Echoes of Incense: A Pilgrimage in Japan
December 20, 2003 7:15 AM   Subscribe

Echoes of Incense: A Pilgrimage in Japan. 'The route of the eighty-eight temples of Shikoku is the classic Japanese Buddhist pilgrimage. Its 1300 kilometers test the body and spirit and open the mind to an experience of its true nature. For over a thousand years, only Japanese followed the path to the remote places of the Japanese island of Shikoku. In the winter and spring of 1993, I walked this path. Afterwards, I wrote Echoes of Incense to record what I experienced in words and pictures. '
Related :- Experiencing the Shikoku Pilgrimage, from the Asian Wall Street Journal, 1977.
posted by plep (8 comments total)
I have often been amused by the weestern notion that Great Wisdom and Truth is to be found in turning to the East--the varieties of believes housed in that area. Mediation, we have learned, works for calming the mind--scientifically--but has little or no connection to religious belief. One advantage, we are told, is that in some forms of eastern belief there is no God--a figure resembling in our tradition a Walt Whitman-like bearded omnipotenty being. But if you can do away with an ubermensch (god), why not the bells, candles, chants et al that seem so necessary ? If it works, fine. But then, Christians have long said their thing works too.
posted by Postroad at 9:04 AM on December 20, 2003

Both mediation and meditation work well for calming the mind, I find. :)

You're right of course. In the West, there is generally a clear dividing line between religion and philosopher. This wasn't always the case; Thomas Aquinas, for example, was both a theologian -and- a philosophy. In more recent centuries, the Enlightenment has given us that clear division between the sacred and the secular.

This never happened in the East. There isn't that clear dividing line. Buddhism, for example, is both a religious and a philosophical tradition; there is a Buddhist philosophy of life, and separately various religious traditions involving bodhisattvas, arhats and the rest. Similarly, for Taoism; Taoism is both a way of living, but also has much religious baggage, associated with traditional Chinese religion. It's possible to have the philosophy without the religion (and maybe Zen is partly an attempt at this), but this is very rare. History just hasn't turned out that way.
posted by plep at 11:18 AM on December 20, 2003

Interesting, plep - thanks! My Diary of Pilgrimage in Shokoku Island is another trip journal with a day by day account, photos and a map of the 88 temples.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:42 AM on December 20, 2003

Nice links, plep. Thanks. More here.
posted by hama7 at 5:31 PM on December 20, 2003

And here.
posted by hama7 at 5:33 PM on December 20, 2003

Ahh, the whiff of this calms my mind - not unlike Paris_Paramus and I ( bitter ideological foes, I suppose ) discussing toilet installation (a real Metafilter moment, BTW)
posted by troutfishing at 8:15 PM on December 20, 2003

It's now possible to pay someone online to do the pilgrimage for you - see here.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 12:02 AM on December 21, 2003

By the way, I mean to say there - "The thought of this is very soothing", not to say that Buddhism smells. I rather like Buddhism.
posted by troutfishing at 6:23 AM on December 21, 2003

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