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The Fourfold Training In Japanese Esoteric Buddhism

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Chapter Summary

Contemporary priestly training in Shingon and the esoteric portion of Tendai is organized around four main ritual performances, as indicated by the name, "the fourfold training". The four are the jūhachidō, kongōkai, taizōkai, and goma. At some point prior to entry into the formal training period, the practitioner takes the threefold set of precepts. Preliminary practices include breath-counting meditation, full moon visualization, and visualizing the syllable "A" as written in Siddham script. Upon entry into the formal training period, each of the rituals is to be performed three times a day. The four phases of the training have an introductory step, itself called kegyō, of two weeks, during which the practitioner continues with the practice being done from the prior phase; this is followed by the main training step, called shōgyō, of one week, in which the practitioner moves on to practicing the ritual of that phase.

Keywords: esoteric; fourfold training; goma; jūhachidō; kongōkai; taizōkai; Tendai



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