KGSS Preface: Shinran’s Humble Contemplation

Dharma Master Shinran begins the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho with the sentence below.

If you miss this sentence, you miss Shinran’s Dharma Teaching completely. So to you who are fortunate enough to be reading this right now, I say this:

Listen deeply.

Be diligent, not indolent. Listen deeply.

Be humble, not prideful. Listen deeply.

Let’s listen deeply to Shinran together:

When I humbly contemplate matters, I realize that the inconceivable universal Vow is the great ship that carries us across the sea of samsara which is difficult to cross and that the unhindered Light is the sun of wisdom which breaks the darkness of ignorance.

Notice that Shinran speaks about what he has REALIZED. And the source of his realization is HUMBLE CONTEMPLATION. When I humbly contemplate matters, I realize…

The True Teaching of the Pure Land Way - literally “Jodo Shin Shu” - is all about a very specific sort of REALIZATION. “Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho” means exactly that: “The True Teaching, Practice and Realization of the Pure Land Way”.

True Teaching.
True Practice.
True Realization.

And it all begins with humble contemplation - true humility.

Let’s be honest and admit it: humble contemplation is TOUGH for most of us who are highly educated. Why? Because education makes people proud…for many of us DAMNABLY proud.

It shouldn’t of course. And in a perfect world it wouldn’t. But we’re not perfect - and neither is the world we live in.

On the contrary: we’re all just BONBUS, suffering through life after life in a world of SAMSARA: We’re all endarkened beings in an endarkened world - rather than enlightened beings in an enlightened world.

THAT is why humble contemplation is so essential to listening deeply.

Humble contemplation begins with LETTING GO of what we think we know, so we can listen deeply. Most people simply won’t do that - even when they say they will.

The prouder we are, the harder it is to just let go. And the religious have it worse than the average man (or woman). Why? Because, so often with the religious the pride is SECRET pride, because OPEN pride is considered so gauche, so tasteless, so metaphysically incorrect.

The humility Shinran speaks of here is the doorway into TRUE REALIZATION - the state of mind where we FINALLY realize what Shinran realized.

When did Shinran’s realization begin? Only after his own life crashed and burned. He went to Honen a broken, burnt out young man. It took a lot to break him, but broken he was.

That’s the state of mind he had, when went to seek out Honen’s dharma teaching. And that’s got to be your state - and my state - in order for us to REALLY hear what Shinran has to say.

That state - where we suspend our own endless opining - and listen with open heart and open hands - even THAT is a gift of Amida Buddha. So if you’re reading this sentence right now, and recognizing you HAVE been full of yourself, THAT recognition is the beginning of TRUE realization - the beginning of the Amida’s INCONCEIVABLE salvation in your own life.

As Dharma Master Shinran said:

When I humbly contemplate matters, I realize…

Humility is the essential pre-cursor to realization. Same as it ever was. Just ask Amida Buddha to show you…and he will.

To be continued…


Paul R.

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