In 1999, when Akira announced brightly that we were to spend two weeks in the Head Temple in Japan, I was elated. I had managed to accumulate enough virtue after introducing large numbers of villagers to the Kyudo. We would go from village to village, meeting the headmen and arranging to have the ceremony performed in their temples.
My trip to Japan reinforced my belief that I had found the way to happiness at last. I hoped the chief Sensei, who they referred to as Zennin, would allow me to take the Ritzugan Oath that would help me bring light and enlightenment to father. Akira made me rehearse my request to Zennin in Japanese.
“Anita san,” said Radhika, the Indian sanyasin, “you don’t know how blessed you are. It is heaven on earth there, and you’ll meet Zennin. She is really fantastic.”
I admire Radhika. A former cricket champ on the state level, this brilliant young woman is the only Indian sanyasin in Sentendaido.
Akira hugged me. “Few people get to enter the main Temple. Your virtue is ripe.”
“Pray your journey is smooth,” said Sensei, “and you are able to get to the Temple. Devotees change so much after a visit. Your great transformation will happen, Anita san.”
“You mean something can stop me from getting to the temple now?” I asked, and then I remembered Sensei telling me about the devotees who at the last moment, had to give up their plans about their visit to the main temple.
“I will pray,” I said. “But it’s fated, isn’t it, Sensei?”
The temple girls clapped their hands with delight.
Three women including me and two men embarked on that journey in the company of Akira san. Throughout the flight, Akira, who sat next to me, told me to pray I’d get to the Temple. My anticipation grew like a gigantic balloon as we covered more and more air miles. Every moment seemed to me an inner adventure to learn and discover, shed and acquire. How I loved The Way of Heaven as they referred to Sentendaido!
As we flew over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I told Akira san, “I’d love to visit these cities.”
I was curious. I wanted to see what the atomic bomb had done to the people and the cities.
“The vibrations there are too heavy and negative, Anita san. People still suffer with blood cancer, and when the bomb dropped, it became so hot, people ran for the river which was boiling, and turned into shadows.”
Those visions haunted me for a long time.
When we reached the airport, the most senior of the gurus greeted us. I saw familiar faces – holy teachers who had been to the Temple in Bangalore, and whose smiles of welcome were dazzling.
The elderly Mushima Sensei drove the two men to the Temple in a Rolls, while we three women got into the latest Mercedes Benz with Hiroto Sensei, who I thought of as ‘the Diamond Sensei’, for he wore his jade Maitreya pendant on a chain studded with diamonds. On a visit to India, he had spoken of how he had acquired his great wealth through his dedication to The Way. “Look after the Temple,” he’d said, “and Roubo will look after you.” He would travel to far-off places like the ice deserts of Mongolia to perform the Ceremony, yet his business always took care of itself. Although ‘Roubo’ is referred to as ‘the mother of all creation’, she is not the creator. She simply embodies the creative force of nature.
I was amazed at Hiroto Sensei’s Toyota car and its navigation system which showed exactly where we were heading. It was night. As we flew across the flawless highways of Japan, no sight seemed as important as the great stone Maitreya waiting to greet me at the entrance to the Temple. I had seen it in photographs and videos. Soft English love songs played on the car’s music system.
Akira sat in the front seat, laughing and chatting with Hiroto Sensei who kept turning around to tell us how happy he was to see us in Japan. It was clear to me that all cultivators of The Way were created equal, no matter who they were or where they came from.