14May2011: Ambassador Virasakdi Futrakul (Kingdom of Thailand)
Message from His Excellency Virasakdi Futrakul, Ambassador to Japan of the Kingdom of Thailand
My wife and I as well as a Minister Counsellor of the Royal Thai Embassy in Tokyo were invited by the Kagawa Prefecture to participate in the 7th Shikoku 88-Temple Circuit Experience during 13-14 May 2011. We were greeted with warm hospitality and accorded excellent arrangements. All the officials of the Kagawa Prefecture from Governor Hamada down were friendly and gracious. I am sure all visitors to the Prefecture will feel, as I did, that they are genuinely welcome by the officials and the people of Kagawa. The visit to the Ritsurin Park deeply impressed me about the hard work and patience involved in cultivating this Park for more than three hundred years until it is today an emerald oasis in the midst of the capital of Kagawa. The natural yet disciplined beauty of the Ritsurin Park reflects in my mind the classical Japanese culture. The view from the three-hundred-year-old tea house of the little islands floating on the shimmering water in the pond brings to mind the words of the British poet, Wordsworth, that one can see the whole world in a grain of sand. Here in the Ritsurin Park, one can see the universe by contemplating the microcosm in the pond, where as the legend goes, one can scoop the moon in one's hands from the water reflecting the full moon. The next day, we joined a group of English-language teachers trekking on foot to visit the Daikoji, Jinein and Kanonji Temples dressing in white as befits the henros, or pilgrims, walking meditatively to seek enlightenment. The journey also reflects the nature of a modern pilgrimage, taking us from the rural scenes through a modern city, reminding us that even though we live in the twenty-first century, our hunger and search for the meaning of our existence do not differ significantly from those of our forebears. The words of Kukai, the native son of Kagawa who became a famous monk and today is hailed as "a universal man," come to mind, "do not just follow the footsteps of the men of old but seek what they sought." Each person in his or her generation must seek the meaning of his or her life by himself or herself. As The Buddha in his Kalama Sutra advises, "do not believe because I or your parents or your teachers said so. Find out for yourself." Thanks to The 88-Temple Circuit, its experience will facilitate one's search for the meaning of one's life. Perhaps, as T.S. Eliot points out, you may emerge from this pilgrimage with a new understanding that the answer is already there where you started your search.. The 88-Temple Circuit, in providing us with natural beauty, the tranquil environment of the Temples as well as the challenge of spiritual disciplines in our search for contemporary meaning , therefore deserves to be recognized as a World Heritage for mankind.
Virasakdi and Aumaporn Futrakul