Below, a "picture paints 1000 words
" example of the magical, sooth-saying, esoteric elements found ... much more than perhaps most Western practitioners realize ... within the routines of traditional [Zen Buddhist, including Soto Zen Buddhist, practice] ...
Now, to emphasize, I am not critical of esoteric elements for those who wish to practice in such way. More power to them (pun intended
). When my own school of Soto Zen Buddhism seems too much to resemble the practices of Shingon or Tibetan Buddhism, I am a bit critical on my own behalf and for my own students ... but I still honor and respect the right of anyone to practice their own "Soto Zen Buddhism" as they wish. One man's hocus-pocus
is another man's sacred dance
. On the other hand, some of us might wish to criticize such elements of Zen practice as magic making, voodoo and spell casting from our perspective. ...
I can also take and embrace all the elements of Mikkyo
(Esoteric) ritual for their beauty, tradition, or on a symbolic or psychological level, or as a lovely dance. However, I think that some awareness of the origins of these practices (e.g., the Vajra, the hidden Mudra, the Dharani incantation seen in the below video
), and how they came into Zen practice, would show that the description "abracadabra
" fits more than "lovely symbolic dance
". Some folks might be surprised that these rituals are so central to Zen practice in China and Japan ... arguably more central, more widely practiced by numbers of priests and time, than Zazen