using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Summer 2008
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly summer 20 0 8 40 classes on Buddhism and Asian taught at a local college, as well as studying and reading on their own. The freedom that medieval Buddhist priests felt to work with a variety of Buddhist forms facilitated the spread of tantric ideas and practices into other Buddhist lineages, where they can still be found today. The ninth-century monk Kukai—posthumously given the title Kobo Daishi, meaning “Great Teacher Ocean of Dharma,” and commonly referred to by the honorific ex- pression “O Daishi sama”— is revered as the founder of Shingon in Japan. He was placed in charge of Toji Temple in Kyoto, which is still an important center for Shingon. The five-story pa- goda at Toji used to mark the southern entrance to the city, and it was, prior to the modernization of Kyoto, one of the most prominent buildings in the entire city. In addition, Kukai was given permission to set up a train- ing center on Koyasan (meaning “high, wild mountain”), which was several days journey from the capital. The train- ing program he established for monks on the mountain was increasingly codified over the centuries. Ihad already been introduced to Rev. Miyata by one of my teachers at San José State University, and he later agreed to interview me and my wife regarding my desire to study Shingon. His support and the introductions he could make would be crucial for any success I might hope to eventu- ally achieve. One of the first things he asked me about was the extent and character of my study of Buddhism. Little did I realize at the time the importance of this question, as the Shingon tradition balances education in the history and teachings of Buddhism with practice. Unlike many in my generation, my first exposure to Bud- dhism was not through Zen or Tibetan Buddhism, but rather through Jodo Shinshu, the Japanese Pure Land tradition. Growing up near San José in the fifties and sixties, I was taken by my parents to O Bon celebrations at the San José Buddhist Temple, and I remember going to bonsai shows at the Palo Alto Buddhist Temple. It was only later, as the Beats gave way to the hippies, that I began to hear about Zen, reading Paul Reps’ Zen Flesh, Zen Bones and listening to Alan Watts’ lectures on KPFA, back when FM radio could still be described as underground. Inspired by the idea that one could achieve a kind of he- roic perfection by way of meditation, I began practicing and studying, first Zen and then other forms of Buddhism as well. Over the years I explored several kinds of practice, including not only Zen but also yoga, TM, and vipassana, until I finally learned about Tibetan Buddhism. Although it is now seri- ously outdated, the movie Requiem for a Faith exposed me to the art of Tibetan Buddhism, whose intensity and power I found fascinating. The idea of transforming negative energies into positive ones, portrayed in the form of wrathful bo- dhisattvas, held much more appeal to me than the idea of overcoming or repressing my own desires—strategies too clearly identifiable in the moralistic culture of Amer- ica at the time. After learn- ing about the Nyingma Institute, the center near Berkeley founded by Tarthang Tulku, and its first Human Develop- ment Training Program, I began a more systematic study and practice of Tibetan forms of Buddhism, a path I would follow for another seven years. Shingon appealed to me, however, as a combination of the tantric Buddhism I had found in the Tibetan traditions and the Japanese cultural context that I felt quite comfort- able in, given the mix of ethnicities I had grown up with in California. Rev. Miyata’s interview explored this range of study and experience and was the gateway that led me to study on Koyasan the following year. By train, Koyasan is about two hours from Osaka’s Nanba station. Gazing out the window, one first sees industrial Osaka, but fairly soon this begins to give way to suburban Japan and eventually to areas with houses surrounded by small rice paddies. About halfway to Koyasan, as the line begins to climb toward Hashimoto—the largest city between Osaka and Koyasan—the countryside becomes more and more agricultural, the rice fields larger, the houses farther from one another. Finally, one is in rural Japan, where the land is mountainous with only scattered houses set far back at the edges of fields to maximize the space available to grow rice. Emerald green in the spring and summer, the paddies change to tawny brown in autumn, when the plants are cut and hung upside down for the rice to dry before threshing. Here train stations may only be a concrete platform with a single bench, no building, and no staff; you might see one or Shingon appealed to me as a combination of the tantric Buddhism that I had found in Tibetan traditions and the Japanese cultural context that I felt quite comfortable in. (Facing page) Naraenkengo Kamakura period, Japan SanjuSangendoTemPle