TBN #420: Travelling Together in Pair
- From TBN, issue 420
- Travelling Together in Pair
- By Living Buddha Lian-Sheng, Sheng-Yen Lu
- Translated by Cheng Yew Chung. Edited by TBN
I remember in my book,
Life as an Ocean of Emptiness: Pilgrimage to Kobo Daishi's Eighty-Eight
Temples of Shikoku, I once wrote these words:
When we first encountered the Japanese pilgrims of the esoteric
sect, we noted these four words, "travelling together in pair" written
on their straw hats and shoulder bags. When we first saw this phrase,
we were puzzled. Why "travelling together in pair"?
Later, our tour guide, Mr. Zeng Tai Yen, explained, "All pilgrims
have the firm belief that Kobo Daishi, despite his physical passing,
still illuminates every Dharma realm in his Dharma body. While the
pilgrim appears to be making his clockwise pilgrimage around the
circuit of the eighty-eight temples individually, he is always in
the company of Kobo Daishi, Kukai-hence, the phrase, "travelling
together in pair".
The explanation makes perfect sense to me, and I believe the words.
Subsequently, while living in solitude during my retreat at Leaf
Lake, I gained a completely new understanding of the phrase, "travelling
together in pair".
I believe the Buddha is always with me. And I do have a deep understanding
of his teachings. In my journey through the ocean of life, I find
no other companion except the Buddha himself. The Buddha and I are
thus "travelling together".
The words, travelling together, carry multiple meanings.
It means having a companion as my teacher, as my friend. It also
means the relationship between my self and the True Self.
Why do I include "my self" and the "True Self"? "My self" refers
to Living Buddha Lian-Sheng, Sheng-Yen Lu. The "True Self" refers
to the Buddha Nature, the True Reality. Isn't this "travelling together
in pair"? Another way of saying this is that the True Self is like
the shadow that trails behind us, always accompanying us. One is
the visible physical body, the other is the enlightened mind of
In the Surangama Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha spoke to Ananda clearly
on the reality of the True Tathagata Mind:
Bodhi is inherently pure; just use this mind, and you will directly
To me, "travelling together in pair" means the Buddha and I are
inseparable. Together we are one, and as one reality, you shall
find the two of us.