Sunday, March 10, 2013

Proto-type Shugendo in America

Known as 'Kailas Shugendo' or 'The Shugen Church of America', this form of the group was in existence circa 1968-1977.  The leader Dr Ajari (link to a wikipedia article) was a Russian/American guiding the communal-living Buddhists from a San Francisco base.  Here shown they are practicing kaihogyo on Mt Tamalpais, individually reciting mantras while walking. Periodic stops included sutra recitation and Dharma talks.

During Japan's Meiji Era, Shugendo was prohibited from continuing as an amalgam of Shinto and Buddhism.  Each mountain headquarters temple was forced to choose one side, either Shinto or Buddhism, and if Shinto were chosen (as at Mt Haguro) then the Buddhist statues and temples were destroyed.  Due to this history, many of the modern Shugendo groups in Japan do not recite mantras and have no connection to Esoteric Buddhism (Mikkyo). However, the groups now affiliated with Tendai or Shingon still practice the Mikkyo.  CTM's Shugendo lineage is the 'Horyu Shugendo' of Mt Hiei's Enryaku-ji temple.