Shinsokan Meditation and Mindfulness
I think many of you have welcomed the New Year with hope. Some of you made a New Year’s Resolution such as “I live a life of Sundial Way of Life” by seeing only bright side of people and things and never their dark side and write only those good things in Sundial Diary.
I myself made a New Year’s resolution, which is “study Seicho-No-Ie teaching more deeply.” So, I would like to study about Shinsokan Meditation with you this time.
Today I would like to discuss the difference between Shinsokan Meditation of Seicho-No-Ie and Mindfulness Meditation, which is now popular in the United States. Shinsokan Meditation is one of the important religious activities of Seicho-No-Ie.
On the other hand, Mindfulness Meditation is a style of meditation which was introduced by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine. Rev. Masanobu Taniguchi also mentioned this Mindfulness Meditation in his book “Taiyo was Itsumo Kagayaiteiru (Sun is always shining).” In this Mindfulness Meditation, religious elements were removed and participants do the meditation by concentrating their thoughts on breathing. In order to concentrate our thoughts, they use raisin. By putting a raisin in their mouths and tastes it carefully without chewing for a while.
This Mindfulness Meditation is widely accepted among the high-tech industry in the US as a method to relieve stress. Furthermore, this Mindfulness can be applied in our daily lives. For example, it is reported in Time Magazine that Mindfulness Dishwashing has an effect to reduce stress level. When you wash dishes after you eat meal, by concentrating our thoughts on washing dishes and by concentrating on smelling sauce, your stress level will be reduced.
On the other hand, Seicho-No-Ie’s Shinsokan Meditation, as the word Shinsokan consists of “God”, “Thought”, and “Visualize,” we concentrate our thoughts by repeating the word of prayer thoroughly and by using the power of the words. In other words, Shinsokan is the meditation with thoughts in our mind. On the other hand, Mindfulness Meditation has its background in Buddhism, but they concentrate their thoughts on breathing.
By the way, Founder Rev. Masaharu Taniguchi wrote about uniqueness of Shinsokan as follows:
In contrast, the Shinsokan (meditation to visualize God) is a form of meditation in which there is no effort to stop thought activity. Fully conscious of our thoughts, we focus our mind on our ParentGod, the Great Life Principle, and thereby return ourselves to the Great Life Principle and become one with our ParentGod. In this manner, we reach a calm undisturbed state of mind described by St. Kobo (founder of the Shingon Esoteric School of Buddhism) as being “in a state of Buddhahood just as we are.” We reach a state of spiritual attainment in which everything we do is “in accordance with the divine will,” to borrow from the Christian vocabulary. We reach a state of spiritual attainment in which our daily lives become “one with the way of the Gods,” to borrow a Shinto expression. In Shinsokan Meditation we do not necessarily object to thoughts. We recite the Invocation to invoke the Great Angel of SeichoNoIe, who guides us in our meditation, and thereby remove the risks of psychic disturbance (improper mental concentration) that might otherwise appear before we reach a state of complete concentration. At the same time, we direct our minds to our ParentGod, the Great Life Principle, and strive, without risk or danger, to unite ourselves with our ParentGod, the Grand True Existence. That is what makes the Shinsokan so unique. (“Truth of Life” vol.8 p 12)
When we practice Shinokan Meditation, we can freely practice meditation under protection of Lord of Seicho-No-Ie. Therefore, as it is written ‘I practice Shinsokan at least once a day to enlighten myself!’ in “Seicho-No-Ie Article of Faith-Rules of Daily Conduct,” let us practice Shinsokan with joy.
Yoshiharu Taka, Chief, Seicho-No-Ie Toronto
Resident Ordained Minister in Canada