The Verses on the Larger Sutra

If one hears the virtuous Name of Amida,
Rejoices, praises, and takes refuge in it,
One will gain great benefit even with one Nembutsu;
That is, one will obtain the treasure of merit.

Even if the whole universe were filled with fire,
Pass through it straightaway to hear the Buddha's Name.
If one hears Amida's Name, one will enter the Stage of Non-retrogression.
For this reason, I bow and worship the Buddha with singleness of heart

Words of Shinran Shonin

"When the right moment for indestructible diamond-like shinjin to be established in us,
Amida enfolds and protects us with the light of his compasion,
always separating us from birth and death."


(Tannisho)

Faith as indestructible as diamond arises in our minds
From the Buddha's continuous remembrance of us;
Without the special means of the Other-Power,
How could we ever attain the Determined Faith?


(Jogai Wasan)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Amida Begs You to Let Him Save You

By Rev. Josho Adrian Cirlea
---------------------------------------------------------------
Reverend Sakakibara said:

“When you take a bath, you enter with the dirtiest part of the body: your feet. In exactly the same way, you enter the Vow with all your defilements. The nembutsu enters your body through the dirtiest part of your body – the bottom of your feet. Amida does not say you must come with your body cleansed, but that you should come with the body that is doomed to the six realms of transmigration. The Buddha himself comes to you begging you to let him save you. As my teacher, Professor Ikeyama, has expressed it, the Buddha says, bowing to you, “I beg you, please come soon”. Even if you are a defiled being, you will be saved as you are. Namo Amida Butsu is the path of going beyond birth and death. This is the teaching of Amida Buddha.”
--------------------------------------------------------------
This book is available at Dharma Lion Publications.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Poem of Senmyo Wajo

Taken from About your thoughts and bad tendencies that don’t stop after receiving shinjin by Rev. Josho Adrian Cirlea



“When you are alone and hurt, recite Namo Amida Butsu.

When you feel the loneliest man in the world and you are depressed, again recite Namo Amida Butsu.

Namo Amida Butsu is for this ignorant person full of blind passions.

When things are as they should, not good or bad, Namo Amida Butsu.

Namo Amida Butsu is not recited for other people’s ears,

but it’s a Call between parent and child.

I hear Namo Amida Butsu with my ears,

Namo Amida Butsu I answer with my voice and my heart,

Namo Amida Butsu, recite even for ten times and sleep in peace!

If you suddenly die, whenever and wherever you are, you are home in the Pure Land of Enlightenment.”

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Act of Right Assurance

Adapted from ‘Saving Power of the Vow (lines 17-20)’
THE WAY OF NEMBUTSU-FAITH

~ A Commentary on THE SHOSHINGE with references to Wasan
by Zuio Hisao Inagaki

The Name promised in the Primal Vow is the Act of Right Assurance;
The Vow of Sincere Mind and Joyful Faith provides the cause of our Birth;
To attain the state next to the Buddha and realize Great Nirvana
Is due to the fulfillment of the Vow which assures our unfailing attainment of Nirvana.


Dharmakara's forty-eight Vows can be divided into three groups:

(1) those concerning his Buddhahood, namely, the Twelfth Vow which promised that his Light would be immeasurable, the Thirteenth Vow that his Life would be infinite, and the Seventeenth Vow that his Name would be praised by all Buddhas;

(2) those concerning his Land, namely, the Thirty-first Vow which promised that his Land would be pure and immaculate and the Thirty-second Vow that his Land would be full of magnificent splendors; and

(3) those concerning salvation of living beings, namely, the rest of the Forty-eight Vows.

In each Vow, Dharmakara expressed his firm resolution that unless it were fulfilled he would not become a Buddha. He actually fulfilled these Vows by doing many kinds of meritorious deeds and so became the Buddha of Infinite Life and Infinite Light -- namely, Amida. The Land of immeasurable Light, which on his attainment of Buddhahood came into existence beyond the realms of Samsara, is full of glorious adornments. This is the Land where he dwells everlastingly, welcoming beings from other worlds and enabling them to share the supreme joy of Enlightenment and Nirvana.

The third group of the Vows is further divided into two:

the Vows concerning our salvation and those concerning the beings in the Pure Land. The Vows in the second division include those which assure us of acquiring supernatural powers and attaining special samadhis in the Pure Land. The beings born there are completely emancipated from delusions and passions, and so, they are essentially the same as Amida Buddha. But they are described as Bodhisattvas who help him with the work of saving sentient beings.

Of the Vows which directly concern us, the Eighteenth is most important, for through this Vow our salvation is actualized. By working with the Seventeenth Vow, the Eighteenth makes us one with Amida through his Name, Namu Amida Butsu. In other words, Amida comes to us in the form of the Name, and his heart directly enters ours to establish in us the unshakable Faith. This Faith is the cause of Birth in the Pure Land and of subsequent attainment of Enlightenment. Shinran Shonin emphasized that the Faith given by Amida is the Bodhi-Mind containing the Buddha's Wisdom and Compassion. In the Eighteenth Vow this Faith is presented as three minds, namely, Sincere Mind, Joyful Faith, and Desire to be Born in the Pure Land, but they constitute the undivided One Mind, as Vasubandhu professed when he took refuge in Amida in his Discourse on the Pure Land.

The Nembutsu that we utter becomes the Act of Right Assurance if we entrust ourselves wholly to Amida's saving power and let the Name work through our hearts and mouths. Each Nembutsu is Amida's self-expression through us, and each act of worship is the manifestation of his saving activity.

The Eighteenth Vow is the point of our union with Amida. When we come to believe beyond any doubt that Amida is our true Parent, we find it natural that we should be born in his Land and see him face to face. What a joy it will be, as Shan-tao says in his Hymns on the Pratyutpanna Samadhi, to see Amida in his glorious manifestation, seated on the lotus-throne and surrounded by Bodhisattvas, such as Avalokiteshvara and Mahasthamaprapta. (SSZ. I, 704)

Contrary to what many people believe, birth in the Pure Land is not the final objective in Shin Buddhism. Attainment of the same infinite life as Amida and enjoyment of the highest bliss and pleasures are one aspect of the whole fruition which is promised us. The other aspect is attainment of Nirvana, the state of the ultimate tranquility and the pure activity. The first aspect of our spiritual attainment is promised in the Eighteenth Vow, and the second aspect, in the Eleventh Vow.

Speaking in ontological terms, the moment we encounter Amida through the Nembutsu-Faith of the Eighteenth Vow, we realize oneness with Amida, and thus we are immediately emancipated from bondage to Samsara. After the fruits of our past karma, that is, our bodies with all the defilements of blind passions, are relinquished at our bodily death, we will attain Nirvana. This process is shown in the Eleventh Vow -- the Vow assuring our unfailing attainment of Nirvana. This Vow reads:

If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and gods in my land should not dwell in the Definitely Assured State and unfailingly reach Nirvana, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. (chap. 7)

We note that this Vow presents two stages of spiritual attainment which are of vital importance to Pure Land aspirants. One is 'dwelling in the Definitely Assured State' and the other, 'attaining Nirvana.' The Larger Sutra clarifies this point by stating:

The Buddha (Shakyamuni) said to Ananda,
"Sentient beings who are born in that Buddha-land all reside among those assured of Nirvana. The reason is that in that land there are neither beings who are destined to adverse conditions nor those whose destinies are uncertain." (chap. 22)

If, as the Larger Sutra says, the Pure Land is inhabited only by those who are sure to reach Nirvana, it is reasonable to think that those who will be born there should also be in the Definitely Assured State while in this life of Samsara. This point was emphasized by Shinran Shonin, who says in his Ichinen tanen mon'i (One Thought and Many Callings):

Those who will be born in that land all dwell in the Definitely Assured State, because in that Buddha-land there are neither those destined to the lower realms nor those whose destinies are uncertain. As I understand the teaching of the two Buddhas (i.e. Amida and Shakyamuni), 'immediately (assured of) birth' means abiding in the Definitely Assured State; this further means attaining in the state of Non-retrogression. Since those who dwell in this state unfailingly reach the unsurpassed great Nirvana, they are said to attain the 'state next to the Buddha' or to attain the 'state of Non-retrogression'. (SSZ. II, 606-7)

Besides those terms in the above quotation, there is one more in Shinran Shonin's thought, where he compares such aspirants to the future Buddha by saying that they are 'equal to Maitreya.' Since he is in the highest bodhisattva stage, they are the same because they will become Buddhas in the next life.

What a joy it is to be firmly established in the state of Non-retrogression! Amida has made this possible by transferring all his merit and power through the Name: Namu Amida Butsu.

Inside the Cups of Some Bombus


Recently I have conducted a discourse through smses with a close dharma friend on the aspect of ‘self-power’ which I named it ‘calculations’ or ‘doubts’ of bombus. We frequently hear people saying that bombus need to ‘empty their cups’ first to partake in the Primer Vow of Amida or to receive the gift of shinjin as it is. The Vow Power of Amida is to unmistakably save those hearing the Vow and readily accept the offer of Amida unadorned.

We need not to ‘add value’ to the Vow as the Vow in itself complete and all-embracing. The Vow Power expressed in us bombus as Nembutsu which is Namu Amida Butsu has no difference from Amida himself, in fact His Name, his Vow and his Body and Land are one and inseparable. Since, the Vow-Power is Amida himself, what do you think the valueless bombus like us can do to ‘brighten up’ the priceless Vow. On the contrary, when we try to add our personal values onto the Vow, we actually draw ourselves further away from the Vow.

Adding our personal values means there are hidden ‘doubts’ residing in our subconscious mind that we are unaware of their presence. Without freeing these calculations, you will never entrust yourself wholeheartedly to the true working of Amida.

What are there inside your cups? What makes you keep lingering over to it?

Our cups are filled with self-power activities brewed with different ‘flavors’. We are not talking about self-attachment here which is much emphasised in the path of sages. However, we are talking about the mindsets that we harbor day by day about ‘what we need to fulfill’ when come to the matter of settling of shinjin.

I came from the path of sages and know how hard one is to let go one’s self-effort in one hand and let Amida on the other.

What is there inside your cups? Empty IT as I think IT is just awful.
  • We should at least do good to match the vow power of Amida
  • We should not at least do bad things to meet Amida’s light of salvation
  • We should develop some percentage of purity of mind at least to obtain shinjin
  • We should behave like Master Honen or who and who that watched their precepts well
  • We must do nembutsu as much as possible as Honen did or so and so did
  • We should change the way of living we are now following
  • We should do this and that, and so and so….
  • We should not have this and that, and so and so….

I believe there are more to add to the list if you can name it.


However, the Primer Vow of Amida simply DOES NOT need these ‘worldly things’ or ‘anything you can name it’ in your cups to condition the Vow. In fact, it is because we bombus could not afford to do ‘so and so’ in this conditional world, Dharmakara Bodhisattva VOWED and ACCOMPLISHED ALL CAUSES that WE would NEED for Rebirth. He spent 5 kalpas's duration to ponder over the causes and effects of establishing the Pureland that he dreamed and how could we be saved to His land of Bliss and become Buddhas once and for all. He comtemplated on our predicaments and saw through our nature. He knew us as if he were our heart and mind. He knew how ‘incapable’ we were in facing life-and-death matter. He knew that we were utterly sorry to ‘Do-It-Ourselves’.

Out of this compassionate heart, He willingly ‘DID IT ALL’ for us and went to a lot of unimaginable difficult bodhisattva practices on our behalf through unmemorable kalpas of life and when he went through with IT, he turned into Amida Buddha and His land of Ultimate Bliss was finally materialised. His NAME is heard throughout the 10 directions as a fulfillment of the Vows. All Buddhas in the 10 directions reverently and readily propagate His NAME and the Vows. When His NAME reaches us, knowing that IT is not merely the light of our deliverance but in fact the FRUITION of our deliverance, we receive IT gratefully with full conviction and express ‘Namu Amida Butsu, I submit to YOU Amida Buddha’. This is the reception of shinjin.


I remembered quoting in one of my smses to a friend with Zuiken’s statement sounding

Doing nothing, I rebirth into Amida’s land of bliss.

How inconceivable the Vow power is’.

In his returned sms, he argued that 'are we Buddhists not have to do good and abandon the gravest offenses and cardinal sins principally'. I did not claim in the first place that the Primer Vow allows us to act freely and inhumanly. However, Zuiken’s statement is truely a plain idea about the activities of the salvation which is primarily the working of Vow Power of Amida with no rooms for bombus’ calculations to take effect. It sounds like without one knowing it, one has been rescued and saved to the other shore of nirvana. People might get it wrongly that this is probably another false teaching as it seems to against what we are repeating over and over here the all-importance matter of settling of shinjin.


Precisely, ‘Doing nothing’ resembles to the meaning of ‘no working’ or ‘calculations’ on the side of bombus and ‘true working’ is mainly on the side of Amida. “How inconceivable the Vow Power is’ is a reflection of shinjin or bearing witness to the undivided faith in Amida. We need not keep saying that we have got shinjin when we are firm and determined. We will just say the nembutsu naturally, in conformity with the working of the 17th vow of Amida to help glorify His Grace and NAME and as an expression of indebt gratitude.


Seek no shinjin in your poor bombus’ deluded and ever changing mind; seek shinjin in the intent of the Primer Vow of Amida and his NAME which is everlasting and ever ready for you to receive just as it is. Your nembutsu or saying of Namu Amida Butsu out of true entrusting heart to Amida is the expression of Shinjin or Nembutsu of gratitude.


Without shinjin preceding the nembutsu, the nembutsu is a nembutsu without true working. No true working simply means self-working or self-efforts which is futile and fruitless at the end.

True working is the working of Amida’s Vow Power on receivers of shinjin which of course bearing inconceivable and marvelous fruits:
- Assured of non-retrogression instantly on Earth as the present result
- Rebirth into the land of recompense of Amida the life after and immediately transformed into Buddhas
- Join the ever-ceasing activities of salvation of Amida in the ten directions of the Universe through various manifestations

There are of course some other cups of bombus of different flavors worth discussing at another time. Know what inside our cups and empty IT are primarily important in order to meet the light of Amida plainly.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Two Types of Believers



~ An excerpt from the True_Shin Buddhism



By Paul Roberts





There aren't merely 2 sorts of people who believe, of course, because we humans are complex and have all sorts of beliefs about all sorts of things. In Master Shinran's Japan, there were believers in various sorts of Pure Land Buddhism, believers in various sorts of other Buddhist paths, believers in the local deities (KAMI) of the Shinto religion, believers in Confucianism, and in Taoism, too. Master Shinran also talked about "the 95 non-Buddhist paths", of which I don't know any details other than the ones I just mentioned.

But the focus in so much of his writing - and in the writings of Master Rennyo as well - was of 2 types of believers within the Pure Land school. And yes - back then there were, essentially two types.

One type believed that we can do nothing to save ourselves, or improve ourselves and our lives in any permanent sort of way. For that type of person, the classical idea of generating merit by various practices and good acts seems like utter futility - like trying to bail out your little boat with a spoon when it has a huge hole in the bottom of it.

A person with that mindset would be someone who would respond to True Shin Buddhism's message of entrusting our karmic destiny ENTIRELY to Amida Buddha.

Notice, by the way, that every time I write this Third Pillar, I always put the word ENTIRELY in caps. I'm doing it deliberately, to emphasize Master Shinran's view on this subject. If I'm entrusting my karmic destiny ENTIRELY to Amida Buddha, then, by definition, I'm not entrusting my karmic destiny to me, my good thoughts, my good acts or my good practices even a little bit.

I'm trusting Amida ENTIRELY. I'm not trusting me AT ALL.

People who trust Amida ENTIRELY, and don't trust themselves AT ALL are people of the SINGLE PRACTICE.

On the other hand...people who entrust Amida 99%, and also trust themselves 1% to generate even a teensy-tiny bit of merit, are NOT people of the SINGLE PRACTICE. They are (our Dharma masters teach) people of MIXED practices, also called SUNDRY practices.

Now - let's dig into the core of the matter here - from a Dharma perspective:
Why in the world would someone who hears the Dharma of Amida Buddha (including the Primal Vow), and believes that Amida is a real Buddha and the Pure Land a real place, and Amida's salvation a real experience - why would such a person try to add his good works to the work of Amida Buddha?

The answer - in a single word - is DOUBT.

The person who tries to generate karmic merit by good thoughts, good acts, good practices is the person who doubts that Amida can and will save him (or her) just as he is.

He might have doubts about the Dharma. He might think to himself, "What if it isn't really so?".

He might have doubts about himself. He might think to himself, "Surely I am not deserving of salvation. What if I am too wretched to be saved, just as I am?".

Regardless of what his DOUBTS might be about, it is his doubts that keep him from simply resting in Amida's arms, as a child rests peacefully in the arms of its mother.
Now - speaking honestly - this whole business of resting in the arms of Amida our mother/father, as people of simple faith - is very perplexing, and even disturbing, to Buddhists of other schools. It seems to violate all that they have been taught about working hard to generate merit, and improve one's mindstream by various practices.

It is even more disturbing to those of other schools if they actually read Master Shinran's words, in which he declares unequivocally that those who engage in self-power practices cannot attain our common goal of Buddhahood thereby.

That's why I say that in order to listen deeply to the Dharma (our single practice) we really do need to EMPTY OUR CUPS. We really do need to let go of all we know, or think we know, in order that we may listen directly to the Buddha within - so that the Buddha Himself can assure us that indeed "no working is true working".
For some of us, emptying our cups is easy - and for others it is hard.It was easy for me, because I was in a life situation where I felt (as I put it back then) like a blowtorch was being held upside my head. Let me tell you that when you're in that kind of psychic pain, you can't even hold a cup, much less empty it. All my ideas about how to live any sort of spiritual life were gone - entirely gone. And that's the way it goes - for some of us.

For others, they are not "in extremis" when they first encounter the True Teaching. And often (and this is certainly the case with several folks here), they have considered their hard won knowledge and wisdom their most precious possession. They clutch it tightly, like a man would clutch his flashlight when lost in a dark cavern, trying to find a way out.

And then along comes Master Shinran, and Master Rennyo, and Eiken Kobai Sensei, and Josho Adrian, and Rick and Alistair and me and countless others who say to this man in the cave, "Just let go of that flashlight". Just drop it, and Amida will provide HIS light in it's place.

Now the man in the cave finds his mind racing. Can he believe these people? Are they telling him the truth? Or are they deluded fools, who will only lead him further astray, and deeper into darkness?

That's what is really going on in the mindstream of the one who listens to the Dharma, understands it, and yet finds it so hard to really empty his cup.

I'm not saying this to judge anybody. Rather, I'm stating it with compassion. It takes most people a good bit of time, first to understand, and then to trust.

And let's be very clear: TRUST is the coin of all real RELATIONSHIPS. And that's what we are speaking about here. Whether we're talking about relationships among members of the Sangha - or the individual relationship between an individual and Amida Himself - it often takes time for a relationship to unfold.

Amida has no greater interest than unfolding His personal relationship with YOU. His interest is not a DEMANDING interest (we've had some of those...grin) but a PATIENT interest. He is willing to remain interested, and faithful, to YOU - not just this year, or in this life - but for countless lifetimes and endless ages.

If you don't trust Amida ENTIRELY today, then perhaps you will tomorrow. If not tomorrow, then perhaps next week. If not next week, then next month, next year, next decade, or next lifetime.

Many of us have a picture in our heads of some sort of diety figure who is jealous, and impatient and vengeful - a diety who demands justice for sins of commission and omission - a diety who is going to whack us HARD sooner or later for whatever we will inevitably do wrong.

That's not the way Amida Buddha is - and not how He thinks about us, and not how He acts towards us.

There's a wonderful passage in the Larger Sutra that does show the mind and heart of Amida Buddha, even in his pre-Buddha state as the Bodhisattva Dharmakara. Let's listen together as Shakyamuni Buddha describes Bodhisattva Dharmakara's life and work to the monk Ananda:

===
Then, Ananda, after proclaiming and establishing those universal vows in the presence of the Buddha Lokeshvararaja before the multitude of beings, including the eight kinds of superhuman beings, such as devas and dragon-spirits, and also Mara and Brahma, the Monk Dharmakara was solely intent on producing a glorious and exquisite land. The Buddha-land which he sought to establish was vast in extent, unsurpassed and supremely wonderful, always present and subject neither to decay nor change. During inconceivable and innumerable kalpas, he cultivated the immeasurable meritorious practices of the Bodhisattva Path.

He did not harbor any thought of greed, hatred or cruelty; nor did he allow any ideas of greed, hatred or cruelty to arise. He was unattached to any form, sound, smell, taste, touch or idea. Possessed of the power to persevere, he did not avoid undergoing various afflictions. Having little desire for his own sake, he knew contentment. Without any impure thought, enmity or stupidity, he dwelt continually in tranquil samadhi. His wisdom was unobstructed, and his mind free of falsehood and deceitfulness. With an expression of tenderness in his face and with kindness in his speech, he spoke to others in consonance with their inner thoughts. Courageous and diligent, strong-willed and untiring, he devoted himself solely to the pursuit of the pure Dharma, thereby benefiting a multitude of beings. He revered the Three Treasures, respected his teachers and elders, and thus adorned his practices with a great store of merits. By so doing, he enabled sentient beings to partake of it.

He dwelt in the realization that all dharmas are empty, devoid of distinctive features, and not to be sought after, and that they neither act nor arise; he thus realized that all dharmas are like magical creations. He avoided all wrong speech that would bring harm upon himself or others or both; he engaged in right speech that would bring benefit to himself or others or both. He abandoned his kingdom and renounced the throne, leaving behind wealth and sensuous pleasures. Practicing the Six Paramitas himself, he taught others to do the same. During innumerable kalpas, he accumulated merits and amassed virtues.Wherever he was born, an immeasurable stock of treasure spontaneously appeared as he wished. He taught countless sentient beings and guided them on the path of the highest, true Enlightenment. He was reborn as a rich man, a lay devotee, a member of the highest caste or of a noble family, a ksatriya king, a wheel-turning monarch, a king of one of the six heavens in the world of desire, or even higher, as a Brahma-king. He revered and worshipped all Buddhas by making the four kinds of offering to them. The merit he thus acquired was indescribably great. Fragrance issued from his mouth as from a blue lotus-flower, and every pore of his body emitted the scent of sandalwood, which permeated innumerable worlds. His appearance was majestic, and his physical characteristics and marks were truly wonderful. From his hands, inexhaustible treasures, clothes, food and drink, rare and exquisite flowers and incense, silken canopies, banners, and other ornaments were produced. In such manifestations he was unrivaled among all heavenly and human beings. He thus attained the command of all dharmas."

===
Dharma friends, you can see that it's not just about the MAGNIFICENCE of the Bodhisattva Dharmakara. His magnificence is a direct outgrowth and karmic result about His care and concern for all beings everywhere.

All of Dharmakara's activities, including especially His profound karmic work of creating His Pure Land, are manifest ions of His infinite compassion towards us.
How else can I respond to such compassion, other than by saying NAMU AMIDA BUTSU. Thank You, Amida Buddha.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

CHAPTER ON THE NAME OF THIS SECT


Rennyo's Letter




In question, I ask:

It is not clear to me under what circumstances our sect has come to be called the "Ikko-Shu" (One-Mind Sect) by the general public.

In answer, I reply:

It has been established with certainty that our Founder did not particularly name our school the "Ikko-Shu." On the whole, the reason the people call us this is that we place our complete reliance, exclusively, on Amida Buddha. However, since it is explained in the Sutra as ". . . with One Mind, place reliance on the Buddha of Infinite Light and Life . . . ," to be called the "One-Mind Sect" is of no importance when there is the meaning that we should place reliance with one mind on the Buddha of Infinite Light and Life.

However, the Founder has specifically named this sect "Jodo Shinshu." Therefore, you must understand that we of our sect did not originate in any manner or form the name of "One-Mind Sect." The other Pure Land Sects presumably permit the practices of the various austerities, but our Shonin eliminated these practices. This is why rebirth in the True Land of Recompense is realized by us. For this reason, the word "Shin" (True) was inserted by our Founder.

In question, I ask:

That this sect was named "Jodo Shinshu" is clearly understood. However, in this denomination it teaches that regardless of being a layman with the depravities of the Ten Major Evils and the Five Cardinal Sins, one will be reborn in the Land of Recompense without difficulty by simply placing his reliance on the Power of the Original Vow of Amida Buddha. I would like to have this explained in detail.

In answer, I reply:

The purport of our school is that those who attain Determined-Faith will realize rebirth in the True Land of Recompense without fail. Therefore, if one were to explain what this "Faith" is, it would be: to place Faith only in Amida with one-mind and without doubt; and to disregard any of the other Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, etc.; and to place reliance with a singleness of heart without doubt in Amida Tathagata. This, in particular, is called "Determined-Faith." The two characters for "Shinjin" (Believe-Heart) may also be read "Heart of Truth." By "Heart of Truth" it is meant that inasmuch as deliverance for us is not attainable as devotees who practice the austerities of those in the path of self-power because of our impure and bigoted hearts, our deliverance is dependent upon the pure heart of the Other-Power of Tathagata. For this reason, this is called the "Heart of Truth."

Further, there can be no deliverance by just the recitation of the Sacred Name without the due understanding of it. Thus, it is explained in the Sutra, ". . . hear this Name and rejoice in Faith . . ." By ". . . hear this Name . . ." it is not meant that one should hear the Sacred Name of the six characters of "Na"-"Mu"-"A"-"Mi"-"Da" and "Butsu" in a senseless and aimless manner but it means that one should come in contact with a person who teaches and discourses in the Dharma, and should be taught by him the principle of the deliverance by Amida Buddha without fail if one places reliance in the Sacred Name of "Namu Amida Butsu" as "Namu." This is explained in the Sutra as "... rejoice in Faith..." In accordance with this, it should be understood that the substance of "Namu Amida Butsu" is the condition of our deliverance.After understanding the preceding in the manner as explained, believe that the recitation of the Sacred Name while at work or at rest, sitting or reclining, is nothing more than the Nembutsu for the expression of gratitude towards Amida Tathagata for our deliverance. In other words, such a person is called a devotee of the Nembutsu of the Other-Power who has Determined-Faith and who is to be reborn in the Land of Bliss.

With reverence, I remain

This passage, completed at the Yamanaka spa, Kaga Province, at 10:00 a.m. on the second day of the latter part of the 9th month of the 5th year of Bunmei (1473).

Monday, January 11, 2010

Faith is simple, nothing special

Rev. Josho Adrian Cirlea


I noticed that some practitioners from other traditions or with previous experience in other schools, who sometimes talk with me about Jodo Shinshu, perceive shinjin (faith in Amida Buddha) like a special state of mind that must be attained by them and which is hard to attain. Maybe this tendency comes from the practices they are used with in their traditions, where something has to be attained or felt or visualized, etc.

But shinjin is different. It doesn’t necesarily imply a special state of mind, or special thing to be felt or experienced. It is simply to entrust in Amida Buddha.

I rely on Amida for my attainment of Buddhahood in His Pure Land. That is all.

People, in general, are hungry for special feelings and sensations, thinking that if they don’t feel something special then maybe they have no true spiritual realisations.

But in matters related with shinjin and the salvation of Amida Buddha no special state of mind is necessary in your daily life.

When faith is first experienced the follower is taken a great burden of his shoulders, in the sense that he no longer needs to rely on himself to become a Buddha - a trully free One. The burden of his liberation is carried by the Buddha called Amida, who already crossed the Path for him. You can be happy or feel relief when you first entrust to Amida Buddha, if attaining Buddhahood or final liberation from birth and death is the most important matter for you, but this doesn’t mean that hour by hour, minute to minute, second to second, you will think on Amida or feel a continuous joy as to jump in the air. Our lives are in such a way that we can always be overwhelmed by daily problems and worries. But its ok, its simply ok to be like this. We are not compelled to always jump with joy because we are saved by Amida. Despite of this, the salvation of Amida is always present, as our simple faith in Him remains with us since we first received it in our hearts.

I already explained in my previous article that faith, once received, becomes like breathing, always being there although you don’t always express it consciously.

On the Jodo Shinshu path we are relaxed because we don’t need special states of mind or special qualities, we don’t need to be different than we already are in our daily lives, that is, caught in attachments of every kind; we don’t need to be wise … in short we need to be nothing else than we already are.

This is because Amida does EVERYTHING….

Refuge in Amida, faith in Amida, recitation of His Name is effective not because of us, of a certain state or quality we should develop, but because of Amida. Once you realize this you can be relaxed. To be relaxed in Jodo Shinshu is to leave everything to Amida. It’s the problem of Amida to save you, to make you become a Buddha.

Faith in Amida is faith in Amida, not in ourselves, in what we can do, in our own feelings and states of mind. It’s faith in the Other, in the One who is already a Buddha, a completely free One and who promised that all unworthy, ordinary people will attain Buddhahood through Him.

I repeat, as I am not writing this post by accident but because of my experience with some people which I think they need it, don’t think at something special in relation with faith.

Also don’t think that something has to happen with you after you rely on Amida, like for example, becoming a better person, wiser or who knows how. Jodo Shinshu is first intended for people that remain unchanged in their delusions and blind passions all their lives. The Buddha has no expectation from the people for which He made His Primal Vow. Its normal for ordinary people filled with blind passions to remain ordinary people filled with blind passions. …

Or if it seems that you truly did something good or useful to someone after entrusting to Amida, think this is due to Amida’s influence, but not that you are a better person.

Don’t busy yourself with virtue or non-virtue, just entrust in Amida and do what you can in your daily life for you or for others.

Somebody told me that he can’t sleep, making efforts to attain shinjin. I told him:
“Relax, shinjin means just to rely on Amida; its not something you should create or construct in your mind. Don’t stress yourself, just entrust in Amida. Let go the idea of feeling or creating something. Just entrust.”

Human mind is so complicated…

But shinjin is just to rely exclusively on Amida for the attainment of your Enlightenment.
When you die, you will be born in the Pure Land or Amida’s sphere of influence and you yourself will become a Buddha, but until then, relax and stay as you are. Everything is ok. You don’t need to construct anything in your delusional mind.

Amida does EVERYTHING and asks NOTHING from you.

Namo Amida Butsu