Welcome to the homepage of the Tendai Buddhist Institute / Jiunzan Tendaiji, (est. 1995).

  • Meditation services are held on Wednesday evenings from 6pm. Dharma talk and discussion held in the main house. Meditation service held in the Main Hall, followed by a potluck dinner.
  • Click here for the Daily Service Program

The Tendai Buddhist Institute was founded by Reverend Abbot Monshin Paul Naamon and his wife, Reverend Shumon Tamami Naamon. 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 Temple on Mt. Hiei, the head temple of the Tendai Buddhist tradition, to promote Tendai Buddhism internationally.

The Tendai Buddhist Institute is an officially recognized branch temple of Enryakuji Temple on Mt. Hiei. We are also the first fully authorized Tendai Buddhist training center for the education of priests in the Tendai Buddhist lineage and the establishment new Tendai temples and dharma centers in North America and beyond.

For 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.

Japanese and American Tendai Buddhist priests

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

Jiunzan Tendaiji, East Chatham, NY

As a branch temple, we also have an official Japanese name, registered with Enryakuji Temple on Mt. Hiei, which was given to us by Rev. Shōshin Ichishima: “Jiunzan Tendaiji 慈雲山天台寺.” This name means “Tendai Temple of Compassion Cloud Mountain.” Rev. Shoshin Ichishima chose this name to reflect both the temple’s mission of service and the natural surroundings of the Berkshire Mountains.

The name Tendai Buddhist Institute reflects the educational mission of our organization, which oversees the training and education of priests and the establishment of new sanghas.

Leadership and Lineage

Our authorization to teach and take students was granted in 2002 by the 256th Zasu (head priest) of Enryakuji who oversees all of Tendai Buddhism. The Tendai Buddhist Institute is registered as a “betsu-in 別院,” or branch temple. This designation permits the Tendai Buddhist Institute (aka, “New York Betsu-in ニューヨーク別院”) to ordain and train those who aspire to the Tendai Buddhist priesthood.

 

English Language Tendai Buddhist Practice Materials

Tendai Buddhist Services (2005)

In 2005, Revs. Ichishima, Monshin, and Shumon completed 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 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.

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 ensure the integrity and consistency with the original materials, while also making sure 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.

Rev. Dr. Gojun Terada also assisted with the translation project while he was in residence at the Tendai Buddhist Institute. Rev. Dr. Terada was formally assigned to the TBI for the purposes of this translation of Tendai materials into English. As temple assistant he also attended to daily matters around the temple, instructed lay practitioners, and assisted in the training of ordained North American Tendai priests. Rev. Dr. Terada has earned his doctorate in Tendai Studies from Taisho University. He is from a 1300 year old temple named Futagoji Temple in Oita Prefecture where he is the 67th lineage holder.

Shido-kegyō 四度加行 – Hōman-ryū 法曼流 (revised, 2018) 

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. (Link to Esoteric Buddhism) 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.

1) 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.

Juhachido performed by Seigaku, Seishin and Ryushin in the old Horse Barn Hondo

2) 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.

3) 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.

 

4) 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.

Mudoji Temple Fire Ceremony, Image courtesy Tendai.or.jp