The first post on this contained much explanation of various features and principles involving Toriis. This one takes all that for granted and is more of an actual Haibun which is a combination of prose piece and accompanying haiku. I place the haiku immediately beneath the image so the two can be contemplated together after the prose piece has been digested.
forever facing East
mirroring golden sun from heaven
rippling flaming lake
From a Diary fragment written in the early 1900’s recovered recently by the author’s granddaughter who lives today near this area:
“In Great Grandfather’s time before the Restoration, when topknots still commanded respect and samurai walked with samurai swagger, our collective sense of Dharma was strong, as strong as the presence of Death which every warrior embraces every moment of every day. Our great Daimyo observed both Shinto and Buddhist protocols not out of mere duty but from his profound realization of sacred perception. The area around the bay featured several monasteries and lovely gardens where both nobles and common people could contemplate Nature and practice zazen. Any small vessel entering this area by sea had to pass through this Torii. (Larger vessels used port facilities further down the coast.) The Torii thus served as a portal through which those from outside attuned themselves to enter this particular domain where our Daimyo and his people were practicing the Dharma of seeing all phenomena as a self-existing display within a collective mandala of sacred wakefulness. Some call this Enlightened Society. This Torii, seemingly floating free in the middle of a body of water, immediately communicates such sacred perception. Locals jokingly called it the Samsara-Nirvana* Gate, the idea being that those coming from outside were samsaric but once they passed through its portal they were sufficiently purified to appreciate the sacred mandala on the other side.”
The seed syllable notice on the Torii contains five main characters: Man journeying – samsara – letting go/renunciation – liberation/rebirth – fresh zen mind. Translated into poetic form they can read:
journeying through endless samsara
abandon your collected burden to the deep
and be here reborn:
fresh, awake and naked!
the journey is the goal
one portal into another
* Note: there will soon be another Buddhism 101 Article about Samsara and Nirvana – more great notions like mandala for which there are no obvious western equivalents.
Hexagram Note: The first photograph, amongst many other things, presents an image of Fire within a Lake which is Hexagram 49 Molting as in a snake molting its skin which is some sense of renewal, revolution. A fitting condition with which to enter a situation ‘fresh, awake and naked!’