Archive for August, 2005

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…)

A Dharma Friend Says: “To Let Go Utterly Is Very Hard”

Thursday, August 25th, 2005

A dharma friend wrote to me yesterday, and said:To let go utterly is very hard.

Here’s my reply. (more…)

What Is The Purpose of the Dharma?

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005

This post is a continuation of a dharma dialogue that began with this post of August 21. In that dialogue a dharma friend named Woody, a sincere seeker who is already a self-described Pure Land Buddhist, asked me a critical question:

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 order to provide good ground for an answer that is in accord with Shinran’s teaching, I asked Woody (and everyone who might be reading this blog) to consider deeply with me this most fundamental question in return:


Let’s listen deeply together, and see where Amida Buddha is leading us to, each and every one. (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…)

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…)

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…)

A Dharma Friend’s “Difficult Question”

Tuesday, August 16th, 2005

My dharma friend Jason writes:


Your recent blog quotation of Shinran’s order to Yuien-bo to kill a thousand people in order to attain birth brings to mind a question I’ve often wondered about. (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.


Shin Ugly Blog Basics

Friday, August 12th, 2005

The Shin Ugly Blog is meant to serve anyone who wants to hear the plain teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha and his disciple Shinran about suffering, and the end of suffering.

I recognize that not everyone is familiar with a blog (short for weblog) format. So here’s a brief navigation guide. (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…)

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…)

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…)

How Shin Dharma Transmission Works - And How It Fails

Friday, August 5th, 2005

The task of the Shin Sangha - both for itself and for a world lost in delusion - is simple: (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…)

George Gatenby Contemplates DOUBT

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2005

Some of the very best Shin Buddhist teaching in English today on the net can be found on Reverend George Gatenby’s site, Notes on the Nembutsu.

If you want Buddha-Lite, George Gatenby isn’t for you.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for an honest exposition of the the Dharma of Jodo-Shinshu, I recommend George as a True Teacher of Shinran’s True Teaching. (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…)