It is enough to live a simple life of faith, but don’t miss the openings when they come. We are all more free than we think. There are different modes of faith that enable one to pass the gateless gate.

Shinjin: This primarily refers to the times when one is seized by faith. It is a bit dramatic. One feels part of something big. It can be ecstatic. One still has some delusion, of course, so one wants to make something of it - a big gesture - but it is enough as it is. In Zen they call it satori or kensho. When in the throws of it there can be a sense of oneness or rightness about everything. One might suddenly think: Oh, it is all so simple, really. These times stick in one's memory and become a resource. They provide conviction and inspiration. They do not go on all the time, however, and might occur only once or twice in a lifetime, or not at all. Many of the great sages have had three such experiences, usually each quite different from the other two, during thei lifetime, but there are also great teachers who never had such dramatic experiences. Perhaps they didn't need them.

Anshin: Anshin, on the other hand, is settled. It is quiet. Literally, it means peaceful heart. It is so much a taken for granted background to one's life that there is very little to say. Most of our mental energy goes into things that are problematic. We have consciousness for dealing with the things that are troublesome, that don’t get fixed instinctively. However, anshin is so much in one's blood and bones that one hardly notices it. We might say that, to a large degree, it is unconscious faith. This is the really solid basis of a spiritual life. You might know that a person has anshin when you see how they react in an unexpected difficulty. While other people are going into panic mode, the person of anshin becomes calm and steady. Even if the universe dissolves into fire, the person of anshin will pass through that fire and naturally return to the loving arms of measureless truth.

Abhilasa: This is willingness - whatever comes along is welcome. The image that is often used for this is the inn-keeper on a road. In the old days people walked or rode in carts or on horses. Journeys took time. Along the way one stopped at an inn for the night. To keep an inn was a service to travellers. Everybody is a spiritual traveller on a journey to somewhere. The inn-keeper welcomes them all, provides basic necessities - food, drink, a bed and so on, and then sees them on their way. It does not matter who they are or where they are going. He does not hang on to them, but they are always welcome. The person of abhilasa is like this with the things of life. They come along, they occupy us for a time, then they go. If one can serve them in some wholesome way, one does so.

Bodaishin. (Sanskrit, bodhicitta). This is the faith that manifests in altruism. Literally it means great wise heart. It is the heart of the bodhisattva. Basically it springs from gratitude. Inwardly, it is simply the habit of seeing the good in things - watering the flowers. Outwardly it is little (and sometimes big) acts of kindness, or responses that help others to find faith and liberation - a loving life. Bodaishin is courage. It is about taking the risk of doing the good thing, rather than always playing safe. The bodhisattva is not bound by conventions, but does what needs to be done. Anybody who lives a life of faith in a skeptical materialist world is showing some degree of bodaishin.

These four are, of course, neither ewxactly the same nor completely separate from one another. They are not a sequence. They are modes. A person of faith is sometimes in  one mode, sometimes in another. Changes of mode are not chosen nor deliberate. They are more like the weather - they depend on conditions.

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This Holds Me

Posted by Robert McCarthy on May 20, 2020 at 6:19 0 Comments

What seems to hold me in recent years is a sense of what could have been; how ecstatic living could have actually occurred within our living if we had been held in a different cultural paradigm.

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