Went to a Rissho Kosei Kai service today.

Went to a Rissho Kosei Kai service today.

Postby PorkChop » Mon Nov 12, 2012 4:03 am

Went to a Rissho Kosei Kai service today.
The idea to check it out was something I'd been meaning to do for a while.
What made me get off my butt to finally go was some language-related frustration over something else I've been studying and realizing "hey, I've already made some headway in Japanese, let's go check out their Buddhism".

It was pretty fun.
Not really sure what my expectations were going in, there were some pleasant surprises.

In case anybody's interested...
They did mention Nichiren as part of their history.
They have posters up with the following standard Buddhist topics:
[*]Three Seals of the Law
[*]Four Noble Truths
[*]Six Perfections
[*]Eightfold Path
[*]Ten Suchnesses
[*]Law of Twelve Causes
Read from the Lotus Sutra, chanted some Namu Myoho Renge Kyo, little bit of meditation, sang some songs, and had a Dharma talk.
Very interesting blend of Western (Protestant?) influences and Japanese Buddhist ritual & tradition.
They did mention Ekayana, "New" Buddhism, an explanation of their unique malas, and their world view.
There had to be a good 40+ people there, the place was packed.
Having chairs was a bit of a welcome change.
Reminded me of going to Japanese classes in a Japanese community center in Fort Worth - similar vibe for some reason.
I had to jet before the Hoza (group circle), feel kind of bad about that.

Not sure if/when I'll go back, I still need to digest the experience.
Been spending so much study time in the Nikayas, the Prajnaparamitas, Nagarjuna's Madhyamaka treatises, and Atisha's Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment; it was interesting to switch up gears and go with the Lotus sutra.
I'm still pretty unfamiliar with the Lotus sutra and that's what's going to take a long time to digest.
I will say that I probably learned more about the Lotus sutra today than I've learned about it anywhere else.
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Re: Went to a Rissho Kosei Kai service today.

Postby lobster » Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:50 pm

Sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing.
Let us know how it digests . . . and if you go again . . . :twothumbsup:
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Re: Went to a Rissho Kosei Kai service today.

Postby Queequeg » Thu Nov 15, 2012 7:38 pm

Hey Porkchop,

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts as you 'digest' the experience. Keep us posted.

:)
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Re: Went to a Rissho Kosei Kai service today.

Postby PorkChop » Fri Nov 16, 2012 7:54 pm

Hope you guys don't mind a long post, but I find sometimes putting my thoughts to words helps me figure things out.
I may cringe to read this again at some point in the future, but I understand that this is just a snapshot in time.

Up 'til now....
From about 18 years old (1995), I've been shopping around, looking for something different because I wasn't quite satisfied in the tradition I was raised in.
I tried a bunch of stuff out - mostly different pantheons of spiritual/formless beings, only minor experimentation with practices and/or services, lots of reading.

In 2006, after a bad break up, I went back to the tradition I was raised in, partially to find solace, but mostly because the person that left convinced me I was a bad person because I no longer followed that tradition. I wanted approval and forgiveness from that person. I've also spent a large part of my life looking for approval from my folks, which has always pushed me back towards that tradition. Unfortunately, before long I was praying prayers of justice/vengeance towards the person that hurt me; which came directly from the spiritual text of that tradition, so it should've been cool - but deep down inside something wasn't right. I could see synchronicity (serendipity?) in a lot of aspects in my life, but couldn't reconcile that or my beliefs with the beliefs & traditions of this particular faith. Tried many times to read through the spiritual text, but always had to put it down just out of sheer disagreement with the principles being taught. Meanwhile, the organization that embodies the tradition I was raised in has had issues of its own that have made me not want to deal with them any longer. I tried different organizations (like the one my wife attends), but they never felt right and they certainly wouldn't garner the approval of my folks. The end result was that I just didn't feel there was anything in that tradition for me and I feel at 35 I'm more than old enough to make my own decisions, whether my folks approve or not.

Again, back to shopping...
About a year ago, after watching some documentaries, I started giving Buddhism (and other Indian traditions) another look.
My initial readings into Buddhism 15+ years ago left me with some misunderstandings that the documentaries did a lot to correct.
Dealing with some illnesses over the summer finally gave me time to dive into each of those Eastern traditions more fully.
Buddhism is the one that seems to provide the most to keep me interested - reasonable (although difficult) set of ethical guidelines, a very interesting philosophy, a strong practice & development aspect, and the most compelling world view.

And the reason for the long life story...
After shopping around so much, I'm a little bit unsteady when it comes to spiritual/formless beings.
On one level, I feel like I can acknowledge the existence of just about any spiritual/formless being, whether as a projection or more.
On another level; especially with all the shopping around, I feel like any faith I develop in spiritual/formless beings without direct experience is going to be flaky at best.

The Lotus Sutra really throws a lot at you.
There's a whole pantheon of characters that I'm unfamiliar with.
It's such a radical expansion on the ideas presented in the Pali Nikayas and the Prajnaparamitas; the former seeming like parables with important lessons, the later more like philosophical discourses on the nature of reality.
It's a little like drinking from the fire hose.

I'm a bit of a literal reader, possibly a weakness due to being a programmer.
I'm not so good when things become symbolic - even Buddhist imagery gives me headaches.
From a literal reading, the things described Lotus sutra can require a huge leap of faith.
My ability to read into the symbolism is almost nil, so I can't really see it from that angle.

I keep reminding myself to keep with the Kalama Sutta and to maintain an objective mind about things - not just feel compelled to accept things on blind faith.
I also remind myself that sentient beings tend to only be able to perceive that which is on our level or lower and that maybe with development of the mind, at some point in the future I might have some direct experience of such things.

I remember when I first started going to the Vietnamese temple here in town, I had real issues with the ideas of Bodhisattvas, Buddhas, and Pure Lands.
Initially, I took the idea of Bodhisattvas on the level of aspects of an Enlightened mind that one should develop (Compassion, Wisdom, Action, etc), the idea of Buddhas as aspirations for my own enlightenment, and the idea of Pure Lands I took as the understanding that one must strive to develop a pure mind in order to attain Enlightenment.
I will say that since then, I've developed a bit more of an open mind towards the existence of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Pure Lands; but as I said before, making the transition from acknowledging the possibility of their existence to faith in their active, participative (non-abiding) existence is very difficult.

RKK's service felt very comfortable and very disorienting at the same time.
The general flow & method of presentation were similar to any run-of-the-mill Protestant Christian service.
The message presented was decidedly Buddhist, but from the angle of faith and centered around a sutra that I've admittedly only read a few chapters from.
I didn't know anybody going in there, so I did feel out of place.
The organizers (and head "preacher") were Japanese, so that felt familiar.
The lady I sat next to was very friendly as well.

The idea of having to buy a new type of mala and chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo every night might be enough to get my wife (ex-SGI) to buy a gun... :guns: :lol:
But otherwise, if I was more comfortable with the Lotus sutra, I would feel very comfortable practicing there.
I like the message tailored for people living the household life, the people were all very nice, I like the opportunity to interact with more Japanese people, and the vibe was friendly.
In some ways the environment was preferable to the Vietnamese temple I've been going to.
I do have motivation to go back, just not sure when.
Will keep you posted.
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Re: Went to a Rissho Kosei Kai service today.

Postby Queequeg » Fri Nov 16, 2012 9:13 pm

PorkChop wrote:I'm a bit of a literal reader, possibly a weakness due to being a programmer.
I'm not so good when things become symbolic - even Buddhist imagery gives me headaches.
From a literal reading, the things described Lotus sutra can require a huge leap of faith.
My ability to read into the symbolism is almost nil, so I can't really see it from that angle.


Thank you for sharing PC.

There is no way around it - The Lotus Sutra is out there. Even well versed Buddhists have a lot of problems with it. And not just with the cosmic scale imagery. http://www.tricycle.com/special-section/greater-awakening

At the heart of the Sutra is the Buddha Shakyamuni saying, "I didn't first attain enlightenment 40 years ago in Gaya. I've been enlightened since the unfathomable past, and I'm always here teaching beings." No one has ever fully understood that statement. The fantastical scale of the story is, in my reading, a literary means of stretching your imagination to its limit - and then telling you - "the scales we are talking about are infinite magnitudes greater". Its like what Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote - "Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions." Except, as far as your mind has stretched - it can always stretch more.

This text comes right out and says - everything the Buddha taught was a parlor trick to prepare people for the full scope of revelation about the nature of reality - and even the revelation in the text fails to even begin approaching the revelation.

I'll just go a little bit further to suggest a way to approach the Lotus Sutra that will not overwhelm you - Its not trying to convey to you a literal, static truth - the way this text has been read, the Lotus Sutra is pointing to the dynamic experience of being alive, trying to point out to us, what is actually going on. Commentators have suggested its something along the lines of that book in the movie "Never Ending Story" where the reader actually is a further elaboration of the book, as is the reader's environment, the world, the planet, the solar system the galaxy, the universe, the Higgs Bosons that comprise it all. You see this kaleidoscopic vision in the reinterpretation of Nagarjuna's two truths by Zhiyi into a dynamic Threefold Inclusive Truth where emptiness, the conditioned, and the mutual identity defy any stabilization. For Zhiyi this teaching finds its ultimate expression in the Three Thousand in a Single Thought (ichinen sanzen), and in Nichiren's teaching as NMRK.

The Lotus Sutra is a text that if you catch it in the right light, is a portal, a mirror, an infinitessimally fine point, an all encompassing reality, and more, and less, all at the same time. It is almost categorically impossible to fully understand - because that is the nature of what is going on. As such, we can only reach toward it with adhimukti.

Anyway - that's not quite on point to your post, but I wanted to share some of the wonder I've found in Lotus Sutra.

:)
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Re: Went to a Rissho Kosei Kai service today.

Postby OregonBuddhist » Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:47 am

Okay. That's it. I crown you, Queequeg, king of this forum. :applause: Not only do you have an amazing knowledge of this topic, but your synthesize it very well and present it in a well written fashion.
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Re: Went to a Rissho Kosei Kai service today.

Postby Queequeg » Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:51 pm

Aw. OB, you're too much. I'm just an imaginative plagiarist with too much time to think about stuff. Thanks, though. Its nice to know my musings are appreciated. :)
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Re: Went to a Rissho Kosei Kai service today.

Postby PorkChop » Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:26 pm

Queequeg wrote:Aw. OB, you're too much. I'm just an imaginative plagiarist with too much time to think about stuff. Thanks, though. Its nice to know my musings are appreciated. :)


Sorry if I didn't seem appreciative.
The post was great and it gave me a lot to think about, thank you.
I pm'd u some of the issues I've been dealing with lately.
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Re: Went to a Rissho Kosei Kai service today.

Postby Queequeg » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:06 pm

Hi PC,
No worries. :cheers:
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Re: Went to a Rissho Kosei Kai service today.

Postby dsaly1969 » Sun Feb 24, 2013 4:12 am

I've been away for a while and was happy to see this thread (being as I am a member of RKK). Queequeq, as always, hits the head on the nail when it comes to the Lotus Sutra. It is not a depiction of literal events but a guide to internal transformation. All of the symbolism serve as expedient means. This approach works very well for some people but it not be the best Dharma path for all (this is why there are "64,000" ways to enlightenment.

I'm far more partial to RKK's practice of hoza (Buddhist "group counseling" using the 4NT's and 8FP) than the Sunday service format anyways as I live too far away to attend a RKK center (most of my practice is at home in front of my own altar). You did correctly pick up on a "Protestant" vibe. During and right after WWII, many Japanese American Buddhist groups consciously adopted a "church" style service format to try to fit better into mainstream American culture as a result of the internment camps to which they were subjected. This has negatively affected their outreach for new members who do not want a "church type format". I think there will be movement back towards more traditional styles of practice over the next few years (which will be slow and incremental as with any Japanese organization).
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Re: Went to a Rissho Kosei Kai service today.

Postby plwk » Sun Feb 24, 2013 4:33 am

...(this is why there are "64,000" ways to enlightenment.
82,000 Teachings from the Buddha
I have received;
2,000 more from His Disciples;
Now, 84,000 are familiar to me.

Ananda
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Re: Went to a Rissho Kosei Kai service today.

Postby dsaly1969 » Sun Feb 24, 2013 5:37 am

plwk wrote:
...(this is why there are "64,000" ways to enlightenment.
82,000 Teachings from the Buddha
I have received;
2,000 more from His Disciples;
Now, 84,000 are familiar to me.

Ananda


Egads! You're right.

I've been living on cold medicine and asthma treatments so I'm a little off my game. :thanks:
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Re: Went to a Rissho Kosei Kai service today.

Postby Son of Buddha » Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:54 am

"Queequeg"
At the heart of the Sutra is the Buddha Shakyamuni saying, "I didn't first attain enlightenment 40 years ago in Gaya. I've been enlightened since the unfathomable past, and I'm always here teaching beings." No one has ever fully understood that statement.


this is explained in detail in the first 17 chapters of the Nirvana Sutra,pretty much Shakyamuni attaining buddhahood in this world was a parlor trick,the Nirvana sutra says he "Manifested" into this world as an already fully enlightened Buddha,and that his entire life as a "man" was a manifested illuosion,for instance he didnt have a wife or child(they were bodhisattvas)
The Nirvana Sutra explains alot of the Lotus Sutra which is why Ven.Nichiren qouted from it all the time.


This text comes right out and says - everything the Buddha taught was a parlor trick to prepare people for the full scope of revelation about the nature of reality - and even the revelation in the text fails to even begin approaching the revelation.


I always liked to use the term partial truths,and say the Lotus sutra brought the complete truth(kinda like partially teaching someone how to build a rocket,then one day showing them how to completly build the rocket)
The text nor no text can begin to show the revelation(I belive its in the 2nd chapter where the Buddha says no man can understand enlightenment,that it can only be understood amongst Buddhas,the Lotus sutra can only hint.


The Lotus Sutra is a text that if you catch it in the right light, is a portal, a mirror, an
infinitessimally fine point, an all encompassing reality, and more, and less, all at the same time. It is almost categorically impossible to fully understand - because that is the nature of what is going
on
. As such, we can only reach toward it with adhimukti.


Good stuff
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Re: Went to a Rissho Kosei Kai service today.

Postby Konchog1 » Sun Feb 24, 2013 7:57 am

Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Went to a Rissho Kosei Kai service today.

Postby dsaly1969 » Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:09 am

Here's a great talk about the Lotus Sutra by Dr. Gene Reeves:

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