On our last night in Kanazawa, we had gone bowling with students from Kanazawa Seiryo University. The next morning, we left beautiful Kanazawa. It was encouraging to see Yuki, one of the students from Kanazawa Seiryo University, at the train station to bid us farewell. Our next stop was Eiheiji, and the train ride there was gorgeous. It was the perfect mixture of beautiful scenery, such as the snow-topped mountains, and the compact buildings found in each city.
Upon our arrival to the temple in Eiheiji, we were greeted by monks. We turned in some of our belongings, including our shoes, wallets, and any electronics. Afterwards, we were given slippers to wear around the temple. Then we attended orientation and had an introduction practice to zazen, which is similar to meditative sitting and a key practice in Soto Zen Buddhism. Some of us found this sitting to be difficult due to inflexibility, but we tried our hardest to get the full experience and hopefully reach enlightenment! Also, we were each given a zafu for the duration of our stay, which is a type of pillow used while sitting in zazen.
Next on our schedule was supper. This was also a challenge, but a great experience. We were given three small portion-sized bowls: the first with rice, the second with soup and tofu, and the third with a pickle and fried vegetables. We chanted sutras before we were able to eat, and then ate in silence as was their practice. When we were done eating, we cleaned our bowls with the pickle and tea provided for us. After supper, we had another session of zazen before bed.
We're excited to see what else is in store for us during the rest of our monastic experience!