The Heart Sutra is ironically not a particularly esoteric text, certainly compared to some others in Shingon Buddhism. Yet this was the sutra that was chanted by delighted throngs of people at the end of a wonderful night. Fitting: that it is a sutra known to everyone, beloved by all, and as it says: form is emptiness, emptiness is form. There are no distinctions, including between esoteric and exoteric expressions of the Dharma.
This was the night that Hiroki Okano and Kitaro, world-class New Age composers and musicians, took to the stage to perform a collaborative dedication to Kukai. Master Kukai’s anniversary was marked on 4 November 2023 at Zentsuji Temple, where nearly 1,300 people came to show their love and devotion to the guardian of Shikoku.
As I’ve detailed earlier before in my interview with Hiroki-sensei, Kukai is a living presence on the island, and along the 88 sacred locales that make up the pilgrimage track that Japanese and foreigner alike flock to experience. While there are many landmarks that have in some way exceeded Zentsuji Temple, especially when it comes to the power bases of Kukai’s still-thriving Shingon school, it is fitting that our musicians, and esteemed calligrapher Fuyou Kobayashi, came back to where it all started, to where Kukai was born, to transmit his sagely energy of protective power across a hurting planet in deep, systemic crisis.
After Hiroki-sensei’s and Kitaro-sensei’s marvellous performance, I could not resist re-sharing this beautiful image that he gave me at the conclusion of the evening. I only wish I could have been there.
Here it is:
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