Monday, February 27, 2017

The meaning of Arya Sangha in Jodo Shinshu

Question:
When you say the Three Refuges and take refuge in the Sangha, do you take refuge in ordinary unenlightened people or in the Arya Sangha, like other Buddhist schools do?

Answer:
In Mahayana Buddhism, the term Arya[1] Sangha represents the sangha at the ideal level, that is, all of the Buddha’s followers, lay or ordained, who have at least attained the first level of the ten bodhisattva stages (ten bhumis)[2]. This is to separate it from the sangha in its conventional level which means all Buddhist monks and nuns.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The salvation offered by Amida Buddha is beyond conceptual understanding


"Tathagata's Primal Vow surpasses conceptual understanding; it is a design of the wisdom of Buddhas. It is not the design of foolish beings. No one can fathom the wisdom of Buddhas, which surpasses conceptual understanding."[1]

"Further, with regard to Other Power, since it is inconceivable Buddha-wisdom, the attainment of supreme Enlightenment by foolish beings possessed of blind passions comes about through the working shared only by Buddhas; it is not in any way the design of the practicer. Thus, no working is true working. 'Working' that is negated refers to the calculation of the person of self-power. Concerning Other Power, then, no working is true working."[2]

One who entrusts himself to Amida Buddha realizes that it is through Amida's Power that he is saved ("true working"), and not by his own designs and calculations or through the so called "merits" he thinks he has accumulated until now ("no working").

Saturday, February 11, 2017

On the powerful pretas (hungry spirits) who wish to dominate other beings through religion


“Those who take refuge truly and wholeheartedly, freeing themselves from all delusional attachments and all concern with the propitious or unpropitious, must never take refuge in spirits or non-Buddhist teachings.”[1]

Unenlightened beings are the karmic cause for the existence of unenlightened samsaric realms. Their individual and collective karma actually manifested the realms, worlds and universes in which they live. Contrary to this, Enlightened beings or Buddhas, naturaly and karmically manifest Pure Lands or Enlightened realms. If a so called "supreme being" created a world like ours that means he is not enlightened, because if he was enlightened this world would have been perfect and inhabitted by perfectly enlightened beings. Amida Buddha (and any Buddha!) does not pretend to be the creator of this samsaric world, but only of His enlightened Pure Land, where He vowed to bring all samsaric beings for their final liberation (attainment of Buddhahood/Nirvana).

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Versos de aspiração para fazer oferendas



Eu ofereço esta flor para Buda Amida em nome de todos os seres. Que ao ver a beleza da flor se esvaindo, possamos perceber que nossas vidas e nossas chamadas conquistas espirituais são passageiras e assim voltemos nossas mentes e corações para o Poder de Salvação de Buda Amida.

Eu ofereço este incenso  para Buda Amida em nome de todos os seres. Que o perfume do Dharma possa nos impregnar para recebermos a fé e nascer na sua Terra Pura após a morte.

Eu ofereço este copo de água para Buda Amida em nome de todos os seres. Que nossa sede seja para sempre saciada na sua Terra Pura onde atingiremos a perfeita Iluminação.

Eu ofereço este arroz para Amida Buda em nome de todos os seres. Que possamos receber a fé e para lá guiar a todos. Que as sementes do Dharma de Amida se multipliquem ao infinito até que o oceano da existência Samsárica torne-se completamente vazio. Namo Amida Butsu.

                                                                       *

Estas palavras me vieram espontaneamente enquanto estava sentado diante do altar de Buda Amida fazendo as oferendas. Não se trata de algum tipo de transferência de méritos, mas um simples desejo e reconhecimento. Todos os objetos no Templo são um lembrete da compaixão de Amida por nós e da necessidade de nos agarrarmos a Ele com a mente confiante. Até onde eu sei, as flores, o incenso e as velas significam, respectivamente, a impermanência, o perfume do Dharma e a Luz de Amida em todos os templos Shinshu afiliados ao Hongwanji. É certo que é possível recitar o Nembutsu sem a necessidade de versos, hinos ou implementos ritualísticos. Cabe a cada um curtir o seu relacionamento pessoal com Buda Amida como quiser.

PS: Ao invés de água, pode-se oferecer qualquer bebida não alcoólica.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A short question and answer on worshiping Maitreya and Amida Buddha


- adapted from a letter to a friend - 

Question:
I respect and worship both Maitreya and Amida Buddha. They have their own realms and practices associated with them. I also worship and respect all Buddhas. What is your opinion about this?

Answer:
Its good to respect all Buddhas, but we must remember that each Buddha has His own way of relating with sentient beings. Maitreya has a different way, and Amida has a different way. If we want to connect with Amida Buddha we must follow His instructions from His Primal Vow "entrust to me, say my Name and wish to be born in my land". Nothing else. So, in order to be born in Amida's Land we must focus on Amida exclusively, that is, entrust only to Him, say His Name only, and wish to be born only in His Pure Land. This is very easy to understand.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Repentance and the Nembutsu of Faith


Along the path of personal power, repentance is a very important method of destroying the negative karma. However, true repentance is not just a simple confession of mistakes, but a deep awareness which penetrates one's body and mind. Thus, Master Shan-tao explained that there are three types of genuine repentance:

"The high grade of repentance is to shed blood from the pores of one’s body and also to shed blood from one’s eyes.
The middle grade of repentance is to shed hot sweat from the pores of one’s whole body and also to shed blood from one’s eyes.
The low grade of repentance is to feel feverish all over the body and also to shed tears from one’s eyes".[1]

Answering the question whether repentance is necessary in Pure Land Buddhism, Master Shan-tao says in the same book (Liturgy for Birth), which was quoted by Shinran in his Kyogyoshinsho, that if the follower has faith in the salvation offered by Amida Buddha he reaches the same result as in the case of repentance:

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Nembutsu of faith - the genuine saying of the Name of Amida Buddha


- fragment from a letter to a friend -

The Name of Amida Buddha is not your property, and it does not work because of you. It works because of Amida. Your saying of the Name is effective because Amida put all His Power and infinite merits in His Name.

If you entrust yourself to Amida Buddha's salvific Power, then you are saying the Name in accordance with its true nature, but if you are saying the Name and think that its efficacy depends on something within yourself, like how often you say it, or how focused you are when you say it, or on the presence of so and so virtue and merit in you, then you cannot benefit from all the blessings of the Name. This is why those who say the Name in self power (followers of the 20thVow)[1] can go only to the border land of the Pure Land. They may usually say - "but we rely on Amida's Name, not on ourselves"; however, the reality is that deep in their minds what they actually do is - "we rely on our capacity to recite as many times as possible". So they actually think, "the more we recite, the better chances we have to be born in the Pure Land". Well, this is exactly what hinders them to entrust completely to the Power of Amida Buddha and be born in the true fulfilled land of the Pure Land (the "center" of the Pure Land) and immediately attain Buddhahood there.