Spirits are a wild bunch, and they often approach and teach in ways that we don’t expect.
Some years ago, I was attracted to Vajrayana Buddhism after growing up in Nichiren Buddhist circles & over time that attraction transformed into a passionate fervor for the development of the Self through the use of those tools for personal evolution. Along my journey, I met spirits who insisted that I would find my way back to my ancestral practices through a deep dive into the currents of both contemporary and pre-Buddhist Tibetan practices.
Naturally, I was skeptical, as my family hails from Japan on my mother’s side & the pre-Meiji Restoration era practices or my ancestors were all but obliterated within the changing tides of time. Old practices gateway to new ones as Western colonialist mindsets took hold and the ways of the Onmyoji, the Shinto & the Shingon again to largely fall out of favor.
When I began this process of intense spiritual practice, I had no idea just how intimately related these practices were to what we still see in Vajrayana schools today, and I was reasonably baffled at the thought that the practices of the Bonpo would have any kind of bearing on what had been lost to the sands of time within a vastly different social and economic structure of a completely different country…. Yet I was given every reason to trust my spirits, and they have a paid that trust in heaping bounties of growth and spiritual learning I thought utterly lost to the crushing weight of progress.
Along the way, I (re)learned that Spirit owns these practices & that nothing is truly lost if the spiritual gatekeepers, guardians and teachers of those systems still exist. I’ve learned that those things are really only obscured by time and circumstance.
With a careful hand and steady heart, one can piece together the practices of Old and find one’s way back to the path once hidden.
As luck and the steadfast guidance of Spirit would have it, I’ve found that my discarnate spirit teachers were truly and entirely correct - I *would* eventually find my way back to my Self & my Heritage as a mixed-race Japanese child of a once-outlawed dynasty of spiritual practitioners. That has been an incredible gift, and I’ve been shocked, amazed and deeply moved by just how right these spirits were.
You see, Shingon Buddhism is functionally Japanese Vajrayana, and the spirits thereof have already been my constant companions on this journey. Practices that have taken 13 years to ripen have fit nicely within and sparked-alive ritual process kept in secret and the empowerments my family once held still hold trust today. These spirits my tribe was murdered for worshipping and working with still speak, and they still stand beside me despite the brutalities of the Western world. They speak, they listen, and they cause great change for me while endlessly fascinating me at just how much common ground exists.
The path may twist & wind, but for the brave souls who spend decades steeped in these mysteries, it always leads home. I was once beyond hope in considering that I might come to better understand my ancestors, who came before, and yet I feel perfectly at home through the teaching and guidance of Yamantaka, Tara-Ma, Sengdongma, Padmasambhava, Vajrakilaya, Ksitigarbha & the endless host of Dakinis, Yidams, Dharmapala, and the assembled Dharmakaya. I have found exactly what I was promised, and I am humbled, delighted, scene and found.
Once dispossessed, I have a spiritual home again, and it’s not just something that I created for myself. It was something that already existed that I needed to tap into, and now I do so as a child of my spiritual ancestry, who has spent years working with angels, demons, yakshas, astrological luminaries, land spirits and everything between. I have the opportunity to straddle and unite these disperate worlds in me, and I feel so, so blessed!
So please, do trust in Spirit. These paths might not make a lot of sense initially, but there’s a reason they exist, and there’s a reason that we are led back to them. I feel tremendous joy out of what once was a desperate sadness and feeling of oppressive isolation as a young child and adult.
This path may twist and turn, and yet following it diligently, has proven again and again to be the strongest, most promising way forward.
As I go for refuge to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, I invite you to go to Spirit for refuge in your ancestral paths. Strike a light and say hello!