In the heart of Japan, there exist sacred whispers of divinity, manifesting as elusive entities known as “Hibutsu.” These are veiled shadows of enlightenment, radiant yet shielded from the public gaze. Like an ageless secret nestled within an altar, their doors seldom part to share their mystical aura. Our temple cradles such an enigmatic treasure, the Koshikidake Kanon—a golden bronze statue of the Holy Kannon. Brought to life during the poetic epoch of the Kamakura era, the idol stands just 30 centimeters tall, its arms detachable as if hinting at its humility. Crafted in the image of the elegant eight-headed Shinonome-style Kannon, it only peels away its veil of mystery once a year. On the 17th day of the lunar calendar’s sixth month, a date imbued with echoes of grand festivals past, it unveils its divine grace to the world.
The Koshikidake Kanon serves as a spiritual anchor to the Kannon pilgrimage site in the Mogami region of Yamagata Prefecture. For the local dwellers, it symbolizes an enduring link to their ancestral faith, embodying the echoes of centuries-old prayers. These ancient entreaties, spun from hope and love for the prosperity of future generations, weave through the fabric of time to resonate in the present day. They grow, blossom, and resonate as a profound blessing that illuminates the path of all sentient beings.
One sweltering day on July 29, the city of Higashine was draped in the sultry veil of a heatwave, with temperatures soaring to 35 degrees Celsius. Within this crucible, I sparked a sacred fire in a humble 12 tatami mat room, setting the stage for a Goma prayer ceremony during the Gokaicho. As the room blazed like a desert mirage, consciousness threatened to slip away. But, supported by the steadfast spirit of my disciples, I steered the ceremony to its conclusion. Prayers gathered not just from Japan, but also from the farthest corners of the world, weaving a global tapestry of faith and fulfilling the dream of a prayer circle that held hands across continents.
Prayer is not a task for the faint-hearted. It calls for more than recitation of sacred verses; it demands one to bask in the joy of communion, to meet the gaze of the deities and Buddha with an open heart. Regardless of the circumstance, sustaining such devout prayer without faltering is no easy endeavor. To touch the essence of prayer, transcending the confines of time and space, is a blessing seldom bestowed—a rare dance with divinity that fills my heart with deep gratitude.