B. Philosophy and Religion

Human Activities for Thought and Faith

Buddhism: The Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, India, one of the holiest sites for Buddhists (2024). Gautama Siddhartha attained enlightenment under the tree in the center (but a descendant of the tree of that time) and became the Buddha around 2,500 years ago.
(Cont’d) The temple as seen from Sujata village (2024). Before meditating under the tree, he took a ritual bath in this river (dried in the photo) and healed his body exhausted by fasting with a milk-rice pudding given by Sujata.
(Cont’d) Before meeting Sujata, he practiced asceticism for six years in this cave (inside the entrance on the left) about 10 km northeast of the village. In Mahakala Mountain, India (2024).
Buddhism: The Nalanda Mahavihara in Nalanda, India, a Buddhist academy that existed from the 5th to the 12th century (2024).
Buddhism: White Horse Temple in Luoyang, said to be the first Chinese temple built in 68 CE after the introduction of Buddhism through the Silk Road (2006). Later, Mahayana Buddhism, which is one of the two major schools, spread to China, Korea, Japan, etc.
Buddhism: Shoden’an at Engakuji Temple (円覚寺) in Kamakura, Japan (2022). D. T. Suzuki, who wrote many books in English introducing the concept of Zen in Buddhism, practiced at the temple and stayed here for some time.
Buddhism: Potala Palace in Lhasa (2007). Vajrayana Buddhism, which is a major extension of Mahayana, spread to Tibet, other Himalayan regions, Mongolia, etc.
Buddhism: Phra Pathom Chedi in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, said in the country to be the oldest chedi in Indochina (2020). Theravada Buddhism, which is another of the two major schools, spread to Sri Lanka and the Indochinese Peninsula, etc.
Hinduism and Buddhism: Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, founded as a Hindu temple in the 12th century and later converted to a Buddhist one (2009).
Buddhism: Wat Paknam Phasi Charoen in Bangkok (2019).
Christianity: The Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, a cross that rises straight on the curves of nature (2015).
Christianity: “Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times” (Isaiah 33:6 NKJV) displayed at Rockefeller Center in NYC, a Bible verse that speaks to busy people in the big city (2015).
Islam: A “qibla” sign for Muslims at a hotel room in Dubai, indicating the center of worship at the Kaaba in Mecca (2008).
Shinto: Amano Yasukawara (天安河原) in Takachiho, a site of the myth of the loss and return of sunlight in Japan (2023).
(Cont’d) The town has many other mythological sites. A myth remains in Takachiho Gorge that water was brought here by a god (2023).
Shinto: Benten Island (弁天島) in Izumo, a site of myths about the unification process of Japan (2019).
Shinto: The original site of the Kumano Hongu Taisha (熊野本宮大社) in Tanabe, Japan, which was moved to higher ground nearby after a flood in 1889 (2018). It has the highest “torii” (鳥居) gate (about 34m). Since ancient times, many people have made pilgrimages to the three major Kumano shrines, including the Hongu, in the hope of spiritual rebirth.
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Shinto: One of the 16 sacred pillars, called “onbashira” (御柱), standing at the four corners of each of the four composite Suwa Taisha (諏訪大社) shrines in Chino, Japan (2021). The pillars have been rebuilt every seven years since ancient times. Their origin is unknown, but some believe that they mark sacred boundaries.
(Cont’d) Two of the four shrines are located on the north side of Lake Suwa, while the other two are on the south side. The lake, which is a tectonic lake, is located in Suwa Basin where Japan’s two major tectonic lines intersect. In Suwa (2021).
(Cont’d) An outcrop of one of the two tectonic lines, about 120km north of Lake Suwa, in Itoigawa (2023). It reveals the line that runs north-south across the main island of Japan, geologically dividing the countgry into east and west.
Philosophy: A post-meal proverb by Herbert Spencer, found on a fortune cookie slip received at a Chinese restaurant in Columbus, USA (2013).

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