While traveling in Japan several years ago, I had the opportunity to visit a town called Koyasan and stay in a Buddhist monastery overnight. The main monk who presided over the monastery was a very kind and humble man. This monastery was a training center for young monks-in-training. I called the head monk guy the MTC President (Monk Training Center), in a cleverly thought up reference to my own experience at the MTC (Missionary Training Center) in Provo, Utah. Koyasan is located at the top of a mountain near a shrine, which is one of the seven most holy places in Japanese Buddhism. My experiences there remains one of the most memorable of my life.
|Me, the MTC President and my sister-in-law Toshiko in Koyasan, Japan, 1994|
|Dan dan batake (terraced rice fields)|
|This guy walked very fast|
Back in our room at the MTC I sat in an open window overlooking a picture-perfect Japanese Garden eating some Kentucky Fried Chicken that I had brought with me in anticipation of a not too appetizing cuisine available there. It was such a sublime feeling I had. When I finished and wadded up the paper wrapper in which my meal came, I lost control of it and it bounced off my leg, off the window sill and out the window into the middle of that beautiful, secret garden. Just a minute or 2 later, there was a knock at the door. It was a young monk-in-training telling us that the MTC President wanted to see us. It turned out to be only a coincidence, but at first I thought I was in trouble for sure. The MTC President just wanted to meet us, and ask us how we were enjoying our stay, and if we needed anything. He offered me green tea, which I declined. You might think that he would be insulted, but he wasn't. He was just a kind, humble man.
One more thing and then I'll leave you alone. When we bade farewell to the MTC and were walking down the street back to where we parked, an out of breath, young monk caught up to us holding my camera that I had left behind. After the fact, when I understood, I had to chuckle. The young fellow was probably sent by the MTC President to give us our property back. He hurried as fast as possible to catch us, but was not allowed to run or call out to us. He had to walk fast for a couple of blocks before he finally caught up to us. I thanked him profusely in Japanese (Domo arigato gozaimashita). He grinned from ear to ear, so proud to have helped us out. That was cool.
These are such precious memories to me. If I had a near death experience, and watched my life pass before my eyes, I'd stop at these scenes and savor it all over again. So...
-Thanks for listening.