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Esoteric Ritual Meditations of Tendai Buddhism


By Reverend Jikai DEDICATION This Book is Dedicated to My Beloved Teacher, Tendai Bishop Jion Haba, of Tokyo, Japan, and to His Son, My Brother in the Dharma, Reverend Jisen Haba, in Gratitude for Their Tireless Efforts in Bringing the Dharma to America. Chapter I The Beginning and The End Let us, therefore, begin at the Beginning, which is also the End, while keeping in mind, that in Buddhism, there is neither Beginning nor End. There are several ways to approach the study of Esoteric Buddhism, but this approach "from the Beginning" has been chosen, which is, to say, from the MAHABHUTA, the Great Primary Elements. Everything in the universe, in all universes, consists of the MAH ABHUTA. In early Buddhism, there were only four of the Great Primary Elements described in the scriptures, but Esoteric Buddhism counts six. From the MAHABHUTA all secondary qualities emanate and proliferate, until we find all of the countless phenomena of the universe. We, as human beings, are also reflections of these Great Primary Elements. Upon conception in our mothers' womb, we arise from them, and upon death, we dissolve back into them. The entire universe is an inter-play, a dance, if you wish, of the combining, dissolution, and recombination of the MAHABHUTA. It must constantly be kept in mind that the Great Primary Elements are essentially VOID, that is to say, they are of the nature of Buddhahood themselves. They are not to be thought of as a kind of basic substance or substratum. The MAHABHUTA are PRITHIVI (Earth); AP (Water); TEJAS (Fire); VAYU (Wind or Air); AKASA (Space or Ether); and CITTA (Mind). The Great Primary Elements, Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Space and Mind, may commonly, or conventionally, be called such, but again, it should be remembered that they are not only, or simply, that. "Earth" are the constituents of matter in a solid state, which is to say that it represents static energy. It is the element of cohesion. Sometimes, it is energy which may be blocked. Within the human body, the Earth Element is concentrated in the base of the spine. In Esoteric Buddhism, Earth is the symbol of R ATNASAMBHAVA BUDDHA, whose color is yellow, and who is symbolic of Unified Wisdom. The "Water" Element is the constituents of matter in a liquid state. It is the element of undulation. It moves from side to side, on roughly the same level. It represents energy which has been loosened slightly. It cannot move far, but rather moves from one pole to its opposite pole, for instance, from attraction to repulsion, love to hate, etc. Within the human body, the Water Element is concentrated in the lower abdomen. In Esoteric Buddhism, Water is the symbol of AKSHOBHYA BUDDHA, whose color is blue, and who is symbolic of Reflective Wisdom. The "Fire" Element is the constituents of matter in a state of radiation or heat. Fire is energy which is rapidly being released in an upward direction. This is a state of rising consciousness, and it is associated with creativity of all kinds. For human s, it brings inspiration. Within the human body, the Fire Element is concentrated in the lower part of the chest. In Esoteric Buddhism, it is the symbol of AMITABHA BUDDHA, whose color is red, and who is symbolic of Discerning Wisdom.

The "Wind" or "Air" Element is the constituents of matter in a gaseous state, that is, in a state of vibration or motion. It is energy which is totally freed, and it may move in all the ten directions of the universe at the same time. The Wind Element within the center of the chest in the human body. In Esoteric Buddhism, it is the symbol of AMOGHASIDDHI BUDDHA, and is symbolic of Creative Wisdom. The "Space" Element is Pure Emptiness, it is the VOID, known as SUNYATA in Sanskrit. It is beyond all thought and beyond all words. It is energy which has entered into another dimension, into all dimensions unto infinity. In the human body, the Space Element is concentrated in the throat. In Esoteric Buddhism, Space is symbolic of MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA, whose color is white, and is symbolic of Indivisible Wisdom. It must be remembered that the MAHABHUTA always coexist with one another, and that, from them are derived all other material phenomena and qualities. These include the Five Aggregates or SKANDHAS, which is the "process" that constitutes man, and which we described in our earlier booklet. This brings us, then, to the Sixth Element, that of "Mind". It is the symbol of Perfect Enlightenment, and is again, symbolic of MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA. It should be noted that the first Five Elements are material elements, while the sixth is not. It must be emphasized that the first five cannot exist without the sixth, nor the sixth without the first five. That is to say that Mind cannot exist without Matter, and that Matter cannot exist without Mind. The two totally interpenetrate one another. All possess the Buddha-Nature inherently, and all are of the nature of TATHATA, True Reality. Tendai Esoteric Buddhism is the transmission of the Dharma on superhuman planes. When the historical, human Buddha, Siddhartha, taught the Dharma in India 2500 years ago, he taught it through human speech, on a human plane. But to those who had ears to h ear, and eyes to see, he also taught the Esoteric Doctrine on a superhuman level, as the Cosmic Buddha, MAHAVAIROCANA. That is to say, he taught the Esoteric Doctrine on the level of "mantric sound", and on the level of archetypal On the level of mantric sound, it is Enlightenment desiring to communicate Enlightenment. This desire may be called the Compassion (in Sanskrit, ADHISTHANA) of MAHAVAIROCANA Buddha. At this highest level, this communication is an extremely subtle vibration. It is not strictly sound which we hear with our human ear, but rather, sound, which we hear with our "inner ear" through which our own Buddha-Nature is awakened. On the level of archetypal images, somewhat lower than that of mantric sound, the Dharma is taught through the imagery of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, gods and goddesses, both peaceful and benign, as well as hideous and frightening. All are brightly colored and luminous, and on this level, words are not necessary Thus, when the historical Buddha, Siddhartha was in his highest SAMADHI, or Meditative Concentration, He taught the Dharma in its esoteric form, as the Cosmic Buddha, MAHAVAIROCANA. To say this in another way, when the historical Buddha was in his highest SAMADHI, He literally became the "Personification of the Dharma" which we may call the "Body of the Dharma". In Sanskrit, this is known as the DHARMAKAYA. For that reason, we refer to the "DHARMAKAYA MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA". But the "Personified Dharma" or DHARMAKAYA MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA is eternal. Furthermore, MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA possesses form, color, voice and action. We can say that MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA may be perceived through the senses in the world around us, if one knows the correct method. Free of illusion, we may discern MAHAVAIROCANA in all of nature. Every sound is the voice of MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA whispering to us, every motion is his movement. The Body, Speech, and Mind of MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA constitute the very universe, itself, MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA has many emanations or manifestations in the forms of many deities, gods and goddesses, animals, and symbols of all sorts. As precisely as human language can be in describing delicate and complicated concepts, we can say that the Six Great Primary Elements, themselves, the MAHABHUTA are the very Body and Mind of DHARMAKAYA MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA. In Japanese, the Six ELEMENTS are known as the ROKU DAI.

At the outset of this chapter, we referred to the Beginning and the End. The MAHABHUTA and MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA are both in the Beginning and in the End. Yet, there is no Beginning and no End on the phenomenal level of Relative Truth, for death merely results in rebirth, and birth in death. Only when we have REALIZED "SOKUSHIN-JOBUTSU", which is the Realization of Buddha-in-Me, and I-in-Buddha, which is the Realization of the Perfect Identity of MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA and Me, is there an End. An End to what? It is the End of DUKKHA, of suffering, pain and rebirth. It is the reintegration of man with his innermost nature, which is his Buddha Nature. Upon death, the human body will dissolve back into the Six Great Primary Elements; while at the moment of death, ABSOLUTE REALITY, in the form of DHARMAKAYA MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA, will rise before us in all of His splendor and light. If, at that critical moment, we can recognize MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA as our own true BUDDHA-NATURE, we will have realized NIRVANA, Perfect Enlightenment. Should we fail in this, we will surely be reborn in a painful state. But, we may realize MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA while we are yet alive, in this very body. For example, in sleep, which is a kind of small death, there is a possible transition to the DHARMAKAYA. The process of falling asleep resembles the meditative process. F irst, there is a soft glow which gradually spreads and finally dissolves in darkness, that is, in sleep itself. Out of this darkness, there breaks forth a brilliant light. This light is the DHARMAKAYA MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA, totally pure and free of any Ka rmic defilement's, but for an instant, in the mind of the sleeper. It is at this point, that the sleeper may "re-cognize" the DHARMAKAYA. But should he fail in this because of Karmic defilement's, he will immediately enter into the Dream State which is analogous to the Waking State. That is to say, the sleeper is "reborn" into the Dream State where the Clear Pure Light of the DHARMAKAYA is obscured by Karmic defilement's, and is seen, instead, to proliferate into many forms, both peaceful and frightening, which is precisely what takes place in the ordinary Waking State. Thus, if at the moment of death, the individual fails to realize MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA, he will be reborn in a painful state, where the Karmic defilement's of his own mind will "produce" the bodies and forms around him, which are nothing but obscurations and shadows of the Clear Pure Light of MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA. But we may simulate, so to speak, the above process, while in this very body, through the Esoteric Ritual Meditations of Tendai Buddhism, during which we may burn away our Karmic defilement's, our KLESAS, and come to realize MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA in this life. The whole practice is a process of spiritual transformation. Chapter II The Two Great Scriptures and The Two Great Mandalas The two great scriptures of Tendai Esoteric Buddhism are the MAHAVAIROCANA SUTRA (known in Japanese as the DAINICHI-KYO), and the VAJRASEKHARA SUTRA (known in Japanese as the KONGOCHO-KYO). Both were composed in ancient India and transmitted to Japan, th rough China about 1200 years ago. It is from these two scriptures that the two great Mandalas of Tendai Esoteric Buddhism were drawn, and upon which the ritual meditations are based. At the outset, let us first discuss the theory of the Mandala. As a result of their deep meditations, early Buddhist Masters were able to construct the Mandalas which are forms of Absolute Truth expressed as pictures and diagrams. The Mandala is, simultaneously, a picture of the COSMOS, and a picture of the HUMAN MIND, expressed as an array of many Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Although it can be said that the Mandalas were born as a result of the deep meditations of the ancient Masters, they became, in turn, a support for the meditations of others, an external instrument used to evoke and obtain the desired results of each particular ritual meditation.

Mandalas may be of different kinds, they may be drawn or painted upon cloth or paper, or, they may actually be three-dimensional, and constructed on a platform. It must be said that the Mandalas are not different from ourselves, the universe, of from MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA. All are ONE. The ritual meditations in which Mandalas are used, are intended to remedy man's alienation from the "totality" of things. They are concerned with the energies constituting the play of the universe, (the Macrocosm), and their presence and analogous play within man, (the Microcosm). At the center of each Mandala is DHARMAKAYA MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA, who is surrounded by numerous emanations and forms which are expressions of the central form, some ugly, some beautiful. The process of reintegration occurs when the practitioner realizes that, both he, and the constituents of his experience have a place within the Mandala, and are, in fact, Mandalas in themselves. The first of the Tendai Esoteric Mandalas is drawn from the Mahavairocana Sutra, and is known as the GARBHAKOSADHATU MANDALA, (in Japanese, the TAIZOKAI MANDARA). It is called the Realm of the Womb, so called because it represents the phenomenal universe, the everyday world we live in, so to speak. It is, thus, the realm of Relative Truth. It also represents the first five of the MAHABHUTA, the Great Primary Elements, that of the material universe. As such, it symbolizes the BODY OF MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA, as well as the Human Body. It is "RI" which is the Principle of things that are To Be Known. It is the growing and living universe in which all things undergo perpetual change. The second Mandala is drawn from the Vajrasekhara Sutra, and is known as the VAJRADHATU MANDALA, (in Japanese the KONGO-KAI MANDARA). It is called the Realm of the Diamond Thunderbolt, as it represents the unchanging nature of ABSOLUTE TRUTH. It symbolized the sixth of the MAHABHUTA, the Great Primary Elements, that of CITTA, or Mind. Thus, it represents the MIND OF MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA, as well as the HUMAN MIND. It is "CHI" which is the unchanging Principle of Wisdom, the Principle of the Knower. The Vajradhuta Mandala represents the Eternal and Indestructible Truth. As we have noted, the first five of the Great Primary Elements represent that which is to be KNOWN, while the sixth Element represents the KNOWER. Buddhahood consists in the union of these two, which is to say, in the Perfect Union of the Two Mandaras, through the performance of the esoteric ritual. Further, the two Mandalas really represent every form of duality: male and female, subject and object, one and many, left and right, microcosm and macrocosm, life and death, just to mention a few. The aim of Tendai Esoteric Buddhism is to realize union between the two. This does not mean to superimpose one on the other, but to really know that they are, and always have been, and ever will be, ONE. The Body, Speech and Thought of MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA make up the life of the universe. Various aspects of the cosmic life of Mahavairocana are represented by numerous deities which are His manifestations or emanations. Each deity has its own form, color, Mudra, and special place on the Mandala. The deity will also have its own Mantra and BIJA, or "seed syllable", which is the concentration of the entire Mantra into a single syllable, and from which the deity, himself, may appear. In the rituals performed by the Tendai practitioner before these deities, the Mudras, and Mantras, assumed and recited have the purpose of awakening within the worshipper the realization of these deities within himself. As the deities are but different forms of MAHAVAIROCANA, the worshipper will realize his essential Oneness with MAHAVAIROCANA. Essentially, there is no difference between the object of worship, the worshipper, and the worship. The Mantra of MAHAVAIROCANA is MAHAVAIROCANA expressed as so und, the Mudra of

MAHAVAIROCANA is MAHAVAIROCANA expressed in movement, and the visualization of MAHAVAIROCANA is MAHAVAIROCANA expressed in thought. Chapter III The Three Secrets We now come to the "method" by which one is able to realize one's perfect identity with MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA. It is this method which distinguished Esoteric Buddhism from, Exoteric, or ordinary Buddhism. The word "Esoteric" means "secret", or "hidden" There are, then, three "hidden" or "secret" functions which are used by the practitioner in order to evoke the power of MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA. The "personified Dharma", that is, MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA, has both Body and Mind, as we have already noted, just as human beings have both Body and Mind The Body and Mind of both MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA and man consist of the six Great Primary Elements, which are essentially pure, and are of the "Buddha-Nature". It is important to keep this point in mind, for, if MAHAVA IROCANA and man were not essentially of the same nature, there would not be any possibility of communication between the two. Thus, their essential sameness permits such communication. The purpose of the ritual meditation, then, is to assist man to be wh at he has been all along, but simply has not realized it, that is, to become ONE with MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA. Inasmuch as MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA possesses Body and Mind, He is able to perform the actions of Body (KAYA), Speech (VAC), and Mind (MANAS). These three actions of MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA are known as the THREE SECRETS (known in Sanskrit as TRIGUHYA, and in Japanese as (SAN MITSU). The Body (KAYA), Speech (VAC), and Mind (MANAS) of MAHAVAIROCANA are known as the TRI-GUHYA, while the Body, Speech, and Mind of man is known as the TRI-KARMA. The purpose of the Esoteric Ritual is to merge the actions of MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA with those of man. It is the Great Compassion, or wish, of MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA which enables this to occur. This Great Compassion manifests as ADHISTHANA (known in Japanese as KAJI). There are three kinds of ADHISTHANA which correspond with the actions of Body, Speech, an d Mind. (1) MUDRA, which is the action of the Body; in our ritual it consists of various movements of the fingers and hands. (2) MANTRA, which is the action of Speech, that is, the personification of the Dharma as pure sound. One can also say that it is the "distillation" of the deity being worshipped into sound, or the deity expressing himself as sound. (3) YOGA, which is the action of the Mind, or thought. In our ritual, it consists of the concentration and visualization of the deity in the mind of th e practitioner. It is important to note that each Mudra has a corresponding Mantra and particular visualization. The enactment of a Mudra IS MAHAVAIROCANA AS Action. The uttering of a MANTRA IS MAHAVAIROCANA AS Sound. Yogic Concentration IS MAHAVAIROCANA AS Thought. To say this in a different way, when one practices Mudra, the actions of man and MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA are merged. When one practices Mantra, the voice of man is merged with the voice of MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA. When one practices Yogic visualization, the mind of MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA is merged with the mind of man. That is, we will have achieved the Union of that which is TO BE KNOWN with the KNOWER. Thus, we become ONE. It would be correct to say that the most important part of the practice is the recitation of MANTRA. By this practice of MANTRA, we make the deity "come alive" before our very eyes. In the earlier stages of this practice, it is extremely helpful in making our concentration very deep. First, when we practice the recitation of Mantra, the consciousness is molded into the Mantra-form through the mental transformation of the sensory sounds. of the Mantra. By the Mantrapractice, the

Mantra-form will gradually be changed to living-Mantra w hen the consciousness is in a state of concentratedness. Then, ultimately, from the living Mantra, there emerges the living deity in an appropriate form. Concentration now becomes deep, real, and automatic. The living deity actually appears from the living-Mantra by His own will. It is not an easy thing to make the living deity appear from the Mantra. It is also not an easy thing to make the Mantra living. As long as it is not possible to achieve this, an easier means has been adopted for the development of concentration. It is this: a replica of the deity as an object of concentration is made. It may be an image or statue, or a painting. Thus, it becomes a tangible form easy for the sense-consciousness to hold. By seeing the image of the deity again and again, a clear picture is formed in the sense consciousness. The image or statue is made lifelike by Mantra, and in certain cases, quite living. Then it begins to be steady in the consciousness, and gradually fills the whole consciousness, so that no other objects can penetrate the consciousness. Now, concentration becomes very deep. This state can only be reached when the Body and Mind are purified by Mantra, and the lifeimpartation to the image is done by Mantra The form of the deity arises from the living Mantra, an d is created by the deity. It is not in the "imagination" of the practitioner. If the deity did not actually appear in form, the mind would not be able to receive it. In the four main Esoteric Ritual Meditations of Tendai Buddhism, the main object of worship is a fierce form of MAHAVAIROCANA BUDDHA known in Sanskrit as ACALA, and in Japanese as FUDO-MYO-O. Surrounded by flames, and of a frightening appearance, FUDO-MY O-O holds a sword in his right hand, the sword of wisdom with which to cut through the bonds of illusion and ignorance which keeps us bound to the wheel of suffering. In the other hand, he holds a rope with which to bind those forces of evil which would prevent us from attaining the final goal of NIRVANA. The sword and the rope in opposite hands also symbolize the principle of that which is To Be Known, on the one hand, and the Knower, on the other, and the concept that they are really ONE. Chapter IV The Esoteric Ritual Meditations JU HACHI DO JU HACHI DO, or The Eighteen Way of Practice, is the basic practice. In this ritual, the practitioner is initiated into eighteen fundamental Mantras and Mudras. We have, here, used the word, "initiated", for no one may practice the rituals unless he has been first initiated by his Master. The initiation ritual, itself, is a secret matter. JU HACHI DO is referred to as "subtle achievement." TAIZOKAI In the TAIZOKAI ritual meditation we practice the Mudras and Mantras and Yogic visualizations of the TAIZOKAI MANDARA. In this ritual we build the world of everyday experience, before we transmute this experience into the realm of the Buddhas in the next ritual. TAIZOKAI is sometimes referred to as "empty mind." KONGO KAI In the KONGO KAI ritual meditation, we practice the Mudras and Mantras of the KONGO KAI MANDARA. In this ritual, the TAIZOKAI aspects of our consciousness are transmuted into their KONGO KAI equivalents. Both the TAIZOKAI and KONGO KAI meditations are ways of understanding the mutual interpenetration of Body, Speech, and Mind, they are not intrinsically different, though they appear to be so in the mind under the spell of illusion. In these meditations we are able to completely identify with the aspects of our being, the Great Primary Elements, to realize that they are Buddhas themselves. When this identification becomes

complete, the practitioner has passed through a form of initiation into another realm. He will be reborn as an integrated person at all levels, emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally, in this very life, in this very body. The practitioner begins the meditation practice which is designed to transform the TAIZOKAI into the KONGO KAI, to enable him to enter into the state of IMMOBILE ALL EMBRACING WISDOM. Progressing from this stage, the practitioner is able to transform this IMMOBILE WISDOM into DYNAMIC AND HARMONIOUS WISDOM. This is the attainment of th e KONGOKAI, because, here, one becomes all things as one is not differentiated from any of them. It is WISDOM born from the KNOWLEDGE OF THE ALL. It is Transcendental Knowledge. Thus, the KONGO KAI is referred to as "identical mind". GOMA GOMA is the "fire" ritual meditation. Originating in Ancient India, it was later appropriated to Buddhist use. By this ritual, we may burn up those Karmic defilement's which still remain within us. It is the "fire of the Wisdom of the Buddha" which destroys all worldly passions. The GOMA ritual may be viewed in two ways. There is, first, the "Outer" GOMA, which is the actual fire kindled in the ritual. Secondly, there is the "Inner" GOMA, that is the fire of the Wisdom of the Buddha which we have kindle d within our minds. There are five different stages in the ritual, differing according to the particular deities involved. Sticks of wood are used, usually of cedar. Into the fire, other materials are thrown, including five kinds of grain, rice, barley, wheat, and poppy seeds, and sometimes sesame seeds. In addition incense balls and incense powders, as well as various oils are used. Upon completion of a perfect, or near-perfect meditation, the body of the practitioner is now viewed as having a "Diamond Nature". By dwelling on, and within, the qualities of the Great Primary Elements, we have become aware of them within ourselves, and then within others. The manner in which this practice of identification is formed is one that passes from Teacher to Disciple privately. However, if one is identified with the same entity as one's own Teacher, the communication between the two will be a mystical reality. The practice does not, however, halt there, for from this, it progresses to include all other beings until one reaches the state of complete identification and therefore ''non-identification''. This is why GOMA is referred to as "Birthless-ness". This is BUDDHAHOOD, the attainment of complete, perfect, undifferentiating WISDOM.