Yours to Use - Yours to Ignore

The posts in the Shin Ugly blog have a common purpose - to serve as TRUE teaching, in plain English, of the basics of Shin Buddhism (or Jodo Shinshu) as taught by Shinran and his true students. Like it says in the title bar, they’re all about SHIN UGLY - plain talk, for plain people, about suffering and the end of suffering.

I started the Shin Ugly Blog because I found that few places on the web where Shinran’s TRUE teaching is shared in plain language - based on my own Google research for the past several years.

Most of the Shin Buddhist sites I’ve been to promulgate teachings that diverge a little - or a LOT - from Shinran’s.

The few sites that have TRUE teaching are often daunting - requiring a lot more background in Buddhism than most of us in the West have - or will ever acquire.

So, even though I’ve got a copyright notice on the bottom of the blog pages, the posts on this blog are YOURS - to re-use, or ignore.

If you’re part of a Shin Buddhist study group - either in a temple, or someone’s home, or on-line - feel free to print out and distribute anything you like.

And of course you can do the same thing if you’re studying the teaching alone.

For example, you might be interested in studying what Shakyamuni Buddha has to say concerning the fundamental question: “Who Is Amida Buddha?“.

Or you might be struggling - as so many do - with the idea of SHINJIN (True Entrusting) - the very heart of what Shinran had to say.

Or you might find that you’ve never before heard, or understood, Shinran’s unique and critical thinking concerning Salvation In The Present.

Or you might be wondering what’s the difference between Shin Buddhism - and everything else.

Iif you’re looking for the big picture, you will get real benefit from reading the three posts that describe what Shinran calls “The Easy Path to Buddhahood“.

These are all Shinran’s BASIC ideas, regardless of what modern Shin Buddhist teachers might say differently. That’s why I always try to include good size CHUNKS of Shinran’s own words, or Rennyo’s or Yuien’s or Honen’s. You need to know that these are TRUE teachings - not my teachings. If I’m sharing my ideas, they’re worth nothing. If I’m sharing Shinran’s ideas, they’re worth EVERYTHING.

Shinran’s TRUE teachings, whether read in his collected works, or in Rennyo’s letters, or Yuien’s Tannisho - Lamenting Divergences, or in a modern plain language discussion like the Shin Ugly Blog - aren’t just meant to be read once - but to be pondered over time.

Why is such pondering - such hearing, and re-hearing, so important? Because there is no practice in Shin Buddhism other than listening deeply to the teaching and reflecting on their meaning in our lives.

Unlike other types of Buddhism - there’s just nothing else we need to DO. Indeed, one of Shinran’s most basic ideas is that there is nothing else we CAN do to deal with our suffering in a full and final way, because of the age we live in.

All we can do is open ourselves up to listen H.O.W. - honestly, openly, willingly. Amida Buddha must do everything else. He must take on the burden of our transformation to Buddhahood entirely. We simply can’t get there - to the far shore of full awakening - from where we are right now in any other way.

So I invite you to read, and hear - and listen with true intention - deeply - with your whole brain. By listening with your rational left-brain you will learn the content of the TRUE teaching - which is CRITICAL as the place to begin - according to Shinran and his students - such as Rennyo the Restorer.

By listening with your emotional right-brain you will experience your heart opening to to the primal felt sense of your own need - and the calling of Amida Buddha to entrust yourself to HIM entirely.

Take your time. Allow the words to sink in. That is all we are given to do, according to our TRUE teacher Shinran. Kindly, and very bluntly, he advises us each and all to let go of our own calculating ideas - the stuff of all our western education - and our Buddhist education too. We just can’t figure out the great mystery of Amida’s Buddha’s infinite compassion that way.

Simply listen deeply, Shinran says.

Everything else will unfold, and true entrusting (SHINJIN) will arise - if only we listen deeply, with the left brain to the content, and with the right brain to the cry of our heart.

To support this listening, and the many readers of the blog now coming from all around the world - from Singapore and Brazil, from Japan and England, and from all over the USA - I’m going to begin a new phase in these blog posts.

I’m going to distinguish - in plain language - some of the major differences - the major divergences - between the TRUE teaching of Shinran and what many modern Shin teachers are teaching in his name.

I will be very specific: quoting websites, naming authors - and describing why I believe their words are not TRUE - not accurate reflections of Shinran’s thought.

While I won’t be disrespectful of these people as human beings - I WILL be blunt - just as our dharma heroes Honen, Shinran, Yuien, Rennyo were blunt in doing the very same work of making the very same distinctions.

That act of making specific distinctions will begin with my next post, in my own personal declaration of what I believe is essential - not the propagation of my ideas, but the propagation of Shinran’s authentic TRUE teaching - HIS ideas - in our world, in our day.


Paul R.

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