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Shingon Esoteric Buddhism

The Shingon Path to Enlightenment

The Four Noble Truths of Life

The historical Buddha, (born Siddartha Gautama around 563BC in India), known as Shakyamuni Buddha, taught us the 4 core truths about human life:

1) Human life is characterized by periods of suffering, conflict, and pain.

2) The root of the suffering is attachment to our notions of how things ought to be or how we want them to be.

3) By loosening our tightly held beliefs and notions, we can eliminate the attachment and thereby release the suffering.

4) Meditation practice and the teachings or Dharma light the way and show us how to attain ultimate happiness.

We are spiritual beings having a human experience. We are incredibly fortunate to have this human incarnation and our greatest opportunity and the only thing we take with us when we transition is our spiritual growth. In our culture today, it's easy to find importance placed on distractions and material representations of power with mostly no acknowledgement of the value of looking inward and of connecting with the natural forces around us. Originally, there was not so much separation between the material and the spiritual. In modern times though, it has become easy to see the separation that humans have created. Of course the material realm is very important but it must be balanced with spiritual connection.

The Shingon school of esoteric Buddhism teaches us that it is possible to achieve spiritual enlightenment and break the karmic cycle of human rebirth in this very lifetime. The material/physical earthly realm provides us this opportunity and the teachings of Shingon light the way. Of course, all true spiritual paths emanate from the same source and this is graphically depicted in the mandalas. Connecting with that divine source is what we seek as human beings walking a spiritual path.

It is within the material-spiritual balance/reunification that we find our highest potential as human beings and the teachings of Shingon show us how to achieve this balance. One of the primary goals as stated in the Mahavairocana Sutra and often referenced by Ajari Tanaka is Nyojitsu Chi Jishin which means to know one's mind as it truly is. The Mahavairocana Sutra is a core text of Shingon doctrine.

The Taizokai Womb Realm Mandala showing the Shingon pantheon with Dainichi Nyorai in the Central Lotus Section. The Taizokai represents the world of physical phenomena.
The Goma is a magical fire ritual from the Shingon School of Japanese Esoteric Buddhism. Shingon was brought to Japan from China in the 9th century by its 8th patriarch Kobo Daishi Kukai. Shortly thereafter in ceased to exist in China. Shingon Buddhism is a mystical tradition based on the three secrets: body, speech, and mind. Esoteric Buddhism teaches us that highest truth is better understood if represented by each of these three secrets. In Shingon then, we identify with the wisdom and compassion of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas through spoken mantra, visualizations, and symbolic hand gestures (mudra). The secret or esoteric teachings are not meant to be understood on a surface level but rather the meaning and power is revealed through practice and experience. Then, like a lotus which blooms pure white from a muddy swamp, we too can realize our full spiritual potential as human beings.

The Kongokai Diamond Realm mandala shows the workings of ultimate truth and reality and complements the Taizokai.
Our primary purpose for practice is to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. The core teachings of Buddhism show us how to eliminate suffering, fear, and purify negative karma. By practicing and studying the teachings which are universally applicable, we can attain happiness that is not dependent on anything external and experience the illuminating power of wisdom and the transcendent harmony of compassion.
Buddhism in general shows us how to eradicate the root of suffering by understanding its cause and how to transform it into permanent happiness.

The esoteric traditions, which today exist only in Japan and Tibet, combined the Buddha's early teachings exoteric known as Sutra with his later esoteric teachings known as Tantra and were heavily influenced by Hindu and Vedic teachings as well as the indigenous traditions, Shinto in Japan and Bon in Tibet. Rev Tanaka spent five years in India studying Hinduism and speaks of the complementary aspects of Buddhism's philosophy and Shinto's reverence for nature.

Tanaka Sensei's primary message is very simple: Through consistent everyday practice, little by little, we can come to enjoy a creative and happy life.

"My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness." – His Holiness The Dalai Lam