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

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).

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The salvation offered by Amida Buddha is beyond conceptual understanding


"Tathagata's Primal Vow surpasses conceptual understanding; it is a design of the wisdom of Buddhas. It is not the design of foolish beings. No one can fathom the wisdom of Buddhas, which surpasses conceptual understanding."[1]

"Further, with regard to Other Power, since it is inconceivable Buddha-wisdom, the attainment of supreme Enlightenment by foolish beings possessed of blind passions comes about through the working shared only by Buddhas; it is not in any way the design of the practicer. Thus, no working is true working. 'Working' that is negated refers to the calculation of the person of self-power. Concerning Other Power, then, no working is true working."[2]

One who entrusts himself to Amida Buddha realizes that it is through Amida's Power that he is saved ("true working"), and not by his own designs and calculations or through the so called "merits" he thinks he has accumulated until now ("no working").

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A short question and answer on worshiping Maitreya and Amida Buddha


- adapted from a letter to a friend - 

Question:
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?

Answer:
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, October 25, 2016

Five conditions for birth in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha


- updated and revised on Oct 26th 2016 - 

Master Rennyo
According to Master Rennyo , there are five conditions that someone must meet in order to be born in the Pure Land:

1) stored good from the past
2) a good spiritual teacher
3) Amida’s light
4) the entrusting heart (shinjin)
5)  the saying of Amida Buddha's Name (nembutsu)

1) The stored good from the past
The "stored good from the past" represents our good karma from past lives and this life which manifests itself as an opening or receptive state of mind towards the message of the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha.
A lot of people hear the teaching about the Primal Vow but few are opened to it. This openness is very important in our tradition and is the manifestation of the good stored from the past. Also, if you listen again and again to the teaching in this life, thus becoming immersed with all your being in the Dharma, this listening will become a “stored good” which will make you open to the call of the Primal Vow.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Some elements of genuine faith (shinjin) in Amida Buddha


Question:
Thank you for writing to me about the elements of listening deeply to Amida Dharma. Would you please make a short list with some important elements of true faith (shinjin)?

Answer:
- to accept the actual, literal existence of Amida Buddha and His Pure Land. I explained this in my article, If  Amida's Primal Vow is True. Please read it carefully. Without accepting the actual, literal existence of Amida Buddha there can be no true faith, no true salvation and no real birth in His Pure Land. 
- to accept the story of Amida Buddha as told by Shakyamuni Buddha
- to wish to attain Enlightenment/ Buddhahood
- to wish to be born in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha for the attainment of Enlightenment/Buddhahood

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

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


Question:
"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".

Answer:
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.

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.'

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Emotional instability does not mean absence of faith


My mind can never be at peace.
Since the Buddha and me both know this simple truth,
Namo Amida Butsu comes naturally on my lips.
There are people who confuse emotional instability with the absence of faith (shinjin), and so they hope that faith will give them some kind of constant emotional stability. However, it is normal for unenlightened beings (and people of faith remain unenlightened until death and birth in the Pure Land!) to experience various degrees of emotional instability. It is exactly why Amida urges us to entrust to Him, and not on our own so called, ”personal power” and "personal achievements or merits". Trully, nothing stable can be achieved by an unenlightened mind, especially not Nirvana or birth in the Pure Land.

We must bear in mind that faith will not give us absence of desires while we are still here in our samsaric bodies. Faith will only make us enter the stage of non-retrogression, which means that no matter how many desires we have or how low we are on the scale of spiritual evolution, we will surely reach the Pure Land in the moment of death.

Thus, an unenlightened person who entrusts to Amida continues to suffer while still in his/her samsaric body. For a non-Buddha mind clinging is always present, and so,  there will always be suffering, insatisfaction, and some kind of emotional instability. I often say this to my Dharma friends - shinjin (faith) is not satori (Enlightenment)! Not even a little satori, so much more a greater satori which leads to absence of desires and constant emotional stability!

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

Answer:
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 intelectual 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.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Do not associate shinjin (faith) with any special feelings or states of mind


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. 
Give up to any expectations on what you should feel when you receive shinjin (faith). Stop philosophyzing about faith, stop waiting for special things to happen. Stop thinking that your mind will become stable because one day you will have faith. Even if you are not aware of this, you are confusing shinjin with some kind of a smaller satori (enlightenment), and you are waiting for miracles to happen. But what miracles can happen with an unelightened mind? Amida Buddha has absolutely no expectation from you and He offers you His salvation without any condition, so why do you create your own conditions in your head on how shinjin should be like?

Rather than imagining things about shinjin, you should simply entrust yourself to Amida. Faith does not presuposes any special states of mind. It is just a simple entrusting to Amida Buddha regarding you birth in His Pure Land after death. When you receive faith you enter the stage of those assured of birth in the Pure Land as you are, with all your imperfections. Please remember that the cause of your salvation is NOT in your mind and feelings, but in Amida. This is why you should not associate your feelings with shinjin (faith).  It really does not matter what you feel as long as you simply entrust yourself to Amida. It is Amida's job to save you, not yours, so stop worrying!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Question and answer on intellectual obstacles to shinjin


Question:
Recently, I have been reflecting on my not having shinjin. The problem is I don't know WHY. Any blocks or obstacles to my receiving of Amida's gift of shinjin must be unconscious as I don't have any conscious obstacles at all.

Answer:
What can I say….
Have you ever wondered that perhaps you complicate your mind? I mean what do you want this shinjin to be, that you stress your mind about it, so much? 
It is especially because people tend to complicate their minds and think that shinjin must be this or that thing, that I wrote the article, Faith is simple, nothing special.

Perhaps your mind still thinks that something must happen when you entrust to Amida, or is waiting for something to happen when you have faith. Dear friend, you will NOT change a bit after entrusting yourself to Amida. You are not supposed to constantly feel anything special if you entrust to Amida. There is really nothing there if you entrust to Amida, except a simple faith and Amida who helps you – assures you of your birth in His Pure Land.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The certainty of attaining Enlightenment in the Pure Land


Question:
If I am in the Pure Land created by Amida Buddha's Perfect Will Power after I die, what would happen if I never get enlightened? Is there a time limit to attain Enlightenment in the Pure Land? I’m scared as I don't want to experience birth, age and death anymore.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Shinjin: knowing not experiencing


article by Paul Roberts, webmaster of TrueShinBuddhism yahoo group

Paul Roberts
David writes:  
“I get it:  there is some way that you guys really know/experience the reality of Amida's presence so it's not a belief, even a strongly held belief,  but a lived experience, a lived presence.  Do I have that right? And is it fair to ask how do you experience it?  Is it something you could even put into words?  Is it like when I was 13 and asked my mother how I would know if I were in love and she simply said, in a way that was clearly meant to close the discussion, Don't worry--you'll know?”

Paul’s answer:

“Hi David - 

Ultimately, I can only speak for myself, and about myself, and my experience - not Rick's or Dave's or Shinran's either.

So let me start with this:  You wrote, "I get it:  there is some way that you guys really know/experience the reality of Amida's presence so it's not a belief, even a strongly held belief,  but a lived experience, a lived presence.  Do I have that right?"

So my answer to this question is NO...you don't have it right, and you don't get it...which is totally understandable.  That's why Dharma dialogue is so important.

You see, David, in your mind, you're putting me into a box that you've got called "mysticism", in which having an "experience of the reality of Amida's presence" is what it's all about.

But that is NOT what it is all about for me - not at all.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Two kinds of impermanence


Many practitioners have the wrong impresion that spiritual evolution is a straight road to Enlightenment and that once they made the first steps on it they just need to keep walking until the blisfull goal is reached. But this is no different than the delusion that life will certainly end at 80 or 90 years old, and that nothing can interrupt it earlier.
Contrary to that vision, the right understanding of the Pure Land Path presupposes the awareness of two forms of impermanence: the impermanence of our phisical bodies and the impermanence of our so called, „spiritual evolution”. After we realize this simple, yet profound truth, we should not spend our time in vain, and quickly entrust to Amida Buddha. Untill we reach His Pure Land, we are never safe.



Monday, November 24, 2014

"Good" for birth in the Pure Land

 - fragment from a letter to a friend - 

Question: I found the expression “good men and women” in a passage from the Smaller Amida Sutra. Should I become a “good man” in order to be born in the Pure Land? I am not a scholar, so please give me a simple answer, without entering into difficult details.

Answer: In fact, the expression you found in that passage is  "good men and women of faith”. “Of faith” is the key element of this expression and you should rely on it in order to understand the entire passage:

"Sariputra, those who have already aspired, now aspire, or in the future will aspire to be born in the land of Amida Buddha all dwell in the stage of non-retrogression for realizing highest, perfect Enlightenment. They have already being born, are now being born, or will be born in that land. Hence, Sariputra, good men and women of faith should aspire to birth there."
Shakyamuni Buddha - Smaller Amida Sutra (Amidakyo)

 "Men and women of faith” are called "good", not because they must be virtuous as a necessity for birth in the Pure Land, but because they are given Amida’s perfect virtues through faith.  In other words, Amida makes them good (suitable) for birth in the Pure Land, that is, he provides them with all that is necessary for rebirth there.

So, “faith” (shinjin) is the implicit meaning and the essence of this passage. Without reliance on Amida’s Power, one cannot go to the Pure Land as his/her “goodness” or personal virtues are simply not enough for such a goal.  But if men and women entrust in Amida Buddha, they “dwell in the stage of non-retrogression” in this life, and at the moment of death they are reborn in the Pure Land, where they attain the “highest, perfect Enlightenment”.

Thus, instead of struggling yourself to become worthy of the Pure Land, you should simply entrust to Amida and let him carry you there.

Namo Amida Butsu




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”.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Shinjin is not mind-created

-fragment from a letter to a friend-

Shinjin is just a simple faith, a simple entrusting to Amida Buddha in the matter of your rebirth in the Pure Land. It is not a mind-created intellectual system or a certain imposed state of mind. So please, do not force your mind and heart into always thinking the right thought, or to feel the right feeling…. You are who you are, an ordinary person with ups and downs, with moments of joy, and moments of sadness or depression. Indeed, there is not easy to be an unenlightened person, and no one leads an easy life here in samsara. But what you must never forget is that you are accepted as you are by Amida Buddha and that your birth in his Pure Land is assured at the end of your physical body. No matter how you live or how you die, you will surely go there, if you simply entrust yourself to Amida.

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.