Western Gyo, Eastern Gyo in Tendai

Western Gyo, Eastern Gyo in Tendai

Postby Seishin » Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:35 am

I was wondering whether some of the ordained might like to give us a brief summarization of what Gyo in the West is like, their experience of it and how it compares to Gyo in Japan as they understand it?

If you could have a choice, would you prefer to ordain in the west or the east?

Gassho,
Seishin.
User avatar
Seishin
Former staff member
 
Posts: 1424
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:53 am

Re: Western Gyo, Eastern Gyo in Tendai

Postby Jikan » Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:45 pm

To the best of my knowledge, the most significant differences are language, duration, and context. For myself, training on Mt. Hiei is not available to me because I lack sufficient aptitude in Japanese language and, frankly, manners. By contrast, in New York we train in English almost exclusively. When I say "duration," I mean that the sixty-day period of training is broken into two-week and ten-day intervals, which is excellent for people who converted to Buddhism mid-life and have some catching up to do in understanding the Dharma and the how-to's around the temple, but has the drawback of taking six and often more years to complete. The context is also very different. Mt. Hiei has many centuries of history, and rich resources available. The New York Betsuin is a terrific place but is much more spartan, as it obviously has a much, much shorter history.

I am certain there are other differences that escape my mind at the moment, or I am completely ignorant of.

I don't know what it's like to train in Hawaii, but I would like to learn; I understand that Tendai-shu built a gyo-in there some years ago.
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5494
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Western Gyo, Eastern Gyo in Tendai

Postby Jikan » Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:48 pm

Also, for any Tibetan readers who may be curious, we are talking about a group of people going hard for sixty intense days and late nights of disciplined... training in Buddha Dharma.

http://www.tendai.org/index.php?id=46

It's not that kind of gyo.
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5494
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Western Gyo, Eastern Gyo in Tendai

Postby dearreader » Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:46 pm

Jikan,

I am curious about the training in New York. You said it takes 6 years? What is the curriculum compared to the training in Japan? I assume the curriculum can be shared? How many instructors and students usually attend? You also mention that all the courses are in English. Does this include relevant Tendai texts? Like the works of Zhiyi, Ennin, Saicho and others? Searching Amazon.com shows that there is little available in English so I assume the Betsuin must have their own materials to support the training?

thank you.
"Inscribed with the brush of Mt. Sumeru and the ink of the seas,
Heaven-and-earth itself is the sutra book.
All phenomena are encompassed in even a single point therein,
And the six sense objects are all included within its covers."
-Kukai, translated in Kukai on the Philosophy of Language by Takagi and Dreitlein
User avatar
dearreader
 
Posts: 36
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:12 am
Location: Europa

Re: Western Gyo, Eastern Gyo in Tendai

Postby Jikan » Tue Dec 11, 2012 2:51 pm

Hi Dearreader, I've tried to take it point by point. I hope this is useful to you.

How many instructors and students usually attend?


At the most recent gyo, we had twelve or thirteen students (I think this is right), and four instructors (with visitors and observers too). Some of the students also had leadership roles, as in assisting with temple functions and other preparations.

What is the curriculum compared to the training in Japan?


The structure is the same: half on temple duties, shikan, the "public" teachings (sutra services); half on esoteric practice.

I assume the curriculum can be shared?


Some of it, sure. Some of it no, absolutely not.

You also mention that all the courses are in English. Does this include relevant Tendai texts?


No, I said the training is in English. By this, I mean practice instructions, the services, the sutras, gathas, and so on. We read, recite, and copy the sutras primarily in English. There is not as much coursework in gyo itself as one might expect (about 90 minutes out of the day), although we are encouraged to study and reflect on the teachings while not on retreat. It is not a seminary, it is a training program. It's much more about the body than the brain.

I assume the Betsuin must have their own materials to support the training?


Some materials, yes, and more forthcoming. We also rely on publicly-available translations.
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5494
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Western Gyo, Eastern Gyo in Tendai

Postby Seishin » Thu Dec 13, 2012 2:20 pm

Thank you for your replies. Whilst I have no experience of Gyo in either context I think I'd prefer ordaining in the West. I think the Tendai Institute is doing an amazing job in finding that balance between "Japanese" Buddhism and "Western" Buddhism and I really think this is the way forward.

Gassho,
Seishin.
User avatar
Seishin
Former staff member
 
Posts: 1424
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:53 am

Re: Western Gyo, Eastern Gyo in Tendai

Postby Yudron » Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:21 pm

I just love what those Tendai's are up to... and how much they are accomplishing with their small numbers in the U.S. . It seems very similar in intent to what we are doing at our Nyingma center; focusing on keeping things very pure, and not candy coating things for Americans... but at the same time finding ways to make it possible for sincere practitioners.

On another note: Jikan, of you ever go to a Tibetan community, the word for sexual intercourse has a silent "r" in front of it: rGyo -- you may have to do a lot of spelling things out if you start talking with them about doing a two week gyo practice.
Yudron
 
Posts: 1054
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2012 8:55 pm
Location: Sunny California

Re: Western Gyo, Eastern Gyo in Tendai

Postby Jikan » Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:27 pm

Ha! Yes, there's no rGyo at Gyo. (For those just catching this, the word "gyo" in Japanese just means "interval of training.") I was thinking about this linguistic coincidence a moment ago and it occurred to me that the training is structured so that, after about day four, you lose track of factors like gender and forget about sexuality and all the hangups and histories that are tied to it.

This may be because the training is designed to produce a crisis in you so that you can have a good hard look at the sides of your personality and your habits that you had not been aware of heretofore, and come to grips with them. It's not particularly a bliss-world. It's more like the shit-shoveling world described in the Lotus Sutra (chapter 4). For instance: your day includes three sets of 108 prostrations, two hours of hard labor (stacking firewood, hauling gravel...), miles of walking; the day starts at 3am and ends at 9:30pm or much later depending on what your responsibilities may be for the next day. Food is limited and taken formally, which means your mind gets to freak out over like-dislike while you eat quickly, in silence, whatever it may be ("one taste"), cleaning your plate meticulously and organizing your place at the table to be harmonious with others. Everyone melts down eventually. I know one gyoja who forgot her legal name by day twelve of her first gyo, and did not want to be reminded.

That's what I was getting at before when I said it's more about the body than the brain. In this training, the body and its limitations are used as teaching tools. It is as though the substrate of one's mindstream is short-circuited, so you get opportunity after opportunity to come into contact with what remains when all that falls away. What remains when all that crap falls away? There is a word for it...

The "harmonious" part is great training for non-Japanese because it does NOT come naturally to us. For instance: when we do prostrations, we do them chanting a mantra, in time with each other, our bodies moving as one body, elegantly. The strong ones slow down (which is challenging on a few levels), while the slower gyoja do everything they can to keep up. Remaining mindful of everyone in the room is another way the ego starts to break down, because after a while it's no longer clear or convincing that "I" stop here and "Doko" or "Yudo" or "Seishin" or whomever stops there. You see it first-hand.

That's "somatic learning" for you.

It takes time to digest all this, and to adjust your habits of mind and body to correspond to the insights you get during gyo. This is why I think the breaks in between trainings are a real blessing. It gives an opportunity to internalize and integrate what you've learned. After my first try at it, I was a complete mess, but my resolve to reform myself, my practice, & all my relations with others was never stronger before then. So I subsequently made some small progress. I am hardly a practitioner, but I have had enough experience to say that this form of training changes people for the better if they are able to commit to it fully. You have to make yourself vulnerable and you have to try. There are risks; it's not for everyone. I got to know the orthopedist after gyo #3...
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5494
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Western Gyo, Eastern Gyo in Tendai

Postby Jikan » Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:29 pm

Yudron wrote:I just love what those Tendai's are up to... and how much they are accomplishing with their small numbers in the U.S. . It seems very similar in intent to what we are doing at our Nyingma center; focusing on keeping things very pure, and not candy coating things for Americans... but at the same time finding ways to make it possible for sincere practitioners.


Thanks for the kind words here. I'd like to know more about lay training models across Buddhist traditions.
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5494
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Western Gyo, Eastern Gyo in Tendai

Postby kirtu » Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:38 pm

Jikan wrote:To the best of my knowledge, the most significant differences are language, duration, and context. For myself, training on Mt. Hiei is not available to me because I lack sufficient aptitude in Japanese language and, frankly, manners..


You mean that it is actually possible for Westerner's to train at Mt. Hiei as long as they have sufficient facility in Japanese and Japanese culture?

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
User avatar
kirtu
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4570
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Re: Western Gyo, Eastern Gyo in Tendai

Postby Jikan » Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:48 pm

Hi Kirt,

It has been in the past, on the recommendation of that person's teacher. I don't know if this is so any longer, but I haven't heard anything about a policy change either.

:shrug:
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5494
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Western Gyo, Eastern Gyo in Tendai

Postby Seishin » Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:50 pm

kirtu wrote:You mean that it is actually possible for Westerner's to train at Mt. Hiei as long as they have sufficient facility in Japanese and Japanese culture?

Kirt


It has happened just not often.

Gassho,
Seishin.
User avatar
Seishin
Former staff member
 
Posts: 1424
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:53 am

Re: Western Gyo, Eastern Gyo in Tendai

Postby jikai » Tue Feb 05, 2013 8:41 am

Jikan wrote:To the best of my knowledge, the most significant differences are language, duration, and context. For myself, training on Mt. Hiei is not available to me because I lack sufficient aptitude in Japanese language and, frankly, manners. By contrast, in New York we train in English almost exclusively. When I say "duration," I mean that the sixty-day period of training is broken into two-week and ten-day intervals, which is excellent for people who converted to Buddhism mid-life and have some catching up to do in understanding the Dharma and the how-to's around the temple, but has the drawback of taking six and often more years to complete. The context is also very different. Mt. Hiei has many centuries of history, and rich resources available. The New York Betsuin is a terrific place but is much more spartan, as it obviously has a much, much shorter history.

I am certain there are other differences that escape my mind at the moment, or I am completely ignorant of.

I don't know what it's like to train in Hawaii, but I would like to learn; I understand that Tendai-shu built a gyo-in there some years ago.


Hi guys, haven't been on DW for a while but here goes....it is good timing for this question however, as I've just come back from six weeks of Gyo at the Hawaii Betsuin.

In regards to Gyo as it currently is practised at the Hawaii Betsuin- Usually one is expected to go to the Hawaii Betsuin for uninterupted Gyo for a month atleast once preferably twice. Then they go for Gyo at the Hawaii Betsuin for a period of Six weeks. These periods of Gyo fall at the years end and therefore require a minimum of three years of training. If their Japanese is sufficient at this point, they are generally required to attend Gyoin on Mt Hiei. If their Japanese is not sufficient they usually continue to train for one month stints at the Hawaii Betsuin until it is felt that they have sufficient training and 'Gyo'. Most, follow the latter path. It should be noted that the decision is made by Ara sensei and is not 'really' up to the student as such. For myself, I have just finished the 'six week' stint at the Betsuin and I am being asked to prepare myself for Gyoin in Japan. While Ara sensei and most others are convinced that my Japanese is of an acceptable level, I am juggling my final year of uni and attempting to polish my Japanese skills on the side- particularly my writing skills. If all goes well, and my Japanese level 'rounds out' as expected, I am expected to attend Gyoin early next year.

The situation I have described above is generally the 'required' training for Priesthood at the Hawaii Betsuin. Of course, many who cannot stay for a month or six weeks, have stayed for shorter Gyo's but they have to my knowledge not been accepted for Gyoin in Japan.

While the Hawaii Betsuin performs Tokudo and Gyo in Hawaii, as Ara sensei is rather traditional it is still strongly expected that students attend Gyoin on Hieizan. I must admit, I do greatly admire the training at the New York Betsuin. By providing training in english for one...all of my own training has been in Japanese and we use the Taishu Kaju as given to Japanese priest/monks at Tokudo rather than an English one made in Hawaii. This has its draw backs and As I plan to found a Betsuin here in Sydney Australia one day, I am very conscious of the fact that this is not practically possible for non-japanese/ those unfamiliar with Japanese custom and manners.

unlike Japan however,After the first month-long stint at the Hawaii Betsuin, one recieves Nyushiki Tokudo (Entrance Tokudo) and becomes an assistant priest. After the second month long stint, one takes Shukke Tokudo. This is done in much the same way as it is in Japan. After the six week Gyo, one is deemed eithr ready for the 2 months of Gyo on Hieizan or asked to continue training at the Betsuin. Of course those ordinations mentioned above are given only when Ara sensei feels the deshi is ready- the pattern i described is the minimum length of time however.

hope that helps guys! its good to be back at DW!

Gassho
Jikai.
"There are no seperate dharma's in the Three Realms. There is only the operation of the one mind."
"Whoever wishes to benefit beings ought to establish teachings that fit their capacities, expound the dharma in accordance with their capacities, and match the doctrines to them"
User avatar
jikai
 
Posts: 119
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 12:52 pm
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Western Gyo, Eastern Gyo in Tendai

Postby jikai » Tue Feb 05, 2013 8:44 am

Jikan wrote:Hi Kirt,

It has been in the past, on the recommendation of that person's teacher. I don't know if this is so any longer, but I haven't heard anything about a policy change either.

:shrug:


It is still possible on the recommendation of ones teacher. and required to some extent at the Hawaii Betsuin.
"There are no seperate dharma's in the Three Realms. There is only the operation of the one mind."
"Whoever wishes to benefit beings ought to establish teachings that fit their capacities, expound the dharma in accordance with their capacities, and match the doctrines to them"
User avatar
jikai
 
Posts: 119
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 12:52 pm
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Western Gyo, Eastern Gyo in Tendai

Postby jikai » Tue Feb 05, 2013 9:01 am

Jikan wrote:Ha! Yes, there's no rGyo at Gyo. (For those just catching this, the word "gyo" in Japanese just means "interval of training.") I was thinking about this linguistic coincidence a moment ago and it occurred to me that the training is structured so that, after about day four, you lose track of factors like gender and forget about sexuality and all the hangups and histories that are tied to it.

This may be because the training is designed to produce a crisis in you so that you can have a good hard look at the sides of your personality and your habits that you had not been aware of heretofore, and come to grips with them. It's not particularly a bliss-world. It's more like the shit-shoveling world described in the Lotus Sutra (chapter 4). For instance: your day includes three sets of 108 prostrations, two hours of hard labor (stacking firewood, hauling gravel...), miles of walking; the day starts at 3am and ends at 9:30pm or much later depending on what your responsibilities may be for the next day. Food is limited and taken formally, which means your mind gets to freak out over like-dislike while you eat quickly, in silence, whatever it may be ("one taste"), cleaning your plate meticulously and organizing your place at the table to be harmonious with others. Everyone melts down eventually. I know one gyoja who forgot her legal name by day twelve of her first gyo, and did not want to be reminded.

That's what I was getting at before when I said it's more about the body than the brain. In this training, the body and its limitations are used as teaching tools. It is as though the substrate of one's mindstream is short-circuited, so you get opportunity after opportunity to come into contact with what remains when all that falls away. What remains when all that crap falls away? There is a word for it...

The "harmonious" part is great training for non-Japanese because it does NOT come naturally to us. For instance: when we do prostrations, we do them chanting a mantra, in time with each other, our bodies moving as one body, elegantly. The strong ones slow down (which is challenging on a few levels), while the slower gyoja do everything they can to keep up. Remaining mindful of everyone in the room is another way the ego starts to break down, because after a while it's no longer clear or convincing that "I" stop here and "Doko" or "Yudo" or "Seishin" or whomever stops there. You see it first-hand.

That's "somatic learning" for you.

It takes time to digest all this, and to adjust your habits of mind and body to correspond to the insights you get during gyo. This is why I think the breaks in between trainings are a real blessing. It gives an opportunity to internalize and integrate what you've learned. After my first try at it, I was a complete mess, but my resolve to reform myself, my practice, & all my relations with others was never stronger before then. So I subsequently made some small progress. I am hardly a practitioner, but I have had enough experience to say that this form of training changes people for the better if they are able to commit to it fully. You have to make yourself vulnerable and you have to try. There are risks; it's not for everyone. I got to know the orthopedist after gyo #3...


:good:

I agree, it can be very good for us non-Japanese to experience Gyo. On the other hand as you rightly say, it isnt for everyone and I too have seen and heard of many who simply could not take it. Of the foreign priests who've gone to Gyoin in Japan I have heard many horror stories to be honest and am not convinced that Gyoin in Japan is 'good' for non-Japanese. Many who have come back, have been 'damaged' by the experience to put it mildly. This is not restricted to non-Japanese though- many Japanese too have had adverse experiences at Gyoin.

On the one hand, Gyoin in Japan I think can be very good- certainly the priests produced at Gyoin on Hieizan often come out of it with a great deal. For others however, I think the intense nature of Gyo in Japan can be all too much.

Yes, non-Japanese can attend Gyoin with their teachers recommendation. Whether it is suited to the circumstances in which non-Japanese find themselves and whether it is suited to the 'Western mind' is another thing. Most Japanese grow up with notions of 'gaman' and the like. Therefore most Japanese will 'put up with' the extremity of Gyoin on Hieizan. It is just being practical however, to recognise that most westerners will not 'experience it the same way'. And this means some non-Japanese have come out of Gyoin with quite serious psychological issues.

In regards to the OP and my own situation: Yes I am glad that I (just me) have the opportunity to practice 'Eastern Gyo' and that I may someday get the chance to go to Gyoin on Hieizan. But I am glad because I know that I have experience with the Japanese, the language, customs and thinking. I do not think that it is for everyone and I think that unless you have quite a bit of experience with the Japanese as such, it is not the best option for non-Japanese. As Jikan alluded to, it is not just knowledge of the Japanese language that is important here. Long story short, for my own situation, I am glad to be training in the traditional way. For my own deshi one day...not so sure. Which is why I really must applaud the New York Betsuin for their efforts.

Gassho
Jikai.
"There are no seperate dharma's in the Three Realms. There is only the operation of the one mind."
"Whoever wishes to benefit beings ought to establish teachings that fit their capacities, expound the dharma in accordance with their capacities, and match the doctrines to them"
User avatar
jikai
 
Posts: 119
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 12:52 pm
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Western Gyo, Eastern Gyo in Tendai

Postby Seishin » Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:27 am

Wow! Fantastic posts there Jikai, thank you very much and many congratulations for being recommended to go to Hieizan Gyo :twothumbsup:

Gassho,
Seishin
User avatar
Seishin
Former staff member
 
Posts: 1424
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:53 am

Re: Western Gyo, Eastern Gyo in Tendai

Postby jikai » Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:52 am

Thanks Seishin :-) still a lot of work to do between now and then. Particularly in the Japanese department! :-\ Ara sensei wants me to go, the only wuestion now is how long it takes me to 'prepare'. I am very lucky to have someone like Ara sensei backing me. I have to do my bit now and prepare AND pass! The hard parts! But it will be what it will be, thanks for the support! :)

i also wanted to ask Jikan- while im aware there is a Gyoin program in New York, have any of Monshin Naamon senseis student requested training in Japan or anything like that?

Gassho,
Jikai.
"There are no seperate dharma's in the Three Realms. There is only the operation of the one mind."
"Whoever wishes to benefit beings ought to establish teachings that fit their capacities, expound the dharma in accordance with their capacities, and match the doctrines to them"
User avatar
jikai
 
Posts: 119
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 12:52 pm
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Western Gyo, Eastern Gyo in Tendai

Postby Jikan » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:41 pm

EXCELLENT! I rejoice in your practice, Jikai.
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5494
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Western Gyo, Eastern Gyo in Tendai

Postby jikai » Thu Feb 07, 2013 12:16 am

Jikan wrote:EXCELLENT! I rejoice in your practice, Jikai.


Thanks Jikan! and I in yours! I was wondering, have any of Monshin Naamon sensei's students 'requested' to go to gyoin on hieizan? Im curious in light of the OP and insimply wondering whether the situation in the states is similar to the one here - that is, many in Australia come to Tendai with a lot of the vigour and 'hoping to become gyoja along the way ' without fully comprehending the implications of that is.


gassho
Jikai
"There are no seperate dharma's in the Three Realms. There is only the operation of the one mind."
"Whoever wishes to benefit beings ought to establish teachings that fit their capacities, expound the dharma in accordance with their capacities, and match the doctrines to them"
User avatar
jikai
 
Posts: 119
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 12:52 pm
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Western Gyo, Eastern Gyo in Tendai

Postby Jikan » Thu Feb 07, 2013 2:53 pm

jikai wrote:
Jikan wrote:EXCELLENT! I rejoice in your practice, Jikai.


Thanks Jikan! and I in yours! I was wondering, have any of Monshin Naamon sensei's students 'requested' to go to gyoin on hieizan? Im curious in light of the OP and insimply wondering whether the situation in the states is similar to the one here - that is, many in Australia come to Tendai with a lot of the vigour and 'hoping to become gyoja along the way ' without fully comprehending the implications of that is.


gassho
Jikai


I don't know of anyone who has made such a request. There are people who would jump at the opportunity, though.
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5494
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm


Return to Tendai

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests

>