To be a monk who receives donations or people’s appreciation, but to fail to attain Buddhahood, means to lie and cheat sentient beings. This is because ordinary and unenlightened people give you donations or offerings while thinking that you are greater than them, more virtuous, more close to Enlightenment or even that you already reached Enlightenment.
By giving you food, they hope that they receive a better karma, or a fortunate rebirth, etc. And indeed, to give praise to those who are worthy of praise or give food to those who really deserve it and are the lights of the world, it can bring many benefits to those who give. But what if you are not a worthy vessel, that is one who accepts various offerings or people’s praise, but is not at the level the donors imagine that you are, when they give something to you?
Then, if you fail them, and do not reach Buddhahood, you will have to give back mountains of rice for every little grain of rice they gave you. Because you do not reached your goal (Buddhahood), their aspirations are also not fulfilled, so you have to pay these grave karmic debts.
You enjoyed their food and money, obtained with great efforts and pains, and especially you enjoyed their devotion and praise. But you are a fake and a liar….
The same happens with a Jodo Shinshu priest.
I am not a monk, because I don’t take the 300 and something precepts of a monk, I can marry and have children, but in the same time, I am not a lay, because I have to have a higher aspiration than a normal lay follower or a person who lives only for food and drink. As a priest I have to take the words “receive shinjin for yourself and help others receive shinjin” more absolutely than a lay, especially the last part, which shows that I have to dedicate my entire life to helping people receive shinjin. Not only to help them, but to be ready to die in doing this.
Of course, nobody can help others receive shinjin, if he himself doesn’t have shinjin. And if I as a priest don’t have shinjin, not only that I can’t help others receive it, but I can’t even attain Buddhahood in the Pure Land!
In the same way a monk who lives in monastery receives people’s appreciation and donations but doesn’t attain Buddhahood, a Jodo Shinshu priest who is praised and respected by others, receives donations but doesn’t have shinjin and is not even born in the Border Land of the Pure Land, he will have to pay his debts in his future lives in samsara.
To wear the robes and kesa of nembutsu faith, but not to receive shinjin and not be born in the Pure Land, while in the same time, misleading others and not helping them receive true shinjin, must be the greatest fear of a Jodo Shinshu priest.
Maybe it would be better for him or her to remain outside the
People take too easy their priesthood, accept too easy praise and money because of teaching, without asking themselves in great fear: “Am I really preaching the true Dharma of Other Power, do I really have the same shinjin as Shinran and do I really help others receive shinjin? Am I a helper or an obstruction for my Dharma companions, for those who call me “Sensei”, praise me or respect me?”
This matter is of extreme importance. One cannot play with people’s attainment of Buddhahood, which only true shinjin is its cause. If you play with people’s attainment of Buddhahood, you yourself will not attain it, and more than this, you may lose yourself for many eons in the lower realms of samsara, in places and states of existence where there is no Dharma.
We, the Jodo Shinshu priests, must look to our ordination as to a great fire which can either heal and warm the hearts of beings, help them attain Buddhahood, or burn them all and ourselves together.
We, as priests, have very few options: we go in the
Namo Amida Butsu