Tantra of the Tachikawa-Ryu

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Tantra of the Tachikawa-Ryu

Postby Jikan » Fri Jul 29, 2011 3:37 pm

I recently read John Stevens' book Tantra of the Tachikawa Ryu. It's an unconventional item: you might say it's a creative presentation of history. I'm not sure where the creativity stops and the history begins.

Among the book's claims: techniques analogous to karmamudra, emphasizing heterosexual intercourse, existed as a form of Buddhist practice in Japan and persists as a tradition in an underground way to the present. The last bit on continuity is only claimed and not substantiated, which is strange: there are ways to write about subcultures without outing their members. So, if Stevens is correct and such practices persist to the present, then there must be people alive who are doing this. Well, is there reason to give Stevens the benefit of the doubt on this?
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Re: Tantra of the Tachikawa-Ryu

Postby Astus » Fri Jul 29, 2011 5:29 pm

Yuukai (1345-1416) also played an important role in purging what was known as the Tachikawa school. ... The Tachikawa teachings were extirpated by orthodox Shingon: Yuukai burned all the writings of the Tachikawa school at his temple on Kouya-san, saving only a list of the texts destroyed.
(Taikou Yamasaki: Shingon - Japanese Esoteric Buddhism, p. 44)

The Tachikawa school appears to have indulged in the sexual rites practiced by the somewhat similar Shaktist sects of Tibet. In 1335, as the result of a memorial submitted by the Mount Kouya mongs against the Tachikawa school, its leader was exiled and books expounding its principles were ordered to be burned. Traces of its doctrines still survive, however, in existing Buddhist sects.
(Yoshiko Kurata Dykstra: Sources of Japanese Tradition, p. 180)

This Tachikawa school later spread to the province of Etchuu. In successive generations, two teachers, Kakumei and kakuin, lived on Mount Kouya [and taught Tachikawa doctrine there]. At this time, many secret manuals and texts of this heretical school were in circulation, often called "oral transmission of the secrets of esoteric doctrine." To this day, there are ignorant people who study such works and believe them to possess the loftiest thoughts. In truth, they are neither exoteric nor esoteric but merely so many stones wrapped in jade. ... Many people studied these teachings, but they did not meet with devine favor, and for the most part, both the teachings and the men have perished. A few are left, but i do not know how many.
(Sources of Japanese Tradition, quotes from Yuukai's Houkyoushou: "TD 77, no. 2456:847-849", quote on p. 189)

It is in Shingon and Tendai Buddhism that we find for the first time two movements that have been commonly labeled "heresies" (jakyou). For all its radical criticism of established Buddhism, even the Nichiren school was not disqualified by this label, and it remained a powerful trend within Buddhism. The Shingon and Tendai traditions, however, tried for centuries to assert a rather problematic distinction between "esoteric Buddhism", or "pure esotericism," and Tantrism (or "mixed esotericism"), that is, a form of Tantrism unexpurgated of its darker magical (and in particular sexual) elements.
The Tachikawa branch is said to have emerged during the Kamakura period, with the teachings of Ninkan (d.u.) and Monkan (1281-1357). It advocated sexual union as the fusion of the two mandalas and as the technique leading to the apotheosis called sokushin joubutsu ("becoming a buddha in this very body"). Certain aspects of the Vajrayana, which were considered if not entirely orthodox at least acceptable in Tibetan Buddhism, came to provoke strong reactions on the part of conventional Japanese Buddhists. Consequently, the Tachikawa movement was forbidden during the Muromachi period. Despite its formal disappearance, however, its influence lingered and was felt in many places, in the imperial house as well as in Shingon and Zen monasteries.

(Bernard Faure: The Red Thread, p. 126-127)
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Tantra of the Tachikawa-Ryu

Postby plwk » Fri Jul 29, 2011 5:36 pm

Interesting Jikan, I have always thought Shingon was free from karmamudra practice until you mentioned it and I found some interesting links... 1 & 2

And good ole Wiki has something :shock: which I have no idea how true is this...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tachikawa-ryu
Tachikawa-ryu was, like Shingon, is based in vajrayana-tantra. However, unlike its orthodox cousin, Tachikawa-ryu was much more open with its views on sexual expression and bliss, often using the founder of Shingon, Kōbō Daishi (Kūkai), text sokushin jōbutsu (Bodily Buddhahood) to support their ideologies and views. This is not to say they were more liberal than the orthodox branch in any way, just more open about their practices.
(In fact the founder of Shingonshu, Kōbō Daishi, is credited with introducing pedophilia to the Shingonshu priest hood.)


Maybe Rev Eijo could expand on this? :sage: (Where is he these days??)
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Re: Tantra of the Tachikawa-Ryu

Postby Jikan » Fri Jul 29, 2011 5:49 pm

Yes. But the continuity-to-the-present part of Stevens' argument that is the open question in Stevens' treatment.
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Re: Tantra of the Tachikawa-Ryu

Postby Astus » Fri Jul 29, 2011 6:11 pm

Jikan,

All the sources I've quoted above maintains that it has disappeared as a school. The practices themselves, since the texts are still available, maybe done by a few, but that doesn't make it a tradition.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Tantra of the Tachikawa-Ryu

Postby Jikan » Fri Jul 29, 2011 6:45 pm

Yes. So, on what basis would Stevens claim that it persists as a practice lineage or a cultural residual? Does some kind of evidence exist apart from Stevens' assertion?

EDIT: put another way: is Stevens drawing on some kind of ethnographic work that contradicts the rest of the body of knowledge on this subject?
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Re: Tantra of the Tachikawa-Ryu

Postby Astus » Sat Jul 30, 2011 1:17 pm

I think you should contact Stevens to provide his sources.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Tantra of the Tachikawa-Ryu

Postby Malcolm » Sat Jul 30, 2011 1:37 pm

Astus wrote:Jikan,

All the sources I've quoted above maintains that it has disappeared as a school. The practices themselves, since the texts are still available, maybe done by a few, but that doesn't make it a tradition.



It also does not make it "tantric".
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

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Re: Tantra of the Tachikawa-Ryu

Postby Astus » Sat Jul 30, 2011 3:42 pm

Namdrol wrote:It also does not make it "tantric".


Depends on definition. When it has the characteristics of tantric teachings it could be called that, even if from the perspective of traditional(ist) Vajrayana they are heretics.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Tantra of the Tachikawa-Ryu

Postby Malcolm » Sat Jul 30, 2011 4:12 pm

Astus wrote:
Namdrol wrote:It also does not make it "tantric".


Depends on definition. When it has the characteristics of tantric teachings it could be called that, even if from the perspective of traditional(ist) Vajrayana they are heretics.


Sex and sexual mysticism does not make something "tantric".
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Tantra of the Tachikawa-Ryu

Postby Jikan » Sat Jul 30, 2011 10:36 pm

Astus wrote:I think you should contact Stevens to provide his sources.


I think you're right.
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Re: Tantra of the Tachikawa-Ryu

Postby rory » Sun Jul 31, 2011 7:47 am

I remember reading about this topic ages ago, but Tachikawa teachings seemed in line with HIndu Shakta tantrism. I don't think Rev. Eijo would comment, I started to mention this sect said ages ago on e-sangha and he was quite Victorian about it.
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