Becoming A Monk

The very first step is to visit the monastery. This 3-day visit for aspiring monks is mostly the same as for those who visit for other reasons. The details on the page called 'Visiting' apply to all.

The aspiring monks, however, will, if they want, be given the transmission of the mantra. Then during a portion of the evening meditation, we will recite the mantra together slowly 108 times. This is the only way to know for oneself whether or not one has an affinity for mantra recitation as well as for Japanese-style chanting.

It is said that mantra practice is not for everyone, so if one discovers that he has no affinity for this practice, this is not a failure. There are 84,000 practices in Buddhism, so the aspiring monk should not be discouraged but should continue his search for a path which well suits himself.

However, for those in our lineage, there is absolutely nothing better in the universe: one quickly unites body-speech-and-mind; goes beyond language and conceptions; begins to understand the full Buddha Dharma (Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana); overcomes all doubts; and with clear knowledge of both the Relative Truths of samsara and the Absolute Truth of shunnyata, is able to understand the non-duality of samsara and nirvana.

"All Dharmas are empty" and mantras are no different. By employing this foundation technique of mantra repetition, a world beyond words, thinking and self-conscience opens up. This concludes a brief summary of the beginning of the Mantrin's Path. Various lineages began in India (2nd-8th C.); entered China (8th-9th C.); came to Japan (9th C. to the present day); and now America since 2005.

[2015 Reflections]

I now have 10 years experience meeting monk-aspirants. Hundreds of men and women have visited the monastery for a variety of reasons, and of these about 100 men have stated a desire to become a monk. Beyond the initial visit, which is more-or-less a reality check, about twelve men have memorized the mantra and the Tendai chanting style, done kaihogyo, and continued to train for relatively short periods of time, 3 months at most. Now as I contemplate these past ten years and the aspiring monks who have passed through, I see that NOT ONE MAN UNDERSTOOD THAT STUDYING, EXAMINING AND MASTERING THE BUDDHA'S VAST DHARMA IS THE PRIMARY ADVANTAGE OF LIVING IN A MONASTERY. Why would a man consider leaving behind the relative pleasures of samsara (life in the world) unless he wanted to benefit all beings by devoting himself to discovering, developing, and abiding in the infinitely more beneficial Treasures of the Buddha Dharma. All other aspects of the communal life in a monastery are in essence support for this one great purpose, compassion for humanity and all living creatures.

Support For The Monastery

The land, buildings, and the director are self-supporting and need no outside capital. The moderate income of the monastery can support several monks at any given time in the Initial and Aspiration phases. However, when monks reach the stage of full membership in the community, after having been in residence for over a year, they become a part of the support for the monastery. The sutra says, "The bodhisattva is for giving, not for taking." And Saicho writes, "Forget self; benefit others" (MO KO RI TA). Without the help of truly bodhisattva monks, we cannot benefit others by carrying out the building projects and outreach programs, providing free training for new aspirants, or making possible the travel and training of the monks in the Tendai tradition.

Success With Mantras

The Mahavairocana Sutra describes the road to success for bodhisattvas cultivating bodhi via the gateway of mantras:
"If the practitioner sees a mandala, is certified by a Venerable to practice mantras, accomplishes mantras, generates the bodhi-mind, has deep faith and compassion, is without miserliness, dwells in the subjugation of the passions, is well able to analyze how things arise from conditions, observes the prohibitory precepts, is well established in various disciplines, is possessed of skillful expedient means, is intrepid, knows the proper time and the wrong time for doing something, readily makes gifts, has no fear in his mind, diligently cultivates mantra practices, has mastered the real meaning of mantras, always delights in sitting in meditation, and delights in performing rites of accomplishment, he will indeed have success with mantras."

California Tendai Home Page Visiting the Temple Becoming A Monk The Tendai Sect & Ordination Temple Life Consecration of Temple Photo Gallery Slide Show