Archive for the ‘True Entrusting’ 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…)

What is the meaning of NAMU AMIDA BUTSU?

Friday, August 8th, 2008

As Shin Buddhists - or inquirers looking for enlightenment and exploring Shin Buddhism as a possible path - it is good and useful to ask the question, “What is the meaning of NAMU AMIDA BUTSU”?

I have to be honest, that for a long time, I couldn’t answer that question clearly, because I was reading indiscriminately from many so-called teachers of Shin Buddhism who had all sorts of strange and esoteric ideas.

I tried - I sincerely tried - to understand what they were saying. But often what they said didn’t make sense - or one contradicted another - or seemed to contradict what I thought I was understanding from reading Master Shinran’s writings.

And I wasn’t alone. I’ve met a LOT of people who are just as confused as I once was. (more…)

The Most Difficult Thing In The World To Accept In Faith

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

(Note: This is cross-posted from the True Shin Buddhism Yahoo! Group.

Master Shinran’s great work - the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho (True Teaching, Practice and Realization of the Pure Land Way) is about 90% quotes from other sources, all held together with Shinran’s own exposition. As such, it is filled with Dharma Gems. Here is a profound passage from Master Yuan-chao, quoted by our Dharma Master Shinran (emphasis in caps is my own): (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…)

KGSS Preface: Shinran’s Joy

Monday, December 12th, 2005

So much of the True Teaching, Practice and Realization of the Pure Land Way (literally KyoGyoShinSho) is encapsulated in the few short paragraphs of Dharma Master Shinran’s preface to that document - his most important work.

I invite you to listen deeply with me as Shinran describes the reason for his his JOY - the JOY of a person of true SHINJIN - the true entrusting that is the gift of the compassionate Buddha Amida to the hungry heart: (more…)

KGSS Preface: Shinran’s Rugged Universalism

Sunday, December 4th, 2005

The Dharma thought of Dharma Master Shinran is at odds with the current fashion in thinking today. To discuss Shinran’s Dharma HONESTLY, we must first meet him on his own terms - rather than the terms we have been familiar with.

Then, once we have understood what he says - and what he means - we are each free to decide for ourselves whether we accept what he says as Dharma Truth. Do we believe Shinran saw clearly and spoke truly as a Dharma Master - or was he just foolish and deluded in his assertions about the most important subject of all: suffering and the end of suffering? (more…)

Shinran Shonen - Shin Buddhism’s Dharma Master

Thursday, November 17th, 2005

Anyone who’s been following the blog knows that it has one purpose: to be a vehicle for Shinran Shonen’s Dharma teaching.

After he met his teacher Honen, the rest of Shinran’s life was dedicated to sharing the revelation that Amida Buddha had given to him. He called it SHINJIN - sometimes translated as FAITH, sometimes translated as TRUE ENTRUSTING.

Whatever word you use, Shinran was not a mincer of words, nor a code-talker. On the contrary, his calling as a Dharma Teacher was to speak PLAINLY. He offered plain talk, for plain people, about suffering - and also the END of suffering. (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…)

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…)

The Vast Gulf between True and False Teaching

Sunday, October 9th, 2005

There is a vast gulf between the true teaching of a true teacher, and the divergent teaching being offered to many westerners today in the name of Shinran.

One of the core reasons I write the Shin Ugly Blog is to make people who are interested in the True Pure Land Way of Dharma Master Shinran MORE aware of just how vast that gulf really is. (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…)

The Weight of Water

Tuesday, September 6th, 2005

We’re all grateful to see the infrastructure of the US government finally get into action on behalf of the living and the dead who have suffered so from the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

But as we look beneath the surface of that event - an event which destroyed a huge city of almost a million people - it is clear that this is not an isolated event. The people who measure risk for a living - the world’s great insurance companies - have all revised their underwriting projections in anticipation of even more overwhelming events like this to come - because of global warming.

We’ve begun to see the unfolding of them across the globe, as the ice caps melt at a rate that is unprecedented, and the sea level and temperature rises across the world. The predicted changed are dire - even apocalyptic. A consortium of enlightened capitalist leaders are beginning to speak out, along with the environmentalists.

We are dealing with THE WEIGHT OF WATER. (more…)

Woody’s “Silly” Question

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

Hello dharma friend Paul,

I re-read the three steps on the Easy Path to Buddhahood and needed to ask a question: When do I know if I have expressed true faith in Amida’s vow? (more…)

Woody’s Hard Time With COMPLETE Other Power Teaching

Sunday, August 21st, 2005


I have a hard time with complete other-power teaching considering that Shakyamuni himself in the Pali Canon said over and over again that there expectations of both monks, nuns and laypersons.

If “true entrusting” is all there is, 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”? (more…)

Eiken Kobai: The World of Certainty

Wednesday, August 17th, 2005

I commend Professor Eiken Kobai to anyone who is interested in The True Teaching of Shinran Shonin. My dharma friend George Gatenby said, after I pointed him to these two volumes which have been translated into English, that he believes Eiken is the pre-eminent scholar of the Nishi Hongwanji branch of the Shin Sangha.

I can tell you Eiken Kobai’s burden and mission, because it comes off of every single page of the books he writes. It is the same as the burden and mission of our Dharma Master Shinran - and his true heir Rennyo. (more…)

Blogging Shinran’s Dharma - How It Feels and Why I Do It

Tuesday, August 9th, 2005

Hi Jason -

I just wanted to let you know that I have not forgotten our conversation, nor my promise to share with you some more - both about my own life’s journey, and about my thoughts on settled SHINJIN.

Please bear with me. I find that after I have written for the blog, I sometimes need to take a break for several days, even when I know exactly what I want to talk about next.

Blogging the dharma touches the deepest places in me, in opposite directions: (more…)

Shin Ugly: Manifesto and Celebration

Saturday, August 6th, 2005

The last several blog posts are a good example of the two sides of the SHIN UGLY dialogue that has defined authentic Shin Buddhism from the beginning. (more…)

Freedom in SHINJIN - Part II

Thursday, August 4th, 2005

This is a continuation of a dialogue that started HERE.

A dharma friend writes:

I’m not sure whether the freedom of shinjin has any concrete implications for our continued existence in samsara, or functions mainly to assure us of Pure Land birth.

After all, personal “transformation,” or any kind of Path of Sages agenda is moot, right? No sort of personal change is to be sought after or expected.

Thanks for helping me sort all this out.

Good question. Here’s my answer. (more…)

Freedom In SHINJIN - Part I

Monday, August 1st, 2005

My dharma friend Jason writes:

I believe that what I’m about to say is from Shinran, but please correct me if I’m wrong.

Is it right to say that, after the one thought-moment of shinjin has been given, Amida has transformed all our past, present and future karma from the karma of samsaric rebirth into the karma for birth in the Pure Land? (more…)

Amida Awakens Jason

Tuesday, July 19th, 2005


Just wanted to drop you a line to thank you for your blog. I discovered it for the first time about six weeks ago, and found it absolutely repugnant. (I was one of those who wanted Amida and the Pure Land to be only symbols.)

Your presentation of Shinran and the Sutras has challenged me very personally and very directly in a very sensitive place - my religious faith. Thanks to that challenge, however, I’ve discovered something profound and beautiful: (more…)

The Mark of a True Teacher

Monday, July 11th, 2005

Anyone who follows this blog - and there are readers from around the globe - knows that I have only one purpose in writing it: to present the teaching (Dharma) of Shakyamuni Buddha and Shinran Shonin in clear and simple language that anyone can understand.

For any readers who have little or no Buddhist understanding, the Dharma is one leg of the three legged stool that Buddhists call “The Three Jewels”…or “the Triple Gem”: Buddha, Sangha, Dharma: (more…)

Two Teachers - Compare and Contrast

Tuesday, July 5th, 2005

The Shinran Manifesto says this: Return to the True Teaching of Shinran, Our True Teacher.

QUESTION: Which of these teachers is teaching the same teaching as Master Shinran? Which is teaching a different teaching? (more…)

The Realization That Nembutsu-faith is All That Matters

Monday, July 4th, 2005

Rev. George Gatenby, one of the leaders of the Shin Sangha in Australia, writes wonderfully, and movingly - as a true teacher of Shinran’s True Teaching.

Here is an excerpt: (more…)

Rennyo Speaks: “How Should We Have Faith In Amida Buddha?”

Saturday, July 2nd, 2005

Clarity. Simplicity. Sincerity.

This is how Rennyo instructed the Sangha in a time when it was dying…a time just like today.

Here are some of his words. (more…)

“Understanding Jodo-Shinshu” by Professor Eiken Kobai

Sunday, April 3rd, 2005

Professor Eiken Kobai’s book “Understanding Jodo Shinshu” is now available online at his website, The Shin Buddhism Study Center.

If you are interested in Shinran’s TRUE teaching -
If you want to end your suffering, at last -
If you are confused by the many and varied modern Shin teachings that are only loosely based on Shinran’s thought -

…then this book will clear up the muddle.

In particular, Kobai’s precise reading and explanation of Shinran will give you the understanding you need to end your confusion, and become a person of “settled Shinjin”, the same “true entrusting” as Shinran had - the gift of Amida Buddha. (more…)

The SHINRAN Manifesto: Concerning Shin Mysticism

Tuesday, March 29th, 2005

My goal of completing one straightforward exposition before beginning another sometimes gets diverted by people’s sincere questions and comments.

Right now, for example, I’m having a dialogue with a dharma friend named Ray, to answer his question about why I think Shin Semiotics - the idea that Amida Buddha is simply Mythos and Symbol rather than a real Buddha like Shakyamuni - is a major and lamentable diversion from Shinran’s True Teaching.

That dialogue is getting a bit diverted because he asked me a question about a book called Coffinman - the bio and Shin Buddhist ruminations of a Japanese mortician.

His question - as you will see below, provide me a chance to unpack an examination I was preparing to begin later, but will enter into now, in order to respond to him.

In it I discuss why simply talking about the mystical right brained experience of light and life - Shin Mysticism - is not, by itself, an adequate expression of Shinran’s True Teaching.

This is all part of the clarion call of The SHINRAN Manifesto, which encourages Shin Buddhists, whether Japanese, American, or otherwise, whether clerics, scholars or laypeople, to RETURN TO THE TRUE TEACHING OF SHINRAN, OUR TRUE TEACHER. (more…)

The SHINRAN Manifesto: Intro to Prof. Kobai’s Book

Saturday, March 26th, 2005

Here’s the introduction Professor Kobai invited me to write to the next edition of his wonderful book, UNDERSTANDING JODO SHINSHU.

It’s not about Professor Kobai, ultimately. And it’s certainly not about me. It’s about the clarion call to the Shin Buddhist community, that I have called “The SHINRAN Manifesto”:

Return to the TRUE Teaching of Shinran, Our TRUE Teacher.

Here it is: (more…)

The Shin Ugly Bottom Line: Buddhahood Without Fail

Sunday, March 13th, 2005

Rennyo the Restorer was ALL about the bottom line of Jodo-Shinshu - Shin Buddhism.

He is my own model for what I call SHIN UGLY - because he avoided Shinran’s deep scholarship while being faithful to his TRUE teaching as he talked to the common people in common language about this ultimate teaching of Shakyamuni - the the one we call the Buddha.

Rennyo’s letters are RICH with simple-to-understand meaning and instruction for sincere seekers - plain people in our day who are earnestly searching for TRUE and FINAL enlightenment - the end of suffering at last - by whatever name they call it - whether they are Buddhists, or not. (more…)

SHINJIN: Realization in the GUTS

Friday, March 11th, 2005

Because the Shin Buddhist community has not stayed with the True Teaching of Shinran, confusion exists where it should not.

All of us who are of the same mind as Shinran should be committed to dispelling all doubts, correcting all mis-understandings, and clearing up all confusion.

Why? So people can respond to Amida Buddha’s call, and find the end of suffering at last.

This response to a friend is long, but it is worth reading if you are a person of SHINJIN (true entrusting) who cares about others- or are sincerely seeking to become a person of SHINJIN yourself.


Paul R (more…)