"Shingon Zen"

Acala
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Re: "Shingon Zen"

Post by Acala » Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:21 am

WuMing wrote: That Ajikan is taught to people without training is a relatively new movement, beginning only around 100 - 150 years ago, I was taught. Prior to that time this wasn't the case, at all. Why it was done so, I unfortunately don't know.
OK, we got to the main point here :thumbsup:
WuMing wrote: Anyone who is teaching it responsibly to people without prior training should make them understand and tell them that it is lacking essential oral instructions, which are only taught if one underwent prior training and practices, as I already described above.
I do have an Ajikan manual but I won't make any of its content public, because of reasons which should be clear by now. But again for your clarity, it's not because it is secret, but because it requires prior training and practice, again, as already described above.
Language barrier. You do know 密=secret, right? Esoteric=concealed...which=secret. So you are splitting hairs here with words. Just for clarity, lets tack on "secret to the unitiated..." to make you sleep a little better.
WuMing wrote:
Acala wrote: ... "Mind to mind" is Chan/Zen by the way.....wrong denomination :jedi:
In the Shingon Ono-ryū for example there is an abhiṣeka called ishin-kanjo (transmission from mind to mind), so this term "From Mind to Mind" does exist in Shingon.
Not saying that it does not exist, but to use it as an example of what Shingon initiation entails would be an overstatement. In terms of Chan/Zen, it would not.

AH, so we have come to the end of our little back and forth. What we have discovered is:

Ajikan is used as a preliminary training practice....but Wuming says it is more advanced (without backing it up) although he admits it is used as a training practice but does not know why.

I think this piece is done. Maybe onto something else?

Perhaps

What is the oldest textual reference to the Ajikan? I hear people say the Mahavairocana sutra, but the verse they always quote actually mentions nothing about the actual practice itself. Maybe theres another reference there...but I haven't actually found one.

The oldest reference I know is from Kukai. The only thing before that I have seen are variations of the Mood Disk Visualization...which say nothing about the A-seed.

Thoughts?

Fortyeightvows
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Re: "Shingon Zen"

Post by Fortyeightvows » Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:04 am

"What is the oldest textual reference to the Ajikan? I hear people say the Mahavairocana sutra, but the verse they always quote actually mentions nothing about the actual practice itself. Maybe theres another reference there...but I haven't actually found one.

The oldest reference I know is from Kukai. The only thing before that I have seen are variations of the Mood Disk Visualization...which say nothing about the A-seed."

I'm no expert and I'm not so good with my dates and I probably shouldn't even be chiming in on this thread, but anyways,

Visualization of the A-seed goes way back and is mentioned in numerous tantras from India. Om A Hum. it's a bit different in each text and I'm not saying it's the exact same as what ya'll are calling Ajikan, but it's an old practice and I'm almost certain that it predates kukai. pretty sure it's the same story with the moon disk.

Acala
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Re: "Shingon Zen"

Post by Acala » Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:23 am

Fortyeightvows wrote:"What is the oldest textual reference to the Ajikan? I hear people say the Mahavairocana sutra, but the verse they always quote actually mentions nothing about the actual practice itself. Maybe theres another reference there...but I haven't actually found one.

The oldest reference I know is from Kukai. The only thing before that I have seen are variations of the Mood Disk Visualization...which say nothing about the A-seed."

I'm no expert and I'm not so good with my dates and I probably shouldn't even be chiming in on this thread, but anyways,

Visualization of the A-seed goes way back and is mentioned in numerous tantras from India. Om A Hum. it's a bit different in each text and I'm not saying it's the exact same as what ya'll are calling Ajikan, but it's an old practice and I'm almost certain that it predates kukai. pretty sure it's the same story with the moon disk.
Nothing wrong with chiming in :cheers:

I was referring to the Ajikan itself as a standalone practice.

The moon disk does predate kukai, that is for sure. You find it in Subhakarasimha's treatise on dhyana.

It seems there are two kinds of practices that converged to form the ajikan. The moon disk+bija. So wondering when the Ajikan, itself, as a standalone practice, came into being.

Or to put it another way, when did the A-seed become elevated within the meditation tradition that practiced the moon visualization so much so, that it pretty much replaced using other seed-syllables in the moon? (outside of deity visualizations, which still do use a bija...which then morhphs into a deity)

Looking through academic stuff....they kind of gloss over this question...just saying it is "rooted in...blah blah blah" and don't give a definitive origin.

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Seishin
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Re: "Shingon Zen"

Post by Seishin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 4:03 pm

Please excuse my interruption. My knowledge of Shingon history is not great, and it seems that those who have participated in this thread have a lot of knowledge on the subject, so apologies if what I say is incorrect (or incoherent!).

I can remember reading somewhere that the original forms of Ajikan were for the initiated only, but during the Kamakura period, Koyasan created a simpler (ie dumbed down) version of Ajikan that could be learnt by anyone (to keep up with the 'one-pratice' schools such as zen, nembutsu and nichiren). Apologies for not remembering where I read it, however I think it may have been from "Re-visioning "Kamakura" Buddhism"

A form of Ajikan is taught to the uninitiated, as can be seen on Koyasan's website https://www.koyasan.or.jp/english/visit ... jikan.html however, those who are ordained will know Ajikan as something much different. This could be where the disagreement is coming from. :shrug:

More info on this practice can be found here; http://www.scribd.com/doc/148736793/Aji ... ism#scribd
http://www.shingonbuddhism.org/informat ... ikan-.html

In gassho,
Seishin

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Redfaery
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Re: "Shingon Zen"

Post by Redfaery » Thu Feb 26, 2015 4:07 pm

Seishin wrote:I can remember reading somewhere that the original forms of Ajikan were for the initiated only, but during the Kamakura period, Koyasan created a simpler (ie dumbed down) version of Ajikan that could be learnt by anyone (to keep up with the 'one-pratice' schools such as zen, nembutsu and nichiren). Apologies for not remembering where I read it, however I think it may have been from "Re-visioning "Kamakura" Buddhism"

In gassho,
Seishin
This is likely it. I am quite familiar with Heian period Aristocratic Buddhism, but my knowledge drops off SHARPLY after the twelfth century.
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Acala
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Re: "Shingon Zen"

Post by Acala » Thu Feb 26, 2015 5:29 pm

It is true, once upon a time, the Ajikan was limited to clergy (at least for the most part, nothing is ever 100% in history).

But now it is used as a basic-introductory-preliminary practice...and even used for outreach and promotion. Primarily for law followers. Large halls are setup, usually with the little mandala (sometimes with the A, sometimes no A in the moon) to aid visualization....for lay people who may never, ever ever ever go through the Shido Kegyo. So to say one must go through the Shido Kegyo first contradicts the way the Shingon establishment in Japan utilizes, teaches...and views this practice today.

Of course, the more you know, the more you get out of it, right? Just like taking a class on philosophy, or when you go to the gym! But Shingon puts much more emphasis on practice than doctrinal knowledge. Perhaps the popularization of the Ajikan reflects this fact.

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Re: "Shingon Zen"

Post by Seishin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 5:49 pm

Acala wrote:It is true, once upon a time, the Ajikan was limited to clergy (at least for the most part, nothing is ever 100% in history).

But now it is used as a basic-introductory-preliminary practice...and even used for outreach and promotion. Primarily for law followers. Large halls are setup, usually with the little mandala (sometimes with the A, sometimes no A in the moon) to aid visualization....for lay people who may never, ever ever ever go through the Shido Kegyo. So to say one must go through the Shido Kegyo first contradicts the way the Shingon establishment in Japan utilizes, teaches...and views this practice today.

Of course, the more you know, the more you get out of it, right? Just like taking a class on philosophy, or when you go to the gym! But Shingon puts much more emphasis on practice than doctrinal knowledge. Perhaps the popularization of the Ajikan reflects this fact.
Hmm :thinking: Looking back through Wuming's posts he doesn't deny that a form of Ajikan is taught without initiation
WuMing wrote:it is usually a very simplified form of it and lacking essential oral instructions.
, but like I said, this form of Ajikan is different to that taught to the initiated (and I use "initiated" rather than "ordained" intentionally). This could be where the confusion/disagreement is coming from. I know of several Shingon priests who will state that the Ajikan taught to lay people is not "true" Ajikan, but as I am not a Shingon priest I couldn't say for sure.

Acala
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Re: "Shingon Zen"

Post by Acala » Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:54 pm

Seishin wrote:
Acala wrote:It is true, once upon a time, the Ajikan was limited to clergy (at least for the most part, nothing is ever 100% in history).

But now it is used as a basic-introductory-preliminary practice...and even used for outreach and promotion. Primarily for law followers. Large halls are setup, usually with the little mandala (sometimes with the A, sometimes no A in the moon) to aid visualization....for lay people who may never, ever ever ever go through the Shido Kegyo. So to say one must go through the Shido Kegyo first contradicts the way the Shingon establishment in Japan utilizes, teaches...and views this practice today.

Of course, the more you know, the more you get out of it, right? Just like taking a class on philosophy, or when you go to the gym! But Shingon puts much more emphasis on practice than doctrinal knowledge. Perhaps the popularization of the Ajikan reflects this fact.
Hmm :thinking: Looking back through Wuming's posts he doesn't deny that a form of Ajikan is taught without initiation
WuMing wrote:it is usually a very simplified form of it and lacking essential oral instructions.
, but like I said, this form of Ajikan is different to that taught to the initiated (and I use "initiated" rather than "ordained" intentionally). This could be where the confusion/disagreement is coming from. I know of several Shingon priests who will state that the Ajikan taught to lay people is not "true" Ajikan, but as I am not a Shingon priest I couldn't say for sure.
What he actually wrote, that I commented on (mainly) was this:
wuming wrote: When people who are not fully introduced to Shingon (meaning receiving tokudo and all the subsequent teachings and practicing it) say that they practice Ajikan according to Shingon, it is usually a very simplified form of it and lacking essential oral instructions. Ajinkan in Shingon is regarded as one of the highest forms of practice, if not the highest.
This is not true. The Ajikan taught before Shido Kegyo is often the one taught after. Yes, there are short and long versions, but you CAN learn either.

Just a little sidenote
As scholarship has shown, (think of Sharf in his “Visualization and Mandala in Shingon Buddhism") has demonstrated how the whole "oral instruction" thing is a bit overblown and that most of what is taught...orally, is already written down.

However, he did get ONE part of the ritual wrong...maybe someone can spot it? It has to do with a mudra :meditate: not sure if that was related to not having oral instruction, not reading closely...or simply not asking. How did I notice the mistake? Well.... :spy:

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Re: "Shingon Zen"

Post by Seishin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:32 pm

Please, lets not be cryptic. How do you know?

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eijo
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Re: "Shingon Zen"

Post by eijo » Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:58 am

Ajikan is certainly taught to the general public. I have taught it myself many times here at Koyasan to both the general public and priests.

However, what is taught in public is not the full extent of Ajikan. To fully understand it, one needs to study and practice through to Denbō kanjō, and receive at least part of Ichiryū denju. This is because a number of key practice areas must be learned in full(er) detail beyond the level of detail given in shido kegyō, none of which is given to the general public. Also, the writings of Kūkai and his disciple Jichie are indispensable for this, as are several of the Indian and Chinese texts and commentaries.

However, the version taught to the general public is certainly worthwhile, and not to be diminished. But it would be a mistake to assume that was all there is to it.

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Re: "Shingon Zen"

Post by eijo » Sat Feb 28, 2015 10:29 am

Fortyeightvows wrote:"What is the oldest textual reference to the Ajikan? I hear people say the Mahavairocana sutra, but the verse they always quote actually mentions nothing about the actual practice itself. Maybe theres another reference there...but I haven't actually found one.

The oldest reference I know is from Kukai. The only thing before that I have seen are variations of the Mood Disk Visualization...which say nothing about the A-seed."

I'm no expert and I'm not so good with my dates and I probably shouldn't even be chiming in on this thread, but anyways,

Visualization of the A-seed goes way back and is mentioned in numerous tantras from India. Om A Hum. it's a bit different in each text and I'm not saying it's the exact same as what ya'll are calling Ajikan, but it's an old practice and I'm almost certain that it predates kukai. pretty sure it's the same story with the moon disk.
That's correct, the Mahāvairocanābhisaṃbodhi-sūtra alludes to an ajikan practice, and the Darijing shu commentary repeatedly mentions the letter a in both practice and doctrinal contexts, and implies both a stand-alone and "embedded" (within a sādhana) letter-a practice, just as Shingon has had for twelve centuries. Imported manuals on the Vajraśekhara also frequently allude to an ajikan practice. Kukai never clearly mentions ajikan in his writings, although he often brings up the letter a.

The first clear mention of Ajikan in the form known today occurs historically in the text ascribed to Kukai's disciple Jichie (786-847), the Ajikan yōjin kuketsu 阿字觀用心口決 (T2423). This text is either partially corrupted or is apocryphal, and has portions that I believe show an eleventh-century or somewhat later influence, but that is open to debate. It is sometimes conjectured that ajikan was an oral practice handed down from at least Amoghavajra/Huiguo to Kukai. This interpretation matched Kukai's imported materials and his own writings.

The letter a, visualizations of lotuses, and visualizations of moon-discs appear throughout tantric texts. Ajikan yōjin kuketsu itself says that not all three need to be present. A letter a and a lotus (as in the Mahāvairocanābhisaṃbodhi-sūtra and Darijing shu ) is sufficient, as is a letter a and a moon disc (as in some Vajraśekhara texts) is sufficient. If Ajikan is to be defined as all three, then Ajikan yōjin kuketsu is the first mention of that.

Note that some sort of dhāraṇī practice of the letter a is mentioned in the large Prajñāpāramitā texts, the Dazhidu lun, the Gaṇḍavyūha, the Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra, Lalitavistara, and other core Mahāyāna texts in the context of the 50- or 42-letter alphabets mastered by bodhisattvas, so this has an extensive background in Indian before the development of tantric Buddhism.

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Palzang Jangchub
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Re: "Shingon Zen"

Post by Palzang Jangchub » Wed Jan 18, 2017 7:11 am

As a student mostly versed in the Tibetan form of Vajrayana, I feel compelled to ask: In Ajikan, is it a short, unaspirated A syllable (ཨ), or a long, aspirated ĀH (ཨཱཿ)?
a1.png
A
a1.png (6.08 KiB) Viewed 1538 times
The first (in Siddhaṃ script above) is the inherent sound in all other syllables, and is often associated with higher practices such as Dzogchen. Apparently it's also the seed-syllable of Buddha Mahavairocana.
aah1.png
ĀH
aah1.png (23.68 KiB) Viewed 1538 times
The second (Siddhaṃ, also above) is counted among of the Three Gates --- OM ĀH HŪM (ཨོཾ་ཨཱཿཧཱུྃ་) --- associated with enlightened speech. It's also the seed-syllable of Buddha Amoghasiddhi.

These are two different syllables, but often they are confused with each other by non-native speakers because they sound so alike to the untrained ear.

See:
http://www.visiblemantra.org/bija.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siddhaṃ_script

P.S. As you can tell, the Tibetan script ìs clearly derived from the Siddhaṃ script.
Image

"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྩ་བའི་བླ་མ་སྐྱབས་རྗེ་མགར་ཆེན་ཁྲི་སྤྲུལ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ཁྱེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ།།
རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་མཁས་གྲུབ་ཀརྨ་ཆགས་མེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ། ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོཿ

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Re: "Shingon Zen"

Post by Palzang Jangchub » Wed Jan 18, 2017 8:32 am

Here's an alternative rendering of ĀH in Siddhaṃ, just in case it's used in Shingon rather than the usual form mentioned earlier:
aah2.png
ĀH alt
aah2.png (7.75 KiB) Viewed 1529 times
Image

"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྩ་བའི་བླ་མ་སྐྱབས་རྗེ་མགར་ཆེན་ཁྲི་སྤྲུལ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ཁྱེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ།།
རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་མཁས་གྲུབ་ཀརྨ་ཆགས་མེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ། ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོཿ

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