Monday, April 23, 2018

The Ten Benefits of faith in Amida during this life: 8.The benefit of being aware of Amida’s benevolence and of responding in gratitude to His virtues; 9.The benefit of constantly practicing great compassion

As I explained at the chapter related with the Primal Vow, faith gives us two kinds of awareness:
1) that we are people of deep karmic limitations, incapable to attain Buddhahood through our own power; and
2) that only Amida Buddha can save us through His Vow Power (Other Power), without asking anything from us.

The repeated births and deaths of samsaric existence are not a matter of mythology but a real danger for the unenlightend beings and the most important problem to be solved while we are still enjoying the rare karmic circumstance of being born a human being and meeting Amida Dharma. If the follower deeply realizes that samsara is not the place where he should build himself a destiny, but a never-ending cycle of momentary or false hapiness and disatisfaction, and that he cannot escape from it through his own powers, he may reach the point when  he accepts Amida Buddha’s helping hand that is extended to him.
In the next passages we see  how Shinran expressed his awareness of Amida’s benevolence after he received faith:

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Ten Benefits of faith in Amida during this life: 7. The benefit of having great joy in our hearts

The receiving of faith (shinjin) is equivalent with escaping a great burden. We know that we’ll become Buddhas in the Pure Land of Amida, no matter our present situation. This joy is like the relief you feel when a great burden is taken from your shoulders, and indeed there is no greater burden than to be unenlightened and a slave of samsaric existence. The burden of your liberation is carried by the Buddha called Amida, who already crossed the Path for you. Anybody who carries a great burden is happy when that is taken away from him, so you can be happy or feel relief when you first entrust to Amida Buddha, if attaining Buddhahood or final liberation from birth and death is the most important matter for you, but this doesn’t mean that hour by hour, minute to minute, second to second, you will think on Amida or feel a continuous joy as to jump in the air. Our lives are in such a way that we can always be overwhelmed by daily problems and worries. But its ok, its simply ok to be like this. We are not compelled to always jump with joy because we are saved by Amida. Despite of this, the salvation of Amida is always present, as our simple faith in Him remains with us since we first received it in our hearts. I usually explain that faith, once received, becomes like breathing, always being there although you don’t always express it consciously. We don’t always feel our breathing, but this doesn’t mean that breathing doesn’t exist. Sometimes we feel it better when, for example, we are fascinated by the clear air of the mountains or of a beautiful morning and we take long and deep breaths, while some other time we are too hurried and busy in our daily life to concentrate on it.

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Ten Benefits of faith in Amida during this life: 4. The benefit of being protected and cared for by all the Buddhas and 6. The benefit of being protected constantly by the Light of Amida's heart

If the 1st benefit described the protection of various powerful unenlightened beings (worldly protectors), the 4th speaks about the protection of all Buddhas (enlightened protectors), and the 6th refers to the special protection of Amida Buddha himself. I decided to explain the 4th and 6th benefit together because they are interrelated.

The 4th and 6th benefits include but are not limited to, protection against various influences from external evil forces, sorcery, black magic, evil spirits, etc.
Shinran Shonin said:

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Ten Benefits of faith in Amida during this life: 5. The benefit of being praised by all the Buddhas

Shinran Shonin said:

“Amida’s Seventeenth Vow declares that the Buddha will not enter into perfect Enlightenment if those who say the Name are not praised by all the countless Buddhas throughout the worlds in the ten quarters. The passage declaring the fulfillment of the Vow states: ‚such people are praised by all the Buddhas and rejoice.’’’[1]

Those who entrust to Amida are regarded by Shakyamuni as His true companions: 

"Those who realize shinjin, which is Other Power,
'Revere the Dharma and greatly rejoice in it,
And therefore are my true companions'.
Such is the praise of the World Honored One,
the Master of the teaching".[2]

"Sakyamuni rejoices in persons of shinjin, saying, 'They are my true companions'”.[3]

They are wonderful people, as well as true disciples of Shakyamuni, Amida and all Buddhas:

The Ten Benefits of faith in Amida during this life: 3. The benefit of our karmic evil being transformed into good

Due to the influence of Amida we can transform an unpleasant experience into an opportunity to understand life as it is and the Dharma.  It doesn’t mean that we will no longer have problems, or experience lack of material things, etc., but that we can understand these unfortunate events as being the effects of our karma, using them to become more aware that this is samsara, the world of suffering, from which we must escape once and for all through birth in the Pure Land. Bad events in our lives can thus be transformed through the light of the Dharma into useful ones – useful for our understanding.

Also this benefit refers to the fact that in the instant we receive shinjin (faith) our karma is cut or sterilized and cannot plant its seed into another life. When shinjin enters our heart we receive the pure karmic energy of Amida Buddha. Our evil is turned into good in the sense that it is no longer an obstacle for our birth in the Pure Land at the end of this life:

The Ten Benefits of faith in Amida during this life: 2. The benefit of being possessed of supreme virtues

This benefit means that by entrusting ourselves to Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow we receive His merits and virtues which cause us to attain birth in the Pure Land:

"When sentient beings of this evil world of the five defilements
Entrust themselves to the selected Primal Vow,
Virtues indescribable, inexplicable, and inconceivable
Fill those practicers".[1]

„All beings, having heard Amida’s virtuous Name,
Attain joyful faith, rejoice in what they hear,
And call his Name even once. The person of sincerity, Amida,
Endows merit to them. All who aspire for birth in the Pure Land attain Birth there.
Hence, I prostrate myself to worship him and aspire to be
born there.'"[2]

Shinran Shonin explained in his work “Passages on the Two Aspects of The Tathagata’s Directing of Virtue”:

The Ten Benefits of faith in Amida during this life: 1. The benefit of being protected and sustained by unseen powers and divine beings

This benefit means that those who have shinjin (faith in Amida) are protected against various influences from external evil forces. Thus, the nembutsu follower has no reason to be afraid of sorcery, black magic or evil spirits. Shinran Shonin said in Hymns of Benefit in the Present:

"Those who deeply entrust themselves to the Buddha's teaching are protected by all the gods of the heavens and earth, who accompany them just as shadows do things."[1]

„When we say ‚Namo Amida Butsu,’
Brahma[2] and Indra[3] venerate us;
All the benevolent gods of the heavens
Protect us constantly, day and night.

When we say 'Namo Amida Butsu',
The four great deva-kings together
Protect us constantly, day and night,
And let no evil spirits come near.