He who practices this samadhi can immediately realize the enlightenment of the Buddha.*

Ajari Tanaka has always encouraged his students to have a daily practice of meditation, no matter how great or small. We have also heard many times, Ajari’s conviction that this daily practice is the key to a happy, healthy and creative life. Ajari Tanaka has backed up his message by teaching a large, rich and diverse body of Shingon practice. Training in these practices is marked by some stages and milestones, but in essence our path is an exploration of Shingon and Ajari Tanaka’s direct teachings.

The Foundation of Practice

Mandala training begins with a collection of practices that are the heart of our personal training and group practice. Reflective of Shingon’s Three Secrets teaching, this fundamental practice curriculum is based on body, speech and mind.  Included are nineteen unique mudras, a varied body of recitations (three sutras, five dharani, numerous mantras, prayers and gatha) as well as three silent meditations - susoku-kan (breath counting practice), gaccharin-kan (full moon meditation) and Ajikan.

As students gain command of the core practices, recitation of two longer sutras, the Rishu-kyo and the Kannon-gyo is introduced. The Rishu-kyo is a tantric sutra which includes many profound teachings central to Shingon. The Kannon-gyo is the twenty-fifth chapter of the Lotus Sutra and is an homage to the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. The practice of these two sutras expands both personal and group practice.

Ritual Practice

Ajari Tanaka has also established the proper practice of Shingon’s sadhanas within our sangha. These tantric practices contain incredible Dharma and represent the summit of the Shingon tradition.

Students are eligible to begin sadhana practice after they receive a Dharma Name from Ajari Tanaka. Each practice has a requirement that must be completed before moving on to the next practice. Our current ritual curriculum includes the Juhachi-do, the Nyoirin-bo, the Kongo-kai Gyo, the Taizo-kai Gyo, the Fudo-bo and the Goma.

Additional Special Practices

In addition to the meditative disciplines described above, Ajari Tanaka has spent considerable time and effort to help us learn Shodo and Shomyo. Shodo is traditional Japanese Calligraphy, of which Ajari is a recognized master. Shomyo is a very elaborate form of recitation practice.  These two practices are very challenging to learn. Despite our best efforts as a community we are still beginners in these two disciplines. But we keep trying and ongoing practice is available for interested students.

Mandala Vermont, in essence, is a practicing community. Ajari Tanaka has taught us so much amazing practice and then encouraged us to put it all to good use so that we can share our experience with others.

If you are interested in beginning your training in Shingon, please contact us.   

*From Master Kukai’s “Attaining Enlightenment in this Very Existence”. Translated by Yoshito S. Hakeda’s in “Kukai Major Works”, Columbia University Press, 1972, p. 225