Archive for the ‘Amida Buddha’ Category

On Turning One’s Life Over To Amida Buddha

Friday, November 28th, 2008

On the True Shin Buddhism Yahoo! Group, we have recently been discussing the idea of Amida Buddha being our Higher Power. We’ve been examning several questions:

  • What prayer means for Shin Buddhists
  • What the “10 Protections” are all about
  • And what “turning one’s will and life over to Amida Buddha” is all about.

Here is a wonderful contribution to the Dharma dialogue from my friend Jason: (more…)

Two Kinds of Enlightenment

Friday, July 25th, 2008

In his magnum opus, the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho, Master Shinran quotes from many Dharma sources: from various sutras (sermons) of the Buddha, from the writings of the seven Pure Land Masters, and from various other Buddhist sages as well.

In fact, 90% of the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho (True Teaching, Practice and Realization of the Pure Land Way) is actually quotes from other sources, strung together by Master Shinran’s vision as the supreme expositor of the True Teaching.

Here is a piece of a more extensive quotation by Master Shinran, from THE NIRVANA SUTRA. In it, Shakyamuni Buddha is speaking to his followers about two kinds of enlightenment: (more…)

Shinran Speaks: The Most Difficult of All Difficulties - Part 2

Friday, July 11th, 2008

We’ve been talking about Master Shinran’s observation that being able to truly hear and accept the True Teaching of the Pure Land Way is “the most difficult of all difficulties”.

Here (once again) is Master Shinran speaking about this in his HYMNS OF THE PURE LAND:

It is difficult to encounter a time when a Tathagata appears in the world,
And difficult to hear the teachings of the Buddha.
It is rare to hear the excellent dharma for bodhisattvas,
Even in a span of countless ages.

It is difficult to meet true teachers,
And difficult to instruct.
It is difficult to hear the teaching well,
And more difficult to accept it.

More difficult even than trust in the teachings of Shakyamuni’s lifetime
Is the true entrusting of the universal Vow.
The Sutra teaches that it is “the most difficult of all difficulties”,
That “nothing surpasses this difficulty”.

There are a number of reasons this teaching is so difficult to hear and accept. (more…)

An Example of Authentic Shinjin

Friday, February 24th, 2006

The experience of authentic SHINJIN is the gift of Amida Buddha to those who listen deeply to the True Teaching of Shinran Shonin. It is without parallel in all of Buddhism.

Dharma Master Shinran calls it INCONCEIVABLE.

Here is the testimony of a man who has been given the gift of SHINJIN - a man of the very same SHINJIN as Shinran himself. (more…)

Two Year Anniversary

Tuesday, November 8th, 2005

Today is the two year anniversary of my daughter Jessie’s death on November 8, 2003.

Beginning exactly one year ago, on November 8, 2004, a series of manifestations began. (more…)

Walking the Code-Talkers Into the Pure Land

Friday, October 28th, 2005

When I consider the abysmal state of much of the Shin sangha - how so many of the clerics and scholars have left Shinran’s plain teaching behind, just as Shinran’s own son Zenran did - I’m reminded about Shakyamuni’s dialogue with Maitreya, recorded in the Larger Pure Land Sutra. (more…)

The Longest Distance In The World

Wednesday, October 12th, 2005

My dharma friend Jason writes:

I must confess that I walked away confused from our last conversation. The whole issue of doubt in Shinran’s teaching continues to plague me.

I have moments of what one could call doubt on a semi-regular basis — much of it stemming, I think, from my own psychological makeup, family conditioning and pressures, as well a mind that’s been conditioned by Academia to doubt everything that comes my way.

So, since I am a person of Shinjin, must I still bear the “consequences of doubting,” as you said in our last conversation?

Or, as you wrote to me in a blog post, does it simply not matter what happens post-Shinjin? Honestly, this is a point on which I find Shinran ambiguous.

My heart tells me that I’ve been grasped, never to be abandoned — no matter what my mind coughs up.

As a serious person, Jason asks a profound question. Here is my best reply: (more…)

How to listen like Shinran - and how NOT to

Sunday, September 18th, 2005

Shinran Shonin, whose distinct karma is was to be THE Dharma Master for this singular “path of the foolish”, was all about coming to a state of deep receptivity to Amida’s call - a receptivity that opens the door to the mystery of SHINJIN.

Let’s listen deeply to his words - together: (more…)

9/11 or Nirvana?

Sunday, September 11th, 2005

It’s the fourth anniverary of the destruction of the Twin Towers - a place I used to work - a mile from where I grew up, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. My mother was still living there - and she actually saw the second plane go in. A few short weeks ago, it was the 60th anniversary of Hiroshima. And as we watch, the destruction of New Orleans unfolds before our eyes.

All are examples of what we call “The First Noble Truth” taught by Shakyamuni Buddha. It is the truth that life is, ultimately, not satisfactory - that it is marked by suffering. (more…)

Refuge and Refugees

Friday, September 2nd, 2005


Living like animals


Shinran Teaches: The Gates of Entrance and Emergence

Sunday, August 28th, 2005

A dharma friend named Woody asked me recently:

What about the vinaya pitaka? What about the 5 and 8 precepts? Is there no call to morality and goodness? Is there no room for these things in true entrusting?

In my last post to him, What Is the Purpose of the Dharma?, I explained why Dharma Master Shinran rejected mixed practices as well as a compulsive emphasis on moralizing. I closed by saying this:

But that (answer about not doing mixed practices) is not the end, of course. (more…)

MYTHOS or REALITY? Ask Amida Buddha to Show You

Friday, August 19th, 2005

My dharma friend Jason continues to dialogue with me about the True Teaching of Shinran. Here’s part of my response to his questions and comments on this whole MYTHOS question - which troubles and confuses the Shin Sangha so deeply in our day. (more…)

The Openess That Is Free of Self-Power

Thursday, August 18th, 2005

I invite you to listen deeply with me, as George Gatenby shares the True Teaching with depth and wisdom. Here is an excerpt from his Commentary on Shozomatsu Wasan 64: (more…)

Is A Person of Settled Shinjin Capable Of (Fill in the Blanks)?

Sunday, August 14th, 2005

My dharma friend Jason, who has newly experienced SHINJIN, writes this:


So there I am, walking to work early one morning last week, when out of a cloudy, depression-laced gray sky comes the thought: “I’m not sure I believe any of this at all. It’s all just too fantastic, too incredible to be literally real.”

Once again, I ask you: Is a person of settled shinjin capable of such a thought–a thought, I might add, that arose as spontaneously as the overwhelming gratitude that supposedly marks out those who are grasped, never to be abandoned? (more…)

The Dharma of “All Done”

Sunday, August 14th, 2005

I began this blog for ONE very compelling reason.

There is a profound need for Shinran’s teaching to be shared in English - in it’s original form, with it’s original intent and meaning.


Inconceivable Karma - And The Moment Amida Used

Sunday, August 7th, 2005

My dharma friend Jason writes this letter below, in response to a poem I wrote right after my daughter Jessie’s death, and then read at her memorial service.


Thank you for sending the poem. I feel honored that you would share it with me.

It’s heartbreaking…as is the fact of your daughter’s suicide. I have three kids (two daughters), and can’t imagine losing to suicide the flesh and blood that I would die for–maybe even kill for. I can’t imagine the heart-scorching pain you’ve suffered…

But now, I need to tell you something. (more…)

Close But No Cigar: Life In The Border Land

Thursday, July 21st, 2005

Here’s a continuation of my conversation with Jason that began here. As it unfolds, we’re talking about the Borderland adjacent to the Pure Land (as Shakyamuni Buddha describes it in the Larger Sutra), and some questions about Dharmakara’s 48 Vows.

As you read it, please note: you don’t need to understand ANY of this detail to become a person who is grasped by Amida Buddha. You simply need to listen deeply, and entrust your karmic destiny entirely to him - his person, his work, his primal vow.

He will do EVERYTHING to save you from the terrible wheel of birth and death, and bring you to Buddhahood at last in his Pure Land.

Frankly, as non-Buddhas, none of us REALLY understand the depth of what it all means.

But we will.

Namu Amida Butsu,

Paul R. (more…)

Being able to give up our limiting identities at last

Wednesday, July 20th, 2005


Ok, honest grappling here. This is a question that probably no Shin Buddhist in the 21st century, in the Western world, has not grappled with. And I’m willing to bet that very few have accepted the traditional presentation as found in the Larger Sutra.

So I ask you: What’s your reading of the 35th vow?

If, when I attain Buddhahood, women in the immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten quarters who, having heard my Name, rejoice in faith, awaken aspiration for Enlightenment and wish to renounce womanhood, should after death be reborn again as women, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.

Deep gassho, Jason (more…)

Two Teachers - Compare and Contrast (cont’d)

Saturday, July 9th, 2005

Following up on an earlier post Two Teachers - Compare and Contrast:

Ray writes:

You say teacher 2 is saying that we need a great capacity for deep introspection in order to sever the bonds of egocentricity. I don’t think he is saying this at all. He is saying we need to recognise we are unable to sever the bonds of egocentricity. That we need to call on Amida.


The SHINRAN Manifesto: Concerning Amida Buddha #2

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

It is the position of many modern Shin Buddhists to deny the personhood of Amida Buddha.

I’ve said before, and say again, this is truly a lamentable divergence from the True Teaching, Practice and Realization of the Pure Land Way that Shinran has provided us all.

We know from his writing that such divergences gave Shinran fits - because it made it impossible for the hearers of such distorted dharma to come to the same settled Shinjin (true entrusting) that would guarantee their birth in the Pure Land at the end of this life.

That’s exactly why I’m pointing out these differences for what they are - and challenging modern and post-modern Shin Buddhist clerics and teachers with the Shinran Manifesto: RETURN TO THE TRUE TEACHING OF SHINRAN, OUR TRUE TEACHER.

For example, here’s an excerpt from a tract written by a modern Shin Buddhist teacher that is now appearing on the websites of several Shin Buddhist temples: (more…)

The SHINRAN Manifesto: Staying In Dialogue

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005

Ray: hi paul,

well, there are certainly a lot of ruffled feathers at the shinlist (a Yahoo! egroup). i am surprised and disappointed at the personal and abusive remarks aimed at you.


Hi Ray,

I’m neither surprised, nor disappointed. I expected it.

When I began this work, I anticipated this exact reaction from any number of people.

I’m hardly made of stone, but I have a very strong sense of vocation about what I am doing here. A bit of verbal abuse will not deter me from doing it. (more…)

The SHINRAN Manifesto: Concerning Amida Buddha #1

Monday, March 21st, 2005


That’s the SHINRAN Manifesto.

Here’s the first of several Shin Ugly Blog posts where I examine the TRUE teaching of Shinran - and the teaching of others - concerning Amida Buddha.

Here’s a question to challenge all of us in the Shin Buddhist community - clerics, scholars and laypeople alike: what did Shinran believe and teach concerning Amida Buddha?

Here’s the Shin Ugly answer - plain talk in plain English to dispel confusion and help people find the same SHINJIN (true entrusting) as Shinran:

Amida Buddha has personhood in the same way Shakyamuni Buddha does.

Like Shakyamuni Buddha, Amida Buddha had a time in his existence when he was not a Buddha.

Like Shakyamuni Buddha, Amida Buddha went through a process that took place over many lifetimes which resulted in his attaining Buddhahood.

I’m going to unpack these few sentences in more detail below - simply and plainly - so that a plain person does not become confused, muddled or befuddled. (more…)

Genshin’s AHA! Moment

Wednesday, March 9th, 2005

If you’re not familiar with Shinran, you probably don’t know Genshin. He was the sixth of Shinran’s Seven Pure Land Masters Shinran referred to as he unpacked this final teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha for plain people in this age of Dharma Decline.

On Beliefnet’s Pure Land discussion list severall folks talked recently about Genshin’s personal AHA! moment.

If you’re doing ANY kind of PRACTICE - Buddhist or otherwise - in order to clean up your act, tame your mind, experience pristine awareness, deconstruct your egotism, etc, etc, etc - I invite you to listen deeply to the discussion. (more…)

One Question Changes Countless Lives

Friday, February 18th, 2005

I am grateful to Ananda, beyond any words I can say - for seeing clearly - for listening deeply - and for asking ONE question of his cousin and teacher, Shakyamuni Buddha, one day on a hill called Vulture Peak.

Because of his question - and Shakyamuni’s answer - and Shinran’s true teaching - my beloved Jessie has ended her countless births into lives of endless suffering at last. She lives now as a True Buddha - and soon enough I will too.

Shakyamuni Buddha invites you each and all to join us - whether you’re old or young, smart or dumb, Buddhist or non-Buddhist. None of it matters in the least.

Here’s the backstory: (more…)

Ananda’s Request

Wednesday, February 16th, 2005

The Larger Pure Land Sutra tells us that after Buddha Shakyamuni taught the crowd at Vulture Peak about Amida Buddha and His Pure Land, his cousin and disciple Ananda made a request. (more…)

What Shoren Chooses to Believe

Tuesday, February 15th, 2005

Shoren: Thank you Paul.

I’ve wanted someone to simply explain who Amida is and not use terms like mythological, or archetype.

I choose to believe he is real and present in my life.

Deepest Gassho to you for this. (more…)

Nagarjuna on Amida and His Pure Land

Tuesday, February 15th, 2005

In his great work, True Teaching, Practice and Realization of the Pure Land Way, Shinran answered critics within Buddhism - particularly scholars - who thought his teaching of no practice except simple faith in Amida was not Buddhism at all.

Those scholars were experts on the Path of the Sages. For them, the teachings of Nagarjuna on emptiness (sunyata) were critical as they sought to end their own suffering and become Buddhas at last. (more…)

Who Is Amida Buddha?

Sunday, February 13th, 2005

Part 1 of the Easy Path to Buddhahood is all about awakening our aspiration to end our suffering once and for all and become enlightened beings – True Buddhas - at last.

With that primal aspiration alive in me, I became ready to listen to Shakyamuni Buddha not only as a great teacher, but as the “World Turner” – the last TRUE Buddha of this world. As part of that listening, I was ready to hear how Shakyamuni Buddha manifested an energetic field unlike that of any other being.

As I listened, I was moved by the stories of countless men and women who encountered him.

I read how the energetic power of his Buddha-field multipled their sincere efforts, and enabled them to come to liberation, at last.

I read how scholars and sages, serial killers and mentally retarded people, and many plain people from all walks of life were able to use the many and various practices Buddha taught to move from the near shore of utter sleep to the far shore of full awakening. (more…)

Two Rivers and a White Path

Tuesday, February 8th, 2005

Two Rivers and a White Path is Shan-tao’s parable of the path of birth into the Pure Land. It is set forth in his Commentary on the Contemplation Sutra as part of his exposition of the sutra passage: (more…)

Talking with Clara

Monday, January 31st, 2005

Clara: Hello Paul, thanks for your kind reply.

I am the same Clara that you know as Rev Clara (last name), Sensei, from (Buddhist organization), disciple of Master (X).


Hi Clara. Of course I remember you. (more…)