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Temple - tera 寺

 

  Before the explanation about temples, let us introduce the first difference between temples and shrines and their common history.

 

  Temple is the place where monks train themselves and we learn the Buddha's teaching.

  We don't pray for things simply with expectation that they will be given because that teaching tells nothing about almighty deity.

 

  Shrine is the place where we pray for good things such as rich harvest, children's growth and avoidance of misfortune to god and goddess.

 

= Ancient Shrine-temple =

  Shrines and temples had been mixed since Buddhism was introduced to Japan in 6C.

  For example, the current shrine of Turugaoka Hachimangu had been Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine-Temple which was managed by Buddhist priests until the late 19C.

  It is Meiji Era that shrines of Shinto and temples of Buddhism were separated by law.

 

  Now, most Japanese visit both shrines and temples regularly, and are buried in the grave at a temple when passing.

  As for temples, there are still some temples which also enshrine Shito deities such as Shichifukujin in their sub halls, while their main Buddhist statue is placed in each main building.

 

  The basics of temples of Buddhism are explained as follows, in fact many japanese only know a part of the differences from shrines of Shinto maybe because of the above mentioned history.

 

 No god nor goddess exists in temples.

- We swear things to the saints called buddha -

 

  Each temple has one or more buddhas that are the statues of the Buddhist saints.  They are not deities.

 

  Buddhist monks train themselves in the Buddhist manners in temples.

  We are not supposed to pray for things just for ourselves.  Instead, Buddhists visit temples to be given some teachings and to pay respects and swear things to buddhas.

 

* It's very conceptual and difficult to explain temples of the Buddhism briefly.  So, let us describe it in a extreme manner in order to make it easy to understand.

 

  If we ask a buddha just for wealth, for example, the buddha might answer "Just forget about such worldly desire, or you won't be relieved of agonies."

  If we do our business with wider eyes and talk to the buddha like as "I'm still disturbing my mind by worldly desires, but I swear to work hard until my business benefits all people.", we would be told "Good for you".

 

  On the other hand, we may ask the Buddhist priests for individual wish in some cases as follows.

- Buddhist priests offer Sutra-chanting for the dead people in some memorial ceremonies.

- When we visit temples known for safe dlivery, Buddhist priests will pray in the Buddhist manners to protect a pregnant woman.

 

* We should worship buddhas without making sounds.  Hand-crapping is not allowed at temples, while it's required by shrines.

 

 Read more references  

 

Related page: "Shakyo" -Glossary-

 

Related page: "Shrine - jinja" -Glossary-

 

Related page: "Zen meditation" -Glossary-

 

Related page: "Worship manners" -Glossary-

 

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