Sunday, October 11, 2009

General statement to prevent rumors and false informations

Dear friends in the Dharma,

I recently heard many complaints and reactions related with my uncompromising attitude in exposing and correcting what I call to be modern divergences from the Jodo Shinshu teaching. Some people wrote to me directly and I respect this, while others spoke on my back in an dishonorable manner, sending their complaints to my superiors or persons that supported me in my Dharma activities or conspiring in various ways to silence my voice.
Fearing that many will put into my mouth words that I have never said (it happened before) or will spread false informations about me I think its necessary to summarize again some of the guiding principles of my actions and attitude.

- My allegiance to Hongwanji:
First of all I consider myself to be a member and priest of Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha school of Buddhism. I have never thought to leave this school and I will never do this.
I will always be a member of Hongwanji sangha as long as I am allowed to stay in it. I am loyal to Hongwanji and Go Monshu sama (Patriarch of our tradition) and to their very important mission: to guard and transmit the Jodo Shinshu teaching. Thus, I recognize the canon established by Hongwanji (where the words and instructions of Shakyamuni and the Masters of our tradition are recorded) to be the only reliable source for my study and teaching activities.

- My mission as a priest:
As a priest ordained by Go Monshu sama and affiliated with Hongwanji I consider myself to be only a humble transmitter, and not a creator, of the Dharma. My mission is twofold:
1) to present and make accessible the teaching of Shakyamuni and the Masters of our school to others so that they receive shinjin and be born in the Pure Land and
2) to expose and correct the divergences and misunderstandings that may appear in the sangha

In doing this mission I try to accommodate my explanations to the various type of people that ask to hear the Dharma by searching the right method of presentation according to the personality and environment of the listener, but never changing the content of the Dharma to be taught.
Also in exposing and correcting the divergences I never criticize the private lives or the personality of those who spread such divergences, but only their words and texts. Only their words and texts I compare with the teaching contained in the canon established by Hongwanji.
This is the main characteristic of my uncompromising attitude that offends some people who don't seem to understand or don't want to understand the difference between criticizing a written text and criticizing a person. So any accusations that I insult somebody is false and cannot be proved by any of my writings. If some still continue (intentionally or unintentionally) to misunderstand my critical attitude against what I call to be modern divergences from Jodo Shinshu teaching with personal attacks or insults, thus misleading other members and my superiors about the true characteristics of my actions, let it be known that they base themselves only on their imagination or they are liars, if they do this intentionally.

- Again on my allegiance with Hongwanji:
I have never criticized Go Monshu sama or anybody in the leadership of Hongwanji. No one can find in my writings a single word of critique addressed to them or their style of preaching. This is because I have never heard Go Monshu sama, nor the Zenmon sama (his venerable father) saying Amida is a fictional character or sustaining the "Pure Land is here and now" kind of theories. So I ask everybody, especially those who are always ready to misunderstand my actions and invent rumors, never to sustain such things about me.
I do not interpret in any way the actions of Go Monshu sama or the lack of any action in the matter concerning the modern divergences from Jodo Shinshu teaching. I chose to abstain here.
I don't know his or Hongwanji's attitude about these divergences, but I know very well and nobody can deny it, that the only official and reliable source of the teaching is the canon recognized by Hongwanji. This canon is the official teaching of Go Monshu sama and Hongwanji. What they do to defend this canon and how they do it, is their problem. I abstain to comment this because I really do not know what they do in Japan. My problem is only what I myself do to put an end to these divergences. I myself wish to be the change I want to see around me and in my family (Hongwanji sangha), so I act accordingly.

I repeat that I will never leave my family (the Hongwanji sangha) to start another group or family, and no one should leave his family in times of difficulties, when the roots of this family are attacked by false views.
I live in a large family (international sangha) but I believe my family is sick and is losing direction. So I take action and show to the sickness (the divergences) and the cure - the coming back to the teaching as presented in the canon recognized by Hongwanji.
I know my mission is hard and some might be upset but I didn't received my ordination in order to satisfy peoples expectations and desires. I am ready to endure everything for doing my duty as my conscience dictates me.
I am not waiting for the leaders of my sangha to take action, I don't afford myself to lose precious time or ask others what I myself can do now. Maybe one day more voices, and even more official voices will raise and fight against divergences. Maybe one day I will not be so much put into a corner for my uncompromising attitude...

- My relation with Eiken Kobai Sensei and Paul Robert:
I am not their disciple and I do not follow their's or anybody's orders. I am not the agent of anybody.
I consider them special Dharma friends who happen to share the same ideal like me: presentation of the Jodo Shinshu Dharma as it was taught by Shakyamuni and the Masters of our tradition. This is my connection with them and I especially value this connection like I also value the connection I have with many other members known or unknown of the international sangha who share the same ideal like me and who think that the sangha should return to the sacred texts as the basis for studying and teaching.

I differ from Paul in some points, like for example, that I chose to fight against divergences from inside the Hongwanji, as a priest of Hongwanji, to change the system from inside the system, not from outside. I also differ from him when I abstain to criticize Go Monshu sama. If Paul or Kobai Sensei chose to criticize Go Monshu sama that is their personal choice. I myself chose not to do this. As I said, I do not interpret in any way the actions of Go Monshu sama or the lack of any action in the matter concerning the modern divergences from Jodo Shinshu teaching. I myself take action without waiting for anybody in the leadership of our school to give some kind of official statement of refuting the divergences, although I recognize that such a statement would be very useful. But whether they do it or not, is their decision, not mine. I am only interested of my own actions.

To me the sacred texts of our tradition are my guides and teachers and I always find in them all I need to know and all I need to teach to others. I read, re-read and study carefully these texts, sometimes asking the advice of others like for example, Inagaki Sensei, Kobai Sensei, Paul, etc, but I always compare what these others say with what Shakyamuni, Shinran or other Masters said. Into my eyes, nobody is greater than Shakyamuni and the Masters. The scriptures are the highest authority for me and I advice everybody to think the same.
Kobai, Unno, Shigaraki, Inagaki, Josho Adrian, Paul, are not important and nobody should be attached to them but always compare what they say and preach with what Shakyamuni and the Masters taught. The actions and words of those ordinary people represent something worth mentioning only if they are true to the sacred texts. Otherwise it is only a bubble talk of some unenlightened minds.
Everybody in the sangha, whether they are priests or lay, should develop the custom of using their own brains and eyes to read and study the sacred texts asking Amida and Shinran Shonin to guide and inspire them. Lets do not venerate or depend on any priest/teacher more than Shakyamuni and Shinran.

- About disharmony in the sangha:
To fight against divergences is not bringing disharmony in the sangha. To bring disharmony withing the sangha means spreading perverted views which are not the Dharma. In the chapter on shinjin from Kyogyoshinsho the offense of disrupting the harmony of the sangha is quoted like this: "disrupting the harmony of the sangha through one's inverted views".
I already proved that Unno or Shigaraki hold and spread inverted views. Let others who think I am wrong prove the contrary by quoting the sacred texts instead of trying to shut my voice through sabotaging the next European Conference which was supposed to be held in Romania or sending complaints behind my back to my superiors or supporters. Let those who think I am wrong come in front and prove I am wrong. Let them accept open discussion and even critics as mature people not as children who start complaining immediately when somebody start criticizing their texts or their masters texts.

- The modern divergences I expose and I will always fight against are:
1. the presentation of Amida in terms of myth, symbol or fictional character
2. the so called "Pure Land is here and now" theories
3. the assertion that the Pure Land sutras were not actually taught by Shakyamuni and that the Pure Land teaching is some kind of a later development of Mahayana, thus not having the origin in Shakyamuni Buddha's own teaching, but in some later monks writings.

(My articles that contain the critics of these divergences are gathered here at the category

These divergences and false teachings in all their various forms, subtle or evident, are the object of my critics and not the private persons who share and spread them.
When I use the term "false teacher" is always in connection with the ideas that one promotes.
If you allow me a comparison from politics: if someone says he is liberal but speaks only in socialist terms and promotes socialist ideas labeled them to be liberal, I who am a member of the same party like him, have the right to say that he is not a true liberal, but a socialist. There is nothing to be upset about. I said what I said only in relation to the written words of those teachers, not to their private lives.
My statements are made only at the level of ideas. May those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, not to misunderstand my actions anymore.

Yours in Namo Amida Butsu,
Josho Adrian

14 comentarii:

Unknown said...

The Dharma does not belong to any of us. By Master Shinran's own words, it does not even belong to him. All we can do is be faithful transmitters of the Dharma that belongs to Shakyamuni Buddha - and beyond even Him, to Amida Buddha.

Anyone who declares that Amida is not a real Buddha, or the Pure Land is not a real place, or the Larger Sutra is not an expression of Shakyamuni Buddha, diverges from the most fundamental points of Jodo Shinshu teaching. Therefore, he or she cannot be a true teacher of the True Teaching of the Pure Land Way.

Those who want to teach some other kind of Dharma are free to do so. But what they should NOT do is present themselves as teachers of Shin Buddhism, because they are not.

Whether or not one is a member of one Shin Buddhist sect or another - or is simply a Shin Buddhist not particularly associated with any sect at all, we are all members of the Shin Sangha. As members of the Shin Sangha, we all have a responsibility to measure what is is said and done within the Sangha and by the Sangha by the plumbline of Master Shinran's clear and unambiguous words.

There are plenty of other Pure Land sects - both from Asia and now from the West - where people do not recognize Master Shinran's primacy in this way. If they would choose to say Amida is not a real Buddha (and they don't say that), that would be their business, and their business alone.

But when someone in the Shin Sangha preaches and teaches Amida-denial, that becomes my business, just like it was Master Shinran's business when his errant Zenran did the same thing.

BECAUSE HE CARED FOR THOSE CALLED BY AMIDA, Master Shinran could not allow his errant son to continue to have access to the pulpit. If Zenran wanted to go start his own form of Buddhism, he was free to do so. But he could not be a person of influence in the Shin Sangha anymore.

My Dharma friend Adrian is acting like a TRUE PRIEST - putting his reverence for the Dharma and his concern for people's salvation FIRST in his list of priorities. In a day and age when few follow his good example, his words and actions make others uncomfortable. But SOMEONE has to set an example...and I am glad that Adrian is one of those who do.

Unknown said...

I just wish to lend my voice of support to Rev. Josho Adrian who is courageously standing up for the true teaching of the Pure Land Way represented by Master Shinran and the sutras, and to second the thoughts Paul has just expressed. Someone said that a small group of dedicated people can create great change. Let that change start here, as it has already begun.

AP said...

Dear Rev Josho
Keep up the excellent work of preserving this dhamma and presenting it well Namo Amitabha Ant in UK

Shaku Tokusui said...

Dear Josho,
I am profoundly dismayed by the slander which some "liberals" trying to impose their agenda in the European Shinshu community have poured over your person, and the truly abject manner in which they have manipulated some people in the Hongan-ji hierarchy. It's those "liberals" who are dividing the Sangha and slandering the Dharma!
Gasshô, in Namo Amida Butsu, Shaku Tokusui.

Shaku Egen said...

I agree with Shaku Tokusui. The mistreatment of Rev. Josho is most shameful. He is simply teaching the same Dharma as Master Shinran and Master Rennyo and not compromising it by introducing personal opinions.

The problem with these liberals who are complaining about Rev. Josho is their own divergence from the true teaching of Jodo Shinshu, which they are presenting as a popular philosophy reminiscent of Joseph Campbell or Carl Jung. This kind of philsophy is their right, but they should not represent it to be Jodo Shinshu, which it is not.

Rev. Josho is to be commended for his courageous adherence to the foundations of our Jodo Shinshu faith and his refusal to cave to such baseless criticism.

Namu Amida Butsu

Shaku Egen

Unknown said...

Thank you, Shaku Tokusui, for standing up on behalf of the True Teaching of the Pure Land Way.

This isn't some sort of popularity contest - where we decide on a mundane basis that we like this teacher or that one.

We're talking here about the DHARMA - the ONLY Dharma that can save all beings everywhere in this Age of Dharma Decline.

Our Dharma masters guarded this Dharma message JEALOUSLY. They did not permit anyone to mess with it, or modify it, or change it in any material way.

How serious were they about guarding this Dharma? They were willing to suffer disgrace, exile and even death rather than renounce what Amida had shown them to be true.

Master Shinran himself chose to cut off relations with his own son Zenran, not for Zenran's personal slander against his parents - but for Zenran's acting in the role of a Dharma destroyer in the Shin Sangha.

Master Rennyo actually told some errant priests and their followers that if they did not repent of their wrong views, they were in danger taking their next birth in Avici Hell.

So how can anyone who calls himself or herself a Shin Buddhist take exception or find fault with what Adrian Cirlea says?

The single rule for ALL of us - whether we are clerics, or scholars, or lay people - is that we must judge all teachings by the plumbline of the teachings of our Dharma masters.

Any teaching that deviates from what they taught so clearly and so directly for decades cannot be said to be true teaching. And any teacher who teaches such teachings cannot be said to be a True Teacher of the Pure Land Way.

Those of scholarly background cannot hide behind their degrees as an excuse for making statements that our Dharma masters would NEVER make. Being a so-called "doctrinal specialist" does not excuse anyone from saying - in any context - that Amida Buddha is not a real Buddha of reward body, but rather a fictive character, or a symbol, or a myth.

Similarly, being a so-called "doctrinal specialist" does not give anyone license to say that the Pure Land is merely a state of mind, when Master Shinran says so unequivocally that this is WRONG understanding of the Dharma.

Master Shinran says, in KGSS III: "...priests and laymen of the Declining Age, and masters of these days, sunken in the idea `that one's true nature is Buddha' and `that the Buddha's Pure Land exists in one's mind,' degrade (the belief in) the True Enlightenment in the Pure Land; or, being deluded by the mind of self-power to practice meditative and non-meditative good deeds, they are blind to the Adamantine True Faith."

What could be more clear than this?

Shaku Tokusui said...

Indeed this is not a popularity contest, and I know that many people will resent me speaking out on behalf of our Dharma-friend Josho.

But I am not so much concerned with "orthodoxy", but the message that has saved me personally.

What appalls me is not that some people produce a diluted post-modern version of Jodo Shinshu, but that these people try to impose this reading on the whole Shinbuddhist community. Strange "liberals" indeed !

Fortunately, their opinions are completely ignored among French-speaking Jodo Shinshu followers, thanks to the patient efforts of Rev. Jean Éracle and Rev. Jérôme Ducor.

Unknown said...

Shaku Tokusui writes: But I am not so much concerned with "orthodoxy", but the message that has saved me personally.


I agree with you 100%, Luc. This is the message that has saved me personally as well.

But in addition, I am one of those who didn't hear the message clearly for years, because I was naively taking my cue from the modernists who deny that Amida is a real Buddha, and the Pure Land a real place.

My own background as an educated westerner made me susceptible to their misguided explanations of the Dharma based on western MYTHOS teaching from such thinkers as Tillich, Jung, Campbell, etc.

Because of this thinking, and the application of this thinking to the Dharma, I continued to have doubts - doubts which plagued me during a time of deep difficulty.

It was only after I found a TRUE teacher (in my case it was Eiken Kobai Sensei) that I was able to resolve my doubts once and for all, and then take refuge and come to KNOW that I am grasped by the real and true Buddha Amida.

So what I say is this: There are profound and tragic karmic consequences for introducing such divergences in the Sangha. I say this PERSONALLY, and I also say it as one called by Amida to function as a teacher for others.

The very life of the Shin Sangha depends upon us being faithful to the Dharma that has been transmitted to us. If people want to label that idea "orthodoxy" or even "fundamentalism", so be it.

The label is not what is important here. What is important is the karmic actions we take or do not take, and their consquences.

Our Dharma masters modelled for us what karmic action is required when divergences are introduced into the Sangha. They acted out of concern, compassion, and kindness - even when their words and actions were stern.

How can we do any less? This is a question I am asking us to consider.



Shaku Tokusui said...

Dear Paul,

Well, my experience is a bit different. Reading Suzuki and Unno never did me any harm - some bits of their writings correspond to what I feel, while other bits are of no use to me. Personally I do not think that either Suzuki or Unno lack Shinjin - it's just that their manner of explaining it is not always helpful - for me.

As far as modern thinkers are concerned, please don't put Jung or Marco Pallis - or Henry Corbin for that matter - in the same bag with a Paul Tillich. Corbin for example insists that the "Imaginal World" (NOT: imaginary world !) is a reality and that the events happening in it are objective and not subjective. Similarly for Jung and the World of Archetypes. Of course, it is a completely different matter whether western concepts are adequate for tackling (Shin-)Buddhist concepts and experiences.

When I say that I do not care much about "orthodoxy" as such, I mean the following. There are 48000 ways to salvation: If someone chooses some modern form of Obaku, let him or her do it for Amida's sake. It only becomes controversial when he or she affirms that his/her form of Obaku actually is Jodo Shinshu, and that those who do not accept that equation have no Shinjin.

On a different note: by criticizing the works of A and B, we may attribute more importance to A and B than they really have. Sometimes it is better to be silent about certain writings. That's how we did it in Geneva.

Instead let us just explain what has saved us personally. That is much more convincing than engaging in scholastic disputes - though the latter may be sometimes both useful and necessary.

In Namo Amida Butsu,

Shaku Tokusui

Shaku Egen said...

It warms my heart to see these posts supporting Rev. Josho's wonderful ministry in Romania. I am also one who has been saved by the real and true Buddha, Amida. This is the important point, that we are not arguing with so-called liberal (modernist) proponents for the sake of debate, but rather we are - like Master Shinran - witnessing to this living reality in our lives, this diamondlike Shinjin. I agree with Paul, if people want to label this as "orthodoxy" or "fundamentalism" then so be it. Labels are unimportant and of no consequence.

For me, the true teacher who by Amida's grace and vow-power lifted the cloak of confusion and doubt from my eyes is Paul, who has just posted here. He of course attributes this to his own teacher, Eiken Kobai Sensei, and to Amida Himself, but Paul has played a crucial and essential role in my turning of mind to utmost refuge in Amida Buddha and my abandonment of doubt which was the dark legacy of several modernist teachers and authors I had been following for years.

Thank you, Amida Buddha, for your Light, guiding and protecting me on this my last journey through samsara. Thank you, Amida Buddha, for leading me to ultimate true buddhahood when I am born in your Pure Land at my life's end. Thank you, Amida Buddha, for the priceless gift of salvation, for grasping me never to abandon me with all my faults, flaws, and failings. Thank you, Amida Buddha! Namu Amida Butsu.

Shaku Egen (Rick)

alvin2577 said...

I have read some introductory book on "Shin Buddhism", and I was particularly uncomfortable when some authors said that "The Pure Land sutras appeared XXXX years after the Buddha, or that these sutras were compiled many years after the death of the Buddha". If the readers of these books are novice, they might lose faith in Pure Land teachings. However, I am perfectly happy if the same lines appear in some scholarly work!

I strongly agree with Josho's insistence of bringing across Jodo Shinshu's standpoint clear, instead of allowing for divergence.

However, i can also understand from Rev Unno's perspective. I believe he is introducing Shin Buddhism to America, where other schools of traditional Mahayana Buddhism have been well established. Perhaps he is trying to talk using "skilful means" using the language of traditional Mahayanists?

In a country like mine or Josho's, I think this insistence is essential.

In summary, it is essential that:
1) Amida is real and his Pure Land is real (In Chinese account, there are so many miraculous accounts of individuals being reborn in the Pure Land)

2) Amida Sutras are spoken by the Buddha (leave it to the scholars about the authenticity - practitioners are just like people hit by "poisoned arrows"; the immediate step is to remove the arrow - leave it to the scholars to study the nature of arrows or even who shot the arrows!). This is essential to instil faith in the Dharma.

Paul said...

We are all bonbus FIRST. Then some of us bonbus are scholars, or priests, or whatever. No one, regardless of his function or title has a right to change the Dharma for ANY reason.

It is not "skillful means" to say what Unno says in this book. It is false teaching. It is false teaching in America, in Europe, in Asia, or even on another planet in another galaxy.

False teaching has been a problem for the Shin Sangha from the beginning for the same reason that suffering, sickness and death are a problem for us, too. It is part of the chaos of Samsara.

A good teacher of the Dharma, whether a cleric, scholar or layperson, clears up chaos by teaching accurately - not by creating more chaos and confusion by mangling the Dharma message.

Shaku Tokusui said...

Alvin wrote:
I have read some introductory book on "Shin Buddhism", and I was particularly uncomfortable when some authors said that "The Pure Land sutras appeared XXXX years after the Buddha, or that these sutras were compiled many years after the death of the Buddha". If the readers of these books are novice, they might lose faith in Pure Land teachings.


Actually, it is useful to point out that the first archeological evidence of Pure Land Buddhism is a the pedestal of a statue from the 2nd century CE bearing an inscription that mentions Amida Buddha. It is therefore very probable that oral traditions reached back about one century earlier, in any event no later than the time when the Pali Canon was written down.

Also, in Mahayana Buddhism immediate spiritual experience has been always counted as good as first-hand testimony. Therefore I would have no problem with the idea that those that recorded the Pure Land Sutras also wrote down Speeches of Shakyamuni actually witnessed in spiritual visions.

However, Mahayana Buddhists do also believe that their Sutras are true accounts of teachings by Shakyamuni Buddha, and I do not see any reason to drop that belief for some fashionable historical criticism.

Josho Adrian Cirlea said...

Zuio Inagaki Sensei explained that some Mahayana sutras,including the Pure Land sutras were first transmitted through samadhi until they were finaly put into written form.
Scholars who assert that Mahayana sutras were not preached by Shakyamuni only because were compiled later cannot verify samadhi transmission. Historical criticism cannot verify samadhi transmission. And in fact,all sutras were compiled later than the time of Shakyamuni preached them, being transmitted oraly from monk to monk or in other form beyond ordinary understanding.

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