Showing posts with label LISTENING THE TEACHING. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LISTENING THE TEACHING. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Some elements of listening deeply to Amida Dharma


Question:

What should I do in order to listen deeply to Amida Dharma? Please, give me some examples of listening deeply.

Answer:
- Think that solving the matter of repeated births and deaths is the most important thing in your life.
- Put aside all other Buddhist or non-Buddhist teachings, philosophies, and opinions and listen (reading is also listening) only to Amida Dharma.
- Put aside what you think you know and listen to what Amida Dharma has to say. Empty your cup (mind) of your so called, personal "wisdom", and stay open to receive the nectar of Dharma. Consider that you know nothing and that Amida Dharma knows everything.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Ryosetsu Fujiwara Sensei - my first guide in Jodo Shinshu teaching

Ryosetsu Fujiwara Sensei
More than 16 years ago, when I first met the Jodo Shinshu teaching, I was helped a lot by this teacher - Ryosetsu Fujiwara Sensei. He was already born in the Pure Land long before I came into contact with two of his wonderful booklets,  A Standard of Shinshu Faith, and Shin Buddhism: The Teaching of Shinran Shonin. These books, and especially the first, were a turning point in my understanding of the basic doctrines of Jodo Shinshu and in becoming opened to Amida's salvation. At that time he acted as a true teacher, helping me to organize the information I had about Jodo Shinshu, and answering to some of the questions that arised in my mind. Also due to  A Standard of Shinshu Faith I officially became aware of the existence of wrong views, as he added a list of them at the end of the book, under the name, "Examples of Unorthodox Faith in Shinshu". The idea of "Amida Buddha and His Pure Land being in our minds" was situated by him at the top list of heresies! This was extremely useful.

It is a pity that nowadays he is not so much promoted in the international sangha, but I will try my best to change the situation and I have already done a first step by publishing online the complete edition of his wonderful book, A Standard of Shinshu Faith (click here to download the pdf edition).

If there is someone among my readers who met Ryosetsu Fujiwara Sensei during his lifetime, I ask him (or her) to please write to me at josho_adrian@yahoo.com  as I would like to discuss some details with him and ask for some informations. 

PS: There is almost no photo of him on the internet, so I created this low quality black and white pic from the cover of  his book, The Way to Nirvana  printed in 1974.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Dharma Discussions versus Debates


One cannot posses the Amida Dharma.
This is what those who try to accommodate it to
 their own opinions fail to understand.
Please, do not approach the Amida Dharma 
with a possessive mind, 
but with the humbleness of receiving the most 
precious medicine.
If people have different religious standards they cannot have a true Dharma discussion.
For me the words of the sutras and the Masters are supreme, the story told by Shakyamuni about Amida is the true Dharma, while for others the 'Dharma' is a continuous process of change and adaptation to their unenlightened minds, personal beliefs or opinions. So, what can we talk or debate about here? I accept the actual and literal existence of Amida Buddha and His Pure Land, while they think of them as metaphors, symbols or even compare Amida with a fictional character. It is like we live on different planets. What can we really discuss about? 

The truth is that unless one is ready to empty his cup of personal interpretations, there is no reason to talk with him or her about Amida Dharma. The karma of some fake followers is simply  not ripe for true listening as even when they read or hear the Dharma they listen only to the noise of their own minds. They have no devotion and treat the Dharma like property, not like the supreme medicine given by the Buddha. So what can we talk or debate about?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Do not place your teacher on a pedestal


With all due respect for some good and important modern teachers, nobody is a Master except Shinran, Rennyo and the seven Masters. Thus, on my pages only they can be called “Masters”.

Next, the words of many nowadays teachers, including insignificant priests like myself and others should not be considered supreme, but always checked. Only the words and instructions of the sutras and the Masters are supreme and should be accepted in faith. No modern teacher should be placed on a pedestal and nobody should be considered to have the same doctrinal authority like for example, Shinran or Rennyo.

One can be called a teacher only if he/she is a faithful transmitter of Amida Dharma as it is contained in the sutras and the works of the Masters, but even the good teachers should not be placed on the same level as the Masters. It is better and safer this way, as we may never know when, due to personal shortcomings or attachments to this or that previous practice or ideas, they may do or say something wrong and because of our attachments to them we tend to imitate them.
We can all make mistakes, so as long as we and our teachers are not enlightened, it does not hurt anybody to be both grateful and careful.

Namo Amida Butsu

Friday, October 11, 2013

Beyond physical and ideological barriers

Shinran Shonin, the Founder of our Jodo Shinshu Buddhist school, stated clearly:

„Within the four seas, those who share the same Faith are all brothers”.

Rennyo Shonin, the Restorer and 8th Patriarch, also said:

“To get together, sit around, and talk to each other regardless of different rank and social status is consistent with Shinran Shōnin’s remark, ‘Within the four seas, those who share the same Faith are all brothers.’ My sole wish is that if we are sitting together, those who have questions may ask us about the teaching and acquire Faith.”

This shows a very important aspect of Amida Dharma – it’s universality and non-discrimination. Any difference regarding nationality, ethnicity, rank, social status or any other criterion which you apply in your personal view of the world, is useless here.

Our religious identity is more important than any other worldly identity. First and foremost we are disciples of Buddha and Shinran Shonin. Everything else is secondary and should never be mixed with the Dharma of faith in Amida Buddha.

The universal Buddhist flag
The Three Treasures (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha) are our true family in exile in this world. The Pure Land of Amida is our true home, the place  where we’ll be born after the death of this illusory body. There we attain true Freedom, and from there we’ll start our career of saving all beings. But until then it’s very important to be sure we receive faith in Amida Buddha and that we transmit, untainted, this faith and teaching to others.
“Receive yourself shinjin, and help others receive shinjin” – is the urge of Shinran Shonin and the mission of our lives.

Our teaching does not require from us to leave our occupations or jobs, our friends, family, our samsaric country, hometown, or personal pleasures and opinions, etc. The only requirement is that we should NOT modify Amida Dharma according to them, nor treat our brothers and sisters discriminatory based on them.

Amida Dharma is beyond the categories of our unenlightened minds and beyond the physical and ideological frontiers, beyond ethnicity, politics, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc, and because of this it cannot be treated in relation with them, it cannot be modified in accordance with them. This Dharma and the dojos or temples in which it is preached, should never be used, adapted or modified to correspond to the worldly, ethnic or ideological goal of any group.





Monday, October 7, 2013

A few verses on the right attitude of hearing the Amida Dharma

Raising the Sutra book to the forehead before reading
and after closing it, shows that the sacred writings are
not ordinary books. The teaching of the Buddha is supreme
in the world and should be received with veneration.

"Buddha said to Ananda, 'When they hear the profound Dharma, they joyfully accept it and do not entertain any doubt; and so, remembering the Buddha Amida even once, they sincerely aspire to be born in that land.'”
(Larger Sutra on Amida Buddha)

As we clearly see in this passage, the right attitude of mind when hearing the Amida Dharma is of joyful and immediate acceptance, like a child who welcomes without any restraint the calling of his Parent. "Without any doubt" and "joyfully accept" also mean that we do NOT apply the categories of our unenlightened mind to Amida Dharma, nor modify it to accommodate it to our own opinions.  By recognizing our inability to comprehend the profundity of the Buddha’s Mind and of His Dharma, we simply accept it as it is, with faith and gratitude.

Shakyamuni Buddha also said in the same sutra:

“Arrogant, corrupt and indolent people
Cannot readily accept this teaching.
But those who have met Buddhas in their past lives
Rejoice to hear it.”

“Arrogant, corrupt and indolent people” are those who assume that they have the right and capacity to transform the Amida Dharma, to change it and use it to support their own opinions or the various philosophies and ideologies of samsara. They are those who approach the Amida Dharma with a possessive mind, and not with faith, humbleness and veneration. They treat the Amida Dharma like it is a product of human intellect, and not the most precious medicine offered by the Buddha. Thus, they can’t be humble. Because they are incapable to revere the Amida Dharma they are like people who treat diamonds like mere stones.



Saturday, September 21, 2013

A test for your understanding of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism


Dear friends,

I created something like a guiding test for your study of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. I hope you will find it useful, especially if you intend to become priests or teachers. Do not take it as an examination, but as a method of learning and for personally checking your own understanding. By writing the answer to each question and searching for the right passages in the sacred texts you will surely advance in understanding the Amida Dharma and be better prepared to help others. You may send your answers to me or to your favorite teacher/priest or you can just keep them for yourself. 

Warm wishes to all.
Namo Amida Butsu

ps: beginners or newcomers to Jodo Shinshu Buddhism are kindly asked to start their study with "Essential Teachings for Beginners" 

1. Explain the Buddhist teaching on rebirth and the six planes of existence.

2. Define and explain the law of karma. Present a significant parable and quotes from the Buddhist teaching.

3. Explain the influence of karma from the past as it is explained in the Jodo Shinshu teaching. Use quotes from the sacred texts.

4. What is a Buddha? Explain the term “Buddha”, “Buddhahood”, “Tathagata”, “Buddha-nature” and “Nirvana”. Explain the doctrine of the “The Three Buddha bodies” and the “two Buddha bodies” in accordance with the Jodo Shinshu teaching.  Use passages from the sacred texts.

5. What is Bodhi Mind? How does this appear in the teaching of Shinran Shonin? Use quotes in your explanations.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Rennyo Shōnin on Sangha – what can we learn from him?



The following paper was presented by my Dharma friend Emyo Frits Bot from Holland at the 16th European Shinshu Conference (31st August - 2nd September 2012). It was one of the few good papers of the Conference, so I decided to share it with you here. Those of you who live in Holland and are interested in the Jodo Shinshu teaching or who wish to write to him, please do so at his e-mail address: emyo@jodoshinshu.nl

                                      Rennyo Shōnin on Sangha – what can we learn from him?
                                                                    by Emyo Frits Bot


 
Emyo Frits Bot
The theme of this conference is “The importance of Sangha”. That Sangha is an important aspect of Buddhism is evident from its place among the Three Treasures, next to Buddha and Dharma. What, however, is especially important about that Sangha, specifically in our Jōdo Shinshū tradition?

When considering this question, I believe we should turn to the masters of our tradition and find out what they have to say on this subject. For this paper, I choose to place special emphasis on the writings of Rennyo Shōnin, as he has been instrumental in making the Jōdo Shinshū community that originated around the teachings of Shinran Shōnin into what it is today.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Listen deeply - (Video Teaching by Paul Roberts)







(transcript made by Kepa Egiluz)

Hi, my name is Paul Roberts and I'm here to talk to you today about the only practice in True Shin Buddhism - True Shin Buddhism of Master Shinran and Master Rennyo.

This is an extremely confusing topic for many people [and] it was extremely confusing for me when I first felt myself drawn to Shin Buddhism. An It's confusion for a couple of reasons:
One reason is confusing is because many of us have come to Shin Buddhism from other Buddhist paths. And in any other Buddhist path you can think of, whether it's part of the Hinayana or the Mahayana or the Vajrayana, the Tibetan path, it's always about your [own] practice.

Practice involves discipline, it can involve study, it can involve keeping precepts, it can involve engaging in particular good works so-called "six paramitas"... And its all these things that Buddhists are told to do diligently, continually, over and over again, which supposedly will make you clear your mind stream and eventually become a Buddha if you continue to practice.

Now, one of the fundamental ideas in Shin Buddhism that Master Shinran says is that none of these paths work anymore for anybody. The Paths of Self-Power are closed to us. I have recorded that in another video. But instead, in Shin Buddhism, there's only one practice and that practice is listening deeply: deep hearing of the Dharma called "Mappo" [“of the Decline Age”] in the Japanese.

Now, [other reason] this ideas have also become very confusing because many of the people who are teaching Shin Buddhism today are actually not people of the same Shinjin as Master Shinran. Here are many of these people who are very famous in the Sangha, who don't even believe that Amida Buddha is a real Buddha or that the Pure Land is a real place. And because there are such variants with Master Shinran's teachings, nothing that they say in terms of their Dharma Talks can really be counted on to be true.

Anf finally, what's really important to understand then is that Amida Buddha, billions and billions of years ago, over sixty billion years ago, conceived of and came up with a Dharma path that was going to be just as useful to people of no particular ability, people who are ignorant, people who are illiterate, people who have Buddhist Attention Deficit Disorder and can't calm their minds, not to meditate or contemplate. And the Dharma path he came up with was for these people first; as Master Shinran says, "for the evil person first" and then for the good person; for the ignorant person first, and then for the wise person; for the person who can't do any self-powered Buddhist works first, and then for the persona who has a capacity.
Now, there are three components to listening deeply, and I'm going to explain them. I'm going to tell you what they are in a language simple enough that anybody can understand, whether you've been studying Buddhism for forty years or you're just now looking at Buddhism for the very first time.

The first part of listening deeply is listening with the head, listening with your intellect to understand a very simple basic teachings of True Shin Buddhism: the true teaching of the Pure Land Way. These teachings are understandable by anybody. Master Shinran tells in one of the stories how when he was a young man he went out with Master Honen, his teacher, and the first person they run to was an illiterate peasant who didn't know anything about anything. And Master Honen talked to him for a short period of time -maybe half an hour, maybe an hour, I'm not sure- but at the end of the time when they parted ways, Master Honen turned to Master Shinran -young Shinran, I should say- and he said: "that man's Birth is assured. That's how easy it is to transmit and to intellectually understand the essential content of True Shin Buddhism.

But, at the same time, Master Shinran says that coming to become a person of Shinjin is actually the most difficult of difficulties. And the reason that's so is because is not just a matter of listening with the head.

After we've listened with the head and understood the content intellectually, now we have to listen with the heart. We have to listen in our deep inmost being to decide, to find out whether or not this Dharma message is true. And thats's what most people are not willing to do, unfortunately.

But let me explain to you exactly what listening with the heart is all about. And to start I want to tell you a quick story you may have heard before about a man who went to see a Dharma teacher because he decided he was excited about becoming enlightened. He wanted to become a Buddha. So he sought out a Dharma teacher and he went to see him and he knocked on the door. The Dharma teacher opened the door, the man said "I want to be a Buddha, I want to become a Buddha, I want to become enlightened". And the teacher invited him: "come in", he said, "I'll make you some tea, we'll have tea together while talk". So the man comes in and sits down. The Dharma master puts the kittle on and then he begins to make the man some tea. All this time the man is talking, talking, talking, talking. He just never stops. He doesn't shut up for a minute. "I think this, I think that, I have this opinion, I have that opinion... yabi dabi dab dabi, yaba dabi dabi dabi". He goes on and on an on. He doesn't take a break even for a minute as he is giving the brain dump of everything he has in his head. So the master starts to pour some tea and he pours and he pours into the man's cup. The cup gets filled up and the master keeps pouring and pouring and pouring, and the filled cup is overflowing, and the tea is running all over the table and down into the man's lap. And the man stands up, "excuse, what are you doing?, what are you doing?" And the master looks at him and says: "Listen, you came to me asking to hear the teachings so you could become enlightened, and yet you are so full of your own ideas you just don't have any room in your head for what I have to say. It's like this tea cup: your cup is full, and therefore I can't pour you any of my tea".
So that's really the point here. In order to begin to listen to this Dharma, you have to be able to empty your cup. You have to be able to lay aside all your own ideas, your thoughts, everything you understand, everything you think you understand, everything you learned in college, everything you read from Carl Jung, from Joseph Campbell, or from watching Star Wars, or from studying Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism or any other kind of Buddhism, or any other kind of metaphysical literature, or listening to any other teachers... You've got to temporarily put it all aside. You must empty your cup in order to evaluate the Dharma propositions of the Masters.

You don't have to let go of your ideas permanently, but temporalily. While you're listening deeply you have to let go. Is Amida Buddha a real Buddha, as Shakyamuni says and Shinran says? Or is he just a mythic metaphor so many modern Shin Buddhist teachers say?
Unless you are willing to empty your cup, and lay aside you predispositions and thoughts, you'll never know.

But, if you empty your cup, and you ask the Buddha within, you will eventually hear a definitive answer. You may hear words... you may just get an intuitive sense... You will hear from the Buddha within that yes, Amida Buddha is a real Buddha, and, yes, the Pure Land is a real place. And, yes, there is no other path to Buddhahood for us in this day and age. All these are basic Dharma thoughts that we hear from our Dharma Masters over and over again.

Now, let me tell you this idea of listening deeply is actually exactly what the Buddha himself said to do. There is a famous story -it's actually a sutra called "the Kalama Sutra"- and it talks about a time when the Kalama people went to speak to Shakyamuni. And they said: "We are just really confused. We hear this from one teacher, we hear this from another teacher, we hear something else from you... We don't know who to believe. What should we do?"

And the Buddha, being absolutely the smartest guy in the room, the singular world *turner*, the truly enlightened one, he said to the Kalama people this. He said: "Listen, don't believe anything that anyone says, including me, just because we say it. You have the responsibility to listen to what we say and then to take it inside and to ponder it deeply. And only if you can sense that it's the right stuff, that it's the true teaching, should you take it to heart.
It's exactly what I'm talking about when I talk about listening deeply.

So there are three parts of listening deeply: The first is listening with the head, to understand the basic content of our Dharma message. The second is listening with the heart: empty your cup setting aside your pre-existing ideas so that you can understand and listen into your heart from the Buddha within whether these teachings are in fact true. And the third part of listening deeply is being willing to talk to somebody who can serve you as a true teacher, so you can ask every question that you have and answer every doubt that might be in your heart, because until you ask all your questions and answer all your doubts "you have not cleared the channels of faith". That's a phrase Master Rennyo used: "clearing the channels of faith". And you will not become a person of Shinjin.

As a close, I just going to read you these little passages from Master Rennyo's writings that talk about this in a very straightforward way. So, Master Rennyo says: "Meetings are occasions when, even if only once a month, just those who practice in the Nembutsu should at least gather in the meeting place and discuss their own faith and the faith of others. Recently, however, because matters of faith are never discussed in terms of right and wrong, the situation is deplorable beyond words. In conclusion, there must definitely be discussions of faith from now on amor those at the meetings. For this is how we are to attain Birth in the true and real land of Utmost Bliss".

An Master Rennyo also wrote this: "Even if you feel that you understand the significance of the Buddha Dharma -having listened through sliding doors or over a hedge- faith will be decisively settled only by your repeatedly and carefully asking others about its meanings. If you leave things to your own way of thinking, there will invariably be mistakes. It has been said recently said that there are many such instances these days. You should ask others, time after time, about what you have understood of faith, until Other-Power faith is decisively settled. If you listen but once, there will surely be mistakes".
So I'm saying to everybody who's listening to this video that listening deeply is the only practice in True Shin Buddhism. It is the singular practice for us. It is so critical that we actually listen deeply. It's critical if you're going to become a person of Shinjin in this life, a Buddha when this life is over.

First you understand the intellectual content of the Dharma message and then, once you've understood the intellectual content, you basically go inside and you ask the Buddha within to bear witness to whether or not this teaching is true. That's the only thing that matters if you're going to become a Buddha: "Is this teaching true?" "Can you entrust yourself entirely to this teaching?" If you can't answer to that question you're never going to be a person of Shinjin. And finally, don't be ashamed, don't be afraid, don't be proud; go find a good teacher of the Dharma, a person of Shinjin and ask every question you have. Ask once, ask twice, ask a hundred times until you get every answer you need to get, so that you could have no more doubts and that you can freely entrust yourself to Amida.

I wish you all the best. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me through this video. Now, I'll be glad to answer them, and I'll see you again soon with several videos that I'm putting together on the three pillars of True Shin Buddhism, the three fundamental ideas that define our simple universal Dharma message. 



Listen deeply - (Video Teaching by Paul Roberts)







(transcript made by Kepa Egiluz)

Hi, my name is Paul Roberts and I'm here to talk to you today about the only practice in True Shin Buddhism - True Shin Buddhism of Master Shinran and Master Rennyo.

This is an extremely confusing topic for many people [and] it was extremely confusing for me when I first felt myself drawn to Shin Buddhism. An It's confusion for a couple of reasons:
One reason is confusing is because many of us have come to Shin Buddhism from other Buddhist paths. And in any other Buddhist path you can think of, whether it's part of the Hinayana or the Mahayana or the Vajrayana, the Tibetan path, it's always about your [own] practice.

Practice involves discipline, it can involve study, it can involve keeping precepts, it can involve engaging in particular good works so-called "six paramitas"... And its all these things that Buddhists are told to do diligently, continually, over and over again, which supposedly will make you clear your mind stream and eventually become a Buddha if you continue to practice.

Now, one of the fundamental ideas in Shin Buddhism that Master Shinran says is that none of these paths work anymore for anybody. The Paths of Self-Power are closed to us. I have recorded that in another video. But instead, in Shin Buddhism, there's only one practice and that practice is listening deeply: deep hearing of the Dharma called "Mappo" [“of the Decline Age”] in the Japanese.

Now, [other reason] this ideas have also become very confusing because many of the people who are teaching Shin Buddhism today are actually not people of the same Shinjin as Master Shinran. Here are many of these people who are very famous in the Sangha, who don't even believe that Amida Buddha is a real Buddha or that the Pure Land is a real place. And because there are such variants with Master Shinran's teachings, nothing that they say in terms of their Dharma Talks can really be counted on to be true.

Anf finally, what's really important to understand then is that Amida Buddha, billions and billions of years ago, over sixty billion years ago, conceived of and came up with a Dharma path that was going to be just as useful to people of no particular ability, people who are ignorant, people who are illiterate, people who have Buddhist Attention Deficit Disorder and can't calm their minds, not to meditate or contemplate. And the Dharma path he came up with was for these people first; as Master Shinran says, "for the evil person first" and then for the good person; for the ignorant person first, and then for the wise person; for the person who can't do any self-powered Buddhist works first, and then for the persona who has a capacity.
Now, there are three components to listening deeply, and I'm going to explain them. I'm going to tell you what they are in a language simple enough that anybody can understand, whether you've been studying Buddhism for forty years or you're just now looking at Buddhism for the very first time.

The first part of listening deeply is listening with the head, listening with your intellect to understand a very simple basic teachings of True Shin Buddhism: the true teaching of the Pure Land Way. These teachings are understandable by anybody. Master Shinran tells in one of the stories how when he was a young man he went out with Master Honen, his teacher, and the first person they run to was an illiterate peasant who didn't know anything about anything. And Master Honen talked to him for a short period of time -maybe half an hour, maybe an hour, I'm not sure- but at the end of the time when they parted ways, Master Honen turned to Master Shinran -young Shinran, I should say- and he said: "that man's Birth is assured. That's how easy it is to transmit and to intellectually understand the essential content of True Shin Buddhism.

But, at the same time, Master Shinran says that coming to become a person of Shinjin is actually the most difficult of difficulties. And the reason that's so is because is not just a matter of listening with the head.

After we've listened with the head and understood the content intellectually, now we have to listen with the heart. We have to listen in our deep inmost being to decide, to find out whether or not this Dharma message is true. And thats's what most people are not willing to do, unfortunately.

But let me explain to you exactly what listening with the heart is all about. And to start I want to tell you a quick story you may have heard before about a man who went to see a Dharma teacher because he decided he was excited about becoming enlightened. He wanted to become a Buddha. So he sought out a Dharma teacher and he went to see him and he knocked on the door. The Dharma teacher opened the door, the man said "I want to be a Buddha, I want to become a Buddha, I want to become enlightened". And the teacher invited him: "come in", he said, "I'll make you some tea, we'll have tea together while talk". So the man comes in and sits down. The Dharma master puts the kittle on and then he begins to make the man some tea. All this time the man is talking, talking, talking, talking. He just never stops. He doesn't shut up for a minute. "I think this, I think that, I have this opinion, I have that opinion... yabi dabi dab dabi, yaba dabi dabi dabi". He goes on and on an on. He doesn't take a break even for a minute as he is giving the brain dump of everything he has in his head. So the master starts to pour some tea and he pours and he pours into the man's cup. The cup gets filled up and the master keeps pouring and pouring and pouring, and the filled cup is overflowing, and the tea is running all over the table and down into the man's lap. And the man stands up, "excuse, what are you doing?, what are you doing?" And the master looks at him and says: "Listen, you came to me asking to hear the teachings so you could become enlightened, and yet you are so full of your own ideas you just don't have any room in your head for what I have to say. It's like this tea cup: your cup is full, and therefore I can't pour you any of my tea".
So that's really the point here. In order to begin to listen to this Dharma, you have to be able to empty your cup. You have to be able to lay aside all your own ideas, your thoughts, everything you understand, everything you think you understand, everything you learned in college, everything you read from Carl Jung, from Joseph Campbell, or from watching Star Wars, or from studying Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism or any other kind of Buddhism, or any other kind of metaphysical literature, or listening to any other teachers... You've got to temporarily put it all aside. You must empty your cup in order to evaluate the Dharma propositions of the Masters.

You don't have to let go of your ideas permanently, but temporalily. While you're listening deeply you have to let go. Is Amida Buddha a real Buddha, as Shakyamuni says and Shinran says? Or is he just a mythic metaphor so many modern Shin Buddhist teachers say?
Unless you are willing to empty your cup, and lay aside you predispositions and thoughts, you'll never know.

But, if you empty your cup, and you ask the Buddha within, you will eventually hear a definitive answer. You may hear words... you may just get an intuitive sense... You will hear from the Buddha within that yes, Amida Buddha is a real Buddha, and, yes, the Pure Land is a real place. And, yes, there is no other path to Buddhahood for us in this day and age. All these are basic Dharma thoughts that we hear from our Dharma Masters over and over again.

Now, let me tell you this idea of listening deeply is actually exactly what the Buddha himself said to do. There is a famous story -it's actually a sutra called "the Kalama Sutra"- and it talks about a time when the Kalama people went to speak to Shakyamuni. And they said: "We are just really confused. We hear this from one teacher, we hear this from another teacher, we hear something else from you... We don't know who to believe. What should we do?"

And the Buddha, being absolutely the smartest guy in the room, the singular world *turner*, the truly enlightened one, he said to the Kalama people this. He said: "Listen, don't believe anything that anyone says, including me, just because we say it. You have the responsibility to listen to what we say and then to take it inside and to ponder it deeply. And only if you can sense that it's the right stuff, that it's the true teaching, should you take it to heart.
It's exactly what I'm talking about when I talk about listening deeply.

So there are three parts of listening deeply: The first is listening with the head, to understand the basic content of our Dharma message. The second is listening with the heart: empty your cup setting aside your pre-existing ideas so that you can understand and listen into your heart from the Buddha within whether these teachings are in fact true. And the third part of listening deeply is being willing to talk to somebody who can serve you as a true teacher, so you can ask every question that you have and answer every doubt that might be in your heart, because until you ask all your questions and answer all your doubts "you have not cleared the channels of faith". That's a phrase Master Rennyo used: "clearing the channels of faith". And you will not become a person of Shinjin.

As a close, I just going to read you these little passages from Master Rennyo's writings that talk about this in a very straightforward way. So, Master Rennyo says: "Meetings are occasions when, even if only once a month, just those who practice in the Nembutsu should at least gather in the meeting place and discuss their own faith and the faith of others. Recently, however, because matters of faith are never discussed in terms of right and wrong, the situation is deplorable beyond words. In conclusion, there must definitely be discussions of faith from now on amor those at the meetings. For this is how we are to attain Birth in the true and real land of Utmost Bliss".

An Master Rennyo also wrote this: "Even if you feel that you understand the significance of the Buddha Dharma -having listened through sliding doors or over a hedge- faith will be decisively settled only by your repeatedly and carefully asking others about its meanings. If you leave things to your own way of thinking, there will invariably be mistakes. It has been said recently said that there are many such instances these days. You should ask others, time after time, about what you have understood of faith, until Other-Power faith is decisively settled. If you listen but once, there will surely be mistakes".
So I'm saying to everybody who's listening to this video that listening deeply is the only practice in True Shin Buddhism. It is the singular practice for us. It is so critical that we actually listen deeply. It's critical if you're going to become a person of Shinjin in this life, a Buddha when this life is over.

First you understand the intellectual content of the Dharma message and then, once you've understood the intellectual content, you basically go inside and you ask the Buddha within to bear witness to whether or not this teaching is true. That's the only thing that matters if you're going to become a Buddha: "Is this teaching true?" "Can you entrust yourself entirely to this teaching?" If you can't answer to that question you're never going to be a person of Shinjin. And finally, don't be ashamed, don't be afraid, don't be proud; go find a good teacher of the Dharma, a person of Shinjin and ask every question you have. Ask once, ask twice, ask a hundred times until you get every answer you need to get, so that you could have no more doubts and that you can freely entrust yourself to Amida.

I wish you all the best. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me through this video. Now, I'll be glad to answer them, and I'll see you again soon with several videos that I'm putting together on the three pillars of True Shin Buddhism, the three fundamental ideas that define our simple universal Dharma message. 



Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Question - discrimination in the saving activity of Amida?

"There is no heart far from Amida,
but a covered bowl of water cannot reflect the moon.

Once a friend asked me the following question:

"Why is that one person is ready for the nembutsu and others obviously not. And assumed the nembutsu comes only from the Buddha to us, as taught by Shinran, does the Buddha chose between those he wants to save now and those he does´nt want to save yet?"