Author: Heng

I have been a serious Buddhist, a disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha for 50 years. Practicing self-powered disciplines not in accord with my lowest of the low capacity, I was a false disciple until 25 years ago when I found the teachings Master Shinran who truly made me a true disciple the Buddha as I am now able to follow His teaching fully in accordance with my minuscule spiritual capacity. I am writing this blog in deep gratitude to The World-honored Ones for having saved me from the painful cycle of samsara. Namo Amida Bu Heng (Oct. 2015)

True disciple of Buddha

TEXT IN KYO-GYO-SHIN-SHO

真 佛 弟 子

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In this beautiful passage from his magnum opus – the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho – Venerable Master Shinran carefully explains to us, the meaning of ‘True disciple of Buddha’…..

“In the term “True disciple of Buddha”, ‘true’ contrasts with false and provisional. ‘Disciple’ indicates a disciple of Shakyamuni and the other Buddhas. This expression refers to the practicer who has realized the diamond-like heart and mind. Through this Shinjin and practice, one will without fail transcend and realize great Nirvana: hence, that practicer is called ‘True disciple of Buddha’.”

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Suffering sentient beings like us have been transmigrating endlessly in samsara – the vicious cycle of countless births, suffering and deaths – unable to extricate ourselves from the unfathomable ocean of pain and suffering. We do not know why we are born here – in this ever-changing environment – so badly defiled and firmly attached to greed, hatred, ignorance, jealousy, and arrogance. Constantly struggling in vain to find happiness and to avoid suffering, we may perhaps live for 100 years but finally we still have to blindly leave this human existence in agony for another unknown realm of suffering. How sorrowful it is that this extremely rare human birth, would be so unwisely squandered by us and would just end in this way, completely beyond our comprehension!

We should know that the Buddha Dharma is the only True Teaching in this world of absolute delusion, that gives us a chance and means of escaping from samsara. Painfully ignorant of this fact, the majority of us are led to become agnostics or to simply follow other widely touted, false spiritual teachings, which definitely and relentlessly keep us mercilessly strapped to the treacherous wheel of samsara.

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Amida Buddha’s True and Real Shinjin (真 實 信 心), is His Sincere Mind and Absolute Confidence that all persons who single-heartedly accept His Primal Vow, will definitely be born, as they wish, in His Land of Peace and Bliss, at the end of their present lives. This Great Compassionate Vow had been wonderfully fulfilled ten kalpas ago when the Tathagata attained Supreme Buddhahood, after trillions of years perfectly performing the extremely difficult practices of a Bodhisattva; thus creating the Pure Land:

“If, When I attain Buddhahood
Sentient Beings of The Ten Quarters
With Sincere Mind, Joyfully entrusting themselves
Aspiring To Be Born in my Land
And Saying My Name perhaps even ten times
Should Not be born there
May I Not Attain The Supreme Enlightenment
Excluded Are Those Who commit the five grave offenses
And Those Who slander The Right Dharma.”

The Primal Vow (阿 彌 陀 佛 本 願) is clearly the Buddha’s Promise to save all beings from the dreadful cycle of samsara. Saying the Buddha’s Name (南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛 – Namo Amida Butsu), fulfilled in the Primal Vow, is thus, the active cause of our births in the Pure Land. It is Amida Buddha’s Great Practice of directing His infinite virtues to us for our going forth. By the power of this Vow of Great Compassion, persons with the lowest spiritual aptitude, like ourselves, who are absolutely incapable to perform difficult meditational and non-meditational practices, are effectively pulled out from jaws of samsara, at the end of this life.

Through Amida Buddha’s innumerable manifestations in this world, The Tathagata, without a moment respite, tirelessly saved countless beings in the past and continues right now, to lead badly defiled persons in the present, out of samsara, this painfully unsatisfactory world of delusion.

By simply entrusting ourselves to Amida Buddha and the Primal Vow, we are assured of birth in the Pure Land. We should know that Amida Buddha has already accomplished our Pure Land births by fulfilling for each of us our aspirations and all the necessary attendant practices. All ignorant sentient beings will realise this fact sooner or later – with the ripening of their good karma from the past – when they would become ready to receive Amida Buddha’s inconceivable gift of Entrusting Faith (信 心 – Shinjin) in the marvellously wonderful Primal Vow.

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Shakyamuni Buddha who appeared in this world out of His great compassion for all suffering beings, have effectively taught us, individually or as a group, appropriate methods of ending this fearful samsaric nightmare of birth, old age, sickness and death. The Exalted One persistently exhorts us to listen deeply to His teaching about the truth of our suffering and how we can put a permanent end to this suffering.

However, the sheer weight of negative karma, defilements and stubborn evil passions accumulated by us through billions upon billions of births, are so incredibly immense and varied, that extremely few of us would listen to what the Buddha taught. Every one of us has already built up a solid and intractable ego totally overwhelmed by our blind passions, that firmly hold us in this sphere of perpetual suffering. Thus, as we live through our fleeting lives without any suitable condition for emancipation, we would painfully leave this human life and are again recycled within the treacherous realms of gods, demi-gods, humans, hungry spirits, animals and hell beings.

It is said that Shakyamuni Buddha – the World-honored One, Teacher of gods and humans – skilfully taught 84000 methods and more when He walked on this earth over 2500 years ago, dispensing the appropriate Dharma medicine to each individual or group in accordance with their natures and capacities. The Buddha’s superior disciples who strictly perform the extremely difficult practices, fully in accord with the appropriate methods taught by Him on the Path of Sages, all receive emancipation. They were able to leverage on the Buddha’s physical presence and wonderful energetic-field, to attain freedom from samsara. These superior Dharma practitioner were indeed ‘True disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha’.

However, Shakyamuni Buddha revealed that, the true intent for His appearance in this world, was solely to preach Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow which seeks to save the vast majority all persons trapped in samsara, especially the lowest grade of Dharma followers who are absolutely incapable of performing any practices. The Buddha knows that, as His physical presence receded in time and space, extremely few disciples in future generations would be able to attain even the entry stages to Enlightenment, through the strict practices taught to superior disciples on the Path of Sages during His lifetime. Thus, by delivering the true teaching of Salvation – The Large Pure Land Sutra – He urges us to take the easy Path of the Pure Land, effectively out of samsara. All foolish persons, in this Dharma Ending Age, who fully entrust themselves to Amida’s Primal Vow, are therefore, called ‘True Disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha’.

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All the Buddhas, in the innumerable universes and galaxies throughout the ten directions, have the same Great Compassion for all suffering samsaric beings, who are continuously and blindly trapped in the realms of gods, demi-gods, humans, animals, hungry ghosts and hell-beings. They want us to become fully Enlightened Buddhas and hence be completely free from all pain and suffering. Yet, due our intractable egos, developed over countless lifetimes – our solid intellectual and emotional arrogance – most of us simply do not have the aspiration or the humility to listen deeply to what the Buddhas taught.

These World-honored Buddhas know that, entrusting in Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow, is the easiest and most effective method of securing the Salvation of all pathetic, suffering beings – particularly during the Dharma Ages that lack the physical presence and the immediate energetic-field of a Buddha. Thus, all the Buddhas throughout the ten directions, praise and fully support Saying Amida’s Name which embodies the Primal Vow. Mundane foolish persons like us, should mindfully take heed of all the Buddhas’ exhortations and become their ‘True Disciples’ by simply entrusting ourselves single-heartedly to Amida’s Compassionate Vow.

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Shinran Shonin , a True disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha, was born in Japan and lived from 1173-1263. Deeply understanding the right and true intent of Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings and the explanations transmitted by the Venerable Masters before him, he clearly expounded to us, about the true and provisional teachings in relation to The Path of Sages and The Pure Land Way. He also carefully explained about the distinctive characteristics of The Right, Semblance and Dharma-ending Ages which define the spiritual capacities of Dharma practicers.

The teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha on the Path of Sages were intended for the period when He was in this world and through the five hundred years of The Right Dharma Age (正 法 時 代); they are altogether inappropriate for the times and nature of beings in the thousand years of the Semblance Dharma Age (像 法 時 代) and during the materialistic years of the Dharma Ending Age (末 法 時 代) that followed. Out of millions of human beings who seek to cultivate the Way by performing meditative and non-meditative practices during the Dharma-ending Age, not one will gain perfect realization at the end of their extremely rare human lives.

We are now entrenched in The Dharma-ending Age; it is the evil world of the five defilements. This one gate – the Pure Land Way – is the only path that affords passage. Furthermore, even within the Pure Land Way, not one of us is able to come to the end of suffering by performing any self-power meditative or non-meditative practices. These practices are no longer in accord with the times and nature of beings. Yet most followers of the Buddha Dharma today, ignorant of this fact, do not even admit or honestly recognize their own inability and unfavourable circumstances they are now in, letting this life pass by in vain and struggling without any hope of ever coming close to emancipation. In short, they are painfully ignorant of Shakyamuni Buddha’s skilful teachings and true intention for His appearance in this world.

However, in this Dharma-ending Age, followers who truly and deeply listened to the Buddha’s teachings, will realize their own inability, utter foolishness and adverse circumstances they are in, knowing that they are doomed to complete failure by self-power practices. Wishing to be forever freed from the clutches of samsara, they single-heartedly entrust themselves and their karmic destiny entirely to  Amida Buddha and the Primal Vow. Saying the Name (南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛 – Namo Amida Butsu) as they receive the inconceivable gift of Shinjin (Entrusting mind – 信 心), they know without any doubt that they have now joined the assembly of those assured of Nirvana and would be freed from the crazy cycle of pain and suffering at the end of their lives.

The practice of listening deeply to the Buddhas’ teachings and single-hearted reliance on Amida Buddha and His Primal Vow are fully in accord with our true natures, spiritual aptitudes and The Dharma-ending Age. Followers of Shinjin belong to the rightly-established group whose births in Unconditioned Land of Peace and Bliss at the end of their lives, are absolutely guaranteed. They are thus, wonderfully and rightly described by Master Shinran as ‘True Disciples of Buddha’.

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True Disciples of Buddha – are therefore, the appropriate term for Buddhist followers – especially in this Dharma Ending Age – who rely completely on Amida Buddha’s absolute Vow-power (Other-power) and are truly settled in diamond-like Shinjin. They know without any doubt that, they will be Buddhas in Amida’s Pure Land at the end of their present lives. Naturally, they would live out the rest of their lives, remaining as foolish persons filled with blind passions, yet carefully watch over and constantly protected by the Compassionate Light of Amida Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha and all the Buddhas in the ten directions.

However, as expounded by Master Shinran in the Chinese text mentioned above, ‘True’ is contrasted with ‘False’ and ‘Provisional’. These latter categories of Buddhists, really do not have the aspiration or the appropriate means that are in accord with their true natures, aptitudes and circumstances, to escape from samsara, at the end of their pitiful existence in this mortal world:

False disciples of Buddha are people who may call themselves Buddhists, yet, they often mix their views and practices with other non-Buddhist, religious teachings. These are unstable, confused, ignorant followers, who always try to compare Buddha with God and Nirvana with Heaven. It is extremely sad that they do not even understand that the Buddhas’ teachings are the only methods that could get them out of samsara, while all other non-Buddhist spiritual paths, would only perpetuate their pain and suffering, relentlessly, in samsara.

Provisional disciples, on the other hand, are actually good Buddhists who are practicers of the difficult, expedient means taught by Shakyamuni Buddha in meditational and non-meditational disciplines meant for the truly superior disciples on the Path of Sages, during His lifetime. These followers of Buddha, depend largely on their own self-power efforts, practices and strict moral conducts to gain Enlightenment, without honestly taking stock of their own aptitudes for such difficult practices. Being followers of doubt and uncertainty, they may also mix their self-power practices with partial reliance on Amida Buddha’s Pure Land way.

Provisional disciples of Buddha are therefore, good Buddhists who do not understand that, as the Buddha’s energetic presence have receded in time, all their self-power struggles are simply not in accord with their extremely poor spiritual aptitude, circumstances and the Dharma Age they are in. It is again extremely sorrowful, that they still harbour doubts and simply cannot entrust themselves single-heartedly to Amida’s Primal Vow, which is now, the only option available, that could assure them of Enlightenment at the end of this samsaric life.

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Listening Deeply to the Buddha Dharma in general and to the Amida Dharma in particular, may all wretched foolish persons come to accept Amida’ precious Gift of Shinjin and become ‘True Disciples of Buddha’. May they, for as long as they live, continue to Say the Buddha’s Name – which is fully endowed with the Buddha’s infinite merits and virtues – in deep gratitude to Amida Buddha for His Boundless Compassion.

True Disciples of Buddha have definitely HEARD:

The Call of Boundless Compassion

The Buddha’s infinite merits and virtues
Are bestowed equally on all beings.
May all accept Amida’s Gift of Shinjin
And obtain birth in His Land of Peace and Bliss.

Namo-Amida-Butsu  南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛
Namo-Amida-Butsu  南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛
Namo-Amida-Butsu  南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛

Home Page: The Call of Boundless Compassion

Pundarika – David Kruemcke

Amazing Journey – Abandoning self-power Pure Land practice

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Pundarika – A rare White Lotus Flower that rose from the mud of blind passions…

All mundane foolish persons whether good or evil
Having heard and entrust in the Universal Vow of The Tathagata
The Buddha called them persons of vast excellent understanding
Who are also named by people as ‘Pundarikas’.

My Story
By Dave Kruemcke
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At this time, I bow and worship my Lord and Savior Amitabha Buddha

Only Amitabha has the power to save me
Only Amitabha has the power to heal me
Amitabha my only true hope
Amitabha my purest joy

Amitabha my strength and deliverance
Amitabha my everlasting and all penetrating light
Amitabha Savior of the helpless and hopeless spiritual idiot
Amitabha who carries me to His Pure Land
Of Infinite Light and Life
When this life is over.
Thank You Lord Amitabha Buddha.

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I grew up in Houston Texas in a very conservative, middle class, fundamentalist Southern Baptist home during the 1960’s and 70’s.…
It was a very abusive, micromanaged environment and I had a very miserable childhood. My father was extremely passive aggressive. Violent one minute… overly demonstrative and affectionate the next. My mother was a completely psychological train wreck and made my life a living hell.I was degraded, as well as physically, psychologically, and even sexually abused.

Even at a young age I often thought about taking my own life.
The only place I found anything near peace was in nature. I would spend hours exploring the natural surroundings in the Houston suburb where I lived.

Finally… I disowned and completely separated from my family and determined to create a life of my own.

I tried to be like other people and experimented with sex, drugs, and alcohol.

Prior to moving out of my parents house l had already begun a spiritual search for truth and happiness.

This always ended in failure and disappointment. This search led me to investigate various Christian sects, Wicca, Satanism, the occult, and many New Age philosophys.

Around this time a friend handed me a copy of the book “What The Buddha Taught”. Once I read this book I KNEW that Buddhism was the only true path for me.

This path led me to join a local Zen sangha.

I then studied under a Vietnamese Mahayana master. I then joined the Nichiren Buddhist group Soka Gakkai (not a good experience for me).
Somewhere around that time I came across a book on Chinese Pure Land Buddhism. That’s when I began the self-power chanting of ” Namo Amituofo”. It was about this time that I came across Paul and Rick’s online sangha trueshinbuddhism@yahoogroups.

For a long while l was a lurker who would occasionally ask questions. As a practicer of Chinese Pure Land Buddhism I listened to Namo Amituofo CONSTANTLY even while pedaling my bicycle to work everyday (Paul even had to warn me of the hazardous results that could occur from such a practice).

Then, finally, I decided to completely entrust myself and my karmic destiny to Amida Buddha and trust Amida to do the rest.

I didn’t have a very long in-between period before Amida gifted me with his precious gift of Shinjin. Once I had received it I KNEW THAT THIS WAS WHAT I HAD BEEN SEARCHING FOR MY ENTIRE LIFE.

With the passage of time I have settled into a life of settled Shinjin. It is a life of entrusting myself and my karmic destiny to Amitabha Buddha.

It is also a life of LISTENING DEEPLY to the Amida Dharma.

BEFORE SHINJIN : LISTEN DEEPLY
AFTER SHINJIN. : LISTEN DEEPLY

Namu Amida Butsu _/l\_

I hope my story helps someone along the path to receiving Amida’s gift of Shinjin.

Gassho,
Dave Kruemcke

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We thank Dave for sharing his inspiring and wonderful journey from self-power Pure Land practice to complete reliance and entrusting in Amitabha Buddha and His Primal Vow. By just relating his wonderful story about how he was brought  to receive The Precious Gift of Shinjin from Amida Buddha, he has given us a deep insight on the marvellous compassionate activities of the Tathagata. Since then, Dave has presented many videos on You Tube, gratefully expressing his Entrusting Faith in Amida Buddha.

Dave’s story will certainly help many seekers on The True Pure Land Way of Master Shinran, to Listen Deeply and to HEAR :

The Call of Boundless Compassion.

Namo-Amida-Butsu   南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛

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HOME PAGE – The Call of Boundless Compassion

Page 2 – The Primal Vow

Page 3 – Gatha Of True Faith

Pundarika – Rick St Clair

           AMAZING JOURNEY – Finding A True Teacher of Shinjin

pundarika-fa

Pundarika – a rare White Lotus Flower that rose from the mud of blind passions…

All mundane foolish persons whether good or evil
Having heard and entrust in the Universal Vow of The Tathagata
The Buddha called them persons of vast excellent understanding
Who are also named by people as ‘Pundarikas’.

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Rick St Clair is a moderator of the On-line Sangha, True Shin Buddhism Yahoo Group. He joined this Sangha in May 2009 after a tortuous search for a path that will free him permanently from samsara, the relentless cycle of birth, suffering and death. Having found for himself, a good teacher of True Shinjin and a great Dharma friend in Paul Roberts, they set out strongly to spread the wonderful True Pure Land Teachings of Master Shinran, acting as links to Amida Buddha’s Golden Chain. Their efforts have brought many ignorant, foolish lay seekers to Listen Deeply to The Inconceivable Dharma message of Master Shinran and to HEAR The Call of Boundless Compassion.

Since then, Rick, who is an accomplished musician, has presented many beautiful musical compositions with his videos on You Tube, gratefully showcasing the wonderful poems and teachings of Master Shinran to the world.

Sharing his Amazing Journey to JodoShinshu, Rick personally writes…

The saving light of Amida Buddha shines ceaselessly
 Upon all suffering beings of the ten directions
 Even on such a foolish being of evil karma as myself :
 One such as this is Amida’s foremost object of compassion!

There is no greater good than the Nembutsu!
There is no evil that can overcome the Nembutsu!
Saved by the power of Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow
I say the Nembutsu in heartfelt gratitude.

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As a child and young adult I was never very interested in religion. I avoided going to church as much as possible, playing sick when I could get away with it. When I was a teen, I was asked (it wasn’t put as a request however) to go through confirmation in the Presbyterian Church, which I did. I learned all the Beatitudes, the names of the Old and New Testament books in correct order, and all of the Ten Commandments by memory. I was active in church as a singer, but my interest wasn’t really spiritual. I never read the Bible or any spiritual writings, just wasn’t interested. One amusing thing, though, when I was a pre-adolescent, I was awestruck by our Presbyterian minister, who was a firebrand. I dressed  up like a minister and gave “sermons” imitating him in the living room of our house. But it was all just a lark.

As a college student I forgot all about religion completely until someone who was counselling me told me about Paramahansa Yogananda. Out of curiosity I sent away for lessons from the Self Realization Fellowship and practiced for a few weeks, but lost interest quickly. However, the experience did pique my interest in spirituality for the first time, and I got interested in unitarianism. I didn’t believe in the Trinity, just a divine presence, so unitarianism was a good fit for me at that time. Before long though, due to complex emotional problems stemming from an abusive childhood, I was induced into joining a religious group which turned out to be a cult. There was a lot of brainwashing, and I came to fear God as a judge, with very little hope of redemption outside of the religious group.

After 17 years of that experience, which was a terrible downward spiral, I had a spiritual crisis and walked away from the group, completely disillusioned about spirituality and religion in general. Instead I turned to psychotherapy. It was in psychotherapy that I made a lot a progress in my emotional issues, but after a few years I came to a dead end. My therapist suggested I might benefit from Buddhism, and recommended looking into the writings of Pema Chodron and the Dalai Lama. I began dabbling in Buddhism.

First, I checked out from the library some of the discourses of the Buddha from the Pali Canon. I was immediately struck by the clarity of the Buddha’s teaching, and for the first time I felt like my spiritual boat had a rudder. I read many books on Buddhism and started going to various Buddhist meetings. The emphasis was on either meditation or chanting or a combination of the two. In my previous experience in a religious cult, the practice of ritual was strongly emphasized, and I felt turned off by meditation and chanting because they reminded me of the bad experience in the cult. But now I considered the Buddha as my spiritual teacher and guide.

On my own, I took the Three Refuges. I took a three-day retreat in Tibetan Buddhism on Dependent Origination. Although the chanting bothered me a lot, the logic of the presentation of Dependent Origination convinced me that Buddhism, at least in theory, was TRUTH, was something that deserved my full attention and devotion. One of the chanting groups I went to was a Nichiren Shu organization. The emphasis was on the Lotus Sutra and chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo. I was entranced with the writings in the Lotus Sutra and even set some of the verses in the sutra to music (I am a professional classical composer). But the chanting was a problem for me.  Nichiren, a 13th century radical Buddhist teacher, was very opinionated and intolerant of all forms of Buddhism that did not conform to his interpretation of the Lotus Sutra. He was especially intolerant of the Pure Land sect founded by Honen Shonin, which he blamed for all the problems in Japan, political, social, and religious.

It was Nichiren’s rant against Honen in his tract Rissho Ankoku Ron that spurred my curiosity about Honen, and so I began to look into Honen and the Pure Land sect. I also started to read books about Japanese Pure Land Buddhism. Very quickly I found a book about Shinran Shonin, “Shinran’s Gospel of Pure Grace,” by Alfred Bloom. I devoured the book and was completely convinced that Master Shinran was the teacher I had unwittiingly been looking for all my life. Pure grace sounded like just what I needed – not a boatload of religious practices, but simple FAITH. So I got in touch with Alfred Bloom, studied his online course, and considered him my teacher. However, it became clear to me very quickly that there was a problem. Shinran’s “gospel of pure grace” seemed like a sure thing, but when I read the fine print in Bloom’s writings, it appeared that I needed to study very hard in order to “get” just how that “gospel” “worked”. (NB: Master Shinran wrote that NO WORKING IS TRUE WORKING, and Bloom completely missed the boat on that crucial point.) Every successive book of Bloom’s I purchased and read cover to cover, but my frustration only grew.

I thought if I started a sangha and had Shin Buddhist teachers come to teach the Dharma, then I would have answers to my questions. So I did. I organized a sangha, and we had monthly meetings for a number of years in my hometown in the Boston area. The Shin teacher who was most helpful in organizing the sangha was Taitetsu Unno, like Bloom a famous teacher and writer on Shin Buddhism. Also helpful was Rev. T. K. Nakagaki, then minister of the New York Buddhist Church. I felt with Unno and Nakagaki behind it, the sangha would be a great success. But the way Unno wanted the sangha to be set up, and Nakagaki agreed, was to have a lot of ritual – chanting, rice offering, bowing, incense – followed by a “dharma talk”. I was uncomfortable about the rituals, but I thought this was what was necessary for a “legitimate” sangha, so I went along with it.

However, the chanting was all in Japanese! I didn’t understand what we were chanting. Nobody did. Then we chanted the Nembutsu, but nobody told us what the meaning of that was. The “dharma talks” did not say anything about the meaning of Amida Buddha, the Primal Vow, Other Power, and the Pure Land. Instead, they talked about life, daily problems, and occasionally about Buddhist-related ideas, but never about the teachings of Master Shinran or Master Rennyo. Master Rennyo wrote, famously, that “In our sect, SHINJIN IS EVERYTHING.” Shinjin is the faith-mind consciousness given by Amida Buddha to any and every person who turns over their entire karmic destiny, without any doubing or doublemindedness, to the care of Amida Buddha’s Other Power. Shinjin is SALVATION IN THE PRESENT. But in the Boston sangha, the teachers NEVER talked about Shinjin. In the several years that I organized and ran the sangha, I do not recall any of the ministers EVER ONCE mentioning the concept of Shinjin, or even the WORD Shinjin.

And that is precisely why the Boston Shin sangha failed. The ministers who should have been teaching the pristine Dharma of Shakyamuni Buddha, Master Shinran and Master Rennyo were doing just the opposite, they were teaching their own ideas and cloaking it in the veneer of Shin ritual. And so the Boston Shin sangha failed. There was no interest, because there was no real teaching happening, just a lot of modernist talk and empty ritual. I had to close down the sangha when the membership dwindled down to a handful of regulars. But I didn’t fully realize at the time what the problem really was. Somewhere in my mind I knew that the teachers had failed, but I didn’t know why. The reason is that I wasn’t yet a person of Shinjin. I was still enamored by the seductive prose of Unno’s and Bloom’s books, which SOUNDED profound but really weren’t saying anything beyond their own personal opinions mixed in with western philosophy and a lip service to the Dharma Masters.

I joined an email discussion group of Shin Buddhists, and we batted around ideas, but we were all just as confused as our teachers. One day, Paul Roberts appeared on the list and started talking about the pristine Dharma taught by Master Shinran and Master Rennyo. We all thought he was crazy. I’m ashamed to say that I called him a troublemaker. Paul left under a storm of abusive posts and instead set up his own blog, the Shin Ugly Blog. I was really spiritually lost at that point. I wasn’t ready to hear Paul’s message. I was confused and in a sea of doubt and modernist disinformation.

On one occasion over the phone my teacher, Alfred Bloom, actually confided to me, “Of course, there is no Amida Buddha.” I was floored. But in a real way it was what I needed to hear. I needed to hear what he REALLY felt behind the facade of honored teacher and celebrated writer. If there is no Amida Buddha, then what are we doing here? So I went into a spiritual tailspin. I was practically on the verge of giving up on Shin Buddhism totally. I looked into all sorts of other, non-Buddhist paths, Theosophy, Kaballah, Rosicrucian, Islam, Quaker, etc., and each time felt more empty than the last. I was at the end of my rope.

However, little could I have realized at the time, my karma was ripening to receive the true teaching. But I remembered Paul’s posts on the email list. Out of sheer desperation, and feeling I had nothing left to lose, I contacted him and laid out my predicament. Right away Paul confirmed to me that Amida DOES exist, Amida is a REAL BUDDHA, and the Pure Land is a real place. In just a few emails and phone calls, with Paul’s help, I quickly came to Shinjin and jettisoned all the doubts and confusions of the modernists that I had been laboring under for twelve long and frustrating years. This whole experience, painful and protracted as it was, taught me a very profound lesson. Unless Shin Buddhism teachers are persons of Shinjin, as Paul Roberts is, the true teaching cannot be communicated. If Shin Buddhist teachers mix their own personal views as part of their lessons, the true teaching cannot be communicated. And CLEARLY, the global Shin Sangha is in a terrible state if the most prominent and famous teachers and writers are teaching modernist gobbledygook instead of the pristine true teachings of Shakyamuni, Shinran, and Rennyo.

Thanks to Paul as my mentor, I have grown into my own role as a teacher of True Shin Buddhism and am active on the Yahoo group, True Shin Buddhism. Even though I know I am still a bombu, a “spiritual idiot” as Paul likes to say, the fact that I am a person of Shinjin teaching according to the plumbline of the Dharma Masters means that I am in the sacred position of transmitting the very Dharma that has SAVED ME and assured that I will be reborn as a Buddha in Amida’s Pure Land when my life here ends. So now, when I say the Nembutsu – Namu Amida Butsu – it is not “chanting” some mechanical ritual or mantra, it is a natural, heartfelt expression of GRATITUDE to Amida Buddha for his great gift of Shinjin and his promise to me of Buddhahood in His Pure Land. I live my life naturally, without effort, calculation, or worry about my spiritual future. I have been saved by Amida Buddha for all time.

Namu Amida Butsu! – Thank You, Amida Buddha!!

Gassho,

Rick St Clair

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By Rick St Clair on The Call Of Boundless Compassion

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HOME PAGE – The Call Of Boundless Compassion

Page 2 – The Primal Vow

Page 3 – Gatha of True Faith

Pundarika – Camille’s story

                Amazing Journey – Finding my True Dharma Family

pundarika-fa

Pundarikas – rare White Lotus Flowers that rose from the mud of blind passions…

All mundane foolish persons whether good or evil
Having heard and entrust in the Universal Vow of The Tathagata
The Buddha called them persons of vast excellent understanding
Who are also named by people as ‘Pundarikas’.

>>>

Camille joined the On-line Sangha, True Shin Buddhism Yahoo Group in April 2014. She was very new to Buddhism, had never heard of Master Shinran or met a Shin Buddhist in real life – she is not even a Buddhist. She has no doubt that she had been compassionately guided on this Amazing Journey to receive Amida Buddha’s Precious Gift of Shinjin. Her one-thought moment of true entrusting  in Amida Buddha and His Primal Vow coming in just a short period of four months of deep listening to The Pristine Teachings of Master Shinran, demonstrates to us the inconceivable effect of good karma from the past ripening at the right time, nurtured and brought to fruition in the right environment of True Teachers of Shinjin – Paul and Rick.

She shares with us now her wonderful story, opening with two beautiful poems adapted from Rick’s compositions…..

My thanks to Amida seems so small
Yet I offer it up to this greatest Buddha
Who saves me in spite of myself
Because of myself.

Snow falls and karma ripens –
As time passes

So my journey To the Pure Land
On Amida’s great ship nears its end.

Namu Amida Butsu.

>>>

I was brought up in a no faith family – as my parents and larger extended family didn’t believe in such things.  I was drawn to pictures of the Buddha at an early age, not knowing why or even who he was; and I can’t for the life of me imagine WHERE I saw these pictures or got hold of them either; but while my friends had pictures of pop stars on their walls as they got older, I had pictures of Shakyamuni Buddha on mine 🙂  I found them comforting, even though I had no concept of who he was for many years after that.

Also from the earliest age I was well aware of karma and that was something I naturally knew from my earliest memories!  I belief these knowings came from an earlier life as there is no other reason for them. So as I grew up I left my pictures behind, got married, had a family, and put my longing to find that which was hidden from me on hold.  Then in my late 20’s I started again; this time as an adult searching; for what I didnt know! I knew there was something so much more and so much greater than I could fathom, but where to find it was the question!!

Eventually I got involved in the Mormon Church and Christianity, and found that this was not something I could go along with or agree with for so many reasons. So with this sadness at giving up my friends and people I loved dearly in the church; and guilt, uncertainty and fear in my head, I left and started my search once again.  I looked at so many things – Taoism, Sikhism, Eckhart Tolle, A Course in Miracles, Islam, Baha’i etc. etc., so many things….  But no matter what I researched something kept drawing me back to Buddhism and frankly I didn’t actually know anything about it so it was strange!

My personal blockage to Buddhism was that I had the belief in God still in my heart, and so I kept LOOKING for a way to have God and Buddhism too 🙂  And even though I kept being pulled towards Buddhism, I gave up time and time again due to my belief – If God didn’t  fit, which of course didn’t  happen then it wasn’t  for me, and so I gave up!!   So I learnt nothing intellectually due to my God bias, and yet I STILL felt an incredible pull to Buddhism for reasons that were not clear to me. Eventually I thought, Oh My Gosh! I’m being pulled back over and over to Buddhism and in particular Shin Buddhism, which I knew virtually nothing about so I found the True Shin Buddhism Yahoo Group which I joined.

When I first started reading the posts I didn’t really understand it; I thought about leaving a few times but something told me to stay, and so I did.  I was feeling very confused; and burnt out with all my study of different religions and I was at the point of giving it all up.  I had a small burst of energy, and thought OK this is it, my FINAL try…   I was fed-up with the constant searching and never finding. So one day I thought, I have been drawn to this path for so long – I have issues that I cant overcome, and I’m going to email Paul with my deepest question – and that was about God.  This was a huge deal for me at the time, because God was something I kept close and in my heart, and I didn’t want anyone tampering with it!!  However I took the chance and I asked Paul my questions; and he gave me the answers.

He didn’t in anyway tell me what I wanted to hear; BUT he told me the TRUTH; and again instinctively I felt I should really listen to this guy 🙂   So glad I did.  We had a conversation over some days back and forth, and he was really marvellous, always speaking from the standpoint of the Dharma Teachings, but also he was very gentle and kind and there was no pushiness at all, which was a welcome change from the Christian teachings.  He also didn’t  tell me I HAD to believe this or that, but spoke saying the Masters said this or that, put it in simple terms for me to understand and left it with me to think about on my own, while willingly answering any questions I had.

I had at that point decided that this was my last try!!!  If this wasn’t it, then I was giving up and just getting through this life as best and as happily as I could, knowing that I couldn’t find IT this time round! So I decided to give it all I had, to put God on the back burner so to speak, and to see one way or another if this was the true path for me.  I went around the house, and put all the ‘stuff’ I had away in a box and out of the house.  Books of which there were box loads, ornaments, reminders, Bibles, assorts of ‘stuff’ I had that would link me back to my past, or draw me back into being torn between different teachings.  So this I did.  It felt good to be focused on one path rather than dashing from one to the other and back again, just digging a bigger pit of confusion for myself.

So after I spoke with Paul, I started reading his book in the files section ‘Shin Buddhism 101’ and I came to a paragraph on page 126, which read… You can recognize that there is no comparison between what some modernist scholar might say, when compared to what a true Buddha such as Shakyamuni Buddha says. If you simply put aside any and all of your pre-existing beliefs and ideologies, and ask deep within, you will KNOW who to believe as the teller of TRUTH, and who to reject as a teller of something LESS than the truth. You can actually ask directly: Amida, if your light is infinite, shining EVERYWHERE in the ten directions like Shakyamuni says:
” will you allow me to see it – not with my outer eyes, but with my inner eye. Please show me YOUR light.” WOW!!  This, as SO much in Paul’s book, just touched me very very deeply. So I asked Amida to show me, right there on the floor where I was sitting;  I felt that one thought moment of complete and total trust within and I received Shinjin immediately.

It was much unexpected for me as I had only just committed myself to this path; and also I knew very little about Buddhism even though I had been lead here without a doubt!!  There was also a feeling of a great weight being lifted from my shoulders and a deep feeling of peace, finally 🙂 How grateful I am that I gave Shin Buddhism a go, even when my logic and my God barriers told me ‘how could this possibly be’!!  When I received Shinjin I had to work through my initial surprise/shock as it was so sudden and quick for me!  I can tell you without a doubt that Shinjin for me was the most wonderful experience, and unlike ANYTHING else – it is a KNOWING rather than a hope.

After Shinjin my learning flourished right away – things I had been reading only a few days earlier, made PERFECT sense, and it was like I was reading the Masters works with new eyes.  It was astounding 🙂  So from that time until this day I KNOW I have found what I have been searching for my whole life.  There has never even for an instant been any doubts, no matter what has been going on for me physically, and I KNOW without ANY DOUBT AT ALL that when this life ends I will become a Buddha and join Amida and many others to help all sentient beings – and I am so thankful to Amida for giving me this greatest of gifts – and to Paul who was and is my Mentor, teacher and friend & who was an integral part of my journey to Amida.

So we all have our own story and our own journey to this point, and each story is as individual as we who experience them.  What worked for me may not work for you and vice versa; we each have our own path to reach the ripeness of our karma which is a part of our individual journey, and never forget we are being guided and helped the whole way through whether we are aware of it or not 🙂

Namu Amida Butsu – THANK YOU AMIDA BUDDHA

Gassho,

Camille

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By Camille on The Call Of Boundless Compassion

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HOME PAGE – The Call Of Boundless Compassion

Page 2 – The Primal Vow

Page 3 – Gatha of True Faith

Pundarika – Paul Roberts

             Amazing path of awakening – Amida is A Real Buddha

pundarika-fa

Pundarika – A rare White Lotus Flower that rose from the mud of blind passions…

All mundane foolish persons whether good or evil
Having heard and entrust in the Universal Vow of The Tathagata
The Buddha called them persons of vast excellent understanding
Who are also named by people as ‘Pundarikas’.

>>>

Paul Roberts is the moderator and true teacher of Master Shinran’s Teachings – on his On-line Sangha, True Shin Buddhism Yahoo Group which he started in 2006. His amazing journey to The Teaching, Practice, Shinjin and Realization on The True Pure Land Way of Master Shinran, is a great source of inspiration and encouragement to many ordinary foolish lay persons, fellow travellers who are seeking for the only viable Path of True Salvation. Gratefully joining Amida Buddha’s golden chain, he also teach with his wonderful videos on You Tube.

Let us Listen deeply to his wonderful story in his own words…

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Up until I was about 20, I was a staunch materialist, also known as a nihilist. I was convinced that all there is in this universe is space, time, matter and energy.

And then, I began to experience these “wake up calls”.  I’d have moments where my ego-self consciousness would just fall asleep somehow.  In that moment, all that was left (as I know now) was simply my Buddha-self consciousness.

For a brief, shining moment, I was seeing the world with unstained Buddha eyes. I experienced my oneness with all that is.  There was no “me” in those moments. I was simply full of the fruit of Buddha-self consciousness: Love, compassion, the non-dual or unitive VIEW

Since then, I’ve done a lot of study of religions and spirituality generally, and found out that this experience is common to all people in all times, places and cultures.  Of course people use different words and concepts to describe it and place it into their own cultural matrix afterwards.  But those precious moments themselves are ineffable, and beyond words and rational explanation.

These moments were my first “awakening” in this life.  Of course, they faded over time, as my ego-self consciousness re-awakened and my Buddha-self consciousness receded into the background of my mindstream once again.

Now I understand, and know beyond all doubt, what was happening:  The countless transcendental Buddhas and Bodhisattvas work behind the scenes in each of our lives, laying down a trail of “spiritual breadcrumbs” to urge us, coax us and lead us – each and all. And the biggest breadcrumb of all is this  kind of shining moment where even someone as confused as me just KNOWS there is something more going on than mere materiality.  For me, as for so many others, that moment changes us forever, and gives us a new outlook on life, an outlook that makes us a pilgrim on the Path of Awakening.

That doesn’t mean we’re done, by any means. But it does mean that the great purpose and goal of our life has changed.  Life now has a meaning it could never otherwise have.  And the great purpose and goal is to now live life as an awakened being ALL the time – to have that ineffable non-dual view ALL the time – to live life and experience life and see life from the very top of that mountain of enlightenment that pilgrims on the path are travelling without EVER losing that mountaintop view, retrogression into plain, mundane, ego-self consciousness.

Of course, I know now that this is exactly what happened to Gotama on his own journey from being a prince to being the Buddha of our time and place.  After seven years of the most intense seeking as a pilgrim on the path, he sat down one last time under the Bodhi Tree, and looked more deeply into reality than he ever had before.  And so he found, at last, this ego-self consciousness as a thing – a psychic entity that seems unique to humans in our world – and he recognized it as the very SOURCE of our suffering, our alienation, our endarkened vision of ourselves and our lives.  He called this psychic entity the builder of this house of suffering – and it surely is.

And then he snuffed it out, as one might snuff out a candle, and so he arose from that Bodhi Tree not as Gotama the seeker, but as the Fully Enlightened One, the Great World Teacher, the Turner of the Wheel of Dharma.  By snuffing out that ego-self consciousness, He was now THE BUDDHA…or more accurately A BUDDHA – one of countless Buddhas in this universe, and any other universes we don’t yet know about.

And as I read this, I knew – after many years as a seeker who’d gone down one blind alley after another – that THIS was my goal.  I wanted to become a Buddha, too.  And so, after many years as a seeker floundering around with the best intentions, I finally became a disciple of Shakyamuni, and understood that the end game for a seeker was to become a FINDER, just like Gotama had.

Or as I sometimes say, “When I grow up, I want to be a Buddha”.

So now I was a disciple of Shakyamuni. And as far as I could tell, in all of the branches of authentic Buddhism, the name of the game was about lifting myself up by my bootstraps.  It was about climbing the mountain of enlightenment, one small step after another.

By this time, I already had some good skills as a meditator, and bring on that non-dual experience at will much of the time.  Like many who become skilled, I could sit down in my quiet time and place, and take off the clothes of “me” during my meditation or “practice” time.  But even if I had the best and most wonderful experience of Buddha-self consciousness during my practice time, as soon as I got up, against my own deepest desire, I was clothed with “me” once again.  And so the experience – like all the others I have had since the beginning – was marked by impermanence.

Said another way, I could GET there, but I couldn’t STAY there.  And over many years, observing all sorts of people and groups in the global Buddha-sangha, I came to realize that this was not just my problem, it was EVERYBODY’S problem.  Just like the little boy could see through “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, I could see – and couldn’t HELP but see – not a one of us seemed capable of “staying there”.  Not a one of us could actually shed the clothing of our ego-self consciousness in a PERMANENT way, like Gotama finally did beneath that Bodhi Tree some 2500 years ago.

It took me a long time to really SEE this, and a longer time to find the words to describe what I was seeing.  Nevertheless, I was content with my own trudging up the mountain of enlightenment like all the other Buddhists (or so I thought), just figuring that it was going to take a lot of lifetimes t get there.  If that was the way it was, I was OK with that.  If that’s what all the Buddhist pilgrims on the Path were doing, then I would do it too – no matter how badly I did it.

But then, right after 9/11, I was confronted with two tragic experiences that were just too much for me to bear. The first was in July 2002, when my younger brother committed suicide. I was so shaken by that experience, and all that surrounded it, that I couldn’t quiet my mind at all.  I couldn’t read or study the Dharma, or listen to any Dharma teachers, or do ANYTHING to lift myself up by my own efforts at all.

And that’s when I was drawn, for the very first time in my life, to the man named Shinran, and the Dharma he taught.

As soon as I started to read his words, and understand his basic Dharma propositions, I knew I had found the open Dharma door I had been seeking for so many years.  I still didn’t understand it clearly – because all of the English speaking Dharma teachers I could find were preaching and teaching a DIFFERENT Dharma message than Master Shinran’s message.  At that point, I simply didn’t know or understand enough to separate the wheat from the chaff.

But my spiritual “sniffer”, the sense from my own inner Buddha-self consciousness, was leading me along, and convincing me thoroughly that this “Path of the Foolish” was much more suitable for such a weak, stumbling and failing Buddhist like me, compared to the “Path of the Sages”, for which I was CLEARLY not suited.

I was ready for a Dharma path which was about TRUSTING rather than TRYING, about being PULLED-UP by some “other power” rather than PULLING MYSELF UP by my own self-power efforts.  I was ready to “let go and let Amida”.

The one problem I had – and the reason I couldn’t just do that, is that all of the living Shin Buddhist teachers were talking about how Amida isn’t a REAL Buddha, but just some sort of mythical figure – like Hamlet, as one well known teacher put it. And (these same teachers said), the Pure Land was not a REAL Buddha-land, but just the state of Buddha-consciousness.

This confused me completely – because the way Shakyamuni Buddha and Master Shinran talked, they seemed to see Amida as a “real” Buddha – indeed in the Larger Sutra, in response to a request by the monk Ananda, Amida actually showed himself to the crowd assembled that day on Vulture Peak.  And at the same time, Amida showed all those folks the Pure Land itself.

So none of these teachings – which I now know are FALSE teachings – made any sense to me.

And then a second major tragic event happened in my family:  My older daughter, a beautiful and spiritually oriented young women, fell into a deep clinical depression and couldn’t make her way out, although she tried her best and we did too. We took her to the best doctors in our area, she took the anti-depression medicine they gave her – but nothing worked.  Sixteen months after my brother’s death, my daughter died as well.

Now, these unresolved questions I had became CRITICAL.  I was so overwhelmed, that I just didn’t know how to get through one day, much less a lifetime.  Every night I went to bed hoping that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning.

I just HAD to know:  Was Amida a REAL Buddha, a living being like Shakyamuni, in whom I could truly take full and final refuge, as Shakyamuni invited me to do?  Was the Pure Land of Amida a REAL place where I could be re-born at the end of this terrible lifetime, and become a real Buddha myself – at long last.

I searched and searched, desperately, all over the internet – but I couldn’t find a SINGLE Shin Buddhist teacher who would make those two simple assertions.  I became truly hopeless, thinking that in Shin Buddhism there was really no “there” there. The ground of faith I had been standing upon was falling away beneath my feet.

And then finally, stuck away in some obscure corner of the internet, was a website of some Japanese Shin teacher I had never heard of named Eiken Kobai.  He is called “Sensei” but I’ve learned that such religious and spiritual titles mean absolutely nothing.  It’s not about what you are CALLED…it’s about who you really ARE.

Eiken had one page in English on the whole site, with the text of his major book that was translated into English.  It’s called UNDERSTANDING JODO SHINSHU.  This little book explained the basics of Shin Buddhism better and more succinctly than anything I had ever read by other Shin teachers, and it seemed to accord entirely with the writings of our Dharma masters, Shinran and Rennyo.

So I wrote to Eiken, and he replied with the help of an American translator.  And then I wrote him again, saying that I had JUST ONE QUESTION:

“Is Amida Buddha a REAL Buddha, or not?”

Of course, Eiken answered the question directly and simply: Yes (he said), Amida is a real Buddha.

With that one short sentence, he had wielded a true Dharma sword, and had cut away all the delusions and obscurations planted in my mindstream by these false teachers, and their false teachings.

So as soon as I read Eiken’s words, I had no more obstacles left in my head, or my heart. I had no more doubt.

I simply entrusted myself and my entire karmic destiny ENTIRELY to Amida and His Primal Vow – and immediately received the inconceivable gift of His Shinjin.

This time, there were no ineffable mystical EXPERIENCES, no dropping away of my ego-self consciousness, no relief from the unending tsunami of my grief.  I still couldn’t stand to be alive, and still went to sleep every night hoping I wouldn’t wake up in the morning.

And yet, and yet…

Because of the faith-mind consciousness of Amida Buddha Himself shining into the darkness of my broken mindstream, I just KNEW – and KNOW even as I write this 11 years later – that I am truly grasped by the REAL Buddha called Amida.  I KNOW that He Himself will never abandon me, no matter what.  And I KNOW that when this life is over, I WILL awaken in Amida’s own Pure Land, and I will IMMEDIATELY experience that final transformation to Buddhahood – which is the great goal and purpose I already had!

When I grow up, I want to be a Buddha – and now I KNOW – beyond all doubt – that this would be how it would happen.

And I KNEW that in the very first moment of receiving Amida’s gift of SHINJIN, His own faith-mind consciousness.

In all of the ups and downs of my life since that moment, I have not had a single moment of doubt about that. This is not because of my faith, or my works, in any way. It is ENTIRELY because of Amida’s own faith and works, during His many lifetimes as the Bodhisattva Dharmakara, doing endless practices to perfection, on MY behalf, to create infinite karmic merit for ME.

It’s ALL AMIDA, ALL THE TIME.  All I ever need to do is listen deeply to the Dharma as best as I can, with the help of my Dharma friends. I just let go, and let Amida do EVERYTHING that needs doing in my little life, day by day, until I leave this body, and this life.

All I am here is GRATEFUL – like a drowning man who is grateful when he’s pulled out of the ocean and saved from certain death by a great ship passing by.

NAMU AMIDA BUTSU, I say in response.

NAMU AMIDA BUTSU. Thank You Amida Buddha.

NAMU AMIDA BUTSU

NAMU AMIDA BUTSU

NAMU AMIDA BUTSU

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU AMIDA BUDDHA

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By Paul Roberts on The Call Of Boundless Compassion.

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HOME PAGE – The Call Of Boundless Compassion

Page 2 – The Primal Vow

Page 3 – Gatha of True Faith

Pundarika – Valerie’s story

                   Amazing Journey to JodoShinshu – I now ‘ GET IT ‘

pundarika-fa

Pundarikas – rare White Lotus Flowers that rose from the mud of blind passions…

All mundane foolish persons whether good or evil
Having heard and entrust in the Universal Vow of The Tathagata
The Buddha called them persons of vast excellent understanding
Who are also named by people as ‘Pundarikas’.

>>>

With the encouragement of Paul who is the moderator for the On-line Sangha – True Shin Buddhism Yahoo Group, Valerie shares her amazing story of her search for a Way that will free her permanently from all pain and suffering. Her good karma from the past ripened when she joined the On-line Sangha in May 2010 and in a short period of about three months, she had cleared all her doubts, gratefully saying – Thank You – I now ‘get it’.

Relating her wonderful journey she wrote…..

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Several years ago when I first visited the True Shin Buddhism (TSB) website, I identified as a Nichiren Buddhist (SGI), although that path of Buddhism was no longer working for me.  I was raised a Christian, but I had been a seeker all my life, exploring various paths within (and outside) of Christianity. A year or so previous to this, I had heard about Shin Buddhism, and decided to investigate it. However, due to the confusion caused by the modernist teachings of the Shin authors I read (Unno, Bloom, Tanaka,etc.), I lost interest and turned back to Nichiren Buddhism (SGI). However, I continued to be disillusioned by various things happening in the SGI at that time. So, I decided to give Shin Buddhism another try.

Now, looking back, I can see Amida working behind the scene, directing my path and directing me to the TSB website. The wonderful news I discovered there was that Shin was EXACTLY what I initially hoped it was (before I encountered the modernists’ false teachings) – a teaching of real salvation by a real, living Buddha. Over the next few months I eagerly read all the posts in the TSB archives, as well as articles from the Shin Ugly Blog, Josho Adrian Cirlea’s website. I particularly found Paul Roberts’ teaching of the Three Pillars of True Shin Buddhism to be a real eye-opener for me – the basics of Shin Buddhism were presented in a clear and understandable manner which made complete sense to me.

During the time I was reading this literature, which kept repeating the true teachings of our Dharma Masters, I came to realize that my deepest aspiration was to become a Buddha. I also came to the conclusion that I was utterly unable to save myself. I had actually known this, deep inside, for some time. All along my spiritual journey (through Christianity, Hare Krishna, and Nichiren Buddhism) I was never able to truly believe that these teachings would really enable me to achieve any kind of permanent spiritual result.  All the same, I did believe that there was something real out there that I had been searching for my whole life – I had just given up hope of finding it! I was tired of seeking and never seeming to find, trying one path after another.

Thanks to the true Dharma teachings I encountered, I came to believe in a real Amida (saviour), a real Pure Land, and a real future (to become a Buddha). Now for the first time the concepts of Buddhahood and enlightenment made sense, as did the Vow to save all beings.  I decided to entrusted myself to Amida, just as I was, with all my baggage. My karma was obviously ripe at that point – I completely gave up on other paths/practices and asked Amida to rescue me and to bring me to the Pure Land.  I asked Him to show me any doubts that I may be harbouring. That was all I could do. I felt confident that Amida would give me the gift of Shinjin in His time and I wasn’t going to worry about it.

Now I know that He has grasped me and that I am among those who have reached the stage of non-regression. I have peace and am not interested in “being a seeker” anymore. When I think about Amida and his salvation, I experience joy and gratitude. I realize now that Amida had been leading me my whole life, when I didn’t even know about Him, so he is fully capable of leading me to the Pure Land.  I can now just live my natural life as a bombu, with its normal ups and downs.

Val Whelan

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Thank you Valerie for sharing your amazing journey and your profound understanding of Master Shinran’s pristine Amida Dharma. Other seekers, thirsty for the water of True Liberation, would certainly benefit from your experience and one whose karma has ripened will be fully quenched by The Call of Boundless Compassion.

NAMO AMIDA BUTSU   南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛

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Home Page – The Call Of Boundless Compassion

Page 2 – The Primal Vow

Page 3 – Gatha Of True Faith

Gatha Of True Faith

SHOSHINGE –     信   偈

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Pundarika –  An Excellent Pure White Lotus that rose from the mud of blind passions…
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This excellent Gatha of True Faith was composed by Master Shinran expressing his deep gratitude for The Boundless Compassion of Amida Buddha and for the benevolence of the great Masters who transmitted down The True Pure Land Teachings taught by Shakyamuni Buddha. Beautifully written in Classical Chinese, these four line verses captured the intimate kindness and exhortations of The Pure Land Masters. They fervently urge all mundane foolish persons (凡 夫 , bombu) in this Dharma ending Age, to entrust themselves solely in Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow which promises to free everyone from the relentless cycle of birth, suffering and death:
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(1).歸 命 無 量 壽 如 來 , 南 無 不 可 思  議 光 . 法 藏 菩 薩 因 立 時 , 在 世 自 在 王 佛 所
Entrusting myself to The Tathagata of Infinite Life                                                       
I take refuge in The Inconceivable Light 
Boddhisattva Dharmakara in His practising stage                                               
Under the guidance of Buddha Lokesvararaja
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(2).覩 見 諸 佛 淨 土 因 , 國 土 人 天 之 善 惡 . 建 立 無 上 殊 勝 願 , 超 發 希 有 大 弘 
Examining the causes that create the various Buddhas’ Pure Lands                    
And the good and evil of humans and devas in those Lands,
He established the unsurpassed, incomparable Vow                                               
And boldly declared this extremely rare, Universal Vow.
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(3).五 劫 思 惟 之 攝 受, 重 誓 名 聲 聞 十方. 普 放 無 量 無 邊 光, 無 㝵 無 對 光 炎 王
And after five kalpas of deep contemplations and reflections                                
He strongly pledged that His Name shall be heard in the ten directions            
Everywhere, He sends forth Immeasurable, Boundless Light                                   
Unhindered, Incomparable, Majestically Brilliant Light
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(4).清 淨 歡 喜 智 慧 光, 不 斷 難 思 無 稱 光, 超 日 月光 照 塵 剎, 一 切 群 生 蒙 光 照
Pure Light, Joyful Light, The Light of Wisdom                                       
Continuous, Inconceivable, Ineffable Light                                                                        
The Light that Outshines the sun and moon, illuminating countless worlds   
The multitudes of beings are all embraced by His Light.
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(5).本 願 名 号 正 定 業, 至 心 信 樂 願 為 因, 成  等 覺 證 大 涅 槃,  必 至 滅 度 願 成 就
The Primal Vow embodying The Name, bestows true settlement           
This Vow of Sincerity and Joyful Entrusting is the cause of birth                           
We are brought to the stage equal to enlightenment and supreme Nirvana               
And through the fulfillment of the Vow, we will surely attain Nirvana
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(6).如 來 所 以 興 出 世, 唯 說 彌 陀 本 願 海, 五 濁 惡 時 群 生 海, 應 信 如 來 如 實 言
The reason for the Tathagata’s appearance in this world                             
Is solely to teach the ocean-like Primal Vow of Amida                                                
The multitudes of beings in this Age of the Five Defilements                                  
Should entrust themselves to the absolute true words of the Tathagata 
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(7).能 發 一 念 喜 愛 心 , 不 斷 煩 惱 得 涅 槃 , 凡 聖 逆 謗 齊 回 入 , 如 眾 水 入 海 一 味
When the One-thought moment of joyful trust is awakened in one’s mind        
Nirvana will be attained without severing blind passions                                            
Commoners, sages, dharma offenders and slanderers alike receive Shinjin    
Like water from all sources acquiring the same taste on entering the ocean.
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(8).攝 取 心 光 常 照 護, 已  能 雖 破 無 明 暗, 貪 愛  瞋 憎 之 雲 霧, 常 覆 真 實 信 心 天
The embracing light of compassion illumines and protects us always               
Having already broken through the darkness of our ignorance                                 
Still the clouds and mists of greed, desire, anger and hatred                                        
Constantly obscure the sky of true and real Shinjin.
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(9).譬 如 日 光 覆 雲 霧, 雲 霧 之 下 明 無 暗. 獲 信 見 敬 大 慶 喜, 即 橫 超 截 五 惡 趣
But just like the light of the sun being blocked by clouds and mists                       
Beneath those clouds and mists, there is brightness, not darkness                     
So on receiving Shinjin we experience gratitude and great joy                                    
And instantly transcend cross-wise the five evil courses.
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(10).一  切 善 惡 凡 夫 人, 聞 信 如 來 弘 誓 願, 佛 言 廣 大 勝 解 者, 是 人名 分 陀 利 華
All ordinary foolish persons whether good or evil                                                                  
When they have heard and entrust in the Universal Vow of the Tathagata           
The Buddha called them persons of vast excellent understanding                       
And also named by people as ‘Pundarikas’
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(11).彌 陀 佛 本 願 念 佛, 邪 見 憍 慢 惡 眾 生, 信 樂 受 持 甚 以 難,  難 中 之 難 無 過 斯
Entrusting in Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow and saying the Name                                   
For arrogant sentient beings with perverted views                                                                
To accept and be blessed with Shinjin is difficult indeed                                                    
It is the most difficult of all difficulties that anyone could meet 
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(12).印 度 西 方 之 論 家, 中 夏 日 域 之 高 僧, 顯 大 聖 與 世 正 意, 明 如 來 本 誓 應 機
The treatise Masters from India to the west                                                                                  
And the Eminent Monks from China and Japan                                                                      
Clarified the true intent of The Great Sage’s appearance in this world         
Revealing that Amida’s Primal Vow accords with the capacities of beings
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(13).釋 迦 如 來 楞 迦 山, 為 眾 告 命 南 天 竺, 龍 樹 大 士 出 於 世, 悉 能 推 破 有 無 見
Shakyamuni Tathagata on Mount Lanka                                                        
Prophesied to the masses that in south India                                                                              
Mahasattva Nagarjuna would appear in this world                                                                
To dispel the views of being and non-being
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(14).宣 說 大 乘 無 上 法, 證 歡 喜 地 生 安 樂, 顯 示 難 行 陸 路 苦, 信 樂 易 行 水 道 樂
Proclaiming the unexcelled Mahayana Teachings                                                                   
He realized the Stage of Joy and was born in the Land Of Peace and Bliss      
Revealing that difficult practices are like hardships on the overland way              
He urged us to take the easy path of true entrusting like joy on the waterway
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(15).億 念 彌 陀 佛 本 願, 自 然 即 時 入 必 定, 唯 能 常 稱 如 來 号, 應 報 大 悲 弘 誓 恩
When one deeply remembers Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow                                        
Naturally in that instant, one enters the Stage Of Definitely Settled                          
And solely Saying the Tathagata’s Name always                                                   
One responds gratefully to Great Compassion’s Universal Pledge and grace
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(16).天 親 菩 薩 造 論 說, 歸 命 無 㝵 光 如 來, 依 修 陀 羅 顯 真 實, 光 闡 橫 超 大 誓 願
Bodhisattva Vasubandhu, composing a treatise declared                                                  
That he himself took refuge in The Tathagata Of Unhindered Light.
In accordance with the sutras, he revealed the true and real                                        
And elucidated the Great Vow of Cross-wise Transcendence
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(17).廣 由 本 願 力 回 向, 為 度 群 生 彰 一 心, 歸 入 功 德 大 寶 海, 必 獲 入 大 會 眾 數
Through the power of His Primal Vow, Amida directs His merits                                
Manifesting the one-mind in order to save the multitudes of beings                         
So when one takes refuge and enters the great treasure ocean of virtues               
Definitely, one obtains entry into Amida’s Great Assembly
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(18).得 至 蓮 華 藏 世 界, 即 證 真 如 法 性 身, 游 煩 惱 林 現 神 通, 入 生 死 園 示 應 化
 When one reaches that lotus-store world                                                                          
One instantly realises the body of suchness or dharma nature                                       
Roaming in the forrest of blind passions, one uses transcendental powers  
Entering the garden of birth and death one uses skilful means to guide others
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(19).本 師 曇 鸞 梁 天 子, 常 向 鸞 處 菩 薩 禮, 三 藏 流 支 受 淨 教, 焚 燒 仙 經 歸 樂 邦
Facing toward the dwelling of our Teacher Tan Luan                                                           
The emperor of Liang paid tribute to him as a Bodhisattva                                               
When he received the Pure Land teachings from tripitaka Master Bodhiruci    
Tan Luan burnt his Taoist scriptures and took refuge in The Land Of Bliss
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(20).天 親 菩 薩 論 註 解, 報 土 因 果 顯 誓 願, 往 還 回 向 由 他 力, 正 定 之 因 唯 信 心
Bodhisattva Vasubandhu explains in his treatise                                                                     
That the fruition of the Fulfilled Land is itself manifestation of The Vow.
Going to the Pure Land and returning are merit transference of Other Power  
And the cause of true settlement is solely due to Shinjin.
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(21).惑 染 凡 夫 信 心 發, 證 知 生 死 即 涅 槃, 必 至 無 量 光 明 土, 諸 有 眾 生 皆 普 化
When a deluded and defiled, mundane foolish person awakens Shinjin          
That person realizes, knowing about birth and death and Nirvana                                                        
Without fail, that person will reach the Land of Immeasurable Light                                                  
And then, universally guides all sentient beings to enlightenment 
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(22).道 綽 決 聖 道 難 證, 唯 明 淨 土 可 通 人, 萬 善 自 力 貶 勤 修, 圓 滿 德 号 勸 專 稱
Tao Cho asserted that achieving realisation by the path of sages is difficult    
Clarifying that only the Pure Land Way could deliver us         
He discouraged the diligent practices of myriad good and self-power                    
Urging us to solely Say the Name endowed with perfect virtues
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(23).三 不 三 信 誨 慇 懃, 像 末 法 滅 同 悲 引, 一 生 造 惡 值 弘 誓, 至 安 養 界 證 妙 果
With deep concern he taught the three aspects of entrusting and of doubt
And Compassion in the Dharma Ages of Semblance, Ending and Extinction 
So, those with lifelong evil, should solely depend on The Great Vow,
Realizing the perfect fruit of nirvana in the Land of Serene Sustenance 
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(24).善 導 獨 明 佛 正 意, 矜 哀 定 散 與 逆 惡, 光 明 名 号 顯 因 緣, 開 入 本 願 大 智 海
Shan Tao alone understood the Buddha’s true intent                                                           
Pitying meditative and non-meditative practicers and people of grave evil         
He revealed that Amida’s Light and Name are the causes of their birth
When they enter the wisdom ocean of The Primal Vow.
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(25).行 者 正 受 金 鋼 心, 慶 喜 一 念 相 應 後, 與 韋 提 等 獲 三 忍, 即 證 法 性 之 常 樂
Followers would certainly receive the diamond-like mind                                                 
When the one-thought moment of joy and gratitude arises                                              
Like Vaidehi they would similarly acquire the three insights                                          
And instantly realize the eternal bliss of Dharma Nature 
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(26).源 信 廣 開 一 代 教, 偏 歸 安 養 勸 一 切, 專 雜 執 心 判 淺 深, 報 化 二 土 正 辦 立
Genshin widely expounded the Buddha’s lifetime teachings                                             
Yet, he took refuge in the Land of Peace, urging others to do the same                      
Discerning that single-minded practice is profound; sundry practices shallow  
He differentiated the respective births in The Fulfilled or Transformed Lands
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(27).極 重 惡 人 唯 稱 佛, 我 亦 在 被 攝 取 中, 煩 惱 障 眼 雖 不 見, 大 悲 無 倦 常 照 我
Extremely evil persons should only Say The Name of the Buddha                               
Who has also grasped and embraced me                                                                                         
Though blind passions have obscured my eyes and I cannot see                                  
Great Compassion is untiring and constantly illumines me.
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(28).本 師 源 空 明 佛 教, 憐 愍 善 惡 凡 夫 人, 真 宗 教 證 興 片 州, 選 擇 本 願 弘 惡 世
Our teacher Genku was well-versed with Buddhism                                                             
And he showed pity on ordinary foolish people, whether good or evil  
By spreading the True Teaching and Realisation in this remote land                        
He propagated widely the selected Primal Vow to this evil world.
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(29).還 來 生 死 輪 轉 家, 決 以 疑 情 為 所 止, 速 入 寂 靜 無 為 樂, 必 以 信 心 為 能 入
Our continued return to this cyclic existence of birth and death                                   
Is certainly due to the hindrance of doubt                                                                                      
Swift entrance into the peaceful, uncreated Realm of Peace and Bliss                 
Is necessarily brought about by Shinjin  
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(30).弘 經 大 士 宗 師 等,  拯 濟 無 邊 極 濁 惡, 道 俗 時 眾 共 同 心, 唯 可 信 斯 高 僧 說
The Mahasattvas and Teachers of the tradition who propagated the sutras         
Save boundless beings of grave evil and defilements                                                        
Both monks and lay people of this present Age, should, with one mind                   
Solely trust in these great Masters’ expositions.                                                     
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These beautiful verses convey a clear message from Master Shinran and the other great Teachers of The True Pure Land Tradition. They exhort us to take refuge solely in Amida Buddha, abandon all sundry practices, single-mindedly entrust ourselves to The Primal Vow and Say the Excellent Name endowed with perfect virtues. Let us Listen Deeply, hear The Call of Boundless Compassion and accept the inconceivable gift of Shinjin freely bestowed by Amida Buddha.
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NAMO AMIDA BUTSU   南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛

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