Ninja at the Temple Hall
During the summer vacation, an overnight camp happens here in this temple hall, too. We all lie down on the floor like people in a slave ship, the latter of which I later learned about in the world history class. I am not kidding. There is no space between our bodies, and nobody is allowed to move from where they are assigned to sleep. Technically, both sides of our bodies are touching someone’s skin. If not someone’s skin, it is a wall. To clarify, no one is able to move any of their body parts. The only thing about this that is better than a slave ship is that we only do this on one night. The reality that you have to sleep like this is shocking enough that your common sense is betrayed, and you cannot remember to do minor things, even things as simple as remembering to be quiet after lights off. Two seconds after the lights go off, I start hearing someone snoring. As I get familiar with the snoring sound as a kind of sounding rhythm, I, too, join La-la land. At that second, a neighbor’s leg attacks my belly. Ouch! I learn quickly that a deep sleeper’s body is twice as heavy than their regular weight. My attempt to roll over is unsuccessful due to the limited space. The person on my other side is quite active, too. Her fingers cover my neck.
My mind keeps swaying between reality and dream for a long time while I protect myself from the people’s random body parts surrounding me. I get a kick to the top of my head, too. It wakes me up instantly. This person already turned himself around 180 degrees. I remember his head was touching my head before lights off. I wouldn’t have been so optimistic and thought to sleep until the next morning if only I had known that the most terrifying moments were around the corner.
Something touches my right upper face. This object is hard on the outside but not terribly hard on the inside. Its pressure doesn’t stop until it gradually sinks completely into my cheek. “Ouch! You are stepping on my face!” I murmur with a dreamy voice. “Sorry,” Ms. Hori whispers. Ms. Hori stepped on my face! She might have skillfully walked through tiny spaces before, like a Ninja, however, she is not quite skilled like a real Ninja tonight. I am the primary practice obstacle for her master Ninja-walking training. Tonight, I involuntarily sacrificed my face for the Ninja training. This kind of sacrifice itself is not a totally negative experience if you are a typical student in a Buddhist school. Or is it a kind of ordeal? Do I have to experience this to be a good person, just because it is happening in the temple hall? I simply wish I had a sophisticated definition of “sacrifice” during this overnight camp in the temple hall. Without any answers, it is just painful.
This temple activity hall itself is the reason my school chose an elephant symbol for the bus; it is a symbol of Buddha. Sacrifice and ordeal are some parts of the Buddha package you have to go through, at least during a summer camp. Unlike its painful image, the children’s classrooms sound cheerful. The one 3-year-old room is called the Plum class, the two 4-year old classes are the Stars and the Moons, and the two 5-year-old classes are the Cherry Room and the Peach Room. We students are as adorable as the classroom names. At the same time, our school often expects us to excel beyond our potential as if just being in the Buddhist School instantly makes you a respectful Buddhist. An example of this is when we were not allowed to move while we stayed in the temple hall in the camp as. Its tormenting discipline is the exclusive reflection of the painfully strict ordeals that Buddha has experienced himself. On the other hand, its educational beliefs, such as “compassion” that Buddha taught, are implemented and delivered by the loving teachers, like Ms. Aoki.