Book - Shingon - Japanese Esoteric Buddhism

Post Reply
User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 4207
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Book - Shingon - Japanese Esoteric Buddhism

Post by Queequeg » Thu Apr 28, 2016 4:31 pm

Just acquired this...

Shingon - Japanese Esoteric Buddhism by Taiko Yamasaki

Started perusing and stopped dead in my tracks.

:jawdrop:

Fascinating.

Question for practitioners and/or people knowledgeable on the subject of Shingon - have you read this? can you share your view of the work?
“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
-Henry Miller

"Language is the liquid that we're all dissolved in.
Great for solving problems, after it creates the problems."
-Modest Mouse

jake
Posts: 121
Joined: Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:13 pm

Re: Book - Shingon - Japanese Esoteric Buddhism

Post by jake » Fri Apr 29, 2016 9:23 am

Queequeg wrote:Just acquired this...

Shingon - Japanese Esoteric Buddhism by Taiko Yamasaki

Started perusing and stopped dead in my tracks.

:jawdrop:

Fascinating.

Question for practitioners and/or people knowledgeable on the subject of Shingon - have you read this? can you share your view of the work?
I'm not that knowledgeable on Shingon but I have read most of this book. I can't speak to the accuracy of its contents as I haven't formally trained in Shingon but I did appreciate the author's attempt to present an overview of the topic. Most of the other texts I've read are focused more narrowly.

What made your jaw drop?
“The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in the red zone."

User avatar
WuMing
Posts: 234
Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2010 6:13 pm

Re: Book - Shingon - Japanese Esoteric Buddhism

Post by WuMing » Fri Apr 29, 2016 1:34 pm

I guess it's OK to read the book for general information, for an overview, but I wouldn't rely on it, as Rev. Eijo wrote some time ago
... Yamasaki's book Shingon, which is unfortunately mistranslated or mistakenly edited in too many places to rely on except for the most casual reading.
(from here Kobo Daishi and gunmonji-ho)

wm
今以佛眼觀之佛與眾生同住解脫之床。無此無彼無二平等。
Now, observing with the eye of the Buddha, both the Buddha and ordinary beings are in the same liberated state. There is neither this nor that: there is only non-duality and identity.
- 空海 Kūkai in Unjigi 吽字義 The Meaning of the Letter Hūṃ
- Kūkai on the Philosophy of Language by Takagi Shingen and Dreitlein Eijō
_______
Śrī Singha said to Padmasambhava:
Since buddhas and sentient beings are inseparable and the same, it is necessary to respect all sentient beings as being on the same level with the buddhas. Can you?
- translated by Malcolm N. Smith

User avatar
Losal Samten
Posts: 1187
Joined: Mon Mar 24, 2014 4:05 pm

Re: Book - Shingon - Japanese Esoteric Buddhism

Post by Losal Samten » Fri Apr 29, 2016 2:37 pm

Books recommended by Rev. Eijo from a post on e-Sangha:
Short answer: Read Hakeda's Kukai: Major Works several times. (see below)
Long answer: Some books to look at (there are a couple others I know of that I haven't been able to see yet):
Abe, Ryuichi. The Weaving of Mantra, Kukai and the Construction of Esoteric Discourse. Columbia University Press: New York, 1999.
Astley-Kristensen, Ian. The Rishukyo: The Sino-Japanese Tantric Prajnaparamita in 150 Verses (Amoghavajra's Version). The Institute of Buddhist Studies: Tring, UK, 1991.
Giebel, Rolf. Two Esoteric Sutras. Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, 2001.
———— . et. al. Shingon Texts. Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, 2004.
Hakeda, Yoshito. The Awakening of Faith. Columbia University Press: New York, 1967. (not exclusively a Shingon text, but key to Shingon)
———— . Kukai: Major Works. Columbia University Press: New York, 1972.
Hodge, Stephen. The Maha-Vairocana-Abhisambodhi Tantra: With Buddhaguhya's Commentary. Curzon Press, 2000.
Kiyota, Minoru. Shingon Buddhism: Theory and Practice. Buddhist Books International: Los Angeles-Tokyo, 1978.
———— . The Tantric Concept of Bodhicitta: A Buddhist Experiential Philosophy. Wisconsin-Madison, 1982.
Payne, Karl Richard. The Tantric Ritual of Japan. Aditya: New Delhi, 1991.
———— . ed. Re-Visioning "Kamakura" Buddhism. University of Hawaii Press, 1988.
———— . ed. Tantric Buddhism in East Asia. Wisdom, 2000.
Sawa, Takaaki. Art in Japanese Esoteric Buddhism. Weatherhill/Heibonsha: New York/Tokyo, 1972.
Snodgrass, Adrian. The Matrix and Diamond World Mandalas in Shingon Buddhism. Aditya: New Delhi, 1988.
Tanabe, George, Jr., ed. Religions of Japan in Practice. Princeton University Press: Princeton, 1999.
Unno, Mark. Shingon Refractions: Myoe and the Mantra of Light. Wisdom Publications: Boston, 2004.
van der Veere, Hendrik. A Study into the Thought of Kogyo Daishi Kakuban. Hotei Publishing: Leiden, 2000.
Wayman, Alex & Tajima, R. The Enlightnment of Vairocana. Motilal Banarsidass: Delhi, 1992.
Yamasaki, Taiko. Shingon: Japanese Esoteric Buddhism. Shambhala: Boston & London, 1988.

Some books I don’t recommend:
Gibson, Morgan. Tantric poetry of Kukai (Kobo Daishi), Japan's Buddhist saint: With excerpts from the Mahavairocana sutra and I-Hsing's Commentary. Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University, 1982
Miyata, Taisen. A study of the Ritual Mudras in the Shingon Tradition: A Phenomenological Study on the Eighteen Ways of Esoteric Recitation (Juhachido nenju kubi shidai, Chuin-ryu) in the Koyasan Tradition.
Oda, Ryuko. Kaji: Empowerment and Healing in Esoteric Buddhism.
Yamamoto, Chikyo. History of Mantrayana in Japan (Indian reprint)
———— . Mahavairocana-sutra: Translated into English from Ta-p'i lu che na ch'eng-fo shen-pien chia-ch'ih ching, the Chinese version of Subhakarasimha and I-hsing, A.D. 725 (Indian reprint)
http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?p=826#p826
Lacking mindfulness, we commit every wrong. - Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔
ཨཱོཾ་མ་ཏྲི་མུ་ཡེ་སལེ་འདུ།།

User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 4207
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: Book - Shingon - Japanese Esoteric Buddhism

Post by Queequeg » Fri Apr 29, 2016 3:55 pm

jake wrote: I'm not that knowledgeable on Shingon but I have read most of this book. I can't speak to the accuracy of its contents as I haven't formally trained in Shingon but I did appreciate the author's attempt to present an overview of the topic. Most of the other texts I've read are focused more narrowly.

What made your jaw drop?
I can't point to anything in particular. Maybe its the contemporary presentation by a practitioner with a subjective voice. The two sections I've actually read - not just skimmed - was the author's foreword and his description of his morning star practice. Contrast with the two other things I've read on the subject - Kukai: Major Works and Abe's Weaving of Mantra. The former suffers from being a somewhat dated translation - that dry mid-20th c. approach to translation and the latter being door-stop heavy scholarly work.

Its the same reason I prefer literary expressions of Buddhist "being" over workmanlike scholarly works - Santideva's Bodhisattva Way over Nagarjuna's Madhyamikakarika, for instance.

Reading it I could almost smell the air at Koya-san.

The presentation of the actual practice in very straightforward prose I think also surprised me with its freshness.

Maybe as I ruminate on it and get into it a little more I will be able to articulate better.
“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
-Henry Miller

"Language is the liquid that we're all dissolved in.
Great for solving problems, after it creates the problems."
-Modest Mouse

User avatar
eijo
Posts: 85
Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2009 12:44 am
Location: Koyasan, Japan

Re: Book - Shingon - Japanese Esoteric Buddhism

Post by eijo » Thu May 05, 2016 5:44 am

Queequeg wrote:
jake wrote: I'm not that knowledgeable on Shingon but I have read most of this book. I can't speak to the accuracy of its contents as I haven't formally trained in Shingon but I did appreciate the author's attempt to present an overview of the topic. Most of the other texts I've read are focused more narrowly.

What made your jaw drop?
I can't point to anything in particular. Maybe its the contemporary presentation by a practitioner with a subjective voice. The two sections I've actually read - not just skimmed - was the author's foreword and his description of his morning star practice. Contrast with the two other things I've read on the subject - Kukai: Major Works and Abe's Weaving of Mantra. The former suffers from being a somewhat dated translation - that dry mid-20th c. approach to translation and the latter being door-stop heavy scholarly work.

Its the same reason I prefer literary expressions of Buddhist "being" over workmanlike scholarly works - Santideva's Bodhisattva Way over Nagarjuna's Madhyamikakarika, for instance.

Reading it I could almost smell the air at Koya-san.

The presentation of the actual practice in very straightforward prose I think also surprised me with its freshness.

Maybe as I ruminate on it and get into it a little more I will be able to articulate better.
I'm very happy that you found the book useful, and I certainly agree that it is fine as a general introduction.

My comments about it being less than reliable are in more technical or specialist areas, in other words I would call it a light introduction to Shingon but not something for serious research or to gain a deep understanding. Overall, its fine but look elsewhere to fill it out with reliable details.

There are specific problems but I won't bore you since my own work is certainly more in line with that dry approach. :tongue: I'm deeply interested in hearing what you found interesting or inspiring in the book, because I'm planning a book to occupy a similar non-specialist position in the future. Kukai on the Philosophy of Language was bone dry I'm sure, and the book I'm nearly finished with may be another door stop, sorry to say. But personally I also prefer the "literary expressions of Buddhist "being" over workmanlike scholarly works" as you said. Maybe I can teach this old dog new tricks?

Saoshun
Posts: 638
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2014 11:16 pm

Re: Book - Shingon - Japanese Esoteric Buddhism

Post by Saoshun » Thu May 05, 2016 2:59 pm

How shingon practitioners develop wisdom? Kukai seem to be genuine while others seems to be decent, what is the reason behind it?

I just consulted my oracle with that question the answer was "Universal equality is not possible." but anyway having some words about it from other would be nice too.

Pero
Posts: 1923
Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:54 pm

Re: Book - Shingon - Japanese Esoteric Buddhism

Post by Pero » Thu May 05, 2016 5:14 pm

Losal Samten wrote:Books recommended by Rev. Eijo from a post on e-Sangha:
...
Some books I don’t recommend:
...
Oda, Ryuko. Kaji: Empowerment and Healing in Esoteric Buddhism.
...
Eijo, can you share why you don't recommend this book?
Although many individuals in this age appear to be merely indulging their worldly desires, one does not have the capacity to judge them, so it is best to train in pure vision.
- Shabkar

User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 4207
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: Book - Shingon - Japanese Esoteric Buddhism

Post by Queequeg » Thu May 05, 2016 7:52 pm

eijo wrote: I'm very happy that you found the book useful, and I certainly agree that it is fine as a general introduction.

My comments about it being less than reliable are in more technical or specialist areas, in other words I would call it a light introduction to Shingon but not something for serious research or to gain a deep understanding. Overall, its fine but look elsewhere to fill it out with reliable details.

There are specific problems but I won't bore you since my own work is certainly more in line with that dry approach. :tongue: I'm deeply interested in hearing what you found interesting or inspiring in the book, because I'm planning a book to occupy a similar non-specialist position in the future. Kukai on the Philosophy of Language was bone dry I'm sure, and the book I'm nearly finished with may be another door stop, sorry to say. But personally I also prefer the "literary expressions of Buddhist "being" over workmanlike scholarly works" as you said. Maybe I can teach this old dog new tricks?
Hi Eijo,

I'm now working my way through from the beginning. When I get through it, I'll be happy to share my thoughts.

One thing I'm noticing is the use of "void". In my experience, that is a dated way to translate "ku". Its a term I associate with translations and discussions of Japanese Buddhism from the 70s and 80s.

I do appreciate scholarly work, the pleasure factor of reading is usually lower though.

As a general comment, I think the "literary expressions of Buddhist "Being"" are appealing to me for the same general reason that I like reading works where the author's voice comes through. In scholarly work, we strive for that flat tone - a recitation of facts and arguments with as much personality and opinion removed (notwithstanding that scholarly work is to a large extent opinion) Some people manage to strike a good balance, letting enough passion come through without undermining credibility, but those are the exceptions.

Maybe I can illustrate a little more - I've been really interested in Roman History for a while. My favorite texts on Ancient Rome are Plutarch's biographies, and I think its because they are as much Plutarch telling stories, saturated with his judgments and opinions, as they are supposedly scholarly works that were based on his extensive primary and secondary research. I also love Gibbon who likewise is telling us stories informed by his judgments and opinions. What goes into a good story?

I think the good reads are the ones that make us feel like we are there, or like we are hearing from our good friend who is an entertaining story teller, who, say, might be telling us about Paris, but is really telling us about their experience of Paris.

I recall you spent a lot of time on Koya-san (maybe you're still there?). I've visited a few times, but I would love to know what its like to live there as a practitioner - to know what its like after the tourists go home and its just the residents and practitioners. About relationships with teachers and fellows. To know what it is like to be a Westerner, coming from a very different world and immersing there. I can tell you, you'd have at least one reader... On the other hand, I could understand why a person would not want to share that story - our Buddhist experience is often very intimate, and I think a story about being a religious on Koya-san would have to go there. For me anyway, some of the most profound experiences relate to aspects of myself that I have never shared with anyone, and I don't think I ever will. On top of that, many details may simply not be appropriate for public consumption because of samaya...

Anyways... I''ll come back to share comments when I'm done with the book. :smile:
“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
-Henry Miller

"Language is the liquid that we're all dissolved in.
Great for solving problems, after it creates the problems."
-Modest Mouse

User avatar
WuMing
Posts: 234
Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2010 6:13 pm

Re: Book - Shingon - Japanese Esoteric Buddhism

Post by WuMing » Thu May 05, 2016 9:28 pm

Saoshun wrote:How shingon practitioners develop wisdom? ...
from the opening section of Kūkai's Precious Key to the Secret Treasury (Hizō hōyaku):

Thus, when they practice the Three Human Duties and the Five Cardinal Virtues, the relationships between prince and minister, between father and son will be in proper order and without confusion. [Confucianism]
When they perform the Six Practices and the Four Mental Concentrations, they increase their dislike for the world below and their longing for the world above and make progress toward gaining pleasure in heaven. [Popular Taoism and Hinduism]
When they recognize the Five Psychophysical Constituents only and realize that the notion of a permanent ego is unreal, they gain the results of the Eightfold Emancipation and Six Supernatural Powers. [The Sravaka of Hinayana]
When they practice meditation on the [Twelve] Links of Causation, they gain the knowledge of emptiness and uproot the seeds of karma. [Pratyekabuddha of Hinayana]
When they cherish unconditioned compassion for others and deny the existence of the world of objects with the view that what exists is mind only, they extirpate both affectional and intellectual impediments and transform [their Eightfold Consciousness ] into the Fourfold Wisdom. [Hosso or Yogacara of Mahayana]
When they realize [the essential nature of] mind by means of [the Eightfold Negation beginning with] "unborn" and transcend all false predications through the insight of absolute emptiness, then they realize One Mind which is tranquil, without a second, and free from any specific marks. [Sanron or Madhyamika of Mahayana]
When they observe the One Way in its original purity, the Avalokitesvara softens his face in delight. [Tendai or T'ien-t'ai of Mahayana]
When they meditate on the WorId of Dharma in the first awakening of their religious mind, the Samantabhadra smiles. [Kegon or Huayen of Mahayana]
Now, stains covering the mind have been completely removed; the glory of the [Diamond or Wisdom] Mandala has gradually become visible. The eye of wisdom of [Shingon students who visualize] the letter Ma [in the right eye] and Ta [in the left] dispels the darkness of ignorance.
Saoshun wrote:I just consulted my oracle with that question the answer was "Universal equality is not possible." ...
Don't let yourself be deceived by an oracle :tongue:

also from the Hizō hōyaku:

Alas! Men, unaware of the treasures they possess, regard their deluded state of madness to be the state of enlightenment. How foolish they are! … Thus, the nine kinds of medicine for the diseases of the mind sweep away the dust covering the surface of the mind and dispel its delusions. … To gain or not to gain them, to enjoy or not to enjoy them is for everyone to decide; … [the inner treasury] must be realized by oneself.

Please excuse my drifting away from the original topic of this thread! :focus:
今以佛眼觀之佛與眾生同住解脫之床。無此無彼無二平等。
Now, observing with the eye of the Buddha, both the Buddha and ordinary beings are in the same liberated state. There is neither this nor that: there is only non-duality and identity.
- 空海 Kūkai in Unjigi 吽字義 The Meaning of the Letter Hūṃ
- Kūkai on the Philosophy of Language by Takagi Shingen and Dreitlein Eijō
_______
Śrī Singha said to Padmasambhava:
Since buddhas and sentient beings are inseparable and the same, it is necessary to respect all sentient beings as being on the same level with the buddhas. Can you?
- translated by Malcolm N. Smith

User avatar
Indrajala
Posts: 6316
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Netherlands
Contact:

Re: Book - Shingon - Japanese Esoteric Buddhism

Post by Indrajala » Thu May 05, 2016 10:22 pm

eijo wrote: There are specific problems but I won't bore you since my own work is certainly more in line with that dry approach. :tongue: I'm deeply interested in hearing what you found interesting or inspiring in the book, because I'm planning a book to occupy a similar non-specialist position in the future. Kukai on the Philosophy of Language was bone dry I'm sure, and the book I'm nearly finished with may be another door stop, sorry to say. But personally I also prefer the "literary expressions of Buddhist "being" over workmanlike scholarly works" as you said. Maybe I can teach this old dog new tricks?
Eijo, are these available online as PDFs?

http://ci.nii.ac.jp/author?q=Dreitlein+Thomas+Eijo
tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog) Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog) Dharma Depository (Site)

jake
Posts: 121
Joined: Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:13 pm

Re: Book - Shingon - Japanese Esoteric Buddhism

Post by jake » Fri May 06, 2016 12:22 pm

Queequeg wrote:
eijo wrote: I think the good reads are the ones that make us feel like we are there, or like we are hearing from our good friend who is an entertaining story teller, who, say, might be telling us about Paris, but is really telling us about their experience of Paris.
I've lived in Paris for a few years now. Everything on the following graphic is true: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CeIjc9GXIAABmtz.jpg and I've experienced a number of them, including being hit by a car (driving in reverse down a one-way street) while crossing the street....

:focus:
“The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in the red zone."

narhwal90
Posts: 497
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2016 3:10 am

Re: Book - Shingon - Japanese Esoteric Buddhism

Post by narhwal90 » Thu May 12, 2016 10:39 pm

I just got this book, thanks for the recommendation- quite interesting so far.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests