Studying Shingon

In his pioneering book, “Kukai: Major Works” Professor Yoshito Hakeda describes Kobo Daishi’s Dharma as comprised of two disciplines - study (kyoso) and practice (jiso).  In his description, these two dimensions of Shingon training are referred to as “two wheels of a cart” or “two wings of a bird” (Hakeda, p. 76). Prof. Hakeda points out that in Shingon, study and practice are not only complementary but inseparable and mutually dependant.  As such, we can find that the experience of meditation can be greatly clarified and deepened by our efforts in study. Likewise, the complex and subtle nature of the Shingon teachings can be more richly understood and internalized when supported by the insight that only comes from meditation.

Here is a short list of books that are very helpful in building a good foundation in Shingon. In them you will find much useful information regarding Shingon’s history, tradition, teachings and practices.    

Recommended Readings

  • Kukai, Major Works by Yoshito Hakeda

  • Shingon, Japanese Esoteric Buddhism by Taiko Yamasaki

  • Kaji: Empowerment & Healing in Esoteric Buddhism by Ryuko Oda

  • Shingon Esoteric Buddhism: A Handbook for Followers, published by Koyasan Shingon Buddhism

  • The Matrix and Diamond World Mandalas in Shingon Buddhism by Adrian Snodgrass

  • The Mahavairocana Sutra, translated by Chikyo Yamamoto

  • Two Esoteric Sutras by Rolf W. Giebel

  • The Way of Great Enjoyment (Rishu Kyo) translated by Rev. Taisen Miyata

  • The Threefold Lotus Sutra translated by B. Kato, Y. Tamura and K. Miyasaka

  • Tantric Poetry of Kukai by Morgan Gibson & Hiroshi Murakami

  • Awakening of Faith by Asvagosha, translated by Yoshito Hakeda

  • Sacred Calligraphy of the East by John Stevens

  • Mudra, by E. Dale Saunders

Mandala Vermont regularly offers study events.  These include both practice intensives with a particular focus of study as well as sangha discussion groups based on specific readings.

Please watch our homepage and calendar for upcoming opportunities to deepen your study of Shingon.