Showing posts with label SHINJIN (FAITH). Show all posts
Showing posts with label SHINJIN (FAITH). Show all posts

Friday, July 26, 2019

We do not rely on personal vows but on Amida's Primal Vow

I heard many times the idea that we need to make a vow to be born in the Pure Land. This is said under the influence of various Chinese Pure Land groups that still put a lot of emphasis on self-power, a view which is totaly rejected in our school.

I will state it clearly and I ask all of you to please listen deeply:
We do not need to make a personal vow to be born in the Pure Land because birth in the Pure Land does NOT depend on our personal power, but on Amida's Power.
This is extremely important - you can be born in the Pure Land by the Power of Amida Buddha, and NOT by your self power! The vows you make have ZERO importance. What matters is that you give up any idea of self power and entrust completely to Amida Buddha.

In His Primal Vow (18th Vow) Amida mentioned three conditions to be born in His Pure Land : "say my Name, entrust to me and desire to be born in my land". He did not mention that you must make any vows or transfer any merits! So, if we do the above three simple things in the Primal Vow, we become karmically connected to Amida's Power and we are assured of birth in the Pure Land.

Our Jodo Shinshu is the school of the Primal Vow, of total and exclusive reliance on Amida Buddha. Nothing inside our unenlightened minds can bring us closer to the Pure Land. Only Amida's Power and His Primal Vow (His Main Promise) are reliable. We will reach His Pure Land because He vowed that He will bring us there if we entrust to Him and say His Name in faith, and NOT because we make any personal vows or we transfer our pitiable "merits" to birth there.

The promises and vows made by unereliable and unenlightened minds mean nothing, while the Promise and Vow of Amida is everything.
Namo Amida Bu

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Eight guidelines to protect and transmit the true faith in Amida Buddha

Many people asked me for a detailed and strict guideline on how to think and act in matters related with faith (shinjin), so that they do not fall into wrong views, nor be a cause of wrong views in others. As you probably know if you read my book The Meaning of Faith and Nembutsu in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, I always teach that genuine faith in Amida Buddha has eight aspects:

1) To accept the actual, literal existence of Amida Buddha and His Pure Land
2) To accept the story of Amida  Buddha as told by Shakyamuni Buddha in the Larger Sutra

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Again on the idea that faith in Amida comes from Amida - very simple explanations

There are many who get stuck at the idea of shinjin (faith) coming from Amida, or being Amida's gift. However, this is a very simple thing, and you should understand it in a simple way, so that it may not become an obstacle.

First of all, shinjin or simple faith in Amida is like when you do not know how to fix your car and you trust John who is a mechanic to fix it for you. In our case, you cannot attain Buddhahood by yourself and you trust Amida Buddha to help you attain it by taking you to  His Pure Land.Your trust in John arises because you heard he is a very skilled mechanic and you saw him doing other repairs. So, in truth, John is the one who makes you trust him.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Don't be upset with samsara


The wheel of samsara. In the left, outside of the wheel,
you can see the Pure Land of Amida Buddha and a path
 leading to it. In the right you can see Shakyamuni,
the historical Buddha, also outside the wheel,
pointing to Amida.
Don't be upset with samsara. Why should you be upset with your own dream? Soon you will wake up in Sukhavati - the enlightened (awaken) realm of Amida and all the delusions and sufferings of your dream state will be over. All your experiences in the samsaric dream will seem like they have never really existed. You will then have a good laugh at everything and immediately start an endless activity of awakening others from their various dreams and nightmares.

But until you wake up in Sukhavati, everything you do here and anything that happens to you, belongs to the dream. You are trying to solve illusory problems in illusory cities and countries, fighting for illusory goals and being mad at other dreaming people over illusory situations.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

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

last updated and revised December 19th 2018

Question: How can I be sure that I say Nembutsu in the right way? You often use terms like “the genuine/true Nembutsu”. What is it exactly and how it differs from a Nembutsu said in the wrong way?

Answer: 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.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Some of the things I'll do when I attain Buddhahood in the Pure Land of Amida


After my birth in Sukhavati and attainment of Buddhahood there, I will always wear the image of Amida on the crown of my head, like Avalokitesvara. Wherever I'll go in the ten directions to save sentient beings, and whatever form I will manifest for their sake, this will be one of my main features as a Buddha.

In all the places of the universe I will proclaim the Primal Vow of Amida and help all beings entrust to Him. I will be a guide towards Amida's Light, a ship for His Pure Land, and a witness to His Holy Name.
Wherever beings will say Amida's Name I will be there to protect them against all obstructions; they will have in me a constant companion and friend, and to those who don't entrust to Amida yet, I will be like their own shadow, never being separated from them even for a moment until they receive faith.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Faith in Amida Buddha is not the creation of our mind



"Since Amida makes you trust Him
And responds to your trust,
Your trusting heart does not arise
From within yourself."[1]

The reason why in a Nembutsu follower’s heart coexist both faith in the Primal Vow and his blind passions and illusions is that this faith doesn’t belong to him.   

This is another important aspect of the Jodo Shinshu teaching. It is said that in a poisonous Eranda forest grow only Eranda trees and not the famous Chandana trees with their fine fragrance. It is a miracle if a Chandana tree grows in an Eranda forest. Similarly, it is a miracle if faith in Amida Buddha flourishes in the people’s hearts. How can it be possible that from human passions the faith in Buddha be born? The answer is that this phenomenon is practically impossible and that faith in Amida is not the product of our minds, but what Amida plants in us. That is why shinjin or the entrusting heart is called “rootless faith” for it has no roots in the human mind but in Amida’s Power and Compassion. The same thing happens with saying the Name which expresses faith. Everything comes from Amida and manifests like an echo in our minds and on our lips, just like a child who faithfully answers his mother’s calling.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Birth in the borderland of the Pure Land


I already explained in detail the Primal Vow (18th) and showed that faith in Amida’s Power is the cause of birth in the Pure Land. However, the situation is that not all practitioners are able to give up entirely the attachment to their personal power in reaching birth in the Pure Land. They simply cannot rely exclusively on Amida but think there is still something they need to add to His Power so that they will deserve to be born in the Pure Land. Thus, they remain attached to the idea of merit accumulation even if they also put some trust in Amida. This kind of faith mixed with reliance on their own so called “merit” and personal power is not in accord with the Primal Vow, but still Amida does not abandon such people. Especially for those who are not capable to rely exclusively on Him, but still wish to be born in His Pure Land, Amida created the 19th and 20th Vows[1]

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The true disciple of Amida and all Buddhas



As I already explained, Shinran Shonin taught that the true reason for all Buddhas appearance in the world is to help sentient beings entrust to Amida and be born after death in His Pure Land, where they can easily attain Nirvana. Thus, the logical conclusion he draw from here, is that the person who has faith in Amida is the true disciple of the Buddhas because he is in accord with their inermost intent. He said:

"The true disciple of the Buddha means this: 'true' contrasts with false and provisional. 'Disciple' means a disciple of Shakyamuni and other Buddhas, namely, the practitioner who has attained adamantine faith (shinjin). Because one certainly realizes great Nirvana with this faith and practice, one is called a true disciple of the Buddha"[1].

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Three Refuges in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism

revised and updated on May 8th 2018
download in pdf from 1) my google drive, 2) my page on Academia.edu



The Three Refuges[1] are:

I TAKE REFUGE IN THE BUDDHA
Buddham saranam gacchami[2] (Namo kye Bu[3])
I TAKE REFUGE IN THE DHARMA
Dhammam saranam gacchami (Namo kye Ho)
I TAKE REFUGE IN THE SANGHA
Sangham saranam gacchami (Namo kye So)

     1) The meaning of taking refuge in the Buddha 
       This means to take refuge in Amida Buddha who is the central Buddha in Jodo Shinshu. Only through Him can we attain Buddhahood in the Pure Land as He is the only Buddha among all Buddhas who made the Vow of saving everybody, no matter their spiritual capacities.  

By taking refuge in Amida, we automatically honor and take refuge in Shakyamuni Buddha as the Teacher who showed us the path of Amida Dharma (His main reason for coming into this world) and in all Buddhas in the ten directions, as all encourage us, teach us and guide us to entrust to Amida Buddha.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Ten Benefits of faith in Amida during this life: 10. The benefit of entering the stage of the truly settled (non-retrogression)


By receiving faith (shinjin) and saying the Name of Amida we enter, in this life, in the stage of the truly settled for birth in the Pure Land, where we’ll actually go after death, and where we’ll immediately attain Buddhahood (Nirvana). This is also called the stage of non-retrogression, the stage of definite assurance, the group of the rightly established stage, the stage equal to perfect Enlightenment, the stage equal with Maitreya, etc.
Here are some passages related with this stage:

„If one is mindful of that Buddha’s infinite power and
merit,
One will instantly enter the stage of definite
assurance. So I am always mindful of Amida”[1]

"When we, ordinary people filled with evil passions, the multitudes defiled by karmic evil and subject to birth and death, attain the faith and practice transferred by Amida for our going forth, we will immediately join the Mahayana group of the rightly established stage. Because we dwell in the rightly established stage, we unfailingly reach Nirvana".[2]

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Ten Benefits of faith in Amida during this life: 8.The benefit of being aware of Amida’s benevolence and of responding in gratitude to His virtues; 9.The benefit of constantly practicing great compassion





As I explained at the chapter related with the Primal Vow, faith gives us two kinds of awareness:
1) that we are people of deep karmic limitations, incapable to attain Buddhahood through our own power; and
2) that only Amida Buddha can save us through His Vow Power (Other Power), without asking anything from us.

The repeated births and deaths of samsaric existence are not a matter of mythology but a real danger for the unenlightend beings and the most important problem to be solved while we are still enjoying the rare karmic circumstance of being born a human being and meeting Amida Dharma. If the follower deeply realizes that samsara is not the place where he should build himself a destiny, but a never-ending cycle of momentary or false hapiness and disatisfaction, and that he cannot escape from it through his own powers, he may reach the point when  he accepts Amida Buddha’s helping hand that is extended to him.
In the next passages we see  how Shinran expressed his awareness of Amida’s benevolence after he received faith:

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Ten Benefits of faith in Amida during this life: 7. The benefit of having great joy in our hearts



The receiving of faith (shinjin) is equivalent with escaping a great burden. We know that we’ll become Buddhas in the Pure Land of Amida, no matter our present situation. This joy is like the relief you feel when a great burden is taken from your shoulders, and indeed there is no greater burden than to be unenlightened and a slave of samsaric existence. The burden of your liberation is carried by the Buddha called Amida, who already crossed the Path for you. Anybody who carries a great burden is happy when that is taken away from him, so you can be happy or feel relief when you first entrust to Amida Buddha, if attaining Buddhahood or final liberation from birth and death is the most important matter for you. However, this doesn’t mean that hour by hour, minute to minute, second to second, you will think on Amida or feel a continuous joy as to jump in the air. Our lives are in such a way that we can always be overwhelmed by daily problems and worries. But its ok, its simply ok to be like this. We are not compelled to always jump with joy because we are saved by Amida. Despite of this, the salvation of Amida is always present, as our simple faith in Him remains with us since we first received it in our hearts. I usually explain that faith, once received, becomes like breathing, always being there although you don’t always express it consciously. We don’t always feel our breathing, but this doesn’t mean that breathing doesn’t exist. Sometimes we feel it better when, for example, we are fascinated by the clear air of the mountains or of a beautiful morning and we take long and deep breaths, while some other time we are too hurried and busy in our daily life to concentrate on it.

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Ten Benefits of faith in Amida during this life: 4. The benefit of being protected and cared for by all the Buddhas and 6. The benefit of being protected constantly by the Light of Amida's heart



If the 1st benefit described the protection of various powerful unenlightened beings (worldly protectors), the 4th speaks about the protection of all Buddhas (enlightened protectors), and the 6th refers to the special protection of Amida Buddha himself. I decided to explain the 4th and 6th benefit together because they are interrelated.

The 4th and 6th benefits include but are not limited to, protection against various influences from external evil forces, sorcery, black magic, evil spirits, etc.
Shinran Shonin said:

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Ten Benefits of faith in Amida during this life: 5. The benefit of being praised by all the Buddhas

Shinran Shonin said:

“Amida’s Seventeenth Vow declares that the Buddha will not enter into perfect Enlightenment if those who say the Name are not praised by all the countless Buddhas throughout the worlds in the ten quarters. The passage declaring the fulfillment of the Vow states: ‚such people are praised by all the Buddhas and rejoice.’’’[1]

Those who entrust to Amida are regarded by Shakyamuni as His true companions: 

"Those who realize shinjin, which is Other Power,
'Revere the Dharma and greatly rejoice in it,
And therefore are my true companions'.
Such is the praise of the World Honored One,
the Master of the teaching".[2]

"Sakyamuni rejoices in persons of shinjin, saying, 'They are my true companions'”.[3]

They are wonderful people, as well as true disciples of Shakyamuni, Amida and all Buddhas:

The Ten Benefits of faith in Amida during this life: 3. The benefit of our karmic evil being transformed into good

Due to the influence of Amida we can transform an unpleasant experience into an opportunity to understand life as it is and the Dharma.  It doesn’t mean that we will no longer have problems, or experience lack of material things, etc., but that we can understand these unfortunate events as being the effects of our karma, using them to become more aware that this is samsara, the world of suffering, from which we must escape once and for all through birth in the Pure Land. Bad events in our lives can thus be transformed through the light of the Dharma into useful ones – useful for our understanding.

Also this benefit refers to the fact that in the instant we receive shinjin (faith) our karma is cut or sterilized and cannot plant its seed into another life. When shinjin enters our heart we receive the pure karmic energy of Amida Buddha. Our evil is turned into good in the sense that it is no longer an obstacle for our birth in the Pure Land at the end of this life:

The Ten Benefits of faith in Amida during this life: 2. The benefit of being possessed of supreme virtues

This benefit means that by entrusting ourselves to Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow we receive His merits and virtues which cause us to attain birth in the Pure Land:

"When sentient beings of this evil world of the five defilements
Entrust themselves to the selected Primal Vow,
Virtues indescribable, inexplicable, and inconceivable
Fill those practicers".[1]

„All beings, having heard Amida’s virtuous Name,
Attain joyful faith, rejoice in what they hear,
And call his Name even once. The person of sincerity, Amida,
Endows merit to them. All who aspire for birth in the Pure Land attain Birth there.
Hence, I prostrate myself to worship him and aspire to be
born there.'"[2]

Shinran Shonin explained in his work “Passages on the Two Aspects of The Tathagata’s Directing of Virtue”:

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?



Question:
 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?

Answer:
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


Question:
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.

Answer:
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.

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