DrLang wrote:Tantric Buddhism in East Asia was probably not a good place to start. You need a better foundation. I would suggest The Weaving of Mantra. It is still academic in nature, but gives you most of the background you need to absorb it. It will also help you understand what is historically supported and what is likely pure legend. I believe you will have a hard time finding anything on the level of Extraordinary Zen Masters, at least not in English. Shingon Buddhism simply does not have the popularity in the West needed to fuel a casual reading book economy. The closest you might get is a booklet I bought from a local temple called something like Kukai: Words for Our Time (I have it lent out, so I can't look up the exact title). It gives an overview of the teachings of Shingon Buddhism. I don't think it's available anywhere online.
Exoteric teachings are the Mahayana teachings. As far as I understand, there is nothing unique about the Shingon take on Mahayana scripture aside from the Esoteric reading that can be taken from them.
ylee111 wrote:Having said that, what are some good books and websites that explain the exoteric beliefs and practices of the Shingon school? I am looking for text that is nonacademic and somewhat insider in nature.
ylee111 wrote:With exoteric teachings I mean material that is open for the public and not just for initiates ie mudras and mandalas lay people not yet indoctrinated in Shingon can learn about.
ylee111 wrote:http://www.shingon.org/sbii/books/books.html Seishin, are these folks not legite?
DrLang, I am not a complete beginner as I am somewhat familiar with the some of the figures and basic tenets since I was a child (my family are for the most post nonpracticing Chinese Pureland Buddhists though they also at times identify as Taoists). I have been reading about Buddhism for the past couple of years (on and off) and visiting temples around New York City whether they be Chinese Chan, Fo Guang Shan, Korean Chogye Seon, Chinese Pureland, Jodo Shinshu, or Thai Maha Nikaya. I plan to visit a Chogye Seon temple next week to take a meditation class. However, I want to learn about as many Mahayana (and some Theravada and Vajrayana) sects as possible. The school I am most interested in learning about however, is the Shingon Shu, which unfortunately is not located in New York. Thus I want to read about them as much possible.
Slightly off topic: If I visit NIchiren Shoshu's Myosetsuji Temple in New York, do you think as an outsider, possibly not looking to be indoctrinated into the school, they would let me purchase books on Nichiren Shoshu?
DrLang wrote:If you're in New York and can make a road trip, you might consider going to visit Rev. Tanaka in Vermont. You might want to send him an email if you're interested because it looks like he's often not there.
pueraeternus wrote:From the biography on the website, it seems Rev Tanaka no longer resides in Vermont and has returned to Japan since the closure of the Mandala Buddhist Center in 1999. It seems he does visit his students in Vermont once a year or so though. But unfortunately this means there isn't a permanent Shingon acharya in the North-East for now.
DrLang wrote:pueraeternus wrote:From the biography on the website, it seems Rev Tanaka no longer resides in Vermont and has returned to Japan since the closure of the Mandala Buddhist Center in 1999. It seems he does visit his students in Vermont once a year or so though. But unfortunately this means there isn't a permanent Shingon acharya in the North-East for now.
However, it appears that some of his followers are still active as the blog has been updated in the later half of 2013 and their calendar shows weekly practice sessions. They may be formed as a Daishiko under Rev. Tanaka's guidance. I think it would be worth trying to contact the group. Their practice sessions appear to be more than the typical layperson service.
pueraeternus wrote:DrLang wrote:Interesting - thanks DrLang.
For such a group, do you know to what extent would they be able to share their practices with newcomers? I suppose any new aspirants would still need to eventually meet Rev. Tanaka when he visits?
DrLang wrote:I have no idea. Generally the extent to which an acarya will share esoteric practices seems to vary a lot. It looks like one of the weekly practices may include recitation of the Rishukyo, which is an esoteric text. That is more than I would normally expect.
DrLang wrote:Speaking of Mandala Vermont, apparently they have an active Facebook page where they keep their events logged.