Archive for the ‘Dharma for Dummies’ Category

The Shinran Manifesto: Concerning Shin Semiotics #4 - Shinran’s Deliberately Simple-Minded Dharma

Wednesday, April 20th, 2005

This is the fourth of four posts that I am writing to answer a question posed by a Shin Buddhist dharma friend named Ray.

Ray asks why I think that “Shin Semiotics” - the view of modern Shin Buddhist scholars - that Amida Buddha is symbol and mythos rather than a real person - is such a lamentable diversion, and so harmful to the propagation of Shinran’s teaching. (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…)

Eiken Kobai Explains SHINJIN (True Entrusting)

Monday, March 7th, 2005

Shin Ugly - Shinran’s plain teaching for plain people about suffering and the end of suffering - pivots around one central concept: there is only one way to END your suffering and become a TRUE Buddha in this age of Dharma Decline - and that is to become a person of SHINJIN (True Entrusting) in the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha.

The teaching is not hard, intellectually - even for someone with no background in Buddhism at all, like my friend Anna. In fact, the very simplicity of it all is what makes it hard for sophisticated folks like us. (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…)

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…)

What Shoren Chooses to Believe

Tuesday, February 15th, 2005

Shoren: Thank you Paul.

I’ve wanted someone to simply explain who Amida is and not use terms like mythological, or archetype.

I choose to believe he is real and present in my life.

Deepest Gassho to you for this. (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…)

Silent Buddha, Naked Emperor, Brash Little Boy

Tuesday, February 8th, 2005

Clara comments (in part):

I understand your position. Ending suffering the way you have found practical: Shinran’s doctrine, Shin.

What I question is how you can touch your audience, your readers, unless they are already Buddists and -like you were once - tired of not getting liberation from walking the self-power paths.

How can a non Buddhist (reader) can relate to your words…even a happy Zennist or Vajrayanist or Theravadin, who is still far from giving up?.

You may say that these are not relevant questions because karma rules who is to approach Shin and who is not. But I say that karma does not operate in the void, but through all events, like asking and answering such kind of questions.


Hi Clara -

The key to your question above is in your asking how someone who is far from giving up on their path (buddhist or not), and happy in what they are doing, will relate to Shinran’s plain talk.

Often enough Buddha would answer the endless questions of inquirers with what is described as “Noble Silence”. Understanding WHY he did so will answer YOUR questions, I believe, better than anything I could say. (more…)