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Fire Ceremony

Shojoshin-in Buddhist Temple


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We arrived at our accommodation in Koyasan, the Shojoshin-in Buddhist Temple. The friendly receptionist was insistent that we attend a fire ceremony that was to begin in five minutes in the temple. We could check-in later.

She handed us a flat wooden stick and instructed to write our names, ages and wishes upon it then said, “Go…Hurry…Hurry…”
The fire ceremony is performed to destroy negative thoughts and energies and replace them with positivity. The priest burns wooden sticks in a sacred fire that symbolizes the wisdom of the Buddha. The wood sticks symbolize what is to be cleansed and released.
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The high priest began the fire ceremony, sitting before a stone cauldron inside the wooden temple. I was expecting a little ceremonial blaze; enough heat and light to accelerate to the attention of the Buddha, our rhythmic chanting and petty mortal wishes. But no. This priest built an indoor bonfire that reached for the rafters. The congregation was then invited to toss the stick, bearing their wish, into the fire.
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After more chanting punctuated with the beat of a Taiko drum, and a prayer for peace in the world, the fire subsided and so did the ceremony.
So, what’s it like to leave the a Buddhist temple a little buzzed on incense, smelling smoky…but otherwise purified and spiritually tweaked? It’s extraordinary.

Posted by WayWayFar 08:48 Archived in Japan

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