Showing posts with label NEMBUTSU. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NEMBUTSU. Show all posts

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Don't do many things, just focus on the recquirements of the Primal Vow

Recently, a reader wrote to me:

"We do many things at our temple, we meditate, do various practices, so we never become bored. Why don't you do the same to attract new members?"

In His Primal Vow Amida Buddha mentioned that we should do three things only and exclusively, "entrust yourself to me, say my Name, and wish to be born in my land". All these three are expressed in the Nembutsu of faith.

Its a pity you are bored with the Primal Vow, and that you and your temple sangha are not focused on what Amida asks you to do.  If in the Primal Vow meditation was mentioned, then I would teach and practice meditation. But as only faith, nembutsu and wish to be born in the Pure Land are to be found there, I obey and limit myself to them. Please do the same if you wish to be born in the true fulfilled land of the Pure Land[1]. Our school is the school of the Primal Vow, so if you consider yourself a member, then be a follower of the Primal Vow.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A short question and answer on worshiping Maitreya and Amida Buddha

- adapted from a letter to a friend - 

I respect and worship both Maitreya and Amida Buddha. They have their own realms and practices associated with them. I also worship and respect all Buddhas. What is your opinion about this?

Its good to respect all Buddhas, but we must remember that each Buddha has His own way of relating with sentient beings. Maitreya has a different way, and Amida has a different way. If we want to connect with Amida Buddha we must follow His instructions from His Primal Vow "entrust to me, say my Name and wish to be born in my land". Nothing else. So, in order to be born in Amida's Land we must focus on Amida exclusively, that is, entrust only to Him, say His Name only, and wish to be born only in His Pure Land. This is very easy to understand.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Repentance and the Nembutsu of Faith

Along the path of personal power, repentance is a very important method of destroying the negative karma. However, true repentance is not just a simple confession of mistakes, but a deep awareness which penetrates one's body and mind. Thus, Master Shan-tao explained that there are three types of genuine repentance:

"The high grade of repentance is to shed blood from the pores of one’s body and also to shed blood from one’s eyes.
The middle grade of repentance is to shed hot sweat from the pores of one’s whole body and also to shed blood from one’s eyes.
The low grade of repentance is to feel feverish all over the body and also to shed tears from one’s eyes".[1]

Answering the question whether repentance is necessary in Pure Land Buddhism, Master Shan-tao says in the same book (Liturgy for Birth), which was quoted by Shinran in his Kyogyoshinsho, that if the follower has faith in the salvation offered by Amida Buddha he reaches the same result as in the case of repentance:

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Nembutsu of faith - the genuine saying of the Name of Amida Buddha

- fragment from a letter to a friend -

The Name of Amida Buddha is not your property, and it does not work because of you. It works because of Amida. Your saying of the Name is effective because Amida put all His Power and infinite merits in His Name.

If you entrust yourself to Amida Buddha's salvific Power, then you are saying the Name in accordance with its true nature, but if you are saying the Name and think that its efficacy depends on something within yourself, like how often you say it, or how focused you are when you say it, or on the presence of so and so virtue and merit in you, then you cannot benefit from all the blessings of the Name. This is why those who say the Name in self power (followers of the 20thVow)[1] can go only to the border land of the Pure Land. They may usually say - "but we rely on Amida's Name, not on ourselves"; however, the reality is that deep in their minds what they actually do is - "we rely on our capacity to recite as many times as possible". So they actually think, "the more we recite, the better chances we have to be born in the Pure Land". Well, this is exactly what hinders them to entrust completely to the Power of Amida Buddha and be born in the true fulfilled land of the Pure Land (the "center" of the Pure Land) and immediately attain Buddhahood there.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Name of Amida Buddha is the Great Practice

- updated on January 21st 2017 - 

Amida Buddha
          In chapter II of his Kyogyoshinsho, Shinran defines the great practice:

"When I humbly contemplate the 'going forth' aspect of Amida’s merit transference, I realize that there are great practice and great faith. The great practice is to call the Name of the Tathagata of Unhindered Light (Amida Buddha). This practice contains all good and roots of virtue, and is perfectly accomplished and most eficacious in bringing about liberation. It is the treasure-sea of merits of true suchness, ultimate reality. For this reason, it is called great practice.

This practice comes from the vow of great compassion, the Seventeenth Vow, which is called the Vow that the Name shall be glorified by all the Buddhas. It is also called the Vow that the Name shall be praised by all the Buddhas, and the Vow that the Name shall be lauded by all the Buddhas. Further, it can be called the Vow accomplishing the going-forth aspect of merit transference, and also the Vow of the Nembutsu chosen from among many practices.'

Concerning the vow that the Name shall be praised by all the Buddhas, the Larger Sutra states:

'If, when I attain Buddhahood, innumerable Buddhas in the lands of the ten directions should not all praise and glorify my Name, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.'

Sunday, July 17, 2016

I don't miss meditation since I met the Primal Vow

Do you ever feel like anything is "missing" for you without regular meditation?

My aswer:
I really do not feel something is missing... For an ordinary person meditation is useless anyway because no one can attain Enlightenment through it in this last Dharma age. More than this, meditation can even be a distraction from the Primal Vow. If Amida wanted us to practice meditation and considered meditation to be helpful to us, then He would have included it in His Primal Vow, which He didn't. As Honen said, Amida chose only His Name from the myriad practices. Why? Because this Name is supreme and all-powerful, and will take us quickly to freedom from birth and death.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Nembutsu does not work because of us

 - fragment from a letter to a friend - 

When you say the Name of Amida, do not think this saying (nembutsu) works because of you, like the often you do it or the more concentrated you are when you say it, the better it is. The Name has nothing to do with you and so, it is not a tool for your unenlightened mind to manipulate and generate birth in the Pure Land. The Name is the manifestation of Amida and it works because of Amida. While other Pure Land schools focus on the person saying the Name and are busy with teaching their followers to have a good state of mind when saying it, our Jodo Shinshu school focuses on Amida and His Power to save. Here we just let Amida save us. When we, Jodo Shinshu followers, say the Name, we simply express this faith and we say, „thank you, Amida Buddha”.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What is the meaning of faith and nembutsu?

When one has faith (shinjin), one is convinced that Amida Buddha and His Pure Land exists, and that the Promise He made in His Primal Vow is true, so he simply entrusts to this Buddha and wishes to go to His Pure Land (Buddha-field of Amida) after death. Saying Namo Amida Bu often or seldom means exactly this – “I entrust to Amida Buddha/I take refuge in Amida Buddha and I wish to go to His Pure Land”. It also means, “Thank you Amida Buddha for saving me and taking me to your Pure Land at the end of this physical body”.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Just say the Name in faith

- fragment from a letter to a Dharma friend - 

There is no need to create something special into your mind.
By saying Namo Amida Bu in faith
 you accept that everything necesary to your salvation
 depends entirely on Amida Buddha
When you say the Name, just say the Name. No matter if you feel something good or bad, if you are calm or have an agitated mind, just say the Name. When you say this Name you do not take refuge in your own mind, in the thoughts that appear in it, in your feelings or ideas, but in Amida Buddha who is outside of your mind.

Why bother with having the best attitude of mind when you say the Name?
This Name does not belong to you and its power is the Power of Amida Buddha, so you cannot improve it or damage it by anything that can be found in your mind.
I am telling you all these things repeatedly and in many letters, so that you do not have any fear that somehow, something that exists in your mind can be an obstacle to the saving activity of Amida Buddha. If you simply entrust yourself to Amida, and saying His Name means exactly this (that you entrust yourself to Him), you are saved just as you are, and no matter what happens to you or with your mind while you are still in this illusory body, your birth in the Pure Land is safe and you will surely go there, at the end of this present life.

Again, please do not busy yourself with your unpredictable mind; do not worry about it. It is normal for an ordinary, unenlightened person like you to have an unstable mind, and the Compassion of Amida Buddha is especially directed to such people.  You just say the nembutsu of faith and relax. Yes, you can relax, because your salvation and birth in the Pure Land does not depend on you, but on Amida’s Power. This is exactly why you say His Name, „Namo Amida Bu” (I take refuge/entrust in Amida Buddha), Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu…. You rely on Him, not on yourself. This is the true nembutsu – the nembutsu of faith.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Do not rely on your 'spiritual evolution'

Your spiritual evolution is an illusion. What you think you obtained now, you can lose in the next moment.  The ego cannot evolve; all he really does is to constantly adapt himself to various coarse or refined attachments. From material pleasures to spiritual satisfaction and false Nirvanas, the possibilities of deceit are endless to those who rely on personal power. 

In contrast to other paths, the nembutsu of faith is not a mantra for personal evolution, but a surrender of your ego to supreme Enlightenment in the form and Name of Amida Buddha. Even if we remain ego-centered in our daily lives until death and rebirth in the Enlightened realm of Amida Buddha, this ego is no more a basis for the Path to Enlightenment.

Namo Amida Butsu - we entrust not in our unenlightened ego, but in Amida Buddha, the Enlightened One of Great Mercy.

Friday, June 20, 2014

We cannot mix Nembutsu with Zazen

In zazen, one simply dwells in awareness and lets go to any thought that appears in one’s mind. Even if the thought of Amida and of saying His Name appears, the Zen practitioner will simply let it go; he does not reject it, but also does not embrace it, either. However, this attitude is not in accord with the teaching of our school, where we “cling to Amida’s sleeves’, take refuge in Amida, and say His Name in faith. So, a true Jodo Shinshu follower who entrusts to Amida cannot engage in the practice of zazen, because in the very moment he refuses to say the nembutsu, or lets go to the thought on Amida, he in fact, abandons the Pure Land path. Similarly, in the very moment a Zen practitioner takes refuge in Amida and says the nembutsu of faith, he abandons the Zen path or the Zen attitude of mind.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Jump in the arms of Amida

In our school we leave everything to Amida, our bad karma and our so called "good karma". We do not think of merit or lack of merit. 

Namo Amida Butsu is not a personal struggle or mantra, but the expression of simple faith. 
It means to jump in the arms of Amida.

Friday, April 18, 2014

No meditation, just nembutsu

UPDATE (April 22) - read bellow the initial article

Question: Is it ok for a nembutsu devotee to also practice various Buddhist or non-Buddhist meditation techniques and mantras, as a mean to calm one's mind or because of various positive effects these might have in one's daily life?

Answer: NO, it is not ok.
Your mind will never be calm – please learn to live with this. Life as an unenlightened person is hard, and there is nothing you can do to change this. So, just say the nembutsu of faith in Amida and wish to be born in His Pure Land after death. If you want to  busy your mind with something until you die, then say nembutsu as often as possible; say it many times and concentrate on it. Sometimes your mind might become calmer if you focus on nembutsu, even if calming the mind is not the goal of nembutsu. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Do not worry about wandering thoughts

Question: Whenever I say the nembutsu many good or bad thoughts appear into my mind. What should I do about them?

Answer: When you say the Name in faith, treat this nembutsu as the host and the wandering thoughts as guests. Just say the Name and let the good or bad thoughts arise and vanish, let them come and go as they please. Do not busy yourself with them, you just say the Name and entrust to Amida Buddha. There will always be something to appear into your mind and you simply cannot do anything about this. So, just entrust in Amida and let your changing mind be a changing mind.
Namo Amida Butsu

Monday, December 9, 2013

Two questions on "faith and nembutsu are not our creation"

"Since Amida makes you trust Him
And responds to your trust,
Your trusting heart does not arise
From within yourself."
Rennyo Shonin 

A few days ago I posted the above verses on my Facebook page. Soon a reader asked me two questions and I answered as best I could. I thought it might be useful to share the discussion with you: 

 Question: "This idea is remarkably similar to the doctrine of election in Calvinist Protestantism, & raises the same questions, namely, "Why doesn't Amida make everyone trust him?" & "Where does our choice enter into the process?".

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.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Saying nembutsu as many times we like - a story

Here is a true story of a Jodo Shinshu follower from Japan who liked to recite nembutsu many times to express his gratitude to Amida Buddha. I met some people in our school who were afraid to recite nembutsu many times, thinking that this might be an attachment to their personal power (jiriki). The truth is that the number of nembutsu recitation is not important in Jodo Shinshu, because it is not a method to gain merit, but an expression of gratitude. But exactly because of this - nembutsu is an expression of faith and gratitude and the number is not important - we can enjoy the recitation of nembutsu as many times as we like.

Friday, February 24, 2012

All Buddhas praise Amida's Name (short explanation of the 17th Vow of Amida Buddha)

“If, when I attain Buddhahood, innumerable Buddhas in the lands of the ten directions should not all praise and glorify my Name, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.” 
-the 17th Vow

In this vow Dharmakara promised that when he becomes Amida Buddha his Name will be praised by all Buddhas so that sentient beings are encouraged to entrust to it and say it in faith. Thus, the 17th Vow supports the 18th Vow (the Primal Vow) in which the saying of Amida’s Name in faith and with aspiration to be born in his PureLand is mentioned:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

About your thoughts and bad tendencies that don’t stop after receiving shinjin

Don’t busy yourself with them, as Amida does the same. Your salvation has nothing to do with them. This is why Master Rennyo said that our negative karma is like non-existent, in the sense that it will not become an obstacle to our attainment of Buddhahood in the Pure Land. This is also the meaning of “we attain Buddhahood without destroying blind passions”.

If bad thoughts arise in your mind, let them pass. It is not in your power to stop them and is not even recommended to stop your thoughts as this can bring mental problems. Just notice them and let them pass. They are your karma, your karmic tendencies conscious or unconscious. I say they are “yours” because you are attached to them, identify yourself with them and you try to fulfill them, but in reality they are like clouds in the sky.

Thoughts belong to nobody; they come from emptiness and go to emptiness. So, just leave them alone, you don’t need to insist on them or modify them. Just rely on Amida and say the nembutsu. The object of your attention should be Amida’s promise from his Primal Vow, not the various thoughts that wander in your mind.

If you experience good moments, say the nembutsu. If you experience bad moments, say the nembutsu. There will always be something to happen to you or appear into your mind. Don’t expect not to experience bad thoughts after receiving shinjin (faith).
Take refuge in Amida Buddha and say his Name no matter the state of mind you are in. Amida doesn’t care that you are in a good, special or bad state of mind. He knows who you are and that you need him, so don’t worry. He is your best friend, asking NOTHING from you.

Here is a wonderful poem by Senmyo Wajo:

“When you are alone and hurt, recite Namo Amida Butsu.
When you feel the loneliest man in the world and you are depressed,
 again recite Namo Amida Butsu.
Namo Amida Butsu is for this ignorant person full of blind passions.
When things are as they should, not good or bad, Namo Amida Butsu.
Namo Amida Butsu is not recited for other people’s ears,
but it’s a Call between parent and child.
I hear Namo Amida Butsu with my ears,
Namo Amida Butsu I answer with my voice and my heart,
Namo Amida Butsu, recite even for ten times and sleep in peace!
If you suddenly die, whenever and wherever you are, you are home in the Pure Land of Enlightenment.”
related article - Faith is simple, nothing special

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Nembutsu of faith and gratitude

We often speak in our tradition about nembutsu as being the expression of gratitude for the assurance of birth in the Pure Land by Amida Buddha.
Its a correct understanding and Master Rennyo especially emphasized this aspect in his letters in order to help people not to fall in the wrong view of considering nembutsu a self power practice like for example, the better or longer you recite the Name, the more chances  you have to be born in the Pure Land.