Tori features frequently but in the last week I’ve had The Smiths, Dannii Minogue, Pulp, James Taylor, Years & Years and Nicki Minaj. I just go as far as I can with the lyrics I remember and then pause.
5. Metta Bhavana for the person I’m dedicating the temple to. I spend a while on this pausing after each statement and seeing how it feels.
6. A mantra from Cher that was passed down to me via Ross.
7. Gestalt prayer. A reminder after all my good wishes that I’m only responsible for myself. I try and say it with as much compassion as I can, not allowing it to become hard.
8. The mantra from the heart sutra.
9. A koan by the divine Ru.
10. Respect for Kukai. The name Kukai was given in China is Henjo Kongo – it means something like ‘He who illuminates the underlying, eternal, truthful world’
11. Ta.

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