Tendai Juzu (prayer beads)

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Seishin
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Tendai Juzu (prayer beads)

Post by Seishin » Sun Jan 24, 2016 10:15 am

TENDAI JUZU 天台宗数珠 - A basic guide for lay practitioners

Tendai juzu, or counting beads, have a unique style, unlike other schools of Buddhism. The make-up of Tendai juzu is as follows;

There are 108 Omodama (主珠) which means ‘main beads’. These are the beads that we use to count the mantras with. There are 108 representing 108 bonno 煩悩(kleshas) or human afflictions. With each bead/mantra, we are burning away our afflictions. You will notice that the main beads of Tendai juzu are flattend, or disc shape. These are called hiradama or sorobandama 平玉, which literally means “flat beads”. No-one really knows for sure why they have flat beads and not the traditional round type. Some say it’s because it makes it easier to count mantras, that your fingers are less likely to slip when counting mantras. Another possible reason could be because of the location of Mt Hiei. Mt Hiei is a wild mountain with bears and other such wild animals. Priests often rub the beads together when saying prayers, and flat beads make a lot more noise than round beads, so they are better for scaring off animals. Who knows!

As with all Buddhist prayer beads, there is a large bead at the “start” called the oyadama 親珠, which means mother bead or parent bead. This bead represents our teachers, especially Shakyamuni Buddha. It is also the marker of the beginning and end of the rosary. When we chant mantras, we do not cross over this bead. Instead, we stop and turn the juzu around and start chanting back the other way.

Amongst the main beads you will find four smaller beads, which are called shitendama 四天珠, which means,’ Four Heavenly Kings beads’. The Four Heavenly Kings are gods who reside at the bottom of Mt Sumeru (the mythical centre of the universe) and have vowed to be the guardians of the world. In Sanskrit they are known as the Caturmahārāja, namely - Dhrtarastra, Virudhaka, Virupaksa, and Vaisravana who watch over the cardinal directions, also known as Lokapāla, or Guardians of the world. These smaller beads are not meant to be counted, but are markers for smaller recitations. Some mantras or services only require you to chant a mantra 7 times, for example. So, if we look at the Tendai juzu, we will see that there are 7 main beads (omodama) between the parent bead (oyadama) and the first marker bead (shitendama). There are also other, more esoteric, reasons for the number of beads between markers, and are used for various ritual purposes.

When the juzu is not in use, we twist the juzu round on itself forming a perfect circle. And looking closely, we see that the four shitendama beads are now perfectly aligned with the cardinal points.
tendai3.gif
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Another understanding of these four beads is that they represent the Four Earthly Bodhisattvas from the Lotus Sutra, chapter 15. These are Superior Practice, Boundless Practice, Pure Practice, and Firmly Established Practice. These four also represent the 4 virtues of the Buddhas’ life.

Coming from the parent bead, there is a knot, followed by a small loop. In many Tendai juzu (although not all) there is a small bead in this loop called Jō-mei 浄名, however I do not know the significance or meaning of this bead, although I have been told that this bead is moved up when chanting begins. From this loop is another knot and then two tassels (Bō 房), one with 10 round beads and one with 20 flat/disk beads. These beads are called Deshidama 弟子珠, meaning ‘disciple beads’. At the end of each tassel are Namidagatadama 涙型珠 or teardrop beads, followed by a small pom pom known as Kiku bō 菊房 meaning chrysanthemum tassel, the chrysanthemum being the national flower of Japan, the crest of the emperor and also the crest of Tendai Shu.
These ‘desciple beads’ are used for counting large numbers of mantras. After each 108 mantras, one disciple bead is moved up. This continues until all 10 round beads have been moved, at which point 1 flat disciple bead is moved, and the pattern continues; 108 = 1 round bead. 10 round beads = 1080 mantras = 1 flat bead. 20 flat beads = total of 21,600 mantras.
Juzu 01.jpg
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Originally I was taught to hold the parent bead in the palm of your left hand. And although Ichishima Sensei said this was acceptable, according to the ‘Tendaishū manual of ritual and etiquate’ (天台宗法式作法集) the parent bead is held at the top of the index finger like the image below, but with the tassels in the palm.
Juzu 2.jpg
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To hold in gassho, simply bring the hands together and leave the juzu in place.

To count mantras, use your thumb on your left hand and move a bead on the last syllable of the mantra. Remember, do not count the shitendama or parent bead. And when you approach the parent bead, stop and turn the juzu 180 degrees, and then count the mantras.

When not in use, you may leave the juzu folded in a circle (see top image) on your butsudan, with the parent bead facing forward, or if you have a bag to place it in. The juzu is not jewellery, and so shouldn’t be worn as such, and should be treated with respect. Remove it to go to the toilet, or when cleaning etc, and do not place on the floor.

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Tatsuo
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Re: Tendai Juzu (prayer beads)

Post by Tatsuo » Sun Jan 24, 2016 10:43 pm

Thank you for sharing this information about the Tendai Juzu (and also about the Butsudan). :anjali:
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Re: Tendai Juzu (prayer beads)

Post by DGA » Tue Jan 26, 2016 1:46 pm

To our friends everywhere who would like to practice (or even teach!) Tendai Buddhism but don't want to bother actually learning it...

http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.ph ... 49&start=0

...these kinds of comportment and etiquette manuals are super helpful as memory aids to people who have already been taught this stuff in person. Tendai is an oral transmission, right down to details like these. I'm not saying that exoteric things like how to hold your hands in gassho are meant to be kept secret. It's just that following guidelines like these without being exposed to the living culture just turns you into a robot, which is the opposite of what the practice is supposed to do for you.

I'm glad Seishin sensei posted these materials online, and I rejoice in the knowledge he's gained in recent years--it's a delight to see him blossom into a teacher and a leader. I'm making this post with the intention of reminding our friends who are ignorant of the context in which these materials are used that THE CONTEXT MATTERS. Really, the context is everything. If you lack the context, the connection to the living tradition, then you have nothing to work with, like an automobile with no fuel, no engine, no tires, and a driver imagining he or she is going places.

¡disfruta la luz del sol, amigos!

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Re: Tendai Juzu (prayer beads)

Post by Seishin » Tue Jan 26, 2016 2:05 pm

Thank you DGA, yes this is important to remember, and I hope no-one thinks I am giving away Tendai "secrets". I made sure what I've been writing is the same as what is easily found in Japanese on the internet.

In gassho,
Seishin

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Re: Tendai Juzu (prayer beads)

Post by narhwal90 » Tue Jan 26, 2016 2:58 pm

Thanks for posting this... it would be cool if the knowledgeable of other sects/branches might create similar threads... A minor kalpa ago I had some basic lay instruction on the meaning of the Nicherin Shosho beads. Google shows lots of hits but not a lot of guidance. There are many variations and styles and materials even in the "standard" NS bead arrangement. I've also witnessed a wide diversity of how they're used; some hold them quietly, others rub them vigorously to the point of annoying others. Some will rub then snap their hands apart, using the bead string to stop their hands then bring their hands back together. I heard an account of someone doing that and the string parted, flinging beads all around. Personally it'd be cool to hear little details along those lines from other practices.

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Re: Tendai Juzu (prayer beads)

Post by DGA » Tue Jan 26, 2016 3:40 pm

narhwal90 wrote:Thanks for posting this... it would be cool if the knowledgeable of other sects/branches might create similar threads... A minor kalpa ago I had some basic lay instruction on the meaning of the Nicherin Shosho beads. Google shows lots of hits but not a lot of guidance. There are many variations and styles and materials even in the "standard" NS bead arrangement. I've also witnessed a wide diversity of how they're used; some hold them quietly, others rub them vigorously to the point of annoying others. Some will rub then snap their hands apart, using the bead string to stop their hands then bring their hands back together. I heard an account of someone doing that and the string parted, flinging beads all around. Personally it'd be cool to hear little details along those lines from other practices.
I can't speak to how it is in Nichiren Shoshu, but I can say that you will witness some of those gestures with the Tendai juzu if you attend a Tendai service (depending on the service...). Each gesture with the juzu does have its significance, but it's not the sort of thing that can be explained online. I think it's an interesting topic.

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Re: Tendai Juzu (prayer beads)

Post by Tatsuo » Tue Jan 26, 2016 6:03 pm

There seems to be another way of holding the Tendai Juzu and I wonder if this is done only by monks (see here).

Btw - when searching for the right picture I also found infographics for other schools (Jōdoshū, Jōdo Shinshū, Rinzaishū, Sōtōshū, and Nichirenshū).
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Re: Tendai Juzu (prayer beads)

Post by DGA » Tue Jan 26, 2016 6:12 pm

Tatsuo wrote:There seems to be another way of holding the Tendai Juzu and I wonder if this is done only by monks (see here).

Btw - when searching for the right picture I also found infographics for other schools (Jōdoshū, Jōdo Shinshū, Rinzaishū, Sōtōshū, and Nichirenshū).
I've never seen laypeople do it but I haven't seen everything.

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Re: Tendai Juzu (prayer beads)

Post by rory » Tue Jan 26, 2016 11:32 pm

Wow Jikan; I didn't know you were the Tendai Dharma cop, patrolling the mean streets.....*sigh* I realize there is an esoteric "you must be there component", after all it's a school with Vajrayana...
but if you aren't here actively just starting a pleasant discussion of exoteric things how on earth do you think people will become interested? Seishin is making an effort and I give him kudos. Did you get in touch with Carlita whose in your area and interested?

Tatsuo; great pics, it took me ages to learn how to use the Jodo Shu double juzu (no pics in those days), but now it's second nature and I love it.
gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

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Re: Tendai Juzu (prayer beads)

Post by DGA » Wed Jan 27, 2016 2:39 am

rory wrote:Wow Jikan; I didn't know you were the Tendai Dharma cop, patrolling the mean streets.....
What a presumptuous remark.
I realize there is an esoteric "you must be there component", after all it's a school with Vajrayana...
This isn't about esoteric practice at all. All authentic schools of Dharma are like this. It's an oral tradition. You have to hear it--you have to be there for it. Tell me an exception to this rule.
Seishin is making an effort and I give him kudos. Did you get in touch with Carlita whose in your area and interested?
Yes, I agree that Seishin's doing excellent work. No, I haven't heard from anyone named Carlita. I'll recheck my email just in case.
but if you aren't here actively just starting a pleasant discussion of exoteric things how on earth do you think people will become interested?
Please, tell me about pleasant conversations, and your expertise in it. Tell me about getting others interested in practice, and your success in this.

***

I'm not a recruiter. I'm not a teacher, either. If people have the karma to practice in any particular temple, with any particular community or teacher, then they will once that karma ripens. If not, then not. How is that karma determined? By making some sacrifices and showing up to practice... not complaining about practice, whining about it, or making excuses for one's shortcomings. Let's say, hypothetically, that one has committed to performing 3,000 prostrations, but that one lacks the cardiovascular health to do it--maybe because of smoking, or obesity, or whatever reason. how do you show commitment to practice? Well, you rearrange your life (getting your health in order in this example) in order to fulfill your commitments. You don't expect the practice to bend in order to accommodate your own preferences. Capice?

This is a thread about Tendai Juzu, and their use. If you'd like to to discuss my posting habits, and how you would prefer myself and others to conduct ourselves online, perhaps another thread is in order.

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Re: Tendai Juzu (prayer beads)

Post by DGA » Wed Jan 27, 2016 1:31 pm

DGA wrote: All authentic schools of Dharma are like this. It's an oral tradition. You have to hear it--you have to be there for it. Tell me an exception to this rule.
In the interest of giving this topic a fair hearing, I started a new thread on it here.

http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=39&t=21845

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Re: Tendai Juzu (prayer beads)

Post by rory » Wed Jan 27, 2016 2:32 pm

Hmm, I suggest next time you write to a fellow priest privately if you have something not positive to say, that's the polite and respectful thing to do.

Tendai presents itself as a "you must be there to here it" tradition, but others do not. Please don't make unsupported unscholarly comments, this is the same issue that resulted in the absurd Dragon King's Daughter discussion, where you and others insisted on a literalist meaning while the great Zhiyi the founder of your school had a profound understand that there were no distinctions - which you obviously were ignorant of.

The great hijiri in Japan went about spreading Nenbutsu -ever hear of Kuya? They wanted to spread the teaching to others; shopkeepers, illiterate peasants, even going so far as to build shrines next to prisons. Honen preached Pure Land from a boat to a working prostitute. Nichiren wrote letters to his followers female and male and visited them. Shakaymuni Buddha wandered all over to preach the Dharma. None of them was selfish....And yes ill people and old people and those differently abled deserve to hear or read or touch and practice the Dharma whatever their situation.
gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

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