March 2012

Zazen

Seated Meditation

“Zazen” is the core practice of meditation in all forms of Zen Buddhism. It is characterized by sitting in one of a few traditional postures, either at home on one's own time or as part of a Zen community or study group. Despite the apparent simplicity of zazen as a meditation method, there are in fact several distinct “techniques” or approaches one can take to the practice.

Enryaku-Ji

And Tendai Buddhism

Mount Hiei is a very ancient center of Japanese Buddhism, home to the Enryaku-ji temple complex. Enryaku-ji was once the headquarters for the “sohei” or warrior monks of Tendai Buddhism, who fought on behalf of the Tendai sect during Japan's many centuries of civil wars. Even though the sohei were warrior monks, they weren't usually fighting for religious reasons. It was just that the Enryaku-ji temples had significant political and even financial interests, and they used their armies of fighting monks to back up their interests with armed force.

Buddhism and Shamanism

In Mongolia

Buddhism and Shamanism (or more specifically, Tengerism) have had a very uneasy relationship in Mongolia. Tibetan Buddhism was brought to Mongolia by a crafty ruler or “khan,” who couldn't unite the Mongolian tribes under his banner because he was not a bloodline descendant of the mighty Genghis. He made a deal with a Tibetan lama to declare him a reincarnation of Genghis's grandson Kublai, thus allowing him to seize power. In return, he recognized the lama as the “ocean teacher,” a phrase indicating supreme authority. That phrase, in Mongolian, is “Dalai Lama,” so the institution of Dalai Lama was directly connected with Mongolian power politics.