Inspiration of Buddha Statues

1. In Kyoto there are many temples, along with thousands of Buddha statues. Each has its own unique color and facial expression, as well as a reason and a background for its form and figure.

2. One such statue called Gogoh-shiyui-amida-butsu — cherished for its image of Buddha with “Afro hair” — is located in the Konkai Komyo-ji (temple), known as the birthplace of the Shinsen-gumi. According to the tradition, Buddha persevered in his practice of sadhana (ascetic training), seeking a way to save people from a lawless world of never-ending sadness. As a result, his hair grew longer and longer while he spent an interminable period called go-goh (five gohs) in this quest.

3. In Buddhist terms, goh is a vastly extended period of time. One goh is defined in the following way: A female angel residing in a heaven descends to earth every three years to gently touch a rock surface. She repeats this until the rock is worn away — a process that lasts one goh. Thus, five gohs is an astronomical number of years that easily extends beyond the history of the earth.

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