Those Who Deny the Existence of Amida Don’t Have Shinjin: Some Simple Explanations 

Unfortunately, there are many false teachers in the international Jodo Shinshu community who support wrong interpretations of the Nembutsu Dharma - the so called modern and progressive interpretations - but which are in evident contradiction with the teaching of the sutras and the sacred texts. One of the most widely distributed interpretations is the theory that Amida Buddha is a symbol, a metaphor, or a fictional character.

Such interpretations demonstrate the absence of genuine Shinjin in the hearts of those who support them. It is simply impossible to have the experience of faith in Amida and at the same time to consider him a fictional character or metaphor. On the contrary, such a shinjin is false or fictional just as how the object of that faith is fictional.

I have never heard or read in the sacred texts about such presentations of Amida Buddha. Not Shakyamuni, nor Shinran Shonin nor any other masters of our tradition ever spoke in like that about Amida and his Pure Land. This is why I always say that those who present Amida Buddha as a fictional character, metaphor, symbol or something similar to these terms, don’t have the experience of faith and salvation.

The entrusting heart (Shinjin) is the cause of our birth in the Pure Land and of our attainment of Buddhahood, but how can faith in something fictional be called true faith? This is something easy to understand even by children. Fictional is fictional no matter how you present it, while the real is real. Only faith in something real and alive can be a true faith and have results – i.e. birth in the Pure Land.

If somebody says that you, the reader of these lines, are a fictional character, I suppose he doesn't believe that you exist. It’s as simple as that.

It is said that trees are known by their fruits. It’s impossible that someone speaking and insisting in his entire work on such false teachings can have a real experience of faith and can guide others to faith. It’s not that I judge the faith of others, but their own words speak for themselves. They simply don’t know or don’t feel or don’t understand or don’t want to accept who Amida Buddha is (that is, who the sutras and explanations of the Masters say he is): so how can they have faith in him?

Master Honen was recorded in the postscript of Tannisho as saying that some people don’t have the same Shinjin (faith) as his, so they will surely not go to the same Pure Land where he goes after death.

His Shinjin and the Shinjin of Shinran came from Amida Buddha, the real Amida Buddha, not the fictive Amida, the symbolic or metaphorical Amida. This is the reason why they had the same Shinjin, although their personal wisdom and knowledge of the Dharma were different.

Both Shinran and Honen, but also the other Masters, accepted the teaching about Amida Buddha as taught by Shakyamuni in the Larger Sutra on Amida Buddha. By listening to this teaching they received Shinjin and became Buddhas in the Pure Land. We, their disciples of modern times, are also different in knowledge, experience and wisdom, but we too must accept the same teaching they accepted in order to receive the same Shinjin as they.

Birth, life and death are not fictive, symbolical or metaphorical. Also our freedom from birth and death can’t be fictive, symbolical or metaphorical. A Buddha who is not alive and active in the world of suffering, cannot help and guide us to the supreme, unsurpassed Enlightenment. Faith in a fictive character, in a symbol or metaphor cannot free anybody.

Shinjin comes from Amida and is the cause of our Freedom: but for those who do not entrust in Amida as being a living and active Buddha, what kind of shinjin do they have? Please use your mind and simple logic, so that you do not fall in such illusions and wrong understanding.

True Jodo Shinshu Buddhism is not a rambling metaphysical system filled with symbols, metaphors and hidden meanings. Rather it is a set of clear and precise teachings intended to free all beings from birth and death through a simple faith in a living and active Buddha called Amida.

Those who don’t like or cannot accept this path are free to leave it or forget it, but they should never try to change it so as to accommodate it to their personal ideas and lack of faith.

from Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Teachings by Josho Adrian Cirlea. Complete e-text for free download at: