Archive for the ‘True Teaching and True Teachers’ Category

Aspiration to become a Buddha – The Most Important Matter

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

(Paul’s note: This outstanding article was written by Rev. Josho Adrian Cirlea, the only Romanian Jodo Shinshu Priest. It appeared originally on his blog, AMIDA-JI RETREAT TEMPLE ROMANIA.)

The goal of Buddhism is to become a Buddha.

Not to paint this life in different colors, not to become a smart or interesting kind of Buddhist, but to become a Buddha.

The Buddhist path is not a method of relaxation or a tablet for headache, something like “how can we become happier and calmer people” or a recipe for momentary happiness, but a road to Buddhahood or complete Freedom for us and all beings. (more…)

Two Kinds of Enlightenment

Friday, July 25th, 2008

In his magnum opus, the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho, Master Shinran quotes from many Dharma sources: from various sutras (sermons) of the Buddha, from the writings of the seven Pure Land Masters, and from various other Buddhist sages as well.

In fact, 90% of the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho (True Teaching, Practice and Realization of the Pure Land Way) is actually quotes from other sources, strung together by Master Shinran’s vision as the supreme expositor of the True Teaching.

Here is a piece of a more extensive quotation by Master Shinran, from THE NIRVANA SUTRA. In it, Shakyamuni Buddha is speaking to his followers about two kinds of enlightenment: (more…)

Re-Publication of Eiken Kobai’s UNDERSTANDING JODO SHINSHU

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Dharma Friends -

Rev. Josho Adrian Cirlea of Romania runs a publishing house called DHARMA LION PUBLICATIONS.

He has decided to publish Eiken Kobai Sensei’s UNDERSTANDING JODO SHINSHU.

Here’s a link to his page:

He is also in coversation with Eiken about publishing Eiken’s new English language book, THE TRUE AND REAL WORLD OF SALVATION.

In my view, Eiken Kobai is the foremost Shin Buddhist teacher of TRUE Shin Buddhism in the world today. He is absolutely committed to share Shinran’s Rennyo’s Dharma Teaching AS IT IS - without adding or subtracting anything from the pristine Dharma teaching of our primal teachers.

I have made it my business to make sure that Eiken was introduced to the Western World, by putting his English language teachings up on the net at . Now, our friend Adrian is taking the next step, for those who want to add Eiken’s books to their own library.


Paul R.

Kobai Sensei’s Shin Buddhism Study Center

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

This message is being broadcast to those interested in the True Teaching, Practice and Realization of the Pure Land Way, as expounded by both Shinran Shonin and Rennyo Shonin.

Please forward it to anyone who you think would be interested.

Some of you know that several of us have been working on a project to make the True Teaching of Shinran more widely available on the net by providing a teaching website for Eiken Kobai Sensei - one of the world’s leading scholars of True Shin Buddhism.

I’m happy to say that project is now complete. The site URL is (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…)

Dharma Challenge to a Dharma Friend

Thursday, November 10th, 2005

Yueheng responded to my last post Two Year Anniversary with this comment:

I would like to humbly point out here that Shinran never indicated that his teachings were, to quote your words, “the ONLY dharma that can take people to the end-game”. While he was alive, Shinran classified the existing schools of Buddhism into the schools of transcendence, which promises swift results and schools that are departing which require lengthy practice with a further subdivision of lengthwise and crosswise. Shinran classified Shingon and Tendai as “lengthwise transcendence” and the Yogachara School as “departing lengthwise”. The Pure Land school naturally came under “crosswise transcendence”.

The point of this example is that if Shinran had thought that his teachings was the only true teaching, why would he have bothered to classify the other schools? While Shinran certainly thought that the nembutsu was the most appropriate dharma for this age, but he never adopted a “my way — the only way” stance.

Here is my response to Yueheng: (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 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…)

Shinran Speaks: HOW He Teaches - and WHY

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

Shinran lived in a day when most people he encountered were “painfully and hopelessly ignorant”.

They were illiterate. They simply could not read.

They had little or no knowledge of the Dharma.

There was no one willing to take them in hand, and be a good teacher of the dharma for them.

They had been abandoned.

Listen with me to our Dharma Master Shinran, as he describes the WAY he teaches these people, and the REASON for it: (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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

Getting to Know George Gatenby - A True Teacher of Shinran’s True Teaching

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

Readers of my blog know that I make a big distinction between true teaching and false - when it comes to the Dharma of Jodo Shinshu. In doing so I am being faithful, as best as I can, to the founder of Shin Buddhism, Master Shinran.

I also make a distinction between true TEACHERS and false. A true teacher of Shin Buddhism is one who insists, not on his own views, but on the views of Shinran, in explaining the dharma.

That’s the ONLY kind of Shin Buddhist teacher worth listening to, when it comes to hearing Buddha’s final DHARMA for an age when NO ONE can self-cultivate to end suffering.

That was Shinran’s own conviction. (more…)

“Misunderstandings of Master Rennyo” by Prof. Eiken Kobai

Monday, June 27th, 2005

Professor Eiken Kobai’s book “UMisunderstandings of Master Rennyo” is now available online at his website, The Shin Buddhism Study Center.

Rennyo was the critical figure in reviving the Shin sangha when it was moribund, only 200 years after Shinran’s death. His genius was in understanding that the wisdom and scholarship of Shinran needed to be boiled down to the basics so that common people could grasp this dharma message. By doing that, he opened the dharma gates WIDELY - and countless people received the true benefit of Amida Buddha’s merit transference - and the sure promise of taking birth and becoming Buddhas at the end of their lives.

Countless people found the way - the only way in this age of Dharma Decline - to end their endless suffering and rebirth as non-Buddhas, at last.

In our day, when the Shin sangha is moribund once again, the need is exactly the same. For this reason, Prof. Kobai’s book is critical reading for those who care about the survival of the Shin sanga as the dharma vehicle for transmission of Buddha’s teaching - rather than the divergent teachings of unenlightened men who are revising and distorting Shinran’s True Teaching to meet their own intellectual tastes and fashions.

Kobai clears away the misconceptions that many scholars have had about Rennyo, and shows how his teaching was an accurate and faithful distillation and transmission of Shinran’s thought. He refuted false teaching and walked from temple to temple to establish seekers in the exact same SHINJIN that he shared with his true teacher Shinran.

Most important - the ONLY way out of the wilderness for the Shin sangha in our day is to do the exact same thing NOW that Rennyo did THEN.

That is the sole purpose of this website. It is the purpose of Eiken Kobai’s faithful scholarship as well - which is why I am so pleased to make his work more available to the English speaking world.


Paul R.