Sho-Ren Ko Blue Lotus Assembly is the formal Buddhist practice sangha founded by An-shu Stephen Kinryu-Jien Hayes, open to all who feel compelled to “come home to” an actual lineage connection to the timeless teachings, practices, and goals of Buddhism as part of their birth purpose.
Buddhism is a path for stabilizing and ultimately transforming the mind. This leads to the great happiness of fulfillment of human potential. Introduced in India over 2,500 years ago by the enlightened teacher Shakyamuni Buddha, Buddhism spread throughout Asia. By the seventh century Buddhism had taken root in the remote Himalayan region of Tibet and the far-off islands of Japan.
The wisdom teachings of the Buddha are not pronouncements about God or Ultimate Truth. The Buddha felt such declarations could lead to disagreement, conflict, and even violence. Instead, Buddhist practice describes exercises we can explore to take us increasingly closer to the truth about how life works. No need to adopt dogmatic beliefs. The teachings can be tested against our own experiences.
Different people find different ways of expressing truth. What is most important is the validity of the experience and whether it leads to a wiser, more peaceful, more intelligent, and more compassionate way of living. The teachings serve as tools to clear the mind of misunderstanding. When the mind is clear, Ultimate Truth, in whatever way one finds to express it, becomes clear and apparent.
Though founded as an extension of the lineage of An-shu’s personal teachers in the Japanese and Tibetan traditions, Blue Lotus Assembly upholds the importance of non-sectarianism, and an appreciation for the many forms of Buddhism. Therefore, students of any background are welcomed and encouraged to attend programs.
Blue Lotus Assembly Curriculum is devoted to the study of Buddhist view and the contemplative practices through which we can personally engage these teachings and apply them to our own experience.
“Exoteric” fundamental Buddhism is traditionally described in terms of 3-focus training where three elements mutually support and depend upon each other – all three are necessary for making progress on the path:
- Kai ethical daily conduct
- Jo meditation practice
- E cultivation of wisdom
“Esoteric” tantric Buddhism is best understood as a way of using the primal yearnings of the human spirit as vehicles for achieving direct awakening to enlightened understanding of the nature of reality. Individuals need five things to be happy in this world, and tantric practice elevates these five into five specific types or “families” of spiritual practices:
- Something to learn and discover (vajra)
- Something to hope for and be inspired by (ratna)
- Someone to love and be loved by (padma)
- Something to do and contribute (karma)
- Something that fulfills and makes whole (tathagata)
Blue Lotus Assembly Students practice at home, and maintain a relationship with founder An-shu Stephen Kinryu-Jien Hayes, their own personal teachers, and fellow students through study groups, retreats, workshops, and seminars.
Blue Lotus Assembly Depth Training is accessed through initiations which stand like the “barrier gates” of the great mountain monasteries of ancient Japan, China, and Tibet. These gateways and their guardians test your commitment to full self-realization. Is this really the path for you? The journey is a life-long process. It is best to begin with a deep, personal sense of willingness to undergo whatever the path will demand.
Becoming a Blue Lotus Assembly student is a process of making a three-part conscious commitment to the time and energy required to:
- Break through to awakened potential
- Learn and explore the teachings and training
- Advance with guidance of the community of mentors
Blue Lotus Assembly is a distinctly American order, operating under its own authority, autonomous and self-directing in its organization and charter, but members enjoy a connection to long-established Japanese and Tibetan “esoteric mountain practice” root precedents and teachers.
Blue Lotus Assembly members engage in practice that covers nine areas of endeavor leading to an ultimate tenth goal, that of personal transcendence of the ordinary smallness of spiritual vision to achieve full self-actualization.
- Kai – Moral and ethical observation practices
- Jo – Shi-kan centering and investigating meditation practice
- E – Wisdom study (bengaku) with teachers and books
- O-kyo – Liturgical recitation meditation practice
- Mikkyo – Ritual yogic unification meditation practice
- Do – Body-action art practice
- Gyo – Self-development challenge endeavor
- Koken – Financial contribution and volunteer support work
- Hoshi – Community benefit service
- Tatsujin ni naru – Achieving full self-actualization