QUESTION: In Jodo Shinshu it seems that an experience of shinjin acts as a kind of 'proof' or 'guarantee' that one has called out to Amida with faith and has been received and will be reborn into the Pureland (do correct me if I'm wrong). What is the position in Amida Shu (and also what was Honen's position) - is it necessary for us to attain shinjin, or do we just say the nembutsu and trust that all will be okay, even after we've said it once?

SHORT ANSWER: Just say the nembutsu.

LONGER ANSWER: Honen’s position was that saying the nembutsu even once is sufficient, however, there might arise the question of faith or sincerity - i.e. is mouthing the words really saying the nembutsu? Everything in Buddhism hinges on intention. The best intention is gratitude: the sense of gratitude that Amida accepts even oneself just as one is.

In the Japanese Pureland schools generally experience of shinjin will be taken as personally evidential. There is a precedent for this in the early Buddhist regulations about ordination. For ordination to be valid, traditionally, four members of the ordained sangha have to be present at the ordination. However, in “border regions” - far away places where there may not be four - it is even possible to ordain oneself, but this is only valid if confirmed by a vision or dream within a short period of time.

In Rennyo’s writings the important things is not so much shinjin as anjin. Anjin means settled faith, or, more literally, mind at peace. There is clearly some danger in Buddhism that people get too much into chasing after experiences. Buddhism is not really a vision quest even though it recognises the significance of powerful visions when they happen naturally. Some of the early enthusiasm for Zen in the USA was stimulated by Kapleau’s book Three Pillars of Zen which included descriptions of satori experiences. No doubt many of the early Zen enthusiasts were in it in order to try to obtain similar experiences.

If one has a settled faith, virtues grow naturally, worldly worries become less pressing, and one becomes generally more liberated and at ease. If one happens to have had a powerful conversion or awakening experience - a sense of being “|seized by Amida never to be forsaken” - then this will strengthen one’s faith, but it is not a prerequisite and certainly should not be seen as a status symbol or entry requirement. Deliberately chasing after experiences always has some element of self-power about it.

The Amida ideal is simple faith - a secure refuge in the Three Jewels. Trust that the Dharma works secretly within, say the nembutsu, abandon ambitious practice and deal with life as it comes in a compassionate manner. Namo Amida Bu.

Views: 109

Replies to This Discussion

Beautiful - Namo Amida Bu

Namo Amida Bu. Thank you! 

Thank you so much, very moving to be accepted, just as one is....

Namo Amida Bu

RSS

ITZI Conference 2019

Subscribe to ITZI Conference Newsletter

* indicates required

Blog Posts

GROUP

Posted by David Brazier on January 11, 2019 at 9:43 3 Comments

I’ve always been interested in groupwork. Recently I’ve been facilitating a rather challenging group. It includes an older man who is enjoying his retirement, an outdoor type who does not say so much but clearly regards the other members as wimps, a writer who has an irritating obsession with etymology, one I think of as the wanderer whose life problem seems to be that of never having learnt to settle down, who tells endless entertaining stories of travels, love affairs and so on, and I was…

Continue

Sense on Brexit

Posted by Geeta Chari on December 16, 2018 at 18:51 0 Comments

https://news.liverpool.ac.uk/2018/12/13/full-speech-sir-ivan-rogers-on-brexit/

I found this piece tremendously sensible, well-reasoned, and above all, realistic.

LONG JOURNEY

Posted by David Brazier on December 14, 2018 at 18:52 6 Comments

Carol drove me into Ottawa at midday on Wednesday 12th. I had spent the morning being interviewed and making a short film. In Ottawa we had lunch at the vegetarian restaurant and then went on to the airport where she dropped me off. I was to take a local plane to Montreal then fly to Paris and on to Bilbao in Spain with Air France, due to arrive at nine in the morning local time the following day. F would meet me in Spain and take me back to stay with him in a village near Vittoria.…

Continue

MY REAL LIFE

Posted by David Brazier on December 8, 2018 at 15:00 4 Comments

I'd like to try to say something about real life, which is the only thing that is really interesting.

I have been a bookworm ever since I learnt to read, which was not until I was seven years old. By that time I had already had important spiritual experiences. I was a rather odd child. Many ideas went through my head that tended to set me apart from other children.

Now,…

Continue

© 2019   Created by David Brazier.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service