Shingon ritual

Question raised by: Michael Watson
Discussants: Hideyuki Morimoto, Robert Morrell, Haruko Komoda, H. van der Veere

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From: Michael Watson
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 11:19:30 +0900
Subject: Shingon ritual

Esoteric rituals are presumably wrapped in mystery, but can anyone suggest where I might look to learn more about Shingon funeral rites? Last week I attended two days' of services in rural Fukushima and witnessed from a few yards' distance the same priest's conduct
1) ceremonies at the wake (tsuya),
(2) a service at the home of the deceased on the day of the cremation, and
(3) a combined seven/forty-nine/100-day service in the temple before the
ashes were placed in the tomb (nookotsu)--the latter a modern, gooriteki-na innovation to save us all repeated journeys up to the country town.

The chanting of the sutras was more musical than the Soto-shu ceremonies I'd very recently witnessed, but my question has to do with the preparations involving a lidded cup and saucer (as it were) and a long stick. The priest removed the lid and moved the end of stick around the edge of the cup, saying half under his breath something like "ra ra ra ra ra ra" and "ba ba ba ba ba" (diminuendo). In ceremony (2) he also poured water (sake?) out of the cup into the saucer, then back into the cup. Significance, symbolism, anyone?

Michael Watson

From: Hideyuki Morimoto
Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2000 19:45:45 -0800 (PST)

The following five titles are found in WorldCat in respose to search query

cho ol;fin su shingon and su sect and su funeral and su rites and
su ceremonies

Den'e. Reikon ind_o f_ush_oki. Ky_oto : Yamashiroya Fujii Sah_e,
[between 1868 and 1912?] OCLC: 37898422
Den'e. [Ind_o y_oj_u benm_o] Shingon ind_o y_oj_u benm_o. Ky_oto :
Yamashiroya Fujii Sah_e, [between 1868 and 1912?] OCLC: 33074556
Den'e. [Ind_o y_oj_u benm_o] Shingon ind_o y_oj_u benm_o. [Kyoto] :
Maekawa Mouemon : Inoue-shi Ch_ub_e, J_oky_o 1 [1684]
OCLC: 33072359
Inaya, Y_usen. Shingonsh_u h_og_o daijiten. T_oky_o : Kokusho
Kank_okai, Sh_owa 57 [1982] OCLC: 17091241
Kotaki, Mitsuy_u, 1903- Jitsuy_o shinsen Shingonsh_u fujumonsh_u.
T_oky_o : Keisuisha : Hatsubai Hokuseid_o, 1992. OCLC: 30978490

Furthermore, the following search key has identified one additional title
in WorldCat:

cho ol;fin su shingonshu and su butsue

Chizanha H_oshiki Ch_osakai. Shingi Shingonsh_u Chizanha
h_oy_o benran. [Japan] : Chizanha H_oshiki Ch_osakai, 1928.
OCLC: 33644219

For more titles, BT search strateges might be employed. For instance,

cho ol;fin su shingon and su sect and su customs and su practices
retrieves 11 records in WorldCat; and

cho ol;fin su shingon and su sect and su rituals
retrieves 115 records in WorldCat

From: Robert E. Morrell
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 16:40:43 -0600,

FWIMBW, there is a dictionary by Fujii Masao called _Bukkyoo girei jiten_, Tookyoodoo, 1977 but in its 15th printing in Heisei 9 -- so probably
available. Pp. 281-336 deal with "soogishiki," and there are entries on
three sub-schools of Shingon. Good luck.


From: Michael Watson
Date: Sun, 16 Apr 2000 12:06:39 +0900

Many thanks to everyone, on-list and off, for their answers to my question relating to Shingon funeral ritual. I look forward to checking the bibliographical references when things are less hectic at work, but in the meantime I have received the following very helpful explanation from H. van der Veere, a Shingon priest at Leiden University. Many thanks to him for allowing me to share it with you, and thanks also to the kind soul who forwarded my question to him. For those who missed my original question (which now reads very naively) I have appended it below.

Dear Michael Watson,

Your questions were forwarded to me, and I think I can help you. A note of warning, Shingon rituals can be very elaborate and differ according to school, occassion etc. Anyway, The Rishuukyou is one of the main sutras sung at funeral services. The method of chanting is shoomyoo.

The ritual with the 'stick' (sanjou) probably was the purification of the ritual space. The stick is turned clockwise and counter clockwise in the water of the cup while chanting ' ram' and 'bam' 21 times, maybe abbreviated to seven times. It is then moved over the altar in a way that differs
according to the tradition of the school or teacher.This is all part of the initiatory phase of the ritual. In the Goma rites two cups are used with two sticks.

The pouring of the water ( 3 x 3) belongs to a later phase and is an offering. The 'symbolism' makes a long story, but literature in English is available, Payne, Saso, Goepper etc.

H. van der Veere
Leiden University
The Netherlands

Dr van der Veere later added that "the syllables uttered are 'ram and vam in Sanskrit but become ran and ban in Japanese."

From: KOMODA Haruko
Date: Sun, 16 Apr 2000 23:13:42 +0900

Dear Michael Watson,

I am reading the questions and answers about Shingon funeral rituals with interest.

You might already know about some materials about Buddhist rites in video tapes and CDs. In case not, I would like to introduce you three of them. All of them are about buddhis  rites or music and do not directly mention to funerals. The kaisetsusho include good papers. [*Japanese titles*]

1. Yokomichi Mario, Kataoka Yoshimichi, et al. Shoomyoo taikei, Kyoto: Hoozookan,1984. (075-343-0458). 32 LP disks.

2. Kishibe Shigeo, Hirano Kenji, et al. Nihon koten geinoo taikei, vols. 3-4. Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1991. 2 video tapes.

3. Shingon shuu buzan-ha bukkyoo seinenkai, Shingi shingon shoomyoo shuusei, Tokyo: Shingon-shuu buzan-ha seinenkai, 1998. (address: 5-40-8 Otsuka, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo). 4 CD disks with five staff notation

English commentary by Steven Nelson contains very good introduction to Buudhism rites, ceremonies and esoteric shyoomyoo.


[for the Buzan School of Shingon see]