Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Void on Steroids

(Actually: Mt Konocti Photos)

taken by the Tendai practitioner from Denmark named Kyoshin

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tsuan Tsang's horse

1400 years after Tsuan Tsang, a present-day incarnation of his horse and a present-day Buddhist meditator, Kay Golden. The following historical narrative was taken from the web.
Crossing the Desert

Xuan Zang faced incredible problems on the road out of China. He had no passport and no permission to leave China. The desert ahead offered no water and no rest. There were five sentry towers in the Lop desert and each had orders to shoot all travellers without a passport on sight. The monk was anxious to avoid them.

As he attempted to avoid the sentry towers Xuan Zang became lost in the desert and almost died as a result. After many days wandering without water, his horse suddenly veered off the track and wouldn’t change direction. The horse had detected water on the wind, and brought the monk to an oasis in the desert. It was a miracle and Xuan’s life was saved.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tendai NY Betsu-in "GYO"

Ven Monshin Paul Naamon (at right of photo) leading the annual Tendai training at the NY Betsuin in Canaan NY. Photo by Yoren of Denmark.

KAN - the seed syllable for Fudo-sama

by Myoan Ann Miller

Saturday, September 17, 2011


A gongen is the manifestation of a bodhisattva as a native spirit. Here, ZAO was first seen by En no Gyoja the Shugendo founder on Mt Yoshino. Will any gongen appear in our land?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fumarole Photo

A 5-mile stretch of Sulpher Creek at the base of Cobb Mtn is filled with fumaroles. In the original USGS survey of 1863 Sulpher Creek was called Pluton River.

Monday, September 5, 2011

This Lineage

Here is our lineage, certainly not the only lineage in the Buddhist world, other bodhisattvas have other genuine lineages. He who has such a lineage will, on a daily basis, engage the vajra mind in conversation with one or another of these people, these enlightened beings. Though most lived centuries in the past, it will be as if they are alive today. As well as conversations in the mind, direct communication takes place with those still on the earthly plane.

Listed below are the well-known masters, but since transmission is from person to person, with no gaps, many lesser known monks provide the continuity, having mastered the teachings, trained students, and passed on the lineage.

SHAKYAMUNI BUDDHA (563-483BC)-- the incomparable human founder

ARYA NAGARJUNA (ca 150-250AD) -- the expounder of Shunyata, considered a second Buddha, and the father of all modern Mahayana lineages

CHIH-I (ZHIYI) (538-597) -- the great popularizer of the Tienta'i (Tendai) tradition in China, and author of the Makashikan, the extended exposition of Shamatha and Vipasyana meditations

DENGYO DAISHI SAICHO (767-822) -- no more devout monk can be found in the history of Buddhism, he spent his life bringing new teachings from China and spreading them in Japan, resulting in Japan becoming a true Mahayana nation

JIKAKU DAISHI ENNIN (794-864) -- completing Dengyo Daishi's work in China, he brought into Tendai extensive Mantrayana practices, Pure Land teachings, Shomyo, Kaihogyo, etc

KONRYU DAISHI SO-O (833-918) -- following his teacher Ennin's instructions, he developed the kaihogyo practice which flourishes today

GANZAN DAISHI RYOGEN (912-985) -- with superhuman energy and spiritual power, this great patriarch cleaned house and preserved the heart of Tendai

ESSHIN SOZO GENSHIN (942-1017) -- a disciple of Ryogen, Genshin was himself the founder of an esoteric school. But he is best known as the author of the "Ojo Yoshu," the teachings on rebirth into the Pure Land, which was a direct antecedent of the Pure Land sects in Japan. One time having a vision of Amitabha coming over the western mountains to welcome people into the Pure Land, Genshin being a skillful painter was able to depict this vision, and ever since in Japanese history countless artists have copied or done versions of this inspirational painting

HONEN SHONIN (1133-1212)-- though the founder of a new sect of Japanese Buddhism, the Jodo Sect, Honen also had many Tendai priests as disciples, priests who remained in the Tendai Sect, thus passing on Honen's teachings to us. Chapter 37
("Honen's Last Hours") of his official biography tells that, "As he drew near to the end, he put on the nine-stripped sacred kesa, the very one which had been handed down from Jikaku Daishi, and lay down with his head to the north, and his face turned toward the west, and recited the following passage from the Sutra: 'The light of Amida . . .'"

Ajaris KOUN and KAKUHO (1807-1890) -- after the warlord Nobunaga destroyed all of Mt Hiei by fire in 1571, the modern era of Kaihogyo began, with these two ajaris being among those leading up to my root guru, Enami Kakusho the 41st incumbent of kaihogyo. John Stevens writes in "The Marathon Monks of Mt Hiei," "Kaihogyo monks were the first to resettle on Hiei [following the destruction] -- after all, the only thing they needed for practice was their two feet -- with Ajari Koun completing a 1000-day term in 1585." Ajari Kakuho, the 31st incumbent, completed his practice in 1864 and went on to become the 234th Zasu of Tendai in 1879.

GOZEN-SAMA and his disciples GYOSHO DAI-AJARI and KAYAKI KANSHO SENSEI -- Enami Kakusho who is known to all around him as Gozen-sama accepted me as one of the last of his 1500 disciples in a relationship characterized by mutual deep love and respect. After retiring from active live in his later years, he asked two of his great disciples to continue the master/disciple relationship with me and they both kindly consented. Gyosho-sama gave me the Dharma transmission (denpo) for the goma, and Kayaki-sensei is personally instructing me in further meditations while in the midst of his full schedule of leading the Tendai Shugendo school and serving as chairman of the Tendai Assembly.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Why is it called "Mahayana"?

Over 100 years ago, 1907, D.T.Suzuki did a translation and paraphrase of Asanga's Seven Principal Features of Mahayanism from the 4th Century AD. Here it is excerpted.

Mahayana is distinguished by:

1. Its Comprehensiveness. It incorporates "the teachings [not] from one buddha alone, but wherever and whenever truth is found."

2. Universal Love for all Sentient Beings. "All the motives, efforts and actions of the Bodhisattvas pivot on the furtherance of universal welfare."

3. Its Greatness in Intellectual Comprehension. It holds the doctrine of non-Atman for sentient beings as well as things in general.

4. Its Marvelous Spiritual Energy. "Bodhisattvas never become tired of working for universal salvation, nor do they despair because of the long time required."

5. Its Greatness in the Exercise of Upaya. The sympathetic heart of the bodhisattva has inexhaustible resources at his command in order that he might lead all to enlightenment.

6. Its Higher Spiritual Attainment. Mahayana goes beyond Arhatship even to Buddhahood.

7. Its Greater Activity. The Bodhisattva is able to manifest everywhere and to minister to the spiritual needs of all.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Janey Trinkle (89) has been complaining for over a year that I look unhappy in photos, so here I went all MANIC in front of her camera (and in front of our vegetarian pizza).

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tendai Ajikan

Here are two examples of Aji (the sanskrit letter AH) used in Tendai meditations. One is a painted version designed by Shoshin Ichishima-sensei, based on that by Jikaku Daishi. The other is a brushed version of direct transmission by Kansho Kayaki-sensei.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Japan Trip, Incl Tsunami Damage

With Kayaki-Sensei and his Tendai Horyu Shugendo disciples

The purify-by-water place, commonly located just inside the gate at most shrines in Japan. This one is Sekizan.

Tendai Shugendo perform annual Saito Goma on the courtyard of the Kompon Chudo, Mt Hiei.

Ryoyu (Ishikawa), 31 years old, has been serving at Sekizan in Kyoto the past 5 years, while his father ran the temple on the coast near Sendai. The temple, Manpo-en, was entirely swept away in the Tsunami of March11. Ryoyu visited the scene with his father and uncle about a month later and took these photos. The Tendai Journal interviewed the father who described being several miles away from the temple, just by chance, when the tsunami struck. Ryoyu says the height of the tsunami was measured at 17 meters (55ft). The father received a frantic phone call from his sister: "Brother! A tsunami is carrying me away in the car! Water is coming in! It's Cold! I'm flowing away!" Then the phone went dead. And her body washed up about a month later. His mother who was at the temple was never found.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Japan recovery slogan

This was mailed from a man in Tokyo, and I am told that it is the slogan for recovery from Japan's earthquake/tsunami/radiation disaster. Literally "foundation-strength," it could be translated as "We will rebuild from the bottom up with great energy."

Mt Wutai, Home of Monjushri

In 676AD a monk from Kashmir named Buddhapala traveled to Wutai (~200 miles west of present-day Beijing) to worship Monjushri Bodhisattva, but entry was barred by an old man who insisted that he return to India and come back with the BUTCHO SONSHO DARANI. Buddhapala, realizing that the old man was a manifestation of the Bodhisattva, then brought this great practice from India to Wutai, from where it was transmitted to the Japanese monk Ennin in 840AD.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Swan Coming from the West

Swan Flight 2 by grahambrown1965
This is a take-off on the title "How the Swans Came to the Lake," a 1981 book by Rick Fields detailing the history of the Dharma coming to America. In sync with the ancient Chinese notion that the Buddhadharma historically migrates from the west in an easterly direction, visualize the swan heading eastward, toward the clear morning light, coming from the lotus pond of the Dharma in the west, the north wing representing the all-accomplishing wisdom, the vajra karma, and the south wing representing the jewel-like wisdom, the myriad treasures of Buddhism.
Swan Flight 2, a photo by grahambrown1965 on Flickr.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Long absence from the blog, busy with other things.

KAYAKI-sensei will be giving his transmission of Ajikan meditation May 12-25 in Japan

We will be participating in Sacramento's Wesak event 29 May with about a dozen other groups from all Buddhist countries. Details can be seen on their website:

My own telling of the Buddha's enlightenment will be 10AM Sunday June 12 at the Maria-de-Guadalupe shrine in Calistoga. Call or email for details

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Americans Ordained as Tibetan Nuns

Anna Howe lived and worked in Nepal for many years before being ordained by the Dalai Lama. She intends to come back to Northern California this summer.

Dr Ajari's disciples Sisters Mandarava and Nairatma were ordained as Ani Tsultrim and Ani Legshe. In 2010 they spent some time with the Nyngma community in south India, now living and taking teachings in Alameda, after which they will return to LA.

Update Sept 2011: they are now residing near the Nyngma community of Ashland Ore