Ruth: We diligently recite the Heart Sutra at every temple. Our guide book provides the Sutra in phonetic Japanese, but I think I stand a better chance of enlightenment if I at least know what I am saying. Knowing, does not, however, mean understanding. After 11 tries it’s still not clear. 

We brought with us a a recent English translation of the Sutra written by Thich Nat Hanh.  He explains that he wrote it to clear up some of the misunderstandings around an earlier translation. Then he wrote a book to explain his own simplified version. His title for the sutra is “The insight that brings us to the other shore.”  Today’s route did bring us across to the other shore on the opposite side of a broad valley, but it was google maps and not insight that got me there. I guess I have more work to do. 

Ritual is everywhere on Shikoku, from the temple procedures to life in the ryokans (Japanese style inn).  We are learning new rituals every day. I should have packed half the clothes I brought, because each day after our bath we are given kimono robes to lounge in through dinner and into the evening. That nice second outfit I brought stays packed in my bag. 

I don’t think that the path to enlightenment is to be found in coffee.  I bought an iced coffee in a vending machine at temple 11 late this afternoon and now, at 10 pm, I am wide awake.  I will be tired tomorrow, further compromising my ability to grasp the Heart Sutra.. 

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