Archive for the ‘For Shin Newbies’ Category

On Turning One’s Life Over To Amida Buddha

Friday, November 28th, 2008

On the True Shin Buddhism Yahoo! Group, we have recently been discussing the idea of Amida Buddha being our Higher Power. We’ve been examning several questions:

  • What prayer means for Shin Buddhists
  • What the “10 Protections” are all about
  • And what “turning one’s will and life over to Amida Buddha” is all about.

Here is a wonderful contribution to the Dharma dialogue from my friend Jason: (more…)

What is the meaning of NAMU AMIDA BUTSU?

Friday, August 8th, 2008

As Shin Buddhists - or inquirers looking for enlightenment and exploring Shin Buddhism as a possible path - it is good and useful to ask the question, “What is the meaning of NAMU AMIDA BUTSU”?

I have to be honest, that for a long time, I couldn’t answer that question clearly, because I was reading indiscriminately from many so-called teachers of Shin Buddhism who had all sorts of strange and esoteric ideas.

I tried - I sincerely tried - to understand what they were saying. But often what they said didn’t make sense - or one contradicted another - or seemed to contradict what I thought I was understanding from reading Master Shinran’s writings.

And I wasn’t alone. I’ve met a LOT of people who are just as confused as I once was. (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…)

Which Sutra is Buddha’s Ultimate Truth? Which Is Not?

Friday, February 3rd, 2006

Dear Mr Kobai -

I would like to asked you some input about the disscusion I’ve been having with my friends about the teachings of Nichiren.

They tell me that I am following a provisional Buddhism (Jodo-Shinshu), and not following the lotus sutra which Nichiren said that is the right path (Dharma) for the Mappo time.

Please can you help?

in gassho with Respect and Makoto.

Sebastian. (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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

“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…)

Honen’s Nembutsu for Village Idiots

Wednesday, March 16th, 2005

Someone wrote me saying how confused she was. We dialogued by email, and she was STILL confused.

That happens a lot.

We’re confused people, living in a confused and confusing world. (more…)


Saturday, March 12th, 2005

People generally have a hard time hearing when my teacher Shinran said, “I am an evil person”…and “Hell is my only home”.

Why can’t they hear? Because they just can’t see when THEY look in the mirror what Shinran saw when HE looked in the mirror.

Here’s what he saw, displayed as a metaphor in one amazing picture: (more…)

Shin Newbies Need Shin Ugly

Sunday, March 6th, 2005

Anna writes: The Shin Ugly blog is blossoming into a wonderful source of easy to understand information and it is really appealing to me. So simple yet so clear.

Thank you for the time and energy which you spend to share these teachings….I appreciate it and I appreciate you. Along with you, my dharma friend, I take refuge in Amida Buddha - in his Primal Vow to bring me at last to the Pure Land.


I’m highlighting my friend Anna’s comment because she is a good example of what is SO RIGHT with SHIN UGLY - Shinran’s plain talk for plain people about suffering and the end of suffering - and what is SO WRONG with so much of what is being written by clerics and scholars about Shin Buddhism today. (more…)

The Easy Path to Buddhahood: Part 3 - Rely Completely on Amida Buddha

Monday, February 21st, 2005

In his letter “The Ease Of Rebirth, But The Scarcity Of Those Reborn”, Rennyo explains, in plainest language, Part 3 of the Easy Path to Buddhahood. (more…)

Life Flies By

Saturday, February 19th, 2005

Life flies by and breaks our heart.
Our friends die. Things fall apart.

We run from what the mirror shows.
We act in ways we do not know. (more…)

Stripping Out Learned Biases

Thursday, February 17th, 2005

I’ve been having a wonderful dharma dialogue with a Shin Buddhist friend named John.

It didn’t start out so wonderfully. In fact, it was almost an abortion right from the start. (more…)

A Good Teacher of the Dharma

Monday, February 14th, 2005

You might ask: Is an accurate teacher important to the transmission of SHINJIN - the state of TRUE ENTRUSTING that leads to the end of suffering at last?

No, it’s CRITICAL.

That was the opinion of Rennyo, called “The Restorer”, because he restored Shinran’s SHIN UGLY teaching to a Shin Buddhist community that had lost it’s way.

Let’s listen to what he said: (more…)

Who Is Amida Buddha?

Sunday, February 13th, 2005

Part 1 of the Easy Path to Buddhahood is all about awakening our aspiration to end our suffering once and for all and become enlightened beings – True Buddhas - at last.

With that primal aspiration alive in me, I became ready to listen to Shakyamuni Buddha not only as a great teacher, but as the “World Turner” – the last TRUE Buddha of this world. As part of that listening, I was ready to hear how Shakyamuni Buddha manifested an energetic field unlike that of any other being.

As I listened, I was moved by the stories of countless men and women who encountered him.

I read how the energetic power of his Buddha-field multipled their sincere efforts, and enabled them to come to liberation, at last.

I read how scholars and sages, serial killers and mentally retarded people, and many plain people from all walks of life were able to use the many and various practices Buddha taught to move from the near shore of utter sleep to the far shore of full awakening. (more…)

What Attitude? What Type of Person?

Friday, February 11th, 2005

Rennyo is called “The Restorer” because he blew away the dust that had obscured Shinran’s SHIN UGLY teaching after several hundred years.

Here’s a Q&A he did with a sincere inquirer. (more…)

What’s the Difference?

Thursday, February 10th, 2005

fogueira: What is the difference between Shinran’s teaching and “die on the cushion”?


The long answer to your question is coming up in Part 3 of “The Easy Path To Buddhahood”, my friend. Bear with me as I write and then proof it. It might take a couple of days.

Here’s a short answer - a dharma snack to tide you over until the full meal is served: (more…)

Of Impasses and Tea

Sunday, February 6th, 2005

I’ve noticed, over several years, how easily other Buddhists dismiss out of hand this most simple, most precious teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha, with it’s promise of an EASY, guaranteed path to Buddhahood - the end of suffering at last.

Such easy dismissal is an easy mistake to make. (more…)

Salvation in the Present

Friday, February 4th, 2005

This is teaching from Professor Eiken Kobai - a Japanese Shin Scholar of the highest rank.

His writing confirms what I came to understand by my own layman’s reading of Shakyamuni Buddha and his disciple Shinran in translation - and now share as SHIN UGLY - Shinran’s plain teaching in plain language for plain people about how Amida Buddha’s great compassion works to end our suffering once and for all. (more…)

Are You Still Suffering?

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2005

fogueria: Just clarifying (sorry :)) once again –

you are still suffering, correct, at this point in time?


If you are talking about my personal sense of grief and anguish over Jessie’s death (more…)

A Car Crash (for Clara)

Tuesday, February 1st, 2005

Paul: Is there any way for you, Clara, to end your endless cycle of births and deaths and become a TRUE BUDDHA - and ENTIRELY FREE BEING at last - by any practice whatsoever, in any religion at all, including Buddhism?


Clara: No. The way is not for “me”, “Clara”. The way *is*, and “Clara” is an event within it. I am not theorizing. This is a plain statement. The way is not for any “me”. Any “me” belongs to the way. Only the way is. That is to say, the Universal. [Amida.] [You-Name-It.] All taken care. One Power only. Not two.


Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Clara. Here’s my honest response to it (more…)

The Easy Path to Buddhahood: Part 1 - Awaken Your Aspiration

Monday, January 31st, 2005

Shin Buddhism as been called the easy path to Buddhahood. And it IS easy.

It’s so easy, that Shinran and his teacher Honen were able to share this easy path simply and effectively with unlettered people who were the outcasts of their day. Their sharing of this path opened the door to Buddhahood for many of the most unlikely, and most confused. (more…)

Blind Passion

Saturday, January 29th, 2005

If you haven’t yet gotten the big picture view, either of Buddha’s basic teachings, nor Shinran’s exposition of Buddha’s final teaching, hang in there, while we unpack it.

This teaching of the Buddha, about the easy path to Buddhahood, has been waiting for your attention, for longer than you can possibly know
. (more…)

Great Negative Karma

Friday, January 28th, 2005

Sujeewa (Suki): I was wondering if I should say this or not, but I think its better said than not said. The Budda said …”One shall not harm any other living being nor Harm oneself.” It creates great Negative Karma. It was his first precept and a very important one to be put as the very first one too. It only takes one away from the path to Nibbana or Salvation or in becoming a Budda, or Arahanth.

I hope you knew about this.


Hi Suki -

Yes, indeed I did know about the Buddha’s first precept. This comment of yours strikes right to the heart of YOUR existential dilemma as much as mine, and my daughter’s – even though she took her own life, and you have not done such a thing.

Let me explain – because this is exactly the point of Shin Buddhist teaching. (more…)