Dōgyō ninin: The Shingon version of “You will never walk alone”

- through Francois Leclercq

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Seven gods of fortune at temple 59. Photo by the author

In my first two essays on the Shikoku pilgrimage, I reflected on the “dojo » “to awaken the mind” (hosshin no dōjo) in Tokushima Prefecture* and “self-cultivation” (shugyō no dōjo) in Kōchi Prefecture.** Today I will reflect on the dojo of “wisdom and enlightenment” (bodai no dōjo) in Ehime Prefecture.

Although the Kōchi Prefectural Pilgrimage Route includes fewer temples than any of the other three prefectures, it contains the longest of the four parts, at approximately 385 kilometers. Once pilgrims leave Cape Ashizuri, the southernmost tip of Shikoku and home to Temple 38, Kongōfuku-ji, they head northwest and somewhere halfway between Temples 39 and 40 , eventually pass through Ehime Prefecture and, thus, enter thedojo of “wisdom and enlightenment”. In Ehime Prefecture, the trail passes through the Shikoku Wilderness on the west coast, returning to the forests and hills surrounding Temples 44, Daihō-ji and 45, Iwaya-ji, descending to Matsuyama, a town in half a million inhabitants known for its hot springs (onsen), runs along the beautiful coastline northwest of Shikoku, bordering Hiroshima Bay and the Seto Inland Sea, and enters the mountains of Saijō town home to Yokomine-ji (Temple 60), about 750 meters above sea level. third highest temple on the Shikoku pilgrimage route. . This is the environment of dojo of “wisdom and enlightenment”.

Temple 44. Photo by the author
Temple gate 51. Photo by the author

But what do we call “enlightenment”? What do we practice on these 1+ kilometers? What does the practice of attunement and the cognitive transformation of our state of mind from tensionality to non-tensionality involve?**

Here I would like to evoke Dōgen's notion that “practice and realization are one” (shushō ittō): “Without practice, there is no achievement. »*** Enlightenment is not the goal of practice but it is practice. To be exact, “practice-self-realization in the direction of the 10 dharmas”.****

The key to these questions about what enlightenment is might lie in the pilgrims' clothing and the utensils they carry throughout the pilgrimage in all weathers, in the mountains and along the highways and trails. One topic I haven't talked about so far is the attire and utensils that pilgrims are expected to wear and carry. In addition to nōkyōshothe booklet in which pilgrims collect the seals of the 88 temples along their route, the rosary (nenju)a book of sutras and mantras, the Osame Fuda (petitions must be submitted to hondo—main hall—and the Kōbō Daishi hall of each temple), incense and matches, pilgrims use a hiking stick, kongōtsue (diamond stick) and wears a hat (Henro Kasa), le Waka Kesa (clothes) and a dress.

Temple 65. Photo by the author
Prayer wheel at Temple 52. Photo by the author

The bathrobe and the bag (zuda bukuro)which many pilgrims use to carry the nōkyōshocandles, the book of Sutra, incense, etc. carry the phrase “dōgyō ninin»the Shingon version of the anthem sung by Liverpool Football Club fans: "You'll Never Walk Alone". The phrase dōgyō ninin translates to “walking together, two people”. According to Shingon doctrine, pilgrims are never alone; Kūkai walks with us. Considering six weeks of solo hiking, this idea is extremely comforting. However, as a philosopher, I was stymied by the apparent contradiction that pilgrims are encouraged to visit Kūkai on Mount Kōya after completing the journey. Henri Michi in 88 temples, apparently to signal to Kūkai that they had completed the full pilgrimage path, but it is said that Kūkai himself was walking with me. According to Shingon orthodox belief, Kūkai has not died but resides in the mausoleum on Mount Kōya, the okunoin, sitting in eternal meditation. But the idea of ​​divine companionship, even protection, is important in its message and beneficial during those long hours on the road and in the mountains.

Anyway, for me the sentence dōgyō ninin also took on two additional meanings, a personal and political significance: having recently lost the second of my parents, the rituals of each temple transformed into rituals of remembrance. The ritual to be sung in each temple is reminiscent of that which practitioners perform during a commemoration ritual. So, in a way, the pilgrimage became a long way to say goodbye to my parents and the expression "walking together, two people" meant that I was walking with them.

Kannon at temple 61. Photo by the author
Bodhisattva Jizō at temple 65. Photo by the author

In another sense, the expression "walking together, two people" echoed for me what Trinh Minh Ha called "walking with the disappeared", a pilgrimage that I made more explicitly, among others, to Dachau, Wounded Knee, Hiroshima. , Sendai and Nanjingpilgrimages to and with the dispossessed, the voiceless who have disappeared on the margins of history. Having grown up in post-war Germany and having lived in Germany, the United States, Japan and Hong Kong, I am painfully aware of the trail of tears that we, as humanity, have left behind We. So when I walk apparently alone for hours on the road to places of memorytemples are places as indicated by the seemingly omnipresent images of the bodhisattva Jizō, who is said to plead on behalf of the dead to make them heard.I walk in the company of those who have “disappeared”. Such a pilgrimage, to quote Trinh Minh Ha, “makes speech and silence stained with shame” and returns “to where we think we know for the last time”.

During my pilgrimage, many people I met spoke to me not as a stranger, but as a pilgrim with whom they talked about the route, the experience, the loneliness, and the snakes and snakes. boars. It was then that I realized, again in the words of Trinh Minh Ha: “Sometimes the mind freezes and the heart continues to fast: the name, the nation, the identity, the citizenship disappear. I used to be a human. , walk, eat, breathe, when, facing the divine, we remember our stories, we remember who we are and what we are, when all the constructed identities and the “glass curtains”**** * disappear, when we remember: we are all human beings, achievements of the Buddha.

Bodhisattva Jizō at temple 41. Photo by the author

The experience of “enlightenment” that develops through the long practice of attunement can be best summarized in the words of Trinh Minh Ha:

Sometimes, during unexpected twists and turns of events large or small, a disease of the system can help to chart new ground, bring out what is dormant and open the view to what already always blooms inside. From the mud and mud the lotus arises clean and pure.******

* Religion as practice: the Shikoku pilgrimage in Japan (BDG)
**Harmonization practice: the Shikoku pilgrimage (BDG)
*** Ōkubo, Dōshū, ed. 1969-70. Dogen Zenji Zenshū (Complete works of Zen master Dōgen). Two volumes. Ed. Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō. (Abbreviation DZZ).
****DZZ 1:7.
***** Trinh Minh Ha. 2016. Lovecidal – Walking with the missing. New York: Fordham University Press. 1.
*****JJ Clarke. 1993. Jung and the Orient: a dialogue with the Orient. New York: Routledge. 17.
****** Trinh Minh Ha. 2016. Lovecidal – Walking with the missing. New York: Fordham University Press. 221.

photo of author

Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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