Archive for the ‘The Pure Land’ Category

Walking the Code-Talkers Into the Pure Land

Friday, October 28th, 2005

When I consider the abysmal state of much of the Shin sangha - how so many of the clerics and scholars have left Shinran’s plain teaching behind, just as Shinran’s own son Zenran did - I’m reminded about Shakyamuni’s dialogue with Maitreya, recorded in the Larger Pure Land Sutra. (more…)

The Longest Distance In The World

Wednesday, October 12th, 2005

My dharma friend Jason writes:

I must confess that I walked away confused from our last conversation. The whole issue of doubt in Shinran’s teaching continues to plague me.

I have moments of what one could call doubt on a semi-regular basis — much of it stemming, I think, from my own psychological makeup, family conditioning and pressures, as well a mind that’s been conditioned by Academia to doubt everything that comes my way.

So, since I am a person of Shinjin, must I still bear the “consequences of doubting,” as you said in our last conversation?

Or, as you wrote to me in a blog post, does it simply not matter what happens post-Shinjin? Honestly, this is a point on which I find Shinran ambiguous.

My heart tells me that I’ve been grasped, never to be abandoned — no matter what my mind coughs up.

As a serious person, Jason asks a profound question. Here is my best reply: (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…)

The Weight of Water

Tuesday, September 6th, 2005

We’re all grateful to see the infrastructure of the US government finally get into action on behalf of the living and the dead who have suffered so from the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

But as we look beneath the surface of that event - an event which destroyed a huge city of almost a million people - it is clear that this is not an isolated event. The people who measure risk for a living - the world’s great insurance companies - have all revised their underwriting projections in anticipation of even more overwhelming events like this to come - because of global warming.

We’ve begun to see the unfolding of them across the globe, as the ice caps melt at a rate that is unprecedented, and the sea level and temperature rises across the world. The predicted changed are dire - even apocalyptic. A consortium of enlightened capitalist leaders are beginning to speak out, along with the environmentalists.

We are dealing with THE WEIGHT OF WATER. (more…)

Is A Person of Settled Shinjin Capable Of (Fill in the Blanks)?

Sunday, August 14th, 2005

My dharma friend Jason, who has newly experienced SHINJIN, writes this:


So there I am, walking to work early one morning last week, when out of a cloudy, depression-laced gray sky comes the thought: “I’m not sure I believe any of this at all. It’s all just too fantastic, too incredible to be literally real.”

Once again, I ask you: Is a person of settled shinjin capable of such a thought–a thought, I might add, that arose as spontaneously as the overwhelming gratitude that supposedly marks out those who are grasped, never to be abandoned? (more…)

Close But No Cigar: Life In The Border Land

Thursday, July 21st, 2005

Here’s a continuation of my conversation with Jason that began here. As it unfolds, we’re talking about the Borderland adjacent to the Pure Land (as Shakyamuni Buddha describes it in the Larger Sutra), and some questions about Dharmakara’s 48 Vows.

As you read it, please note: you don’t need to understand ANY of this detail to become a person who is grasped by Amida Buddha. You simply need to listen deeply, and entrust your karmic destiny entirely to him - his person, his work, his primal vow.

He will do EVERYTHING to save you from the terrible wheel of birth and death, and bring you to Buddhahood at last in his Pure Land.

Frankly, as non-Buddhas, none of us REALLY understand the depth of what it all means.

But we will.

Namu Amida Butsu,

Paul R. (more…)

Being able to give up our limiting identities at last

Wednesday, July 20th, 2005


Ok, honest grappling here. This is a question that probably no Shin Buddhist in the 21st century, in the Western world, has not grappled with. And I’m willing to bet that very few have accepted the traditional presentation as found in the Larger Sutra.

So I ask you: What’s your reading of the 35th vow?

If, when I attain Buddhahood, women in the immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten quarters who, having heard my Name, rejoice in faith, awaken aspiration for Enlightenment and wish to renounce womanhood, should after death be reborn again as women, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.

Deep gassho, Jason (more…)

The Shin Ugly Bottom Line: Buddhahood Without Fail

Sunday, March 13th, 2005

Rennyo the Restorer was ALL about the bottom line of Jodo-Shinshu - Shin Buddhism.

He is my own model for what I call SHIN UGLY - because he avoided Shinran’s deep scholarship while being faithful to his TRUE teaching as he talked to the common people in common language about this ultimate teaching of Shakyamuni - the the one we call the Buddha.

Rennyo’s letters are RICH with simple-to-understand meaning and instruction for sincere seekers - plain people in our day who are earnestly searching for TRUE and FINAL enlightenment - the end of suffering at last - by whatever name they call it - whether they are Buddhists, or not. (more…)

SHINJIN: Realization in the GUTS

Friday, March 11th, 2005

Because the Shin Buddhist community has not stayed with the True Teaching of Shinran, confusion exists where it should not.

All of us who are of the same mind as Shinran should be committed to dispelling all doubts, correcting all mis-understandings, and clearing up all confusion.

Why? So people can respond to Amida Buddha’s call, and find the end of suffering at last.

This response to a friend is long, but it is worth reading if you are a person of SHINJIN (true entrusting) who cares about others- or are sincerely seeking to become a person of SHINJIN yourself.


Paul R (more…)

Ananda’s Request

Wednesday, February 16th, 2005

The Larger Pure Land Sutra tells us that after Buddha Shakyamuni taught the crowd at Vulture Peak about Amida Buddha and His Pure Land, his cousin and disciple Ananda made a request. (more…)

Nagarjuna on Amida and His Pure Land

Tuesday, February 15th, 2005

In his great work, True Teaching, Practice and Realization of the Pure Land Way, Shinran answered critics within Buddhism - particularly scholars - who thought his teaching of no practice except simple faith in Amida was not Buddhism at all.

Those scholars were experts on the Path of the Sages. For them, the teachings of Nagarjuna on emptiness (sunyata) were critical as they sought to end their own suffering and become Buddhas at last. (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…)

Shinran’s Great Concern: Not Religious Dialogue, but Amida’s Salvation

Thursday, February 10th, 2005

I promised you I would get to your earlier question/comment, and I just did, below. (more…)