View Full Version : esoteric mikkyo

1st March 2001, 15:19
How about we iclude some info on esoteric buddhism (mikkyo) since there is some connection to ninpo.



George Kohler
1st March 2001, 16:58

It is E-budo policy to place your full name on your posts.

2nd March 2001, 09:49
Sorry, I 'm just used to ending postings with my first name by Habit!


Andrew Martini

Mark Brecht
2nd March 2001, 14:43
Originally posted by adepss
How about we iclude some info on esoteric buddhism (mikkyo) since there is some connection to ninpo.

A Mikkyo forum would be in interesting, but i am not sure if there would be enough activity to qualify it to get it`s own forum.

??? BTW, why would we have to include something because there is a connection to NINPO... FYI many japanese Koryu have <i>connections</i> to Mikkyo, there is nothing special about Ninpo ryuha and Mikkyo...

2nd March 2001, 14:59
There is no have to, it was merely a suggestion.


Andrew Martini

2nd March 2001, 18:40
Well I for one would certainly be interested in learning more about mikkyo. I've certainly heard of the term before, but I'd be grateful if someone with some direct experience in the subject would give us all a brief over-view (if such a thing is possible) of mikkyo in general?

George Kohler
2nd March 2001, 19:04
Hi Andrew,

There use to be a forum dedicated to Mikkyo before the E-Budo Big Crash (Server went down and all the memory were lost), but hardly no one posted in that forum. I guess when John L found a better company to host him, he decided not to put one up because it didn't generate enough support or posts.

4th March 2001, 12:37
Hi George and David,

Right, there may well be not much interset on esoteric Buddhism here- so anyway you had previously addressed this topic prior to the crash without much interest - so we might as well let this thread close.

Thanks anyway ,


Andrew Martini

4th March 2001, 20:26
While there might not be enough interest to sustain an enitre forum, there might well be enough for a thread - so I'm more than happy to leave this one open, for anyone who wants to discuss esoteric mikkyo..
Which brings me back to my request - is there anyone who'd like to give us the benefit of their experience?

Joseph Svinth
5th March 2001, 07:18
You can try http://www2.uncwil.edu/iabs/vl

5th March 2001, 23:24
Thanks for the link Joe - hadn't come across the Virtual Library in my wonderings to date, I can see it being a very useful resource...
Unfortunately, it looks like the one link to a mikkyo related site - Tendai related to be specific - is a bit of a dodo at the moment..
I'll keep looking though..

Paul Madory
6th March 2001, 03:06
Hmmm... We did have a Tendai priest as a member here at one time. Maybe he is too busy. In religious mikkyo, there are some rituals that involve repeating the same phrase 20,000 times per day for fifty days straight! So maybe he does not have time to browse the Web often?

I'll do my best to address the inquiry. My path lies in spirituality beyond the constraints of religion. But there is much of value that can be salvaged from religious institutions.

1) using the powers of the physical world to produce personal enlightenment
2) the most expedient utilization of desire and sense perceptions
3) transformation and expansion of energetic consciousness (My life is aptly captured by the phrase - "pushing out from within".)
4) wisdom of skillful means
5) In the mundane lie the keys to the sacred.
6) "perkiness, outrageousness, inscrutability" (This is a Tibetan phrase)

Mikkyo is Japanese tantra.

Zomitsu is non-religious Mikkyo.

Shugendo started off as primarily Zomitsu plus Dokyo (esoteric Taoism). Then later it evolved and adapted through the centuries and was heavily involved in the process of shinbutsu shugo "merging gods and Buddhas" as a hybrid offspring of Shinto and Buddhism. Perhaps this was mostly for the sake of fitting in. As I was raised as a Unitarian Universalist, this has seemed to be the most appropriate path for me.

There are three types, according to orthodox views:

1) "Miscellaneous Category" - early Indian tantric kriya (7th-8th Century C.E.), a few scattered wandering Taoists, Japanese "Natural Wisdom" school (8th Century C.E.), Japanese Shugendo, and Japanese Tachikawa (unorthodox mix of Mikkyo, Taoism, popular culture, and ritualized sex; believed to be extinguished by orthodox Mikkyo)

2) "Pure Category" - Chinese (9th Century C.E., then extinct), Japanese Tendai and Shingon (9th Century C.E. to present)

3) "Late Indian Schools" - involve ritualized sex. The most complete lineage in this category escaped from India to Tibet to avoid the Muslim invasions, circa 13th Century C.E. The Dalai Lama practices Vajrayana, a.k.a. Mikkyo. And in India today, Buddhism and Hindu tantra exist as a small minority within the larger system of Hinduism. These are mostly in a state of decay.

"Pure" is defined as the combination of two innovative sutras from 7th-8th Century C.E.: Dainichi-kyo and Kongocho-gyo, with Yoga Sutra and others as supplementary.
The sanshin (triple heart) of Mikkyo is a basic interactive description: knowledge of self, knowledge of others, and knowledge of proper ideals - all three equal to each other.

"Deity" does not have the same connotation as a Western deity I think. (One could view the following definition as a useful piece of insight into any religion's true purpose however.) "Deity" is a psychological portrait of a visualized archetype, or an ideal human character quality. In the long term, a "deity" will have a psychosomatic effect on the internal physiological energy state through the process of kaji "mutual empowerment".

Kaji means "mutual empowerment" between self and deity. This is a distinct break from orthodox Mahayana or Pure Land (exoteric Buddhism). The exoteric teachings emphasize the jiga or "ego" (atman in Hindu) as the source of all suffering in one's lifestyle. Their drastic cure was muga or "no self" elimination of the ego. Their ideal was muyoku or "no desire" by extinguishing the proverbial self. Mikkyo, on the other hand, emphasizes the doctrine of daiga or "great self" achieved by dissolving the ego's limitations or conventional boundaries. Something similar is today's transpersonal psychology I suppose. Nothing is destroyed or eliminated, merely elevated in quality and form. The motivations of the small self "ego" are expanded to the motives of the larger self or "daiga", bypassing the ego's limitations with a different strategy behind the practices. The limitations of the self are dissolved through the "energy of enlightenment" a.k.a. the three powers:

Sanriki - "three powers"
1) self-merit - energy generated by the individual with sanmitsu (triple secret) exercises of mudra, mantra, and mandala
2) Buddha-empowerment - protective, responsive, enfolding power of Buddha-mind (Wisdom sutras, sangha community, etc.)
3) Dharma Realm - the six elements that make self and Buddha equal: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Void/Space, and Consciousness. In my own words, I would say these are character qualities intrinsic to the inanimate, as well as living, world.

If I were to translate this Sanriki framework into modern mechanics, I would say the "first power" is like the capacity to store a charge, the "second power" is the source, and the third is the knobs and switches and controls.

Enough with theory! From science, we know that if you rub magnets enough times together, you condition the inanimate matter toward a charge polarity. This can alter the object's ability to conduct energy in the real world. The actual practices of Mikkyo have this in mind. The untrained human body typically has too much Yin energy in the lower body and too much Yang in the upper body. Prominent examples in the public eye are the physiques of Ronald Reagan, David Hasselhoff, and uhh... Foghorn Leghorn. <ahem> These exercises aim to reverse this polarity.

As I learned tantric kriya (a misc. form of Mikkyo), the curriculum has four stages for physical exercise with sequential muscular energy locks:
1) Magnetize the spine so Yin energy can rise to awaken the brow point or pineal gland and energize the brain. (as opposed to Zen which concentrates on hara first - Zen is most popular school of Buddhism in Japan today.)
2) Allow Yang energy to descend by opening the lower three chakras, balancing Yin/Yang completely.
3) Physical exercises to open the heart and throat points so that the "cosmic fire ascends sushumna" or shen type of ki climbs up the spine, putting the entire system in complete internal balance
4) Transition from internal energy to external release through the "moon chakra" in the back of the top of the head.

Esoteric anatomy fascinates me! This is the microcosm.

The macrocosm is the general format of esoteric ritual. This was derived from ancient Indian etiquette for a host to receive a guest. The ritual practitioner is the host, and the central deity is the guest. This format is adapted many different ways to suit the occasion.

STAGE I: Preparation.
goshin-ho, "being-protecting" techniques
shogon gyoja-ho, "practitioner exaltation" techniques

STAGE II: Purify the Area.
kekkai-ho, "realm establishing" techniques of consecration.
- empower the various offerings
- fix the place where the honored guest is to received

STAGE III: Inner Room.
shogon dojo-ho, "meditation hall exaltation" techniques
- practitioner creates a cosmic center of meditation using dojo-kan "visualization"
- the guest is visualized

STAGE IV: Reception.
- a symbolic vehicle is sent to fetch the guest
shinrei "ringing of a bell" as music to welcome the arrival
kechigo-ho "establishing protections" technique akin to closing the doors at a party to prevent any outside disturbance
kuyo-ho "offering and homage" techniques to serve refreshents

STAGE V: Union.
- conversation between guest and host becomes more intimate, until mind-to-mind connection is made
- the deity is invoked
nyuga-ga'nyu "self entering Buddha, Buddha entering self"
- countless specific techniques at the heart of the practice

gokuyo "ending offerings" as parting refreshments
gekai "dissolving the realm" by opening the proverbial doors and removing outer protections
shinrei "ringing of a bell" as parting music
hakken "dispatch" with vehicle to return the deity to its essential realm in the collective unconscious of subliminal culture


I've left out countless details, but that's about the general picture. I am sure my life will continue to be drastically altered in these types of ways by what I learn tomorrow.

Paul Madory

12th March 2001, 03:54
Just catching the tail end of this forum. It might be interesting to several people to peruse the outer boundaries of Mikkyo-related topics. I'm not sure any depth can be achieved, but will offer to add input if it's of use to folks.

19th March 2001, 06:25
Well, I was looking at the official sites for Kongobuji(shingon) and Enryakuji(tendai). The Shingon site is only in Japanese, but the Tendai site is http://www.hieizan.or.jp It's got an English version.

Paul Madory
20th March 2001, 15:24
Jion Prosser,

A few questions if you have the time:

1) I understand that modern orthodox Mikkyo begins with the same precepts as Mahayana. Does formal ordination in Shugendo today begin with the same basic Buddhist precepts? The question occurred to me because originally Shugendo was perhaps not even Buddhism and today the division has become more blurred than ever.

2) What, if any, medical practices are ever practiced within Mikkyo? I am thinking especially of moxibustion on the acupoints, but also any gogyo Chinese Five-Element practices and kiko / qigong-related exercises.

3) This question relates to one of the thread-starter's original observations. Can you confirm with authoritative sources that Shugendo was in fact outlawed from about 700 C.E. (according to Kojiki Record of Ancient Matters), when it ran into conflict with the government, until about 1600 C.E. when Tokugawa Ieyasu legalized it. Some people today have trouble visualizing the social state of affairs that would give rise to a counter-culture willing to fight back for survival - "ninjutsu".
It would be interesting to learn if Shugendo was ever briefly legalized, for example under Emperor Godaigo (14th Century C.E.) whose life was saved by a shugenja / ninja.

Paul Madory
11th April 2001, 16:34
Apparently he is too busy...

Someone asked a while back: what does meditation have to do with real fighting ability?

Answer: both meditation and martial arts are concerned with shaping motivation. In this their purposes are the same.

16th April 2001, 02:09

My apologies for the lateness of my reply. Actually in Japan at the moment...

In regards to your questions concerning Shugendo, I'm not an authority to speak on that subject, althought I've had a bit of training at Shugendo centers.
A few questions if you have the time:

1) I understand that modern orthodox Mikkyo begins with the same precepts as Mahayana. Does formal ordination in Shugendo today begin with the same basic Buddhist precepts? The question occurred to me because originally Shugendo was perhaps not even Buddhism and today the division has become more blurred than ever.

I can state that formal ordination within Tendai follows similar Mahayanan dictates.

2) What, if any, medical practices are ever practiced within Mikkyo? I am thinking especially of moxibustion on the acupoints, but also any gogyo Chinese Five-Element practices and kiko / qigong-related exercises.

Again, out of my element speaking on that one.

Apologize if these answers aren't as helpful as I'd have wanted.

Paul Madory
20th April 2001, 23:31

That's okay.

The first question is just for my own personal benefit. I am seriously interested in mastering the sequential muscular energy lock routine, and not as interested in the larger-scale rituals perhaps more prevalent in religious Mikkyo. If the only way to accomplish this is to pursue formal ordination in Shugendo then I will do that too, and I was just wondering what the total package would entail. There is an exhaustive book on the subject coming out in June on Amazon.com so I will have my answer then.

The third question, however, is to benefit the whole ninpo community. Little if any documentation exists prior to 1500 C.E. to substantiate the oral traditions of the Bujinkan. Before that year, the best source of historical documents about martial traditions may be the archives of Mikkyo or Zen temples for example. Unfortunately the abbotts of these modern temples have no idea exactly how valuable their archives could be to modern martial art historians. Even just one crucial statement in passing from a single document could alter our entire perception of the age of our martial art.