Saturday, January 16, 2010

Next European Shinshu Conference supposed to be held in Romania was cancelled


I recently received the official news of the cancelation of the next European Shinshu Conference which was supposed to be held in Romania, although I heard rumors about this before, from members of various sanghas who support me and gave me this information.

These kind of Conferences started in 1986 if I am correct, and was an event in which followers from all corners of Europe and the world came together for discussions, paper presentations, kikioshiki (confirmation) ceremonies, etc
Most of the papers presented at the Conferences I attended since 2002 were sometimes too academical, but some good Dharma talks could be heard, too, especially in the more religious part. Also meeting and talking in the breaks or at dinners with many followers from other countries, walking  with them, drinking a beer or cofee was beneficial for all.
So, no matter the shortcomings, such Conferences were useful and good for many. Newcomers from Europe could also receive kikyoshiki or rite confirmation from Shinmon-sama (the future Patriarch of our school) who made it a custom to attend this event.

In the 2010 the Conference, the 16th edition, was supposed to be held in Romania.
Many months of preparations, talks with the hotels, letter exchanges with other followers from Europe from which I recognize that I learned a lot, finaly led to nothing.
After many talks with the Hotel manager of the supposed place of the Conference when I finaly came with a price and arrangements accepted by everybody, after being officialy announced (on September 5th) that things are established and the next Conference will indeed take place in Bucharest, Romania, there came this article about Unno’s divergences from Shinshu teaching....

I immediately received some letters in which I was asked to delete that post, otherwise things will go bad for me, for personal friendships I have and for my sangha. This threat that things will go wrong for me and my sangha I met many times and I always found it very strange. Then I realized that it was reffering to the fact that me and my sagha might be isolated by the others or isolate itself due to my actions. Fortunately, in time,  I received enough letters of support from members of various groups in Europe, Japan and elsewhere that made me not feel so isolated and alone.
So, finaly I know there are some who want me to be isolated and others who want me to be promoted or third, to be left alone to do things as I think is best. It is exactly like in daily life, some like you, some don’t, while others just leave you alone .....but life goes on anyway.

Now lets go back to the story.
So, I received some letters in which I was asked to delete that post, some using a more fundamentalist language than I was acccused I use :) , some just talking with me in a nice manner that I am wrong and to which I explained why I think I am not, etc. In short, some letters were exchanged between me and some members of the European sangha, this being the visible letters that I keep in my computer and to which I answered, but there is another category of letters that I call, „invisible letters”, which were complaints sent without my knowledge to IABC and Hongwanji International Center or others. Complaints or words like „I refuse to attend the Conference in Romania because Josho is writing this or that”, etc were also sent. Even an exclusion took place as I informed you in the last post from today.

Also some tried to distort my image saying that if I  write in the style I write, this means that I will somehow transform the next Conference in some kind of hellish and uncivilized place where no normal discussions could take place. This is what they tried to convince everybody and it seems they succeeded.
But in all my attendances at European Conferences where in some parts I was even a chairman, my different views were in no way used to disturb the good discussion atmosphere that is normal at such Conferences. At the last Conference too, held in Bad Reichenchal- Germany,  I and Kobai Sensei expressed some of our views when our turn to speak arrived and that was all. But trying to distort my image because of some articles written on my personal website and present me as a brutal fundamentalist who doesn’t deserve the next Conference be held in his country - this is not a nice way of dealing with things....

Many talks were held behind the curtain between representatives of various groups and official representatives in Japan. Although International Association of Buddhist Culture (IABC) and Hongwanji International Center (HIC), for which I have deep respect, wanted and sincerely tried their best to make this Conference in Romania possible, in the end it can’t be organized anymore. I even heard that not only in Romania, but in other European country too, this year will not be organized any Conference.

Its indeed a pity that such a Conference, not the best kind of Conference, but still a good and useful event, will not be held this year.
I personally refuse to accept that I am responsible for this as some want to suggest. What truly happened is that some made a horse out of a mosquito, as a Romanian saying goes, transforming an article written in a personal blog into  a huge problem, when instead they could simply ignore me or answer in writing to my critics. This is how a normal reaction should had been in a normal environment where critics and discussions on what is good or bad in the way we present Shinshu today are treated as normal.

But no, this was not the case….. the attachments to views expressed by some scholars, the personal attachments to these scholars,  the wish to suppress my voice by other means than writing because I dared to raise my voice against the established opinions prevalent in some circles,  the accusations that I don’t give enough space for other opinions to exist like my critique was based on my own opinion and not on the sacred texts’s traditional presentation of the teaching, or like others don’t have enough space on the internet, journals or books to express their own opinions, etc, all these led to the cancelation of the 16th European Shinshu Conference. The  noise some of my Dharma friends in Europe made as a reaction to my articles prevailed and led to this sad consequence.

However, all that happened will in no way affect my feelings of Dharma partnership with anybody. I am always opened for good relations with any Shinshu sangha from Europe or elsewhere, leaders or ordinary members, and I will always attend future events to which I am invited, working side by side with those involved in the promotion of the teaching of our school in this turbulent world.
Although I have experienced a lot of sadness and depressions since all this "modern divergences affair" began, I will not let myself drawn to feelings of adversity towards anybody. As one of my Dharma companions (which doesn't agree my opinions) noticed, I can be very strict and radical in my statements and presentation of the teaching, but when all discussions are finished, I remain the same friendly person I have always been.

7 comentarii:

NellaLou said...

I admire your attitude here. You are entitled to have an opinion and even to disagree. And you are one of the most sincere Dharma people I know of. It is unfortunate that some wish to exercise power games just because of something you wrote. It is a childish attitude for those who don't agree with you to pout and say they won't participate.

Shaku Yuinen said...

Rev. Adrian,

I am shocked at this development, but I must admit I am not too surprised. I have come to believe that there is a not-very hidden agenda in some circles where if you do not follow the proper academic pose, you are valueless. I have experienced something similar, due to my work as a military chaplain! It seems that there is no room for discussion or disagreement on certain topics. I do not know how this attitude benefits anyone.

I do not believe this attitude speaks for the majority of Shinshu believers. This attitude only serves to hurt the sanghas, it is a "cutting off the nose to spite the face" and I agree with NellaLou that this is all very childish! This has only served to deprive people of what could have been very productive and fruitful discussions, and propagation in your country, which I am sure some of them have never visited before.

I suppose all we can do from now on is simply to carry on propagating Shinran's teachings, in the best way we know how! I hope you sangha in Romania will continue to grow.

Anonymous said...

Hi Josho,

(Is that the right title?)

I'd like to agree with NellaLou and Shaku Yuinen. It's is such a shame that this conference won't go ahead due to what looks like nothing more than silliness.

I'm an outsider looking in here (I'm very much drawn to Jodo-Shinshu but when I took refuge it was in a Korean Seon lineage in which I'm still happily active here in Bangkok), but I've followed this blog for some time and still remember the kind comments you left on my own blog some two or more years ago.

There can be little doubt that rather than discord, what you would have brought to this conference would have been hard-work and sincerity. Such a shame it won't happen.

With palms together,

Marcus / Seok Jeong

Josho Adrian Cirlea said...

Thank you all for your comments.

Fortunately, the transmission of Jodo Shinshu Dharma in my country doesn’t depend on whether this Conference is held or not. The activities I have here will go on, no matter what. Alone or supported by others I will never give up promoting the Shinshu Dharma in my country and in the same time writing and answering letters in English.

Marcus, „Josho” is not a title, but my Buddhist name (full Buddhist name is Shaku Josho).
I am glad to see you reading and commenting on my blog. I haven’t forgotten you and from time to time I myself read your blog, where I am registered as a „follower”.
I hope what I am writing will prove useful in your interest in Jodo Shinshu. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Shaku Josho


Paul said...

Dear Adrian -

I am very glad that you are continuing to speak out forthrightly.

Those of us who believe that the Shin Sangha has gone astray, and embraced divergences that would have SHOCKED Master Shinran and Master Rennyo, need to continue to speak out, just as they did, and just as Yuien-Bo did in the Tannisho.

At the last European conference, you posed the question directly to Eiken Kobai Sensei: Can someone be a person of SHINJIN if he (or she) thinks Amida is anything less than a true Buddha of reward body?

Eiken Sensei's answer was an unequivocal NO.

SHINJIN, by definition, is the faith-mind consciousness bestowed by Amida Himself. If someone thinks Amida is only a symbol, a myth, or a metaphor, he cannot possibly be a person of the same faith-mind consciousness as Master Shinran. He KNEW Amida as the greatest of all the individuated transcendental Buddhas, AS WELL AS the Original Formless Buddha.

It is not a karmic for people to have different beliefs. But it is a great karmic evil for those who do to proclaim themselves to be Master Shinran's heirs, and to gather followers in Master Shinran's name.

People who do this are misrepresenting the True Teaching, and misleading the Shin Sangha. It doesn't matter how many degrees they have, nor how many titles. What they are doing is morally and karmically WRONG.

It is time for the Shin Sangha to turn back to the True Teaching of our True Teachers, and abandon the useless foraging in modernist western thought, and thought from other Buddhist paths.

People who want to embrace other doctrines, other ideas, other beliefs, and other paths are free to do so. They can, and they should, start their own sect, and make their beliefs known to their followers, whatever those beliefs might be.

That is not just their right. It is also their obligation.

The bottom line: If you don't agree with what Master Shinran teaches, than don't hold forth as a teacher of Shin Buddhism - because you are emphatically NOT. It's just that simple.

People want Adrian to stop speaking boldly and directly about the current divergences that are wrecking the Sangha. They want me to stop speaking as well.

But we will not stop speaking - not now, not ever, as long as there is breath in our bodies, and as long as the Sangha is wandering in the wilderness of false and divergent views.

We know that at some point, the grip of delusion that blinds so many to the OBVIOUS truth that is available in our core texts will be broken - and people will return to the True Teaching once again.

But until that happens, we are COMPELLED BY AMIDA to continue speaking out, just as Master Shinran and Master Rennyo would speak out, if they were here today.


Paul Roberts

Heng said...

Dear Rev.Josho,
Your fervent attitude to stand up against deplorable divergences within the Jodo Shinshu Sangha is clearly heard and deeply admired even in New Zealand, the other end of the globe from where you live.

It is indeed the ripening of good from the past that many seekers of The True Dharma of The Ven.Master Shinran worldwide and especially those in Romania, are truely blessed by your presence.

To be out-numbered by spoilers of the True Dharma is just a sign of Mappo and should be viewed deeply as a proof of what The Ven. Master taught.




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