“Thank you” to Country

Within the grounds of my home temple on Mt Koya, there stands a small Shinto shrine that enshrines the local indigenous spirits of the earth, water, trees and sky. Part of the daily morning ritual for the community of monks and nuns is to stand on the open verandah, facing the shrine in the garden to offer thanks for to the native deities for their continued presence and protection. It is a reverent act of gratitude to Nature.

For over a thousand years, Shinto shrines have co-existed within the same grounds as Buddhist temples throughout Japan, with the two religions supporting each other: simply put, Shinto honoured the spirits of nature, Buddhism honoured the ancestors.

And here where I live, on Bindjareb Country in the Noongar Nation, as part of my daily ritual when I open up the doors to Wabi’an to greet the morning, I recite a prayer in Noongar that was generously written and gifted to me by local Elder, George Walley, in which I thank the spirits and the ancestors for taking care of Country and all who dwell upon it. Just as in Japan, this is a reverent act of gratitude to the local spirits of the earth, water, trees and sky.

In this part of the world, the Noongar word for “thank you” is “yaankga”. You can hear George pronouncing this word here. What is the First Nations word for “thank you” where you live? Why not make it a part of your daily routine to express your gratitude to the spirits of Country in their local language?

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