About Us

The Karuṇā Tendai Dharma Center / Jiunzan Tendaiji and the Tendai Buddhist Institute, (est. 1997) is a branch temple of Enryakuji Temple on Mt. Hiei (the administrative center of the Tendai School and the birthplace of Japanese Buddhism), and an official North American representative of the Tendai School. We are also fully authorized as a training center for the education of priests and the establishment new temples in North America.

As compassion (karuṇā) is a central virtue of the Mahayana Buddhist path, the name for our village temple in East Chatham, NY is “Karuṇā Tendai Dharma Center.” In both name and practice, it is our collective aspiration that the practice of Tendai Buddhism can be a source of compassionate teachings of the Buddha throughout the world.

Rev. Shōshin Ichishima gave the main hall its name: Jiunzan Tendaiji, “Compassionate Mountain Cloud Tendai Temple” as it reflects the natural surroundings of the Berkshire Mountains.

The name Tendai Buddhist Institute refers to the educational wing of our organization, which oversees the training and education of priests and the establishment of new Sanghas.

 

Leadership and Lineage

Reverend Abbot Monshin Paul Naamon and his wife, Reverend Shumon Tamami Naamon, founded the Karuṇā Tendai Dharma Center in 1997, and oversee its growing number of officially recognized Sanghas.

In addition, there are a number of priests (soryo) and priests-in-training (doshu), aspiring to share the Dharma and spread the teachings of the Tendai Buddhist tradition.

Revs. Monshin and Shumon trained for six years in Japan under Rev. Abbot Ichishima Shōshin, Professor Emeritus of Taisho University and Abbot of Tamon-in Temple in Chiba Japan. The Tendai Buddhist Institute works closely with Rev. Ichishima and Enryakuji on Mt. Hiei, the head temple of the Tendai Buddhist tradition, to promote Tendai Buddhism internationally.

The authorization to teach and take students was granted in 2002, being designated the New York temple a Betsuin, indicating branch temple status, of the head temple on Mt. Hiei. This designation permits the NY Betsuin to train and ordain practitioners who have demonstrated a serious commitment, understanding, and an advanced level of practice.

During the first nine years of our existence, we conducted services in our main house and in a walled off section of one of the barns. During the summer of 2004, we dismantled part of this barn, renovated it, and incorporated the major components into our new Hondo (main building).

The new temple was dedicated June 25, 2005. A dormitory, meeting, training, and dining facility is in the planning stages for future construction. In winter of 2018, the old barn was torn down to make room for future construction projects and expansion of our facilities.

 

English Language Tendai Buddhist Practice Materials

Tendai Buddhist Services (2005)

  • The Tendai Buddhist Daily Service may be found here soon

The Tendai Buddhist Institute is the only organization authorized to publish Tendai practice materials and the only authorized translator of other Tendai practice liturgy. Our translation material undergoes a rigorous review process before being officially approved by Mt. Hiei (the International Headquarters for Tendai Buddhism) and therefore we do not advise, recommend, or sanction the use of other Tendai practice material.

In 2005, Revs. Ichishima, Monshin, and Shumon completed the Tendai Buddhist Services, a handbook for ordained practitioners, and other materials for the performance of refuge ceremonies, funerals, priestly ordination, funerals, and memorial services. The Tendai Buddhist Services volume was produced through a formal translation project initiated by Taisho University, Rev. Shōshin Ichishima, and the Tendai Buddhist Institute.

The production of our English language practice materials was carefully overseen by a number of scholars, priests, and translators. First, a preliminary translation was produced by the Tendai Buddhist Institute. This initial version was edited by Rev. Ichishima Sensei, a Tendai priest who trained both Revs. Monshin and Shumon, professor emeritus at Taisho University, and former editor with the Society for the Promotion of Buddhism (Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai). Finally, this version was reviewed and edited by Revs. Monshin and Shumon, before it was sent off to Taisho University and Mt. Hiei for final approval. This procedure was established to assure the integrity and consistency to the original materials, as well as insuring that the language is consistent with modern convention. Any translations outside of this process may not be reliable because they have not been officially verified by Tendai scholars and practitioners.

 

Tendai Buddhism, A Manual

We are currently composing an introduction to Tendai Buddhism and a manual for lay practice. As chapters and sections become available we will post them to this website, so check back often!

            Life of the Buddha

            Basic Buddhist Teachings

            Basic Buddhis Practices

            Mahayana Basics

            Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Gods of the Mahayana Tradition

            Tendai Buddhism, an Introduction

            Sangha as Practice

            …and more to come

 

Shido-kegyō (Hōman-ryū)

The Shido-kegyō is a four-fold ritual training regime that is based in practices that go all the way back to ancient India, many of which are only preserved in Japan. The Shido-kegyō is the foundation for Esoteric Buddhist curriculum and is required of all ordained priests. As such, the texts are generally not available to the public, and require the instruction of an authorized teacher to be fully understood or put into practice. The Tendai Buddhist Institute uses newly translated materials approved by Hieizan for the training of priests abroad. 

  • Jūhachi-dō (trans. by, Dr. Stephen Covell), or the “Eighteen Paths,” introduces the practitioner to the yogic and meditative practices central to Esoteric Buddhism. The secret mudras and mantras and visualization practices are referred to as the “three mysteries.” Through their performance, one realizes in the here and now one’s own physical reality and the reality of the Buddhas are not separate. This realization is called “Buddhahood in this very body” (sokushin jōbutsu). The practices contained in the Jūhachi-dō serve as a kind of template for more advanced practices.
  • Taizōkai refers to the Womb Realm Mandala (Taizōkai Mandara) of the East Asian Esoteric Buddhist tradition. Following the Jūhachi-dō, the practitioner moves on to the practices associated with the Taizōkai. (Link to section in Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Gods)
  • Kongōkai refers to the Vajra Realm Mandala (Kongōkai Mandara) of the East Asian Esoteric Buddhist tradition. Following successful completion of the Taizōkai practices, one moves on to the Kongōkai. 
  • Goma is a tantric fire ritual, a form of religious practice that stretches all the way back to ancient Indo-Iranian Vedic and Zoroastrian cultures. Following mastery of the Jūhachi-dō, Taizōkai, and Kongōkai, ordained practitioners also learn how to properly perform the fire ritual.

 

Tendai Buddhist Studies, Recommended Reading List

The Tendai Buddhist tradition is committed to the balance of scholarship and practice. These are like the two wings of a bird. Without both, you cannot fly straight. While certainly there are some of us who might prefer meditation over study, or study over meditation, both are important. For your convenience, we have here provided a reading guide to the most up-to-date and authoritative trandlations of Buddhist texts and books about Buddhism. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

 

Introductions to Buddhism

 

Buddhist Studies Reference Material

 

Tiantai/Tendai Buddhism

 

The Lotus Sutra

Lotus Sutra (Translations)

 

Introductions to the Lotus Sutra

 

Mahayana Buddhism