L5R - The Great Dusk
The Four Temples are the most magnificent in all the empire, located by Otosan Uchi and Kyuden Seppun. The first temples of Shinseism, the Four Temples Sect represents the mainstream of Shinseism. The Four Temples holds to mediation and study like most monastic sects, but also places an emphasis upon interaction with the broader world around them. Seclusion can bring no positive change to the world and can be a selfish excuse for turning away from one’s fellow man.
Lotus Shinseists hold strictly to the Eight Petals of the Lotus, for they hold that is the only way to enlightenment They place great value upon zen meditation and often repeat the phrase “All homage to the Lotsu Sutra”. They believe that a single completely sincere utterance of this phrase is enough to gain enlightenment.
The Pure Land Shinseists are a sohei order that is an extreme wing of the Lotus Sect. They believe that only through complete devotion to Shinsei can one attain the Pure Land, as they call enlightenment. They are somewhat anti-establishment in outlook, preaching that all men are equal before Shinsei and as such, are popular amongst oppressed peasantry. Their ranks have swelled over the past twenty years or so, and more than a few samurai are nervous about the hordes of armed monks in monastery fortresses across their lands.
Questioners look beyond the illusions of the material and are even more ascetic than most monks, lacking nay formal monasteries of their own. They tend to be good-humoured and mischievous, as their willingness to shatter the preconceptions of others often leads to good-natured pranks. They are fond of koans as a learning tool and create more koans than any other sect.
Shinmaki Shinseists put a great focus on the esoteric teachings of Shinsei. They believe that enlightenment can only be found in that which is difficult to understand, or else everyone would be enlightened. Shinmaki Shinseists focus on the Diamond Sutra, a variant of the Tao. They eat no meant and place a great focus upon rituals regarding the worship of ancestors and the Fortunes.
Pure Shintaoists believe that enlightenment is gained through the abandonment of the self. Egotism, self-value and obsession all pull one away from enlightenment. Observation of the self, positively or negatively, is a negative activity. Shintaoists place a focus upon mediation, believing that excessive study builds unnecessary attachments to the material world.
Yamabushi translates as “mountain men”. These monks typically live in monestaries in the Great Wall of the North and Spine of the World mountains, or in other mountains or wild areas throughout Rokugan. These monks focus on a relationship with the natural world, as only through experiencing the interplay of the elements in their most primal state can the soul be set free.
The most prominent yamabushi temple is the Shrine of the Seven Thunders, located in the Spine of the World Mountains. The focus on the standard yamabushi practices of meditation, contemplation, and quiet study, although they also have embraced marital training, remembering the example of the Seven Thunders.
Not a specific order in themselves, the sohei are militant wings of the various Shintao and Fortunist sects, serving as wrathful guardians. Worldly and often aggressive, sohei are sometimes called “akuso” or “evil monks”.
The monks of Kaimetsuo-uo, named after the founder of the Mantis Clan, are one of the most active of the Fortunist monastic orders in the empire. They do not initiate violence, but they do respond to it in kind. They are prohibited from bragging or intimidation and tend to focus purely upon unarmed combat. They study purification, seeking to free themselves from the corruption of the mortal realm. They also look to purify the world around them, seeking those who would inflict unjust suffering and put an end to their misdeeds. More than one bandit gang, corrupt magistrate, gaki or other evildoer has been stopped by a roving band of monks of Kaimetsu-uo. As such, the Order of Kaimetsu-uo is extremely popular amongst the hemen and non-samurai classs.
The Order of Kaimetsu-uo is something of an oddity amongst the monastic sects as it places nearly equal value upon the Shintao and teachings of Shinsei as it does with the worship of the Fortunes.
In terms of belief, the Order of Osano-wo is a typical Fortunist sect, seeking enlightenment through the Fortunes (specifically Osano-wo). In their method, however, they are like almost no others. The Order of Osano-wo is the most militant of the sohei orders, maintaining a large private army of monks in their great Temple of Thunder. They are easy to identify, as all monks undergo ritual scarification and mortification, covering themselves in elaborate wraps and scarves.