Nehan-zu (Picture of Parinirvana)
A picture of passing of Shkayamuni Buddha is called Nehan-zu in Japanese. As a custom of Nirvana Day Service in Japan, most of the Buddhist temples exhibit this kind of scroll in February. Here at Koloa Jodo Mission, we observed this service with this Nehan-zu on February 28.
After seeing this restored scroll, I was very grateful to my father who sponsored this restoration. At first, I was not certain if I should fix this scroll. So I asked my childhood friend who is a professional paper-hanger to estimate the cost, when I went to Japan. If possible, I wanted him to fix only upper part of the scroll which I thought not so expensive. But he told me estimate was about $2,500. Wow...this was way over my budget. Then I asked my father to find a place to fix it. After all, he asked a member of my home temple for restoration. There was a great discount but it cost...still over $1,000. Then my father donated this repairing. Now, I think whether restoration was worth or not should be up to the minister. By making the most use of the picture, it will become more and more valuable and I can call it "a good investment."
They say Japanese temples are rich. But that's not so true. Temples just need lots of money because every Buddhist tools, decorations, adornments and even a monk's cloths and robes are so expensive. This restored picture scroll is one of the examples. In order to maintain a tradition, it surely cost a lot.
It is so true...beautiful and solemn Buddhist services are supported by the expensive things. But if they are too expensive, we need to return to the starting point to think about what people really want?
Shakyamuni Buddha expressed it in a very simple way, "By birth, one is not an outcast, by birth one is not a Brahmin; by action one is an outcast, and by action one a Brahmin." (Sutta Nipata)
So Buddha's heart can be rephrased like this, " By robe, one is not a high priest, by action one can be high or low." or "By what temple has, one is not a good temple, by what temple does can be a good temple or bad.