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Episode 20: “Esoteric” Buddhism

In this episode we discuss “esoteric” Buddhism. There are many misconceptions regarding Shingon as a school of Buddhism, most often discussed in terms of “secrecy”. Often understood to be a completely secret school of practice, or generally withheld from public view. In this episode we discuss this misconception, and attempt to explain Shingon, that as like many schools of knowledge, require pre-requisuted to be understood and effectively practiced.

Any body of knowledge, whether scholastic, or a specific trade, requires certain foundational knowledge. Shingon is no different from this.  While there are a tremendous number of practices a person can walk into a temple and begin practicing, there are others that depend on knowledge of Buddhism, experience with meditation, and direct instruction from a teacher.  Shingon relies on the same foundation sutra’s and commentaries as other traditional Buddhist schools, while utilizing additional texts that explain practices and perspectives on practice and path toward, and about the nature of enlightenment.  Many practices are hinting at those texts and knowledge. Acquiring the proper foundational knowledge is important to avoid misunderstanding, unhelpful practices, and the practitioner becoming discouraged.

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