2017 Summer in Japan and Korea: Maeda Shodo, abbot of Zuihoin, Daitokuji Temple

I love meeting with monks;

Some are kind, some are indifferent, some are focused on other things, and some are focused on you.

Years of meditation and practiced insight given certain monks the ability to read people. It is disconcerting to be read so easily by anyone, least a monk ready to correct your dissolution. Visitors are always in danger of being given advice that they may or may not be ready to hear.

A Christian Garden in Japan

Built in 1546 and used as a secret Christian temple, Zuihoin has since reverted into its Buddhist  origins. The gardens retain their original Christian symbolism.

My parents, always the adventurous travelers, took my business trip as an opportunity to visit Japan ~ they flew to Tokyo to meet me, and joined me for after-work extracurriculars in Kyoto.

Maeda Shodo, the Abbot of Zuihoin, held an audience and prepared tea for us;
I had met Shodo-sensei in 2012 and was struck by his insight on me, gleaned from the  questions that he asked. At the end of the meeting, he offered to commission a calligraphy scroll for me, that said: 以和為貴, “Harmony is the most precious manner”.

It is still one of my post prized possessions.

In this meeting, the focus was my father.
Shodo-sensei thought he looked like, and had it in him to be, a monk.

Lewis on his way to becoming a monk

I won’t repeat the rest of the advice, as it is not my story to tell,
but Shodo-sensei and my father had a in-depth and insightful conversation on the improvements he could make in his life.

There was no offer of a scroll this time – Instead Shodo-sensei offered to officiate my wedding (if and when I have a wedding).

I plan to take him up on the offer one day.

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