Buddhism In Life there is suffering. This spurs on the unending search for universal truth and meaning. Jodo Shinsu is an answer to this search. The “practice” of Jodo Shinshu is the recitation of the Nembutsu with self-reflection. It involves hearing the call of Amida Buddha, the Buddha of Eternal Life and Infinite Light, Compassion and Wisdom, within others’ or ours recitation of the Name. Which calls us to raise our spiritual perspectives beyond immediate ego interests to universal concerns for compassion, justice in the human community and concern for the life of nature.
The hole of life is Nembutsu. A life lived in awareness, that we ourselves are the expressions, the manifestations, of interdependence and compassion and dedicated to bringing that reality to others as we have experienced it. The Nembutsu is a spiritual shrine, which can be transported and reverenced wherever one may be. Time or space does not bind religious practice. Rather, from within the deep recesses of one’s spirit the call of Amida Buddha can be heard, bringing our attention back to the very source of life itself, and evidencing its presence in the very act of living itself. http://www.mew.com/shin/doc/txt/pax.html Buddhism is one of the world’s great religions.
The religion is based on the teaching of Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as The Buddha, who lived approximately 557 BC to 477 BC. The word “Buddha” means a Supremely Enlightened One or Fully Awakened One (also a Tathagata) who has won the realization of the True Permanent Absolute Reality, the ultimate truth. Buddhism is built on a framework that consists of the Four Noble Truths, four fundamental principles of nature (Dhamma) that emerged from the Buddha’s honest and penetrating assessment of the human condition and that serve to define the entire scope of Buddhist practice. These truths are not fixed dogmatic principles, but living experiences to be explored individually in the heart of the sincere spiritual seeker: To each of these Noble Truths the Buddha assigned a specific task, which the practitioner is to carry out. The first Noble Truth is to be comprehended dukkha (suffering, unsatisfactoriness, and stress): life is fundamentally fraught with unsatisfactoriness and disappointment of every description.
The second is the cause of dukkha: the cause of this dissatisfaction is tanha (craving) in all its forms. The third is the cessation of dukkha: an end to all that unsatisfactoriness can be found through the relinquishment and abandonment of the cravings. The full realization of the third Noble Truth paves the way for the direct penetration of Nirvana, the transcendent freedom that stands as the final goal of all the Buddha’s teachings. The last of the Noble Truths (the Noble Eight fold Path), contains a prescription for the relief of our unhappiness and for our eventual release once and for all from the painful and wearisome cycle of birth and death (samsara) to which through our own ignorance (avijja) of the Four Noble Truths we have been bound for countless aeons. The Noble Eight fold Path offers a comprehensive practical guide to the development of those wholesome qualities and skills in the human heart that must be cultivated in order to bring the practitioner to the final goal, the supreme freedom and happiness of Nirvana.
The eight qualities to be developed are Right View, Right Resolve, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. The Quality of Right View is to aspire to attain realization of perfect wisdom, the ultimate true permanent reality. Abstain from all evil acts of thought, to attain the total destruction of all cravings. The Quality Of Right Resolve is to renounce all manifesting, all constructions, all that is “created” make-believe, to develop dispassion, total detachment, absolute renunciation, self-surrender. To bring about the cessation of all “created” realities.
To self-realize is the incomparable awakening of self. To win the freedom of mind, the freedom through perfect intuitive wisdom, the sane and immune emancipation of will. Right Speech is to abstain from all lying speech, all perjurious speech, all evil abusive speech and all frivolous speech. To engage in speech and discussion that pertains to and leads to Nirvana, to what’s actually permanent and real. Right Action is to abstain from all killing of all creatures, abstain from all stealing, abstain from all sensual and sexual misconduct, abstain from all evil acts, and abstain from all forms of intoxication.
Right Living is to abstain from all evil methods of livelihood. Right Effort is to destroy all evil states of mind that has already arisen. To keep new evil states of mind from arising and to maintain and grow good states of mind that have already arisen. Nurture good states of mind that have not yet arisen, such as loving kindness for all beings, compassion and pity for all creatures, sympathetic joy and equanimity. Right Mindfulness is to contemplate as impermanent, ill and selfless: body, feelings, perception, mind, consciousness, thought, mental states, mental objects and mental activity.
To grow revulsion for the world, seeing it for the decaying creation that it is, and to grow dispassion, total detachment, calm, tranquillity, seeing that everything is not itself. To disregard all that is perceived, remaining aloof from both the pleasures as well as the pains. Arising from the creation of senses and sensuality. Right Concentration to be aloof from the world, aloof from evil states, aloof from all sensations from the senses. Dwelling in solitude, seclusion, ardent, diligent, self-resolute, and develop one-pointed-ness of mind through intense meditation and reflection. Progress along the path does not follow a simple linear trajectory. Rather, development of each aspect of the Noble Eight fold Path encourages the refinement and strengthening of the others, leading the practitioner ever forward in an upward spiral of spiritual maturity that culminates in Awakening.
Seen from another point of view, the long journey on the path to Awakening begins in earnest with the first tentative stirrings of right view, the first flickering of wisdom. Therefore, one recognizes both the validity of the first Noble Truth and the inevitability of the law of karma, the universal law of cause and effect. Once one begins to see that harmful actions inevitably bring about harmful results, and wholesome actions ultimately bring about wholesome results, the desire naturally grows to live a skilful, morally upright life, to take seriously the practice of sila. The confidence built from this preliminary understanding inclines the follower to put one’s trust more deeply in the teachings. The follower becomes a “Buddhist” upon expressing an inner resolve to “take refuge” in the Triple Gem: the Buddha (both the historical Buddha and one’s own innate potential for Awakening). The Dhamma (both the teachings of the historical Buddha and the ultimate Truth towards which they point), and the Sangha (both the monastic community that has protected the teachings and put them into practice since the Buddha’s day, and all those who have achieved at least some degree of Awakening). With one’s feet thus firmly planted on the ground by taking refuge, and with the help of an admirable friend (kalyanamitta) to help show the way, one can set out along the Path, confident that one is indeed following in the footsteps left by the Buddha himself.
The Buddha based his teachings on a frank assessment of our plight as humans: there is unsatisfactoriness and suffering in the world. No one can argue this fact. If the Buddha’s teachings were to stop here, we might indeed regard them as pessimistic and life as utterly hopeless. But, like a doctor who prescribes a remedy for an illness, the Buddha offers hope (the third Noble Truth) and a cure (the fourth Noble Truth). In the Buddha’s later teachings, as reflected in the profound and wonderful Mahayana (Great Vehicle) sutras, Sakyamuni was said to reveal that he was actually an incarnation of the eternal Buddha, whom Shin Buddhists refer to and worship as Amida Buddha.
Those sutras also make many references to transcendent Bodhisattvas, or Buddhas-to-be, who act compassionately to relieve suffering in all of its various forms. They are true friends of humankind. To accomplish their goal of eliminating suffering in all sentient beings, and helping all to attain the perfect peace and enlightenment of Buddhahood, Bodhisattvas diligently practice the Six Perfections (or Paramitas): charity, observance of the Buddhist precepts, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom. These are described in inspirational poetic form in The Threefold Lotus Sutra (published by Kosei). The following is a small example: “For infinite past eons, the World-honored One has practiced all manner of virtues with effort to bring benefit to us human beings.
Unsparing of his person as of his possessions, he gave all, his head, eyes, and brain, to people as alms. Keeping the Buddhas’ precepts of purity, he never did any harm, even at the cost of his life. He never became angry, even though beaten with sword and staff, or though cursed and abused. He never became tired, in spite of long exertion. He kept his mind at peace day and night, and was always in meditation.
Learning all the Law-ways, with his deep wisdom he has seen into the capacity of living beings.” Within the Mahayana tradition, an extraordinary Bodhisattva named Dharmakara, who was intensely aware that most people would have an impossible time consistently adhering to the Buddhist precepts. Dharmakara Bodhisattva therefore created an easy path to enlightenment, thus becoming Amida Buddha, the Universal Buddha of Infinite Light and Infinite Life. (Light refers to his wisdom, and his eternal life refers to his infinite compassion for all sentient beings. These are the two primary attributes of Buddhahood: wisdom and compassion.) Dharmakara Bodhisattva felt great compassion for those of us unable to fulfill the practices necessary to achieve enlightenment on our own. He therefore resolved that he would give up his own attainment of Buddhahood unless, when he became a …