Saturday, September 24, 2016

On the wrong view of regarding one's teacher as a manifestation of a Buddha or a Master

I have just found these words (see left photo), writen on September 21st, by a Dharma friend, member of Horai Association of Jodo Shinshu on another friend's Facebook page: "Zuiken Sensei was also known to be a manifestation of Kassapa Buddha in Japan". I decided to take a print screen and give some quick comments.

With all due respect for the good things Zuiken Sensei and his son, Zuio Inagaki Sensei, did for the Sangha, I publicly ask my Nembutsu friends to stop this idol worshipping attitude. No modern teacher should be placed on equal status with Shinran Shonin and Rennyo Shonin, and nobody should be considered or treated as a manifestation of a Buddha. This is clearly NOT the Jodo Shinshu way of relating with a teacher. If we allow such idolizing of our priests and teachers, we open a very dangerous gate. Thus, everything a teacher sais or writes will not be checked anymore through the filter of reason and no more compared with what Shakyamuni, Shinran and Rennyo said, because..... that teacher is "the manifestation of a Buddha".....

Monday, September 19, 2016

On the Buddhas who manifest as Bodhisattvas

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva wearing Amida Buddha image
on Her crown, which signifies that She guides sentient beings
to Amida Buddha
Many members of our school do not fully understand the term Bodhisattva in Mahayana. Also, when we read the 22nd Vow of Amida, which is generally accepted to mean that we return to this world as fully Enlightened Persons or Buddhas to save all beings, some of us are puzzled that in the respective vow there is no mentioning of the word "Buddha", but only "Bodhisattva". This is why I dedicated many pages to the 22nd vow in my book, The48 Vows of Amida Buddha, where I show that, in fact, there is no contradiction between the two. The reason is that, in Mahayana, the term “Bodhisattva” does not only refer to a highly evolved person who is extremely close to Enlightenment, but also to a Buddha who manifests as  Bodhisattva. There is clear evidence for this in many Mahayana sutras, and also in the writings of various Buddhist masters. 
For example, in the Ojoraisan, Master Shan-tao himself presented Avalokitesvara as already enlightened:

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The merit transference from Amida Buddha to those who entrust to Him

How does Amida Buddha save us? By transfering His merits to us, those who have faith in Him. Shinran Shonin said:

"When I humbly contemplate the true essence of the Pure Land Way, I realize that Amida’s merit transference has two aspects: one is the aspect of going forth, and the other that of returning. Concerning the aspect of going forth of merit transference, there are true teaching, practice, faith, and Enlightenment"[1].

In the practices based on personal power the practitioner “earns” virtues which he transfers for his own Enlightenment. But in the case of  Other Power (Pure Land) way, the transference of merits takes place from Amida Buddha to those who entrust to Him. This transference of merit (eko) carries the follower to the Pure Land where he attains Nirvana or perfect Enlightenment. Shinran Shonin says in a hymn:

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Name of Amida Buddha is the Great Practice

Amida Buddha
          In chapter II of his Kyogyoshinsho, Shinran defines the great practice:

"When I humbly contemplate the 'going forth' aspect of Amida’s merit transference, I realize that there are great practice and great faith. The great practice is to call the Name of the Tathagata of Unhindered Light (Amida Buddha). This practice contains all good and roots of virtue, and is perfectly accomplished and most eficacious in bringing about liberation. It is the treasure-sea of merits of true suchness, ultimate reality. For this reason, it is called great practice.

This practice comes from the vow of great compassion, the Seventeenth Vow, which is called the Vow that the Name shall be glorified by all the Buddhas. It is also called the Vow that the Name shall be praised by all the Buddhas, and the Vow that the Name shall be lauded by all the Buddhas. Further, it can be called the Vow accomplishing the going-forth aspect of merit transference, and also the Vow of the Nembutsu chosen from among many practices.'

Concerning the vow that the Name shall be praised by all the Buddhas, the Larger Sutra states:

'If, when I attain Buddhahood, innumerable Buddhas in the lands of the ten directions should not all praise and glorify my Name, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.'

Friday, September 2, 2016

Help needed to buy two stoves for Amidaji temple

Dear friends in the Dharma,

the kind of stove I wish to install in the
Hondo (Dharma Hall) and library of Amidaji 
As you can see in the last posts from this website, Amidaji is opened for visitors and it did have its first visitors from abroad: one from Brasil! (click here) and four from Japan (click here). Other visitors also announced their intention to visit in the near future. I hope that you too, the reader of these lines, will come for a visit, soon!
However, as clearly stated here, because there is no heating system, Amidaji cannot provide accommodation and religious services during the cold season. So, unfortunately, under the present circumstances, visitors can only come since late spring to early autumn.

My intention is to change this and make Amidaji available during the whole year to those who wish to spend a few days in retreat in order to hear Amida Dharma. So, I would like to invite you to please help me to buy and install two stoves - one in the library of Amidaji (where visitors receive accomodation) and the other in the Hondo (Dharma Hall).