How many instructors and students usually attend?
What is the curriculum compared to the training in Japan?
I assume the curriculum can be shared?
You also mention that all the courses are in English. Does this include relevant Tendai texts?
I assume the Betsuin must have their own materials to support the training?
Yudron wrote:I just love what those Tendai's are up to... and how much they are accomplishing with their small numbers in the U.S. . It seems very similar in intent to what we are doing at our Nyingma center; focusing on keeping things very pure, and not candy coating things for Americans... but at the same time finding ways to make it possible for sincere practitioners.
Jikan wrote:To the best of my knowledge, the most significant differences are language, duration, and context. For myself, training on Mt. Hiei is not available to me because I lack sufficient aptitude in Japanese language and, frankly, manners..
kirtu wrote:You mean that it is actually possible for Westerner's to train at Mt. Hiei as long as they have sufficient facility in Japanese and Japanese culture?
Jikan wrote:To the best of my knowledge, the most significant differences are language, duration, and context. For myself, training on Mt. Hiei is not available to me because I lack sufficient aptitude in Japanese language and, frankly, manners. By contrast, in New York we train in English almost exclusively. When I say "duration," I mean that the sixty-day period of training is broken into two-week and ten-day intervals, which is excellent for people who converted to Buddhism mid-life and have some catching up to do in understanding the Dharma and the how-to's around the temple, but has the drawback of taking six and often more years to complete. The context is also very different. Mt. Hiei has many centuries of history, and rich resources available. The New York Betsuin is a terrific place but is much more spartan, as it obviously has a much, much shorter history.
I am certain there are other differences that escape my mind at the moment, or I am completely ignorant of.
I don't know what it's like to train in Hawaii, but I would like to learn; I understand that Tendai-shu built a gyo-in there some years ago.
Jikan wrote:Hi Kirt,
It has been in the past, on the recommendation of that person's teacher. I don't know if this is so any longer, but I haven't heard anything about a policy change either.
Jikan wrote:Ha! Yes, there's no rGyo at Gyo. (For those just catching this, the word "gyo" in Japanese just means "interval of training.") I was thinking about this linguistic coincidence a moment ago and it occurred to me that the training is structured so that, after about day four, you lose track of factors like gender and forget about sexuality and all the hangups and histories that are tied to it.
This may be because the training is designed to produce a crisis in you so that you can have a good hard look at the sides of your personality and your habits that you had not been aware of heretofore, and come to grips with them. It's not particularly a bliss-world. It's more like the shit-shoveling world described in the Lotus Sutra (chapter 4). For instance: your day includes three sets of 108 prostrations, two hours of hard labor (stacking firewood, hauling gravel...), miles of walking; the day starts at 3am and ends at 9:30pm or much later depending on what your responsibilities may be for the next day. Food is limited and taken formally, which means your mind gets to freak out over like-dislike while you eat quickly, in silence, whatever it may be ("one taste"), cleaning your plate meticulously and organizing your place at the table to be harmonious with others. Everyone melts down eventually. I know one gyoja who forgot her legal name by day twelve of her first gyo, and did not want to be reminded.
That's what I was getting at before when I said it's more about the body than the brain. In this training, the body and its limitations are used as teaching tools. It is as though the substrate of one's mindstream is short-circuited, so you get opportunity after opportunity to come into contact with what remains when all that falls away. What remains when all that crap falls away? There is a word for it...
The "harmonious" part is great training for non-Japanese because it does NOT come naturally to us. For instance: when we do prostrations, we do them chanting a mantra, in time with each other, our bodies moving as one body, elegantly. The strong ones slow down (which is challenging on a few levels), while the slower gyoja do everything they can to keep up. Remaining mindful of everyone in the room is another way the ego starts to break down, because after a while it's no longer clear or convincing that "I" stop here and "Doko" or "Yudo" or "Seishin" or whomever stops there. You see it first-hand.
That's "somatic learning" for you.
It takes time to digest all this, and to adjust your habits of mind and body to correspond to the insights you get during gyo. This is why I think the breaks in between trainings are a real blessing. It gives an opportunity to internalize and integrate what you've learned. After my first try at it, I was a complete mess, but my resolve to reform myself, my practice, & all my relations with others was never stronger before then. So I subsequently made some small progress. I am hardly a practitioner, but I have had enough experience to say that this form of training changes people for the better if they are able to commit to it fully. You have to make yourself vulnerable and you have to try. There are risks; it's not for everyone. I got to know the orthopedist after gyo #3...
Jikan wrote:EXCELLENT! I rejoice in your practice, Jikai.
jikai wrote:Jikan wrote:EXCELLENT! I rejoice in your practice, Jikai.
Thanks Jikan! and I in yours! I was wondering, have any of Monshin Naamon sensei's students 'requested' to go to gyoin on hieizan? Im curious in light of the OP and insimply wondering whether the situation in the states is similar to the one here - that is, many in Australia come to Tendai with a lot of the vigour and 'hoping to become gyoja along the way ' without fully comprehending the implications of that is.
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