What Shoren Chooses to Believe

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.


Thank you, Shoren, for standing up with me to declare the Shin Ugly teaching of Shakyamuni and Shinran.

If we are to become people of the same SHINJIN - the same TRUE ENTRUSTING - as Honen, Shinran and Rennyo - we have to be willing to drop the post-modernist thinking so many of us have learned in our universities - and also on the many and varied deconstructive Paths of the Sages.

In both arenas, many of us were taught to hold all concepts at arms length, and regard them critically. The Path of the Pure Land, a path for fools and incompetents (bonbu is the Japanese word), calls us exactly the other way.

To share the SHINJIN of our true dharma teachers, we need to listen deeply to what they listened to in the way that they listened to it.

Said another way, we need to empty our cups, if we want to have the experience of Shinran as a Master Teacher pouring us his tea.

While I am glad that I have been able to serve you some of Shinran’s and Shakyamuni’s tea on behalf of our teachers - I have to tell you honestly that I am deeply troubled as well.

Why? I’m troubled because I hear you say,

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

I know you, Shoren, as a committed Shin Buddhist hungry for true teaching. It is a sad commentary on the state of the Shin Sangha today that you haven’t been able to find anyone more qualified than me to give a clear and cogent statement of this ULTIMATE teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha.

My honest hope is that as people read this blog, and direct others to it as well, that there will be a feedback loop into the dwindling and terribly confused Shin Sangha here in the western world.

My hope is that lay people like you, Shoren, will take these blog entries of mine, compare them to the teachings of Shinran and Shakyamuni (as I always try to do) - and then compare them as well to what is being taught as Shin Buddhism in the Shin Temples, and on the internet by Shin clerics and scholars.

My hope is that where you (and others) see serious divergences, you will lament them as Shinran, Yu-ien and and Rennyo did.

My ULTIMATE hope is this: As you, and others, recognize these divergences AS divergences, you will tell the Shin Buddhist community plainly - as Shinran, Yu-ien and and Rennyo did in their day.

That’s the ONLY way the Shin Buddhist community can restore the pristine teaching of this ultimate dharma gate offered by Shakyamuni Buddha to a lost world in this Age of Dharma Decline.

As Rennyo said right here, true teaching is a critical factor for becoming a person of SHINJIN - of TRUE ENTRUSTING - whose next rebirth in the Pure Land is GUARANTEED.

True teaching can make ALL the difference in determining whether you will continue to take birth as a suffering being - a non-Buddha - or whether you will complete your journey of endless lives of endarkenment at last.

Case in point: My own years of dialogue with my beloved Jessie about my own journey, and my own questions, had prepared her to listen deeply. So when I found Shinran and Shin Buddhism, she was able to “get it” right off the bat. She had, as Shinran taught, that one thought-moment of true entrusting in the person and work of the Monk Dharmakara who became Amida Buddha when his work was complete.

Of course it wasn’t simply that she heard the teaching, as Rennyo explains. It was all the karmic conditions, empowered by the light and life of Amida Buddha, to which she was entirely open, that led her to listen deeply, to have faith, and to say the Nembutsu (I take refuge in Amida Buddha) of deep entrusting.

The result? She is now beyond death and rebirth altogether. She has emerged from her endless journeys through darkness into the fulness of Buddhahood at last…as I described in an earlier post called Jessie Checks In.

I can tell you, Shoren, that this idea - that somehow a simple person like you, or like my beloved Jessie - could become a TRUE Buddha in such an EASY way is scandalous to many Buddhists.

And yet, there it is - the Shin Ugly truth about how the Buddha we call Amida - greatest of all the Buddhas according to our own Buddha Shakyamuni - has made a vast dharma gate - a way of salvation for countless beings - if only they will hear him on HIS terms and not on theirs.

NamuAmidaButsu - I take refuge, with you, in the TRUE Buddha we call Amida who has created a Pure Land and made a Vow to bring any and all of us there if only we will entrust ourselves entirely to HIM.

Your dharma friend -


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