The Marsh in Minnetonka, Minnesota is a wellness center located on the edge of a scenic Minnetonka wetland. Pictured here is the upper portion of the Meditation Room. There is an additional layer of windows under these, along the lower portion of this space. They provide plenty of natural light and beautiful views.
It’s the weekend before our Thanksgiving holiday, a time when people may feel a higher level of stress. Take a moment to breathe, relax, be in gratitude, and enjoy life.
Today I came across a blog with a writer’s workshop. Instructions:
Post a picture and a description that fits into this quote for you:
“How far to heaven? Just open your eyes and look. You are in heaven” -Shankar
I find heavenly people, places and more all around me each day. Still, one place came to mind for me when I read about this workshop exercise. Oahu. More specifically, The Byodi-In Temple at the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. The photo above shows the temple, set amidst the trees and hills to the side and the mountain to the back. Water flows in front of the temple. This is an ideal setting in Feng Shui. The mountain at the back and the hills to the sides represent protection. The water in front brings prosperity and abundance. I felt an incredible peace here.
The Magnificent Byodo-In Temple translates to “Temple of Equality — not to discriminate” and is home to Amida, a golden Buddha unique to the entire world.
This Buddha is thought to be the largest figure carved since ancient times. It towers more than 18 feet and is an original work of art carved by the famous Japanese sculptor, Masuzo Inui.
The Bell House, above, contains a five-foot high, three-ton brass bell called bon-sho (sacred bell). It closely resembles the bell hanging in an identical Bell House at the Uji Byodo-In. The tone of the bell sounds a message of deep calm and peace and is said to cleanse the mind of evil and temptation. The resonant sound of the bell travels for some distance so one hears it while walking through the temple and along the grounds. The bell is customarily rung before one enters the temple to spread the eternal teachings of Buddha. I made a short video of the bell being rung when I visited and I listen to it with regularity.
The Byodo-In was built entirely without nails and is a scale replica of a temple at Uji Japan that was constructed over 900 years ago. It is built to represent the mystical phoenix with its wings upheld by pillars of stone. Folklore tells of the phoenix arising from the ashes to reflect promises of hope and renewal. Isn’t that a heavenly thought? .
Architectural example of building with no nails.
This is the view from inside the temple with the water in front.
This is a meditation space on the grounds.
A view from the meditation area.
This, then, was one experience I had of heaven on earth.
It was all too short a visit. I’d return in a heartbeat.
This garden, on the grounds of St. Paul’s Como Park, was created by renowned landscape designer Masami Matsuda from Nagasaki, Japan. The garden opens today, May 1st, and remains open through September 30th. It is a blend of East and West with its ancient Japanese design principles and its hardy Minnesota plants, trees and shrubs. (For more on the blending of East and West, see the bottom of this post.)
Taking a little time out from our busy lives is both healthy and inspiring. Could you use a little more Zen in your life? Here are some definitions of Zen:
Zen, also known as Zen Buddhism:
A school of Mahayana Buddhism that asserts that enlightenment can be attained through meditation, self-contemplation, and intuition rather than through faith and devotion and that is practiced mainly in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.
a Japanese school, of 12th-century Chinese origin, teaching that contemplation of one’s essential nature to the exclusion of all else is the only way of achieving pure enlightenment.
a Buddhist doctrine that enlightenment can be attained through direct intuitive insight.
a state of sudden spiritual enlightenment.
These quotes strike me as appropriate for the topic of gardens:
We cannot see our reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see. —Taoist Proverb
We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. —Buddha
If you’ve never visited Como Park, I do recommend making the trip to see it. This Japanese Garden is just one part of an extensive park that includes a conservatory, a zoo, an orchid house, a bonsai garden, art sculptures, a restored antique carousel, a miniature golf course, a lakeside pavilion with music and food, and more. As one Chinese proverb says:
To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.
Venture forth, find a little zen and experience joy. For more information on Como Park, click the link below:
This sculpture at Nagasaki Peace Park commemorates Nagasaki’s sister-city relationship with Saint Paul, Minnesota. Saint Paul is the oldest sister city in Japan, dating back to 1955. Perhaps if we all find a little more Zen in our lives, the world at large and our own little worlds at home can experience more peace.