I came across this article today in Tricycle and thought it was interesting...
It is an essay on how a certain form of Buddhism in Japan focuses on the subjugation of evil, that is, those things that hinder the dharma. It appears at first glance a little counter to how Buddhism is usually perceived, the closest thing I have found to evil in conventional Buddhism are the klesha’s and they are wholly internal. Anyway, if it piques your interest have a look and we can discuss.
I don't have time right now to read the whole article. But just from the first bit I was able to get through, I notice many similarities with Tibetan practice. They talk often about conquering and overcoming harmful impressions in the mind and spirits in the world. Japan has a strong martial tradition so its not so surprising that the language of Buddhism there took on some aspect of that.
I can imagine that with this sort of rhetoric it would be vital to keep a wholesome intention and maintain a solid tradition or it could easily pervert into a justification for all sorts of harmful actions. For example was any of this sort of thinking used to justify Japan's military actions in WWII?
Yes, I noticed that as well, and the Tibetan traditions also sometimes talk about wrathful deities, for example in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which bear somewhat of a resemblance to what’s discussed for the Japanese tradition.
That’s right especially since this esoteric tradition was popular around the time when Chinese Buddhism was first brought to Japan. There is the whole idea of using a ritual to subdue the spirit of the enemy and thus assure success in battle, in return for which a ruler would sponsor a temple. To our modern minds this looks like ‘magic’ and is quickly discredited, but back then it was significant as an influence.
About WWII I don’t actually know, though it wouldn’t surprise me. But the wholesome intention would certainly need to be a focal point...
Japanese Buddhists love saying complicated things like "the Buddha and the Devil are one and the same" and "evil is bodhi".
I'm not altogether sure how to respond when I encounter these discourses in Tendai-shū, so I usually just figure that X or Y philosopher was simply too clever for me.
The answer usually is: "... because of emptiness."
Another one is "Who was the Buddha's greatest teacher?"
Struck by the phrase 'we live in a time of great ambiguity' - only too true! great article @kerome. Needs pondering.
Only Jesus/Osho/Buddha/Trump/Socialism etc can save us ...
There I was (and this is a true story) talking to myself ... and the devil/mara/speghetti monster/baby Jesus/?/big nose/clown/balloon came and burst ...
And now back to the meditation ...
Interesting article. I honestly wasn't very familiar with Shingon, but it sounds a lot like a combination of mantra, mudra, and visualization practices that are utilized to develop compassion, wisdom, and ultimately, an awakened mind, very similar to many Vajrayana techniques. I can see the appeal of such a practice, and how the effects might reverberate out into the external world. (It also explains all of the priest characters in half the animes I've ever watched.) That said, I can also see how people might fall into a kind of magical thinking and misuse these techniques. I'm sure having a good teacher is key to not wandering of the path and into a thicket of clinging to rites and rituals.
As for the existence of evil itself, I agree that it's ultimately an internal phenomenon. For example, here's something I wrote a while back on it:
Intentional bad, hurtful, exploitative, malicious behaviour exists. It somtimes exists in religious people to a terrible degree.
The deeper and skilful use of the confrontation, exploitation of wrathful/demon tantra yidams is not to protect evil but to root it out and dissolve its ignorance.
Roast the Turkey!
Yes, but do they say it with a twinkle in the eye and that kind of quarter smile Japanese women especially are so good at? the article is well argued but I find the idea of enforced enlightenment more than a little peculiar. It's worth noting that Kukai started out as a civil servant. I bet there's a really long complicated form attached to the ritual processes somewhere. In triplicate.
Done a bit more digging on this and Akshobhya, of the Eastern Pure Land, lis an important figure in Shingon, and this quote from the online Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia may shed some light, I found it helpful.
'the path of Enlightenment through the Vajra family (Akshobhya is one of the family!) is seen as breaking free of constraints and obstacles, transmuting negativity, and is generally more dynamic'
Transmutation is a more acceptable word as far as I'm concerned than subjugation.
Indeed. Wait till you have Nothing to transform. Evil
The transformation of Samhain to Halloween?
The same, but different....
They are complex teachings AND unfortunately without guidance and depth open to abuse by Westerners or the shallow minded, immature, mad, those justifying bad/unskilful behavour ...
Our reaction and usage of such material must be tempered. Just as the capacity to see existence as a Pureland (Heavenly Field or Realm) is a skilful usage of Dharma Faith for those so disposed ...
And Astara to Easter, and Yule to Christmas...... Darn those monkish spin doctors!
My Papa was evil? Explains a lot ...
Here are the numbers ...
On the whole focus on right action, right being (not being right) and overcoming our tendencies is quite a work ...
My favourite Papa (Emeritus III):