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  • Writer's pictureRev. Eko Noble

The Spirit of Compassion

The Eight Patriarch and transmitter of the early Vajrayana/Mantrayana teachings to Japan, now known as Shingon Buddhism, was Kobo Daishi Kukai (774-835 CE)

©Reihokan Museum, Mt. Koya.

In addition to bringing a substantial amount of new Buddhist literature, philosophy and material art back to Japan from his sojourn in Xian, China, Kukai returned with new irrigation and civil engineering knowledge as well. One of Kukai's engineering projects still stands today on the island of Shikoku, Manno-Ike (Manno-Pond) (

This recent story of the great compassion of Dr. Tetsu Nakamura, ( a Japanese physician who treated leprosy, recently murdered in Afghanistan is moving and perhaps a modern example of how the desire to help those in need prompted skillful expansion of mission to include civil engineering and the building of irrigation canals, uncannily similar to Kukai's engineering contributions in the 9th century.

I wonder of the archetypal example of Kukai, so central in Japanese culture, somehow found expression in the compassionate lifework of Dr. Nakamura? We shall perhaps never know, but this may be an example of how ancient stories and examples contribute to modern cultural expressions of compassion, kindness and great courage. Condolences to Dr. Nakamura's family, the nation of Japan who lost a great citizen and

to the Afghan citizens who loved him.

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