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Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

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Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Shingon Buddhism or Shingon-shu  is an esoteric religious sect refereed to as Tomitsu which bases enlightenment and the experience of the buddha nature on that of Vajrayana or Tantric Buddhism belief and practice. This group or movement which was established by Kūkai AKA Kōbō-Daishi or O-Daishi-sama was steeped in controversy during its uprising as competing among other Buddhist sects in the development of its spiritual procedures. Scandalously it appears that Kukai’s inspiration which came to make this movement rich and powerful may have been more about gaining influence and prestige by impressing the royal court in finding spiritual novelties than determing the “word of truth”.  I have already written about Tendai and Shingon in another post as they both share a common ancestry and  background which you can read more about through this link

Also the dispute that revolves around this group sprang from the use of oral tradition by which this movement has relied heavily upon until recent years in passing down many of their doctrines and practices which for the previous 1100 years was transmitted by word of mouth through their spiritual masters or gurus. The validity of oral tradition is hard to substantiate over a lengthy period of  time especially if one believes that these teachings and techniques have somehow maintained their original or pristine state as they have travelled transcontinentally through its introduction by Nagarjuna in India to Tibet then to Java and China before finally arriving in Japan. This handling of information over such a diverse geographical area of various cultures over a vast amount of time  makes me  skeptical that these teachings as passed down to Kukai were accurate to begin with let alone what he shared and gave to others up to this present time considering that whatever originality he may have derived was also modified in systemizing his methodology of these esoteric practices. Moreover this movement has been accommodating by adapting its truth claims in absorbing the cultural values through its syncretism of Shintoism which was more politically motivated than spiritually enlightening. Also it has improvised in marketing it beliefs to coincide with popular trends which during the medieval period adopted the Buddha Amida and his pure land of bliss. Furthermore it also merged its practices with shamanism and the bon religion which does not even make this a distinct or exclusive movement to begin with but rather a conglomeration of other religious world views as stealing their spiritual recipes in making a superior truth claim among the hierarchy of these other temporary religious expressions which were to be only advancements of progression in the move towards this perfected faith.

Based on these charges are you confident that these teachings really survived in tact without outside influences or tampering? If these teachings are really as important as Kukai claimed them to be as tantamount to ultimate truth apart from  all other transitional faith claims then surely written records would have been the best method of retaining their content. Anyway we know as kids from playing the game of telephone in passing down a simple phrase or story to a series of people  that over a relatively short period of time  the details of the message may have  changed drastically or been altered from the original storyline and therefore it is not a reliable  method to retain vital information. Moreover what further complicates the matter are the various different fragmented schisms and divisions or splintered offshoots that have branched off from one another which makes it even that much more difficult to ascertain that the essential matters have been properly communicated and maintained among the subjectivity of it various groups. Of course not every one can be right so which one if any has the valid teachings of pure mikkyo tradition as these movement are divided on ritual and text as claiming special access to knowledge and the original teachings of honsetsu or orthodox shingon instruction. Another deviation, like all other  Mahayana movements, is that it is not classified as orthodox Buddhism which is better defined under Theravada practice and philosophy but rather it is a religious program with a buffet of specialty items to appeal to the pallet of the epicurean. Buddha supposedly did not even teach many of the things that are believed by orthodox esoterics having strayed from its Indic roots of historical buddhist thought and instead has evolved these tantric beliefs as a whole different creature originating more from the dark side of occultic practice or sorcery with its use of  spells, magic formulas, ceremonies and masses for the dead. Moreover these teachings were not derived by the original Buddha, Gautama,  nor the Buddha Mahavairocana  also known as Dainichi Nyorai or the Great Sun Buddha. Even their  principle text known as  dainichi-kyo or the great sun sutra is relatively late in development having originated  from China therefore making it difficult to ascertain or authenticate any kind of credibility as a spiritual authority.  Another thing which is hard or difficult to swallow is that this belief system  resembles both Indian and Japanese folklore, mythology and superstition with the inclusion of its many and varied gods, devas, buddhas, bodhisattvas, kamis and icons making it beliefs somewhat more compatible with Hinduism and Shintoism more so than Buddhism which is basically atheistic. My point is that I am not making a case or defense for orthodox Buddhism here but rather I wanting to show the inconsistency within its own movement to be coherent and cohesive let alone among its parent affiliation of traditional or classical Buddhist philosophy. Furthermore to state that the Buddha is somehow mysteriously instructing today is conflicting especially if these gurus have contradictory teachings which again makes this system hard to validate.

Now for some of the other matters which show the superstitious behavior of this group is their belief in a physical fire or goma which is not unique to Shingon but is administered in other religious services  as well as a ritual observance. It is said that this practice along with the invocation of Acala or Fudo Myoo somehow benefits the worshipper with its magical qualities to ward off negative energies and provide good luck in acquiring  blessings. Additionally there are further claims  that their monks can summon rain, improve harvests,  avert natural disasters, and protect the state and even the most powerful ones can render entire armies useless yet  based on the troubled history of Japans past and its many natural calamities along with its painful defeat in warfare makes me wonder how efficient or potent  these spiritual elitists or guides are in marketing their religious skills. Which brings me to my next point  on how effectual are their supposed guardian deities or devas in light of these horrific realities which have plagued and traumatized Japan.

Along with these superstitious beliefs are the legends behind this religious sect  such as the story that Kukai never really died but rather has passed into an unbroken meditation which supposedly was evidenced when his tomb was opened revealing that his nails and hair were still growing. There is also the superstitious beliefs that the recitation of the mantra of clear light over pure sand would be empowering if spread upon an ill person or corpse resulting in them being healed or reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land. Lastly are the use of icons as recognizing some kind of reality in spite of the fact that these images are not real representations of the persons identity showing their vulnerability to succumb to delusion. Nonetheless I am not challenging the possibilities of having a metaphysical view or experience but rather the realism behind these associations.

In retrospect to all of this how do you known if you have really achieved enlightenment or come to realize your buddha nature? How can these spiritual calisthenics of the mind, soul, body or three mysteries/sanmitsu really secure for you a spiritual reality of reaching akanishtha/heaven or are you still somehow left empty and wondering if this is all there is? Have you considered for yourself apart from the influence of your spiritual master whether you can really obtain enlightenment in the frailty of your human experience in this present life and body? Can you honestly  say that buddha consciousness has been your experience or will become the reality of your anticipated venture? How do you know that you have prescribed to the right ritual or meditative practice in aligning oneself with the cosmic forces and what is the evidence for this? Are the keys to attaining spiritual enlightenment really found in the gnostic teachings of spiritual formulae by manipulating body parts in the symbolism of devotional gestures in a mudra, or through the pronouncement of mystical syllables by means of  devotional rhetoric knows as dharani (mantra) along with the visualization technique of sacred art or mandala combined with the mental capacity of yogic meditation? Can such superficiality make someones self aware  as recognizing their true buddha nature when there is essentially no significant or tangible change to the individual apart from religious observances and practices?  Also what kind of real intrinsic value is there to handle the supposed sacred instruments of the vajra or diamond and the lotus? Lastly have you unleashed the extraordinary power of controlling the cosmic forces by averting evil and bringing supernatural help in everyday life?

Maybe in the final analysis perhaps much of what is really expressed here is just  the imagination of Kukai and others who like the iconic creations of artists produced these religious figurines and presented them in a realistic fashion when in essence these visual references are only fictitious symbols having never known or seen their images except in the campfire stories that have been passed down through generations. It reminds me of watching a good movie and entering into the drama only to realize latter that is was only the genius or talent of a Hollywood production crew that momentarily held me captivated and made me believe at least temporarily that it was all real.

Philosophically speaking I think it also ironic and perplexing  regarding the person of Mahavairocana which is said to be beyond earthily dualism and impurity but at the same instant to be within all things as the buddha nature. I believe this is conflicting in face of the reality of evil that is resident within all people and thus how can you disassociate this reality from the Buddha who is  a participant in this facet or realm of society as a Cosmocat. Also the nature of Buddha seems to be incoherent to reality as he is said to immanently embody the universe in the base elements of existence such as the earth and wind and yet these destructive elements having wreaked havoc on many of these island worshippers who have been devastated by the effects of these forces through earthquakes and tsunamis in bringing about pain and suffering to the devotee. Thus how  is the worshiper reassured that a better future fate awaits him or her based on the evidence of their present reality? This seems more like the capricious outcome of some mythological avenging kami then the sovereign act of one who is to benefit all mankind.

Another contrasting belief or discrepancy is the realization that ones own buddha nature is identical with Mahavairocana which is said to bring enlightenment as one appropriates this reality in understanding ones true self as identical to the Buddha known as rigu jobutsu. If this is true then why does an individual need to  make any distinction as to worship and honor another being when essentially you are equal to that reality and therefore whatever action is taken toward the Buddha is essentially redirected back to ones self because in essence you are that ultimate being.  After all it is essentially the same to contemplate ones self reality with deity reality and in essence the objectivity of worship in giving reverence to the Buddha is to praise oneself. According to these doctrinal views you are essentially  Mahavairovana in this very body and the reality of this unity can be inferred from the statement that the buddha enters the self and the self enters the buddha or nyuga ganyu. In conclusion the practitioner realizes his own iconic nature as both the worshiper and the object of worship which is incomprehensible as the subject collapses with the object in projecting themselves as the realization  of the buddha within. However intuitively we know that this is flawed as we are not transcendent eternal beings but rather we are contingent beings who have no basis for this kind of contemplation.

Also another controversial concept is to go through the motions of actualization when one is supposedly already potentially or inherently awakened which is known as kaji jobutsu. To psyche themselves up in proving to themselves and others that they are what their spiritual leaders claim they are which in my view is not enlightenment but fraudulence and deception. To have to convince or prove to yourself and others through our actions is really doubt in disguise masquerading itself as buddha consciousness. Yet does practicing make this notion any more or less real after all either you are or you aren’t. In other words does a child have to act like a child to be a child also acting like a child doesn’t make you a child but only childish?

Anyway you or your spiritual guide may try to rationalize these inconsistencies in trying to justify any misunderstandings but perhaps there was a time when deep down in side of yourself you were questioning this philosophy as well. Also just because you are undertaking a spiritual journey does not qualify or necessitate a spiritual reality.

Finally I appeal to the spiritual practitioner who perhaps is altruistic in their spiritual pursuit or plight and I beckon to you that in the  same way in which you were open to such philosophy and practice to begin with to also be attentive to other resources or avenues of faith. The reason why I labor my point to awaken  you to other possibilities concerning spirituality is that as humans we are mostly innately aware or perceptive regarding a spiritualistic reality, presence and value but nonetheless could be misdirected no matter how sincere we might be at times as fallible human beings. Thus I would like to share with you my life story on how I was radically changed along with many  others and I hope that you won’t ignore my plea to research and hopefully discover a reality in your pursuit of truth. Also I believe that as you rally for spiritual fulfillment that your goal should not be to merely hear or mimic something that appeals to your heart or tickles your ears in entertaining notions of spiritual grandeur because it may lead you down the wrong path by giving you a false sense of accomplishment/achievement or security. Rather it should be more desirous to undertake an authentic pursuit of  truth no matter where it may lead you even if it takes you far away from what you may have previously believed/thought or valued.

In summary I apologize if my words seem difficult as I would not purposely do anything to disrespect you and if my appeal seems to be strong or forthright then please forgive me for my insensitivity. My final request is to simply ask God in your time of prayer or meditation with all sincerity of heart to reveal to you this Jesus  which I wanting to share with you and then see what God will do as you wait in willful expectation.

How to know God


Mt 11:28-30

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

John 8:12

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.



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Encyclopaedia Britannica,Inc., copyright 1993, Vol.10, pg.743, Shingon

Encyclopaedia Britannica,Inc., copyright 1993, Vol.7, pg.28, Kukai

Encyclopaedia Britannica,Inc., copyright 1993, Vol.15, pg.294, Buddhism

Encyclopaedia Britannica,Inc., copyright 1993, Vol.12, pg.233, Vairocana

Encyclopedia of Religion Second Edition, copyright 2005 Thomson Gale a part of The Thomson Corporation, Lindsay Jones Editor in Chief, Vol.12, pgs.8348-8354, Richard K. Payne

Encyclopedia of Religion Second Edition, copyright 2005 Thomson Gale a part of The Thomson Corporation, Lindsay Jones Editor in Chief, Vol.2, pg.1177, Brian O. Ruppert

Encyclopedia of Religion Second Edition, copyright 2005 Thomson Gale a part of The Thomson Corporation, Lindsay Jones Editor in Chief, Vol.2, pg.1217, Alex Wayman

Encyclopedia of Religion Second Edition, copyright 2005 Thomson Gale a part of The Thomson Corporation, Lindsay Jones Editor in Chief, Vol.2, pg.1243, Michio Araki

Encyclopedia of Religion Second Edition, copyright 2005 Thomson Gale a part of The Thomson Corporation, Lindsay Jones Editor in Chief, Vol.7, pg.4417, Manabu Waida

Encyclopedia of Religion Second Edition, copyright 2005 Thomson Gale a part of The Thomson Corporation, Lindsay Jones Editor in Chief, Vol.7, pg.4784, Joseph M. Kitagawa and Gary L. Ebersole

Encyclopedia of Religion Second Edition, copyright 2005 Thomson Gale a part of The Thomson Corporation, Lindsay Jones Editor in Chief, Vol.8, pgs.5607-5609, Charles D. Orzech

Encyclopedia of Religion Second Edition, copyright 2005 Thomson Gale a part of The Thomson Corporation, Lindsay Jones Editor in Chief, Vol.10, pg.6632, Thomas P. Kasulis

Encyclopedia of Religion Second Edition, copyright 2005 Thomson Gale a part of The Thomson Corporation, Lindsay Jones Editor in Chief, Vol.13, pg.8985, David Gordon White

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®)
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ESV Text Edition: 2007