Namdrol wrote:Seishin wrote:Why isn't Tendai popular in the West?
For the same reason that Yoga Tantra is not popular in Tibet -- anuttarayoga tantra is alive and well in the West.
I think Shingon, which is yoga-tantra, would be found appealing to many people outside of Japan if it were actively translated and taught outside of Japan. It isn't anuttarayoga-tantra (I don't think it was even developed in India at the time Shingon was being transmitted to Japan from China), but the model presents a path to Buddahood in a single lifetime. It is a model of tantra without Bon elements like in Tibet, though the Chinese influences are clearly present.
Like Tendai, I don't think there is a strong inclination to actively take Shingon overseas. The leadership of the numerous Tendai and Shingon sects in Japan are not pushing for it to be taught outside Japan as far as I've ever seen or heard, though they don't object to it being taught overseas.
It might actually be what spells the end of Tendai and Shingon in Japan in the future. The Japanese population is declining and interest in Buddhism is rapidly waning. As the social function of Buddhism disappears within society there will be less funding and finances available. As the economy worsens people will ask themselves if they really want to bother paying stupid sums of money for traditional funerals and just go with the cheaper generic funeral option via an ordinary company rather than a temple. A lot of temples will close down and those who would have become priests due to familial obligation will just join ordinary society. Temples will close down, the sect HQs will have less incomes and assets will be liquidated.
You're already seeing this actually. Koyasan University is suffering financial hardship because of a lack of enrolment. This is the university for Koyasan Shingon Buddhism, too. The bank was apparently worried about whether they could pay their bills or not. I don't know if the situation has been resolved or not. But not a lot of people want to go to university in the small town of Koyasan on top of a mountain. Here is a university with superb resources for the study of not just Japanese Shingon, but Tibetan and Sanskrit tantric literature as well.
I think if they pushed for internationalization they would flourish, but this won't happen. It doesn't matter which sect really. Even Soto Zen in Japan itself isn't really interested in overseas activities even though thousands of people dream of practising at Eihei-ji. There is a lot of conservative attitudes and pride which blind Japanese Buddhist organizations to the fact that they're in rapid decline and in a few generations they'll probably be financially and culturally crippled. Permanently.