26 October 2010

Contemplation: The Great Cloud

After reviewing the guidelines for practice, take up the following as your object of contemplation:

The King of the Dharma,
The destroyer of delusive existence,
Appears in the world
And keeping in mind the aspirations of sentient beings
Teaches the Dharma in various ways
According to the wishes of sentient beings.
The Tathagatha is greatly distinguished,
And his wisdom is profound.
He has been silent for a long time
And intentionally has not taught the essential in haste.
Those who are wise
Will be well convinced when they hear it;
Those who are not wise will have doubts
And remain perplexed for a long time.
That is why, O Kashyapa, the Tathagatha teaches
According to the capacities of sentient beings,
And enables them to attain the correct perspective
By using various illustrations.
O Kashyapa, you should know
That it is as if a great cloud
Arises in the world and covers everything.
This beneficent cloud contains moisture
And bright lightning flashes from it.
The sound of its thunder shakes the earth afar
And gladdens the people.It conceals the sun
And cools the earth.
The spreading cloud hangs so low,
As if it could be touched.
Everywhere, equal and immeasurable
The rain pours down and moistens the earth.
Grasses, herbs, large and small trees,
All kinds of crops, seedlings, sugar cane and grapes
Growing in the depths of the mountains,
In precipitous valleys,
All are watered, and completely nourished by the rain.
The dry earth is moistened everywhere
And the herbs and trees grow up thickly.
Out of this could the same rain
Waters these grasses, trees and shrubs
Each according to their capacities.
All the trees, small, medium, or large
Are able to grow in accordance with their capacities.
The luster and colors of the roots, stems,
Branches, leaves and flowers
Are all freshened by the same rain.
Each of these, although receiving the same moisture,
Reaches a greater or lesser size
In accordance with their different
Dispositions, characteristics and natures.
The Buddha is exactly like this.

(from Chapter 5 of the Lotus Sutra as we recite it at the Tendai Buddhist Institute)

19 October 2010

Contemplation: Mind-Mirror

First review the guidelines for practice, and then take this up as your object of contemplation:

The mind mirror illumines all ingeniously.
Its penetrating, limitless rays reach everywhere in the universe.
Without exception everything is reflected in this mirror.
The whole universe is a gem of light beyond the terms of in and out.

Sho Do Ka, quoted in Buddhism and Zen by Nyogen Senzaki, p. 57.

12 October 2010

Contemplation: Right Action Will Lead You

Review the guidelines for practice and take this teaching as your object of contemplation:

If you wish to find the true way
Right action will lead you to it directly;
But if you do not strive for Buddhahood
You will grope in the dark and never find it.

from The Sutra of Hui-Neng

05 October 2010

Contemplation: Practice and Precepts

After reviewing the guidelines for practice, take up this teaching as your object of contemplation:

Thus for every thing that lives,
As far as are the limits of the sky,
May I provide their livelihood and nourishment
Until they pass beyond the bonds of suffering.

Just as all the buddhas of the past
Embraced the awakened attitude of mind,
And in the precepts of the bodhisattvas
Step by step abode and trained,

Just so, and for the benefit of beings,
I will also have this attitude of mind,
And in those precepts, step by step,
I will abide and train myself.

Shantideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva (Padmakara Translation), p. 52)

04 October 2010

Tendai Buddhism in North America: Bridging Past and Present

Please consider these words from Monshin Paul Naamon on upcoming events of great significance at the Tendai Buddhist Institute:

The 10:30 AM event at the Tendai Buddhist Institute is an observance of the consecration of our hondo, Jiunzan Tendai-ji (the main temple building, translated as Compassionate Mountain Cloud Tendai Temple) five years ago, as well as the fifteenth anniversary of the founding of Karuna Tendai Dharma Center, the official name of Tendai Buddhist Institute, the Tendai-shu New York Betsuin (the authorized New York Branch of Enryaku-ji Temple).

This ceremony will be performed by Kanda-sensei of Kanei-ji, the head temple in Tokyo, Japan.

At noon lunch will be provided for all. We will continue to celebrate in the afternoon starting at 1 PM with the formal Tokudo (ordination) of six Betsuin Soryo and Doshu, namely Seishin Fitterer, Ryushin Karapasas, Shoshin Jacon, Mushin Press, Shomon Trans and Koyo Spang.

All of these people have completed at least six years of formal training and have received Tokudo as Betsuin priests in the past.

A formal Tokudo requires a number of priests of a certain status to witness the Tokudo in order to be registered in Japan. Because we will have a number of highly ranked priests here for the other activities it is a good time for these six people to be recognized for their many contributions to the Dharma. The Precept Master for the Tokudo ceremony will again be Kanda-sensei.

In Boston, the events are a commemoration of the 125th anniversary of the ordination of William Sturgis Bigelow and Ernest Fenollosa, the founder and first curator of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, respectively. These two individuals are the first North Americans to receive Tendai Buddhist ordination. Both of these persons were remarkable people who had accomplished a great deal in addition to their ordinations. There will be a story on the Tendai International web page in the next week or so providing some insight to these colorful personalities.

The Boston event begins at 11:30 AM with a short lecture and shomyo (a type of chanting similar to Gregorian chant) presentation in the museum and then we will go outside for a Goma ritual conducted by a dignitary of Enryaku-ji temple, Mt. Hiei, Japan. The goma ceremony should be concluded by about 2:30 PM.

As I look at these proceedings, there are several thoughts that come to mind.

First, that this is a wonderful opportunity for the people that constitute the Tendai Buddhist Institute to join with our Japanese friends in dedication to the dharma.

But, this is not merely an opportunity for cross-cultural interaction. The monks coming from Japan are doing so at their own expense as a way of showing their ongoing support of the Dharma and our efforts outside of Japan. Most of them grew up in temple families. The Dharma and its manifestations are as much a part of their lives as breath itself.

For most of us living in the West, we adopted this tradition and there are aspects that seem very Asian and therefore strange or incongruous. Yet there is something that draws us to it. There is a veracity that is universal to the human condition. These events are wonderful occasions to integrate our body, speech, and mind in the pursuit of the Dharma and its practices. It is a time for joy and rededication. Enjoy yourself.

For those who might like to attend, here is the schedule and other logistical details:

October 23rd 2010, at the Betsuin (near Canaan, NY)
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM -- A ceremony celebrating the fifth anniversary of our hondo (main temple building) renovation and the 15th anniversary of the Tendai Buddhist Institute.

12:00 to 1:00 -- Lunch is provided between the two ceremonies.

1:00 - 2:30 PM -- A formal ordination of Soryo (priests).

October 24th 2010, at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA)
11:30 AM - 2:30 PM -- This event centers on a Goma ceremony and commemorates the 125th anniversary of William Sturgis Bigelow and Ernesto Fenallosa's (the founder and first curator of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, respectively) ordination as Tendai priests in Japan.

For more information, contact info@tendai.org.