Sunday, November 18, 2007


Many Buddhist practitioners are like a man staring at the sun, but with his body in a hole full of shit.

Here the sun represents the ideal – Buddhahood to be attained through his own power. This ideal is of course very beautiful and the practitioner always like to stare at it and to take delight in many beautiful words about Enlightenment, emptiness, Buddha-nature, that we are all Buddhas-to-be, etc. The hole of shit is his true reality of the here and now, his deep karmic evil, his limitations, attachments and blind passions that cover all his body and mind.

However, he likes to dream about Enlightenment…. he sometimes even thinks that this is something that can be attain in this very life, after all we all have Buddha-nature, isn’t it?…
And this dream continues for 20, 30, 40 years, until he finally dies like an ordinary unenlightened person, going to the next life with all his karma, attachments and his so called “merits” accumulated in this life. I often meet with people that talk a lot about the fact that we all posses Buddha-nature and because of this there is nothing that we have to do, but just realize this truth in our mind. They are always full of wise quotes from Buddhist masters and sages of the past from various schools, about Buddha-nature, emptiness, etc. Usually such people try many types of practices, always going here and there, never being totally satisfied with any school or teacher. “ I’m still searching”, they say, always feeling comfortable with this searching, behaving like they have all the time in the world. They enjoy good books and good meditation, until they suddenly die. I said that they “suddenly die” because when death comes to them is like a surprise. In fact, they never think of death, this is why they enjoy their “searching” for truth and the right practice.

If they were really aware of the inevitability of their own death and impermanence, the next step would be to ask themselves in what state of mind death will find them if it comes not tomorrow, but today, at this very hour and second. If they were to ask themselves this question, then they could feel the smell of the shit they are in, and awake from the self-satisfaction dream of beautiful words about Enlightenment.

I myself was a “good" Buddhist, staring at the sun until the awareness of my own death and impermanence hit me so powerful and awoke me from my dream of self satisfaction. I suddenly became aware not only of the fragility of my life, but also of the fragility and impermanence of my practice based on personal power. In that moment I abandoned myself and took refuge in Amida. Since then, I cannot deceive myself with my spiritual "realizations".

I imagine myself like a man lying helpless in a deep and dark ravine with walls so steep and slippery that cannot be climbed using the possibility of my weak body. A good man sees me and throws a strong rope to me. But being so weak, I cannot climb myself on it, so he tells me just to tie myself to this strong rope and let myself to be lifted by him. He tells me not to be afraid and have full trust in him. I do this immediately and I am finally released from the dark ravine.

This dark ravine in which I was lying helpless is samsara (the world of birth and death), the good man is Amida Buddha and the rope is his Primal Vow through which he tries to help me. His intention is not to have a good chat with me about emptiness or Buddha-nature, or encourage me to climb myself the steep and slippery walls, because he realizes that I definitely cannot do this. His only intention is to save me immediately, without delay and in this very moment. He even sais to me:
“I beg you, take this rope, take it immediately, there is no time!”

The rope is so well adjusted, that I only need to let my body carried by it – I do not need to climb myself on it. You probably know that kind of ropes that are launched from helicopters when injured people are saved from various dangerous situations – these kind of ropes are made so that injured persons can be drawn out to safety, they do not need to climb themselves on it.

To hear Amida’s call is to listen to the teaching, that is to the intention of his Primal Vow. To let myself taken by the rope sent by him is shinjin (entrusting to his Primal Vow) and also nembutsu – “Yes, I rely on you and I am grateful that you save me.” Entrusting to Amida Buddha and being grateful to him is Namo Amida Butsu.
This how I understand Jodo Shinshu teaching.

1 comentarii:

Ray said...

I absolutely LOVE this article. It speaks nothing but the truth.

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