Japanese Tendai offers a traditional form of Buddhism that is perhaps best suited to this post-modern environment. It is inclusive, eclectic, and it transcends polarization. There are a wide variety of practices and a rich interplay between the absolute and provisional worlds. It defies fundamentalism at the same time it eschews 'new age' self-importance. [...]
In discussions about what Tendai should look like outside of Japan with laity and those who seek ordination there is a common complaint. Comments consistently aired have been, 'Japanese Tendai is excessively Japanese, Tendai should be more American or Western', 'it is based on medieval socio-historic-economic values', 'it is very hierarchic', etc.
I disagree. The forgoing attitudes are parochial; often egoecentric. Of course Japanese Tendai is Japanese with a strong sense of history and hierarchy. it has evolved over a 1200 year period. Before we claim a Western or country specific form of Tendai, one needs to have a broader, less narrow-minded view of Tendai. Those who employ a more thorough appraisal of Japanese Buddhism are aware of just how much change Tendai has undergone since the mid-19th century, and especially in the last 30 years. It does need to adapt, but not in ways that the critics often cite. Many forms of Buddhism, including International Tendai, are looking at short term growth and development by accomodating social trends that compromise basic Buddhist values. Among these trends is the tendency to subordinate the practices and teachings to a common denominator, to make the practices easy rather than challenging and inspiring. Spiritual growth is not easy, it is not intended to be a hobby or an activity for dilettantes. Tendai Buddhadharma is a sacred path that leads to a better life and world. [...]
I propose the basis of International Tendai, for laity and ordained, should be awakening of the participant through practices, devotion, and study. This in turn leads to positive contributions to self, family, society, and the environment, engaged service to others, integration of the sacred and the provisional to attain peace and equanimity on earth and an assurance of liberation, now and in the future.
Seishin wrote:That is very interesting and I agree with Monshin-Sensei there.
growth depends on 'Impetus and Nourishment'. 'Unity and Uniformity', can also be placed under these. In order for overseas Tendai Shu to grow, it requires impetus from its source. This means firstly, Hieizan itself needs to provide the means/impetus to invest in its own (Tendai Shu) survival.
Tendai Shu has been a solely Japanese Buddhist tradition for over a 1,000 years and has incorporated elements in to itself to meet the needs of the Japanese people. However, Buddhism is also universal as indeed Tendai philosophy is also universal and therefore can be applied, with thought and care, almost anywhere. But this requires some measure of change and flexibility.
Seishin wrote:Funnily enough, I was thinking the same thing but wasn't sure about posting it as I don't really want to upset anyone. It most definitely takes two to tango! Hieizan and Japan have a wealth of knowledge which is begging to be translated and shared but they also need to know that "we" are committed enough to use that knowledge. We have to show that we are committed and willing to travel for teachings to study hard and practice. And by unified in our commitment
The next step is to introduce more of Dengyo Daishi's teachings specifically. But to do this effectively we would require additional support from Japan, ideally by sending us an English speaking Japanese monk to assist us, but so far my appeal for such a person has not been fulfilled.
I shall therefore continue to do the best I can with what I have.
The comment that I often receive is "I am glad you speak and understand English." Being bi-lingual is an asset.
This is a fundamental question: what can Tendai-shu offer to contemporary Americans that no other Buddhist teaching, and really no other kind of activity, can offer? I would like to suggest three answers to this question, recognizing that there are surely many more, because they show how Tendai Buddhism can make a contribution to people's lives that nothing else can.
1. The Ekayana teachings of the Lotus Sutra tell us that all beings have the capacity for Buddhahood. It follows that all beings are ultimately united and equal, even if appearances say otherwise. This idea is very powerful and very healing in the United States, where deep divisions persist in terms of race, region, class, gender, and politics.
2. This means Tendai-shu has a way to bring people together, to co-operate, to build meaningful relationships on the basis of the Buddha's teachings (go-en). I am told we are very sociable and community-oriented, in comparison to other Buddhist groups in the U.S. This characteristic is appreciated by our regular sangha members. I appreciate it very much myself.
3. At the same time, the variety of practices available in Tendai-shu, as compared to the single-practice schools or forms of meditation taught by psychotherapists, is most appropriate to serve a very diverse community. We have a saying: “you have to meet people where they are.”
I have reason to believe that if we emphasize these three characteristics in working with laypeople, then Tendai-shu will have a bright future in the United States.
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."
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
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.
1. a small room dedicated to Amida Buddha, which is now almost completed 90%;
2. A larger room dedicated to the Buddha Shakyamuni;
3. A Dojo built entirely in wood and eco-friendly material for the practice of Budo and other disciplines coming from oriental experience;
4. A stupa;
5. Some small wooden houses for the accommodation of persons.
Now, around 300 families belong to the Tendai Sangha. We use our Dharma Centre for sangha meetings, study classes and other events, and we have small groups in all of Denmark's four biggest cities, all of which meet locally on weekly or monthly basis. This means that no person in DK is more than a good 100km away from a Tendai group
Besides the monthly goma ceremony, we conduct ceremonies for O-Higan, O-bon, anniversary of deceased, Setsubon (The bean-throwing festival to welcome New Year) and weddings. These Buddhist ceremonies are primarily for Japanese Brazilians. For these ceremonies, we need to explain the meaning of the offering and why we need an alter and a cenotaph. These explanations are important because some Japanese-Brazilians who have converted into other religion(s) request us to take possession of their family altars and everythign that goes with the altars. many modern Japanese-Brazilians do not know the reason why they have the altar and cenotaphs in their homes. We give a Dharma talk in Portuguese only when many of the attendees are young Brazilians. We conduct funeral services also, however, we have to bury the corpse the day after one has passed away because of the difference in our culture. Because of this, the time the families and friends of the deceased have a reduced time with their loved one compared to Japanese style Buddhist funeral ceremony. For the services for prayers, we mainly listen to their problems at home or work, and we conduct services for pacifying spirits or purification for a car, office and house. We also perform the service for Yaku-doshi: unfortunate years based on a traditional Japanese astrology.
At Mt. Chikei a Big Buddha Service is held on February 6th and Zenjorin Annual Festival Service is held on February 8th. We also have services on the New Moon and the Full Moon every month, Buddha's birthday in May, Attaining Enlightenment and Vesakha Nirvana Full Moon Ceremony. Twenty thousand to 30,000 people attend the services on February 6th and 8th, and thousands of people attend services for Full Moon and such. Zenjorin Temple and Mt. Chikei play a huge role in the revival of Buddhism in India.
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