Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Letter to a non-Jodo Shinshu friend about modern heresies and respect for all Buddhist schools

This short letter was sent by me to a Buddhist friend who is not a Jodo Shinshu follower and who asked me about my “uncompromising attitude” in teaching Amida Dharma. I decided to post the letter here because it might be useful to others.

Dear M,

I really have no problem with various interpretations of Amida Buddha and his Pure Land if these are made from the perspective of other Buddhist schools. I do not mind if, for example, in many Zen circles from China and Japan, there is a clear rejection of faith in Amida as a real and living Buddha and of his Pure Land to be attained afterdeath. I also have no problem if somebody from Shingon claims that Amida resides only in one’s heart. This is because I accept that those who express such views are practicing a different Dharma gate than the Pure Land gate of Jodo Shinshu. But, as Honen Shonin said, we should clearly show the difference between the teaching of our school and other schools, and do not mix them:

„Although there is one Amida Buddha, his teachings have different interpretations. The Shingon school teaches that Amida Buddha resides in one’s own heart; they do not admit his existence outside of one’s heart. The Pure Land school, however, teaches that Bodhisattva Dharmakara realized Buddhahood and became Amida Buddha and now resides in the west. These two viwepoints reflect great differences between the two schools”.

In all my writings I try my best to present the teaching on Amida Buddha and his Pure Land from the Jodo Shinshu point of view, nothing else. I do not intend to enter into conflict or debate with people who follow other Dharma gates/schools, because that would be stupid and useless. I sincerely advise all who come into contact with me to follow what Buddhist teaching is more appropriate to their karmic affinities and abstain from judging the Pure Land path from the perspective of their school.

But I do have a problem with those who label their own mistaken visions or personal interpretations to be Jodo Shinshu and with those who think that Jodo Shinshu should be adapted to other Dharma gates or Buddhist schools, for example, to be transformed into a more Zen-like teaching and practice. When I use the term „modern divergences/heresies from the Jodo Shinshu teaching” I make reference only to these people’s ideas. As to reference to other sutras and Dharma gates, I repeat here to you, that I never judge them nor I make any attempt to slander them. To slander other Dharma gates which one does not follow nor understand it, is a grave karmic act which should not be done by followers of our school, nor by others toward our school.

In short, if somebody wishes to label himself or herself a Jodo Shinshu follower and especially if he is a priest who wishes to teach others the Shinshu Dharma, then he should follow and explain the Jodo Shinshu teaching as it was taught in the Pure Land sutras and the writings of the Masters of our school. If he feels that Jodo Shinshu does not fit into his view of the world and of the Buddhist Path, then he can leave this school or even create his own school of thought outside Jodo Shinshu, and leave to others the opportunity to follow it and learn it as it has been transmitted from our Founder.

I really cannot understand why so much effort is put into the action of changing and destroying the Shinshu Dharma gate because one’s ideas and opinions do not conform with it. Isn't this selfishness and conceit? Against such changing, mixing and spirit of destruction I fight, and NOT against other fellow Buddhist friends from various schools who practice other Dharma gates. I hope this is clearly understood.

Respectfully yours in Namo Amida Bu,


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