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Thread: Mikkyo, Is this Mandatory?

  1. #1
    Gareth Del Monte Guest

    Default Mikkyo, Is this Mandatory?

    Hello,
    I understand that there is a good book by Mr.Serge Mol called Invisible Armor,which covers much of the Eastern Esoteric Practices that go hand in hand with the Combative nature and application of Warrior Arts.
    I have unfortunately been unable to acquire the book so am at a bit of a loss.
    I have read Mr.Risuke Otake's Book on Katori Shinto Ryu and obviously Shintoism and to a degree the esoteric practices of Mikkyo were prevalent.There was a brief explanation of the practice,however it was taken from one book,and this is obviously very little information for me to understand it even on a basic level.
    I would just like to ask as a practicing Christian,if someone were to learn these Heiho,lets take Katori Shinto Ryu for example,how important is the study of this esoteric practice with relation to tuition and learning in the Dojo and the system as a whole.
    As Christians we have similar practices.We do not have the Kuji-In,but we do have our own "mudra" such as making the sign of the cross,placing our hands together when in prayer etc.
    We do not have mantra,but we do have prayers.
    The Christian Knights of old would often cross themselves or kiss a cross around their neck before embarking on a Combative journey etc.
    As a Christian I can understand,relate to and believe in these practices and what they symbolize.
    I would like to know if a Christian would have to,need to,or even study Mikkyo or Esoteric Buddhism(even on an Academic Level) even though you do not believe in its nature as it is different to yours.In fact much of it would be going against my own religion,as some of it(excuse my lack of knowledge here)deals with divination etc.
    Any insights or information would be great(especially practical information).I understand that the study of this type of practice might be necessary simply as a sign of respect to the Heiho and Warriors who died for its existence.
    Thank you,
    Gareth.

  2. #2
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    Hello,

    Koryu bugei included mikkyo and other esoteric teachings in their arts for a reason. The teachings had direct relevance to the art, and were not simply viewed as an opportunity to push "religion" on their disciples. These esoteric teachings are much different from the "outer" teachings non-initiates are first introduced to.

    The short answer is, it IS possible to learn these esoteric teachings using a more modern format or structure. Doing so would make life far easier for everyone involved these days, including native Japanese. However, IMO, if the art does not offer a more modern way to understand their esoteric teachings, then there would remain important things that someone who doesn't learn and understand them would not get.

    FWIW, I personally don't view such esoteric teachings as "religious", but whether learning/following such teachings would conflict with your own faith is something you would have to decide for yourself.

    [For the sake of clarity, Mikkyo is a section of teaching that relates to certain lines of Buddhism, not Shinto.]

    Regards,
    Nathan Scott
    Nichigetsukai

    "Put strength into your practice, and avoid conceit. It is easy enough to understand a strategy and guard against it after the matter has already been settled, but the reason an opponent becomes defeated is because they didn't learn of it ahead of time. This is the nature of secret matters. That which is kept hidden is what we call the Flower."

    - Zeami Motokiyo, 1418 (Fūshikaden)

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    Gareth Del Monte Guest

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    Hello Mr.Scott,
    Thank you for the information.
    It is a new concept and interesting to me that these teachings can be taught in a more modern context.(It would be great if you could maybe explain this to a greater degree,or could in fact direct me to a site or form of media where I can best be exposed to this.)
    I also was mistakenly under the impression that it was in fact a religious based practice based on the fact that it was Buddhist and from the tiny snippet of in formation I learned in Mr.Otake's Katori Shinto Ryu Book,each Mudra has its own Mantra and these are relevant and directed towards specific Buddhist Deities.
    Thank you for the information,
    It is much appreciated,
    Gareth.

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    Hello,

    While the mikkyo methods *could* be taught in a modern context without the Buddhist context, I've never heard of anyone doing it yet! It would be a substantial undertaking that only the most qualified exponent(s) of mikkyo could correctly achieve. I wouldn't hold my breath for this to happen. However, the headmasters of various koryu could choose to modernize their method of teaching the elements that are incorporated into their arts. Most students these days are not willing or able to initiate themselves into esoteric Buddhism in order to learn them. Ueshiba Morihei, the founder of Aikido, ended up burying a lot of important teachings within ancient Shinto references that nobody has understood at all until recent years. He obviously wanted to show the historical relationship between what he taught and Shinto, and perhaps wanted his students to study Shinto, but the result was none of his students understood what he was saying, and the differences in skill between themselves and the founder was apparent as a result.

    Anyway, Mikkyo IS a part of Buddhism, and many view Buddhism as a religion due to deities being involved. Is it possible to study Mikkyo methodology without being "Buddhist"? Within Buddhism, no, as one must study the outer teachings of Buddhism before they will be exposed to much if any of the inner teachings (mikkyo). Mudra (finger entwining), Mantra (chanting), and Mandala (visualizations) are the three core methods of mikkyo. All are wrapped up within the context of Buddhism, and Buddhist teachings. But all are methodologies just the same, with specific reasons and benefits to doing them.

    Basically, only you can answer if pursuing such methods would conflict with your own belief system. Personally, I find the definition of what is, and what is not, a "religion" rather hazy, but there are wildly varying points of view about that.

    Regards,
    Nathan Scott
    Nichigetsukai

    "Put strength into your practice, and avoid conceit. It is easy enough to understand a strategy and guard against it after the matter has already been settled, but the reason an opponent becomes defeated is because they didn't learn of it ahead of time. This is the nature of secret matters. That which is kept hidden is what we call the Flower."

    - Zeami Motokiyo, 1418 (Fūshikaden)

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    If you have a chance check out Dr. David Hall's latest book "The Buddhist Goddess Marishiten" published by Brill http://www.brill.com/buddhist-goddess-marishiten (one of the top academic presses in the world). It is a refortmatted and easier to access version of his PhD dissertation. It is also expanded from the thesis as well. It should give you a good idea of how this stuff worked for the medieval Japanese warrior and how it is useful today. It is an academic book and the price reflects that but it is worth every penny.

    As for mixing Christianity with other religious practices that is a personal thing I guess? I am Catholic but I "look to" various Japanese gods for "guidance" if you will. I give particular respect to St. Michael the Archangel (Christian saint), Kashima no Kami, Marishiten and Fudo myo-o. Each gives me stregth in a different way to accomplish my job.

    Best of luck,
    Chris
    Last edited by Anders Pettersson; 2nd February 2014 at 09:14. Reason: Fixed the link
    Christopher Covington

    Daito-ryu aikijujutsu
    Kashima Shinden Jikishinkage-ryu heiho

    All views expressed here are my own and don't necessarily represent the views of the arts I practice, the teachers and people I train with or any dojo I train in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gareth Del Monte View Post
    Hello,
    I would like to know if a Christian would have to,need to,or even study Mikkyo or Esoteric Buddhism (even on an Academic Level) even though you do not believe in its nature as it is different to yours. In fact much of it would be going against my own religion,as some of it (excuse my lack of knowledge here) deals with divination etc.
    Any insights or information would be great (especially practical information). I understand that the study of this type of practice might be necessary simply as a sign of respect to the Heiho and Warriors who died for its existence.
    Thank you,
    Gareth.
    I would add to what others have stated here that Japanese religion has some distinctive features that someone brought up in a religious tradition like Christianity might not be aware of initially. Morihei Ueshiba is one whose discourses I am most familiar with and he supplemented the Shingon Buddhism he was brought up in as a youth with the particular features of the Omoto religion, which is regarded as a 'new' religion. The matter is fairly complex and I have discussed this in some detail on another forum: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=23221.

    Best wishes,
    Peter Goldsbury,
    Forum Administrator,
    Hiroshima, Japan

  8. #7
    Gareth Del Monte Guest

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    Hello,
    Thank you everybody for the information shared.
    It is definitely food for thought.
    Regards,
    Gareth.

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