St. Johns

WE are a Russian Lamaist tradition whose origins are from Siberia & Mongolia. Our founder in America, Bishop Dr. Ajari, descended from Russian Old Believers (Orthodox Christians who were rebels against the state church) and Mongolian Buddhists. Mongolian Buddhists (recipients of Tantrayana [Vajrayana] Buddhism from Tibet) and Mongolian Shamans co-existed alongside Russian Old Believers and Russian Orthodox Christians of the state church, in Siberia. Dr. Ajari's family came from Siberia and it is their unique perspective on these various religious streams that he brought to San Francisco many years ago.

The Late Lama Govinda and Dr. Ajari
The Late Lama Govinda and Dr. Ajari
 Tantrayana is the mystical path of knowledge whereby all experiences in the world are seen as material for the burning of Karma and opportunities for attaining Enlightenment. The word Tantra is related to the concept of weaving, suggesting the interwoveness of thought and action, cause and effect continually interacting, and the interdependence of all that exists. Tantra is to be equated with all of life and not restricted to any one aspect, as it covers the total existence of man.

Years ago, in the heart of Mt. Kailas, the most powerful spiritual center of the Himalayas, Tibetan practioners of several ancient esoteric Buddhist lineages unified themselves to create the Rim tradition (part of the Tantrayana) which was brought here by Dr. Ajari. Members of St. John's Order continue this nonsectarian tradition today. He brought us the practices of Nyingma, Sakyapa, Kargyu (Tibetan), Shingon, Tendai, Shugendo (Japanese) and the contemplative spirit and liturgical rites of the Old Believers.

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In solitary stony fastness
among the mountains,
there is a strange market,
where one can barter
the vortex of life
for boundless bliss.
— Milarepa

The Japanese lineages are ancient ascetic traditions involving shamanistic ritual, religious retreat and pilgrimage in the mountains. Through these mountain and temple activities, the practioner develops spiritual power and awakens in her or himself the primordial force from which all emanates. the Enlightement Heart of the Universe, Maha Vairocana Tathagata, or the Great Sun Buddha.

Tantric Buddhism from Japan has rarely been taught in the West unlike Tibetan Buddhism so this gives us the unique opportunity to not only do these practices but to pass them on to others' as well. We combine them with practices from Tibet as well as continuing to embrace our Christian heritage, allowing us to explore and appreciate the similarities and the differences between Buddhism and Christianity.

Our spiritual life is centered in prayer life (Mantrayana) and includes fire Puja, sacramental ritual, devotional worship and meditation.

Dr. Ajari has said, ''Today, with the magic of technology we have forgotten the magic of the spirit". He provided us with the mystical means for the mastery of life and love. As we practice the Tantryana, woman is Prajna and man is Upaya (universal wisdom and expedient means), and Maha Maitri (great love), by which we can attain Enlightenment in this lifetime, in this human body. The message of the enlightened teachers is that love, being void of all concepts and conditionality, is Enlightenment.

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The master has gone alone
To search for plants on the mountain
Hidden among the clouds
Where? I do not know.

Since Dr. Ajari passed from the body in December of 1993, Sisters' Mandarava & Nairatma, longtime practioners of these unique teachings, pass on the lineage providing leadership and training.  Dr. Ajari taught that living in a spiritual community is the most effective way to progress on the path.  We were very blessed to have spent 25 years living in community with our teacher and other Order members.  We two sisters' continue sharing the vagaries of life together and supporting one another in our spiritual life, we are each other's teacher.  We decided to remain in San Francisco as this is where Dr. Ajari estabished the Order in 1968, and where he did his teaching.  Also, there are people in the Bay Area who continue to benefit from his teachings and are a part of our community though they live as householders.  In 2005 we moved to Los Angeles.

In keeping with the idea of spiritual community, our Bishop, William Green, another longtime Order member has gone on to develop a spiritual community in Columbia Missouri.  He went there as a professor of religious studies at Columbia University.  He is a very inspiring teacher who has brought many years of experience in the Dharma to his students and Order members.  He incorporates Tibetan Buddhism, Russian Orthodoxy and Japanese Esotericism.  He welcome's new students and visitors  to the community.

Another longtime member of the Order, V.K. Leary Keisho has gone on to become an ordained priest in the Japanese Buddhist esoteric tradition of Tendai.  Recenty, he spent 5 consecutive years in Japan for training and ordination.  He is currently living and building a temple in the rural area of Cobb Mtn., Calif.  He primarily embodies the teachings of Tendai, incorporating Dr. Ajari's teachings as well.  He welcome's visitors and serious students interested in training following the Tendai path.

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May All Beings Benefit
Quiet Mountain