Sutras o-kyoo



Daruma Pilgrims Gallery


Sutras お経 o-kyoo 
Buddhist scriptures
Sūtra; buddhistische Schrift

kigo for the New Year

初勤行: Hatsu-gongyoo, First Reading of the Sutras

First Copying of the Sutras (hatsu shakyoo 初写経)
shakyoo 写経 copying the sutras : photos

Copying the sutras is a common religious pastime, done at home or in the many temples who offer this service weekly or monthly in meetings.

The Heart Sutra is copied most often.


kigo for all summer

shakyoo-e 写経会 meeting to copy sutras
gekyoo 夏経(げきょう) copying the sutras in summer
gegaki 夏書 (げがき) "writing (sutras) in summer"

. . . CLICK here for Photos !

neko no ko ga tama ni toru nari natsusho ishi (gegaki ishi)

the kitten grasps
its ball...
summer calligraphy stone

Kobayashi Issa
(Tr. David Lanoue)

the kitten thinks
it's his precious toy...
ink stone for summer writing

tsuki to hi wa otoko no te naru gegaki kana

moon and sun
become the hands of man -
copying sutras in summer

. Tan Taigi 炭太祇 .

Issa has written many haiku about this ascetic practise.

中 ~ に籠れば涼し夏百日

GE stands for the summer retreat (natsu ango 夏安居), from April 16 lasting for 90 days.
Many temples offer facilities to copy the sutras as ritual to honor the dead in the family.


The summer retreat ends in
early autumn
with the following kigo

gege 解夏 end of the summer ascetics for priests
..... ge aki 夏明き(げあき), ge no hate 夏の果(げのはて)
..... sooan, soo-an 送行(そうあん)
..... gegaki osame 夏書納(げがきおさめ)
..... butsukangibi, butsu kangi bi 仏歓喜日(ぶつかんぎび)
..... kangibi 歓喜日 "a day to rejoice"

Usually on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month.

. ango 安吾 (あんご) intensive retreat .

Fudangyoo 不断経 Ceremony of reading sutras day and night
At Mount Koya and other temples.
As a ritual for the souls of the people passed away in the past year.
One of the O-Bon rituals.

. Autumn Festivals - SAIJIKI .


Hanya Shingyo 般若心経 Heart Sutra - heart sutra
with many Japanese haiku about
reading the sutras 読経

Dragon King Sutra
Averting All Hindrances Mantra
Ocean Dragon King Sutra: Ratnavati

CLICK for more photos
Lotus Sutra 法華経 Hokkekyoo, Hokekyoo

(kyoogiri daiko 経切太鼓、kyoodaiko 経太鼓)

This drum is used when reciting the suras to keep the rythm.


yuku haru ya kyoo osame ni to Itsukushima

spring is passing -
I bring copied sutras
to Itsukushima

Natsume Soseki 夏目漱石

Heike Nokyo 平家納経
The famous sutras copied by the Heike

. WKD : Itsukushima Shrine 厳島神社   
Miyajima, Hiroshima


butten wa anki ni okeri higaminari

the Buddhist scriptures
should be known by heart ...
thunder at daytime

Kamio Kumiko 神尾久美子, 桐の木

月へ経典英典ひろげる 父の背
tsuki e kyoten eiten hirogeru chichi no se

he opens the Buddhist scriptures
in English toward the moon -
(I see) the back of my father

Matsumoto Kyoko 松本恭子 檸檬の街で


shigururu ya zoo no ji ooki Fugen kyoo

cold sleet falling . . .
the word "elephant" is so often
in the Fugen Sutra

Arima Akito 有馬朗人

Fugen Bosatsu and the Fugen Sutra 普賢観経


hoodan no tetsuki mo kasumu midoo kana

the preacher's
hand gestures too...
lost in temple mist

Kobayashi Issa
Tr. David Lanoue


Comment by Chris Drake

misty temple --
even the preacher's
hands are unclear

It is the 2nd month (March), and spring mist drifts through the Reformed Pure Land temple. Inside Issa listens to a sermon by the head priest, but his conclusion seems to be that the priest is avoiding difficult points and specific criticisms and giving a vague, feel-good dharma-talk he thinks the parishioners will like. His sermon is so indirect and vague that even his hand gestures are as unclear as the mist outside. (Issa isn't talking about koans, which aren't used in Reformed Pure Land Buddhism.) In Japanese one meaning of "to mist" is "to be vague, unclear," and Issa's hokku makes the comparison very unobtrusively.

The next hokku in Issa's diary seems to continue to evoke this humorous experience:

outside the gate
they know who and mist
the field with so-and-sos

taresore to shirete kasumu ya kado no hara

People, presumably parishioners, begin to gossip as soon as they reach the misty field outside the temple gate -- or perhaps one group of friends lingers and talks in the road outside someone's gate. Everyone in the small town knows each other, so they contribute to the mist by misting their speech with vague phrases that avoid direct reference. Issa seems amused at the similarity between the priest's way of speaking and gesturing and the way his parishioners communicate.

- - - - -

hoodan no temane mo miete natsu-kodachi

the priest talks
with his hands, too --
summer grove

This hokku was first published posthumously in 1829. It is a revision of an earlier hokku that appears in Issa's diary in the 10th month (November) of 1820, when Issa was living in his hometown. This original hokku is about an outdoor summer talk, so it must be based on a memory of summer:

yodangi no shikata mo miete natsukodachi

night storytelling
by the priest's hands, too --
summer grove

The time of day in the later version, translated first above, isn't mentioned, but it's probably also night, when the summer heat is bearable. The talk is held outdoors by a traveling performer of stories about Buddhism called a dangi-sou or Buddhist raconteur. These performers were Buddhists and literally called "priests" (sou), but calling them priests is actually a stretch, since their lively talks (Adam Kern calls them "mock-sermons") used Buddhist topics as the starting points for long digressions on mores and contemporary affairs, told in a humorous style full of jokes and satire in which the storyteller imitated the voices of various different characters. In cities in Issa's time they usually performed on street corners or in small theaters, and in the country they performed where they could. A famous senryu about one goes:

dangi-soo suwaru to kao o too-shikame

when he sits down
the storyteller priest
frowns ten times

Most of these Buddhist performers belonged to Pure Land sects, and the "priests" recited Amida Buddha's name ten times before they began their stories. The senryu suggests that the only time the storyteller has a serious face during his whole long performance is just before the performance begins.

Issa liked to go see Kabuki performances when he could, and he also enjoyed humor and storytelling. The outdoor setting implies that the stories are informal, lively, and more story than sermon. The word houdan, 'a talk on a Buddhist theme,' has a wide range of meanings. I take it to be another word for dangi, as in the original version of the hokku. If the talk takes place at night, as is probable in summer, the flickering light from torches or lanterns hanging from nearby tree limbs also helps make the performance dramatic.

The storyteller's delivery is vivid and no doubt filled with evocations of the appearance and voices of various people or types of people in the contemporary world, but Issa is also impressed by the man's hands, visible in the lamplight, which clearly evoke the scenes he narrates to his listeners. Te-mane literally means gestures that mime actions and events in the world, and the storyteller's pantomime greatly aids the realistic descriptions in his verbal performance.

Chris Drake


Further reading in the Daruma Museum

Koan and Haiku 公案と俳句

MU, Nothingness, the Void.....無

. Die Aufbewahrung der Heiligen Buddhistischen Schriften  





anonymous said...

通辞われ仏典を繰り花祭 横山山人
仏典は暗きに置けり日雷 神尾久美子 桐の木
仏典や身を灯しあふ冬の山 河原枇杷男 定本烏宙論

経典で背を叩かれ厄落す 土川照恵
月へ経典英典ひろげる 父の背 松本恭子 檸檬の街で


Gabi Greve - Issa said...

. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .

tetsuki 手つき gestures
with more comments by Chris Drake

Gabi Greve said...

Hokekyo 法華経 Lotus Sutra

Kobayashi Issa

hokekyoo no ichiyoo hooreba tobu hotaru

I turn a page
in the Lotus Sutra --
a firefly darts upward

This summer hokku is from the fourth month of 1810, three months after Issa had signed an agreement with his brother and was able to receive half of his father's house and property. The Lotus Sutra was one of the most widely read Buddhist sutras in Japan, though in Issa's True Pure Land school the Amida Sutra and several other sutras were even more popular. The reader of the sutra (in book form) in the hokku could be Issa or one of his students, with whom he often stayed, or a monk or priest in a Buddhist temple. The reader is so absorbed in the text of the sutra that he is unaware of a firefly resting on the facing page and turns the fairly large-sized sutra page vigorously, nearly hitting the firefly or perhaps, if the firefly is resting on the low reading desk near the book, nearly blowing the insect away. The surprised firefly manages to escape, and only when it flies off does the reader realize what he's done.

Issa may be overlapping two worlds here, the cosmic, religious world of the Lotus Sutra and the ordinary visible world in which fireflies hover around lakeside lotus plants. In Issa's time fireflies were commonly believed to be the returning souls of ancestors, and the border between this world and the other was rather permeable in general. Thus "one leaf/page" can link these two worlds in an unforced way, as the word 'leaf' once could in English. If this is Issa's image, then the reader of the sutra, whose mind is strongly focused on the various Buddhas and bodhisattvas evoked in the text he reads, may be wondering, after the firefly suddenly leaves, whether it came very close and rested on or near the sutra because it was attracted in spite of itself -- through karma or some other mysterious twist of causation -- to the lotus flower of the Buddhist dharma and possibly to the karma of the reader himself. Perhaps the reader regrets not being aware of the firefly until it flew away, although on second thought, this is about as close as a human and an insect can come to exchanging "thoughts" about lotuses and buddhahood. Perhaps the firefly has left after showing the sutra reader it was actually resting for a few moments on a lotus flower in a lake in Amida's Pure Land.

The hokku in Issa's diary placed after the above hokku also seems to be about attending an intersection of worlds:

beyond the yawn
of the red-haired dog

aka-inu no akubi no saki ya kakitsubata

Here a sound similarity (aka-, aku-) links the color red (aka) with opening (aku-) something, in this case the dog's yawning mouth. By opening his mouth widely, the dog also allows its color to go beyond itself and open even further into purple. Other interplays of sounds in the hokku also link the two colors and help braid together the composite dog-flower process of unfoldment. The flowers (or flower) are actually sweet flags, but the deep purple color is very similar to that of irises.

* For the reading hitoha for 'one leaf/page' in the second line of the first hokku, I follow the General Index to Issa's Hokku 456.

Chris Drake

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

nuri-e 塗り絵 - 塗絵 - ぬりえ drawing for coloring

shakyoo 写経 / shabutsu 写仏 copying of sutras and Buddha images
Abmalen von Sutras und Buddhas
Torii Kiyotada 鳥居清忠

Gabi Greve said...

At the Nara National Museum, Special Exhibition of Ancient Sutras from the Heian Period:
Encountering the Legendary Kunōji Sutras:


Gabi Greve said...

Legends about Hannya Shingyoo 般若心経 Hanya Shingyo Heart Sutra


Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Chiba
Hossho Daizenni no rei 法性大禅尼の霊 the spirit of the nun Hossho Daizen-Ni
Around 1395, the spirit of the nun Daizen-Ni, the daughter of Hojo Tokiyori (1227 - 1263), who had built the temple 法性寺 Hojo-Ji, had come to the temple.
She told the priest:
"In a former life I was a woman who had gone crazy, my hair stood on end and my voice was hoarse. I lost blood from my womb and cried in pain."
To appease her soul, the priest spent a period of prayers, and prayed to 地蔵菩薩 Jizo Bosatsu. An old man appeared and told him to go to a clear lake in the Eastern direction. There it begun raining flowers from the sky and the Sutra 血盆経 Ketsubon Kyo appeared.
He begun to read it aloud and the soul of the nun was appeased.
The Blood Bowl Sutra (Chinese: 血盆經, Ketsubon Kyō)