The Eternal Light of the Dharma

Something cool I wanted to share with readers: the Japanese Buddhist temple of Enryakuji (mentioned in a previous post) on Mount Hiei has a 24-hour livestream video of a special oil lamp called the fumetsu no hōtō (不滅の法灯) which means something like the “eternal Dharma lamp” :

According to tradition, this small oil lamp has been burning for 1,200 years1 and symbolizes the founder, Saicho’s, famous quote:

一隅を照らす 此れ則ち国宝なり
Ichigū o terasu kore sunawachi kokuhōnari

Roughly translated, this means something like “light one corner of the world; in so doing one becomes a national treasure”.

I am told by a reliable source that one can use this livestream as an object of meditation if one is inclined to do so. Even if one does not wish to meditate, this flame is a nice reminder that even in dark times, the light of the Dharma still shines.

Mandarava blossoms rain down,
scattering over the Buddha and the great assembly.
My pure land is not destroyed,
yet the multitude see it as consumed in fire,
with anxiety, fear and other sufferings
filling it everywhere.
These living beings with their various offenses,
through causes arising from their evil actions,
spend asamkhya kalpas2
without hearing the name of the Three Treasures.
But those who practice meritorious ways,
who are gentle, peaceful, honest and upright,
all of them will see me
here in person, preaching the Law [the Dharma].

Lotus Sutra, chapter 16, Burton Watson translation

So, take heart even in these crazy times, and consider the flame in us all. 🖖🙏🏼

1 Technically, the lamp has been extinguished once during the Siege of Mount Hiei in 1571, when the entire monastery was razed to the ground.

2 The term asaṃkhyeya in Sanskrit literally means 10140 but as a literary device means “vast” or “huge” or in modern English, a “metric fuckton”. The term kalpa is a term meaning an aeon.

Published by Doug

🎵Toss a coin to your Buddhist-Philhellenic-D&D-playing-Japanese-studying-dad-joke-telling-Trekker, O Valley of Plentyyy!🎵He/him

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