2/24/2005

Shugendo / Mountain Ascets

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Shugendoo,
The Mountain Ascets Way of Life


CLICK for more Yamabushi Photos

修験道、山伏の生き方

Curtesy to Shugendo, by Sylvain Guintard
http://www.shugendo.fr/main.html
Check this link for photos.

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Shugendô is knowledge obtained on the path (dô), resulting from ascetic practices (shu) of divine natural powers (gen).

Shugendô is all of the practices and rules which are advisable to follow to reach this result, and the shugenjas are followers of this Japanese ancestral religion. They are more commonly called: Yamabushi, "those which sleep in the mountain", because it is indeed generally in the mountains that they practise, that they withdraw to during the time of retirement, in pilgrimage and that they travel "wandering" through the country like the hermit Indian ascetic Milarepa.

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Throughout his secular or spiritual life, the lay or religious yamabushi receives initiations which are some times comparable with true sacraments of Kings.

Initiation (Kanjo) is a ceremony of first importance in Japanese Tantric Buddhism which crowns the kings of the Law; perhaps less so for shugendô, which comprises a lesser number than Shingon and Tendai schools. The Master Zémui (Cubhakarashimba), Indian Master of the Chinese Master of the monk Kukai, expresses himself thus in his Great Comment: "If initiations are not received, one cannot include/understand the authentic words (mantra), the seals of hands (mudra).
For example, just as for the kings reigning in countries of this world, one gives to the heir the initiation so as to ensure the line... to ensure proper understanding and prevent confusion of the Buddhas teaching, one pours on their head the nectar of the water of the Law of the 5 oceans. It is a means of salvation and it is venerated by the many Saints (Bodhisattva) because those who receive it do not continue in the cycle of samsara.


The Pilgrimages in the Mountain
(Mine-iri or Nyuubu Shugyoo), "Entry in the mountain" or "the Asceticism of the entry into the world of the Buddhas.”

It is for the shugenja, the major exercise that all yamabushi must make, throughout their life. It is through this practice that he receives the teaching of his Masters and instructors. Every year at least, he must renew his energy in the natural mandala. In the Middle Ages, the yamabushi more than today, profited from a pilgrimage per season, with different objectives each time. This differed according to the school : the Tôzan school preferred to carry out the course North towards the South, whereas those of the Honzan school preferred the more difficult course, because of steeper climbs, of the South to North. For all the temples of Shugen from Kyoto and Nara, the mountains sacred for the pilgrimages is the chain of the Omine mounts; but each school could have its own mountains, like the Mt. Aso and Hiko for Shugen Hiko and of Kunisaki in the island of Kyushu; the Mt. Fuji for Sonshan Shugen, and Mts of Dewa Sazan for the school of Haguro.
Each center had its mountain-mandala.

Even a temple affiliated to a ‘mother temple’ could also have a training mountain like Makihata zan for the yamabushi of Nigata or Kojima shugen zan for those of the town of Okayama which also attached all to Shogoin. One of the biggest centers, still in activity, is located in the Natural reserve of Mts of Omine in the peninsula of Kii (Peninsula of the Country of the Trees). With the mount Sanjo, the Mecca of shugendô, where a monastery has risen up, in full mountains, isolated far from all, where the Zao-gongen Buddha appeared to En no Gyooja , the chain of the Omine Mountains offers one initiatory pilgrimages punctuated by powerful tests over several days, during which the shugenja walks in the mountains more than 12 hours per day.

A hierarchy exists between Shugenjas which receives different names according to the number of pilgrimages that they have achieved, because the number generates experiences and knowledge. Those which are with their first pilgrimage, the neophytes are named: Shinkyaku; they cannot still wear Yui-gesa with pompoms of the confirmed yamabushi, and those which have experience already with the pilgrimage in the Omine mounts should not in any case speak of the tests that they have had to undergo. They themselves, on the Rock of Hanging, swear to never speak about it if they do not have permission to do so from the Superiors of the Order. Shinkyaku must remain in the total ignorance of what they will have to undergo in the real test!



CLICK for more photos

The Costume of Yamabushi

"To put on the clothing of Yamabushi, is to put on the personality of the Fudo Buddha" something always practiced by the shugenjas. It is a tradition, very practical in the mountains which has not changed for more than 1000 years. Traditional clothing may be seen as uncomfortable by the majority of the foreign neophytes, at the beginning, the costume appears as a true Master who teaches us important things in mountain.

The clothing of the yamabushi is a true Master-Teacher for the shugenjas.
To incorporate all its symbolism, the yamabushi have a meditation on the symbolism of each part when they get dressed. A yamabushi does these as he dresses in less than 10 minutes in the mountains. We will now list the principal articles which constitute the dress of yamabushi at the time of the pilgrimages in mountain, in group or isolated.

Tokin: Small Hat
Hangai or Ayai-kasa: Large Hat
Suzukake and hakama: Shirt and Pants
Yui-gesa (or Foudo-kesa, Bonten-kesa or Machikon-kesa):
Hirataka-nenju: Rosary

Hôragai: Conch Trumpet (horagai)
Shakujô: Staff or wand (shakujoo)
Oi or enkyu: portable wooden trunk
Kata-bako: Prayer books in a box
Kongo-zue: Walking Stick
Hisshiki: Goatskin protector for the backside and seat
Kyahan and Tekko: Leggins
Hioogi: Fan of wooden plates
Shiba-uchi (Hôken, hooken): Ritual Sword of Fudoo Myoo-Oo
Hachi-nawa or Kainô (kainoo): Ropes for Mountain Climbing
Yatsume-waraji: Straw sandals in straw with 8 eyelets


One of the best ways to introduce Shugendo is to focus on mountains austerities, which are the most important rituals in Shugendo! According to the doctrine of Shugendo, the object of mountain austerities is to become a Buddha in one's human body. In others words, the purpose of mountain austerities is to transform a profane man into a "sacred man" by mystic training at sacred mountain. "Wandering in mountains can be an ascetic practice..." said the ascetic of India, Jishun Milarépa; one of the master of Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.


The shugendo rituals are made up of 7 elements:
Rituals for the purpose to achieving identification with the object of worship: rituals during mountain pilgrimage, consecration, the demonstration of magical powers, and rites for the angry Buddha Fudo Myo .

Rituals for the purpose of communication with the object of worship: Chanting sutra, festivals for the deities.

Rituals as means of achieving identification with the object of worship: Divination, obtaining oracles through mediums, prayers of possession, "goma" fire ceremonies, rites for deities, benediction and incantations, exorcism.

Rituals to achieve the power to manipulate these deities: Prayers of possession, "goma" fire ceremonies, benediction and incantation, exorcism, charms and spells.

Rituals to receive oracles: Divination, oracles through mediums, and prayers of possession.

Rituals of prayers: Service for the sun, moon, stars and small shrines, "goma" fire ceremonies for averting misfortune, rites for various deities.

Rituals of exorcism or removing evil influences: "kaji-kito", incantations, removing a possessing spirit, "defeating" spirits, charms and spells.



Physical Experience

The intense experiences that the Yamabushi have experienced during the course of the days constitute at the same time the means and the purpose of the practice. Only by putting their lives at risk do they get to purify themselves of all the blemishes that are inherent in the human condition. Through suffering of the body, similar to small deaths, the Yamabushi become conscious of their spiritual dimension.
Grounding themselves with the Deities, the Buddha and the Universe. The Yamabushi claim that
To hear and understand the Buddha’s sermon you have to listen to the whisper of the wind at the top of the mountain”.
http://www.shugendo.fr/main.html



The Very Special Dead

In 1960, the historian Ando Kosei revealed the presence of 18 mummies in the Buddhist temples of the area dating from the 14th to 19th centuries. The press seized the news and these mummies were the subject of medical examinations by professional examiners and professors of various universities. The event generated a lot of attention at the time, because the press proposed the idea that these were ideal actions by buddhist monks: Men, who in principle, spend their life practicing to be free from any attachment, letting grow within them the realization that the world and life are illusory... Their bodies, which are then abandoned after the course of multiple reincarnations, are no longer vessels from which they strive to be released...this is the belief of the Buddhist neophytes.

Read more about it here:
http://www.shugendo.fr/main.html


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Also, read my story about the Living Mummies in Northern Japan
Sokushinbutsu, Sokushin Joobutsu 即身仏
Sokushinbutsu



. San hikoyama 三彦山 three famous HIKO mountains .
all of them ancient centers of the mountain ascetics.



. Legends about Japanese Saints
修験者 shugenja - 山伏 yamabushi .


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........................ H A I K U


kigo for all summer

mineiri, mine-iri 峰入 (みねいり) "entry in the mountain"
jun no mine-iri 順の峰入(じゅんのみねいり)
"entry in the mountain" in prescribed order
gyaku no mine-iri 逆の峰入(ぎゃくのみねいり)
"entry in the mountain" in reverse order
(This is even more difficult and not allowed to many.)

mine is actually the peak or peaks which the ascets have to climb during this practise.



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峰入は宮も草鞋(わらぢ)の旅路かな
mine-iri wa miya mo waraji mo tabiji kana

"entering the mountain"
travelling from a shrine
with staw sandals


Nishiyama Soin 西山宗因 (1605 - 1682)


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- - - - - Matsuo Basho - - - - -

月待や梅かたげ行く小山伏
tsukimachi ya ume katageyuku koyamabushi

moonrise gathering--
carrying a plum branch,
a novice mountain ascetic

Tr. Barnhill

Written in the first lunar month, 1691 元禄4年1月.
At a haikai moon-waiting meeting with Ichibei 卓袋. tsukimachi occured on the 8th lunar month, on days 13, 17 and 23.
Maybe a young yamabushi had been invited to join the eating, drinking and poetry writing.


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山伏を切ってかけたる関の前
yamabushi o kitte kaketaru seki no mae

The mountain pilgrim
so they had his head struck off
and shown at the barrier

Tr. Earl Miner and Hiroko Odagin

from the kazen, "If Fine while Still Green"
(Aokute mo no maki, 1693): (stanza 25)


More
Shugendo Haiku about the Mountain Geta Sandals


. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


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. Mountain (yama) and kigo for all seasons


. Hiwatari matsuri 高尾山の火渡り祭
fire-walking ritual at Mt. Takao
 


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4 comments:

. Gabi Greve said...

.
Read in the archives

Shugendo: "The Way of the Yamabushi"

by Erik Krautbauer


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Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

- quote
Hashiramoto Jinpi hô shugen fire ceremony
Acting towards all the creatures, this rite shows the celestial and earthly principles that govern the universe. It demonstrates the beginning of comprehension of the union of all the principles in the universe. These pillars (hashira) are the "roots" that support the universe; the source (moto) union of the sky and earth, yin and yang.
. . .

performed at
Aikyoo-In 愛敬院 Aikyo-In
駒場滝不動尊 Komabataki Waterfall Fudo
滝入不動尊 / Komaba no taki 駒場の滝 Komaba Waterfall

30 愛敬院 本山修験宗 - 駒場滝不動尊 Komabataki Fudo
Aikyoo-In 愛敬院 Aikyo-In Komabazan 駒場山
.

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Tono Fudo Monogatari 遠野不動明王物語
.
Many temples of Shugendo are the starting point for the monks to climb to the top.

Iwate
.

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Real and Imagined: The Peak of Gold in Heian Japan
by Heather Blair
Kinpusen and Zao Gongen
.