Guru Yoga & Lamanism: Speculations on Shingon and Nichiren Schools

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Guru Yoga & Lamanism: Speculations on Shingon and Nichiren Schools

Post by DGA » Mon Jun 27, 2016 12:59 am

In circulation in the blogosphere and on discussion boards not unlike Dharmawheel, one can find masterpieces such as this:

http://markrogow.blogspot.com/2013/12/o ... h-and.html

Here, it is claimed that there is a historical continuity from Shingon-shu to some Nichiren schools such as SGI. Our author seems to think this indicates a problem if true--a degeneration or departure from the Real Deal--but that is a doctrinal matter appropriate to a different DW subforum. What I would like to probe are the kinds of continuities he claims are at work from the Shingon tradition he describes (does he describe it accurately?) to contemporary Nichiren Buddhist offshoots such as SGI.

First claim: Shingon-shu is an "offshoot of lamanism." What's lamanism? That is, is there such a thing as a historical phenomenon called "lamanism" apart from the category constructed by early European scholars of Mahayana Buddhism? And if so, how is Shingon-shu an offshoot of it?

Second claim: There is a practice in Shingon-shu called "guru yoga." Our author doesn't specify particularly what that practice is or how it works, but he does assume it involves a kind of authoritarianism (the same authoritarianism he finds in SGI). Is there any merit whatsoever to this claim?

:reading:

narhwal90
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Re: Guru Yoga & Lamanism: Speculations on Shingon and Nichiren Schools

Post by narhwal90 » Mon Jun 27, 2016 2:57 am

I find the overlap between Nichiren Shoshu/SGI and Shingon very interesting, while close in that space it looks like its of limited extent. I get the impression a lot of it may come from a common currency of esoteric doctrine available at the time, from Tendai roots etc so the forms and concepts are quite related. OTOH once Shingon is off into Dainichi Nyorai, the A syllable, muhdras then things are very different.

I really don't get the guru yoga wrt Mr Ikeda proposition though. I have never in 30 years been instructed to consider him while I chant, though I am frequently encouraged to consider a master/disciple relationship with him, wrt forwarding kosen rufu. I don't get that either- having never met the man how could I possibly have a relationship with him- but perhaps thats what the comment is directed towards? If so I think its a pretty weak claim since its the gohonzon and the lotus sutra and Nichiren at the center of focus, and the gosho being under constant study. We do have various SGI pubs and articles to help, some of which he's involved with or was.. but they are just that, study aids. There is the endless "Human Revolution" story for those interested in it yet its not pushed nowadays like it was in the 90's. I have no doubt some will take considerations of Mr Ikeda too far and its worse when those are in a leadership position. It is interesting that there was a whole lot more Mr Ikeda in the 90's than there is now, at this point hes something of historical figure along with Mr Toda.

Now the yuiga yoga wrt the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood was a big meme in the SGI back at the time of split- lots of fear and loathing going around at least in my area with respect to the priesthood placing themselves between the lay and the gohonzon and I heard a lot of abuse of Nikken. That settled down after a couple years and discussions of the split nowadays generally do not involve Nichiren Shoshu doctrine or priesthood at all.

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Re: Guru Yoga & Lamanism: Speculations on Shingon and Nichiren Schools

Post by Kim O'Hara » Mon Jun 27, 2016 9:03 am

That blog seems to me to be a lot of blatantly sectarian :stirthepot: but I could be wrong so I will say no more about it.
However, I do know and like (and remember) words and their implications and here's an odd one.
DGA wrote:First claim: Shingon-shu is an "offshoot of lamanism." What's lamanism? That is, is there such a thing as a historical phenomenon called "lamanism" apart from the category constructed by early European scholars of Mahayana Buddhism? And if so, how is Shingon-shu an offshoot of it?
"Lamanism" (as a word) is an extremely obscure form of "Lamaism" which is indeed strictly a nineteenth-century English term for Tibetan (vajrayana) Buddhism.* Google books found me one reference (wow!) in Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West
By Donald S. Lopez Jr. (pp. 41-42).
"Lamaism" itself is well out of fashion, and (IMO) anyone using "Lamanism" is either revealing a truly awesome ignorance of the vajrayana tradition (Tibetan or Japanese), is being deliberately obscure and obtuse, or has a most peculiar reference library.

:coffee:
Kim


* Except for this weird Mormon connection - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laman_and_Lemuel

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Re: Guru Yoga & Lamanism: Speculations on Shingon and Nichiren Schools

Post by smcj » Mon Jun 27, 2016 11:21 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:That blog seems to me to be a lot of blatantly sectarian :stirthepot: but I could be wrong so I will say no more about it.
However, I do know and like (and remember) words and their implications and here's an odd one.
...
"Lamaism" itself is well out of fashion, and (IMO) anyone using "Lamanism" is either revealing a truly awesome ignorance of the vajrayana tradition (Tibetan or Japanese), is being deliberately obscure and obtuse, or has a most peculiar reference library.
The term comes from their understanding of what is entailed in the guru-yoga, which has been since downplayed to accommodate our sensibilities. Been it actually is accurate.

[Edit - corrected quote formatting]
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: Guru Yoga & Lamanism: Speculations on Shingon and Nichiren Schools

Post by DGA » Mon Jun 27, 2016 11:26 am

Is there any such thing as guru yoga in the Shingon tradition?

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Re: Guru Yoga & Lamanism: Speculations on Shingon and Nichiren Schools

Post by smcj » Mon Jun 27, 2016 11:28 am

DGA wrote:Is there any such thing as guru yoga in the Shingon tradition?
I have no idea whatsoever.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: Guru Yoga & Lamanism: Speculations on Shingon and Nichiren Schools

Post by DGA » Mon Jun 27, 2016 11:37 am

With regard to "Lamanism": It's a term used to describe Vajrayana Buddhism of the Himalayan region by people who don't know what they're talking about--unless there's another "Lamanism" about that I am ignorant of. Hint: the word "lama" is a Tibetan word. It describes a Tibetan phenomenon. The author of the blog post I linked above, a blog post that has been reproduced and linked in more than a few places online, claims that Shingon-shu is an "offshoot" of this Lamanism, which is to say that Shingon is an offshoot of Tibetan Buddhism. This claim assumes that Tibetan Buddhism precedes Shingon. That is wrong; the tradition preserved in Shingon shu predates the traditions practiced in Tibet.

Shingon is not an "offshoot" of a hypothesized "lamanism." Rather, both Tibetan Vajrayana and Shingon are offshoots, so to speak, of Indian Mahayana. They are sister traditions from a common source. To claim that either represents a degeneration of the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha is to engage in sectarian polemic, and that's fine if have convinced yourself it does you or anyone else any good, but it's a mistake to conflate sectarianism with historical inquiry. That's why I am bringing some of these issues up here.

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Re: Guru Yoga & Lamanism: Speculations on Shingon and Nichiren Schools

Post by DGA » Mon Jun 27, 2016 11:39 am

smcj wrote:
DGA wrote:Is there any such thing as guru yoga in the Shingon tradition?
I have no idea whatsoever.
I don't think the author of our blog post can demonstrate that guru yoga as he imagines it exists in Shingon now, or has existed at any time. That's OK, the burden of proof is on him or those who would defend his position.

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Re: Guru Yoga & Lamanism: Speculations on Shingon and Nichiren Schools

Post by smcj » Mon Jun 27, 2016 11:41 am

Sorry. My comment was off topic. :focus:
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: Guru Yoga & Lamanism: Speculations on Shingon and Nichiren Schools

Post by Kim O'Hara » Mon Jun 27, 2016 12:31 pm

smcj wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:That blog seems to me to be a lot of blatantly sectarian :stirthepot: but I could be wrong so I will say no more about it.
However, I do know and like (and remember) words and their implications and here's an odd one.
...
"Lamaism" itself is well out of fashion, and (IMO) anyone using "Lamanism" is either revealing a truly awesome ignorance of the vajrayana tradition (Tibetan or Japanese), is being deliberately obscure and obtuse, or has a most peculiar reference library.
The term comes from their understanding of what is entailed in the guru-yoga, which has been since downplayed to accommodate our sensibilities. Been it actually is accurate.

[Edit - corrected quote formatting]
My point, really, was that use of the word was a sign of serious ignorance of the subject and especially of ignorance of current western knowledge of the tradition. No-one who has seriously engaged with vajrayana in the west in the last twenty years would call it "Lamaism", let alone the even more peculiar "Lamanism". It's sort of like a chemist talking about "phlogiston" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phlogiston_theory). :toilet:

:namaste:
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Re: Guru Yoga & Lamanism: Speculations on Shingon and Nichiren Schools

Post by Fortyeightvows » Tue Jun 28, 2016 2:21 am

I'm thinking that the author of the article is a member of this forum...

And personally I'm fond of the term lamaism :quoteunquote: A lot of great English books use the term: Kenneth Che'en,Laurence Waddell, Walter Eugene Clark, Evan Wentz I guess peculiar reference library may be right...

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Re: Guru Yoga & Lamanism: Speculations on Shingon and Nichiren Schools

Post by Kim O'Hara » Tue Jun 28, 2016 3:55 am

Fortyeightvows wrote: ... And personally I'm fond of the term lamaism :quoteunquote: ...
Do you still like it with the extra "n" in the middle? For me, "Lamanism" takes it from quirkily old-fashioned to :alien: territory.

:smile:
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Re: Guru Yoga & Lamanism: Speculations on Shingon and Nichiren Schools

Post by conebeckham » Tue Jun 28, 2016 4:10 am

I personally can't stand the term; it's a derogation. It served to differentiate Tibetan Vajrayana from what Western scholars considered "True Buddhism," or "uncorrupt Buddhism."
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

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Re: Guru Yoga & Lamanism: Speculations on Shingon and Nichiren Schools

Post by Kim O'Hara » Tue Jun 28, 2016 5:27 am

conebeckham wrote:I personally can't stand the term; it's a derogation. It served to differentiate Tibetan Vajrayana from what Western scholars considered "True Buddhism," or "uncorrupt Buddhism."
I agree ... but we've been far enough off topic for long enough now. :thinking:
Does anyone here know anything about the Shingon "guru yoga" that started this topic?

:thanks:
Kim

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Re: Guru Yoga & Lamanism: Speculations on Shingon and Nichiren Schools

Post by Fortyeightvows » Tue Jun 28, 2016 5:29 am

If the deity and the guru are the same, then why not?

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Re: Guru Yoga & Lamanism: Speculations on Shingon and Nichiren Schools

Post by Malcolm » Tue Jun 28, 2016 2:51 pm

Fortyeightvows wrote:I'm thinking that the author of the article is a member of this forum...

And personally I'm fond of the term lamaism :quoteunquote: A lot of great English books use the term: Kenneth Che'en,Laurence Waddell, Walter Eugene Clark, Evan Wentz I guess peculiar reference library may be right...
Waddell's book is an example of the worst sort of 19th century bigotry and racism.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Guru Yoga & Lamanism: Speculations on Shingon and Nichiren Schools

Post by smcj » Tue Jun 28, 2016 4:00 pm

Waddell's book is an example of the worst sort of 19th century bigotry and racism.
Yes, his interpretation of his data is culturally chauvinistic and a horrible misinterpretation. However I've heard Ken McLrod say that, in terms of his data, he is very accurate.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: Guru Yoga & Lamanism: Speculations on Shingon and Nichiren Schools

Post by MiphamFan » Tue Jun 28, 2016 4:12 pm

What's the point of referring to him when there is much more information directly from Tibetan sources available today?

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Re: Guru Yoga & Lamanism: Speculations on Shingon and Nichiren Schools

Post by smcj » Tue Jun 28, 2016 4:36 pm

MiphamFan wrote:What's the point of referring to him when there is much more information directly from Tibetan sources available today?
His term "Lamaism". If you strip it of its legacy connotation as a pejorative I believe it is actually accurate.

Our brothers over at Dhamma Wheel probably would use it as Waddell did, as a pejorative. They do not accept the validity of deities or that lamas can experience and transmit them through empowerment. But if you accept the validity of a continuous lineage of enlightened masters being facilitated through tantric empowerment as I do, I think the term should be viewed here not as a pejorative, but as a badge of pride.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: Guru Yoga & Lamanism: Speculations on Shingon and Nichiren Schools

Post by MiphamFan » Tue Jun 28, 2016 4:44 pm

ChNN has no problem with Lamaism in itself either. I'm not talking about the term though, I'm just talking about using Waddell as a source.

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