Friday, February 1, 2019

Our attitude towards those who try to harm us or lead us away from Amida Dharma

"While holding the Nembutsu in your heart
and saying it always, please pray for the present
life and also the next life of those who slander it
Question: What attitude should I have, as a Jodo Shinshu disciple, towards those who try to harm me or lead me away from Amida Dharma?

Answer: The truth is that there is NO being who was not, somewhere in the beginingless past, your own mother and father. So, you should look to them as to your own parents who went mentally sick, and cannot recognize you. This is not just a metaphor, but the truth in accordance with the Buddhist teaching. Samsara is a disturbed horror movie, in which loving parents from a previous life may kill their children in the next, and vice versa. However, even if we accept this Buddhist truth of inter-relatedness of all beings, we should be aware of our present limitations and do not pretend to be saints when we know we are not, so perhaps for the majority of us is better to stay away from those who wish to harm us or lead us astray with their behavior. 

Also, don't try to discuss or debate the Amida Dharma with people who are not open to it or, even worse, are actively against it. As Honen Shonin said, "those who criticize and slander the teaching of Nembutsu are merely obsessed with illogical reasons, which are not worthy of debate."[1] Thus, rather than entering into never ending discussions or reacting to their insanity we should better stay away and take pity on them.  If you can, pray for them, as Shinran advised:

"While holding the Nembutsu in your heart and saying it always, please pray for the present life and also the next life of those who slander it." [2]

We do not have a Buddha mind yet, so we might not know, as a Buddha knows, the exact words or actions we can use to truly help them. Thus, it is better to wait until we are born in the Pure Land after death when, as fully enlightened Buddhas we'll be capable to benefit them all. The Nembutsu of faith in Amida, which causes our birth there, is the most accessible way for ordinary, low people like us, to make peace with all sentient beings. This is because by attaining Buddhahood in the Pure Land through Amida's Name and Power we'll finally put an end  to the vicious cycle of constantly harming one another, and we'll be able to repay the karmic debts we owe to all sentient beings we wronged since the beginingless past. 

[1] Honen Shonin, An Outline of NembutsuThe Promise of Amida Buddha - Honen's Path to Bliss; English translation of the Genko edition of the works of Honen Shonin - Collected Teachings of Kurodani Shonin: The Japanese Anthology (Wago Toroku), translated by Joji Atone and Yoko Hayashi, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2011, p.151
[2] Shinran Shonin, A Collection of Letters, Letter 8, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.570

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