Thursday, November 16, 2017

My new book The Four Profound Thoughts Which Turn the Mind Towards Amida Dharma (free online edition)

tentative cover - it will be improved when
I raise enough funds for the printed edition
Dear Dharma friends,

I am happy to share with you the free online edition of my new book, The Four Profound Thoughts Which Turn the Mind Towards Amida Dharma. This is the improved and proofreaded version of the teaching series you probably saw on this website.

About the book (from the Foreword):
The Four Profound Thoughts are basic teachings, something like a preliminary to any Buddhist path or practice. It has the effect of turning the mind towards the Buddha Dharma and should be a constant companion no matter if one is a beginner or an older follower. Sometimes they are reffered to as the Four Contemplations, the Four Understandings or the Four Reminders. Because in this book I explain them in the context of the Pure Land Dharma Gate of Jodo Shinshu (Amida Dharma), I decided to call them the Four Profound Thoughts which Turn the Mind Towards the  Amida Dharma. These Profound Thoughts are:

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Contemplating the suffering of the intermediate state (bardo)

article connected to this collection of teachings

After describing each of the six realms of samsaric existence, I find it important to also explain the intermediate state between death and the next rebirth (antarabhava in Sanskrit, bardo in Tibetan)[1]. All beings pass through this state, which is itself filled with various dangers and suffering, depending on the individual karma. But first, let me say a few words about the process of dying.

Not all beings die the same way. Those who cultivated virtue and who die with a virtuous mind, that is, while remembering their good deeds or focusing on good thoughts, may see various pleasant images as though in a dream. Their death is comfortable and do not feel too much pain in body. On the other hand, those who did evil deeds and who die with an unvirtuous and attached mind experience  immense suffering when leaving their bodies:

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A test for those who want to become priests and teachers related with Amidaji temple

Dear friends,

I am sometimes asked by readers and Dharma friends to support them in becoming priests or teachers in our Jodo Shinshu tradition. This test is part of the examination I give them before I decide if I write or not a reccomendation letter for them to Hongwanji mother temple in Kyoto or to other Japanese officials that I know, or if I accept them as teachers in Amidaji system. Its also the basic knowledge a teacher or priest related with Amidaji or who wishes to be related with Amidaji must posses, no matter he/she was previously ordained.
This test is an oral exam at Amidaji temple during one or more special training retreats that me and the candidate will arrange in advance. Also, new questions might be added while at the temple.

However, the test can also be a useful method of learning and for personally checking one's understanding, even without wanting to become a priest. By answering to each question and searching for the right passages in the sacred texts anybody will surely advance in understanding the Amida Dharma and be better prepared to help others. 

Namo Amida Butsu

1. Explain the Buddhist teaching on rebirth and the six planes of existence.

2. Define and explain the law of karma. Present a significant parable and quotes from the Buddhist teaching.

3. Explain the influence of karma from the past as it is explained in the Jodo Shinshu teaching. Use quotes from the sacred texts.

4. What is a Buddha? Explain the term “Buddha”, “Buddhahood”, “Tathagata”, “Buddha-nature” and “Nirvana”. Explain the doctrine of the “The Three Buddha bodies” and the “two Buddha bodies” in accordance with the Jodo Shinshu teaching.  Show the relation between them. Use passages from the sacred texts.

5. What is Bodhi Mind? How does this appear in the teaching of Shinran Shonin? Use quotes in your explanations.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The benefits of being born in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha

this article is a continuation of the teaching series, 
In order to help my Dharma companions to awake aspiration for the Pure Land, I will further explain the benefits of being born there. These should be read and contemplated in contrast with the previous descriptions of the sufferings of samsara, and with the rest of the Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind Toward Amida Dharma: the preciousness of human birth, impermanence and death, and karma - the law of cause and effect.

But before I enter into the details of this topic, we must remember a few key points. First of all, the goal of Buddhism is to become a Buddha. Not to paint this life in different colors, not to become a smart or interesting kind of Buddhist, but to become a Buddha. The Buddhist path is not a method of relaxation or a tablet for headache, something like “how can we become happier and calmer people” or a recipe for momentary happiness, but a road to Buddhahood or complete Freedom for us and all beings.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Simple Nembutsu service at Amidaji temple

                                                     (please click on the highlighted words in the text 
                                                                       as they lead you to very important teachings!) 

This is a simple religious service based entirely on Nembutsu recitation. The rhytm of recitation is held by hitting a wooden mokugyo in a normal or faster speed. This service is useful to anybody, especially to newcomers who don't know to recite the various hymns included in other services. Thus, they can join immediately in the temple chanting without any difficult introductions. As you see in the video, the recitation can sometimes be accompanied by bowing three times. The priest bows three times from standing, while the rest of the sangha from sitting. Also, when the priest enters the Hondo (Dharma Hall) and approaches the altar he bows three times from standing while saying Nembutsu. The sangha also accompanies him from sitting. Here Nembutsu is recited as:

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Second visit of Shaku Shinkai from Brasil at Amidaji temple

Josho and Shinkai in the Hondo (Dharma Hall) of Amidaji
Shaku Shinkai (Thais Campos) from Brasil visited Amidaji for the second time and stayed for a three days retreat.

First time she came in August 2016. Since then she works at the translation of my books and articles into Portughese. The Portughese section of this website is maintained through her dedicated work.

As you already know, visitors are welcomed at Amidaji if they do not mind the simple conditions and sincerely wish to learn the orthodox Jodo Shinshu teaching promoted at our temple.