Shingon resources?

Shingon resources?

Postby ylee111 » Sun Jan 05, 2014 6:03 am

In the Spirit of Zen, Alan Watts mentioned that many Buddhist schools revere the power of knowledge to that extent that it is not taught en mass. I understand that as a school that mostly practices Mikkyo, silence is a great virture. 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. This is because I read (or attempted to atleast) Tantric Buddhism in East Asia and was not able to finish or absorb much. I rather read something more along the lines of John Steven's excellent classic Extraordinary Zen Masters.
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Re: Shingon resources?

Postby DrLang » Sun Jan 05, 2014 7:49 am

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.
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Re: Shingon resources?

Postby reddust » Sun Jan 05, 2014 8:03 am

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.


I've read the Weaving Of the Mantra, it is a BIG BOOK! But it is very good and also I have Kukai, Major Works, translated, with an account of his life and a study of his thought by Yoshito S. Hakeda. I haven't read this book yet but it's in my "real book" not digital book library waiting for me.

Kukai was an amazing person, needless to say most of The Weaving Of Mantra was way over my head, but I am sure treading the water was good for me even though I felt I almost drowned. I wanted to understand Mantra better, I had no idea what I was getting into :namaste:
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Re: Shingon resources?

Postby dearreader » Sun Jan 05, 2014 9:56 am

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.


Dear Ylee111,

Shingon Buddhism shares many of the same exoteric teachings as any other Mahayana school. What do you mean by exoteric beliefs? As is mentioned earlier Kobo Daishi did teach that exoteric texts have esoteric meaning. I believe the analogy was something along the lines of small rocks look like rocks to us but to a trained gemologist some appear as precious and semi-precious gems.

An example is Kukai's teachings on the Heart Sutra: http://www.koyasan-u.ac.jp/mikkyobunka/ ... thomas.pdf

More can be found in the book: Kukai on the Philosophy of Language which is available from Amazon Japan but perhaps it is too academic for most readers.

I hope this was helpful.
"Inscribed with the brush of Mt. Sumeru and the ink of the seas,
Heaven-and-earth itself is the sutra book.
All phenomena are encompassed in even a single point therein,
And the six sense objects are all included within its covers."
-Kukai, translated in Kukai on the Philosophy of Language by Takagi and Dreitlein
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Re: Shingon resources?

Postby ylee111 » Sun Jan 05, 2014 6:25 pm

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.
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Re: Shingon resources?

Postby Seishin » Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:33 pm

There isn't in Shingon I'm afraid. And if anyone were to find something on the internet you can bet your bottom dollar it would not be true Shingon.

Gassho
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Re: Shingon resources?

Postby DrLang » Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:55 pm

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.

Mudras, mantras, and mandalas are all part of the esoteric teaching and practices. The exoteric teachings are those shared by other Mahayana schools of Buddhism. That is to say, those teachings expounded by the Nirmanakaya (the historical Buddha, ignoring academic discrepancies about whether or not Mahayana sutras were actually the teaching of the Buddha).

What is your starting point here? Are you new to Buddhism in general? Or are you simply interested in extending your study to the Shingon school?
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Re: Shingon resources?

Postby ylee111 » Wed Jan 08, 2014 2:10 am

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?
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Re: Shingon resources?

Postby Seishin » Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:33 am

Hi Ylee, the links are legit, but not what you had originally asked for. Mudras, mandalas rituals and most Mantras in Shingon are only for the ordained. There are some mantras available for lay people but compared with Tibetan Buddhism, Shingon Vajrayana practices (mikkyo) is for ordained members only.

To clarify my earlier statement; You might find some information about mudras, mantras and mandalas but you'll most likely find that it is not approved by Koyasan. The ones that are approved recommend you find a teacher to teach you them.

If you want to learn Shingon you are best to go to a Koyasan approved temple. There you may be taught some lay approved mantras and maybe some meditations based on the mandalas. But if you want to learn mantras, mudras and mandala rituals you will have to ordain.

Learning about Shingon shu is great and there are some links to be found on this forum :twothumbsup: , but it is best to find a teacher to guide you. And, like Tendai, there isn't much available in English about Shingon compared with other schools of Buddhism.

I hope I've been able to clarify a few points.
Gassho,
Seishin

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?
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Re: Shingon resources?

Postby DrLang » Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:30 pm

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.

http://www.mandalavermont.org/
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Re: Shingon resources?

Postby pueraeternus » Wed Jan 08, 2014 5:31 pm

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.

http://www.mandalavermont.org/


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.
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Re: Shingon resources?

Postby DrLang » Thu Jan 09, 2014 4:13 am

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.
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Re: Shingon resources?

Postby pueraeternus » Thu Jan 09, 2014 4:55 am

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.


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?
If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true of false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.

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Re: Shingon resources?

Postby DrLang » Thu Jan 09, 2014 6:40 am

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?

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.
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Re: Shingon resources?

Postby pueraeternus » Thu Jan 09, 2014 2:12 pm

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.


Interesting. Thanks again!
If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true of false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.

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Re: Shingon resources?

Postby DrLang » Tue Jan 14, 2014 2:51 am

Speaking of Mandala Vermont, apparently they have an active Facebook page where they keep their events logged.
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Re: Shingon resources?

Postby pueraeternus » Tue Jan 14, 2014 4:39 am

DrLang wrote:Speaking of Mandala Vermont, apparently they have an active Facebook page where they keep their events logged.


Interesting notes on that FB page. Thanks for the tip!
If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true of false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.

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