Showing posts with label DIVERGENCES FROM THE JODO SHINSHU TEACHING. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DIVERGENCES FROM THE JODO SHINSHU TEACHING. Show all posts

Monday, March 8, 2010

Does the Pure Land really exist?


Here are the words of Zuio Inagaki Sensei:
 
Question: Does the Pure Land really exist?

Answer: Yes it does. 

In our world of experience, everything we feel and perceive with our senses is ephemeral, ­ only momentarily existent and deceptive. As the Buddha admonished:
"All conditioned things are impermanent." (sarva­samskaaraa anityaah)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

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

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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.

Exclusion from the German Shinshu Sangha


Here is an official document sent to me some time ago by the leadership of the German Shinshu sangha and bellow you can see my answer. Some time ago I was invited to become a member of this sangha although I am not a German, and I guess the reason was that they liked me and my style of teaching the Dharma. But after I wrote that article and others that came after it in the section “divergences from Jodo Shinshu teaching”, they decided that I should be kicked out. Its ok, I have nothing against exclusions, I just wanted to show you that I am not the only one capable of radical attitudes, like my action of excluding books written by Unno from the library of Tariki Dojo was considered to be.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Which teachers are actually worth listening to?

-revised and updated 05 01 2010-
This is a response by Paul Roberts, posted on true shinbuddhism yahoo group, to someone who asked for names of nowadays authors and teachers that he recommends. Of course, it is related to the modern divergences from Shinshu teaching, a topic that will always be given the necessary attention and space on this blog.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Dharma dialogue on modern divergences from Shinshu teaching




Here is a dialogue from true shinbuddhism yahoo group, between a reader experiencing doubt because of what some modernist Shinshu teacher is saying and my Dharma friend, Paul. The name of that teacher is not hidden by me, but by either Carlos or Paul. I hope this dialogue will prove useful to all those who have doubts on the Shinshu Dharma after hearing the divergences of some modern scholars blinded by their own lack of faith.

Monday, November 9, 2009

More on modern divergences from Jodo Shinshu teaching

I've just came back from Tariki Dojo Craiova and found this very interesting discussion from true shinbuddhism yahoo group supporting my actions of exposing and correcting the modern divergences from Jodo Shinshu teaching.
I invite you all to read it, and meditate on it, especially on the quotes presented there from the sacred writings.
One of the reasons I post other people's articles, discussions, letters on the topic of modern divergences is to show to the international Shinshu sangha that there are many, not only me, who are tired of seeing the Dharma being distorted with ideas and opinions that can't be found in the writings of the Masters of our school. I also hope that others will find the courage to speak.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Reactions to my criticism of Rev Unno's writings (part2)



Please also read: "Reactions to my critics of Rev Unno's writing(1)."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Reactions to my criticism of Rev Unno's writings


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Dear friends in the Dharma,


Recently, Rev Toshikazu Arai reacted to the articles published on this blog about divergences from the Jodo Shinshu teaching contained in the books of Rev Unno.

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
DIVERGENCES FROM THE JODO SHINSHU TEACHIN(G.
)

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

Monday, September 7, 2009

A book by Rev Unno is dennied access to the library of Tariki Dojo


Someone wanted the book "Bits of Rubble Turn into Gold" by Rev Taitetsu Unno to be published and promoted in my country and I answered with a clear and definitive "NO".
Why? Because some of the passages I found in it " are not in accordance with the true Jodo Shinshu teaching we find in the canonical texts of our school. Also, as it is stated in rule number 8th of the "Rules of the Dojo" that I established for the Jodo Shinshu dojos in Romania:

"In the library of the dojo, in the Jodo Shinshu section, only the texts from the canon of our school and the books which are in accord with these texts are promoted. No book which denies the teaching presented in the canonical texts, deteriorates, modifies or adds something which is not present in these texts, is allowed in the library of the dojo; also, the authors of these books will never be promoted, translated or invited at the dojo."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Against Shigaraki's false teachings


I am presenting you here, a very good article written by my Dharma friend, Paul Roberts, in which he deconstructs some false statements made by one of the many false teachers of our international sangha - Takamaro Shigaraki.
Please have the patience to read it - I assure you it will be very helpful.

And also please read the discussions about Shigaraki that took place on true shinbuddhism yahoo group
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/true_shin_buddhism/messages/1213?threaded=1&m=e&var=1&tidx=1
and:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/true_shin_buddhism/messages/1228?threaded=1&m=e&var=1&tidx=1

This group is indeed the most active and reliable online place for discussing and understanding the Jodo Shinshu Dharma.


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In his essay entitled "The Problem of the True and the False in Contemporary Shin Buddhist Studies: True Shin Buddhism and False Shin Buddhism", Takamaro Shigaraki asks and answers the following three questions:

1. Is Amida Buddha an Entity or a Symbol?
2. Is Shinjin in Shin Buddhism Non-dualistic or Dualistic?
3. Is Shin Buddhism a Religion of Power or a Religion of Path?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Reactions against Kobai Sensei's statement and my answers (part2)


This long post is for those of you who have enough patience to read :)) and are interested in the nowadays wrong understanding of Amida Buddha being a symbol, myth or a fictional character.


It is a second collection of fragments from my correspondence with many people (I keep their names anonymous) from Europe or USA who wrote to me (read first reactions here) after I presented and supported the clear statement of Kobai Sensei made at the 15th European Shinshu Conference. I will add more correspondence in time, as I receive new letters on this topic and answer to them. I just hope that people will stop arguing on this mater and just accept what Shakyamuni and Shinran preached in the sacred texts. I am tired of debates, and I hate debates, but sometimes I really have no other option than to stand up and fight against the wrong views that are prevalent in our international sangha which to my sadness, it often becomes a dangerous place where everything is accepted and labeled as Jodo Shinshu. Unfortunately, my attitude is often mistaken as being impolite and no matter how hard I try to explain to people that I am just doing my duty as a priest, a guardian and transmitter of the teaching we find in the sacred texts, many of them seem not to understand this. Well, although it saddens me, I have no other option than to go on without thinking too much about my image in the eyes of others.

Other articles related with this topic are:

1.Kobai Sensei's statement (video) - Amida is a true and real Buddha, not a fictional character


2.Reactions against Kobai Sensei's statement and my answers


3Amida as a Sambhogakaya Buddha


4Some discussions on the nature of Amida Buddha


You may also find all articles related with the true understanding (as we find in the sacred texts) of Amida Buddha here.



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Anonymous:

“But especially scholars use the term "myth" in another sense: as a neutral word for the "talking about the numinal" [The Japanese word "shinwa" f.e. means God/deity/the numinal (shin)- talk (wa)]. In this sense the word is very useful for two reasons:

The first reason is that if people of different religious confession come together to talk about their relgious experiences, they can use this term as framework and bridge between their ideas. For example, if Christians and Buddhists talk about how they deal with suffering, Christians will say: by looking at the cruelsome suffering of Christ and his ressurrection, and Buddhists will f.e. say: by contemplation on the univerality of suffering within the cyclic existence. For Christian scholar of religious study is the cross and resurrection of Christ in the same way the mythological symbol for suffering as the cycle of existence is for the Buddhist scholar. “


Answer:

My friend, I don’t know what the word “myth” might mean in academic circles and do not really understand its usefulness there, but I know that using this word when preaching the Dharma is not at all a good upaya (suitable method) in explaining the reality of Amida Buddha. Religion has to address to all kind of people in order to awake faith in them, and it is normal for ordinary people to take this word “myth” in the sense that Amida is not truly real or 100% real (in his transcendental form or Sambhogakaya). Also I always see that these scholars who relate to Amida as to a myth are the same people who deny the reality, in terms of causes and effect, of the story of Dharmakara becoming Amida Buddha in the Larger Sutra, and go so far as to deny the authenticity of this sutra, things that Shinran or Rennyo never did. As I always stated, these scholars who deny the authenticity of the Pure Land sutras can’t understand the transmission of sutras through Samadhi, as Inagaki explains, and they do not understand the effects of their complicated explanations and personal ideas on ordinary followers. They don’t understand that people can’t be lead to the religious experience of shinjin through such explanations by using terms like “myth”, “symbol” or fictional character.

And these terms are always related with one another in the minds of scholars who use them, like for example, Nobuo Haneda who says very clear that Amida is “a fictional character like Hamlet” .

They don’t use the word “myth” as you explained in your examples, related with suffering, but they always relate this word with what they say it is the not so real story of Dharmakara becoming Amida, or the Three Pure Land sutras not being taught by Shakyamuni, etc. And they don’t use this word in academic discussions only, but in the presentation of the Jodo Shinshu teaching in temples, sanghas and websites! Words like myth, symbol or fictional character are used in Dharma talks which become so complicated that I wonder who truly receives shinjin or simple entrusting in Amida, through this kind of Dharma discourse.


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Anonymous:

“But this has nothing to do with the perception of reality the respective scholar has ("myth" is not the opposite of reality!). For a Shin Buddhist the Universal Vow is more real than even the keyboard on which I am typing now these lines, because the keyboard could just be one of my illusions, a fever fantasy created by Mara, but not the Universal Vow!”



Answer:

I doubt these scholars really have the understanding of Amida as being true and real and of the Primal Vow being true and real, when they doubt the authenticity of the Larger Sutra in which the story of Dharmakara making the Primal Vow and becoming Amida is taught by Shakyamuni. I, for example, can’t believe in this sutra if this sutra was not actually taught by Shakyamuni but imagined or created by some wise monks many centuries later, for whatever the reason. I believe in Amida because Shakyamuni talked about Amida – it is because a Buddha talked about Amida, I entrust in Amida.


As Shinran said in Tannisho:


“If Amida's Primal Vow is true, Shakyamuni's teaching cannot be false.”so by Shakyamuni’s mouth and words we come to believe in the Primal Vow and Amida!


Also Shinran said in the Shoshinge:


“The reason for the Buddha's appearance in the world
Is solely to expound the Primal Vow of Amida, wide and deep as the ocean.
All beings in the evil age with five defilements
Should believe in the truth of the Buddha's words.”


“Myth” or “symbol” used in the explanation of the reality of Amida Buddha clearly takes the mind of the listener to the idea of something not 100% real, and opens subtle gates to many misunderstandings. These words will always make us think to something created or imagined by the human mind in order to explain something which is beyond our comprehension. And if something is in some way created or imagined by human beings, then this is not true and real, but the product of the human mind.

Why should we use such words as myth or symbol in relation with Amida Buddha and the story in the sutras of Dharmakara becoming Amida, and complicate our minds ?

Using these words in explaining the nature of Amida Buddha is dangerous and surely leading to misunderstandings.

We can’t use neutral terms when we speak about Amida in Dharma talks. Why should we do that? People have to feel they have a relation with Amida Buddha in his Sambhogakaya form, feel embraced and accepted by a true and real Buddha and words like myth or symbol are not at all helpful in this. Such language was never used by our Masters, so why should we use them in explaining the Dharma?

I will never agree with the use of such words in relation with Amida in the international sangha, because I know what lies beneath these words and where these words are leading the mind of the listeners. Amida has to be perceived exactly as it was described in the sutras and sacred texts, that is in accordance with the doctrine of the Three Buddha bodies, etc


All those scholars who use words like myth, symbol or fictional character, can’t accept 100% the sutras and the sacred texts, and they are not intellectually comfortable with Amida Buddha as a transcendent (Sambhogakaya) Buddha. They are indeed false teachers because they spread their misunderstandings among others and don’t help them in receiving simple faith from Amida. Because only by listening the true teaching we can receive shinjin from Amida.


The situation is too much complicated than you explain it and this complications didn’t appear if we would just explain the teaching as it is in the sacred texts and don’t try to change it or accommodate it with our own ideas or understanding of this or that concept.

Why not keep simple our Jodo Shinshu teaching because it was meant to be simple and easy to understand.



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Anonymous:

“The second reason why many scholars, eypecially the deeply religious one, like using the word "myth", could be called relgious respect. Particularily we Buddhist should be aware of our limited human mind. A myokonin once said: "Between me and an ant is only one degree, but between Amida and me there are 52". If there were an ant crowling on my sleeve and asking me (it if could perceive me at all): What are you doing now?", do you think I could answer: "I am writing an e-mail now"? An ant has no idea of "writing" and "e-mail" and so on. I would answer (if I could at all) something like: "I am setting a scent mark." Buddha Shakyamuni was in the same situation, when he talked about the Pure Land and the Buddha Amida to ordinary people.”

............

“The sutra f.e. says that Amida attained buddhahood 10 kalpas ago, but indeed Amida is the eternal Buddha, who is Buddha since endless times (Look: Jodo Wasan 55). This is really beyond our reason.”



Answer:


When Shinran speaks about Amida as being “a Buddha more ancient than kalpas countless as particles”, he refers to the Dharmakaya or ultimate nature of Amida Buddha. But he never said we should entrust in the ultimate nature of Amida, which we cannot understand, but in Amida as the fulfillment of his Primal Vow, which is Sambhogakaya.


And in many parts of his writings, including the Shoshinge, he writes again the same teaching about Dharmakara becoming Amida as presented in the Larger Sutra, a sutra which these scholars who say Amida is a myth do not feel comfortable with it and say it was not actually preached by Shakyamuni.


Bodhisattva Dharmakara, in his causal stage,
Was in the presence of Lokeshvararaja, the Enlightened One.
He saw the pure lands of many Buddhas, observed how they had been established,
And examined everything, good and bad, about the humans and gods inhabiting them.
He then brought forth the unsurpassed and most excellent Vows..


He also said:


Amida, full of compassion for those lost in the great night of ignorance -
The wheel of light of dharma-body being boundless -
Took the form of the Buddha of Unhindered Light
And appeared in the land of peace.


This and other many quotes in the writing of Shinran clearly shows that he always related to Amida and adviced others to relate to him as to a Buddha in transcendental form, that is as the fulfillment of the practices and Vows of Dharmakara.


He also said:


“Amida, who attained Buddhahood in the infinite past,
Full of compassion for foolish beings of the five defilements,
Took the form of Sakyamuni Buddha
And appeared in Gaya


So, Shakyamuni was actually the manifestation of Amida. But if the Pure Land sutras were not actually taught by Shakyamuni, how can we entrust in Amida Buddha?

I repeat, those people who say Amida is a myth, symbol or fictional character are the same people who don't believe that the sutras were actually preached by Shakyamuni. Just ask them or read their writings and you will see.


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Anonymous:

“-Therefore some people speak about the "myth of Amida" because they deeply feel that Amida is beyond the range of human language.”



Answer:

Exactly because Amida is beyond the range of human language, we should not use language and terms in describing Amida that was not used by Shakyamuni in the sutras or Shinran himself!!

People who use terms like myth or symbol in describing Amida are in fact thinking that they can somehow explain Amida and put Amida in the framework of their intelectual ideas created by their limited minds . They don’t just listen and accept with humbleness the teaching as it was presented in the sutras and words of Shinran, but try to accommodate it with their minds. And they are labeling their ideas as being Jodo Shinshu. This is wrong and dangerous as I showed in many parts of this letter.



______________________________________________________________________

Anonymous:

“Amida is also beyond what we call history: not, because he is not real, but because everything which is part of historical sciences does not reach to the era of Dharamkara and even our perception of what an era and time is, may be wrong in this dimension.”



Answer:

Our history is just an extremely little part of the cosmic history and we should not think that some things never happened because it was not happened in the history we know on this earth. In Buddhism it is always talked about “the beginningless past" and endless future. In this infinite interval of time, Buddhas will always appear. But what some scholars are doing is to accommodate the infinite dimensions to our limited visions, - exactly like in your example with the ant. These scholars are just unenlightened ants who wish to change something which they can’t understand, and more than this, they wish to change the medicine (Dharma about Amida) given to us, sick people by the doctor (Shakyamuni and Shinran) , as if they are themselves doctors. I find this very dangerous and not a good method in presenting the Dharma, and I will always be against any attempt to change the teaching on the basis of such and such personal opinion.


I am just a simple priest who wishes to be only a transmitter of the Dharma as I received it from the Masters and pass it to others. I will never let my ego to modify the teaching on the basis of my personal views. I can’t label as Jodo Shinshu something which was not actually taught by Shakyamuni and the Masters of our tradition.



________________________________________________________________________

Anonymous:

“In your last mails you used often the word "right and wrong views". It is true: there are ríght and wrong views, and if I look at other people I am often very saddened. Most people on the world will never come into contact to the teaching of Buddha Amida, and the few one who did misunderstand it or even don't take it for serious. This applies even to the most of the Japanese Shin Buddhists. But what can I do: I am not a Buddha, I cannot see into their mind and how I should agitate that they will develop best. I even don't know whether my own understandnig of the teaching is absolutely correct. Even if I had some extraordinate teachers, how should I know that their understandnig is correct?"



Answer:

My friend, there is something we can do and what we should do, without the need to see in the minds of others. We have the intellectual capacity to read and study seriously the sacred texts and to understand them. By understanding with the head the CONTENT of the teaching in the sacred texts, we can receive shinjin in the HEART from Amida. If your understanding is in accord with what Shinran and Rennyo themselves taught, then you know that your understanding is true. Further, we should teach and transmit to others only what is presented in the sacred texts.


Also when we listen to other teachers presenting the teaching, we should compare their words with the words and explanations of Shinran and Rennyo and the sacred texts. If their words are in accord with these sacred texts, then what they say is true, if their words are not in accord with these sacred texts and words of our Masters, then their words are not true and they are false teachers.


My friend, Yuien-bo didn’t just stay aside and do nothing when he met with wrong understandings of his time, but took action. He had courage in refuting the false views on the basis of the words of his Master Shinran. This is exactly what we should do today in confronting the modern misunderstandings. If there was indeed no possibility for us to understand anything, then Yuien-bo would not write the Tannisho or Shinran and Rennyo didn’t write anything. We are intelligent human beings and we can understand what is written in the works of our Masters and we can compare them with what some scholars are saying about Amida.



______________________________________________________________________

Anonymous:

“What I mean is: we should be cautious in judging the faith of others and not overestimate our own understanding.”


Answer:

We can judge and compare the words of others in relation with the sacred texts. We have the right to do this because some claim to be Jodo Shinshu teachers and they are preaching to us. And we can very well say that someone who don’t understand Amida as it was simply presented by Shakyamuni or Shinran, don’t have shinjin and the experience of salvation. Nobody who distorts the teaching can ever receive shinjin or be able to help others.


_______________________________________________________________________

Anonymous:

“For example the idea that Buddha Amida is a fictional character is a clear misunderstanding, and - if taken in this way - the claim , that the story of Amida is a "mythos", or Amida is not "historically real" can also be typical wrong views.”


Answer:

As I previously said, the using of words like myth, symbol or fictional character are always related with the denial of the story of Amida and the authenticity of the Pure Land sutras – just read how X in my discussions with him on the shindo group said he can’t accept the story of Amida and that he and also others like Rev Unno and Rev. Bloom deny the fact that the Pure Land sutras were actually preached by Shakyamuni. All these people are acting like they understand everything related with Shakyamuni and the transmission of Mahayana sutras.


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Anonymous:

“Just imagine someone who strongly believes that Amida is "only" a mythos (in meaning 1) and that "religious imagination" as believing in a "story" like this is a good means to oppress the mortal fear. Suppose he continues his dharma studies only for purpose of interesting discussion or scientific achievments. If he really comes to die, then there will presumably the point of ultimate despair, in which he understands that Amida is not only a story. Then his nembutsu is ripe. - But if he meets a very strict Shin Buddhist at the beginning, who rebukes his "wrong views" and critizises him severely, may be he will feel discouraged and give up his studies in the Shin Buddhist teaching. When it comes to die, everything is forgotten, what he has learned about the teaching, and he dies without the nembutsu.”



Answer:

I can’t know exactly all the condition that may appear in the personal history of such and such person, but I have never seen to Rennyo, Shinran or Yuien-bo the attitude of letting a wrong understanding to prevail in their lifetimes because who knows, maybe somebody can somehow achieve something or even shinjin at the end of his life, like in the example you gave. We can imagine a lot of examples and specific situation, but we can’t, for no reasons, because nobody of our Masters did, to let some misunderstanding spread.

And I repeat, those false ideas about Amida are not talked only in academic levels, but in the temples, Dharma talks, introductions into Jodo Shinshu and many websites, and all these false ideas are labeled as being Jodo Shinshu. We just can’t stay aside and imagine various ideal situations of a misunderstanding turned into a good understanding by chance.

In the personal example of Shinran and Rennyo we see how they actually worked hard and wrote a lot of letters only to correct errouneous views. We should do the same. I will do the same, because I am priest ordained by Hongwanji, and I am loyal to all the Masters recognized by Hongwanji. I am in the same school with Master Rennyo who was never resting in matters of presenting the same teaching of Shinran in clear terms and with no such complications as some modern scholars use.



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Anonymous:

“I think we should be very aware that we live in mappo, and not only in mappo, but perhaps in the end of mappo. 99 percent of the people will not come into contact with the dharma in their life, 99 percent of people who do are not interested, and 99 percent of the few ones who are interested are interested for the wrong reasons. Therefore let's do our best and don't be harsh to the weak people.”



Answer:

I am not harsh with anybody. I repeatedly said that I do not attack somebody in his private life but only at the levels of ideas and opinions. I do not relate myself to the weaknesses of anybody, but to the ideas they present as being Jodo Shinshu. And I do this for the sake of the many people who have hard lives and difficulties and are feeling hopeless about their end of suffering. It is a great sorrow for me to think these people might never meet the actual teaching of Shinran and thus receive shinjin from Amida, but meet the various bubble of the many so called teachers of Jodo Shinshu.

And also those people who present wrong understandings are not weak, but have a lot of publicity on the internet and in Buddhist magazines and their books and articles are read by so many people as representing Jodo Shinshu teaching.

And nobody takes attitude, not even those who received the priest ordination and promised in the front of the Founder and Go Monshu sama to “help others receive shinjin”! This is truly sad. And if somebody tries to challenge those false teachers and ask them to relate in their expositions only to the words of the sutras and sacred texts, like I do and Kobai Sensei does, then he is considered to be an extremist and fundamentalist!



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Anonymous:

“Nevertheless let us always be very humble and modest. It is true that throughout the history of Jodo Shinshu the critism against wrong understandings of the teaching is one of the main topics. But it neeeds a lot of experience really to say what it is a right and wrong interpretation of the dharma. One must learn the dharma for decades, and cultivate not only the listening to the dharma, but also to the people. Therefore all great teachers, you have mentionend, began to write, when they were over forty and developed their i-anjin theories usually very late, in their last years.”



Answer:


I understand the need to stay humble. And I also interpret the need to stay humble as always relating in our talks and writings and Dharma teaching activities only to the words of Shinran and Shakyamuni. This is humbleness and modesty – to always present and explain the words of the Masters, not our own interpretations. As long as we think we are only transmitters, we are humble.


Also I don’t think it needs a lot of experience to read the story of Dharmakara becoming Amida and to realize that Amida is not a fictional character, symbol or myth. We can read the words and understand them if we are sincere and humble seekers, wishing just to understand what Shakyamuni’s teaching about Amida is. Our Jodo Shinshu teaching is meant to be simple to understand and its message is clear, so one doesn’t need many decades to understand its essentials, and one essential thing in this teaching is that we entrust in Amida Buddha who is a true and real Buddha, not a fictional character. These kind of things we can understand and we can and have the right to go against views that say something else.


Life is very short and fragile, we even can die in a few days or hours. We have to struggle and read the Dharma texts and listen to the Dharma (reading is also listening) like this is the last day of our life. I can’t wait for decades until I am able to say that those who present Amida as a myth, symbol or fictional character (which are all terms related with one another in the minds of those who sustain such views) are false teachers and are presenting wrong views which were never taught by Shakyamuni and Shinran. Especially I am a priest and now my duty is to help others receive shinjin and I can’t do that if I don’t teach them the words of the Masters and show to them the wrong ideas that are prevalent in our days.


This is my duty. If I needed to wait a few decades until I can do this duty well, then I should close the gate of the dojo and close my blog and talk to nobody. But I can’t do that. So I will continue my own studies which are studies only of the sacred texts in Jodo Shinshu canon, asking advice when there is something I don’t understand, from truly wonderful teachers of our times like Inagaki Sensei, Kobai Sensei and George Gatenby Sensei and in the same time, continue my preaching activities. There is no time to wait. We need to act now.



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Anonymous:

“We should also have deep respect for the scholars and their achievements (even if we not totally agree with their theories), because everything we know about the dharma we have received through their translations (or - if we are translators byself- through the tradition of translation).”


Answer:

I have respect for every human being and also for them, but this doesn’t mean that all the scholars are saying is true and in accord with the words of the Masters. Why is this tendency among some members of the international sangha, to think that if I disagree with some scholars and say they are spreading false ideas, it means that I don’t respect them? But lets be precise – not all the scholars who translated the sacred texts into English are false teachers. I know nobody in the Hongwanji translation committee to assert such views like Amida being a fictional character. I also enjoy Inagaki Sensei’s translations and he doesn’t speak about Amida in terms of myth, symbol or fictional character.



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Anonymous:

“You are saying that Shinran never used words like "myth", "symbol" etc., but did he use words like "true and real". This is a translation, but what words are in the background? And supposed the translation is the best possible, what connotations are translated and what connotations are lost? If you interpret texts, the connections you discover by reading the Japanese original are different to those you can find by only reading a translation. This is due to the fact, that the translation here is not only the translation between the same type of languages (German to English, or English to Romanian), it is a translation between two totally different linguistic universes. “



Answer:

My friend, Shinran used many words in which he CLEARLY talked about Amida Buddha as being a true Buddha on which we can rely. He also accepted and presented in his writings, like in Shoshinge, the story of Amida which we can find in the Larger Sutra. This can’t be denied. What words can be in the background of this?? He repeated the story of Amida and he entrusted in it. He spoke about Amida as a Sambhogakaya Buddha, which is not at all a myth or fictional character! It is clear for everybody who reads his words or the sutras with the story of Amida, and wishing sincerely to understand what Amida is, that Amida is a Buddha one can rely on, a real personal manifestation in terms of causes and effects of the ultimate Dharmakaya.

We don’t have here a problem of language! Why should we complicate our minds, inventing many theories and thinking to many complications when this Jodo Shinshu teaching is meant to be a simple path of entrusting to Amida Buddha!


Do we really want to escape this burning house and be born in the Pure Land ? Do we really want other people receive shinjin – simple entrusting in Amida Buddha? If we want this, then nobody can really entrust into a fictional character or symbol, into something which is somehow the invention of human mind, and find salvation by this false entrusting! It is as simple as that.


There are many situations when we see that our masters wanted us to keep the teaching simple and not make it complicate. We can never really draw the conclusion from Honen’s “One sheet document”, or from Rennyo Letters or from Tannisho that Amida is a fictional character or a myth. The idea of Amida being a fictional character or symbol is in itself impossible to accept in the context of this simple, devotional and faith oriented school. There is no point in continuing the discussion on this theme, just if we wish to complicate ourselves.



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Anonymous:

“It is wise, if Christian churches demand of their priests that they have to learn old Greece , Latin and Hebrew within their theological studies. Also in Japan at Ryukoku or Otani Úniversity people learn a very sophisticated Shin Buddhist "theology", for which one needs at least traditional Chinese and Kamakura Japanese. Not everything is clear, if you read those languages, on the contrary, they are exstremely ambigous, there remains a big translation problem even into the modern Japanese. It is naive to say, the true teaching of Shinran or Rennyo is only this or that. Nothing is done by just quoting a English translation. This gives us only a first idea, from which the work can begin.”



Answer:

We don’t need to learn old Chinese to receive the simple message of Jodo Shinshu. The translations we also have here in English are good enough so that we can simply entrust in Amida Buddha and be born in his Pure Land . Can we somehow find through learning old Chinese that the message of Jodo Shinshu is something else than to entrust in Amida Buddha and be born in the Pure Land ? There is no ambiguity in this and if there is no ambiguity in this, it logically follows that we can’t be born in the Pure Land with the help of something described as a myth (no matter the sense you use it), symbol or fictional character and that those who assert such views are not true teachers. It is simple and logical. Can we somehow find through studying old Chinese that Amida is a fictional character? I don’t think so.

But the minds of some scholars will always remain complicated and they will always find something to make it even more complicated for others to understand.


I believe that I will be born in the Pure Land because through reading the sacred texts translated into English I was made by Amida Buddha to entrust in him. I feel my birth in the Pure Land assured and now my mission is very clear to me: to continue my studies and help others listen the true teaching so that they will also receive shinjin.


I don’t know if I have enough time to study Japanese. I always have in the background of my study the thought of impermanence. All my Buddhist activities, be it study or translating or teaching, are based on the thought of impermanence. I am always happy that I am alive just one more month to help another one receive the simple message about Amida.


Shinjin and salvation is received only with the knees on the temple’s floor, with the eyes and ears in complete concentration to absorb the essentials of the teaching. This is a religious path, not a scientific path. Here we are talking about people’s salvation from suffering, and we can’t play with people’s salvation. Jodo Shinshu is not an academical object of study, like somebody studies chemistry, for example.


I am a priest in the front line, that is, in a country where Jodo Shinshu is at its very beginning. There are already people who are listening to the teaching and others will come also. I can’t leave all the people I have here and go to Japan for academical studies! I can’t let these people without the chance to listen the Dharma because I want to spend some years in Japan . Who knows what might happen in these years! As I said, I always live with the powerful sense of impermanence.


My opinion is that few of those who follow academical studies are truly aware of impermanence and most of them, don’t live like me in a dojo and a country where Jodo Shinshu is at its very beginning.

There were others among my teachers who did academical studies, like Inagaki Sensei and Kobai Sensei. I think I can continue very well my Dharma work here and my studies while keeping close contacts with them and ask guidance from them. I don’t need to go to Japan in order to learn Jodo Shinshu.

But in time I will surely send a member of my sangha to Japan to study and come back here to help me. Now I have a member here who learns Japanese.



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Anonymous:

“stay away from these hectic discussions! Develop awareness for the details!”



Answer:

I will never stay away and do nothing when I see divergences from the words of Shinran or the sutras, no matter those who support such divergences are scholars or not. Kobai Sensei, who has the academical rank of shikyo, is also very active in fighting with the same divergences like me. Why does he says the same words like me? He is a scholar and he fights the same “fight” like me, so I am not the only one and as you see, I have a great supporter. Also George Gatenby Sensei in Australia doesn’t agree with the idea of talking about Amida as a myth, symbol or fictional character. Also Inagaki Sensei doesn’t agree with these descriptions of Amida and he is a scholar too. I keep a good correspondence with him on many topics and I know very well that he shares the same ideas like me – Amida as a Sambhogakaya Buddha, etc. Also, when I read the sacred texts I always study them in detail and read a text again and again but I have never found words like myth, symbol or fictional character in them.



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Anonymous:

“F.e. you claimed. that there is a difference between some scholars who use the word "myth" and Shinran. Then you must first find out what the scholars mean by their term. And then you must find words in Kamakura Japanese which Shinran could have used expressing a similar idea. What is Shinran saying about them? Is there a contradiction between the modern scholars and Shinran? etc.”


Answer:

As I said, life is short. I clearly never seen, and my teachers to whom I am in correspondence, never seen a description of Amida in the sacred texts who can be similar with words like myth, symbol or fictional character. These are all modern human inventions, nothing else. And I repeat what I said in my previous letter: these scholars who are talking about Amida in terms of myth, symbol or fictional character are the same who don’t accept the Three Pure Land sutras as being actually taught by Shakyamuni and who don’t accept the story of Dharmakara becoming Amida.

I will never think there is something good in the bubble of these scholars when they don’t even recognize the Pure Land sutras as being actually taught by Shakyamuni.

This is inacceptable to me and I clearly have nothing in common with somebody who doesn’t accept the authenticity of the Pure Land sutras.


So, for me, this topic is closed. I don’t need to complicate my mind by going to Japan and study all the bubble of many scholars, while leaving alone my people in Romania, and do nothing for Jodo Shinshu here for many years in which who knows what might happened.



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Anonymous:

“Maybe you will answer: I am a practioner and do not want to become a scholar. - This is okay, but then you must accept that you have not the right to write polemics against them. In this case, it is also okay if you say: "For me Amida is not a 'myth' for this and that reason." (As I already mentioned, I totally agree with this oppinion, if the term "myth" is just taken in an ordinary sense.) But you cannot claim it as the official doctrine of Shinran and the Honganji, because it is simply not true (insofar there are other understandigs of this term and they are even used by respected "theologists" of the Honganji.)”



Answer:

On the contrary, I have the right to write polemics, as Kobai Sensei who is a scholar, also does, against those ideas of Amida being interpreted as a myth, symbol or fictional character. And I have the right to do so because I am a Jodo Shinshu follower. In Rennyo’s time he encouraged even some lay followers to speak about the teaching and even praised their simple understanding – attention, he praised simple understanding! – while sometimes he criticized the wrong understanding of some priests. He encouraged simple people’s understanding even if they were not scholars. Also I don’t think that only the scholars have the right to speak about what is good or wrong understanding in Jodo Shinshu. I have this right too. Although I have only tokudo ordination, I was appointed by Hongwanji as representative of Jodo Shinshu in Romania . I was given the right to preach and teach Jodo Shinshu, and of course, not to let wrong views spread here.


Nobody can truly act as a messenger or missionary in a country or in any place if he says only words like “my opinion is this, but you can think or speak whatever you wish and say this is Jodo Shinshu”!A missionary with a full sense of his mission has to be very serious and have an uncompromising attitude in what is true and false teaching. He has to present the teaching exactly as it is written in the sacred texts and on the basis of the sacred texts he can say “this is wrong understanding, or this is good understanding”. It is exactly what we have to do in Europe where Jodo Shinshu is also at its very beginning. Many wrong ideas can be spread and labeled as Jodo Shinshu only because we think we don’t have the right to act because we are not scholars.


And I repeat again, the word myth in every sense it is used (ordinary or not) is not useful in describing Amida Buddha and more than this, it is a danger. And all the scholars who use this term are the ones who don’t recognize Pure Land sutras as being taught by Shakyamuni.


I will continue to criticize such views and say these views are not Hongwanji’s views, because as far as I know, Hongwanji’s official doctrine is expressed only in the texts from the Jodo Shinshu canon. Hongwanji also recognizes the Pure Land sutras as being taught by Shakyamuni and the story of Dharmakara becoming Amida. So, I truly represent the view of Hongwanji, and if the actual leadership of Hongwanji will somehow disagree with me, they should write me a letter and say it clearly that they accept the description of Amida in terms of symbol, myth, or fictional character and that the Pure Land Sutras were not taught by Shakyamuni.

Then, maybe I will set my robes and my kesa in fire, and close myself in my temple.


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Anonymous:

“Just be as gentle as the water, that changes the side of this earth, just by flowing along gently. Amida Buddha needs no warriors, he does it all by himself or better already has done it all. To teach what Shinran Shonin and Rennyo Shonin had to say, is our duty, whether or not the people follow or gain Shinjin is not up to us. It´s Amida, who grands it to the people, it´s a gift, that is not coming from us or through our effort. I believe strongly in remaining as calm as possible in any matter, it is not easy all the time of course, but one can always try and leave the things to Oya-Samma.”



Answer:

My friend, if we just remain calm and do nothing, don’t react clearly by saying “this is not the teaching of Shinran”, when misunderstandings arrive, then I think we don’t do our duty as priests or representatives of Jodo Shinshu.


In the working of Amida, the teacher is one of the five conditions for birth in the Pure Land , as explained by Rennyo, so a true teacher spreading the true teaching is extremely important.


If we just let things happen and say Amida does everything and we do nothing to prevent the spreading of the wrong understandings then how can people who come to the temples and dojos receive shinjin? Only when one listens the true teaching from a true teacher, then he can receive shinjin from Amida.

The working of Amida is spread through men and women of shinjin and with clear and right understanding of the teaching, and not through people of false views.


If by being gentle we mean “there is enough room or space in the sangha, for people who spread ideas that Amida is a fictional character”, then we are not gentle but foolish. And people with wrong understandings will use our foolishness and lack of strong reaction to destroy the Dharma. Shinran himself was not always “gentle”, you know the case with Zenran, and that case was not the only one. Master Rennyo also one time closed a temple because people there were losing time. And he was very strong in his attitudes during his entire life of reconstructing the sangha.


Sometimes here I refused people with wrong understanding and mixing practices from giving them the Three Refuges and recognizing them in my sangha. I also refused to recommend them for kikyoshiki because I don’t think their place is within the Jodo Shinshu sangha.

I also firmly believe that the place of those who spread wrong understandings is outside the sangha, because the sangha is not a place where everything can be said, but where only the true Dharma is taught. As Master Zuiken said: “Keep your mouth shut and let the Buddha Dharma speak”. Not everybodie's ideas, but the Dharma!


I am very sad that my clear statements and repeated statements (because I always react when I see somebody saying something false) are not understood in their real sense. But I prefer to stay like this, firm, clear and insisting on the difference between true and false, always relating to the sacred texts.

Of course, I never relate to the personal life or private life of those with whom I oppose, but in rest I will say everything I think that has to be said, especially that their place is not in the sangha as teachers.



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Anonymous:

"Namo Amida Butsu" what else is there to be explain?”



Answer:

Ok, then from now on, when somebody comes to your dojo or center, just tell them Namo Amida Butsu and if they ask you something don’t talk to them, just say Namo Amida Butsu. :)))

And if these so called “modern scholars” erase all their personal views from all the websites and all Buddhist magazines, I will also shut up and say only Namo Amida Butsu. :)))

Also I think, if there were no deviations from Shinran’s teaching, Yuien bo also would shut up or say only Namo Amida Butsu.



you may also want to read this article

Those who deny the existence of Amida, don't have shinjin



Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Reactions against Kobai Sensei's statement and my answers


There was a recent heated debate in a European Shinshu yahoo group which started from the video recording of Kobai Sensei’s statement I posted on my blog here.

I am presenting you now some parts from this debate, while leaving anonymous the names of the people to whom I was addressing. The sentences in “….” represent the others opinions. I hope that by showing some fragments from this debate, the reader can understand better how deep the misunderstanding and complacency in not correcting the errors are in our international sangha, and be aware of the danger themselves might be caught in when studying the Dharma.


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”Words like 'those who don't believe it the same way as I/we/they etc. do, have not real Shinjin and no experience of salvation' is actually strong meat and an expression of a certain 'I know it all, you don't' attitude which I find - especially within a Buddhist context - completely unacceptable. “



Kobai Sensei didn’t say that those who don’t believe his opinions don’t have shinjin! In all his Dharma work, (and my Dharma activity also) he does nothing else than presenting the Jodo Shinshu teaching as it is expressed in the sutras and the texts of the Masters of our tradition.

To be a priest and a teacher means to express the exact teaching of the sutras and sacred texts, not our own opinions and ideas which are always changing as the various theories of such and such scholar will always change.

The sutras and the sacred texts of our Masters are the only source of the teaching and the only way in which we can verify if someone’s ideas represent or not the Jodo Shinshu teaching. When we, the traditionalists say “such and such thing is not Jodo Shinshu”, we do this only by relating it and comparing it to the writings of Shinran and other Masters recognized by our school.

Christians and other religions have their sacred texts also by which they can legitimate their ideas. We also have the writings of Shinran, the sutras and the Jodo Shinshu canon.

I see no problem in legitimating our words by relating them with the sacred texts.

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“Usually I don't see any reason at all for discussing this because I can't prove my view and the other one can't do it either and if there's no interest in actually having a serious discussion about it with trying to understand the different position on its own terms, it is
futile. But I often see that someone of the 'it's exactly as it is written' faction is always eager to press the button for opening pandoras box about all kinds of 'consequences' you might suffer if you have 'the wrong view'.”



The only thing we should prove when we present the Jodo Shinshu teaching is that our opinions and ideas, our words are in accord with the words of Shinran, Rennyo and the sutras. Nothing else.

And also scholars of the “its not exactly as it is written” are always pushing the button and spread their ideas everywhere on many websites and in many conferences and they label their opinions as Jodo Shinshu.

I and some of my friends, also had a lot of bad experiences with the so called nice guys with different opinions. We are not the bad guys and you are the good ones or the polite ones. Kobai Sensei and myself received many letters, not so polite, from various people telling him or me to depart and take distance from Paul Roberts whose voice is also against the same divergences.

So let us, the few people who are against what we consider “modern divergences” raise our voices and speak. You and your friends who look to Amida as a fictional character are not the only voices in Jodo Shinshu. This should be known. And many, priests and lay, agree with us, just don’t have the same courage to raise their voices so clear and firm.

I know many who support me in doing what I do, encouraging me, etc



As I said, our references is the sacred texts, while your references can’t be found in the sacred texts. When we say something, like “those who consider Amida as a fictional character don’t have shinjin” we rely on the many explanations and presentations in the sutras, those of Nagarjuna, Shinran, the experiences of master Shan tao, etc who prove that Amida is a true and real Buddha in transcendental form or Sambhogakaya (read here some doctrinal explanations on Amida in accord with Mahayana general doctrine, Shinran and other Masters).



How can one rely on a fictional character? How can I rely for my attainment of Buddhahood on a fictional character, a human invention? How can the transference of merit from Amida to sentient beings be true and real, causing us to be born in the Pure Land , if Amida is a fictional character?

How can the idea of Amida being a fictional character be taken as true in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism? How can faith or entrusting to a fictional character be effective? How can entrusting to a fictional character or symbol can be called shinjin? Why should we change the Mahayana doctrine of Trikaya or Three Buddha bodies, just because some intellectuals don’t agree with it ? How can an unenlightened person really understand with his limited mind the Trikaya doctrine and a Buddha in a transcendent form? How can an unenlightened person prove that a Buddha is a fictional character?



My opinion is to leave the Dharma as it is. We can have various methods of explaining the Dharma according to different personalities, but we can’t change the Dharma which is what should be taught. The dharma is as it is, it was given to us, sick people, unenlightened people, as a medicine by the Buddhas and Shinran Shonin. How can a sick person change the medicine? How can an unenlightened person change the Dharma given by the Buddhas and by Shakyamuni in the Three Pure Land sutras? How far can the ego of the so called modern teachers and scholars can go?

We the traditional guys just call for humility and realization of the limitations of human mind and the mind of unenlightened people.



And as Inagaki Sensei also said, many Mahayana sutras were transmitted through Samadhi from Shakyamuni to others, until these sutras were finally put in written form. How can a smart scholar can verify Samadhi transmission? Are you modern smart guys good enough for any kind of Samadhi? I recognize that I am not, so I let Dharma speak through the mouths of Buddha and Masters and keep my mouth shut. When I open it I do it only to transmit what they taught, not my personal ideas.

I have never heard a Tibetan practitioner, and I know a lot, who doubts that his sacred texts were not actually preached and transmitted by the Buddhas, because they don’t think they are so smart and evoluated as to check the Buddhas and transmissions. They just follow the way and that’s it.

And we still wonder why Jodo Shinshu has so little followers in the West, while Tibetans have a lot! This teaching and school which is a devotional and faith oriented school, with a message taught to be simple to understand by many, is so much complicated in our days by so many smart guys whose egos are so big as to change the Dharma.

They say that by changing it more westerners will come to Jodo Shinshu, but on the contrary, we have the smallest number of adherents in the West and one of the reasons is that when one enters Jodo Shinshu he faces so many ideas and divergences as he can’t know which is the original teaching.



What I consider to be my task and mission is this – to show to people the original teaching about Amida, not my personal opinions or the opinions of some unenlightened and sophisticated smart scholars. This is not an ego centered attitude, but on the contrary! I don’t rely on myself or on the changing ideas and opinions of a changing and unenlightened mind, but on the sutras and sacred texts which were taught by infinite superior guys than me – Shakyamuni, Shinran, Shan tao, Nagarjuna, etc

Those who change the Dharma to accommodate with their own ideas and opinions, should be careful about their ego and stay humble!



If you or your friends don’t like the way this simple teaching was presented by Shakyamuni in the sutras or by the Masters of our school, its ok to make your own school, where you can present your own ideas about Buddhism. I have nothing against it, on the contrary, I have nothing against Buddhists of other schools saying different things than Shinran or our Masters. But I don’t think it is impolite to say somebody is wrong and not in accord with the sacred texts that are the basis of Jodo Shinshu and what Jodo Shinshu really is. I and neither my friends, like Kobai Sensei or Paul, are making any reference to the private lives of others.

By saying somebody is not a true teacher of Jodo Shinshu, I make reference only to his/her ideas in relation with the texts that are the foundation of Jodo Shinshu. It is like saying somebody is not a liberal because he supports socialist ideas.

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Part 2

A priest in the group related to some of my words and made the following statements. Between --…..-- are the quotations from my affirmations to which he was related and between “….” are his affirmations.




--And I don’t think, like Kobai Sensei also don’t think, that somebody who doesn’t receive the same teaching Shinran preached, can receive shinjin.—

“ Please be careful. To see "Shinjin" in this way is the kind of self power and calculation we should avoid. If Shinjin is what it is, it is free of any conditions, not even bound to a certain religion. “


Shinjin is entrusting in Amida Buddha to be born in the Pure Land and we hear about who and what Amida is, and the Primal Vow, nembutsu, etc in Jodo Shinshu, not in Christianity or other religions.

What I said is not at all self power, because I do not relate to myself, but to the words and guidance of my infinite superior friends, like Shakyamuni, Shinran and the Masters.

And it is written in a lot of texts, and you know it, that by hearing the teaching one receives shinjin through Amida’s power. Listening the teaching is extremely important, but to what teaching do we hear and listen – do we listen to the teaching of Shinran and our Masters or do we listen to the noise of our own minds? That is the question we should ask ourselves if we want this school to prosper in shinjin.

Master Rennyo said:

Regardless of our doubts, if we listen intently with our entire being, we will be given shinjin because of Great Compassion. The Buddhist teaching begins and ends in hearing.

So, in our tradition, listening to the teaching is the most important practice. You have to listen again and again, and one day, you will become open and you will receive shinjin. The words "we will be given shinjin because of Great Compassion" shows that shinjin comes from Amida, but the first part "if we listen intently with our entire being" shows what we have to do, if we wish to receive the gift of faith from Amida.

Yuien-bo said in Tannisho:

For how is entrance into the single gate of easy practice possible unless we happily come to rely on a true teacher whom conditions bring us to encounter?

Let there be not the slightest distortion of the teaching of Other Power with words of an understanding based on personal views.

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--- As I said once, for me Jodo Shinshu it is not just 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.----

“It is hard to explain the experience of fire as long as you are burning yourself.”


I am not trying to explain the fire, but the way out of the “house of fire” as Shinran said. And this way out of the fire, lie in front of us and it was explained by some guys infinite more prepared than us – Shakyamuni, Shinran, etc

In the quote you are using from my words, I wanted to show how important the Dharma is for me, as the only true medicine, a medicine which should be left as it was prescribed by the doctors. The sick and unenlightened patients should not change or modify the medicine.

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“ If I am confronted with what I perhaps realise as wrong view, it is my challenge -- to find out how I can go along with it. It is a chance for me to reflect the teaching again and I can leave the "other one" to Amidas compassion.”


Sensei, you are a priest and a teacher and if you resume to just reflect yourself and shut up, and don’t explain to others, like Rennyo or Yuien-bo did so many times when encountering wrong understandings, then you are not acting in accordance with your mission which is: “help others receive shinjin”.

Yuien-bo wrote the Tannisho especially to go against wrong understandings of his time – it is a lament against divergences from true shinjin, this is how this book is called. He said:


Here, then, I set down in small part the words spoken by the late Shinran Shonin that remain deep in my mind, solely to disperse the doubts of fellow practicers. Thus, it seems likely that among people of the wholehearted, single practice now also, there are those not one in SHINJIN with Shinran.

Although all of the above are repetitions of the same words, I record them here. While the dew of life barely clings to this withered leaf of grass that I am, I can lend an ear to the uncertainties of the people who accompany me along the way and relate to them what Master Shinran said.

But I lament that after my eyes close, there will almost certainly be confusion concerning the teaching.


This is what a priest and a teacher should do. Just look to the sadness of Yuien-bo when encountering wrong understandings. He wrote a book, he took action, he didn’t retired in self-reflection only!

I myself will never retire in self reflection, but speak loud and clear.

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“I think it is mainly a semantic problem, or more concrete a problem of our daily language. Shinran says the final Buddha has no form, if he has got form he is not the final Buddha (in explaining Jinen) Relying to Amida, "his" embracing compassion is no fiction, but also can not be grasped or calculated by us.”


Especially because it cannot be grasped by us I always say we should relate to the sacred texts when we talk about Amida and not say he is a fictional character. A fictional character is not just a semantic problem, but a very clear word expressing that Amida is a human invention – something invented by humans in order to express a higher principle. On the contrary, Amida is a Buddha and it has indeed no form in his ultimate nature, or lets say, "beyond form", but it also has form and Name, which are real in the eyes of the practitioner.

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“So please let us be like drops of water in the endless sea of Dharma, the endless sea of Nenbutsu, let us be patient and wait until we experience the often quoted moment when the wave realises it is water. Than it becomes clear that we are -- a fiction. “


Nice words… it is nice to speak about the sea of Dharma , etc, but here people ask me, what is the Dharma. I always confront with real and practical situations when I have to explain to people what the Dharma is, - what are the words and instructions given to us by our Masters.

The sangha is the place where the Dharma is taught, understood and accepted as it was taught by the Buddhas and Masters, in order that ourselves become Buddhas. These are The Thre Jewels. Practically speaking, and leaving aside beautiful words and poetry, if we distort the Dharma by our own ideas, we cannot become Buddhas.

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In the end of this long post where I presented you some fragments from a recent heated debate, I wish again to emphasize that when Shinran Shonin speaks about Amida in ultimate terms he never denies Amida’s reality in terms of a transcendental Buddha or Sambhogakaya. He speaks about Amida in ultimate terms but he also speaks about him in terms of cause and effect which the story of Dharmakara in the Pure Land sutras making his Vows and bringing them to fulfillment, shows.


Sambhogakaya refers to the process through which Dharmakara Bodhisattva became Amida Buddha as a result of his Vows and practice – a practice which led the Vows to perfect fulfillment. Shinran didn’t deny the story in the sutras of Dharmakara becoming Amida, he also said that Shakyamuni is the manifestation of Amida in human form. Otherwise, if Amida was a fictional character and not a true Buddha as a result of Dharmakara practices and Vows, it cannot be any salvation, no shinjin, no birth in the Pure Land. Through Dharmakara's fulfilled practices and Vows we, ordinary and unenlightened sentient beings have access to the ultimate Buddhahood when we are born in the Pure Land. We can't have access to our Buddha nature or Buddhahood directly and here in this very life. In this sense, Kobai Sensei said that those who think Amida is a fictional character don't have the experience of salvation.


We limited sentient beings cannot rely on Dharmakaya or ultimate Buddha nature in order to become Buddhas, this is why we have Dharmakara Bodhisattva who made Vows and brought them to fulfillment and he became Amida in sambhogakaya form. And this process by which Dharmakara became Amida is true and real in terms of causes and effects, not just a fictional story. We rely on the Primal Vow made by Dharmakara Bodhisattva who became Amida, we don’t rely directly to our Buddha nature. To understand ultimate nature is not shinjin. To have shinjin is to rely on the promise of Dharmakara Bodhisattva who became Amida Buddha, thus fulfilling his Vows and promises.

We don’t say Amida as fulfillment of Dharmakara practices and Vows is fictional or just a symbol, but a true and real Buddha, exactly like Shakyamuni was. And Shakyamuni was indeed the manifestation of Amida – this is what Shinran said very clear so that every ordinary and stupid human being can understand and have a simple faith.


Readers who wish to understand better the Trikaya doctrine of three Buddha bodies please read here. Also, please read carefully the entire category Amida Buddha on this blog where everything about what Amida is, it is explained together with the rejection of false teachings about Amida that are spread in our days by some too smart guys.


If you have questions or difficulties you can always talk with me privately on e-mail.


related article:

Those who deny the existence of Amida, don't have shinjin


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