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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 in the ancient times.  It's the late 19th century in the Meiji Era when shrines of Shinto and temples of Buddhism were separated by law.

  We can still find Shinto deities such as Shichifukujin 七福神-deities in some temples even now. However, they are placed in the sub-hall, while the main statue is always of buddhas that are placed in the main-hall.


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


  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, 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 rest in peace of 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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