Archive for July, 2005

From “Being Bothered” to “Great Joy”

Sunday, July 31st, 2005

Before you read this WONDERFUL note from a dharma friend, you might want to read our dialogue in the prior post, which is HERE.

Then again, you might want to start with this post, and get the context later.

For anyone willing to listen deeply (like my dharma friend), Amida Buddha’s transmission of TRUE wisdom and TRUE compassion works just as well either way. (more…)

Questions That Bother A Shin Buddhist Friend

Saturday, July 30th, 2005

My dharma friend writes:

Here’s are some questions that have bothered me ever since discovering Shinran:

At what point does the attempt to not calculate turn into further calculation? (more…)

The Task of those who feel gratitude for the Dharma

Saturday, July 23rd, 2005

In his latest installment of Notes on the Nembutsu, George Gatenby writes:

We have already seen that ‘awakening faith and causing others to awaken it’ is the task of those who feel gratitude for the Dharma; the gratitude that cannot be contained.

I love hearing a person of the same SHINJIN as Shinran speak out clearly as George is speaking here.

Let’s listen as he continues: (more…)

NIGER - Please Contact Your Elected Representatives

Saturday, July 23rd, 2005

I will be gone for the next week, but thought this letter worth sharing before I left. (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…)

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…)

Shinran Speaks: “Above All, No Calculation”

Sunday, July 17th, 2005

Shinran never demanded, nor expected, that anyone be an Shin Buddhist intellectual. Why? Because most of us just CAN’T be that smart, or that learned.

That’s why Shinran NEVER pushed the sangha in that direction. NEVER.

He never demanded, or expected, that anyone be a Shin Buddhist mystic. Why? Because most of us just CAN’T be that spiritual, or that mystical.

That’s why Shinran NEVER pushed the sangha in that direction, either. NEVER.

If you’re smart, ok. If you’re a natural mystic, ok. But if you’re not either, that’s JUST as ok! Shinran’s Dharma is plain talk, for plain people about suffering and the end of suffering. No more, and no less.

So what DID Shinran push, prod, poke and provoke the Sangha towards, anyway - over the course of 60 years of preaching and teaching? (more…)

What ALL The Buddhas Say - And Why They Say It

Friday, July 15th, 2005

Let’s listen deeply, as Shinran Shonin teaches what all the Buddhas say - and why they say it. (more…)

“Because of others our faith is destroyed”

Thursday, July 14th, 2005

These are not my words, but the words of Shinran Shonin…the man who was given stewardship of the only teaching that can lead us to complete and final liberation from suffering in this Age of Dharma Decline.

Let’s listen to Shinran together: (more…)

“But I don’t want to become a Buddha!”

Wednesday, July 13th, 2005

That’s what a Buddhist friend said to me, once - as we were dialoguing about Shinran’s teaching, and why I believe it is so important.

I thought about his comment often, for several weeks. I’m sure there are a lot of other people, Buddhists and non-Buddhists, who might say the same thing.

Why would a Buddhist make such a statement, anyway? (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 (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.


Shinran’s Gratitude, George’s Gratitude…and My Gratitude Too

Saturday, July 9th, 2005

My eyes are wet with tears as I write this - tears of gratitude.

Why? Because of the Dharma teaching you will find below - TRUE TEACHING which I just read on George Gatenby’s site Notes on the Nembutsu, just now. (more…)

When Buddha-Lite Won’t Do

Thursday, July 7th, 2005

Two days.

On Wednesday, one of the world’s great cities is alive with jubiliation.

On Thursday, it is alive with ANGUISH.

Like much (though not all) of the watching world, I stand in solidarity with all who are suffering from the London bombings today. (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…)

Who’s Shinran, Anyway? Why Listen To Him?

Monday, July 4th, 2005

A dharma friend writes me (in part):

Who is or was Shinran? He was one interpreter of the sutras, the sukhavati sutras in particular, among many others.

Well, the sutras are there for whoever wants to read them. I don’t see why Shinran should have the last word at all.

There’s Honen, there’s Shan-tao, and more important, there’s you, me and whoever takes the time to read by herself or himself.

You have chosen Shinran as the authority to interpret the sutras related to Amida. OK, your choice. Still you have to say, Why him? Not from a sentimental point of view, but why him scholarly?

Thanks for writing. Here’s my answer. (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…)

George Gatenby: Eiken Kobai is the Top Nishi Hongwanji Scholar

Saturday, July 2nd, 2005

I’m grateful that I am getting to know a few true teachers of Shinran’s True Teaching over time.

  • Eiken Kobai is one. His two books have been translated into English, and are available from this site

  • Eiken’s translator Ken - who chooses to remain in the background - is another.
  • George Gatenby, author of Notes on the Nembutsu, is a third.

George had never encountered Eiken or his work before. Karmic circumstances, including the internet, have now brought them into one another’s orbit.

George has been reading Kobai’s writings (available from the resources section of this site) - and has shared his thoughts and feelings with me: about Kobai, and about the state of the Shin sangha today. He has been kind enough to allow me to share them with others.

Here’s a part of our dialogue: (more…)