Sunday, December 30, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
The Nine Verses of the Shakujo is in the daily chant book of Tendai priests, and its content is quite interesting, covering the whole wide range of living beings. It addresses the Dharmakaya of the Buddhas; heavenly and earthly dieties which Shakyamuni Buddha controlled; the beings in the realms of absolute truth, relative truth, and the middle way; the bodhisattvas practicing the six paramitas, the sangha members striving to overcome their faults; those beings causing others to suffer; and the suffering beings themselves, who dwell in the three lower realms of existence.
The sixth verse concerns us sangha members, and as I recite it I reflect on my own faults, and how those faults should be replaced with beneficial actions, thereby aiding sentient beings and eliminating obstacles to enlightenment.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
We have bigger houses but smaller families;
more conveniences, but less time;
We have more degrees, but less sense;
more knowledge, but less judgement;
more experts, but more problems;
more medicines, but less healthiness;
We've been all the way to the moon and back
but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.
We built more computers to hold more information to produce
more copies than ever, but have less communication;
We have become long on quantity, but short on quality.
These are times of fast foods but slow digestion;
tall man but short character;
steep profits but shallow relationships.
It's a time when there is much in the window,
but little in the room.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
to see how Ivanov, chiefly by the practice of enduring the cold, gained healing powers and entirely by himself created a system of religion in the midst of the religion-prohibiting Soviet Union. Ivanov's example dispels the notion that religion is a long-outdated accretion of no relation to the modern world, and that the opposite is true, that the religious life can be created anew at any time by a single individual, with immediate benefits to the society.
Through experimenting with ascetic practices he developed the will power to control his own body in relation to the forces of nature, and to attain a higher consciousness with thoughts of the infinite universe and the sufferings of all creatures. He learned that the power of healing would not work without a code of conduct, formulated in one instance as "do not drink alcohol, smoke, or use other drugs (narcotics); abstain from sexual excesses, swearing, violence, lies, gambling, bragging." He taught people to heal self and others, to love people and to love work, to aid the poor with their needs, and to live without fears, doubts, aversion or irritation.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
His efforts were successful. The Emperor followed Saicho's example when several years later he moved his capitol from Nara to Kyoto at the foot of Mt Hiei. The two became friends, and subsequently Saicho was able to travel to China, absorb the Dharma in Mt Tien-tai and other places, and upon returning to establish the Tendai sect which flourishes to this day.
Due the intensity and sincerity of Saicho's original prayers in front of the Medicine Buddha, Tendai priests still today make the curing of peoples' sufferings their number one responsibility.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Ishibashi Hiroko, to whom the book is dedicated, facilitated the contact with Gozen-sama in 1961, and he then gave Blacker permission to experience the kaihogyo, or mountain-walking meditation, for herself.
Kaihogyo and many other ascetic practices are described in detail in The Catalpa Bow, but notwithstanding the variety of practices, the resulting spiritual power of shamanism is almost exclusively used in HEALING people, of both their spiritual and their physical sufferings. This is true not only in Japan but throughout the world.
Nowadays, shamanism is most often associated with ethnogens (psycho-active plants), ritual drumming, and endurance of cold, but in Japan of these three only the last is employed. In addition, the Japanese shamans emphasize chanting, fasting, fire, and marathons. Here is Professor Blacker's report on Gozen-sama:
"[Though most of the shamans in Japan are Shinto or Shugendo adherents, occasionally] a fully ordained priest of the Tendai, Shingon or Nichiren sect may fulfill exactly the requirements of the ascetic life. After a long and severe regime of austerites performed directly under the aegis of this sect, he dedicates himself to the task of healing spiritual maladies. The Ajari of the Tendai temple Mudo-ji, on the slopes of Mt Hiei, is a noteable example of an ascetic in full Buddhist orders....The Ajari Enami Kakusho, the incumbent of the Mudo-ji at the time of writing, described to me in 1961 the nine-day fast he had undergone in the course of the ascetic exercise known as kaihogyo. For nine days he had performed without a break, in an enclosed and sealed hall, a continuous series of goma fire ceremonies. Not once had he descended from the goma platform and not once had food or drink passed his lips. He showed me the photographs of his ceremonial emergence from the hall at the end of the nine days. Emaciated, pale, so physically weak that he had to be supported on either side by stalwart assistants, he was yet so imbued with sacred power that the crowds which lined the path prostrated themselves in reverence on the ground as he walked by."
(note: Blacker's telling has mixed two separate nine-day practices, one of fasting and two years later, one of fire.)
It is a remarkable sidelight that 46 years later Gozen-sama still leads the Tendai ascetics, which parallels Shakyamuni Buddha's 45 years of teaching following his enlightenment.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
"The thought of the highest complete enlightenment once awoke simultaneously in Ananda and myself in the presence of the Buddha Dharmagaganabhyudgataraja. Ananda always wanted to hear a great deal about the Dharma, while I always made diligent efforts. For this reason I have succeeded in attaining the highest complete enlightenment, whereas Ananda is the preserver of my teaching."
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
[FOR THOSE WHO] KEEP THIS SUTRA,
IT WILL BE AS IF THE BUDDHA WERE PRESENT
AND THEY, WITH OX-HEAD SANDLEWOOD,
BUILT MONASTERIES TO SERVE HIM,
CONSISTING OF THIRTY-TWO HALLS,
EIGHT TALA TREES IN HEIGHT,
WITH SUPERIOR FOOD, FINE GARMENTS
AND BEDDING ALL COMPLETE,
WITH ABODES FOR HUNDREDS AND THOUSANDS,
WITH GARDENS, GROVES, AND BATHING POOLS,
WITH WALKS AND MEDITATION CELLS,
ALL BEAUTIFULLY ADORNED.
(This is how it is experienced by the monks living on Mt Hiei, not the tourists)
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
"I (Shakyamuni Buddha) am always thinking: how shall I cause all the living to enter the highest path and quickly acquire the body of a Buddha"
The above is at the end of the 16th chapter, and below is the end of the 21st chapter.
"This man (i.e., follower of this sutra), while working in the world, can disperse the gloom of the living, and cause innumerable bodhisattvas to ultimately abide in the Buddha Vehicle. He who accepts and upholds this sutra assuredly will attain the Buddha Way. Of this have no doubt."
This accounts for Dengyo Daishi's assertion that the Lotus Sutra and the Mikkyo are equivalent in their result.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
"By holding grudges and repaying with hatred, hatred never ends; but by repaying with virtue, hatred is completely exhausted. Rather than bearing grudges about things happening in this long-night's dream called the world, cross the boundary into the dharma realm of the true Buddha."