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.