Two of the papers at the Symposium concerned different kinds of projects underway in the US state of California. The differences between these two papers were striking.
Keisho Leary described his work in establishing and developing California Tendai Monastery, and laid out his vision for it as specifically as one could given the time constraints. This is representative of Keisho sensei's vision:
CTM wishes to fulfill a small niche under the large and diverse Tendai umbrella of kengyo and mikkyo, householders and renunciates, scholars and practitioners, and men and women. That small niche is for those men who wish to lead a monastic life, that is, the full-time religious life of a renuncate, while maintaining the rules of celibacy, vegetarian diet, and abstention from intoxicants, along with other precepts of the bodhisattva path. And because of the monastery's extensive natural surroundings, forest-dwelling seclusion is also a real possibility [...] Full-time residency at the monastery will be limited to monks and aspirants. However there is also a program of religious practice for householders, both men and women, consisting of weekend visits devoted to participation in Shugendo activites such as kaji kito, saito goma, and kaihogyo.
Strongly believing that religion should not be a business, we will provide all teachings, practices and facilities free-of-charge, in line with the saying, "the bodhisattva is for giving, not for taking." It is frequently asked, "How do you support your monastery?" The answer is that the monks themselves, once they have reached the stage of fully-committed monks, will support the monastery. Truly they have faith in the words of Dengyo Daishi: "Doshin no naka ni ejiki ari; ejiki no naka ni doshin nashi." Roughly translated, this is, "In following the Bodhisattva Path there will be food and clothes, but in food and clothes there is no Bodhisattva Path."
In contrast to the specificity with which Keisho sensei laid out current and future developments at CTM, the last paper of the symposium, "Dharma Activities and Overseas Mission & the Future of Tendai Buddhism" by Ryoei Tyler of Hawaii Tendai Institute's California Learning Center, was a bit of a puzzler for me. Ryoei sensei proceeded at a high level of abstraction, roping in concepts from mathematics. I was no longer able to follow her argument after this sentence:
It shows that two seemingly unrelated quantities, namely, curvature and Euler characteristic are related; the integral of the Gaussian curvature over a surface is equal to the topological property of the surface multiplied by 2 π
Meanwhile, before I could figure out what the Gauss Bonnet Theorem meant in terms of practical Dharma activities in the Sacramento Valley, I had to reckon with the question of whether an analysis of quantity was warranted to describe the fundamentally qualitative
phenomenon that is religious life, experience, and activity. With apologies to Rev. Tyler, I still don't get it. Regardless, the paper concluded with a kind of reflection on the structure of samsara, the historical and phenomenal world:
What is happening to one entity is, in fact, the end result of the totality of the history of the universe and the effects of the totality of what is happening to everything (human, animals, fish, plants, rocks, air, water to name a few in the universe. The transmission of the teachings of Buddhism is the same. What we are doing is the end result of the totality of the history of the universe.
I plan to continuously reflect on the relationship of local and global point of view and to transmit the teachings of Dengyou Daishi Saicho as a local organization in Sacramento California and also as a part of the whole of the Overseas Mission of Tendai Buddhism.
I would very much like to learn a little bit about how this organization, the California Learning Center, operates locally and as a part of the Overseas Mission, apropos of the relation between local and global structures. What's going on day to day, or week to week, at this center?
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