Friday, February 1, 2019

Our attitude towards those who try to harm us or lead us away from Amida Dharma

"While holding the Nembutsu in your heart
and saying it always, please pray for the present
life and also the next life of those who slander it
Question: What attitude should I have, as a Jodo Shinshu disciple, towards those who try to harm me or lead me away from Amida Dharma?

Answer: The truth is that there is NO being who was not, somewhere in the beginingless past, your own mother and father. So, you should look to them as to your own parents who went mentally sick, and cannot recognize you. This is not just a metaphor, but the truth in accordance with the Buddhist teaching. Samsara is a disturbed horror movie, in which loving parents from a previous life may kill their children in the next, and vice versa. However, even if we accept this Buddhist truth of inter-relatedness of all beings, we should be aware of our present limitations and do not pretend to be saints when we know we are not, so perhaps for the majority of us is better to stay away from those who wish to harm us or lead us astray with their behavior. 

Saturday, January 26, 2019

The story of Dharmakara becoming Amida Buddha – commentary on the sections 4 to 10 of the Larger Sutra

Now let’s see what Shakyamuni told us about Amida Buddha and His Pure Land.
In section 4 of the Larger Sutra He first enumerates many Buddhas of the past eons of time who appeared in samsara to teach the Dharma: “in the distant past – innumerable, incalculable and inconceivable kalpas ago…”[1]. Doing so, He showed to us that human history, as we know it, is only a very small fraction of the endless and inconceivable time of the universe and that the various world systems and beings living in them had existed before the appearance of this earth. So He mentioned 52 great Buddhas who appeared in samsara, taught the Dharma and entered Nirvana before the story of Amida actually happened. After these 52 Buddhas, another great Buddha named Lokesvararaja appeared, still in a distant, and impossible to explain, time and place:

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Don't bring worldly activities into the temple

inside the Hondo (Dharma Hall)
of Amidaji temple

Question: What do you think about the idea of having a bar in the temple – I heard some Japanese priests are doing it to attract people. Other temples organize parties or cultural events for the same reason.

Answer: I saw a lot of people praising that bullshit with Japanese Buddhist priests transforming temples into bars or having a bar on the temple grounds to attract people. Also, other Jodo Shinshu temples around the world organize bazaars, and even parties with alcohol for members and visitors. I find this to be disgusting. Such things will never happen at Amidaji. The temple should be a gate to the Pure Land, a place for listening deeply to Amida Dharma, and NOT for promoting our blind passions and worldly amusements.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Don't be upset with samsara

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

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

Friday, January 4, 2019

Nembutsu vs mantras and dharanis related with Amida

Amida Buddha image
at the altar of Amidaji temple
Question: Can we chant various mantras or dharanis associated with Amida Buddha/Amitabha from the esoteric schools instead of His Name? 

Answer: In His Primal Vow (18th Vow) Amida Buddha exclusively mentioned the saying of His Name (Nembutsu), so we only say His Name. As no mantras or dharanis are mentioned there, we do not recite them. From the myriads of practices, related or not related with Him, Amida chose His Name, so we must be in accord with His wish. I explained this aspect in more detail here (click to read).

Being a Buddha, He knows better why He only chose the Nembutsu in His Primal Vow, so we should not busy our minds with something that goes beyond our limited capacities, but follow His command and say His Name exclusively. 

Friday, December 28, 2018

Is Amida Buddha a real person or a symbol/metaphor?

the altar of Amidaji temple
- fragment from a letter to a friend - 

Question: Is Amida a symbol or metaphor for Wisdom and Compassion? Some scholars nowadays support this idea.

Answer: Those scholars are wrong. Amida Buddha is NOT a symbol or metaphor for Wisdom and Compassion, but a real, existing Enlightened Person possessing Infinite Wisdom and Compassion. 
I always insist on the actual, literal existence of Amida Buddha and His Pure Land because without realizing and accepting this existence, faith of unenlightened people becomes abstract and false. There can be no real faith without a real object of faith – in our case, Amida Buddha.
If you can’t say it to yourself and others that the object of your faith is a real, living Buddha, then you don’t have faith. No matter how great scholar you are, if your knowledge and study has not simplified your faith, and if you can’t talk about faith in simple terms, then you don’t have faith.

NEW poems by Gansen John Welch