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

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Elements of genuine faith: 1) Accepting the actual, literal existence of Amida Buddha and His Pure Land

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. If we have faith in someone, then it means we are sure beyond any doubt that he is reliable and that he will keep his promise. Also to believe in someone’s promise means that we accept his existence, too. Promises can be made by living persons, in our case by a living, existing Amida Buddha, not by material objects or fictional characters[1]. Thus, we must accept Amida as a living Buddha who can hear, see and save us by taking us to His Pure Land after death.

Honen Shonin said:

"Amida Buddha fulfilled the forty-eight vows and established the Pure Land. He always listens to a person who utters His name".[2]

„Amida Buddha never fails to hear you, regardless of time and circumstances”.[3]

He also said:

Friday, February 23, 2018

Elements of genuine faith: 2) To accept the story of Amida Buddha as told by Shakyamuni Buddha in the Larger Sutra

            - click to return to the main list of the elements of genuine faith in Amida Buddha - 

This sutra explains the apparition of Amida and His Pure Land in terms of cause and effect[1] and cannot be denied, especially because Shakyamuni's main reason of coming to this world was to teach this sutra:

“To reveal the true teaching: It is the Larger Sutra of the Buddha of Immeasurable Life. The central purport of this sutra is that Amida, by establishing the incomparable Vows, has opened wide the Dharma storehouse, and full of compassion for small, foolish beings, selects and bestows the treasure of virtues. The sutra further reveals that Shakyamuni appeared in this world and expounded the teachings of the way to Enlightenment, seeking to save the multitudes of living beings by blessing them with this benefit that is true and real[2]. Thus, to teach the Tathagata’s Primal Vow is the true intent of this sutra; the Name of the Buddha is its essence”[3].

The Larger Sutra reveals the true teaching. It is indeed the right exposition for which the Tathagata appeared in the world, the wondrous scripture rare and most excellent, the conclusive and ultimate exposition of the One Vehicle[4], the precious words disclosing perfect, instantaneous fulfillment, the sincere words praised by all the Buddhas throughout the ten quarters, the true teaching in consummate readiness for the beings of this day. Let this be known”[5].

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Elements of genuine faith: 3)To wish to be born in the Pure Land for the attainment of perfect Enlightenment/Buddhahood


The goal of Buddha Dharma 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 of utmost importance 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 and deaths, 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. The first is the ordinary vision depending on one's cultural education or daily concerns, and the other is the Dharmic vision.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Elements of genuine faith: 4) The twofold profound conviction (nishu jinshin)

           - click to return to the main list of the elements of genuine faith in Amida Buddha - 

Faith in Amida Buddha means a twofold profound conviction:

1) to know that we are people of deep karmic limitations, incapable to attain Buddhahood through our own power;
2) to know that only Amida Buddha can save us through His Vow Power (Other Power), without asking anything from us

“Deep mind is deep entrusting faith. It has two aspects. First, to believe deeply and unwaveringly that we are actually ordinary beings of karmic evil subject to birth and death, ever sinking and ever transmigrating in samsara since innumerable kalpas ago without a chance to escape from it. Second, to believe deeply and unwaveringly that the Forty-eight Vows of Amida Buddha enfold sentient beings, enabling them to board His Vow-Power and attain Birth.”[1]

"There are two aspects concerning this mind of trust: the first is to believe oneself to be a foolish being of defiled karma, subject to birth-and-death, from incalculable kalpas past constantly sinking and constantly turning, without any condition that could lead to liberation. The second is to believe deeply and decisively that, since one does not doubt that Amida's Forty-eight Vows grasp sentient beings, one rides on the power of that Vow and will without fail attain Birth.."[2]

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Elements of genuine faith: 5)To accept the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha without any doubt and be sure of your birth in the Pure Land

          - click to return to the main list of the elements of genuine faith in Amida Buddha - 

After hearing the Primal Vow you should have no doubt, think that the Primal Vow is reliable and that Amida Buddha will keep His promise and take you to His Pure Land if you entrust yourself to Him, say His Name and wish to go there.

Shinran Shonin said:

"Shinjin (faith) is hearing the Vow of the Tathagata and being free of doubt".[1]

"'Entrusting' is to be free of doubt, believing deeply and without any double-mindedness that the Tathagata's Primal Vow is true and real."[2]

"Hearing the inconceivable selected Primal Vow and the holy Name of supreme wisdom without a single doubt is called true and real shinjin; it is also called the diamondlike mind".[3]

"'Entrusting' is to be free of doubt, believing deeply and without any double-mindedness that the Tathagata's Primal Vow is true and real."[4]

"The Great Sage Sakyamuni teaches
That Amida's land is easy to reach,
And calls the sentient being who doubts the Pure Land path
A person lacking eyes, or lacking ears"
.[5]

Monday, February 19, 2018

Elements of genuine faith: 6)To accept that birth in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha takes place after death

             - click to return to the main list of the elements of genuine faith in Amida Buddha - 

Birth in the Pure Land through the Gate of the Primal Vow means the attainment of Buddhahood and acquiring the special transcendental qualities of the Enlightened Ones, which cannot be found in our present samsaric minds and bodies[1].
                     
Shakyamuni Buddha said:

“However hard you may practice in this life, it can only be for a short while. In the life to come you will be born in the land of Amitayus (Amida) and enjoy endless bliss there. Being forever in accord with the Way, you will no longer be subject to birth and death and be free of the afflictions caused by greed, anger and ignorance.”[2]

Honen Shonin said:

“When they lay aside their present lives, they will enter into the dwelling of the Buddhas, the Pure Land”.[3]

Shinran Shonin said:

"At the end of your life you will enter the family of the Buddhas, that is, the Pure Land".[4]

"At the moment our karmic bonds to this saha world run out and helplessly we die, we shall go to that land."[5]

“We read in the commentary of the Master of Kuang-ming Temple:
‘[…]We should sincerely devote ourselves to this teaching until the end of our life and, after abandoning our defiled bodies, realize the eternal bliss of Dharma-nature.’”[6]

„Those who have been born first [in the Pure Land] guide those who come later, and those who are born later join those who were born before. This is so that the boundless ocean of birth and death be exhausted”.[7]

“When ordinary beings reach the Western Land,
Their karmic evils, countless as particles, from long past
kalpas will perish.
Endowed with the six supernatural powers, they attain
unrestricted freedom in action;
Forever freed of old age and sickness, they are liberated from impermanence.”[8]









[1] Please reffer to the chapter "A collection of passages on the true meaning of birth in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha", from my book against wrong views - The True Teaching on Amida Buddha and His Pure Land, Dharma Lion Publications, Craiova, 2015, p.113
[2] Shakyamuni Buddha, The Larger Sutra, The Three Pure Land Sutras, translated by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Berkeley, California, 2003, p. 53
[3] Honen’s Senchakushu – Passages on the Selection of the Nembutsu in the Original Vow (Senchaku Hongan Nembutsu Shu), translated and edited by Senchakushu English Translation Project, Kuroda Institute, University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu and Sogo Bukkyo Kenkujo, Taisho University, Tokyo, p.121
[4] Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 132.
[5] Shinran Shonin, Tannisho, chapter 9, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p. 666.
[6] Shinran Shonin, Kyogyoshinsho, chapter IV, Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 175.
[7] Shinran Shonin, Kyogyoshinsho, chapter VI, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.291
[8] The hymns by Fa-chao, based on the Sutra in Praise of the Pure Land (Sukhavativyuha), quoted by Shinran in his Kyogyoshinsho, chapter II,   Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, Idem, p. 41-41.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Elements of genuine faith: 7) To say the Name of Amida Buddha

             - click to return to the main list of the elements of genuine faith in Amida Buddha - 

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[1] 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”.

The genuine saying of Amida's Name comes automatically after entrusting to Him. Thus, the Nembutsu is both an expression of faith and gratitude that you are saved as you are by Amida Buddha.

Shinran Shonin said:

"Although the one moment of shinjin and the one moment of nembutsu are two, there is no nembutsu separate from shinjin (faith), nor is the one moment of shinjin separate from the one moment of nembutsu."[2]

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Elements of genuine faith: 8) To not mix nembutsu and devotion towards Amida Buddha with other faiths and practices from inside or outside of the Buddha Dharma

             - click to return to the main list of the elements of genuine faith in Amida Buddha - 

For example, a person of genuine faith will not entrust to, nor rely on the "god" of the monotheists[1] or any other gods or spirits of various religions.  

"Based on the true intent of the Buddha’s teaching and the expositions made and transmitted by the masters of the past, I will clarify that the path of sages is provisional and the Pure Land path is true, and caution people against non-Buddhist teachings, which are perverted, false, and wrong".[2]

“Those who take refuge truly and wholeheartedly, freeing themselves from all delusional attachments and all concern with the propitious or unpropitious, must never take refuge in false spirits or non-Buddhist teachings.”[3]

"Here, based on the sutras, the true and the false are determined and people are cautioned against the wrong, false, and misleading opinions of nonbuddhist teachings:
The Nirvana Sutra states:
'If one has taken refuge in the Buddha, one must not further take refuge in various gods.'

Monday, February 12, 2018

The meaning of "sentient beings of the ten quarters" from the Primal Vow

"If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings of the ten quarters who sincerely entrust themselves to me, desire to be born in my land, and say my Name even ten times, should not be born there, may I not attain the supreme Enlightenment. (The Primal Vow of Amida Buddha) 

This shows that the Promise of Amida Buddha is addressed to ALL beings, without any discrimination or distinction between them. All are the object of Amida's Primal Vow, no matter how high or low they are on the scale of spiritual evolution, and especially if they are the lowest of the low:

"Know that the Primal Vow of Amida makes no distinction between people young and old, good and evil; only shinjin (faith) is essential. For it is the Vow to save the person whose karmic evil is deep and grave and whose blind passions abound."[1]
(Shinran Shonin)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The meaning of "if when I attain Buddhahood" [...] "may I not attain the supreme Enlightenment" from the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha

Amida Buddha promised in His Primal Vow:

"If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings of the ten quarters who sincerely entrust themselves to me, desire to be born in my land, and say my Name even ten times, should not be born there, may I not attain the supreme Enlightenment." 

I explained the content of the Primal Vow here, at this link, but now I would like to focus more on the specific words from its beginning and end because I saw that many people misunderstand it:

"if when I attain Buddhahood" [...] "may I not attain the supreme Enlightenment"

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The benefits of being born in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha

this article is a continuation of the teaching series, 
            
In order to help my Dharma companions to awake aspiration for the Pure Land, I will further explain the benefits of being born there. These should be read and contemplated in contrast with the previous descriptions of the sufferings of samsara, and with the rest of the Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind Toward Amida Dharma: the preciousness of human birth, impermanence and death, and karma - the law of cause and effect.

But before I enter into the details of this topic, we must remember a few key points. First of all, 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.

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


Amida Buddha and Eight Great
Bodhisattvas, among which there
is Maitreya
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.

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 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.

NEW poems by Gansen John Welch