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The meaning of Ryoanji Zen Rock Garden

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15

龍安寺石庭15

The rock garden has 15 stones. In the East, 15 is a numeral that means perfection. because the moon becomes full moon in 15 days. Seated on the veranda of Hojo, the main hall of the temple, we can see only 14 stones . The constructor or designer of the garden intended to show imperfection in perfection. This is one of the typical conception we Japanese have.

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16 Arhats 十六羅漢

Arhat is a kind of saint who reached Nirvana. 16 Arhats is guardians of Buddha. In this hypothesis, the stones represents 15 Arhats of them. One of them is missing in the garden because it is on the way to save Buddha and Buddhism.

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753

龍安寺石庭五智五仏龍安寺石庭753

The 15 stones divided into 5 groupings. From left to right, 5, 2, 3, 2, and 3. We put the groupings together as indicated in the blue square in the photo. Each grouping consists of 7, 5, and 3 stones. In yin-yang philosophy, odd number belongs to yang and is believed to bring us good luck.

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Five Tathagatas 五智五仏/五知如来

Five Wisdom 五智

立体曼荼羅如来部

As previously indicated, the garden has five groupings of stones. In this hypothesis, we think each grouping stands for Five Tathagatas Buddhas. In Vajrayana Buddhism, they represent so-called “Five wisdom” of Vairocana.

Vairocana 大日如来

立体曼荼羅大日如来像

Vairocana represents what is beyond concept. It means what is ultimate. It is believed to be equivalent to the truth in Buddhism.

Akshobhya 阿閦如来

立体曼荼羅阿閦如来像

It tells us to see the true nature of existence as it is.

Ratnasambhava 宝生如来

立体曼荼羅宝生如来像

It tells us when we can see it as it is, everything is equal without discrimination.

Amitabha 阿弥陀如来

立体曼荼羅阿弥陀如来像

It tells us to contemplate on the equal things.

Amoghasiddhi 不空成就如来

立体曼荼羅不空如来像

It tells us to respond to them and act in a right way.

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