Introduction to Tendai - questions and resources

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KiwiNFLFan
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Introduction to Tendai - questions and resources

Post by KiwiNFLFan »

I am a Buddhist who is currently exploring Japanese Buddhism. I converted to Buddhism last year at my local Thai temple, but I went on a vacation to Japan late last year and really loved the Japanese form of Buddhism. I visited a number of temples, including Shoren-In (Tendai), Higashi Honganji (Jodo Shinshu, Otani-ha) and Fukagawa Fudo-Do (Shingon, Chizan-ha). I'm planning to go back to Japan to live and I'm applying for jobs there at the moment (there are no Japanese Buddhist temples in New Zealand). However, at the moment I'm exploring different Japanese forms of Buddhism. I've been in touch with a couple of Jodo Shinshu priests, one of whom sent me a gohonzon of Amida Buddha, but I don't particularly like their exclusivity. I have a devotion to Kannon Bosatsu, while Shinshu focuses on Amida alone. I'm looking into Jodo Shu as well as Tendai. I'm also involved with Soka Gakkai International, but I find their teachings a bit watered down and their worship is very plain (especially compared to that of Fukagawa Fudo-Do!).

I know that Tendai is the Japanese version of the Chinese Tiantai school, brought to Japan from China by Saicho. I know that the Lotus Sutra is considered the highest teaching of the Buddha (which is where Nichiren got that particular teaching from). But apart from that, I don't really know much.

1. What does a basic Tendai Buddhist practice look like? What is the principal image in the butsudan of a Tendai practitioner?
2. What role does Kannon-Sama have in Tendai? (She is mentioned in the 25th chapter of the Lotus Sutra).
3. Do Tendai Buddhists chant Namu Myoho Renge Kyo? What about devotion to Amida Butsu?
4. How does Japanese Tendai differ from Chinese Tiantai and Korean Cheontae?
5. What are some good books or resources you would recommend for a beginner? Also, what translation of the Lotus Sutra in English is best?

Thanks in advance.

Gassho.

Fortyeightvows
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Re: Introduction to Tendai - questions and resources

Post by Fortyeightvows »

What role does Kannon-Sama have in Tendai?
Remember any close call you had where it could have been much worse?

That was her.

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Seishin
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Re: Introduction to Tendai - questions and resources

Post by Seishin »

1. What does a basic Tendai Buddhist practice look like?
> The answer will differ depending on numerous things; is the practitioner ordained or a lay person? Who is their teacher? What lineage to they belong to? What temple do they belong to? etc etc. Generally speaking, a lay person may practice the liturgy (including nembutsu) and meditation. In this regard, lay practice may seem, on the surface, not all that different to Chinese Chan.

1a. What is the principal image in the butsudan of a Tendai practitioner?
> Again this answer will differ. Yakushi Nyorai, Dainichi Nyorai, Amida Nyorai, Kannon Bosatsu, & Fudo myoo are probably the most popular, however that is just my guess.

2. What role does Kannon-Sama have in Tendai? (She is mentioned in the 25th chapter of the Lotus Sutra).
> He/She plays a very important role in Tendai, just as all great beings do. There are many Tendai Temples dedicated to Kannon-sama.

3. Do Tendai Buddhists chant Namu Myoho Renge Kyo?
> It appears once or twice in our liturgy, however it is not practiced as a mantra or repeated like the Daimoku of Nichiren. However, that doesn't mean you can't chant the Daimoku if you wish.

3a. What about devotion to Amida Butsu?
> Typically, Tendai daily liturgy consists of devotion to the Lotus Sutra in the morning, and devotion to Amida Butsu in the evening.

4. How does Japanese Tendai differ from Chinese Tiantai and Korean Cheontae?
> This is a very broad question, and probably one I'm not qualified to answer. Japanese Tendai is more eclectic than Tiantai or Cheontae, and includes practices not found in the latter. Most of these practices are mikkyo based.

5. What are some good books or resources you would recommend for a beginner?
> Tendai is incredibly broad and not well established in the English language, therefore you'd need to read numerous books and websites in order to gain an understanding of Tendai. Start here:
Saicho: The Establishment of the Japanese Tendai School, by Paul Groner
The Essentials of Buddhist Meditation, by Shramana Zhiyi (Author), Bhikshu Dharmamitra (Translator)
The Six Dharma Gates to the Sublime, by Shramana Zhiyi (Author), Bhikshu Dharmamitra (Translator)
Foundations of T’ien T’ai Philosophy: The Flowering of the Two Truth Theory in Chinese Buddhism, by Paul L. Swanson
The Collected Teachings of the Tendai Lotus School, by BDK English Tripitaka Series Leo Pruden (Translator), Paul L. Swanson (Translator)
The Essentials of the Eight Traditions: And The Candle of the Latter Dharma, by BDK English Tripitaka Series Leo M. Pruden (Translator), Robert Rhodes (Translator)
Tendai Lotus Texts, by BDK English Tripitaka Series Tsugunari Kubo (Translator), Joseph M. Longan (Translator), Terry Abbott (Translator), Masao Ichishima (Translator), David W. Chappell (Translator)

5a. Also, what translation of the Lotus Sutra in English is best?
This seems to be down to personal opinion. I prefer the BDK version myself.

Here are some websites to help you;
https://www.tendai-usa.org/
http://www.tendaiaustralia.org.au/
http://www.tendai.org/
https://tendaiuk.com/tendai-buddhism/

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Nyedrag Yeshe
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Re: Introduction to Tendai - questions and resources

Post by Nyedrag Yeshe »

KiwiNFLFan wrote:
Tue Jan 01, 2019 2:22 pm
I am a Buddhist who is currently exploring Japanese Buddhism. I converted to Buddhism last year at my local Thai temple, but I went on a vacation to Japan late last year and really loved the Japanese form of Buddhism. I visited a number of temples, including Shoren-In (Tendai), Higashi Honganji (Jodo Shinshu, Otani-ha) and Fukagawa Fudo-Do (Shingon, Chizan-ha). I'm planning to go back to Japan to live and I'm applying for jobs there at the moment (there are no Japanese Buddhist temples in New Zealand). However, at the moment I'm exploring different Japanese forms of Buddhism. I've been in touch with a couple of Jodo Shinshu priests, one of whom sent me a gohonzon of Amida Buddha, but I don't particularly like their exclusivity. I have a devotion to Kannon Bosatsu, while Shinshu focuses on Amida alone. I'm looking into Jodo Shu as well as Tendai. I'm also involved with Soka Gakkai International, but I find their teachings a bit watered down and their worship is very plain (especially compared to that of Fukagawa Fudo-Do!).

I know that Tendai is the Japanese version of the Chinese Tiantai school, brought to Japan from China by Saicho. I know that the Lotus Sutra is considered the highest teaching of the Buddha (which is where Nichiren got that particular teaching from). But apart from that, I don't really know much.

1. What does a basic Tendai Buddhist practice look like? What is the principal image in the butsudan of a Tendai practitioner?
2. What role does Kannon-Sama have in Tendai? (She is mentioned in the 25th chapter of the Lotus Sutra).
3. Do Tendai Buddhists chant Namu Myoho Renge Kyo? What about devotion to Amida Butsu?
4. How does Japanese Tendai differ from Chinese Tiantai and Korean Cheontae?
5. What are some good books or resources you would recommend for a beginner? Also, what translation of the Lotus Sutra in English is best?

Thanks in advance.

Gassho.
You might be also interested into looking in Nichiren Shu, they are more open minded regarding both study and practice, besides daily liturgy, they also practice silent meditation besides other techniques (albeit, focusing more on the Lotus Sutra and Daimoku). They also have some esotoric influenced practices (even a Shugendo-like ascetic tradition), and some western born ordaines priesthood.

That's one of their temples in the US, dedicated to Kannon, you can see Kannon here with some other deities (Daikoku etc) and even Shinto Kami. Image
https://www.kannon-temple-nevada.org/main-altar
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aaron_proffitt
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Re: Introduction to Tendai - questions and resources

Post by aaron_proffitt »

Tendai.or.jp and tendai.org are two great places to get started as they provide a straightforward and fairly broad approach to how Tendai fits in the broader picture of Mahayana Buddhism. Surprisingly, the wikipedia page isn't half bad either! Lots of recommendations for further reading may be found on pretty much every page of the tendai.org page.

It is my understanding that the Tendai Buddhist Institute is currently composing a guide and lay manual to Tendai Buddhism that will be published in the near future, as well as a book length introduction to Tendai Buddhism, and other materials that may be of interest. So, stay tuned...

I am an administrator for the Tendai Buddhism page on Facebook and the Tendai Buddhist Institute Facebook page as well. Please feel free to check those out. Different Tendai sanghas participate in these pages and tend to post information about ongoings and events as well as reads and resources for further study.

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rory
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Re: Introduction to Tendai - questions and resources

Post by rory »

Here is the Tendai California Learning Center:
https://www.tendai-usa.org/education
It's international.There are priests from Europe, Australia, South America and all over the US who have studied with the TCLC!
PRACTICE EDUCATION

For those new to Buddhism or wishing to learn and practice in Tendai school. In person training is available for anyone in the Sacramento/Bay Area. If you are further (US or International) then English and Japanese language learning is available through a combination of reading & practice assignments as well as online videochat with the Head Priest, Rev.Dr.Ryoei Tyler. Please contact her at tendaiusa@gmail.com
Philosophy & Doctrine
General Buddhism philosophy and sutra studies as well as Tendai school specifics. These are academic style readings and discussions.
Daily Practice

Learn everyday chanting practice, the Heart Sutra and how to incorporate Buddhist ethics and principles into your daily life and work.
Meditation
Guidance in SHIKAN, shamatha/vipassana, meditation. In addition learn to work with and transform negative emotions through meditation on compassion, loving-kindness and impermanence.
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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