Tendai Buddhist Sangha of Australia
Affiliate of The Hawaii Tendai Institute's
Pan Pacific Sangha
Bringing the Lotus to Australia
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It took over 1,000 years for Tendai’s  Enryakuji and its other complexes and halls to be established atop Mt. Hiei. However, its beginnings
were humble with Master Saicho leaving the hub of ancient Nara’s Buddhist life to begin anew by building a tiny so-an (hermitage) to study and practice T’ienT’ai Buddhism. Little did he know what impact this one move was to have. It seems impossible, that one man, a tiny hut , and a vision were to lay the foundations to a Buddhist sect that would rise to great  prominence and continue its lineage and teachings for over 1,500 years  to this very day  not only throughout Japan but now also, overseas.
I feel very honoured and privileged to be a very tiny part of the Tendai Buddhist tradition as one of its non-Japanese priests. And in some ways, I feel very much perhaps as Master Saicho, did in having this seed of Tendai and expecting great things  from it. Enthusiasm is  wonderful as at the same time like  an impregnable wall.  But then, I recall that ShakyaMuni Buddha himself began his teaching and transformative career with only five followers. Thus having the vision is one thing. Realizing it is another.  Ara Sensei and I would love to see some form of Tendai temple here in Brisbane. And there will be. But this is easier said than done and the hard fact is, I have to be realistic and to set this as something to work towards by putting small building blocks in place Or as Ara
Sensei puts it ‘Dan-Dan’ (Step by Step). Thus, in the meantime, my apartment has become my dojo.

To my surprise, this has created a genuine shift in attitude. My ‘Myo O’ Do ‘ if you will. My ‘Dojo’ has
been a process of becoming more created from ‘ a sense of how it could look’ as opposed to ‘How I want it to look’. I perform morning and evening Gongyo here in addition to shikan meditation. I have also taught shikan and Tendai philosophy here. And in moments of early morning quiet, I experience moments of in-sight. And its large window is as a frame to a slowly opening picture. Gold
and red light from the east slowly streak across the remains of the night sky (Ashuku Nyorai). White clouds float across a blue sky (Letting go of attachments). The sun’s golden rays sink down in to the west (Namu Amida Butsu). Each moment changes the feel and look of my dojo. And as strange as it may sound, I especially enjoy the winter morning practices. It is as if entering the moonlit dojo for morning shikan is like entering the centre of the Taizo Kai (Womb) Mandala.  And more and more I come to realize that it is not what one does but the spirit in which ones does that is important. When even the smallest becomes the most rewarding. And again I am reminded not only of Master Saicho, alone,  in his so-an , but of countless others who had the same, or less , but yet went on to do wonderful things in the name of the Dharma. I also remember Ara Sensei’s words about keeping things simple. And quite often, the simple things pop up at the most unexpected moments and in the quietest of ways. 

‘DO’ is the guiding principle by which  I attempt to live my Buddhist and Tendai life and is also something I am very keen to introduce here in Australia. A life Path instead of a life dogma allowing me to meet people where they are and to apply ‘Hoben’ to circumstances. ‘ DO ‘ also implies trial and error. Mistakes happen . But this is a natural process as we  imperfect beings stumble and fall along the Way. If we were perfect, there would be no need to be practice.  There is no need to bury oneself under feelings of guilt and unworthiness. Perfection is a
process of ‘polishing the mirror’ through experiences. ‘DO’ is also  ‘All embracing and unlimited’ which means it is also ‘Universal’.  Truth is Truth no matter what label it is put under. Thus when I am able to show Truth examples  hidden under some of these labels, it further
helps to show that in fact there are none. And what this means, is that those following the Path , and those stepping on to it ,are simply aiming to follow a Way which becomes even more worthy when they realize they are, themselves, the Way. All that we need to know, we already do. Thus, ‘Enlightenment’ becomes more of a ‘Waking up’( to Truth ) than discovering it.
For many years, I have been a strong promoter of Japanese culture through the arts I have studied, practiced and taught. But on occasion, I have had to adapt particular aspects because Australia is not Japan. And what works for one culture’s people is not necessarily going to work for another. This in turn requires finding the balance between retaining the essence and spirit of Tendai Buddhism as at the same presenting an approach that is going to be acceptable and workable to Australians. To this end, and after much thought and consideration , I am building on four pillars of Tendai: Zen. The Lotus Sutra. Pure Land (From the Tendai view)  and the Pure Land Sutras. Each inter-weaves with the others providing both practice and philosophy. However, none of these ideas will work unless I am focused and together within myself.


Enthusiasm, as I have said, can lead to frustration . It can also be like a wild horse. Thus, I have spent a great deal of time in ensuring I am up to the task of nurturing the seeds I plant by making sure that I am on solid ground. And sometimes this has been a lonely experience. But this too is part and parcel of walking the Way. There is a time, a place ,and moment for everything. And I have learned to be more patient. Which is just as well.
I sincerely believe that the ancient Japanese Buddhist tradition of Tendai Shu can have an invaluable  part to play in the lives of
Australians. An Australian song says “From small things, big things grow”.  But before the Tendai tree grows to fruit, a great deal of preparation needs to be done first. It may well be that I will not live to see it grow. But then neither did Master Saicho live to his Tendai
grow. What happens here, in Australia, will be left to others. What is important is that I prepare the land.
Reverend Jiryo Moxon