Archive for the ‘General’ 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…)

The Most Fundamental Desire

Monday, August 25th, 2008

The aspiration for Buddhahood is the most fundamental desire for conscious sentient beings like us.

Often it’s hidden - “sublimated” is the word Freud would have used - so it appears as something else. But all beings yearn for freedom from the bondage of egotism - from fear, anger and sadness - from cravings and aversions - from blind passions.


Why Enlightenment is Easy - But SHINJIN is Hard

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

(Note: This is cross-posted from the online Sangha located at

Buddhism is not simply a prescription for mental health, intellectual aerobics or instruction on how to meditate.

No - to MERELY consider Buddhism on that level (as many modern Buddhist teachers do, unfortunately) is to trivialize the life work of the one we call THE BUDDHA - Shakyamuni - formerly Prince Gotama of the Shakya clan.

No - to understand Buddhism we must begin with the very CORE of Buddhism. A single idea which shines with the intensity and focus of a laser beam down through the ages: The very CORE of Buddhism is the idea, the hope, the dream of attaining enlightenment - or Buddhahood. (more…)

Eiken Kobai Sensei’s New Book Now Available!

Monday, October 8th, 2007

THE TRUE AND REAL WORLD OF SALVATION is Eiken Kobai Sensei’s new book on Shin Buddhism.

Eiken Sensei is - in the view of many - the greatest teacher of TRUE Shin Buddhism alive today. I am very blessed to call him my mentor and my friend.

The book is being published by Rev. Josho Adrian Cirlea, a Shin Buddhist Priest in Romania, through his publishing house, Dharma Lion Publications.

Copies will also be available within the next 10 days from the BCA Bookstore in San Francisco, CA.

We will, in the near future, also be making the book available online on Eiken Sensei’s Shin Buddhism Study Center website.

Thanks much to Adrian for his valuable service to the worldwide Shin Sangha.

Paul R.

Honen’s Despair

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

Modern people make the same mistake that people made in Shinran Shonin’s day, when it comes to the Dharma concerning Amida Buddha’s Vow to save all beings.

They approach it from an intellectual point of view first - which simply does not work. Period.

No - in order to gain the inconceivable benefit of SHINJIN - the faith-mind of Amida Buddha which is freely given to any and all who listen deeply to this dharma, and entrust their karmic destiny ENTIRELY to Amida Buddha - we cannot simply listen with the HEAD.

We must listen with the HEART.

The karmic preparation of the human heart for the dharma is twofold - and simple to explain. First, a deep and abiding desire arises for authentic enlightenment - the end of suffering - the end of delusion and obscuration - the end of the three poisons of greed, anger and fear - the deepest yearning of the human heart…the yearning for BUDDHAHOOD.

If that desire - that aspiration to Buddhahood - is still dormant, you can have all the understanding of all the scholars who ever studied the sutras - and it will mean NOTHING.


Welcome Back To The Shin Ugly Blog

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

To all my dharma friends and visitors from around the world - welcome back.

The Shin Ugly Blog was offline for awhile. One of those sad internet web hosting stories, no need for sordid technical details. You should know that posts after March 2006 were lost, however.

Bottom line: the blog has a NEW url:

So please update your bookmarks and links.

While the blog was offline, we’ve been having honest Shin Dharma dialogue on the Yahoo! Group TRUE SHIN BUDDHISM.

There, as here, Eiken Kobai Sensei has been both mentor and guide - so you can be sure that what’s written is really in accord with Shinran’s true teaching - and not just our own opinions.

Thanks for your patience,



What Is The Purpose of the Dharma?

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005

This post is a continuation of a dharma dialogue that began with this post of August 21. In that dialogue a dharma friend named Woody, a sincere seeker who is already a self-described Pure Land Buddhist, asked me a critical question:

What about the vinaya pitaka? What about the 5 and 8 precepts? Is there no call to morality and goodness? Is there no room for these things in true entrusting”?

In order to provide good ground for an answer that is in accord with Shinran’s teaching, I asked Woody (and everyone who might be reading this blog) to consider deeply with me this most fundamental question in return:


Let’s listen deeply together, and see where Amida Buddha is leading us to, each and every one. (more…)

The Openess That Is Free of Self-Power

Thursday, August 18th, 2005

I invite you to listen deeply with me, as George Gatenby shares the True Teaching with depth and wisdom. Here is an excerpt from his Commentary on Shozomatsu Wasan 64: (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…)

NIGER - Please Contact Your Elected Representatives

Saturday, July 23rd, 2005

I will be gone for the next week, but thought this letter worth sharing before I left. (more…)

When Buddha-Lite Won’t Do

Thursday, July 7th, 2005

Two days.

On Wednesday, one of the world’s great cities is alive with jubiliation.

On Thursday, it is alive with ANGUISH.

Like much (though not all) of the watching world, I stand in solidarity with all who are suffering from the London bombings today. (more…)

Who’s Shinran, Anyway? Why Listen To Him?

Monday, July 4th, 2005

A dharma friend writes me (in part):

Who is or was Shinran? He was one interpreter of the sutras, the sukhavati sutras in particular, among many others.

Well, the sutras are there for whoever wants to read them. I don’t see why Shinran should have the last word at all.

There’s Honen, there’s Shan-tao, and more important, there’s you, me and whoever takes the time to read by herself or himself.

You have chosen Shinran as the authority to interpret the sutras related to Amida. OK, your choice. Still you have to say, Why him? Not from a sentimental point of view, but why him scholarly?

Thanks for writing. Here’s my answer. (more…)

“Understanding Jodo-Shinshu” by Professor Eiken Kobai

Sunday, April 3rd, 2005

Professor Eiken Kobai’s book “Understanding Jodo Shinshu” is now available online at his website, The Shin Buddhism Study Center.

If you are interested in Shinran’s TRUE teaching -
If you want to end your suffering, at last -
If you are confused by the many and varied modern Shin teachings that are only loosely based on Shinran’s thought -

…then this book will clear up the muddle.

In particular, Kobai’s precise reading and explanation of Shinran will give you the understanding you need to end your confusion, and become a person of “settled Shinjin”, the same “true entrusting” as Shinran had - the gift of Amida Buddha. (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…)

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…)

Genshin’s AHA! Moment

Wednesday, March 9th, 2005

If you’re not familiar with Shinran, you probably don’t know Genshin. He was the sixth of Shinran’s Seven Pure Land Masters Shinran referred to as he unpacked this final teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha for plain people in this age of Dharma Decline.

On Beliefnet’s Pure Land discussion list severall folks talked recently about Genshin’s personal AHA! moment.

If you’re doing ANY kind of PRACTICE - Buddhist or otherwise - in order to clean up your act, tame your mind, experience pristine awareness, deconstruct your egotism, etc, etc, etc - I invite you to listen deeply to the discussion. (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…)

True Entrusting and True Nembutsu

Thursday, February 24th, 2005

In his great work, True Teaching, Practice and Realization of the Pure Land Way, Shinran quotes many, many teachers to make one critical point: (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…)

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…)

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…)

Embraced, Never To Be Forsaken

Wednesday, February 9th, 2005

Here is more of Professor Eiken Kobai’s accurate transmission of Shinran’s teaching, in detail, with lots of references. As you read it, you’ll see that for Shinran, it’s all about becoming a person of SHINJIN - TRUE ENTRUSTING.

For an uneducated person like me, it is a great gift to have access to Kobai’s work, as I attempt to explain this most powerful and effective path to the END of suffering to others.

Shinran Shonin stated that the salvation of “being embraced, never to be forsaken” (sesshu fusha) comes from being in the “rightly-established state” (shojoju). (more…)

The In-Between State

Wednesday, February 9th, 2005

Sometimes, I have found, people step forward to engage in a profound dharma dialogue - though intially they don’t actually KNOW they are stepping forward, but rather often think they are stepping backward - away from authentic engagement and deep listening.

In such a state, I’ve observed and experienced how people can throw a series of intellectual punches - whether from inside the Buddha-dharma, or from some other metaphysical perspective: pow, pow, bam, bam, BAM. (more…)

How Is Entrance Into The Single Gate of Easy Practice Possible?

Tuesday, February 8th, 2005

Clara: it is important to teach Shin from an interreligious perspective, or people, even Buddhists, will easily skip this Dharma gate.


I accept that this is your belief, Clara. I decided to start this blog because I have a different belief(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…)

Gorillas In the Midst

Tuesday, February 1st, 2005

Paul: we’re all still stuck with our endless cravings and aversions.


Fogueira: I think the difference between our philosophies is I don’t KNOW that they’re endless and you think they probably are. :)


That probably sums it up, dear friend. It’s a conclusion I came to, in the wake of great suffering, after 30 years on the path - in this lifetime.

As for your not knowing, I can offer you an experiment that might or might not be helpful: (more…)

Bitter in The Mouth - Sweet in the Stomach

Tuesday, February 1st, 2005

Fogueira: If I have understood correctly, even if I drop everything right now and think Shinran was onto something, and I believe his vow is going to “save” me, I’m not going to “become a Buddha” until “next time”.


That is exactly what Buddha teaches in the Larger Sutra, when it comes to plain people like me, Fogueira. (more…)