—Articles: An Interview with Nakata Junei of Daigo-ji Sanboin

[ Outdoor votive fire festival in Higashine, Yamagata. ]

© ubasoku.net

A Day with Dai-Sendatsu of Daigo-ji Sanboin, Jun'ei Nakata (仲田 順英),
Son of the Head of Daigo-ji Temple, Jun'na Nakata.
          Originally printed in Japanese through http://mananavi.com/     Translated by Jisho

The Buddha taught 84,000 dharmas to respond to 84,000 different kinds of ailments. Buddhism is a teaching that takes into consideration the myriad number of ways we suffer and ways to liberate ourselves and others from suffering. A key aspect of this is 
living correctly. This is the core of what makes up Buddhist thought.

So what should we do to 'live right'? We attended an outreach program entitled 'The Heart of Prayer that makes you want to visit Temples!" and got to ask this question to Mr. Nakata of Daigoji temple.

Buddhist thought values the concept of enishi (縁). This means 'connection' as in a 'karmic bond' and Buddhist teachings focus on this marriage between the teachings and one's heart.

Buddhism has many denominations and cultural characteristics across the globe, but according to Rev. Nakata, Buddhism is a unique teaching which is applied individually to those according to their unique disposition and connection. The teachings you receive and the focus of your practice adjusts to the appearance of your own heart and mind and your path will be in accord to your disposition.

For example, the training of the 'Three Secrets' (三密加持; sanmitsu-kaji) refers to the training of our Body, Speech and Mind.

With these three we usually follow an unconscious program. The body may seek comfort, the mouth may make off-the-cuff remarks or slander and the mind may resort to lazy thinking and deception.

That is, these three each carry karma (三業; sangou).

In Esoteric-Buddhism in order to circuit-break this unconscious program and the ripening of this karma, the practice of sanmitsu-kaji is undertaken.

Another example of this is the idea of "Rokkon Shojo" (六根清浄) which refers to the purification of the six sense-roots of perception. "Rokkon" (六根) refers to the six sensory organs of the mouth (taste), ears (hearing), nose (smell), eyes (vision), body (tactile), and mind (consciousness). The training to realise their purity is "Rokkon Shojo" (六根清浄).

Mr. Nakata explains that the basis of his Buddhism is to cleanse one's heart by training in the "three secrets" and "purifying the six roots".

Those reading this may not be able to undertake a full period of training (行; gyo). However, if we understand the teachings of the Buddha and keep these teachings in mind and in our actions, we can do our own training!

Eight teachings to incorporate into daily life
What should we keep in mind when undertaking training? The answer to this comes from Buddhist sutras.

One of them is the teaching of the "middle way" (中道; chudo). Out of this Way comes the teaching of "Noble Eightfold Path" (八正道; hashoudo).

(1) Shoken (正見): Correct view; training for the correct outlook on life.
(2) Shoji (正思): Correct thought; thinking clearly.
(3) Shogo (正語): Correct speech.
(4) Shogou (正業): Correct actions and conduct.
(5) Shomyo (正命): Correct lifestyle and livelihood.
(6) Shoshojin (正精進): The application of right intent, vigor and effort
(7) Shonen (正念): Right awareness; taming the mind of conceptual proliferation.
(8) Shojou (正定): Right concentration; right union and abiding.

Living with these in mind, it is also important to undergo "prayer practice" 

Why prayer is important

The practice of prayer is to realise that life is given be all around us, and that we are surrounded by connections with all other life.

The long standing relay cycle of life and death is what allows us to live and the food we eat is a summation of a myriad of lifecycles.

In order to focus on other lives, Rev. Nakata explains that the following is important:

● To consider the interdependence of all life - our obligations and responsibilities in this web of connection.
● To practice gratitude and to be thankful for life and for the webs of connection that support us.
● To encounter others with a sense of great chance and to keep in mind the fragility of life's fleeting nature. To value these rare chances.
● To keep in mind the mysterious law of deep "connection".

The Buddha's teachings are not 'out there' but are found when we turn in on ourselves. Thinking about being alive and living for others is something to contemplate.

For example, saying "itadakimasu!" (I accept this) before eating a meal. This is the basis of prayer that acknowledges the interplay of life and death and the great webs of connection that arise to provide us with a meal. This goes beyond race and religion.

Mr. Nakata explains that it is because of this "heart of prayer" (祈りの心) that human beings have "culture". Prayer which is performed in acknowledgement of these connections is undertaken with an intention of wanting to protect and honour these webs of connection. It is this idea of wanting to protect these important threads which originally led to the habits of "culture".

"Can prayer cure diseases?"

Originally, temple-complexes were social-spaces where people would gather, communicate and share information. These days however there are few chances to meet with monks and priests.

According to Mr. Nakata, Daigoji aims to be a place where priests are present as a matter of course, and if you ask a priest a question, you will get an answer.

At the end of the day, someone asked this question. "If I have a sick child in my family and visit a temple morning and evening, will the prayers come true?"

Mr. Nakata responded:

The practice of prayer is about volition and setting intentions for others. It cannot be guaranteed that a cure will happen or not. Regardless of a cure or not, prayer is the basis of a culture of responding to others. In understanding that the thoughts of prayer will come back around to me some day it is important to understand the idea of 'merit' (功徳) and that karmic seeds ripen in mysterious ways.

The founder of Daigoji Temple is Shobo (聖宝), the master of Rigen Daishi (弘法大師). After studying Shingon Buddhism, he studied the various Nanto Buddhist schools in Nara and mastered the practice of Shugendo. Shobo is a fusion of the teachings of the Shingon sect and the teachings of Shugendo, and Daigoji is the head temple of the Shingon sect Daigo sect and the head temple of the Tozan line of Shugendo.

Buddhism, Esoteric-Buddhism and Shugendo: These three teachings are flowing and alive in Daigoji Temple.


To practice is to prove to oneself the teachings of the patriarchs, and obtaining the fruits of practice does not simply to gain power (験力; genriki) over trials or to align oneself with the grace of the Gods and Buddhas, but ultimately to realise the depth of one's heart as a Bodhisattva, and to know the mind as a Buddha.