Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sincere letter to a nice and virtuous Buddhist practitioner

Dear X,

I often have moments when I feel as if I am swimming in the mud. Everything seems to be contrary to my wishes and aspirations, every person I meet, like an obstacle, even a Buddhist friend. I often have the feeling of being sick and tired.

I have never been a social person, not even in my childhood when I played most of the time alone. I've always hated big gatherings and crowded places. I have never liked human beings too much, and I've always found the company of animals more pleasant than the company of humans. I even feel that I can kill a human being in order to defend the life of an animal who I might consider my friend.

I am not writing this letter to you for other reasons, than to share my unenlightened way of feeling things. I know that these are not the feelings of a “good Buddhist” or “what should a Buddhist feel”, but this is me at the present moment, this is my illusory personality.
I know very well that I can’t fix it or transform it into an enlightened personality through my own powers. So, since I became aware of it, I do nothing else than take refuge in Amida and become more and more grateful to Him for accepting me as I am and finishing once and for all, the crazy journey in samsara of this stupid man.

I take Buddhism and especially the Jodo Shinshu path very personally. For me it is not an object of study, but a way of escaping a great fire and a great sickness. It is like accepting the cure for cancer or AIDS. To me, Jodo Shinshu is a matter of life and death, it is the difference between burning in a big fire and escaping it.

I feel as if I have stayed for all my life in a house of mentally retarded criminals in which the only reasonable thing to do is to go out, find somebody who can get me out. I am too tired and too sick to take care of myself or be able to liberate myself from this house of sick criminals and killers.

I often ask myself what would I become if I was not grasped, never to be abandoned by Amida, but being left alone to the mercy of my karma and evil tendencies?
To know what one might become in a future life, if he let himself in the power of his karma and tendencies is not a big deal. One should just observe his mind and see with sincerity his real thoughts and feelings, especially those thoughts and feelings one doesn’t have the courage to recognize to himself and others. Just take away the crust of “what a nice person I am” and look deeply into your own personality and mind. What do you really see there?
Speaking about myself, I see that the feeling of wanting to kill and destroy my enemies or people who done me wrong in the past, often arises in my mind. I see a lot of hate, even to people and events in my agitated childhood. I see the wish of revenge, I see a lot of jealousy, anger and aggression which can always come to surface and strike. I had some fights in my past and I always can have more, this is why I often prefer not to go in places where I can be put in a situation to defend myself or fight, because I know very well that I can’t stop until I go to hospital or the other one will go to the hospital or even to his grave. I know and felt so many times how hate and anger develops inside me or bursts outside in a moment and overcome me… those moments so hard to resist when one is so close to killing somebody. It is indeed like in Tannisho, when Shinran says to Yuien bo:

“….it is not that you do not kill because your heart is good. In the same way, a person may not wish to harm anyone and yet end up killing a hundred or a thousand people”.

How true these lines always appear to me! I feel as if here Shinran speaks to me directly, making light of the deepest and true feelings of a sick person that I am. “Josho”, he says, “the fact that you haven’t kill anybody until now, doesn’t mean that you are a good person. The misery is still there and you know it, you just need a favorable condition for this misery to go out, and you never know what you can do. So don’t be so sure and think you have a good heart. Please Josho, investigate yourself and look sincerely into yourself. You can always kill a thousand people.” Indeed, Shinran, my only good friend, the only good friend in the entire Buddhism that speaks directly to my level of understanding, I am capable of killing someone if the favorable conditions for killing arises. Indeed I am helpless. It doesn’t even matter if I don’t kill somebody in this life, because I might not meet with the favorable conditions for killing, but this hate, aversion and jealousy I find deep in myself, already killed everybody inside my mind. I am a hidden and unknown killer. The karma of thinking is already in action, no matter if I fulfilled it with my body or not. This hate, aversion and jealousy will accompany me in the next lives and sometime it will surely manifest itself.And where a mind stream like this, full of blind passions will go, if not into the lower realms?

Please, you smart and “good Buddhist” fellow, stop talking to me with words like “there is no self”, or “nirvana is samsara”, or “your inner nature is that of a Buddha” and so on…. I really read about these things, but they are not useful to me. Just leave me alone with your bubble talk about purity and profound Buddhist quotes on peace of mind! I am tired about nice Buddhist talks. I am not a nice person, I am not a nice priest, I am not pure at heart, I can’t develop Bodhi mind through myself, I can’t follow precepts, I don’t drink but I am the same like alcoholics when it comes to my sick mind, I don’t eat meat, but I am the same like hunters and predators.
I can’t meditate, I can’t understand ultimate reality and “Nirvana is Samsara” kind of things, I can’t send loving kindness to anybody, not even to myself. I have been a drug addicted for eons(1) and you, a nice Buddhist guy, are telling me that I can really heal myself in this life or that I can trust in myself and continue this process of healing in my future lives. Sorry, but I don’t believe you. You are speaking over and over again about the ideal, but you don’t take into account the capacities of the person to whom you are speaking.

I also don’t care how virtuous you are and how nice your discourse about what should be done and what should be discarded is. But how can you speak about health and healthy states of mind to a terminally ill person on his death bed, that is about Nirvana and virtues to a person who lacks the seeds for Buddhahood, to someone who is guilty of the five gravest offenses and can die in every moment? Just please go out to your everyday meditation sessions or visualizations, and your peace of mind, to your “everything is possible” attitude, to your prajna, and please leave me alone with my friend, Shinran, because he is the only one who can really understand me. I am tired to listen to your discourses about ultimate nature, I just want to hear Shinran Shonin speaking to me about my Mother – Amida Buddha, who accepts me exactly as I am, telling me that for being born in his Pure Land I need nothing, really nothing. Just to entrust to Her and everything is ok. My Compassionate Mother will take care of my attainment of Buddhahood, like every mother takes care of her own child. You don’t believe me? You think that my Buddhist path is for inferior beings? I don’t care and yes indeed, I am an inferior being. So, it logically follows that your supermen kind of Buddhism is not for me. 

Yours in Namo Amida Butsu,

(1) please read my comments on the 13th chapter of Tannisho about the influence of karma from past lives

6 comentarii:

vincent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vincent said...

When i read the second part of your post i thought in myself "Josho talk to zen tendai or shingon practionners?("meditate" "meditation or visualisation session")but i don't see why the would convince him"
...don't say me that you don't talk about jiriki practionners?

(take all your time for your answer...but i would to know because if it's from zen practionner, yes it's their point of view but to want convince you,surprise me...)

Josho Adrian Cirlea said...

The letter is about me, and about the fact that I can't have a pure heart and attain Buddhahood in this life. It was a letter to a Buddhist practitioner who considered himself to be capable of accumulating virtues and attain Buddhahood in this life, but is more a sincere letter about myself, so one should read it more as a personal confession.
It is not a letter to convince somebody that my way is better, its just about me following this Jodo Shinshu path, the only path I am capable to follow, because it doesn't depend on me.

vincent said...

ok i understand


Anonymous said...

whoah..sometimes I wish I had the capacity to express in words my feelings and experiences like this but as in this letter I realize the futility of the wish itself I am what I am and no amount of wishful thinking or endurance of rules will bring me to enlightenment in this body....I literally have acted in violence and as a liar and many other things in my mind and physically in this life and even though I dont physically harm anyone I know that the karma of my thoughts would play out in another turn in samsara without the never letting go of Amida Buddha.

Jeanne said...

Thank you so much for this beautiful blog. I deeply relate to what you have to say.

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