The Japanese word 'EN' means 'relationships', and for the people practicing our Buddhist tradition, good EN is the foundation. Practicing and serving in warm harmony with those you respect and trust is essential. But due to the subtlety of this essential point, the American perception is often different.
They see Japanese Buddhism as a business, where entry fees are charged and amulets sold.
Or they perceive it as entertainment, where rites and rituals are performed for audiences.
Or they see it as similar to the military, with a hierarchical form and young trainees shouting 'HAI!' (Yes,sir!) to advance up the ranks.
Or as a sports competition, where he who sits Zazen straightest for the longest time is superior.
Or as a livelihood, where one with sufficient charisma and fame will be supported by others.
Or like schools, where by attending for several years, one will receive a certificate and title.
But Buddhist EN is different from all these. It is like a flame burning in one's heart ('bodhicitta'), spreading from one heart to another, loving everyone, having no enemies, seeking only to benefit others and bring about our mutual Buddhahood.
California Tendai Buddhist MonasteryAt the temple (http://caltendai.org), one can have seclusion for the
practice of meditation, fire ceremony, ascetic practice, liturgies,
waterfalls, and mountain circumambulation, with a vegetarian regime and a
Mahayana Bodhisattva rule. From this unwordly life, one travels outside
to the world and its people, for their happiness and their benefit.
Through altruism, one transforms suffering into enlightenment. Details
and info on "My Web Page."