Meditation in Tendai

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Tatsuo
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Meditation in Tendai

Post by Tatsuo » Thu Apr 27, 2017 6:05 am

Hello,

I wonder how mediation in modern-day Tendai in Japan and the West looks like. Are the Four Samadis still being practiced today and how much was changed to apply the techniques to lay practitioners and priests?
So far I could only find that meditation on the breath (including visualitions of the breath as a light entering your body) is a part of modern Tendai meditation which sounds similar to mediations taught in Zen and visualizations for beginners in Tibetan Buddhism. There also seems to be a variation of Kaihogyo called Kokorodo and of course there is Goma.

:anjali:
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Re: Meditation in Tendai

Post by Seishin » Thu Apr 27, 2017 12:59 pm

To my knowledge, the four Samadhi's are still practiced on Mt Hiei - I believe Rev Jikai has met someone who has completed the 90 days constantly seated meditation. The Kaihogyo is still practiced and is considered part of the constantly walking Samadhi practice. There are many other activities which go on at Mt Hiei for those monks and nuns who wish it, however I'm sure, like most of Japanese Buddhism, fewer and fewer wish to take part. We practice the four Samadhi's to a much lesser extent in the UK, seeing as it would require one to live as a monastic, but also be supported by a community (for food etc).

As for meditations, I've been taught numerous meditations and not just meditation on the breath (meditations to overcome the 5 hindrances for example). It is true that in Japan the goma is more popular than taking part in meditations. In the west it is the opposite (for the UK at least) and meditation is more popular than other forms of practice, however we try to involve people in all aspects of practice as much as possible. I believe the Kokorodo was coined by Monshin san (I think). We don't have that in the UK, but we have our own "constantly walking meditation" day every summer.

Hope that helps

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Re: Meditation in Tendai

Post by Seishin » Thu Apr 27, 2017 3:31 pm

This may also offer a little insight in to the practice of the Four Samadhi's on Mt Hiei http://www.tendai.or.jp/shugyou/

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Re: Meditation in Tendai

Post by coldwater » Fri Apr 28, 2017 7:12 am

Hello Tatsuo,

As Seishin-san says, and from my understanding...yes, the four samadhis are still intensively practiced in Japan. I have also met Gyosho Uehara a couple of times, a sennichi kaihogyo practitioner. In addition to hearing second-hand stories of meetings with the other types of specialists.

How is meditation practiced in Japan? I don't think anyone can speak for all of Japan or the West? Not sure where that kind of generalization leads. People do sitting meditation, walking meditation, mantra meditation, etc. likely it will depend on the the priest, temple and community. Some more than others. All priests learn them and some lay people learn them if they are interested.

Tendai has unique aspects but many are also in common with the rest of Buddhism. Meditations on equanimity, loving kindness etc. Dharma is dharma.

Some meditations will be similar to Tibetan Buddhist practices because Tendai has a vajrayana tradition. There are many meditations with visualizations.

The late Rev.Keisho Leary established trails on Mt.Cobb under the guidance of his teachers. Others and myself have done this practice weekly with him. If I recall, the path was about 12 miles around the mountain and took about 5-6 hours up and down a mountain isolated from human distraction and often without a trail. It could be called a 'ichinichi or han-nichi' kaihogyo. He had completed a 100-day practice of it and conducted twice weekly goma. The temple's focus was esoteric and outdoor shugendo practices as he learned under sennichi kaihogyo practitioners directly.

It might be hard to say what is "popular" in the West in regards to Tendai practitioners and practices or what that means...Tendai isn't in the mainstream like other traditions. For myself, and a few of those I know directly, we are very interested in the practices of mantra, goma etc. Some others are of course more interested in pure land, shikan, scholarship, Lotus sutra, etc. From all the foreign priests I have met thus far, each has had their own entry into dharma and Tendai specifically. If you have a particular interest there are a few Tendai priests here who can point you to someone of a similar interest! Something I appreciate greatly about Tendai practice is that it can accommodate a lot of types of dispositions and practices!

This is all my experience and opinion of course, it would be impossible to speak for 'Tendai' or a country... :tongue:

gassho,
Myoei

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Re: Meditation in Tendai

Post by rory » Sat Apr 29, 2017 7:03 pm

Dear Rev. Myoei;

since Tendai is so rare and infrequently encoutered and kaihogyo especially so, do you think you could please start a new thread and explain the practice to others, maybe insert a photo of Rev. Leary or yourself to show us this amazing practice!

Rev. Seishin, in the West so many of us have only encountered the later Japanese single practice schools of Soto/Rinzai Zen, Pure Land, Nichiren etc that this seems to be the norm and the 'way things are'. The variety of practices in Tendai comes as a complete surprise to people. I know this that was the case for me and it is fantastic to learn of a tradition that appeals to practitioners in so many wonderful ways.


gassho
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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: Meditation in Tendai

Post by narhwal90 » Sat Apr 29, 2017 9:14 pm

Seconded. I only knew of Tendai from references in Nichiren material- and only discovered the nearby sangha in Virginia from threads here on DW, and so was able to visit them. From talking to Rev Junsen I learned more about whats here in the US at least- and with respect to Shingon as well.

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Re: Meditation in Tendai

Post by coldwater » Sun Apr 30, 2017 11:09 pm

Rory-san,

There was a thread
https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f ... gyo#p52274

didn't really go very far...I think the best way to come close is to getting an idea of it is... take long hikes and remember the dharma. Even in the case of Keisho-sensei, he established the trail through living on the mountain, doing fasting retreats on the mountain, and walking it often in meditation. He put a lot of time into it. Afterward, a few routes were established. Shorter and long as well as a longer one with a route through the town from the mountain. Of course, he had guidance from his own teachers in this process but...I think there is merit to walking and remembering, reciting mantra continuously even if it isn't a (half day or one day) kaihogyo.

We can talk about walking meditation or kaihogyo practices of that lineage in Tendai all day...but it never replaces the experience. This is evident from the type of runner/hiker blogs where people think it is a feat of endurance, marathons, or do symbolic things. I can't speak to the value of that type of practice...but it appears to be very different from what has been explained to me and what little experience I have on the one-day kaihogyos lead by Keisho-sensei.

Some people would come and try it with him, with us, or alone. Some would have the wrong idea and try and train their body for endurance and fitness, try to mark out the trail by breaking branches and tagging trees, have ideas on clearing the path out and putting up signs or that it was a nature experience and we'd be seeking grand views. Others had really profound insights, cleared up their concerns or confusions or "got set straight" on their path. Outer path? Inner path?

Kaihogyo is specialized in within Tendai-shu, like sennichi kaihogyo. People undertake shorter versions as well. Keisho-sensei was a deshi of Gozen-sama (a sennichi kaihogyo monk) and then later also of Kayaki-sensei who is the head of the Tendai-Shugendo line among other things. Their teaching was present in his practice and informed it. In Carmen Blacker's The Catalpa Bow there is some story or reference to Gozen-sama, the author visits his temple I believe. An interesting read if you are want to know more about the shugendo elements.

Keisho-sensei's old blog has some information and reflections on it as well.


gassho

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Re: Meditation in Tendai

Post by narhwal90 » Mon May 01, 2017 12:58 am

I don't know if it qualifies as kaihogyo but the Karuna Dharma center in NY does walking meditations (webpage said so, and a gorgeous area to do it up there btw- sadly I'm there for one evening so just the routine shikan for me). lol, the Great River folks down in VA probably can't do it locally (walk along I-95 eww lol) but they participate in some practices out in the countryside further up the Potomac. For my part I'm interested in hearing about the variety of Tendai practices which would be suitable for discussion.

A walking meditation presumably including climbs and obstacles, which doesn't feature me carrying a chainsaw to maintain the trails sounds nice, though cutting and splitting wood is meditative in its own way...

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Re: Meditation in Tendai

Post by coldwater » Mon May 01, 2017 2:15 am

Well...it is all dharma- freeways, mountains, or buildings! Best is making effort, no matter the practice, and sounds like you are doing just that by visiting the communities and learning directly from teachers.

Gassho

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Re: Meditation in Tendai

Post by Tatsuo » Wed May 31, 2017 1:59 pm

Thank you all for your replies! It is really interesting reading about modern Tendaishu and your experiences. I have to apologize for not being more active in this thread before. I cannot contribute much since I only learned about Tendai practices by reading scholarly books about Tendai history, in which practices are treated as side note. So far I could not find a book fully explaining Tendai practices - though maybe this is not possible due to the immense variety of the practices. Especially modern Tendaishu is something nobody seems to write about (except Stephen G. Covell in his book "Japanese Temple Buddhism: Worldliness in a Religion of Renunciation").

How would the meditation of an occasional lay practitioner at a Western Tendai sangha look like? Are there unique Tendai elements or is the meditation not too different from what a Zen/Vipassana/Tibetan Vajrayana lay Buddhist does? I read this wonderful article on the blog of the Great River Tendai Sangha about nenbutsu involving visualisations (http://dctendai.blogspot.kr/2016/02/nem ... ctice.html) and wonder if this, together with lay forms of Kaihogyo, is something which could be described as Tendai contribution to Western Buddhism.
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Re: Meditation in Tendai

Post by Seishin » Wed May 31, 2017 4:17 pm

Tatsuo wrote: How would the meditation of an occasional lay practitioner at a Western Tendai sangha look like?
I'm somewhat confused by this question and don't really know how to answer. Are you looking for a detailed explanation of how we meditate?
Tatsuo wrote: Are there unique Tendai elements or is the meditation not too different from what a Zen/Vipassana/Tibetan Vajrayana lay Buddhist does?
Yes. No. Sort of.... Tendai is Japanese, and so in terms of "form" and maybe "feel", it looks a lot like Zen, but as we practice shikan (shamatha/vipashyana) internally its very different to shikantaza and would be more familiar to a Tibetan Buddhist - however I'm pretty sure there'll be differences... but as I really don't know much about Tibetan Buddhism I couldn't pinpoint those exact differences.

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Re: Meditation in Tendai

Post by Tatsuo » Thu Jun 15, 2017 10:19 pm

Yes, I am really interested in learning more about the details of Tendai mediations though this is probably something I would have to study with a teacher and ultimately practice by myself to get a broader understanding. So far I have only experience with Zen and Jodoshu where explaining the basics of the main practice seems to be pretty straightforward whereas Tendaishu is much more comprehensive, including almost any Buddhist practice there is. It almost feels like the early days of Mahayana transfered to our times. :anjali:

For anyone also interested in Tendai meditation I can recommend two articles: (Tendai UK (1) and Tendai UK (2).
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Re: Meditation in Tendai

Post by rory » Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:08 pm

Tatsuo wrote:Yes, I am really interested in learning more about the details of Tendai mediations though this is probably something I would have to study with a teacher and ultimately practice by myself to get a broader understanding. So far I have only experience with Zen and Jodoshu where explaining the basics of the main practice seems to be pretty straightforward whereas Tendaishu is much more comprehensive, including almost any Buddhist practice there is. It almost feels like the early days of Mahayana transfered to our times. :anjali:

For anyone also interested in Tendai meditation I can recommend two articles: (Tendai UK (1) and Tendai UK (2).
Tendai is a very old school, it began with Zhiyi in China around 590 C.E. and he was a contemporary of Bodhidharma. Saicho's Tendai school was given official status 806 C.E. in Japan.
I would say that in respect to Zen and Pure Land, Tendai, in my view, is more wholistic. Zen focuses on zazen and the realization of emptyness, Pure Land on nembutsu and ojo.

Tendai employs all these and more as an illustration of ichinen sanzen and to realize the Truth of the Middle: all phenomena are empty, phenomena are provisionally real; both are true at the same time.

So the realization and the philosophy of Tendai are quite different. There are really tons of practices, the point being you practice what best suits you and helps lead you to realization. Tendai recognizes our differences and does not have a kind of 'one size fits all Dharma practice.' I love the esoteric Pure Land meditation of Genshin that illustrates this very point:
he Sanskrit character A 1 is none other than the Principle of Emptiness. 2 The character of MI is the Ten Dharma Realms resulting from causes and conditions. 3 That is to say, it is none other than the Principle of Provisionality. 4 To which the Hundred Realms are in eternal compliance. 5 The character TA is none other than the Principle of the Mean. 6 This Middle Way is identical with the Dharmakaya. It has been formerly said, that the sentient beings of the Ten Realms all call on Amida Buddha.
https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=64&t=25310
we really need a book to show people just what is available! And yes I would encourage you to start, check out the various temples and contact a teacher.
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: Meditation in Tendai

Post by Anonymous X » Sat Jun 17, 2017 7:42 am

If you do a search for Paul Swanson, his writings on Zhiyi (Chih-i) and Tiantai are very clear. Also try this pdf.

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Re: Meditation in Tendai

Post by Minobu » Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:32 pm

Tatsuo wrote:
Wed May 31, 2017 1:59 pm
I read this wonderful article on the blog of the Great River Tendai Sangha about nenbutsu involving visualisations (http://dctendai.blogspot.kr/2016/02/nem ... ctice.html) and wonder if this, together with lay forms of Kaihogyo, is something which could be described as Tendai contribution to Western Buddhism.
So is Nembutsu practice common to Tendai?
also i just noticed dai in the word tendai.
i always thought dai was a superlative and placed before something..like Daishonin , Daigohonzon.
why is it reversed here?
DaiTen ..is it ever used?

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Re: Meditation in Tendai

Post by DGA » Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:47 pm

Minobu wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:32 pm
Tatsuo wrote:
Wed May 31, 2017 1:59 pm
I read this wonderful article on the blog of the Great River Tendai Sangha about nenbutsu involving visualisations (http://dctendai.blogspot.kr/2016/02/nem ... ctice.html) and wonder if this, together with lay forms of Kaihogyo, is something which could be described as Tendai contribution to Western Buddhism.
So is Nembutsu practice common to Tendai?
Yes, it is an important Tendai practice. Tendai Daishi, also known as Zhiyi or Chih-i, taught it extensively, and taught extensive versions of practice. You may be familiar with Zhiyi's writings from their influence on Nichiren's Buddhism.

Honestly, I get confused when I see writers praise Zhiyi and then condemn Pure Land practice (or seated meditation...). That doesn't make sense to my poor mind. But I digress.
also i just noticed dai in the word tendai.
i always thought dai was a superlative and placed before something..like Daishonin , Daigohonzon.
why is it reversed here?
DaiTen ..is it ever used?
The "dai" in Tendai is part of a place name: 天台. TienTai/Tendai was named after Mount TienTai in China.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiantai_Mountain

So no, to the best of my understanding "DaiTen" isn't used and would make zero sense.

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Re: Meditation in Tendai

Post by Minobu » Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:58 pm

DGA wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:47 pm
Minobu wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:32 pm
Tatsuo wrote:
Wed May 31, 2017 1:59 pm
I read this wonderful article on the blog of the Great River Tendai Sangha about nenbutsu involving visualisations (http://dctendai.blogspot.kr/2016/02/nem ... ctice.html) and wonder if this, together with lay forms of Kaihogyo, is something which could be described as Tendai contribution to Western Buddhism.
So is Nembutsu practice common to Tendai?
Yes, it is an important Tendai practice. Tendai Daishi, also known as Zhiyi or Chih-i, taught it extensively, and taught extensive versions of practice. You may be familiar with Zhiyi's writings from their influence on Nichiren's Buddhism.

Honestly, I get confused when I see writers praise Zhiyi and then condemn Pure Land practice (or seated meditation...). That doesn't make sense to my poor mind. But I digress.
also i just noticed dai in the word tendai.
i always thought dai was a superlative and placed before something..like Daishonin , Daigohonzon.
why is it reversed here?
DaiTen ..is it ever used?
The "dai" in Tendai is part of a place name: 天台. TienTai/Tendai was named after Mount TienTai in China.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiantai_Mountain

So no, to the best of my understanding "DaiTen" isn't used and would make zero sense.
hey thanks a lot for this.
Honestly, I get confused when I see writers praise Zhiyi and then condemn Pure Land practice (or seated meditation...). That doesn't make sense to my poor mind. But I digress.
as for this piece;
I learned a secret tantric practice to go to pure land from a rinpoche in higher tantric arts.
it did not work for me except i dozed off and had a quick dream of being surrounded by slightly choppy turquoise water..i don;t know if surrounded is the right word..it was like a lake..

anyway...like original enlightenment(which seems to be semi resolved for me now) i am still going through angst about pure lands and the desire to go to them.
the angst is based on my introduction to buddhism and was taught about the eternal work in samsara a bodhisattva should wish to do...that work being shakubuku of Nichiren daishonin's teachings..
i'm not doing that here...lol...but i do see the whole Avolikiteshvara thing about putting off one's nirvanna to stay in samsara..

then i realize a stint in pure land might not be a bad idea as long as one's desire is for like learning and developing in order to come back to samsara to do the work more efficiently. i could use a healing time there....hint hint...

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Re: Meditation in Tendai

Post by DGA » Fri Oct 27, 2017 12:18 am

Pure Land is a good path for some people. For others, it isn't. That's OK.

Because it's a good path for many, I rejoice in it.

Similarly for Zazen. I don't practice zazen but I don't condemn it either, because that would mean condemning the serious and sincere Dharma practice of others. So I rejoice in their practice.

And so on, and so on, and so on. That's how I try to practice at least.

This approach goes directly back to our old friend the Lotus Sutra, actually.

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Re: Meditation in Tendai

Post by DGA » Fri Oct 27, 2017 12:32 am

Tatsuo wrote:
Wed May 31, 2017 1:59 pm
I read this wonderful article on the blog of the Great River Tendai Sangha about nenbutsu involving visualisations (http://dctendai.blogspot.kr/2016/02/nem ... ctice.html) and wonder if this, together with lay forms of Kaihogyo, is something which could be described as Tendai contribution to Western Buddhism.
That may be so. I'm not sure. I don't think that's the intention that the author of that piece had at the time he first wrote it (before Junsen revised and republished it), but who knows, maybe he learned something since then.

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Re: Meditation in Tendai

Post by Seishin » Fri Oct 27, 2017 8:59 am

With regards to the word 'Dai', there are many words in Japanese that sound the same, but are actually completely different words. Just like in English we have 'where' and 'wear'. DGA has given you the Kanji for Tendai '天台'. The first character (Ten 天) can mean 'heaven' or 'god'. The second character (dai 台) can mean 'terrace', 'platform', 'table' etc I believe '天台' is usually translated in to English as 'Heavens Terrace'.

The Kanji for 'Dai Shonin' is '大聖人'. You will notice the first character is different to the 'dai' in Tendai. '大' can mean 'big' or 'great'. I hope that helps.

With regards pureland practice in Tendai; I have found that, with Tendai's focus on Shikan meditation and the philosophy of Ichinen sanzen, the Pureland practices can be practiced without any requirement to believe in the Pureland.

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