Shin Ugly: Manifesto and Celebration

The last several blog posts are a good example of the two sides of the SHIN UGLY dialogue that has defined authentic Shin Buddhism from the beginning.

  • On the one side, the True Teaching is being explained clearly and passionately, just as Shinran did.
  • On the other side, it is being heard by someone who has been made ready by Amida Buddha to finally listen to it - to really and truly listen deeply and honestly.

The dialogue involves sharing of left-brained content AND right-brained deep feeling, in answer to the honest questions, doubts and concerns the listener has.

This is the heart of Shinran’s work. If this is present, Dharma Transmission can occur. If this is absent, all the acoutrements of religion - whether fancy dress, or ritual, or hagiography - are WORTHLESS.

That’s not just my opinion. It’s Rennyo’s opinion too.

It’s critical for me to say: in this dialogue with my dharma friend, the power is NOT in my clever thoughts or words as a speaker.

I’m simply working with the same dharma that has been given to ALL OF US by Shinran - just as Yuien does, and Rennyo does, and Eiken Kobai does and George Gatenby does.

I get an “F” for originality. And that’s the way it’s got to be, in order for Shin Dharma transmission to work properly.

I also get an “A” - or as close to an “A” as I can - for doing my level best to transmit Shinran’s teaching accurately. Once again, that’s the way it’s got to be, in order for Shin Dharma transmission to work properly.

This is the mark of ANYONE - whether cleric, scholar or layperson - who is serving someone else as a True Teacher of Shinran’s True Teaching.

Anyone who claims to be a teacher of Shin Buddhism and does otherwise is NOT a True Teacher - is NOT honoring Shinran’s life and work - is NOT accurately representing Shakyamuni Buddha’s final discourse.

You don’t have to take my word for that. Simply read Shinran’s own words, including the tragic letter where he disinherited his own son. (Letter #6 of Shinran’s Uncollected Letters). You will hear him say exactly the same things I just said, in passionate and sorrowful language.

The Dharma of Shakyamuni for this Age of Dharma decline is not broken - so please don’t try to fix it. That was Shinran’s message to all those who were getting a “A” for originality, and an “F” for accuracy in his day.

And that’s Shinran’s message for us in our day, too.


I’ve heard it from Yuien, author of the Tannisho (Lamenting Divergences). I’ve heard it from Rennyo, in letter after letter that he wrote to the Sangha, 600 years ago. I’ve heard it from Eiken Kobai, in his two outstanding books, and I’ve heard it from Eiken’s translator Ken in many conversations by phone. And I’ve heard it from George Gatenby, a leading voice in the Shin Sangha in Australia.

Why is this SO important?

  • Because ONLY the True Teaching of Shinran has the POWER to change karmic destiny, forever.
  • ONLY the True Teaching of Shinran can take someone off the terrible wheel of birth and death, and deliver him or her to Buddhahood at last.
  • ONLY the True Teaching of Shinran can end suffering, delusion and ignorance - once and for all.

It doesn’t have to be fancy.

On the contrary, the best way to deliver the True Teaching is PLAINLY, FRANKLY, and BLUNTLY.

Just like it says on the top of this blog: Plain talk for plain people about suffering and the end of suffering.

  • PLAIN TALK about our plight of transmigrating from life to life as suffering beings - as Shakyamuni Buddha sees it and describes it.
  • PLAIN TALK about our deepest aspiration - which lives underneath all the denials and rationalizations that we human beings are capable of.
  • PLAIN TALK about our need for deliverance - because we just cannot deliver ourselves.
  • And - PLAIN TALK about the deliverance that HAS been provided for us in the Person and Work of Amida Buddha.


That’s what a suffering world, lost in delusions and drowning in endless blind passions, needs to hear.

That is the beacon of Amida Buddha’s light in the darkness of this samsaric hell we all live in - and cannot escape on our own.

When the light of this dharma - this plain talk for plain people about suffering and the end of suffering - shines brightly, it draws hungry hearers like moths to a flame.

That’s how I was drawn - and my dharma friend, too.

This is Amida Buddha’s doing - not ours. Our job is simply to declare the Dharma plainly, and respond to honest questions from sincere seekers, as I have responded to my dharma friend in recent blog posts.

You can read the posts from 7/19/2005 to 8/05/2005 in sequence to see exactly how Shin Dharma transmission works:

  • When someone is listening deeply to another who is speaking Shinran’s True Teaching clearly, the miracle of inconceivable SHINJIN takes place.
  • The veil of vast ignorance and endless delusion is stripped away by Amida Buddha himself, and the listener GETS IT.
  • The listener GETS the reality of Amida Buddha’s primal Vow.
  • He (or she) is FILLED with gratitude and joy.
  • He comes to a place of UTTER rest - rest from his own anxious labors to deal with his karmic debt and his endless production of mental garbage - rest in the knowledge that Amida Buddha has it covered, COMPLETELY.
  • It is unmistakable - and unlike anything a person could create by his own self-powered efforts.
  • It is the mark of what Shinran calls the one thought-moment that seals a person of blind passions for certain birth in the Pure Land at the end of this life.
  • The endless journey throught countless lives of darkness is now OVER - and the listener KNOWS it’s over.

This is, as Eiken Kobai writes so clearly, salvation in the present - the gift of Amida Buddha - right here, right now.

Salvation from uncertainty - the certain knowledge that ONLY a person of SHINJIN can have - that he is embraced, never to be forsaken.

It is not an intellectual realization - but a VISCERAL one. Diamondlike SHINJIN is realization in the GUTS.

  • Inconceivable SHINJIN.
  • Salvation in the present.
  • Guaranteed Buddhahood at the end of this life.

Cause for CELEBRATION beyond anything we could ever hope to expect - or imagine.

All this is the GIFT of Amida Buddha - mediated by the clear and accurate transmission of the final Dharma given by Shakyamuni Buddha for this age of Dharma decline.

That’s why it is CRITICAL for us to return to the True Teaching of Shinran, our True Teacher.

The Shinran Manifesto - and the SHINJIN Celebration.

Speaking clearly - and listening deeply.

All manifestations of the Infinite Wisdom and Compassion of Amida Buddha to bring countless beings to Buddhahood at last - all links in Amida’s Golden Chain.

NamuAmidaButsu -

Paul R.

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