Tendai recitations

Tendai recitations

Postby Tatsuo » Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:00 pm

Hello everyone,

I want to discuss the daily recitations of Tendaishū. By comparing the daily recitations between the official chanting book published by Enryakuji* and the official daily service of the Tendai International - North American District, there seems to be a huge difference in the selection of texts. For example there is no Refuge text and no text from the Lotus Sutra included in the daily service of American Tendai, whereas this version has the Yakushi-Nyorai Mantra included and the Mantra for Accomplishing Meditation.
Is there a reason that the chanting of American Tendai is much shorter and doesn't include texts of the Lotus Sutra, a Refuge text or the nenbutsu?


For reference: Here is a list of the texts included in the Enryakuji version with translation:

Morning:
1. Sanrai - Three Forms of Reverence
2. Sangemon - Document of Penitence
3. Sanki Sankyō - Threefold Refuges in the Three Treasures
4. Kaikyōge - Opening Chant of the Sūtra
5. Jū Nyōze - Ten Factors of Life
6. Myōhō Renge Kyō Kanzeon Bosatsu Fumon Bon Ge - Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, The Universal Gate of Kanzeon Chapter, Verse Section
7. Enmei Jikku Kannon Gyō - The Ten-phrase Kanzeon-sutra for Extending Life
8. Hannya Shin Gyō - The Heart of Prajna Paramita Sutra
9. Shūso Daishi Hōgō - The Venerable Name of our Teacher and Founder
10. Hokke Jōbutsu Ge - Verse/Gatha on Attaining Buddhahood Through the Lotus Sutra

Evening:
1. Sanrai - Three Forms of Reverence
2. Sangemon - Document of Penitence
3. Sanki Sankyō - Threefold Refuges in the Three Treasures
4. Kaikyōge - Opening Chant of the Sūtra
2.5 Myōhō Renge Kyō Nyorai Juryō Hon Ge - Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, The Lifespan of the Tathagata Chapter, Verse Section
2.6 Endonshō - Passage on Perfect and Sudden (Enlightenment)
2.7 Shariraimon - Verse of Homage to Buddha's Relics
2.8 Hongakusan - Praise of Original Enlightenment
2.9 Kangyōmon - Meditation Sutra Text
2.10 Nenbutsu
2.11 Nenbutsu Ekōge - Nenbutsu Dedication Verse/Gatha
2.12 Ekōmon - Dedication text
2.13 Nenbutsu
2.14 Hokke Jōbutsu Ge - Verse/gatha on Attaining Buddhahood Through the Lotus Sutra





*Daily service of Tendaishū (天台宗日常勤行式 Tendaishū nichijō gongyō shiki)
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Re: Tendai recitations

Postby Jikan » Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:50 pm

Yes, it's true that the Daily Service at the Tendai Buddhist Institute is organized around the Heart Sutra, rather than a selection from the Lotus Sutra.

However, the Morning Service at TBI includes a recitation from LS chapter 14 (Ease in Practice) rather than chapter 25, as at Enryakuji, and the repentance of the six senses.

The Evening Service at TBI includes a recitation from the Amitabha Sutra. There, you'll also find Sanrai, the threefold refuge, and many of the other elements you cite in the Evening Service at Enryakuji.

I've attended or led services that include selections from each chapter of the Lotus Sutra more than once, and I've had much less experience than most at TBI in sutra recitation. And then there's the other aspects such as kujo shakujo or trying to sing shomyo...
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Re: Tendai recitations

Postby plwk » Wed Mar 30, 2011 4:27 pm

Looks like Chapter 25 on The Universal Gateway of Kannon Bosatsu is not included huh unlike in the Chinese Mahayana which is pretty much a feature on the Upavasatha Days or the New/Full Moon Days for the morning liturgy...
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Re: Tendai recitations

Postby Seishin » Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:43 pm

Tatsuo,

Thank you for that. Is this available on the internet? If so, do you have a link?

Jikan,

Can the difference be put down to simply the choice of the abbot/head of the group?

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Re: Tendai recitations

Postby Tatsuo » Wed Mar 30, 2011 11:18 pm

@ Jikan:
Well the Heart Sutra is an important Sutra in East Asian Buddhism, too. Though the Heart Sutra is more philosophical in content, I'd say, that it is the single most recited text in East Asian Buddhism. But it's great, that more devotional texts like the Amida kyō are also being recited. The website of the TBI states, that practitioners tend have problems with devotional practices - is this the reason the focus for lay Buddhists (outside the TBI) lies more on "philosophical" texts rather than devotional texts like Kannon gyō, Enmei Jikku Kannon gyō or the nenbutsu? Or is the list of texts in the daily service not complete?
I would say, that many Western Buddhists are in fact unfamiliar with the more devotional side of Buddhism and mostly focus on the philosophical and meditational side of Buddhism instead. Maybe that is the reason for high fluctuation in lay Buddhist groups, because the emotional side seems to be less developed (but that's just a wild guess you are free to ignore ;) )

@ Seishin:
I've searched for these texts in the internet and many are available, though not in this compilation. I have collected all texts I could find in transliteration (and translation) and checked with my copy of the Tendai service book, though I'm not finished yet. If you are interested I can send you a pn with the texts in transliteration (and translation - and Kanji, if you like).
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Re: Tendai recitations

Postby Seishin » Thu Mar 31, 2011 9:01 am

That would be awesome, thank you! :twothumbsup:

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Re: Tendai recitations

Postby Jikan » Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:11 am

@plwk:

I've led a service in which we recited Chap. 25. I don't think it's neglected.

@Tatsuo:

I think the Heart Sutra is used because it's teachable, it's familiar (the particular translation is one I've seen at different Zen centers around...), and it's short. No one's arms are burned off; it's less exotic up front than many parts of the Lotus Sutra. So yes, there's an accessibility factor there, but also a utility factor for teaching lay people the basics.

@Seishin

Yes, I think the local temple leadership has some discretion in which practices are undertaken, and which texts are recited. There are some particular elements in all Tendai services, and they come in a specific order (sutra in the middle)...
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Re: Tendai recitations

Postby Tatsuo » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:27 pm

I agree, that the Heart Sutra is good to teach basics (meaning emptiness), but I don't think exoticism can be a category in teaching Buddhism, because different people would have different views on what is exotic and what isn't. When people approach Buddhism they wouldn't expect familiar concepts anyway (which by the way would not be taught in the Heart Sutra, as it is very counter-intuitive at first). And I think the 25th chapter and the 16th chapter are very teachable and not at all exotic (also not about burning one's arm off ;)) Well and of course Tendai is a school based on the Lotus Sutra and not on the Heart Sutra. But I don't think we disagree on these points, as the Lotus Sutra is being recited and studied at the TBI and probably in all Tendai groups throughout the world. I understand, that the Heart Sutra is given precedence over the Lotus Sutra in teaching newcomers. I'm not sure, if I would choose otherwise - I just don't have the teaching experience you have. And it is probably the best to start with the Heart Sutra and more basic stuff.
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Re: Tendai recitations

Postby Jikan » Sat Apr 02, 2011 2:43 am

For clarity's sake, I should have said "exotic-seeming" there.
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Re: Tendai recitations

Postby Seishin » Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:59 pm

I wonder whether our teachers are picking up on what seems to be a western mentality of thinking that Buddhism is purely scientific and meditation based? And so, not wanting to frighten people off with 20 plus minutes of chanting, they go for something shorter and more easily understood, and then bring out the big guns on retreats?
Could one even describe the Heart Sutra as a "generic" sutra? :thinking:

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Re: Tendai recitations

Postby Tatsuo » Wed Apr 20, 2011 12:12 am

Seishin wrote:Could one even describe the Heart Sutra as a "generic" sutra?

Concerning Tendai Matsunaga lists the Lotus Sutra and the Mahavairocana Sutra/Dainichi-kyō as foundational Sutras. But the Dainichi-kyō came only to be emphasized in Japan, whereas the Lotus Sutra was the foundational Sutra for Chinese Tiantai. Other closely related Sutras according to Matsunaga are: Daihatsu nehangyō (Mahaparinirvana Sutra), Daihonhannyakyō (Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra) and the Bosatsu yōrakuhongōkyō (Bodhisattva Practice Jeweled Necklace Sutra ) [Foundation of Japanese Buddhism, 151].
I wouldn't say, that the Heart Sutra is more accessible than the Lotus Sutra, say the chapter on Kannon. This chapter is about the deeds of a Bodhisattva, who helps living beings in every situation and is not concerned with ontological questions such as can be found in the Heart Sutra. This may be the reason, that the Lotus Sutra was one of the first texts to be introduced to the Japan. When Buddhism was established in Japan, no one knew anything about Buddhist philosophy and so the Lotus Sutra was considered a great text for both newcomers and seasoned practitioners (Shotoku Taishi even held talks about this text). I may be wrong, but I think, the Lotus Sutra was also one of the first Mahayana (or maybe even one of the first Buddhist texts) to be translated to English. It was translated in the year 1884 - probably many years before the Heart Sutra.
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Re: Tendai recitations

Postby Seishin » Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:38 pm

Hmmm. :thinking: Most of our group, and in other groups I've attended, mention anything to do with "faith" or slightly "supernatural" and you'll either have a debate on your hands or they run a mile. I'm not sure of the reason, but most people I've spoken to believe the Lotus Sutra to fall into the "supernatural" box. Not only that, but some people do not see it as either important or even see it as apocryphal, doubting it's authenticity! (See here: http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=66&t=3782) I have to admit, that I used to be one of them. When I first started my journey in Buddhism all I wanted was meditation (I found chanting too "religious"! :quoteunquote: ). I had tried reading the Lotus Sutra but found it to be so completely different to the Pali Canon (which I had been reading) that I thought it was a load of rubbish and didn't pick it up again. For this reason, I am glad that our teacher is going through the Lotus Sutra with us. :twothumbsup: I hope one day that it will become part of our litergy also.

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Re: Tendai recitations

Postby Jikan » Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:56 pm

I think Tatsuo has an interesting point on this. If you just look at the content, you'd think Chapter 25 in the Lotus Sutra would be the most accessible thing in the world. It's one theme: if you're in trouble, call on Kannon and she will find you and help. The Heart Sutra, by contrast, is almost cryptic, like a puzzle.

This is where Seishin's comment is so important. In the English speaking world of lay Buddhists, who have substantial experience reading introduction-to-Buddhism books but much less experience with practice or traditional forms of practice, the Heart Sutra sounds familiar. Form-and-emptiness is treated regularly in books like Williams' treatment of Mahayana, or in the Microsoft Encarta entry on Mahayana. Devotional practice seems like "someone else's culture," "foreign," "Japanesey," or whatever... easily dismissed as "Not Buddhism" because it doesn't look like wikipedia Mahayana. (Is this a kind of bigotry? Maybe. It's certainly a cultural bias in the American milieu. I imagine it's the same sort of phenomenon in the UK if expressed a bit differently.)

So we start with the Heart Sutra and go from there.
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Re: Tendai recitations

Postby Seishin » Wed Apr 20, 2011 4:13 pm

You've put into words what I was trying to say Jikan, thank you :twothumbsup:

I'd also add that most of us in the UK approach Buddhism after becoming disenchanted with Christianity. This makes us dislike anything remotely similar (again I speak from personal experience). It was only after time that I began to come round to the whole extent of the Mahayana and the Lotus Sutra (even appreciate christianity) :thumbsup: However, I can't be of much help to people as I can't put my finger on what/where/when this change occurred.

Also, people such as Stephen Batchelor and Buddhadasa Bhikkhu have become very popular due to their "scientific" (fact based?) approach to Buddhism. Many people come to Buddhist groups in the UK hoping to find this and quickly do a U-turn when they find out that we also chant and bow. The Dalai Lama's quote "If it doesn't agree with science I'll reject it" gets kicked around a lot too.

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Re: Tendai recitations

Postby Jikan » Wed Apr 20, 2011 4:32 pm

That's an interesting angle, Seishin... I mean it gets interesting when you turn it around and ask what it means for something to be scientific, what it means to learn something in a scientific way.
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Re: Tendai recitations

Postby Seishin » Wed Apr 20, 2011 4:42 pm

Totally. It's one of the things that gets tossed around in my head. :juggling:
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Re: Tendai recitations

Postby Tatsuo » Wed Apr 27, 2011 1:51 am

I must admit that when I first read the Lotus Sutra I could not appreciate it at first, too. To me it really seemed too self-referential and both not very practical and not very philosophical as it does not include meditation instructions - at least not at first glance - and I didn't understand most of the innovative ideas behind the Sutra. This trend in the West somehow leads to the dilemma, that Tendai teachers cannot teach Tendai fully, but have to rely on (maybe) more familiar concepts, which are also available at Zen or Theravada groups, which may have an impact on the perceived uniqueness of Tendai. People may go to the nearest Zen group instead of developing commitment to establish Tendai in the West and trying to study and practice Tendai, even though it may involve more difficulties as Tendai just isn't available everywhere. To me personally Tendai is so exceptional, because it does include elements like the Lotus Sutra, the nenbutsu and mikkyo, and not because it also includes teachings based on the Heart Sutra or calming meditation. I think the Vajrayana schools can be a good example here. They somehow managed to create that image for outsiders, that Tibetan Buddhism is mostly about personal happiness, but yet did not let go of central concepts like reincarnation or devotional elements. I guess people are rather impressed with this straightforwardness instead of being put off by such unfamiliar concepts.
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Re: Tendai recitations

Postby Seishin » Wed Apr 27, 2011 10:02 am

I just noticed, that on the Tendai Jimon Sect website, they show the Heart Sutra as part of their morning litergy. http://www.tendai-jimon.jp/shomyo/index.html#3

Tatsuo. I think Tendai is being taught fully in the west, just in a different way than in Japan. Mikkyo (for ordained only), nembutsu, shakyo, shodo, kin hin, even the Lotus Sutra (etc) are all taught and studied in the west. Tendai is ruited in the Lotus Sutra, so everything leads back to it. But I think, due to peoples experiences (including our own) with the Lotus Sutra, the way our teachers are approaching it is different, and possibly a little slow, but it's methodically slow. I'm sure the leaders of Buddhism in the East had similar problems when introducing a new sutra or form of practice.

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Re: Tendai recitations

Postby Tatsuo » Wed Apr 27, 2011 6:51 pm

Yes, Tendai-shū Sanmon-ha/Enryaku-ji also recite the Heart Sutra as part of their morning liturgy. It's not that the Heart Sutra is not important, but I would argue it's less important than the Lotus Sutra. But I guess you both are right, that Tendai-shū needs to adapt to the conditions in the West to take roots here. Tendai-shū certainly did adapt to the historical circumstances when it was transmitted to Japan. Saichō focused very much on the state protecting function of Tendai rituals and included mikkyō. Buddhism in Japan started as a state protecting religion, so that was the aspect of Buddhism people were most familiar with. Taimitsu (Tendai mikkyō) became a very important part of Tendai and maybe Tendai would not have become so popular without the mikkyō elements. And now we maybe experience a similar process. Most people know Buddhism through meditation and Buddhist theory, so focusing on the Heart Sutra may not be such a bad idea ;) Yet as there seems to be Lotus Sutra studies in Tendai groups in the West I wonder, why it is not recited (as studying a text involves more involvement with the unfamiliar concepts of the Lotus Sutra than just reciting it).
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Re: Tendai recitations

Postby Jikan » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:25 am

Tatsuo wrote: Yet as there seems to be Lotus Sutra studies in Tendai groups in the West I wonder, why it is not recited (as studying a text involves more involvement with the unfamiliar concepts of the Lotus Sutra than just reciting it).


As I said before, it is recited, but less frequently than the Heart Sutra.

To your point, though: generally, students assume it's better to know the meaning of what they're reciting before they recite it. Otherwise it's just mumbo-jumbo to them, or they might as well be saying "tastes great, less filling" over and over. There's a resistance to 'just blindly following form,' and reciting something you don't clearly understand (what's a koti? what's a kalpa? nayuta? are we going to burn ourselves too? &c) feels a lot like an empty ritual to many. I know this because I've heard it said to my face. Is it a fair position? I don't know. But it's a cultural fact.
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