Showing posts with label QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A short discussion on suicide by Pure Land followers

Victory Banner - symbol of the victory
of Buddha Dharma. People of shinjin are victorious
  over death and rebirth, because they entrust
themselves to Amida's Power, and are assured of birth 
in the Pure Land, so their last life as samsaric beings may
be one of service, helping others to entrust to Amida and 
be sure of birth in the Pure Land. 
Question by D.K.: Some ancient accounts tell of Pure Land disciples committing suicide in order to go to the Pure Land. I've heard some Buddhist scholars say that this is equal to killing a Buddha... because by killing oneself one is tampering with karma and because we ALL have a Buddha nature. Please tell me dear Rev. Josho what your take on this is. Namo Amida Bu

My answer: Killing oneself is NOT the same with killing a Buddha. This does not even worth discussing. All I can say is this - if one has shinjin (faith in Amida) the conditions of his death (suicide or other causes) does NOT matter because he will certainly go to the Pure Land. However, a person of shinjin can continue his life in human form to help others receive shinjin too, as Shinran advised, "receive yourself shinjin and help others receive shinjin". This is the attitude of our school, and not like those people from who knows what "ancient account" (definitely NOT from the account of our school!). 

What is the rush to go to the Pure Land by suicide, when we’ll certainly die sooner or later? Lets live a life of faith, try to be an example of faith for others, spread the Amida Dharma or help others spread it, and don't make society think that we are a sect of desperate suicidal people who can't handle life.

D.K.: I agree. I myself have entrusted myself and my karmic destiny to Amida. So my future in this realm of Samsara has been entrusted to Him.  I was just curious as to our school's view on this topic.
My answer: Certainly I have never seen in Shinran's writings any condemnation, or encouraging of suicide. But I clearly saw an encouragement to live a life of faith and helping others receive faith. This being the case, I gave the above answer.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Ten Benefits in this life of a person who has faith in Amida Buddha

NEW! Download the whole explanations in a single article in pdf (47 pages)

Shinran Shonin speaks about ten benefits that a    person who entrusts in Amida Buddha                          receives in the present life:

„When we acquire adamantine true faith we unfailingly gain ten benefits in this life. What are  the ten?[1]

Amida’s heart (the 4th and 6th benefit are explained together in the same article!)
9. The benefit of constantly practicing great compassion 
                (the 8th and 9th benefit are explained together!)

I will explain each one of them in separate short articles. Please click on them to read the explanations. This is a more in depth presentation of an older study that I made many years ago. Please have patience until I finish it.

[1] Shinran Shonin, Kyogyoshinsho, chapter III, Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 121 and The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.112

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Why did Shinran say that we should not wait for Amida’s coming at the moment of death?

 Why did Shinran say that we should not wait for Amida’s coming at the moment of death? Will Amida not come for people of shinjin?

The person who has faith in the Primal Vow does not wait for the final moment of death to have a good state of mind in which to say Nembutsu and be welcomed by Amida Buddha, but receives faith during his present life and becomes assured of birth in the Pure Land at the moment of death, when he is naturally welcomed  by Amida Buddha and attains Budhahood. The Nembutsu one says during one’s whole life is thus the expression of faith and gratitude, and not the self power nembutsu. When Shinran said that we should not wait for Amida's coming at the moment of death, he did not mean that we are not actually received by Amida in His Pure Land when we die or that He might not send one of His manifestations to us in our final hours before death! Of course Amida can do that if He wants! What Shinran meant is that we should not think that the moment of death is more important than our daily lives, and we should not attach a false significance to it, fearing that if we do not have a good state of mind or concentration in those final moments, then we will not go to the Pure Land. No matter we are or we are not in a concentrated or good state of mind when we die, no matter if we say the Nembutsu or die without saying it because of unforeseen circumstances, we will be welcomed by Amida Buddha in His Pure Land if we already entrusted ourselves to Him and said His Name in faith during life. Shinran explained:

Friday, April 13, 2018

Abandon the idea that you can attain Buddhahood in this life

You said in one of your recent  posts that as long as you still harbor in your mind the smallest thought of personal merit or “maybe I can attain Buddhahood by myself” kind of thinking, you cannot see and enter the Dharma gate of birth in Amida Buddha’s Pure Land. Please explain in more detail.

People don't really understand what is meant by becoming a Buddha in this life, and in this very body. This is perhaps due to the bad influence of many fancy Buddhist magazines which talk about Enlightenment like it’s some kind of calmness or stillness of mind which can be attained by everybody. They use a language which makes Enlightenment seem a normal human experience if you are good, and meditate, and they also describe Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha, like a normal human being who proved that spiritual calmness can be attained by anybody.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Question on Buddhism and science

Question: Do you think that Buddhism should take into account scientific discoveries, and even change to accommodate science?

Answer: Many people nowadays bow to science like to an all-powerful and supreme god. But in samsara, and especially now in this dark (mappo) age, nothing is supreme and all-knowing, including what nowadays people call, "science". Whenever somebody wants to argue about something, he says, "it was proven by science".... But what some scientists agree upon, others may disagree, so I don't see the point in praising a transitory "truth". 

I do not deny the benefits brought by science in various domains of activity, nor its usefulness in discovering the laws of the material universe, but I am against using science as a standard for religious truths. No matter the immediate, material benefits it brings, we must never forget that science is the product of unenlightened minds, and so it doesn't have the supreme authority of a Buddha who is perfectly Enlightened, nor it has any authority over the Path that leads to Enlightenment and freedom from the repeated births and deaths.

So, let's use science in worldly matters and Buddha Dharma in religious matters. We must never attempt to modify the Buddha Dharma to accommodate it with various scientific theories.

I especially like these words of Chamtrul Rinpoche:

"If you took all of the knowledge that this world has ever produced, and compared it to the knowledge of an omniscient mind of a Buddha, it would be like comparing a single drop of water to the entire ocean."

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Funeral verses on the death of self power mind

A friend of mine asked me to send him a few words on the occasion of Obon festival, so I wrote these verses, which comprise the essentials of our teaching. I call them Funeral Verses on the Death of Self-Power Mind:

Cremate the old corpse of clinging to your so called merits and "spiritual realisations" in the fire of the twofould profound conviction.

Conduct daily funeral ceremonies for your attachement to self power by entrusting to Amida's Power of salvation.

As the smoke offering to provide to the departed, enjoy in the merit transference of coming back to this world to save all beings.

And for the funeral monument, raise the Nembutsu of faith on the grave of different practices, teachings and wrong views.


Explanation of some terms for those who have little knowledge of Jodo Shinshu:

Friday, May 26, 2017

Unenlightened beings are not the same with Amida Buddha

Recently a F.B. friend of mine has starting posting statements that "I and Amida are one and the same." This person is an avid reader of Ippen Shonen, the Hijiri, and has come to share many of the Zen / Pure Land views that Ippen taught concerning interconnection of all things. Personally I cannot agree with this line of thought as I see it as presumptuous, arrogant and quite possibly slanderous.
Please give me your take on this line of thinking and tell me if you think it goes against the teachings of our Pure Land Masters.
Gassho _/l\_
Dave Kruemcke

Please feel free to share this conversation with others if you feel it will be in any way beneficial to The Dharma.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Do not worry about the salvation of your loved ones

One of my dearest Nembutsu friends wrote to me recently and expressed his worries about some of his deceased or living relatives who haven't received faith in Amida yet, and who might now dwell (or will be born after death) in various painful states of existence, even in hell. He was concerned that there is too much time left until he reaches the Pure Land and will be able to save them.
The following was my answer to him:

Dear M:
We never really know what others may become after they die. Certainly, if they did not have settled faith in Amida during their present life, they will not be reborn in the Pure Land and immediately attain Buddhahood. But this does not mean they will absolutely go to hell. The truth is we can never know what karma may manifest during their bardo (intermediary state between death and the next rebirth).

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.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A short Dharma dialogue on meditation in relation with Jodo Shinshu

Question by Zakaj:
You say meditation is useless. But what if someone were to tell you: "Yes, I know meditation is useless for attainment of Enlightenment in Mappo era. But I don't do it for that reason. I do it for the neurological benefits that are proven by science" - what would you reply then? Thanks.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Some elements of listening deeply to Amida Dharma


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

- 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, September 28, 2016

A question on shinjin (faith) and Amida's attainment of Buddhahood

"Amida attained Buddhahood for all of us when he became Enlightened. 'Shinjin' is simply the realisation of that fact with total conviction which in turn compels us to recite in thanksgiving "Namo Amidabutsu" ("Namo Amitofuo"). I wonder if it contradicts Jodo Shinshu".

Shinjin (faith) is NOT only the realisation of the fact that Amida attained Buddhahood. Of course, Amida did attained Buddhahood in order to save us all, but this is not enough. All Buddhas attained Buddhahood and wish to save us, but this does not mean that sentient beings are saved just because Buddhas are Enlightened. We must follow the method prescribed  by each Buddha if we want to attain Enlightenment ourselves. So, Amida Buddha made His Primal Vow in which He said we should entrust to Him, say His Name in faith and wish to go to His Pure Land.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

I don't miss meditation since I met the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha

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.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

My answer to a comment comparing Zen with Jodo Shinshu

Faith, saying of the Name and wish to be born
 in the Pure Land are the only three elements
 of Amida's Primal Vow. 
A person wrote to me recently as a comment to my article, "Faith is simple, nothing special", comparing Zen with Jodo Shinshu. Here are some ideas that he expressed:

"I just want to add that in other traditions to "gain mind" is also deprecated. In Soto Zen the ideal state is the Mushotoku (no gain mind), achieved by growing Bodaishin / Boddhichita. The practice of Shikantaza in Soto Zen is not successful if not "just sit". There is no  egoic intent to achieve something in Shikantaza".

He also compared the koan in Rinzai Zen with what Shinran called, giving up to any calculations. Then he mentioned this: "I would say that any practitioner of any Mahayanist school who is practicing with an obsessive mind for results, is in error". 

This was my answer:
As long as they are not enlightened, sentient beings will always have an obssesive mind. Only a Buddha can just sit in shikantaza; any other person is just an immitator. Also, only the Buddha can be without ego, sit without ego, and do whatever He wants without any personal goal. Thus, only a Buddha is trully Mushotoku.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Amidaji is strictly a Jodo Shinshu temple - short discussion between me and Zuio Inagaki Sensei

the altar of Amidaji Temple
I was recently asked by Rev Zuio Hisao Inagaki (June 22nd 2016):

"I wonder if your temple is purely Jodo Shinshu or Zen or combination of both. I am in favor of seeing a combination of both, or a new way of Buddhism".

This was my answer:

My temple is strictly Jodo Shinshu. I am strongly against any combination between Jodo Shinshu and Zen or Jodo Shinshu and anything else.

As Shinran or Rennyo did not make any combination, I myself will make none. We are ignorant, unenlightened beings and so we do not have the authority nor the wisdom to play with various Dharma gates  or create a "new way of Buddhism", as you say. I even think that this is very dangerous and leads people into confusion. We, as priests and teachers should try to be as simple as possible, so that even illiterate can understand the Call of Amida, and have a simple faith in Him. We live in times of great confusion in the international sangha with various clerics and scholars teaching many wrong views, like the "Pure Land is here and now" or "in our minds", or describing Amida as a metaphor, fictional character, etc, and this makes ordinary people to depart from true birth in the Pure Land. To add more to this big mountain of confusion, like mixing Jodo Shinshu with Zen, is something I will never do.

My goal is to escape Samsara as quickly as possible and to help others escape it as quickly as possible. Without the Primal Vow, there is no chance of doing this, and in the Primal Vow there is no mention of anything else than entrusting ourselves to Amida Buddha, say His Name in faith and wish to be born in His Pure Land. Thus, Amidaji is a temple which limits itself to the Primal Vow. 

Here is another short question and answer between me and Inagaki Sensei:

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

My Dharma activities go beyond any affiliation and institution

Recently a member of Higashi branch of Jodo Shinshu wrote to me and said that although he likes the way I teach Jodo Shinshu and how I stand up against modern divergences, he does not like the idea of leaving his branch or joining a new one.

I answered that my intention is NOT to create another branch of Jodo Shinshu, nor to attract people to the Nishi (Hongwanji-ha) branch, but to awake followers of all Shinshu branches, or without any affiliation, to the true Amida Dharma as it was taught by Shakyamuni Buddha, Shinran and Rennyo. When I teach or discuss the Amida Dharma I don't make any distinction between followers of Nishi, Higashi or any branch. All I want is that the seed of true teaching be planted in the minds and hearts of all followers of Shinran Shonin, and the bad roots of wrong views be cut forever from all various Jodo Shinshu branches. So I think that my attitude would be better described by words such as, orthodox, non-sectarian and all-inclusive.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Depend on Amida, not on your feelings

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. 
How can I say that I have or don't have shinjin (faith) if there is no special feeling I should associate it with?

Rather than asking yourself, "do I feel the right thing" in relation with shinjin (faith), you should better ask:

- do I accept Amida Buddha's salvation as promised in His Primal Vow, that is, do I entrust myself completely to Him?
- do I accept that only Amida Buddha can save me through His Power from birth and death and that nothing which can be found in my unenlightened personality can help me in any way in achieving this goal?

If your answer to the above questions is YES, I DO, then you are a person of faith.

So, you are a person of faith not because you feel the right thing, or because you have an intellectual understanding of all Buddhist concepts, including faith, but because you accept and you know  that Amida Buddha and His Pure Land are real and that He saves you by assuring your birth there after death.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Rights versus Dharma Responsability

- fragment from a letter to a priest who embraced wrong views -
Recently, a priest wrote to me:
"I have the right to my own views. What you do in your books and on your website is to judge others because you do not agree with them. This is outrageous".

My answer:
From the legal or juridical point of view, you have the right to do everything you want with Amida Dharma. This is because we are fortunate to live in countries where freedom of speech is guaranteed.  But from the moral and Buddhist point of view, you do not have the right to change Amida Dharma, and the reason for this is very simple -  you are not a Buddha. 

As a priest and teacher you do not have rights, but responsabilities toward the Amida Dharma and sentient beings who come in contact with it. This is not a matter of you and me agreeing with each other. The sangha is not a social club, but a place where we should be in harmony with the Dharma. Please bear this in mind.