July 2016 SHINGI Newsletter of the Tendai Buddhist Institute

July 2016  
Newsletter of the Tendai Buddhist Institute
Yakushi Nyorai
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In This Issue
Events Calendar
The Third Jewel
This month the political parties hold their conventions and the election season takes on a more serious tone. It is the middle of the summer, many opportunities for amusement and time off, as well as hot listless days and nights. There’s Tanglewood, Saratoga Springs, theatre, music, ballet, visits to family and friends. We are still reeling with terrorist murders in our country as well as places that hold our imaginations. This collage of good, bad and uncertainty plays out in our dreams and nightmares. Several months ago I suggested practicing equanimity as an antidote to such trying times. The advice still goes. This time I would like to give a bit more instruction on how one ‘practices’ equanimity
Our Other Sangha:

July Events Calendar

Weekly Meditation Services (WMS)
Jiunzan Tendai-ji Hondoare on Wednesday evenings. They begin at 6pm with a discussion or talk (see below for this month’s discussion topics). At about 7pm there is a meditation service, followed at 8pm by a potluck supper. All of Wednesday evening’s events are open to the public. There is no fee, and reservations are not required.
 July Wednesday Meditations and Discussions
6                 Buddhism and Islam –  we will be dealing with the encounters and ensuing responses that can be traced between Buddhism and Islam during the centuries of contact across Asia and more recently in the West.  There are overtly negative images of the other perceived in both traditions, however some more positive images can be seen to have been crystallized. 
13               Inherent Good and Inherent Evil in Buddhism – this was a unique idea representing Tiantai’s nature-inclusion philosophy in Chinese Buddhism. Youxi Chuandeng’s (1554-1628) thesis lead to a regeneration of Tientai Buddhism. What set Chuandeng apart from his predecessors were his efforts to harmonize rather than criticize other Buddhist schools.
20                The Suraṃgama Sutra- An esoteric text often classified as Buddhist apocrypha. The theme is how one effectively combats delusions that may arise during meditation.  Taking the temperature of the Sangha
27               Gongyo Saho – The Betsuin Daily Service – The Wednesday meditation service is the daily service that is conducted at Tendai Buddhist Institute every day. This service is a combination of Indian, Chinese and Japanese parts that have been part of Mahayana Buddhism from very early times. We will discuss the elements of the service and how the elements are combined into a whole that is both devotional and purposeful. 

Other Events in July:

9                  Sutra Class and Morning Service, 8:30 – 10:30 AM – The Maha Prajna Paramita Hridaya Sutra (Heart Sutra) is  the most often chanted, cited and best known sutras in the Mahayana canon. We will read and discuss two different translations and commentaries (Mu Soeng’s and Red Pine’s) as a set throughout the classes.
Notes and Upcoming Events
Road Trips in August:
8/7         Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma at Tanglewood – The historical Silk Road, a series of land and sea trade routes that crisscrossed Eurasia, enabled the exchange of goods and innovations from Japan to the Mediterranean Sea for some 2,000 years, until the 14th century. With its artistic director Yo-Yo Ma, the Silk Road Ensemble returns to Tanglewood for another fascinating and wide-ranging traversal of music both traditional and new, suggesting a modern-day equivalent to the sort of cultural exchange that characterized the old trade routes in centuries long gone. Sign up for this fascinating evening (on the announcement board in the main house). We will purchase tickets separately so people may sit where they wish. We will meet for a picnic dinner before the performance.
8/20         The Diamond Way – An evening of Baseball at ‘The Joe’ in Troy, New York. The Tri-city Valley Cats will be playing the Hudson Valley Renegades.   There is no better way to spend a night at The Joe than with your sangha friends and family. In the past we have signed up for the ‘Group Picnic’ with hat, seat and picnic food. Sangha members have shared that they have enough hats and would prefer to have better seats and eat what they choose. So this year we will sign up for the best seats in the house for less than $10 a ticket with our group discount. Sign up for this evening of baseball (on the announcement board in the main house). We will purchase group tickets and we need a minimum of twenty people.
Food Pantry at Jiunzan Tendai-ji – Summertime is especially difficult for those who are need of the very basic necessities. Gratitude is best shown by extending to others the thoughtfulness we have received. Please bring non-perishable food items to the Tendai Buddhist Institute on Wednesday’s.  We contribute these items to the Chatham Silent Food Pantry

Meanderings (cont. from side bar at left)
Onyou Susan Bues Dengyo Statue
At the same time, I would like to point out that for devotional  Buddhists equanimity comes quite naturally. One has faith in Amidah (Amitabha), Kannon Bosatsu (Avalokitesvara), or another of the sacred or bodhisattvas, and places oneself under the care and nurture of that fibuddhas gure. There is a quiet assurance that drives away the inner turmoil and brings about a sense of calm assurance that results in facing the many obstacles in our life with meaning and purpose. While not free from doubt and misgivings at the very least one feels secure in a larger whole.
We are not all blessed with this faith, whether by our heritage or our inclination. For those who are not devotional the basic Buddhist teachings must be observed. The practice starts with a firm awareness of transience, a conscious acknowledgement that permeates our very being. This awareness does not induce an indifference or dullness; it awakens a sense of strength to overcome the vicissitudes of life naturally. This takes training not simply good intention.
We begin the training by recognizing that we are attached to our own ideas, our own perspectives of how the world around us should function. How many times do we say to ourselves, if not out loud, why can’t those other people understand the truth as we formulate it; how can those other people be so misinformed, unable to see reality, so misled?
Much of our angst arises from the conception that we are in control the world around us. That somehow other people’s action will change by virtue of our desire to make it so.
We must look at the action of others as arising from their mental states, much of which is a result of their dukkha. In turn we must embrace our own challenges. We must be attentive to the dukkha we bring to others and commit ourselves to actions that assist others so they may thrive, even if those actions do not seem related to the fears we experience (i.e. terrorism). If we contribute to other’s wellbeing we will be less absorbed in our own suffering. This is essential – our dukkha and the dukkha of others is one and the same. Maybe from different causes, different conditions, different ways of interpreting it, but the same dukkha.
Finally, we must commit to our practice on the cushion in a deliberate way to attain greater insight. This assists us in cultivating compassion and loving kindness directed by thoughtful pervasive wisdom. The practice is the basics; Four Foundations of Mindfulness, Four Brahmaviharas (Four divine Abodes), Five Classic Meditations (Antidotes to Dispersion, Anger, Craving, Pride, Ignorance). I will add here that this might be a good time for a simple unconditional opening of the heart/mind to allow Yakushi Nyorai, Amida, Kannon Bosatsu, etc., for assistance.
Regardless of the method, devotional or basic Buddhist practices, we develop poise and composure. You will begin to see impermanence as your greatest friend rather than a near enemy. This requires a fuller practice of the non-attachment to our own ideas and a letting go of the struggle to be in control and be with the cosmos rather than in the cosmos. To see reality as not something we can understand, but something that holds us each and every moment.
This process is not easy, most things worthwhile are not easy. The benefits of such a practice are much greater than less personal anxiety, or anger; transformation can be the result.
Love and Gassho . . . Monshin
Love and Gassho… Monshin


The Third Jewel-
-Where sangha members share ideas, poetry, and art to enrich everyone’s Buddhist practice.
Practicing with Kannon
by Shingaku Jenny Henderson
This April I had the privilege of traveling the Saigoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage.  The Saigoku is a 1300 year old pilgrimage visiting 33 temples across western Japan.  Each of the temples is associated with a powerful image of Kannon Bosatsu, also known as Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva.
When I started out on the Saigoku pilgrimage, I wasn’t specifically going with the intention of doing a Kannon practice.  And, yet, since Kannon is the focus of this pilgrimage, she became the focus of my practice.  By day I wandered from temple to temple reciting Chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra (sometimes known as the Kannon Sutra) and contemplating the different forms of Kannon located throughout the temple grounds.  By night, I would read about different forms of Kannon and array of miracles associated with certain Kannon statues.
In this process, I came to have a new understanding of the Kannon Sutra, and of the different ways compassion can manifest itself in the world and in our hearts.  And, I developed a deeper aspiration to use Kannon as a guide for how I want to live my life and to manifest the qualities of Kannon myself.
Because the Shingi isn’t long enough for me to tell the whole story of my journey, I’ve decided to share a few clippings from my journal and from the sutra in an attempt to illuminate a piece of my experience with Kannon.
Nyoirin Kannon at Engyoji
If you hear her name and see her body,
And contemplate her in thought,
Your life will not be in vain;
And you will extinguish all sufferings.
« …Yoshiminedera.  Cherry blossoms everywhere.  Mountain top views.  A 600 year old pine tree, the longest in Japan, supported by bamboo scaffolding as it winds its way through the temple grounds.  Sacred water from an underground spring in a small cave.  All of this on top of a peaceful mountain warmed by spring sunshine.
Juichinen Kannon (11-Headed Kannon)
As I wander through the temple grounds enjoying these wonders, I send a prayer to Kannon and to Yakushi Nyorai.  ‘Please let me be done with this flu.  Please let me feel stronger tomorrow so I can do this pilgrimage the way I had planned.’  Their response: ‘Here you are at one of the most beautiful, peaceful spots in the world.  On a day with perfect weather.  And you’re asking for MORE?  Be in this moment– it’s enough.’  At that moment, all I could do was laugh at myself…. »



Next month’s Shingi will continue excerpting from Shingaku’s journal.


Call for material: Please send the Shingi photographs, artwork, poems, book reviews, articles, etc. that you have created that you consider an outgrowth of your Buddhist practice or that you think reflect Buddhist themes, ideas, questions, etc. If submitting an image, you may wish to include a short statement sharing some of your thoughts to accompany it.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Contact . . .

Shingi Editor
Peter Chorin Donahoe
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