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T aiko Yamasaki
Today I would like to talk about Ajikan meditation presered in Shingon Esote­
ric Buddhism, perfected by Kobodaishi, Kukai (774-835) in 9th centur Japan.
Esoteric Buddhism appears in the histor ofIndia from about the 4th centur. It
actively incororates the Hindu homa and mantra with the spirit of Buddhism,
and is then developd into a practicing technique in order to attain enlighten­
ment. This form of Esoteric Buddhism spread to China and Southeast Asia,
including Sri Lnka and Indonesia (ava, Sumatra), and then on to Tibet from
the 8th century. In the beginning of the 9th century, the Japanese monk Kukai
(later known a Kobaishi) travelled to China to study this form of Buddhism.
He then brought it back to Japan, and frther developd and organized it into
what we know today as Shingon Esoteric Buddhism.
The purpse of practicing Shingon Mikkyo is to attain enlightenment using
mantra recitation, mudra hand gesture, and the mind, which symbolize the
three secrets - body, speech, and mind - and to bcome one with the main
deity. This includes obtaining secular benefts for others.
Its meditation techniques are complex, and apply highly developed methods. Its
foundation starts by practicing in a sacred hall apart from the secular world for
one hundred days after being initiated by the traditional acarya master, who
handed down this practice method to his followers. While practicing, one
studies a well.

There are many meditation techniques using complex and varied methods.
Contrary to these complex techniques, there are twO simple meditation techni­
ques that aim at deepening the state of samadhi and achieving enlightenment.
One of them is known a the Morning Star meditation (Gumonji-ho), and the
other, the Ajikan meditation.
The Morning Star meditation is known to increase one's memory. However, the
ultimate purpose of this meditation technique is to experience becoming one
with the universe through the main deity Akasagharbha bodhisattva. The cha­
racteristic of this meditation technique is to recite the mantra of the main deity
Akasagharbha bodhisattva one million times over 50 days, and to complete the
practice on the day of the sun or moon eclipse. Because Akasagharbha bodhisatt­
va manifests itself a the Morning Star, one must use mudra (hand gesture) and
mantra in order to attain enlightenment. This practice must take place deep in
the mountains away from the secular world.
Kukai aer having practiced this meditation technique, experienced being
one with the great universe, and reacknowledged the life force flling
the vat universe. This experience is what strengthened his decision to dedicate
his life to Mikkyo (Esoteric Buddhism). I, myself, have practiced this secret
meditation technique, and was able to experience the deep relati onshi p of the
infnite universe and the self
Ah meditation means contemplating on the Sanskrit letter Ah in order to realize
that one's own mind is originally unborn. Keeping the vow of the fndamental
l ife force and living creatively is what formulates the meditation technique of
Shingon Esoteric Buddhism. Although its practice is extremely simplifed, its
vast doctrinal teachings and complex meditation techniques are crstalized into
this practical method. If one becomes truly experienced in this, one could reach
the state of enlightenment. Because of its simplifed techniques, I teach it to the
uninitiated as well a to the professionals. However, unless one understands the
doctrinal teachings and correct practices, this meditation will not become that
of Ajikan meditation of Esoteric Buddhism.
I would like to refer to the process of practicing Ajikan meditation which
portrays the positive effect on developing a healthly body and mind, later on in
this presentation, and I would like to concentrate here on the doctrine of Ajikan
meditation. The characteristic of Mikkyo meditation lies in the process of tring
to attain enlightenment directly, rather than in analyzing the confusion. In the
fundamental text of Shingon Mikkyo known as Mahaviroana sutra, it states
that Sarvajnana - the highest level of enlightened wisdom - is "TO KOW ONE'S
OWN MIND AS IT TRULY IS". This one's own mind is not that of a shallow mind
that reacts to every practical occaion in this mundane world, but is a mind that
acknowledges the depth of the Slf-mind.
People create a world of false consciousness starting from the time of birth
until this moment. Because the workings of the ego totally infuences the 7th
level of consciousness called mana consciousness through prejudice and false ego
consciousness, people tend to live according to what the ego says. However, one
must remember that the original mind is untainted and pure, and is present in
ever one. This pure mind is expressed in the Sanskrit letter Ah meaning "ORI­
GINAL Y UNBORN", the greater Life force through our own lives.
The Sanskrit syllable Ah is the capital letter of Adyanutpada and is also the
letter that produces al sounds. By breaking through the shell created by the
small ego, one's own mind has the ability to expand to the extent of the univer­
se. With this one's own mind, one can experience enlightenment by having the
infnite universe a a background. This can b shown by using the hand gesture
mudra dharmadhatu samadhi - when practicing Ajikan meditation. If one
defnes one's own mind a the mind that incorporates the ego, what can be said
about the mind that broke through the shell of ego? This is called "ONE'S ORIGI­
The enlightened masters including Shakamuni, Kobodaishi Kukai, Zn
master Dogen, and Saint Shinra all come from a different background and
different period of time. Each portrays a personality quite different from the
rest. Nevertheless, because their enlightenments were genuine, their teachings
have the power to touch our minds today. When one's own mind breaks
the shell of ego, the true original mind is reestablished. This is what is
known a the eternal original self. How is this possible? The theoretical founda­
tion of this transformation can be explained by using the Mahavirocana sutra.
In Mahavirocana sutra it states that the sound Ah is the mother of all sounds.
All things are born from the origina sound Ah. It came into existence at a time
when there was no beginning nor end, no existence nor absence. This Ah created
12 vowels i, i, u, u
ri, ru, Ii, Ii, e, ai, 0, au.
Furthermore, by using these vowels, 25 consonants were formed. For exam­
ple, j ust a one practices the vow of bodhicitta in order to reach nirana, these
25 consonants developed into 100 letters, and further expanded clockwise. This
eventually materialized into the universe, where life forms are born and human
beings came about. This line of thought parallels the theor formed by Dr.
Hawkins who stated that the universe started with the Big Bang, and that all
heavenly bodies scattered throughout the universe were formed by the same
molecular material. Thus, it can b said that everthing in life devel oped from
the sound Ah. This sound Ah that created vibrations throughout the universe is
Mahavirocana - the king of mantra. Therefore, the sound Ah can be called his
one syllable mantra. This is noted in the commentar of Mahavi rocana sutra
written by Kukai.
In Japan, the concept of Ah and - the beginning and the end - is used
in relation to daily life occurrences. For example, the frst sound that a baby
makes when he/she is born is the sound Ah, and the voice of death, the sound
Hum. This can also be applied to explain the beginni ng and end of the universe
- the Big bang, the Ah, and the black holes, the Hum.
By having the correct posture and controlled breathi ng, and by recit ing the one
syllable mantra Ah - the source of heaven and earth - one can directly commu­
nicate with the infnite universe.
1 Body
When Ah breathing meditation, one sits in full or half lotus position
with the spine straight. Then one makes the dharmadhatu samadhi mudra
below the lower abdomen by turning u
the palm of the left hand and resting
the right hand on it. The tips of thumbs should be facing each other as if it is
touching but not touching one another. Thi s mudra means that the fur fngers
of the left hand starting from the little fnger on, symboli ze earth, water, fre,
and wind. Earth symbolizes one' s ground which includes one's bones and mus­
cles. \ater refers to one's body fuid. Fire means burning while maintaining the
body temprature. And lastly, wind is asociated with one's breathing , The four
f ngers of the right hand starting also with the little fnger on, carry a special
meaning . Earth symbolizes land, the hard objects of this material world, such a
the great plains, the mountains, and rocks, etc. Water implies the vat seas and
rivers. Fire represents the magma o
the earth. And fnally, wind is the wind
itself. Thus, by laying both palms on top o
each other, one feels the oneness of
the body with the exterior world. (In fact it actually is.) Althought the thumbs
symbolize the void, when one makes the thumbs touch each other lightly, one
realizes that it is a symbol of the body and the world outside living in perfect
harmony. As for the actual practice, one sways the body forward and backward,
then left and right for two to three times in order to stablilize the center of boy
gravity. Then one relaxes the shoulder muscles, straightens the backbone, and
sits with a stable center, so that life's energy (prana) could be felt flling the
lower abomen.
2 Breathing Control ad Correct Visualization
During the meditation process the soundless Ah begins to form itself in the
lower abdomen, rises up to the chest, and fnally exits through the throat and
lips. At this stage , the soundless Ah becomes the audible Ah. This audible Ah
travels three feet, six feet, ten feet and further on, and then transforms itself into
the soundless Ah. Then a one visualizes the sound Ah and reaches out to the
universe, one is able to bcome one with the soundless Ah vibration. When this
is completed, the whole universe becomes the vibration of the sound Ah.
Through this sound Ah meditation, one experiences the many mysteries of the
universe, and the solemn dharma world of the sound Ah. This can be done with
a group of meditators in one meditation hall.
We have come to understand the practice of this simple meditation through Ah
breathing technique where one experiences the relationship between the self and
universe. Having the infnite universe a a background, we come to ak the
following questions: Who am I? What exactly is one's own mind) In order to
answer these questions, many ancient philosophers and religious thinkers have
accumulated their thoughts and expriences. Indeed, ever human being works
very hard to enrich one's mind in this complex society. Therefore, if Mahaviroca­
na sutra is transformed into a form that can be useful in this present world, we
must question the following: Where is one's own mind? What form dos it
take? How big is it? These are some of the common questions asked by those
who practice this meditation. They are not in any way abstract, but are fairly
concrete questions. Mahavirocana surra not only contains many philosophical as
well a psychological i n-depth doctrinal teachings, but also teachings pertaining
to reality itself. Where am I? Is this body that sees, hears, and thinks trly my
own body?
Today, it is understood that the body including the hair, fngers, and nails,
even the bones, are renewed in seven to eight years through metablic renewal
processes. And yet, the conscious state of the self remains the same. Then where
exactly is one's own mind? Ever human being thinks with this very own boy
a a medi um. Therefore, the presence of one's own mind must be related to the
phys ical body. If we say that one's mind exists with the body that goes through
then listens to the voice of enlightenment.
metabolic renewal, if one loses an arm or a leg, would one's mind change its
shap and size? No, it certainly will not.
Ajikan meditation is baed on many texts such as Mahavirocana sutra
(Dai-nichi Kyosho), commentar text on bodhicitta (Bodaishinron), and Shub­
hakarasimha (Mui Sanzo Zenyo). The oral tradition of Ajikan meditation wa
taught by Kobdaishi Kukai to his disciple Jichie and later became an indepen­
dent meditation technique in Japan for the frst time. In this oral tradition, Ah,
which represents Adyanutpada, means originally unbrn, and equals the mind.
The mind is divided into two categories: the citta meaning formless, and the
hrdaya which is associated with our fesh and bones and sometimes the heart.
The citra or the thinking mind is symbolized as the moon disk which means
limitless or infnite. The hrdaya takes the shape of a lotus fower which means
the center, and is immobile.
This form wa perfected in Japan in the text "Oral Transmission on Ajikan
Meditation". This mind originally unborn and formless is identifed with the
moon disk of the main deity on the hanging scroll which is approximentely 40
centimeters (13 inches) in diameter. The text states that this is one's own mind.
This is quite interesting. It states that the formless, invisible mind is seen as a
disk whose diameter is about the length of one's forearm. This mind that is
flled with virtue, has a perfect personality like that of a full moon. It is pure
and shines brightly. This sacred mind is indeed the formless mind citta.
One's own mind is not abstract in form, but is beating its heart by using its
own body as a medium. This mind with a form called hrdaya is identifed as the
lotus fower that remains pure even though it exists in the muddy water. In the
same way, this one's own mind, despite the fact that it lives in a desire-flled
world of ego driven prejudices, remains pure and untainted like that of a lotus
fower. This is the main deity.
Because Ajikan meditation takes part in contemplating on the original
self-mind rather than in concentrating on the self in relation to the real world,
some might think that it is a kind of selfypnosis. However, the fundamental
difference between self-hypnosis and samadhi contemplation is that in samadhi
contemplation, the meditation process refers to the world of enlightenment. The
teachings come from beyond the dharma gate. It is a method in which the
enlightened talks about enlightenment itself. Therefore, one hears the voice of
enlightenment for the frst time by sitting in front of the main deity, the letter
Ah. One contemplates on the normal samadhi state of the body and mind and
Enlightenment is not a self-hypnotic state, but an awakened state of mind
incorporating the entire body and soul. Its foundation lies in the state of samad­
hi. Therefore, one's posture should be kept in balance between the state of
relaxation and the state of alertness. To achieve this, one must relax the shoulder
and arm muscles, keep the spine straight, and control the breathing by exhaling
longer than inhaling. The tongue should lightly touch the underside of the
upper jaw. All these pints should b observed strictly.
As I have stated earlier, the purpose of practicing Ajikan meditation is to
attain enlightenment. However, looking at it fom a physical a well as a
psychological point of view, one will remain healthy by keeping the boy and
mind in god shape, since Ajikan meditation deals in training the body and
mind in order to maintain a balance between the state of relaxation and alert­
ness. Since the foundation of Ajikan meditation is in becoming one with the
universe, there will be no form of stress arising from the small ego. Moreover,
one's intuitive power will increae and will enable one to deal with society and
never feel abandoned from it. Above all, one's personality will improve. As a
result of becoming one with the universe, one can understand and relate to the
creative will of the universe. Then ultimately one can amend the unjust occur­
rences of modern society, and will furthermore lead to the path of enlighten­
1 Entering the Meditation Hall
The side of the meditation hall should not be too big nor too small. It should
roughly be 10 to 15 square meters in size. When the meditation hall is to big,
it makes it diffcult for the practioner to relax. When the hall is to small, the
practicioner may feel oppressed. Furthermore, the meditation hall should not be
too bright nor to dark. It should be bright enough for the deity on the hanging
scroll to be clearly visible.
Prior to entering the meditation hall for practice, purify the hands and
mouth with water. Tight clothings should be avoided. Also, make sure that no
one disturbs you during the actual meditation since breaking the tranquility of
the meditation state can be potentially dangerous.
2 Bowing in Front of the Ah Scroll
Have both palms together. While bowing, touch the temple, the mouth, and
the chest three times.
3 Seating Position
Sit three to four feet away from the main dei ty shown on the hanging scroll in
full or half lotus position. You are allowed to use a thi n cushion while medita­
ting . After sitting in the proper posi tion, sway left and right, then front and
back three times in order to fnd the center of bdy gravity.
4 Mudra (Hand Gestures)
The mudra of the purifcation of three realms (the lotus mudra) consists of
holding bth hands palm to palm as if one has a bud of a lotus fower btween
one's palms. Contemplate that your body and mind are originally pure like that
of a lotus fower which rises from the muddy water but remains pure.
5 Conjuring up the Bodhicitta Mind
From the vajrasattva mudra which is the mudra where the ri ght hand and the
left hand touches each other and then slightly shifts. This is an indication that
the prayer of the practicioner and that of Buddha are becoming one . This means
that one is conjuring up the bohicitta in his/her mind in order to attain en­
lightenment. Then recite "Bohicitta utpad yami" .
6 Precepts on Samaya
Use the same vajra atta mudra, and recite the mantra "On samayas tvam" seven
times, which roughly means that I am a member of Buddha and I am a vajras­
attva who will attain Buddha' s vow without fail. (Buddha enters me. I enter
Buddha. )
7 Five Great Vows
Recite the fve letter illumination mantra once.
8 Reciting the Mantra of Mahavirocana
Keep the same vaj rasattva mudra. Then recite "avira hum kham" seven times [or
the Gojimyonenju.
9 Breathing Control
Change the mudra into the dharmadatu mudra. Place the left palm over the
lower abdomen. Then put the right palm on top of it. Keep the thumbs almost
touchi ng but not exactly touchi ng. Keep the eyes closed. Exhale a couple of
times through the month. After this, the breathing should be done exclusively
through the nose. Then concentrate the mind on exhaling, on inhaling. Try
to feel the calmness of the mind .
10 The Visualization
Form the dharmadatu mudra. Open your eyes lightly, and lok at the Ajikan
deity in front of you for fve to seven seconds. Then close your eyes and see the
deity through the closed eyes. The moon disk behind the letter Ah should be
seen like a mirror. When you can see the moon disk clearly with the eyes closed,
bring the whole disk slowly to your chest. Feel the purity of the mind a the
moon disk is. Then bring it right back to the scroll. Once you bring the mon
disk to your chest, visualize it like a three dimensional sphere. When you can
see the moon disk clearly, you are ready to visualize the lotus fower and the
Sanskrit letter Ah simultaneously within the mon disk.
11 Coming out of Samadhi
When you are done with the visualization stage, keep your eyes closed. Take
three deep breaths. With both palms, follow the contour of your body in the
lotus position from the head down to the feet, without touching your body. Feel
your breath and blod circulating throughout the body. Then quietly open your
eyes. When your state of samadhi is deeper, it takes longer to come out of it.
12 Protection of the Three Powers
Recite once
which means
my own power, the helping power from Buddha, and the power of the dharma
world that connects us with the Buddha.
13 Prayer
Feel grateful that you are alive. Deepen yourself in the spiritual light of the
letter Ah. Make a vow t the world. If you have a specif c wish, say it
uietly. Once you pray wholeheartedly, leave the rest up to Buddha.
14 Wearing the Protechtive Armor
This is to be worn when using the mudra meaning wearing the armor of great
compassion of thatagata in order to avoid destructions and human desires. Be
ready to dedicate yourself to purif the world.
15 Exiting the Meditation Hall
Fill one's mind with compassion for all sentient being. Bow lightly to the main
deity once, then rise and exit.
Traditional religious and spiritual Buddhist techniques should be taken into
account in modern studies of psychology and physiology. This mutual study
will further beneft the study of the bodymind relationship so that one can fnd
a common ground of microcosmic and macrocosmic points of view in order to
deal with life's realities.