Stripping Out Learned Biases

I’ve been having a wonderful dharma dialogue with a Shin Buddhist friend named John.

It didn’t start out so wonderfully. In fact, it was almost an abortion right from the start.

But we stuck with it - and grappled together with what I have dubbed Shin Ugly - Shinran’s plain talk for plain people who want to end their suffering at last.

And finally - it has blossomed into a common understanding - and I have been gratified when John said that “in some strange way” I have helped him to hear more clearly the true teaching.

In John’s words, the dialogue took “persistent patience” - for both of us.

It will take the same persistent patience on the part of many to restore Shinran’s understanding to the Shin Buddhist community at large.

Everyone who hears Shinran clearly has an important contribution to move that difficult dialogue forward - and not just for the benefit of the Shin Sangha.

It’s also for the benefit of countless others - Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike - who are ready to listen deeply - if only we know what to say as true students of Shakyamuni and Shinran.

In his most recent email John made some cogent observations, based on his personal introspection, and his observation of the Shin Buddhist community at large.

Because he is honest, open and willing, he has been able to put his finger on the challenge we have as modern western thinkers (yes, in Japan too!) - Buddhist or not - trying to absorb the Shin Ugly teaching of Shakyamuni and Shinran.

Here’s what John said:

Stripping out learned biases is not easy.

SHINJIN (true entrusting) is a new paradigm. It requires a childlike mindset, letting go of what one knows about reality and truth.

What a relief to not have to carry all the baggage of all the methods, to walk a spiritual path that is no path at all, as there is no place to walk.

The transition and transformation take place according to the principle of JINEN ( naturalness) of Amida’s Light and Life.

Well said, John - and well done.

Thanks so much for hanging in there - for being willing to engage in, and sometimes to endure - a dharma dialogue with me.

Thanks for joining me in listening deeply - listening honestly - to our true teachers - and to their authentic modern heirs - like Professor Eiken Kobai.

And thanks for your humility - your willingness to honestly acknowledge where and when your version diverged from the True Teaching, Practice and Realization of the Pure Land Way Shinran gave to the world.

NamuAmidaButsu! I join you in taking refuge in the living Amida Buddha, who provides his light and life without limit, as soon as we are ready to listen deeply - and listen truly.


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