Showing posts with label personal experiences. Show all posts
Showing posts with label personal experiences. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The miracle of Jodo Shinshu

There is a famous dialogue between Rennyo Shonin and one of his disciples:

“Hokyo-bo said to Rennyo Shonin, ‘The Myogo (six character NA MO A MI DA BUTSU) you have painted has been destroyed by fire but it has become six Buddhas. How extraordinary!’
The Shonin remarked, ‘It is nothing extraordinary. Since the Buddha (that the Name represents) has become a Buddha, it is nothing extraordinary. What is extraordinary is that an evil bombu (ignorant being filled with blind passions) becomes a Buddha through a single thought of entrusting to Amida"

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Rest in Nembutsu

Rest in Nembutsu. Let all your thoughts come and go while you just say the Name. Put an image of Amida that you like  in front of you and say Nembutsu while looking at it. Don't force yourself to feel anything special, just look at Amida and say His Name.
Rest in His presence and Name,
Na Mo A Mi Da Bu, Na Mo A Mi Da Bu, Na Mo A Mi Da Bu....

Do not pursue the various thoughts and worries that appear in the mind, but rest in Amida's Name. You can do this wherever you are, even without an image in front of you.

Amida Buddha is always present so you can simply change the focus to Him and leave everything else aside. You do not need meditation techniques which will make you go astray from Amida when this simple resting in the Name can be done in any circumstance and it is in accord with Amida's Primal Vow and Shinran's words:

"In this fleeting world - this burning house - all matters without exception are empty and false, totally without truth and sincerity. The Nembutsu alone is true and real. "

So, rest in Namo Amida Bu, the manifestation of true reality beyond the samsaric delusion.

Rest in the Name and you rest in Amida's presence. This is not a metaphor, nor a symbol, but the actual truth. Amida is in front of you every time, so please, turn your mind to Him and rest in His Name.
Namo Amida Bu

The above instructions appeared to me spontaneously this night at Amidaji temple. May our Dharma friends abandon the intention to mix practices and find everything they need in the Nembutsu of Faith!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The right attitude of mind when working for Amidaji

Working to strenghten the walls and roof of  the  
Hondo (Dharma Hall) of Amidaji. 
You can see me in the right corner of the photo.
Once, when I was doing my daily work for Amidaji,  in the unbearable heat, I suddenly remembered a passage from Thus I Have Heard from Rennyo Shonin, in which there is a recorded saying of Zenshu, a close disciple of Rennyo Shonin:

"Zenshū said, 'When I make offerings to the Shōnin, I do this as if they were my own. How shameful!' When asked why, he said, 'They are the things given by the Buddha, but I offer them to the Shōnin as if they were my own gift. My role is only to pass the Buddha's gift over to the Shōnin. How shameful I am to make these offerings as if they were my own.'"

Sunday, July 17, 2016

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

Do you ever feel like anything is "missing" for you without regular meditation?

My aswer:
I really do not feel something is missing. For an ordinary person meditation is useless anyway because no one can attain Enlightenment through it in this last Dharma age. More than this, meditation can even be a distraction from the Primal Vow. If Amida wanted us to practice meditation and considered meditation to be helpful to us, then He would have included it in His Primal Vow, which He didn't. As Honen said, Amida chose only His Name from the myriad practices. Why? Because this Name is supreme and all-powerful, and will take us quickly to freedom from birth and death.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A short question and answer on the home altar

Yasodhara venerating the Buddha by placing her head upon His feet.
I myself like to place my head on the feet of Amida images/statues and kiss them. 
"Some say that a Jodo Shinshu follower must have a home altar (butsudan), while others say this is not important. What do you think?"

I think it depends on each person. Let me give you an example from daily life.
Some are capable to remember their loved ones even if they don't carry their photos with them every day. Others, even if they also never forget their loved ones, they enjoy looking with love and affectionate thoughts to their photos. I myself never forget the girl I love, even when I do not see her for many days or weeks, but I like to look at her photo anytime I can, so I always carry  one of her photos with me, in my pocket. It is the same pocket I carry a photo with Amida Buddha, too :)

This is somewhat similar with having an altar dedicated to Amida Buddha and an image with Him in your own room. You are never far from Amida, and you know He is always with you, but because your unenlightened eyes of flesh cannot see Him, you may wish to have a painted image with Him and His Name in Chinese or English characters. There is nothing wrong with this, but on the contrary, it may prove helpful.

Also, have you ever kissed a photo of your dear ones, when you thought to them or missed them, or simply out of love for them? In the same way, you can have an image of Amida Buddha to whom you can offer flowers or bow to it, or touch your forehead with it, or even kiss it with devotion. I myself like to do all these things with images of Amida Buddha. It is the way this ignorant and devotional peasant likes to express his faith in his Savior.

But of course, you may be different and you might not feel the need to have sacred images at home. Both choices are ok, as long as you have faith (shinjin), because faith is all that matters. And if you are not yet established in faith, sacred images may help in creating connection with Amida Buddha, along with listening to the true teaching about Him.

- fragment from a letter to a friend -

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The dream world and the nembutsu of faith

 “Unless one comprehends the truth he is continually in a dream. Therefore Buddha explains life and death as a long night.”  
Master Genshin [1] 

Sometimes I'm so tired during or after my 24 hour shift[2] without sleep that I can hardly differentiate between dream and reality....In such moments I feel like Zhuangzi who after dreaming that he was a butterfly he could no longer differentiate if he is now Zhuangzi who dreamed the butterfly or the butterfly who still dreams that he is Zhuagnzi :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Friday, June 29, 2012

Do not have patience

I myself cannot find any satisfaction with Buddhist teachings and practices that doesn’t promise me a quick escape from birth and death. This is why I entrust myself to Amida Buddha, because I am in a hurry to become a Buddha.

I know that some virtuous practicers might interpret my hurry as laziness in spiritual matters or as lack of patience. I don’t deny anything, but when I deeply contemplate the rare chance of being born a human and how easy it is to fall again in the lower realms[1] or when I see that even in this life, thoughts resembling those of animals, hungry spirits or hell dwellers often appear in my mind and in the mind of others, I feel that I do not want to assume any risk of failing to quickly become a Buddha once and for all.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I remain the same

No matter where I go, or what I do, I remain the same.
Wether I am in my room, a temple, or even in the presence of the relics of the Buddha, where I was today, I remain the same.

I came to the relics shrine with a distracted mind, I stayed there and payed homage with a distracted mind and left home with the same distracted mind.
I did this or that, circumambulation, gassho, etc, but still my mind remained the same. When I realized this, I  stopped doing anything and remained sitting. Just being there was enough.

I was and always am in the presence of Amida Buddha, so what else do I need doing? What does a child need to do in the presence of the mother? Nothing. Trully nothing. He just stays there and feels accepted. No special thing is required. 
Just sitting there I realized again that everything is ok.

My mind can never be at peace. Since the Buddha and me both know this simple truth, just sitting in his presence is enough.
Namo Amida Bu. The problem of my life and death are solved once and for all without me doing anything special.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Incapable to read even a single Dharma sentence

 -fragment from a letter-

In times of great deppresion I cannot read a single Dharma sentence, nor am I capable to make my daily devotions properly. To think, to contemplate something, to write, translate or teach becomes a great burden. Everything stops and I cannot do anything.

In those moments, when I am incapable of any religious activities, I often become deeply aware of the friendship and care of Amida Buddha. My innability of doing anything, even to read or recite a single line is entirely accepted and I feel nothing like a reprimand on His part. I sometimes blame myself for my inaction and my incapacities, but still the feeling of being accepted as I am never dissapears from my heart and mind. So, even if I say the Name often or seldom, I know that my assurance of birth in the Pure Land is the same and the Buddha is here as always, walking with me, seeing me, protecting me.

Indeed, I realize that Jodo Shinshu is for me, Josho, a person incapable of any sustained practice, who often falls and wanders here and there driven by various atachmenets. It is this feeling of being accepted no matter what, that makes me a Jodo Shinshu follwer. Without Jodo Shinshu I could not be a Buddhist and the gates of Freedom would be forever closed for me. This is not a metaphor, nor a sign of humblesness, but the simple truth. There is no hidden quality in myself, no special capacity that can be of any help in the matter of birth and death. Still, such a person is saved and assured of Buddhahood due to Amida.
Indeed, the greatest miracle in religion is not that Shakyamuni or Nagarjuna became a Buddha, but that an ordinary person will become a Buddha without deserving it. Many wise and virtuous people will never understand this....

Namo Amida Butsu

Monday, January 3, 2011

Solve the matter of death and after death NOW!

"We should all quickly take to heart the
matter of the greatest importance of the afterlife, entrust ourselves deeply to
Amida Buddha, and recite the nembutsu." (Master Rennyo)

No matter what I do, there is one thought that comes to me naturaly and this is: „I will die one day, maybe tommorow or even today”.....

To be or not to be a religious person lies in how much attention one gives to his own death and after life. And there is something more: in how hurried he or she is to solve this matter of death and after death.
This I think should be a great urge for a Buddhist practitioner – to solve the matter of death NOW, as soon as possible, to be hurried to solve it and to not postpone it for another day or year.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Jodo Shinshu – the only path for people of lower classes

As an ordinary person that I am, gratitude does not often arises in my mind, but when it does I feel happy not only for Amida’s salvation but for every little thing that brings me satisfaction.

Those who always had what they wanted might not easy feel happiness when for example, they eat a good meal, but for me, this might bring me great happiness. Also to have enough clothes to cover my body, to have the rent paid so I am sure that I do not become homeless, to be able to pay electricity or water, etc, are sources of great satisfaction and relief. This is because every day I struggle with these matters and worry how I will be able to cope with them. Thus my mind is very much attached to such things.

To concentrate on the Dharma is never easy in the everyday life of an ordinary person who has a minimum income which is hardly enough to cover his needs. To be a full time practitioner or full time priest is completely impossible.
More than this, to have a job that does not contradict Buddhist precepts is also in many cases impossible.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A vision with Amida Buddha

Today I wish to share with you a personal experience which happened many years ago, even before I became a priest. Whether you believe me or not, it doesn’t matter, as I can’t prove to you that I am telling the truth.  So, you may treat this testimony as you wish. 

Arround 4 a.m. I  woke up from the bed, feeling insecure due to a bad experience and an ugly dream I had that night, and I went straight to my personal altar. There I started to say the nembutsu.
Suddenly an image of Amida Buddha appeared floating in the air and a bright but impossible to describe light came from his head toward me. The image was somehow the same as the one from the altar but more bright and with that beautiful light.
When I saw the image and light I instantly became calm and I was overwhelmed with a sense of safety and security. I felt  and I also heard in my head something like "don't worry I am here and I am protecting you". All that experience lasted less than a minute, so I didn't have enough time to savor it, but I felt it very strong and real. It was as if I was looking at somebody sitting in front of me - this is how I saw that image of Amida Buddha. And it was so unexpected.
With that strong sense of security and peace I could finally went to sleep again.

I often remember that experience, and although it may sound incredibile, I know it really happened. And it was not a dream, but a fully awake experience. It is like seeing somebody right in front of me, this is how I saw Amida Buddha’s image emanating clear light. 

I know other ordinary Pure Land followers like me had simmilar experiences, but few dare to speak freely about them. However, today I decided to speak. I was thinking a lot whether to do it or not, as I was and I am still afraid that some might call me a liar or a crazy person having hallucinations…. But as I can do nothing to change their opinions, I think is better to stop worrying about it. We live in a secularized world where to have or speak about such religious experiences or visions might attract exclusion from the company of the so called, respectable people. 

I also hope the readers will realize the mechanism of these experiences and not have a wrong understanding. They appear only due to Amida's Power and not because of some merits on the part of the practitioner. Every good experience the believer has, is due only to Amida. They just happen or don’t happen at all. I think we should not worry if they don’t appear. Certainly, we should not depend on miraculous events or visions.

Whether we have or not have such experiences it has nothing to do with our birth in the Pure Land, as this comes naturally only due to shinjin (faith).  Diamond like faith is all that matters in Jodo Shinshu and this is nothing special, but a simple, firm entrusting to Amida Buddha.
I am not a special kind of person because I had that vision, on the contrary, I remained the same ordinary person as before.  I really don’t know why it happened, but it surely happened and for this I feel grateful to Amida. 

Again, it was a real event in my life and I don’t care if others believe me or not. Indeed I had a vision with Amida Buddha who appeared in front of me in a form adapted to my mind. Nobody can take this experience from me.  

Namo Amida Butsu

- please also read the article Faith is simple, nothing special

Friday, January 22, 2010

Enjoy the presence of the Buddhas


One thing that I especially like in Jodo Shinshu is the feeling of  Buddhas being close to me, walking with me, seeing me in my daily life, watching over me.

Buddhas are not just teachers. If you think of the Buddhas only in this way, then the Buddhas will seem very far from you, somehow secluded in their Enlightenment, while you are here to struggle alone following their example.

But this is not the single side of the coin. Buddhas are indeed teachers and fingers pointing to the moon”, but they are also saviors, active in your daily life. They walk with you, think of you, see you, make plans how to make you understand important things, etc. Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Masters of the past are alive and active – this is a matter of extreme importance.

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 17, 2008

Sincere letter to a nice and virtuous Buddhist practitioner

Dear X,

I often have moments when I feel as if I am swimming in the mud. Everything seems to be contrary to my wishes and aspirations, every person I meet, like an obstacle, even a Buddhist friend. I often have the feeling of being sick and tired.

I have never been a social person, not even in my childhood when I played most of the time alone. I've always hated big gatherings and crowded places. I have never liked human beings too much, and I've always found the company of animals more pleasant than the company of humans. I even feel that I can kill a human being in order to defend the life of an animal who I might consider my friend.

I am not writing this letter to you for other reasons, than to share my unenlightened way of feeling things. I know that these are not the feelings of a “good Buddhist” or “what should a Buddhist feel”, but this is me at the present moment, this is my illusory personality.
I know very well that I can’t fix it or transform it into an enlightened personality through my own powers. So, since I became aware of it, I do nothing else than take refuge in Amida and become more and more grateful to Him for accepting me as I am and finishing once and for all, the crazy journey in samsara of this stupid man.

I take Buddhism and especially the Jodo Shinshu path very personally. For me it is not an object of study, but a way of escaping a great fire and a great sickness. It is like accepting the cure for cancer or AIDS. To me, Jodo Shinshu is a matter of life and death, it is the difference between burning in a big fire and escaping it.

I feel as if I have stayed for all my life in a house of mentally retarded criminals in which the only reasonable thing to do is to go out, find somebody who can get me out. I am too tired and too sick to take care of myself or be able to liberate myself from this house of sick criminals and killers.

I often ask myself what would I become if I was not grasped, never to be abandoned by Amida, but being left alone to the mercy of my karma and evil tendencies?
To know what one might become in a future life, if he let himself in the power of his karma and tendencies is not a big deal. One should just observe his mind and see with sincerity his real thoughts and feelings, especially those thoughts and feelings one doesn’t have the courage to recognize to himself and others. Just take away the crust of “what a nice person I am” and look deeply into your own personality and mind. What do you really see there?
Speaking about myself, I see that the feeling of wanting to kill and destroy my enemies or people who done me wrong in the past, often arises in my mind. I see a lot of hate, even to people and events in my agitated childhood. I see the wish of revenge, I see a lot of jealousy, anger and aggression which can always come to surface and strike. I had some fights in my past and I always can have more, this is why I often prefer not to go in places where I can be put in a situation to defend myself or fight, because I know very well that I can’t stop until I go to hospital or the other one will go to the hospital or even to his grave. I know and felt so many times how hate and anger develops inside me or bursts outside in a moment and overcome me… those moments so hard to resist when one is so close to killing somebody. It is indeed like in Tannisho, when Shinran says to Yuien bo:

“….it is not that you do not kill because your heart is good. In the same way, a person may not wish to harm anyone and yet end up killing a hundred or a thousand people”.

How true these lines always appear to me! I feel as if here Shinran speaks to me directly, making light of the deepest and true feelings of a sick person that I am. “Josho”, he says, “the fact that you haven’t kill anybody until now, doesn’t mean that you are a good person. The misery is still there and you know it, you just need a favorable condition for this misery to go out, and you never know what you can do. So don’t be so sure and think you have a good heart. Please Josho, investigate yourself and look sincerely into yourself. You can always kill a thousand people.” Indeed, Shinran, my only good friend, the only good friend in the entire Buddhism that speaks directly to my level of understanding, I am capable of killing someone if the favorable conditions for killing arises. Indeed I am helpless. It doesn’t even matter if I don’t kill somebody in this life, because I might not meet with the favorable conditions for killing, but this hate, aversion and jealousy I find deep in myself, already killed everybody inside my mind. I am a hidden and unknown killer. The karma of thinking is already in action, no matter if I fulfilled it with my body or not. This hate, aversion and jealousy will accompany me in the next lives and sometime it will surely manifest itself.And where a mind stream like this, full of blind passions will go, if not into the lower realms?

Please, you smart and “good Buddhist” fellow, stop talking to me with words like “there is no self”, or “nirvana is samsara”, or “your inner nature is that of a Buddha” and so on…. I really read about these things, but they are not useful to me. Just leave me alone with your bubble talk about purity and profound Buddhist quotes on peace of mind! I am tired about nice Buddhist talks. I am not a nice person, I am not a nice priest, I am not pure at heart, I can’t develop Bodhi mind through myself, I can’t follow precepts, I don’t drink but I am the same like alcoholics when it comes to my sick mind, I don’t eat meat, but I am the same like hunters and predators.
I can’t meditate, I can’t understand ultimate reality and “Nirvana is Samsara” kind of things, I can’t send loving kindness to anybody, not even to myself. I have been a drug addicted for eons(1) and you, a nice Buddhist guy, are telling me that I can really heal myself in this life or that I can trust in myself and continue this process of healing in my future lives. Sorry, but I don’t believe you. You are speaking over and over again about the ideal, but you don’t take into account the capacities of the person to whom you are speaking.

I also don’t care how virtuous you are and how nice your discourse about what should be done and what should be discarded is. But how can you speak about health and healthy states of mind to a terminally ill person on his death bed, that is about Nirvana and virtues to a person who lacks the seeds for Buddhahood, to someone who is guilty of the five gravest offenses and can die in every moment? Just please go out to your everyday meditation sessions or visualizations, and your peace of mind, to your “everything is possible” attitude, to your prajna, and please leave me alone with my friend, Shinran, because he is the only one who can really understand me. I am tired to listen to your discourses about ultimate nature, I just want to hear Shinran Shonin speaking to me about my Mother – Amida Buddha, who accepts me exactly as I am, telling me that for being born in his Pure Land I need nothing, really nothing. Just to entrust to Her and everything is ok. My Compassionate Mother will take care of my attainment of Buddhahood, like every mother takes care of her own child. You don’t believe me? You think that my Buddhist path is for inferior beings? I don’t care and yes indeed, I am an inferior being. So, it logically follows that your supermen kind of Buddhism is not for me. 

Yours in Namo Amida Butsu,

(1) please read my comments on the 13th chapter of Tannisho about the influence of karma from past lives

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ordination as a way to the lower realms or the Pure Land

To be a monk who receives donations or people’s appreciation, but to fail to attain Buddhahood, means to lie and cheat sentient beings. This is because ordinary and unenlightened people give you donations or offerings while thinking that you are greater than them, more virtuous, more close to Enlightenment or even that you already reached Enlightenment.

By giving you food, they hope that they receive a better karma, or a fortunate rebirth, etc. And indeed, to give praise to those who are worthy of praise or give food to those who really deserve it and are the lights of the world, it can bring many benefits to those who give. But what if you are not a worthy vessel, that is one who accepts various offerings or people’s praise, but is not at the level the donors imagine that you are, when they give something to you?

Then, if you fail them, and do not reach Buddhahood, you will have to give back mountains of rice for every little grain of rice they gave you. Because you do not reached your goal (Buddhahood), their aspirations are also not fulfilled, so you have to pay these grave karmic debts.

You enjoyed their food and money, obtained with great efforts and pains, and especially you enjoyed their devotion and praise. But you are a fake and a liar….

The same happens with a Jodo Shinshu priest.

I am not a monk, because I don’t take the 300 and something precepts of a monk, I can marry and have children, but in the same time, I am not a lay, because I have to have a higher aspiration than a normal lay follower or a person who lives only for food and drink. As a priest I have to take the words “receive shinjin for yourself and help others receive shinjin” more absolutely than a lay, especially the last part, which shows that I have to dedicate my entire life to helping people receive shinjin. Not only to help them, but to be ready to die in doing this.

Of course, nobody can help others receive shinjin, if he himself doesn’t have shinjin. And if I as a priest don’t have shinjin, not only that I can’t help others receive it, but I can’t even attain Buddhahood in the Pure Land!

In the same way a monk who lives in monastery receives people’s appreciation and donations but doesn’t attain Buddhahood, a Jodo Shinshu priest who is praised and respected by others, receives donations but doesn’t have shinjin and is not even born in the Border Land of the Pure Land, he will have to pay his debts in his future lives in samsara.

To wear the robes and kesa of nembutsu faith, but not to receive shinjin and not be born in the Pure Land, while in the same time, misleading others and not helping them receive true shinjin, must be the greatest fear of a Jodo Shinshu priest.

Maybe it would be better for him or her to remain outside the Pure Land path, than to go against the Dharma, misinterpret the Dharma and being an obstacle for others birth in the Pure Land.

People take too easy their priesthood, accept too easy praise and money because of teaching, without asking themselves in great fear: “Am I really preaching the true Dharma of Other Power, do I really have the same shinjin as Shinran and do I really help others receive shinjin? Am I a helper or an obstruction for my Dharma companions, for those who call me “Sensei”, praise me or respect me?”

This matter is of extreme importance. One cannot play with people’s attainment of Buddhahood, which only true shinjin is its cause. If you play with people’s attainment of Buddhahood, you yourself will not attain it, and more than this, you may lose yourself for many eons in the lower realms of samsara, in places and states of existence where there is no Dharma.

We, the Jodo Shinshu priests, must look to our ordination as to a great fire which can either heal and warm the hearts of beings, help them attain Buddhahood, or burn them all and ourselves together.

We, as priests, have very few options: we go in the Pure Land, in the Border Land or in the lower realms. We should be very careful and always ask ourselves if we truly received the same shinjin as Shinran so that we can help others receive it. To be over cautious at what we teach and to teach only in accordance with the words of the Founding Master, must be our normal state of mind.

Namo Amida Butsu

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Only for me, Shinran

Shinran Shonin said:

“When I deeply contemplate Amida’s Compassionate Vow, I realize it was made only for me, Shinran.”

If you don't come to the point when to think that the teaching is addressing personally to you, then everything is in vain.

Treat the Dharma as if Shakyamuni, Amida, Shinran, Rennyo and all the patriarchs speak directly to you. Think they are before you, addressing personally.

This is not a symbol, but the real truth. Perceive the teaching as being an exclusive, intimate, friendly and maternal relationship between you and Amida Buddha. He doesn’t treat sentient beings as numbers, but addresses to each one individually, so his relation with you is like between mother and child or between best friends. Think that Amida Buddha addresses to your own personal suffering, to all the forms that suffering manifests in your life and that he wishes to heal you once and for all.

Replace the word “Shinran”, with your own name, and say, “When I deeply contemplate Amida’s Compassionate Vow, I realize it was made only for me, Adrian.”

Monday, June 16, 2008

Brutal awareness

Hey, awake yourself to the true reality of your life!

Your body is becoming older and older day by day, no matter you are now twenty, thirty or fourty years old. Some of you are already fifty or sixty. Look at yourself in a mirror! Look at yourself in your old pictures and you will notice the differences. How your body has changed. Your body is becoming uglier and uglier day by day, and will soon resemble more like a corpse than a living body. Look how your hair becomes white, ..... the signs of death are there, in your own body.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Chanting in the middle of personal chaos

Thoughts after a religious service with my nembutsu friends:

I recite in the middle of my personal chaos and everybody in the Hondo(practice hall), recites in the middle of his/her personal chaos. We do not transform this chaos into order or purity, we don’t think at all to purity or negativity, we just recite and the sacred sounds of sutras and Nembutsu comes from Amida, carrying us, embracing us, accepting us.

In Jodo Shinshu we leave everything to Amida Buddha, our bad karma and our good karma. We do not rely on our good karma to attain Buddhahood in the Pure Land and our bad karma does not count, only Amida is important. Recitation reminds us of this, when no matter how we feel, we continue to recite.

Also, our everyday life is sometimes good or bad, we chose what we like and reject what we don’t like, but in the Hondo we don’t do this. We follow only the path, not our own likes and dislikes, not our own opinions, but the Dharma.

Chanting in the middle of our chaotical mental states reminds us that exactly in the middle of our everyday life with its ups and downs, we follow the nembutsu path. We have to keep going in the middle of our own chaos, we have to walk the white path in the middle of the river of fire and water. Shakyamuni urges us to go to the Pure Land and Amida is calling us. The path is here, in the middle of our misery, ignorance, blind passions and personal difficulties. It is the path Amida built for us.

While we recite the Name and feel our minds are disturbed by personal thoughts or other problems, we just let them be as they are, and we continue to say....... NA MO A MI DA BU, NA MO A MI DA BU, NA MO A MI DA BU.......

NEW poems by Gansen John Welch