I have now returned myself, from Japan. As Jikan sensei has articulated so well the Symposium itself was an excellent opportunity to connect not only with Tendai Japan, but also those all around the globe working so hard to bring Tendai to their corner. Again as Jikan Sensei mentioned, Hieizan is a truly spiritual place, and it is well worth the effort required in getting there, to anyone Tendai or otherwise, who wishes to make contact with that 'old-time' spirituality/ Buddhism that is fast disappearing in the contemporary context.
This was my second time to Hieizan, but was no less treasurable an experience than the first. Entering the Konponchudo is like entering into another world. As you pass through the entrance and walk along the covered walkway up into the Hondo itself, the structure gives the impression that 'outside' is no longer there. After the Symposium was over, I spent a few more days in Japan and went back up the mountain again, and was fortunate enough to listen to a sermon in the Konponchudo, which seemed to touch upon this feeling. The Monk mentioned the fact that when we enter into these places where Buddhist practice has been undertaken sincerely for generation upon generation, we enter into that sincerity. What we are outside does not matter- we are part of this lineage of practice that stretches back long before us, and will stretch on long after 'us'.
The Museum on Hieizan is also a very humbling experience. One of the first items is Dengyo Daishi's Treasure of a nation (国の宝は何物ぞ). Being able to look at the manuscript itself, and read along with it, felt like I was reading it with Daishi sama himself. Other magnificent items included the life size statue of Ryogen sama which many know from the cover of the book on the man.
It was fantastic to meet Jikan sensei, Cloudwater sensei face to face, and to extend greetings to all the other Tendai'ists'. I hope these connections are maintained and strengthened in the future. Likewise, I would like to express my well-wishes for Ganshin sensei and hope that he is informed of the proceedings in due course. I also hope that I may make his acquaintance in the near future.
Thank you for your kind words regarding Ara sensei, Jiryo sensei, and Ryoei sensei's papers Jikan sensei. I will pass them on. You are quite right about Ara sensei's speech. He discussed those things he has achieved over the last forty years. He explained that Jion Haba sensei was the figure responsible for the overseas mission, without whom, Tendai largely had no interest in overseas proselytising. He also expressed sincere humility and apologised to the Tendai establishment and lineage for not having achieved more in that time. He asked that Tendai and more specifically the Jigyodan nurture those seeds he has planted and the overseas Tendai mission.
Please pass on my well wishes and admiration to Monshin sensei. I was glad to finally be able to put a person to the successes of the New York Betsuin.
I know Ryoei sensei, and I too was a little lost during here speech- Mathematics has never been a strength of mine. Discussing with her later, it seemed her point was to discuss the intersubjectivity central to Tendai thought, and suggest that that requires as much interest from the overseas missions in Japanese Tendai, and also by Japanese Tendai in the overseas missions.
Meeting His Holiness Venerable Kojun Handa, current Zasu of Tendai was another wonderful experience. For a very elderly man, his Shomyo, and genki-ness was immensely inspiring. At the feast afterwards, myself, Jiryo sensei, and Shomon sensei were introduced to him personally. His Holiness spoke to Shomon sensei about his time in the Scandinavia and relayed a rather comical story- during a trip there to perform Shomyo, he needed the bathroom but did not possess the linguistic skills necessary to express said desire. He then praised her for her activities and encouraged her to continue. He told Jiryo sensei to keep working hard and talked to him about how hot Australia might be when we returned. Then I introduced myself and expressed my respect. His response to me was short but to the point- "ah you! I have heard about you, you will go to Gyoin. I don't need to tell you what to do, you know where the road ahead goes. I will talk to you when that is done." I must admit I did feel like someone in their own 'Zen story'.
I think the Symposium for me highlighted the need for us all to consolidate. I realised that many of the resources we have at the Hawaii Betsuin are only immediately available to those of us who are students of Ara Sensei. Likewise, we do not have immediate access to the resources at the New York Betsuin and so forth. Having discussed this with Ara sensei, and to Monshin sensei somewhat, I hope we can all work to remedy these situations. P.S I really enjoyed hearing you guys from New York and connected Sogya chant the heart sutra in English, very interesting.
Any questions about the proceedings, feel free to ask guys.
"There are no seperate dharma's in the Three Realms. There is only the operation of the one mind."
"Whoever wishes to benefit beings ought to establish teachings that fit their capacities, expound the dharma in accordance with their capacities, and match the doctrines to them"