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Journal: Temples

Note: This Journal entry was written on October 7, 2001, as I walked on the Old Tokaido. Take a look at that day's Logbook for more.


If you look at my "Prayed at" along the way (or at the summary table), you'll see a trend. At first--near Tokyo--it was easy to find big-name, five-star temples. Then, out in the country, I started praying at small shrines, roadside shrines, even once in my room.

Tomorrow, all that is going to change. I will hit Ishiyamadera tomorrow, one of my favorite temples. The next day, I'll probably be in Kyoto. Then in rapid succession the Nara area, Asuka, Mt. Koya, and finally Shikoku, where your prayers will be said at each of the 88 temples of the pilgrimage.

Question: where is a prayer more effective, in one's room, or standing in front of the Great Buddha of Nara?

The answer is obvious: prayer is effective depending on the heart of the pray-er, not on where he's standing at the time.

And yet. And yet.

We still go to church. We still visit temples. We still immerse ourselves in awe-inspiring natural beauty.


Because we are a soul in a body. And that body's sensations and perceptions do affect the heart. The church defines a sacrament as "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace." Why do we need such signs? Because we are body and soul.

I have been as faithful as possible with your prayers, putting everything I have into them. But there is no doubt that this was easier in inspiring places (by definition). And beginning tomorrow, may become easier still.

Posted October 3, 2019

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