Open Buddha

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Bay Area, California

Tendai Teachings in Berkeley

V.K. Keisho Leary Teaching
Rev. Keisho

On September 16, a “local” Tendai priest, Rev. Keisho, came to Berkeley to give a short lecture on Saicho, the founder of Tendai, and Ennin, his successor. This was held at the local Jodo Shinshu Center which is, not coincidentally, also the location of the Institute of Buddhist Studies, where I’ve done some classwork.

This was the first of a series of lectures and events that Rev. Keisho is planning on doing in the area if circumstances permit. The event was attended mostly by members of the center, from what I could tell, who did not have much specific knowledge about Tendai. That being said, they seemed pretty interested and focused on what Rev. Keisho had to say. He opened the session with some basic sutra chanting, including giving instruction on how to go about it for those of us who had not done it before. He then spoke for about 45 minutes on Saicho and Ennin, including discussing their respective trips to T’ang Dynasty China in search of Buddhist teachings.

I’ve visited Rev. Keisho up at his hermitage before, about a year ago, and have been in regular contact with him. I do hope that he continues to make the multi-hour trip down here from the mountain as I think that he has quite a bit to offer to people in the way of teaching. He is one of the few Americans that I know who have gone to Japan for extensive periods to really study the Dharma and then come back. He lives for roughly six years in a temple near (on?) Mt. Hiei, the headquarters of Tendai in Japan.

He is doing another lecture this coming Tuesday, September 23, at 7:00 PM at the Jodo Shinshu Center in Berkeley. This one will be on “Tendai: Its Usefulness and Relevancy Today” or “Tendai in America.” I am expecting that it will be an interesting talk.

Rev. Keisho recently redid his entire website and you can see the results over at caltendai.org. The site details his upcoming events and also some of his building plans to create a larger monastic space on Cobb Mountain, where he lives. If you are in the Bay Area and are interested in Tendai or the esoteric Buddhist traditions of Japan, I encourage you to come to the lecture this week and meet Rev. Keisho.