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Buddhadharma : Summer 2008
45 summer 2 00 8 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly which were under the control of priests who mediated between the individual and the divine, practices of a contemplative nature became the way for the individual to directly relate to the divine. One of the consequences of the Protestant Reformation for Western religious culture has been the markedly nega- tive attitude toward rituals of any kind that we see today. However, this favorable view of medita- tion and unfavorable view of ritual is merely the consequence of that history and does not reflect the nature of Buddhist practice. While Zen practice is called meditation, anyone who has experienced a basic introduction to the tradition is struck by the highly ritual- ized character of the practice. In Zen, one is directed on how to sit, how to hold one’s hands, even which foot to enter the medi- tation hall with first. Eating is also highly ritualized in Zen monasteries. Conversely, Shingon ritual practice is filled with meditative elements. Not only the preliminary practices described above, but in the course of each ritual performance the practitioner engages in a series of visualiza- tions. Thus, the distinction between medi- tation and ritual is for Buddhism not one of conflict or opposition, but rather more a matter of emphasis. What is to my mind even more important is that all Buddhists—East and West, native- born and convert—come to acknowledge that we all share the same goal, and that we respect one another in our differences. Koy- asan, that high, wild mountain, offers one understanding of the nature of the ground, path, and goal. For myself, I found that the understanding offered there reaches deeply down through my delusions, encouraging me to act from within the state of naturally awakened consciousness. Misshakongo Kamakura period, Japan SanjuSangendoTemPle