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

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

- adapted from a letter to a friend - 

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?

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.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Some elements of genuine faith (shinjin) in Amida Buddha

- last revised December 12th 2017- 

Thank you for writing to me about the elements of listening deeply to Amida Dharma. Would you please make a short list with some important elements of true faith (shinjin)?

- to accept the actual, literal existence of Amida Buddha and His Pure Land. I explained this in my article, If  Amida's Primal Vow is True. Please read it carefully. 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. 
- to accept the story of Amida Buddha as told by Shakyamuni Buddha
- to wish to attain Enlightenment/ Buddhahood
- to wish to be born in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha for the attainment of Enlightenment/Buddhahood

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A question on shinjin (faith) and Amida's attainment of Buddhahood

"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".

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. 
How can I say that I have or don't have shinjin (faith) if there is no special feeling I should associate it with?

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.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Do not associate shinjin (faith) with any special feelings or states of mind

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. 
Give up to any expectations on what you should feel when you receive shinjin (faith). Stop philosophyzing about faith, stop waiting for special things to happen. Stop thinking that your mind will become stable because one day you will have faith. Even if you are not aware of this, you are confusing shinjin with some kind of a smaller satori (enlightenment), and you are waiting for miracles to happen. But what miracles can happen with an unelightened mind? Amida Buddha has absolutely no expectation from you and He offers you His salvation without any condition, so why do you create your own conditions in your head on how shinjin should be like?

Rather than imagining things about shinjin, you should simply entrust yourself to Amida. Faith does not presuposes any special states of mind. It is just a simple entrusting to Amida Buddha regarding you birth in His Pure Land after death. When you receive faith you enter the stage of those assured of birth in the Pure Land as you are, with all your imperfections. Please remember that the cause of your salvation is NOT in your mind and feelings, but in Amida. This is why you should not associate your feelings with shinjin (faith).  It really does not matter what you feel as long as you simply entrust yourself to Amida. It is Amida's job to save you, not yours, so stop worrying!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Question and answer on intellectual obstacles to shinjin

Recently, I have been reflecting on my not having shinjin. The problem is I don't know WHY. Any blocks or obstacles to my receiving of Amida's gift of shinjin must be unconscious as I don't have any conscious obstacles at all.

What can I say….
Have you ever wondered that perhaps you complicate your mind? I mean what do you want this shinjin to be, that you stress your mind about it, so much? 
It is especially because people tend to complicate their minds and think that shinjin must be this or that thing, that I wrote the article, Faith is simple, nothing special.

Perhaps your mind still thinks that something must happen when you entrust to Amida, or is waiting for something to happen when you have faith. Dear friend, you will NOT change a bit after entrusting yourself to Amida. You are not supposed to constantly feel anything special if you entrust to Amida. There is really nothing there if you entrust to Amida, except a simple faith and Amida who helps you – assures you of your birth in His Pure Land.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The certainty of attaining Enlightenment in the Pure Land

If I am in the Pure Land created by Amida Buddha's Perfect Will Power after I die, what would happen if I never get enlightened? Is there a time limit to attain Enlightenment in the Pure Land? I’m scared as I don't want to experience birth, age and death anymore.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Shinjin: knowing not experiencing

article by Paul Roberts, webmaster of TrueShinBuddhism yahoo group

Paul Roberts
David writes:  
“I get it:  there is some way that you guys really know/experience the reality of Amida's presence so it's not a belief, even a strongly held belief,  but a lived experience, a lived presence.  Do I have that right? And is it fair to ask how do you experience it?  Is it something you could even put into words?  Is it like when I was 13 and asked my mother how I would know if I were in love and she simply said, in a way that was clearly meant to close the discussion, Don't worry--you'll know?”

Paul’s answer:

“Hi David - 

Ultimately, I can only speak for myself, and about myself, and my experience - not Rick's or Dave's or Shinran's either.

So let me start with this:  You wrote, "I get it:  there is some way that you guys really know/experience the reality of Amida's presence so it's not a belief, even a strongly held belief,  but a lived experience, a lived presence.  Do I have that right?"

So my answer to this question is don't have it right, and you don't get it...which is totally understandable.  That's why Dharma dialogue is so important.

You see, David, in your mind, you're putting me into a box that you've got called "mysticism", in which having an "experience of the reality of Amida's presence" is what it's all about.

But that is NOT what it is all about for me - not at all.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Two kinds of impermanence

Many practitioners have the wrong impresion that spiritual evolution is a straight road to Enlightenment and that once they made the first steps on it they just need to keep walking until the blisfull goal is reached. But this is no different than the delusion that life will certainly end at 80 or 90 years old, and that nothing can interrupt it earlier.
Contrary to that vision, the right understanding of the Pure Land Path presupposes the awareness of two forms of impermanence: the impermanence of our phisical bodies and the impermanence of our so called, „spiritual evolution”. After we realize this simple, yet profound truth, we should not spend our time in vain, and quickly entrust to Amida Buddha. Untill we reach His Pure Land, we are never safe.

Monday, November 24, 2014

"Good" for birth in the Pure Land

 - fragment from a letter to a friend - 

Question: I found the expression “good men and women” in a passage from the Smaller Amida Sutra. Should I become a “good man” in order to be born in the Pure Land? I am not a scholar, so please give me a simple answer, without entering into difficult details.

Answer: In fact, the expression you found in that passage is  "good men and women of faith”. “Of faith” is the key element of this expression and you should rely on it in order to understand the entire passage:

"Sariputra, those who have already aspired, now aspire, or in the future will aspire to be born in the land of Amida Buddha all dwell in the stage of non-retrogression for realizing highest, perfect Enlightenment. They have already being born, are now being born, or will be born in that land. Hence, Sariputra, good men and women of faith should aspire to birth there."
Shakyamuni Buddha - Smaller Amida Sutra (Amidakyo)

 "Men and women of faith” are called "good", not because they must be virtuous as a necessity for birth in the Pure Land, but because they are given Amida’s perfect virtues through faith.  In other words, Amida makes them good (suitable) for birth in the Pure Land, that is, he provides them with all that is necessary for rebirth there.

So, “faith” (shinjin) is the implicit meaning and the essence of this passage. Without reliance on Amida’s Power, one cannot go to the Pure Land because his/her “goodness” or personal virtues are simply not enough for such a goal.  But if men and women entrust in Amida Buddha, they “dwell in the stage of non-retrogression” in this life, and at the moment of death they are reborn in the Pure Land, where they attain the “highest, perfect Enlightenment”.

Thus, instead of struggling yourself to become worthy of the Pure Land, you should simply entrust to Amida and let him carry you there.

Namo Amida Butsu