Combining Shingon and Zen Practice

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dark radiance
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Combining Shingon and Zen Practice

Post by dark radiance » Mon Nov 28, 2016 8:09 pm


I'm new and was wondering if anybody could speak to the compatibility of combining Shingon devotional practice with Zen meditation. I have trained and studied primarily in the Chan/Zen tradition, but recently have felt very drawn to some of Shingon's devotional practices - specifically to some of the lay chanting of mantras and the 13 Buddhas (for an example of what I'm talking about:

Is it okay to combine these practices? Or am I working at cross purposes, and would it be better to stick to one path?

I'd be very grateful for any advice :namaste:

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Re: Combining Shingon and Zen Practice

Post by Soma999 » Tue Nov 29, 2016 10:54 am

All traditions hold the same truth : this is what say those who have practiced multiple path, and through each, attained the same place through different means.

Most of the time, the forms and vocabulary is different, but the essence is very close.

So, this is always possible to build bridges between tradition.

That being said, from my personal experience, i consider that when one is practicing a tradition, he should be fully in his tradition.

That is, if you are doing a buddhist sadhana the morning, you are 100 % buddhist, and when you do a hindu puja or a sufi practice, you are 100 % hindu or sufi.

Then, your experience with a tradition enrich the other tradition. Still, out of respect and for effective results, you adapt this advise "when i am in a forest, i am a pygmee".

Building bridges help breaking some rigidity in the mind, make it more spacious, remove some arrogance (my tradition is better than yours) and help to understand other people by having the capacity to adapt different view of reality. So, it make you a universalist, that is someone who is authentic, but without (too much) sectarian view.

I know someone who is both a monk and a kabbalist. But this person don't mix up. This person build bridges. it's very different. Then, traditions enrich each others, illuminate each others.

There is a kind of new age stuff where "everything is the same, we can mix up everything". This is extremly dangerous. Keep the tradition pure, and respect it. But don't close yourself, and be open also.

By opening yourself, and practicing with authenticity, you come to better know what is really important, and to take some distance with dogmas and a rigid forms.

It's subtle. But i will conclude with this : before taking some distance, one have first to learn the basics, and have some good foundation.

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Re: Combining Shingon and Zen Practice

Post by Astus » Tue Nov 29, 2016 1:02 pm

Zen schools have their own set of daily rituals. If you exchange that to those used in a Shingon school, from the Zen point of view at least, there is no problem. However, if you want to follow Shingon on a deeper level, you should probably get in touch with an actual community and study with them. Also you may have noticed this before that the Chinese rituals usually include some tantric elements.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.

1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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