Kouyamaji is such a beautiful temple. It is impeccably clean and very well kept, despite it being somewhat off the beaten track. One thing that I am particularly fond of when looking at this temple is that it is very close to Lake Manno, called in Japanese “Mannoike”. Mannoike is an artificial lake, like a reservoir, and its reconstruction by Kukai has a direct link to the saving of countless lives. Kagawa-ken is well known for its blistering hot summers, and comes with a very arid desert-like environment. In order to grow rice there needs to be a well developed and maintained system of irrigation and water supply. Koubou Daishi saved thousands and thousands of lives (uncountable actually) in getting Mannoike running smoothly. Without water and without rice, everything dies.
Kukai is often most remembered for being a teacher, a spiritual guide, and worshipped often as such. I like that he was also a man who served his fellow men. He was not “just talk”. He got things done. People got what they needed for living, and for feeding their kids. Kukai saved other people from very real and very scary drought.
I guess that while it is important to know where your soul is, and where it may go in a world of confusion and competing faiths. But if you do not eat and if you are watching your loved ones around you perish, you cannot afford much time to contemplate “what it all means”.
Kukai is “the man who gets it done”.
I greatly admire Kukai for serving others in such a direct, and necessary way. Nothing is more necessary to human survival than water. We need it to live, and in so many places in the world the struggle for clean water is a very real thing. Millions die because of a lack of water, or because of contaminated water. How we preserve what we have, and take care of our water is very important.
It seems that when we are on pilgrimage it may be very natural for us to escape into our own minds about “the journey” we are on, and how we are discovering new things, growing in our own ways. All of that is good. It is important and valuable. But from that process, or from knowing more about our own selves, maybe we should try to figure out what we need to do next. So, you become more self-aware. Great. You know more about yourself. Awesome. You are less stressed, have better balance, and are able to move from the past and into the present moment. I love it. Really I do.
But then… what would you like to do next? How are you going to take what you have learned, and who you have become to be something good and helpful to your fellow humans?
Maybe that is the question we get from Kukai.