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

Saturday, May 16, 2015

If Amida’s Primal Vow is true…

Shinran Shonin

Shinran Shonin said:

“If Amida’s Primal Vow is true, Shakyamuni’s teaching cannot be false. If the Buddha’s teaching is true, Shan-tao’s commentaries cannot be false. If Shan-tao’s commentaries are true can Honen’s words be lies? If Honen’s words are true, then surely what I say cannot be empty.”

The Primal Vow is true. This is the basis of our faith and of the entire Amida Dharma which was taught by Shakyamuni and the succeeding Masters. Everything starts with this – the Primal Vow is true. If we accept that the Primal Vow is true and we rely on it without any doubt, then we are saved; if not, this life in human form is wasted:

“if in this lifetime still you are entangled in a net of doubt, then unavoidably you must pass once more in the stream of birth-and-death through myriads of kalpas”.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Belief in a creator god is an obstacle to faith in Amida Buddha

Please, read carefully the other articles in this category:

“A lot of folks who end up in Shin Buddhism here in the West have a lot of vestigial concepts from our Abrahamic background - whether or not they were ever "believers" [in God] themselves.  And they carry those vestigial ideas with them when they start in as Buddhists. Some don't do that of course - particularly the ones who are given to serious study, and really consider it important to know what Shakyamuni actually taught.  But as you know from your time in both the Zen and Shin Sanghas, such study is often not the primary focus - or even as great a focus as it is in the Theravada and Tibetan Buddhist Sangha groups. […]

So, in your opinion, based on your own reading and contemplating, is it possible for an ignorant, yet well meaning person to come to settled shinjin (faith) if he or she has never actually studied the subject[2], and has some mixed up ideas about eternalism stuck in his mind stream? Or is the presence of such thoughts a necessary karmic obstacle that must directly be addressed and removed before the person can receive Amida's gift of shinjin?”

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The story of Amida Buddha as told by Shakyamuni Buddha

Shakyamuni Buddha teaching about Amida Buddha
and his Pure Land
Because we are unenlightened, we cannot fully comprehend with our limited minds everything that is related with Amida Buddha and his Pure Land. But because we were given a teaching and guidance on how to look at them and how to accept them, I think it is good if we know these instructions, so that we can never be misguided by others.

            Shakyamuni Buddha’s main teaching about Amida Buddha can be found in the Three Pure Land Sutras[1], among which the Larger Sutra is the most important. In fact, Shinran thought that teaching this sutra was the main reason for Shakyamuni’s appearance on earth[2]. He was also convinced that the Larger Sutra is the true teaching of the Buddha Dharma, while all other methods and teachings Shakyamuni preached during his lifetime, are provisory. Here are just a few important passages from his Kyogyoshinsho that support this vision:

Monday, October 20, 2014

My responsibility

(in relation with some of my recent posts against false teachings )

Yes, I feel responsible for every person that enters this website, my Facebook pages or my temple – this is why, as long as they stay here, I try to offer them only plain and simple instructions which could hardly be misinterpreted. In doing my mission as a priest, I especially take into consideration the minds of newcomers and beginners who are eager to learn Amida Dharma but can easily get lost in such a chaotic international sangha infested with so many types of wrong views and heresies.

Not only that life is extremely fragile and can end at any time, but our common karma might also be very short, so in those precious moments when they are with me I try to give them the best directions and instructions, the best and most useful words, and point to them the safest places/links where they can continue to listen the Amida Dharma. I refuse to take any risk and indicate to them a place, a book or a priest/teacher/author that are susceptible of wrong views. Especially, I can’t be so irresponsible as to indicate to them a teacher about whom I surely know that he spreads wrong views.

Some of my readers or listeners may be wise people, but not all; some may be karmically mature to differentiate right teaching from wrong teaching, while others are not so fortunate; some may be well established in shinjin (faith), while for others, shinjin is not settled yet….
Some might soon awake themselves from their wander, but what about those who do not? What about those who have very little time at their disposal or are on the point of departure from this world? Thus, the capacities and karma of beings are different, but I, as a priest and teacher, must think first and foremost to the last category from my above comparison, and teach in such a way as if the present moments might be the last and only moments available.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

An example of the false teachings of Kiyozawa Manshi

- please read the two updates bellow and click on the highlighted words in the text 
as they lead to important articles! -

Kiyozawa Manshi
“It is not because of their existence that we believe in gods and Buddhas, but rather, they exist because we believe in them.” (Kiyozawa Manshi, Otani Daigaku 2003: 284)

This is false, completely false! Amida Buddha and His Pure Land exist independently of our faith in them or our doubt. If Amida exists just because we believe in Him, then He is nothing more than an imagination, a symbol or a fictional character – exactly what false modernist teachers want you to believe. And Kiyozawa Manshi is just another exotic guy they are using for their goal.
Please be aware! Many false teachers have nice and beautiful sayings in their literary work, which taken separately might sound ok, but if you look carefully you will certainly find grave errors like the above. And one such sentence should be enough for you to simply stay away or do not recommend such teachers to others, especially if they are beginners and not yet established in faith.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Master T’an-luan on Amida Buddha and the Pure Land (the doctrine of the two Buddha bodies)

                                      - based on his teachings in the Ojoronchu[1] -

Master T’an-luan (476-542)
According to T’an-luan, all Buddhas, including Amida, have two bodies (aspects):

„1. Dharmakaya of Dharma-nature and 2. Dharmakaya of Expediency.”
The first is the ultimate, unconditioned reality beyond form, which is equally shared by all Buddhas[2], while the second is the specific and particular manifestation of each Buddha for the sake of saving sentient beings.

The relation between the two is described as follows:

„From the Dharmakaya of Dharma nature originates the Dharmakaya of Expediency; through the Dharmakaya of Expediency, the Dharmakaya of Dharma nature is revealed. These two Dharmakayas are different, but inseparable; they are one but not the same.”[3]

This is a very important aspect that is not properly understood by those who don’t accept the existence of the many transcendent Buddhas in Mahayana[4]. While the true reason for such an attitude is their materialistic vision of the universe, they often use the formless Dharmakaya as an excuse and argument to reduce all transcendent manifestations to mere symbols or metaphors, or even go so far as to blame „folk Buddhism” for their presence in the canonical writings.
But surely, T’an-luan did not shared such distorted views when he clearly said that exactly because Dharmakaya is formless, there is no form which it cannot manifest”:

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Guard the gates of the temple

Please, guard the gates of the temples and keep them locked for any worldly activity or worldly ideology. The temple has only one goal – solving the matter of the afterlife through birth in the Pure Land of Amida. There we should only listen to the Amida Dharma and say the nembutsu of faith. If something, anything, is not strictly related with this goal, please don’t allow it to enter the temple.

It is extremely important to help people understand that some places, even if they are built in this world, from the materials of this world and by people of this world, their function is not that of this world. And that nobody, be it a person or a worldly ideology can claim it for oneself. If the Jodo Shinshu temple or dojo will be used only for Dharma reasons, then people’s minds will become accustomed to think that shinjin and rebirth in the Pure Land are extremely important, even more important than their worldly pursuits. Thus, they will be encouraged to let go of any worldly goal when coming to the temple and respect other nembutsu followers who attend the same temple and sangha, but maybe lead a different life, according to different rules or customs. Enemies and competitors, people of various bakgrounds, will thus be able  to sit together, listen the Amida Dharma and receive the same faith.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Concentrate exclusively on Amida Buddha

“With your whole heart look forward expectantly to birth in the Pure Land, worship and bear in mind the Buddha of Infinite Light, and don’t think about anything else, nor perform any other spiritual practices.” Honen Shonin[1]

All we need to do for our attainment of Buddhahood in the Pure Land is mentioned in the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha: to say the Name in faith and wish to be born there. Nothing else. No meditation practices, no this or that special virtue, just entrust to Amida, say his Name and wish to be born in his Pure Land.
The essentials of our tradition are just these three conditions, which are comprised in shinjin or faith in Amida. If you have genuine faith in Amida, then you naturally say his Name and wish to be born in his Land after death. It is as simple as that. Also, in order to have faith in Amida, you need to accept that he is a real and living Buddha, and in order to wish to be born in his Land you also need to accept that thisland is true and real. I think that everybody, even illiterate people, can understand this simple logic.

Now please, pay attention: to say the Name of Amida, and not of other Buddhas or religious figures outside Buddhism, to have faith in Amida and wish to be born in his Pure Land, not in the land of other Buddhas! This is extremely important.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

What do I mean by "modern heresies"

- Fragment from a letter to a friend (please check the links embedded in the text) - 

Question: You often use the term "modern heresies" and equate these with slandering the Amida Dharma. Please explain in a few words what do you mean by it.

My answer: To deny the authenticity of the Pure Land sutras and the existence of Amida Buddha by calling Him a metaphor, symbol, fictional character or anything else than a real and living Buddha, to say that His Pure Land is in one’s mind, denying that birth in the Pure Land takes place after death, or mixing Amida Dharma with various non-Buddhist philosophies and worldly ideologies – these are some examples of what I call slandering the Dharma, becoming an enemy of the Dharma and cutting the root of the Dharma in one’s heart.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Do not use Amida Dharma for worldly matters

For what purpose have there come to be meetings twice each month? They are held for the sake of realizing one’s own faith which leads to birth in the land of utmost bliss, and for nothing else.
Rennyo Shonin, (Gobunshō IV – 12)

Please never use the Amida Dharma to justify your social or political opinions or any other view you might have in your personal life. 

Use Amida Dharma only for birth in the Pure Land of Amida.
Use your time dedicated to Amida Dharma only for receiving shinjin (faith in Amida).
This is extremely important. Amida Dharma is NOT a mean to accomodate samsara to your likes or dislikes, to your style of living or to the opinions and views of your social, political, or even sexually oriented group.

No matter how well-meaning you are, if you approach this Dharma for any other reason than helping yourself and others to receive shinjin and be born in the Pure Land, you are not in accordance with the intention of Amida.

Once you understood that Amida Buddha makes no discrimination between sentient beings, no matter to which group they belong or how right or wrong they are, then just entrust to Him and leave worldly matters to worldly matters.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Official position of Hongwanji on the matter of "after death" birth in The Pure Land

In many articles on this website, in my books or on my Facebook pages I presented to you many explanations and passages from the sacred texts in which it is clearly stated that the Pure Land of Amida Buddha is to be attained after death and that it is not to be found “here and now”, or in “one’s mind”, as some nowadays deluded scholars and priests in the international Jodo Shinshu sangha claim.

In this short post I intend to show to you that our Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha (Nishi Hongwanji) religious organisation does NOT officially sustain the aberrant views of those scholars and priests. The following two passages are from an official document of our school, Jodo Shinshu Kyosho (The Essential of Jodo Shinshu) and from a statement made by the former Monshu (Patriarch/Leader) of Hongwanji, His Eminence Koshin Ohtani, the 24th successor of Shinran Shonin and also the one who ordained me. In the passages you can read by yourself that birth in the Pure Land is to be understood as taking place after death, in perfect agrement with the sacred texts of our tradition:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Amida is not an abstract concept, but a living Buddha

It is very important to understand that a Buddha like Amida is not an abstract concept, nor a symbol or metaphor, but a living Buddha who has a transcendent body with multiple manifestations for the sake of sentient beings. This body and His Pure Land are the result of His vows which, upon His Enlightenment, were fulfilled and transformed into useful tools for delivering sentient beings.

It is a grave mistake to speak about Amida Buddha only in terms of his ultimate reality beyond form (Dharmakaya as suchness) and forget his transcendent manifestation (Sambhogakaya or Dharmakaya as compassionate means[1]) in form and Name, because without the form and Name of Amida there would be no possibility for us, sentient beings, to attain Buddhahood. We simply cannot have access to ultimate Dharmakaya or Buddha nature just like that, as we are in this present life and with this very body. So we need a transcendent bridge from this world of birth and death (Samsara) to Buddhahood. This transcendent bridge is Amida Buddha and His Pure Land. We first entrust in Amida Buddha as an Enlightened Person, go in His Pure Land after death and there we become Buddhas ourselves.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Notes on the 16th European Shinshu Conference (31 August - 2 September 2012)

Group photo with all the participants
  First of all, it is good to know that the European Shinshu Conferences are organized by European sanghas and financially supported by IABC. They are usually held together with the IASBS (International Association of Buddhist Studies) annually conference which is the academical part, so to speak, of the meeting.
The European Shinshu Conferences are also honored by the presence of Shinmon-sama (the next Patriarch of Hongwanji) and Rev Kiribayashi, the director of Hongwanji International Center.
The activities are paper presentations on the decided topic of the Conference, religious services and a kikyoshiki (confirmation) rite for the newcomers which is usually held in the last day. Although I personally find many papers and discussions to be useless and even promoting divergences, I still think this Conference is a good place for disseminating the seeds of the true Shinshu Dharma. Enough people, old participants or new, are opened or gradually become opened to the right way the teaching should be presented.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Those who deny the existence of Amida don’t have shinjin (faith) – some simple explanations

Check my new book on the topic
of modern divergences
- click here for the Portughese version - 

Unfortunately, there are many false teachers in the international Jodo Shinshu community who support wrong interpretations of the nembutsu Dharma - the so called modern and progressive interpretations - but which are in evident contradiction with the teaching of the sutras and the sacred texts. One of the most widely distributed is the theory that Amida is a symbol, a metaphor or a fictional character.

Such interpretations prove the absence of the genuine shinjin from the hearts of those who support them. It is simply impossible to have the experience of faith in Amida and in the same time to consider him a fictional character or a metaphor. On the contrary, such a shinjin is false or fictional like how fictional the object of faith is. I have never heard or read in the sacred texts about such presentations of Amida Buddha. Not Shakyamuni, nor Shinran Shonin or other masters of our tradition ever spoke in like that about Amida and His Pure Land. This is why I always say that those who present Amida as a fictional character, metaphor, symbol or something similar to these terms, don’t have the experience of faith and salvation.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The reason for the western location of the Pure Land and its wonderful description in the sutras

Question: „Why the Pure Land of Amida Buddha is called „the Western Pure Land” or „the Pure Land of the West”? Why the „west” is so much emphasized in many of the sacred writings related with Amida? And also why the Pure Land is described in such a fantastic way in the sutras?”

Answer: In order to show that Amida’s Pure Land is not a metaphor, but a real place in which people can actually aspire to be born after death, the land is given a direction and is described in great details in the sutras.
Some say that the direction „west” and the marvelous descriptions of the Pure Land are a proof for its non-existence or for its existence  as a symbol or metaphor only.

But the truth is that by making the effort to describe in many words the wonders of the Pure Land and by pointing to a direction where to face the Pure Land when worshipping Amida, Shakyamuni Buddha wants to emphasize its actual existence as a place where sentient beings should aspire to be born without worry and doubt.
It is like I speak to you about a beautiful park which I would like you to visit. If I tell you, „its there, in the west of the town” and I start describing it to you, then you will have no doubt about its existence and you will wish to see it. Its the same with the expression „Pure Land of the West”.

The exaltation with which Shakyamuni describes the Pure Land of Amida in the Smaller Amida Sutra (Amida-kyo) without even being asked to do it[1], or the radiant light that emanated from his body when he delivered the Larger Sutra in which he expounded the story of Amida and his 48th vows[2], are both an indication that his words were true and his listeners should accept Amida as a living Buddha and his Pure Land as a real place.

[1] The Smaller Amida Sutra (Amida-kyo) is a sutra spontaneously delivered, not in response to a question, which is a proof of the importance of the teaching about Amida Buddha. In this discourse, Shakyamuni begins every description with great enthusiam, repeating the name of his main listener, Shariputra, telling him the wonders of the Pure Land and the uniqueness of Amida Buddha among all Buddhas.
[2] It is recorded in the Larger Sutra on Amida Buddha that when Shakyamuni was about to deliver it“all the senses of the World-Honored One radiated joy, his entire body appeared serene and glorious, and his august countenance looked most majestic.” After Ananda asks him which is the reason of these wonderful manifestations, Shakyamuni reveals to him the true goal of his coming to this world, by presenting the story of Amida Buddha, the 48th Vows and encouraging sentient beings to aspire for birth in the Pure Land. In the same sutra, the whole gathering listening to the discourse, including Ananda, had a vision with Amida Buddha and his Pure Land, which is another proof that Shakyamuni speaks about real things, not symbols or fictions.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Pure Land in the teaching of Jodo Shinshu

Chih-i (538-597), the founding master of the Tendai Buddhist school in China, advocated the idea that the Pure Land „exists in one’s mind”, which was later transmitted to Japan. This can be found in the Vimalakirti sutra, a teaching belonging to a diferent Dharma gate than that of the Pure Land, and in which it is said that if one’s mind is pure then the land appears pure by virtue of the purity of the mind. Essentially speaking, the Pure Land was understood by many Tendai masters of the past as existing only in one’s mind. Chih-i even spoke of Amida Buddha and his Pure Land as  elements of one’s consciousness to be realized in the mind.
Nowadays, many followers and so called teachers of our school take this idea and integrate it in various ways in their own interpretation of the Jodo Shinshu teaching without knowing or without wanting to accept that such ideas are against the Pure Land teaching advocated by our Founding Masters.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Honen Shonin on Amida Buddha

Honen Shonin (1133-1212)

In the Dialogue on One Hundred Forty-Five Topics, Honen Shonin said:

„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[1]. These two viwepoints reflect great differences between the two schools”.

The words of Master Honen are very clear for those who have a sincere wish to understand who Amida really is and repent for spreading wrong views.
I especially chose this quote to show that any presentation of Amida Buddha as being a metaphor, a myth, a symbol of one’s own Enlightened nature or one’s own heart and mind, etc, is not in accord with the Pure Land teaching of Honen and his Dharma heir, Shinran Shonin. The right view that a follower of our school should have about Amida Buddha and teach it to others is the one presented by Shakyamuni in the Larger Sutra: Amida is a real and living Buddha who resides in his Pure Land of the west (a manifestation of his vows to save all beings).  Because Amida is not something inside our heart or mind His Pure Land too, is not inside us, not „here and now” and not „our own pure mind”as some might say.

Because Amida is a real and living Buddha outside of us, His Pure Land too, is a real place outside us, unenlightened beings, who can never have a pure mind and heart. In our own heart and mind there is nothing else than illusion so we cannot say that Amida Buddha or his Pure Land is to be sought there.

There are great differences in interpreting Amida between our Pure Land school and other Buddhist schools based on personal power. But if we consider ourselves disciples of Honen and Shinran Shonin we should discard the latter and take refuge in the living Amida Buddha of the western Pure Land.
Only upon birth in the Pure Land, when we become Buddhas, we’ll understand fully the ultimate nature of all things and the Pure Land.

[1] The Pure Land of Amida Buddha is sometimes called the Pure Land of the west. See my article „The reason for the western location of the Pure Land and its wonderful description in the sutras”.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Amida is a real Buddha (video teaching by Paul Roberts)

Here is a video teaching by my Dharma friend, Paul Roberts, on Amida Buddha and his Pure Land in accordance with the Larger Sutra on the Buddha of Infinite Life (Bussetsu Muryoju kyo). It is a useful guide on what Amida is and what is not, very much needed in these times when so many divergences from the Jodo Shinshu teaching appear. I praise Paul's initiative to start a series of Dharma talks on youtube and I highly reccomend him as a genuine teacher of the Dharma.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Build barricades of true Shinshu Dharma in your own town and country

             Recently I wrote to one of my fellow practitioner from Europe:
No, I don’t have anything in common with those who do not rely exclusively on the sacred texts of our school, I mean on the medicine given by Shakyamuni and the Masters. How can people who rely on different things have something in common? How can I who, following the Masters instructions, entrust in Amida as a real and living Buddha, have something in common with those who think Amida is a fictional character or a metaphor?”

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Against the view that the Pure Land sutras are not Shakyamuni’s teaching, but a later invention

Shakyamuni Buddha teaching the Larger Sutra where He told
the story of Amida Buddha and His Pure Land
There are some who deny the authenticity of the Mahayana sutras in general, and of the three Pure Land sutras, in particular, saying that because they appeared later in written form, they are in fact, the creation of some monks. Many Theravadins share the same opinion on this matter and claim that their Pali canon is the only authentic set of sutras.  However, common sense dictates that the time when a Buddhist sutra was put into written form was not automatically the time of its creation. During Shakyamuni Buddha’s life and later, upon His physical death, His discourses (sutras) were transmitted orally and sometimes by His closest disciples through special states of mind called Samadhi for hundreds of years before they were put into written form. The Pali Canon was, in fact, preserved in the artificial language of Pali (which neither the Buddha nor anyone else ever spoke) while the Mahayana sutras were initially preserved in Sanskrit (a language which Shakyamuni, a highly educated person, may have spoken).  Some make the claim that the Pali Canon of the Theravada school is the oldest and thus the most reliable collection of sutras. Positing that all the discourses or sutras originated from Shakyamuni, then the fact that some were put into written form earlier than the others is not proof of their exclusive authenticity or superior content. The Mahayana and Pure Land sutras did exist and were transmitted in the same timeframe with the sutras of the Pali Canon.

Each group of Buddhist disciples put into written form their own basket (pitaka) of recognized sutras, some earlier and some later. But no one can prove by documentary evidence that his school’s basket of sutras were actually preached by Shakyamuni while the others’ were not.
By the same token, no one can prove that Shakyamuni did not impart some sutras only to a group of special disciples which were open and more prepared to receive them than others and who, in turn, transmitted such sutras to their own chosen disciples in an uninterrupted succession, until one day they decided it was time to give them a written form. 

No one can check and investigate the Buddha’s mind or the minds of His closest disciples and their actions by means of documentary evidence. If we read about the Buddhist councils who compiled orally the discourses of the Buddha after His physical death, we see that the monks who attended such councils could all recite by heart dozens of those discourses and that all were accomplished Masters.

Also, we know from the first passages of the Sutra on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life (Larger Sutra), that among the assembly gathered on the Vulture Peak, where Shakyamuni delivered it, there were “twelve thousand monks […] all great sages who had already attained supernatural powers.” This aspect is extremely important because it is an indication about who were the monks who heard that sutra and later transmitted it to further generations. They were monks who had “attained supernatural powers,” and it follows that these monks used their mind power to accurately transmit this sutra by Samadhi to others. Among these monks we read the names of Venerable Mahakasyapa, Venerable Sariputra, Venerable Mahamaudgalyayana and Ananda. “All of these were Elders”, says the sutra. But monks with supernatural powers were not the only listeners. Great transcendental Bodhisattvas like Samantabhadra, Manjusri and Maitreya, the future Buddha, were present too, and they all rejoiced at hearing the Amida Dharma, which can only mean they had faith in it and later helped in its promotion. 

NEW poems by Gansen John Welch