Tuesday, February 2, 2021

The Four Noble Truths from the Jodo Shinshu perspective

 After manifesting the attainment of perfect Enlightenment, Shakyamuni Buddha spoke about the Four Noble Truths: 

1.     The Noble Truth of Suffering:
“Birth is suffering, decay is suffering, disease is suffering, death is suffering, to be separated from the pleasant is suffering, not to get what one desires is suffering. In brief all the experiences made with the body and mind, which have craving as their base, are suffering.”
2.     The Noble Truth of the Cause of Suffering:
“It is this craving which produces rebirth, accompanied by passionate clinging, welcoming this and that. It is the craving for sensual pleasures, craving for existence and craving for non-existence.”

Monday, February 1, 2021

The six paramitas (perfections) in the Jodo Shinshu context

Shaku Shingan: “You may have heard of how at O-higan in North America, it is often taught that we "must" attain the six perfections (paramitas).” 

My answer: I know that some link Ohigan with the six paramitas (perfections). This is not good because we are not a self-power school.
The word “Ohigan” means “the other shore”. We also celebrate Ohigan at Amidaji but the meaning we attach to it is to remember the importance of birth in the Pure Land. This is what “going to the other shore” means.
The six paramitas were taught in the context of self-power practices so we can simply ignore this term. However, if we wish to use it then we must reinterpret it in the context of Other Power faith.

On the Golden Chain document

source of the photo
Shingan asked me to comment on the Golden Chain document which is sometimes recited like a creed at the start of religious services in many of the temples in US: 

“I am a link in Amida Buddha’s Golden Chain of Love that stretches around the world. I must keep my link bright and strong.
I will try to be kind and gentle to every living thing and protect all who are weaker than myself.
I will try to think pure and beautiful thoughts, to say pure and beautiful words, and to do pure and beautiful deeds, knowing that on what I do now depends not only my happiness or unhappiness, but also that of others.
May every link in Amida’s Golden Chain of Love be bright and strong, and may we all attain Perfect Peace.”
The “Golden Chain of Love” was written by Dorothy Hunt in Hawaii about 90 years ago and it became a traditional recitation in the temples belonging to the Buddhist Churches of America (BCA) as well as in the youth services for Dharma School, Young Buddhist groups, scouting and basketball programs. 

Monday, January 25, 2021



Эта книга представляет собой адаптацию моих бесед о Дхарме на тему «Таннисё — Заметки скорбящего об отступничестве», которые я читал в Тарики Додзё города Крайовы в обычные дни практики.

Юйэн-бо, автор «Таннисё», предупреждал, что этот текст может быть неправильно понят теми, кто ещё не готов принять послание Изначального Обета Будды Амиды:

«Не следует показывать его посторонним».

Об этом же говорил и Мастер Рэннё, который добавил следующие слова в окончании «Таннисё»:

«Эти строки, толкующие священное писание, очень важны для нашего Учения. Не следует без нужды показывать их тем, кто не обладает кармой добродетели с прошлых жизней».

Friday, January 22, 2021

My books are available for sale on Amazon Japan

 日本の友人や読者の皆さん、私の印刷された本を日本円で直接Amazon Japanに注文することもできます! 各書籍のリンクは次のとおりです。 

Dear Japanese friends and readers, you can also order my printed books directly from Amazon Japan in Japanese yen!
Here are the links for each books: 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The salvation of queen Vaidehi

Shakyamuni and Queen Vaidehi
(source of the photo)
This is a fragment from my Commentary on the 
Contemplation Sutra. It is a work in progress and 
may be changed and improved as I advance with the book. 

 The Contemplation Sutra[1] was taught in the context   of a  tragedy in the royal family of Magadha[2]. Master  Shan-tao[3]   who wrote a commentary on this sutra[4]  gave a detailed   account  of what happened. As there is  no English translation   available of his commentary I quote Rev Hisao Inagaki’s   summary of Shan-tao’s explanation:
 “Shakyamuni had a cousin, Devadatta, who was greedy for fame   and wealth. Seeing the Buddha receive many offerings from   King  Bimbisara, he wanted to take over the leadership of the   sangha. He first learned supernatural power from Ananda,   which  he displayed to Prince  Ajatasatru; thus he won the   respect of the prince and also received sumptuous offerings from him. Devadatta then approached Shakyamuni and suggested that the Buddha retire but was rebuked for his stupidity. Angered by this, he next incited Ajatasatru to usurp the throne.
Seeing that Ajatasatru hesitated, Devadatta pointed at the prince’s broken little finger and told him the following story.

Monday, January 18, 2021

False (mundane) merits vs True (supramundane) merits

It is said that when the great Master Bodhidharma came to China, Emperor Wu called him and asked him: “I’ve built many temples and I’ve offered many lands to the path of the Buddha; now please tell me what merits have I gained? Bodhidharma’s answer came shocking but true: “None, not one merit.”
In Buddhism we speak about two kinds of merits: mundane and supramundane. The mundane good is the effect of every good deed fulfilled with the purpose (conscious or unconscious) that there will be positive consequences: happiness in this life or in the next, a better rebirth, etc. This good deed doesn’t escape the subtle or gross forms of greed, which is one of the “Three Poisons” along with anger and ignorance (delusion). No matter how spiritually advanced we think we are, any good we do while we still identify ourselves with the false self,is a mundane good. As Shinran said:
“Extremely difficult is it to put an end to our evil nature;
The mind is like a venomous snake or scorpion.
Our performance of good acts is also poisoned;
Hence, it is called false and empty practice.”
(Shozomatsu Wasan, 96)
Contrary to this, the supramundane good represents any kind of action undertook without a personal goal or interest. It is spontaneous and natural, aiming exclusively to the well being of others and it has absolutely no trace of ego. Only this is the materialization of true compassion and may be considered as a genuine virtue leading not only to a better life in one of the six forms of existence, but to perfect Enlightenment. This kind of supramundane good was accumulated by Bodhisattva Dharmakara during many kalpas of selfless practice and dedication before He became Amida Buddha.
Emperor Wu is representative for all of us who have the pretention that by our deeds we are clean and pure without even realizing that the true virtues are very far away from our tiny actions fulfilled under the influence of ego. What the Emperor had accomplished represented mere mundane merits: that is why Bodhidharma told him: “not one merit”. We, the Jodo Shinshu followers, should never forget these meaningful words and never consider ourselves spiritually pure or superior. “Know yourself to be a foolish being of karmic evil”, said Master Shan-tao. Also Master Shinran said:
“With minds full of malice and cunning, like snakes or scorpions,
We cannot accomplish good acts through self-power;
And unless we entrust ourselves to Amida's directing of virtue,
We will end without knowing shame or self-reproach.”
(Shozomatsu Wasan 99)
As long as we identify with our false self any good we do is poisoned and cannot generate true supramundane merits. Our actions may lead us to rebirth in better states of samsaric existence but cannot help us attain birth in the true fulfilled land of the Pure Land (center of the Pure Land). For such a birth we need to receive Amida’s transference of merits – “Amida's directing of virtue”, which is possible only for people who entrusted themselves totally to Him in accordance with the Primal Vow.

NEW poems by Gansen John Welch