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 to
within their traditions, where something has to be attained or felt or
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 to shinjin and the salvation of Amida Buddha, no special state of mind is necessary in your daily life.
When faith is first experienced, a great burden is taken off the follower's shoulders, in the sense that he no longer needs to rely on himself to become a Buddha - a truly 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 okay, it's simply okay to be like this. We are not compelled to always jump with joy because we are saved by Amida. Despite 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 or 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 who I think need it, don't think of something special in relation to 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. It's 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; it's not something you should create or construct in your mind. Don't stress yourself, just entrust in Amida. Let go of the idea of feeling or creating something. Just entrust."
The human mind is so complicated - but Shinjin is simply the gift of faith-mind consciousness Amida gives us when we come to rely exclusively on Amida for attainment of 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 okay. You don't need to construct anything in your delusional mind.
Amida does EVERYTHING and asks NOTHING from you.
Namo Amida Butsu
Last modified: 14 January 2010.