“Heaven Sent Garden” Tian shou an (Tenju An) 天授庵
It is always a great joy to visit Kyoto city, a relic and reminder of the beauty of Tang Dynasty Luoyang, the Eastern Capital of medieval China.
My visit was especially poignant this time, because four wonderful adult students from Macau-Aumen came as well, to enjoy the wonders of Kyoto in Autumn. Autumn maple leaves, the best of Asia’s “Sacred Art” (preserved in museums), and “the world’s most beautiful Starbucks” moved my visitors (Queenie, Billy, Ruby, and Carol) to tears.
“The world’s most beautiful Starbucks” is something of an over-statement. What is really meant is a view from the window inside of Starbucks, as one sips espresso and gazes outward at the 8th century “Rokkaku-do” Six Sided temple dedicated to Guanyin (Kannon, Avalokitesvara) and the myriad statues of Ksitigharbha that grace its gardens.
More and more Chinese visitors are coming each season, to see the wonders of China’s past, preserved in Kyoto. It is as if to say that China self-destructs every 300 years, to begin a new dynasty, from 5000 BC until today. And Kyoto preserves the best of China’s perennial art, as a sacred testimony to the cultural and spiritual center that China represents for all Asia.
Every shrine and every garden in Kyoto has a special message, for all visitors. Our website readers are invited to see pictures from one of the myriad temples, a very special one indeed, called “Heaven’s Gift Garden-temple.”
It’s story is as follows: in 1267 a retired emperor named Kameyama (“Spirit Mountain”) built a beautiful temple garden, in what is now one of Kyoto’s most beautiful Zen temples, “Nanzenji” 南禪寺。But no sooner was the temple garden and meditation room built, than a horrible demon appeared to the emperor, trying to frighten him, and all other guests, away.
The emperor asked for help from the famous, prayerful abbot of the Tofukuji Zen temple, Daiminkokushi. 東富寺，大民國師和尚。The holy abbot came over to the temple garden and meditated for a whole day in the meditation room connected to the garden. The demon never dared appear again. So the temple and garden were named “Heaven’s Gift Garden-temple.”
(天授庵，“Ten Ju An” literally “heaven given garden temple”). Ten Ju An is, until today, one of the most beautiful parts of the Nanzenji temple grounds. Visitors flock here daily, especially during maple leaves in autumn and cherry blossoms in spring. It is just to the right of the Nanzenji temple entrance. I hope to invite pilgrims to go there again in spring, to see cherry blossoms and meditate in the gardens.
Michael Saso Dec. 2011 from “l’ hermitage” de Los Angeles