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

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.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Those who deny the existence of Amida don’t have shinjin (faith) – some simple explanations

Check my new book on the topic
of modern divergences
- click here for the Portughese version - 

Unfortunately, there are many false teachers in the international Jodo Shinshu community who support wrong interpretations of the nembutsu Dharma - the so called modern and progressive interpretations - but which are in evident contradiction with the teaching of the sutras and the sacred texts. One of the most widely distributed is the theory that Amida is a symbol, a metaphor or a fictional character.

Such interpretations prove the absence of the genuine shinjin from the hearts of those who support them. It is simply impossible to have the experience of faith in Amida and in the same time to consider him a fictional character or a metaphor. On the contrary, such a shinjin is false or fictional like how fictional the object of faith is. I have never heard or read in the sacred texts about such presentations of Amida Buddha. Not Shakyamuni, nor Shinran Shonin or other masters of our tradition ever spoke in like that about Amida and His Pure Land. This is why I always say that those who present Amida as a fictional character, metaphor, symbol or something similar to these terms, don’t have the experience of faith and salvation.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Alaya (storehouse) consciousness and faith in Amida Buddha

In Buddhism we speak about the Eight Consciousnesses which are generated when our senses encounter their objects: 1) consciousness of sight, 2)consciousness of hearing, 3) consciousness of smell, 4) consciousness of taste, 5) consciousness of touch, 6) consciousness of mind, 7) impure (mind) consciousness, 8) the alaya (storehouse) consciousness.
The meaning of the first five consciousnesses is easy to comprehend, so I will not dwell upon them.

The consciousness of mind integrates the perceptions of the five senses in concrete images and takes decisions concerning the exterior world.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Meaning of "True Disciple of Buddha"

Rev Eiken Kobai (left) and me

by Eiken Kobai Sesei, Professor Emeritus, Soai University


Shinran Shonin says in the Chapter on Shinjin in The True Teaching, Practice and Realization of the Pure Land Way.

“In the phrase “true disciple of Buddha,” “true” contrasts with “false and provisional.” “Disciple” indicates a disciple of Sakyamuni and the other Buddhas. This expression refers to a believer who has realized the diamondlike heart and mind. Through this Shinjin and practice, he will without fail transcend and realize great nirvana; hence, he is called a true disciple of Buddha.”

Monday, September 27, 2010

Equal to Maitreya Buddha

A unique teaching of Jodo Shinshu is that followers who received shinjin are equal to perfect Enlightenment, equal to all Buddhas and equal to Maitreya Buddha (Miroku in Jap).  As this can be very easy misunderstood, I thought to dedicate it a special article.

Maitreya, now residing in the Tusita heaven, was said by Shakyamuni to be a future great Buddha who will appear in this world after many billion years (5,670,000,000) from his era.

Shinran Shonin explains this in his Letters:

“Since those who have realized shinjin necessarily abide in the stage of the truly settled, they are in the stage equal to the perfect Enlightenment. In the Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life those who have been grasped, never to be abandoned, are said to be in the stage of the truly settled, and in the Sutra of the Tathagata of Immeasurable Life they are said to have attained the stage equal to perfect Enlightenment. Although they differ, the terms "truly settled" and "equal to enlightenment" have the same meaning and indicate the same stage. Equal to the perfect Enlightenment is the same stage as that of Maitreya, who is in the rank of succession to Buddhahood. Since persons of shinjin will definitely attain the supreme Enlightenment, they are said to be the same as Maitreya.”

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Shinjin and Buddha nature

“In some writings of Shinran Shonin it is said that shinjin is itself Buddha-nature. How do you explain this?”


First, even if we say it in conventional language that we have shinjin (faith in Amida Buddha), in reality this is not our propriety, but what Amida Buddha awakes in us.

Second, Amida is a Buddha, which means he is one who has became awakened to his Buddha nature. His Buddha nature is the same with our Buddha nature, as all beings have the same innate Buddha nature (Buddhahood) or the same potential to become a Buddha.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Faith is simple, nothing special

I noticed that some practitioners from other traditions or with previous experience in other schools,  who sometimes talk with me about Jodo Shinshu, perceive shinjin (faith in Amida Buddha) like a special state of mind that must be attained by them and which is hard to attain. Maybe this tendency comes from the practices they are used with in their traditions, where something has to be attained or felt or visualized, etc

Friday, December 5, 2008

Aspiration to become a Buddha – the most important matter

The goal of Buddhism is to become a Buddha.
Not to paint this life in different colors, not to become a smart or interesting kind of Buddhist, but to become a Buddha.

The Buddhist path is not a method of relaxation or a tablet for headache, something like “how can we become happier and calmer people” or a recipe for momentary happiness, but a road to Buddhahood or complete Freedom for us and all beings.

It is vital for those who enter the Buddhist path to have the aspiration to become a Buddha. Without this aspiration there is no Buddhism. If we don’t want or don’t feel the urgency of complete freedom from the many sufferings of repeated births, then Buddhism will remain for us only an object of study, an interesting lecture of mythology or an intellectual delight.

There are, so to speak, two visions one can have about himself and the world.
One is the ordinary vision depending on his cultural education or his daily concerns and the other one is the Dharmic vision.

The first represents what is considered normal in various times, containing limited explanations of the world and without being interested on the sense of human existence or something which is beyond the life of the here and now. The immediate utilitarianism is fundamental in the non-Dharmic vision of the world.

On the other hand, the Dharmic vision perceives the world and personal life through the perspective of the Buddhist teaching (Dharma) where for example, everything is explained in terms of impermanence and the law of karma. Also what is truly important is defined in a different way than immediate utility and the need for Freedom is especially emphasized.

By reading, listening and always reflecting on the explanations and light that the Dharma throws on the world and human existence, one can come to understand why it is necessary to become a Buddha.
By engaging more and more in the study of the Dharma, you reach the point when you receive what we may call the “Dharmic vision” or “Dharma eye”. Then, many of your mental constructions you considered to be solid and unbreakable, will break down and the world will start to empty itself of the false colors projected on it and taken as the true reality.

Walking the Buddhist path with the aspiration to become a Buddha and having the Dharmic vision on your side, you become more intimate with your own karma, that is, you start to know yourself better and especially your spiritual limitations.
This stage – the awareness of your spiritual limitations in comparison with the effort of becoming a Buddha – is extremely important and especially emphasized in Jodo Shinshu.
About this I wrote in the article Entering the Jodo Shinshu path”.

To aspire to become a Buddha is fundamental but this aspiration remains just an unfulfilled wish like many others if your personal capacities cannot lead you to this goal.
It is not necessary to become a saint or who knows what special kind of person in order to have the aspiration to become a Buddha, but to be successful in attaining Buddhahood you will need efforts and qualities infinitely great than your ordinary capacities.

So, in the moment when you realize not only that you cannot, but that it is impossible to attain this state through your own power, you are ready to hear the message of the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha.
This message is not a sophisticated or a hard to understand one, but the only disadvantage it has is that few nice and full of themselves Buddhists are truly capable to recognize their limitations and incapacity to become a Buddha. In other words, who is ready to recognize himself as powerless?

Just it is very important to understand that Jodo Shinshu doesn’t require from people to consider themselves incapable in their daily activities, but only in matters of attaining supreme Liberation.
To become a Buddha is not the same thing with being a good electrician, business man or anything you are in your private life. These are two different things.

Walking path to Freedom from birth and death is not a hobby or an interesting cultural topic, but the only real activity in our lives. It means to escape from the endless sufferings of birth and death. If this is important to you, then you are indeed a disciple of the Buddha.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Entering the Jodo Shinshu path

Entering the Jodo Shinshu path is like becoming a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and recognizing: “Hello, my name is Josho and I am an alcoholic”.

Jodo Shinshu doesn’t state something like: “My name is Josho and I can become a Buddha”, but “my name is Josho and I am full of blind passions, incapable to heal myself”.

While in other Buddhist schools, an important matter is the recognition of the possibility of every being to become a Buddha in this life like Shakyamuni, the Jodo Shinshu path begins with the sense of failure. When you are 100% convinced that you cannot attain Buddhahood in this life, then you are ready for the Jodo Shinshu path. As long as you still harbor in your mind the smallest thought of personal merit or “maybe I can” kind of things, you cannot see and enter the Dharma gate of birth in Amida Buddha’s Pure Land.

Amida Buddha’s Pure Land is like a country where everybody can emigrate without the least requirement: no visas, no special capacities, nor any other qualities. As Shinran said:

“This is the way of easy practice to be followed by those of inferior capacity; it is the teaching that makes no distinction between the good and the evil.”

Thus, the Jodo Shinshu sangha is like an “idiot’s club” or alcoholics anonymous, in comparison with the nice and good Buddhists, who believe they are always calm and ready to become Enlightened and the same with Shakyamuni.

If you hope to find here some interesting quotes about detachment or how capable people are for goodness, virtues and any kind of spiritual realizations, then this is not the place for you. But if you recognize yourself more and more in the group of spiritual alcoholics or those incapable of any important practice which leads to perfection here and now, in the middle of sufferings and miseries of any kind, then this teaching would be of much help, and I wish to you a warm “welcome to the club!”

I repeat, Jodo Shinshu starts with the sense of failure….

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I added a subtitle to this video, because Eiken Sensei doesn't speak English very well and I wanted to be sure that everybody understand his statement. You can both watch the video and also read the transcript.

Here is the transcript:

"Josho Adrian: "Thank you for your paper. You talked about shinjin, about having or not having shinjin. I have a different question. Some people in our school are teaching that Amida is a symbol, a metaphor, a myth or a fictional character. Is that true, and if it is not true, can these people who say that Amida is a myth, a symbol or a fictional character have the same shinjin like Shinran? This is my question.

Kobai Sensei: Somebody say Amida is a symbol and myth
Josho Adrian: A myth … a myth or a fictional character… fictional character like in a movie … fictional character, like it was only a story, only a fictional story
Kobai Sensei: Fictional
Josho Adrian: Fictional, and not a true, a real Buddha.
Kobai Sensei: I think …. that person opinion, I think they or he don’t have shinjin. I think by having shinjin we understand Amida and the Jodo(Pure Land) and Hongan (Primal Vow).
Josho Adrian: As a Real Buddha, not a fictional character, not a symbol, but a real Buddha.
Kobai Sensei: I think
Rev Sato – chairman: Difficulties…
His question you know and his answer is those who say Amida is a fictional, myth, only a story, those people don’t have shinjin.
Rev Sato: That is his answer
Kobai Sensei: They don’t have the experience of salvation.
Rev Sato – chairman: They don’t have any experience of salvation

This is the statement of Eiken Kobai Sensei, one of the most important Jodo Shinshu teachers of our times. It is a statement that I support and share from all my heart and spread it here in my country, in my dojo and in every temple or dojo I will open in the future.

After Kobai Sensei made that clear statement at the 15th European Shinshu Conference, almost everybody was astonished and some, the chairman too, tried to reduce the impact of his statement, by saying that “there is room also for different interpretations, etc”, but into my opinion, there is NO room for any other interpretations. In our school should be room and space only for the teaching we can find in the words of the sutras and the commentaries of Master Shinran and Rennyo. And in these sacred writings Amida is described as a real Buddha, manifesting a Form and a Name in order to save ordinary sentient beings. We have the explanations of the The Three Buddha bodies in the Trikaya doctrine and other explanations of our Masters and I think that we should not deviate from these explanations and invent our own teachings.
Who are we to modify the Dharma left to us by our Masters? Do we think we are like them? The Dharma is a medicine given by Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Masters and is given to sick people like us to take it exactly as it was prescribed. How can a sick person, an unenlightened person, be better than a doctor or an Enlightened One, and modify the medicine?
Are all these modern deluded teachers who support such false views as Amida being a fictional character, already Enlightened? Are they Buddhas, Bodhisattvas or the same with Shinran and Rennyo?
On what authority can they modify the sacred teaching, the medicine given to us by the Buddha, the Masters? My opinion is that we should be more concentrated on learning the sacred words of our teaching, humbly letting ourselves to be guided by them and stop changing them to accommodate with our changing minds.

Those who say that Amida is a symbol, a myth, a metaphor or a fictional character don’t have the experience of salvation and are not teaching the true Jodo Shinshu teaching, but their own ideas and opinions. How can one rely and entrust to a symbol or a fictional character and achieve something by it? Only to the real and living Amida Buddha (in his transcendental or sambhogakaya form) can we entrust and be sure of our birth in the Pure Land.
I urge again my fellow practitioners and nembutsu friends to entrust only in the words of the sutras and commentaries of our Masters, Shinran and Rennyo and not in the bubble talk of people who lack shinjin and are more interested in spreading their own ideas than the actual teaching.
Those people are false teachers and may their false opinions never enter my country, but disappear like dust in the wind.

Namo Amida Butsu

More against the false understanding of Amida Buddha as a fictional character or only a symbol, you can read here. Please read carefully all the explanations.

related article:
Those who deny the existence of Amida, don't have shinjin

Monday, August 18, 2008

Immediate Buddhahood for ordinary people, without passing through bardo

"Being mindful of Him (Amida Buddha) always, we board the Vow Power. After death we attain birth in His land, where we meet Him, face to face, with unbounded joy."
Master Shan-tao

Although it is not so well spread outside Asia, like Tibetan Buddhism, Jodo Shinshu deserves its place among the most advanced Mahayana teachings and practices.
I know that in Tibetan Buddhism, there are methods for attaining complete Buddhahood quicker than in other Mahayana schools. Some practices are hard and dangerous like those of the tantras, but some are easier like the practice of attaining Enlightenment in the bardo or the intermediate state between death and the next birth, in accordance with the Bardo Thodol. Through its methods, Tibetan Buddhism promises, if well practiced, Enlightenment in 16 lives maximum, or even in the bardo, if one is not capable of attaining it in this very life.

It is indeed wonderful, but looking to the teaching and practice of Jodo Shinshu, I feel even happier that through faith in Amida Buddha I will attain supreme and complete Buddhahood in the very moment of death and birth in the Pure Land: not in the bardo, where I still have to practice something based on my own power, while I also experience the manifestations of my own karma and delusions, but in the very moment of my death.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Kitagaki - a person of shinjin

I received the last number of EKO magazine from my nembutsu friends in Jikoji (Belgium) and while I was looking through its pages, trying to find something in English, I came across a wonderful short article written by Zuio Inagaki Sensei about Mr.Motoyasu Kitagaki, a famous Buddhist calligrapher, but about whom I have never heard before. I read about his life and work which was described in short at the beginning of the article, then while reading the last two passages, I was suddenly filled with spontaneous joy and veneration. I kissed those words and raised the text to the forehead, reciting nembutsu. What a wonderful person of shinjin! I cannot abstain not to share with you those two passages which gave me so much joy and hope, that you can't imagine:

“Being a devout follower of the Jodoshinshu, Mr. Kitagaki lived a life of Nembutsu. Anyone who met him never failed to feel Amida’s compassion emanating through his warm and sincere personality. He was really a white lotus in the muddy pool of the human society.

According to what his widow, Maki, humbly recounts, a few days before Mr. Kitagaki died, he exclaimed to her: “Amida Sama has come to welcome me!”
“Where?” she asked.
“Can you see, Maki? Right there! How beautiful! With all the flowers, purple and yellow! Just as they are described in the sutras!”
“Do you see golden and silver towers, too?”
“Yes, I do, indeed!”
Mrs. Kitagaki had never seen her husband look so happy.

His life-teacher of Buddhism was Rev. Zuiken S. Inagaki. One day Mr. Kitagaki called to see him. Dispensing with the usual greetings, he opened his mouth to ask the teacher: “It is true that Amida Sama calls me to come to him just as I am?”
Rev. Inagaki replied: “Yes, he does.”
Mr. Kitagaki asked him the same question three times, to which the same answer was given three times. Then he left the teacher’s house.”

I wish to die exactly like him with the same joy of being received by Amida.

Without any formalities and introduction, he came and asked that simple and yet most important question three times! He came to his teacher's house only to ask that question! And then he left. No more questions, just one fundamental question to solve the matter of birth and death for ever.
What a wonderful person of shinjin he was. I can feel this just by reading those two passages. I have no doubt he is a Buddha now helping all beings to entrust in Amida and be born in the Pure Land.
Namo Amida Butsu

Friday, February 1, 2008

Conditions to believe in the Name

The late Master Zuiken Inagaki said:

"In order to ‘truly hear (believe in) the Name’, one should fulfill the following conditions:

1. One should believe in the law of causation.
2. One should believe in the Three Treasures - the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.

3. One should believe deeply that one has been sinking in the sea of birth-and-death for innumerable kalpas, and that one has no hope of emancipation from evil karmas, for one is full of delusion, attachment and evil passions of love-and-hatred.

4. One should have an ardent aspiration for attaining enlightenment and becoming a Buddha.

5. One should think of one's own death, which is coming at one's heels, that is, one is ever threatened by death that may come at any moment.
6. One should think that one is now at one's deathbed.
7. One should remember that at their deathbed all dying persons must experience utter darkness, fear, hopelessness and solitude.

8. One should remember that the hell-fire is waiting for one.

9. One should realize that one has no ability to practice the highest good or the highest meditation for the attainment of salvation for oneself.

10. One should realize that one is like a man who is thrown into the rough sea in the dark night.
11. One should be free from all superstitions that falsely promise exemption from diseases, calamities and poverty through prayer and worship, or through divination and fortune-telling."

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?"

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Many Buddhist practitioners are like a man staring at the sun, but with his body in a hole full of shit.

Here the sun represents the ideal – Buddhahood to be attained through his own power. This ideal is of course very beautiful and the practitioner always like to stare at it and to take delight in many beautiful words about Enlightenment, emptiness, Buddha-nature, that we are all Buddhas-to-be, etc. The hole of shit is his true reality of the here and now, his deep karmic evil, his limitations, attachments and blind passions that cover all his body and mind.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


“If, when I attain Buddhahood, the sentient beings of the ten quarters, with sincere mind entrusting themselves, aspiring to be born in my land, and saying my Name perhaps even ten times, should not be born there, may I not attain the supreme enlightenment.”Primal Vow of Amida Buddha

"Oh, the Primal Vow!
What would I be without it?"
Zuiken Inagaki Sensei

Just a few words about myself that I would like to share with you:

Sometimes I do not read any text related to the teaching, but just recite the Primal Vow of Amida and Ryogemon (Jodo Shinshu Creed). I do this in Romanian and I like to repeat the words slowly and carefully so as to savour and enjoy them as best as I can.

The words of the Primal Vow are the most precious words for me in the whole Buddhism. I like to repeat them again and again in my mind or loudly. I like to contemplate them. I like to savour them. While reading them again and again I cannot stop my joy that these words really exists – they are true and real words said by a true and real Buddha called Amida. And they were said especially for people like myself.

I put all my trust in these words because they are the promise of Amida. Shakyamuni Buddha told in the Larger Sutra the story of Amida Buddha and His promise. I accept this story and promise with simple faith. As a simple, stupid and full of blind passion Buddhist peasant that I am, I need nothing else – for me its enough to accept the words of the Primal Vow in faith.

Other Buddhists may be wiser than me, more virtuous, very much advanced in meditation, maybe they can understand the ultimate nature of all things, and to them I may look like a stupid person that have a very low level of Buddhist understanding. I do not mind, because this is exactly what I am. For me the words of the Primal Vow are enough. They represent Buddhism to me and through them I become a disciple of Shakyamuni. These words are not a koan (1) or a subtle metaphor, but a simple and direct promise so that all stupid and low level Buddhists can understand. These words are the only one that make me to accept my life as it is, with ups and downs, and to accept my death that can come at any time. These words are the only one who can make me say: “It’s all right if I live and all right if I die”.

(1) Koan is a word or a phrase of nonsensical language which cannot be “solved” by the intellect. It is used as an exercise to break through the limitations of conventional thought and to develop intuition, giving the practitioner the chance to reach an awareness beyond duality. They are used as meditation objects in Rinzai Zen. However, very often these koans are treated by many as mere intellectual interesting games, loosing in this way their original function.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Bodhi Mind in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism

What is Bodhi Mind or bodhicitta in Jodo Shinshu? What is the relation between Bodhi Mind and Shinjin?

The Awakening of the Bodhi Mind – the aspiration to attain Budhahood for saving oneself and all beings – is fulfilled in the Awakening of Faith (shinjin) in the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha. Shan-tao said: “Awake your Bodhi Mind to Amida’s Compasion”, that is, aspire to your and other beings Liberation by relying on the Compasion of Amida (his Primal Vow).

So, the Awakening of the Bodhi Mind, the obligatory condition in Mahayana of attaining the supreme Enlightenment, appears in Jodo Shinshu in the form of the entrusting heart (shinjin).

Shinran Shonin said in the “Hymns on Patriarchs”:

“Faith is One Mind
One Mind is the Diamond-like Mind;
The Diamond-like Mind is the Bodhi-Mind;
This mind is given us by the Other-Power.”

The One Mind represents the cause of Enlightenment. Since this is the Bodhi-
Mind, it has two aspects[1]:

“To take refuge with One Mind in the Buddha
Of Unhindered Light Shining throughout the Ten Directions
Is the mind aspiring to become Buddha;
So says Vasubandhu, the Master of Discourse[2].”
(Hymn on the Patriachs 17)

“The mind aspiring to become Buddha
Is the mind seeking to save sentient beings;
The mind that seeks to save sentient beings
Is True Faith endowed by Amida’s Compassion.”
(Hymn on the Patriachs 18)

[1] The two aspects of the Bodhi-Mind are to aspire to the attainment of Buddhahood for himself and others.
[3] “Discourse on the Pure Land”, a work which author is Master Vasubandhu.