Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Dharma dialogue on modern divergences from Shinshu teaching

Here is a dialogue from true shinbuddhism yahoo group, between a reader experiencing doubt because of what some modernist Shinshu teacher is saying and my Dharma friend, Paul. The name of that teacher is not hidden by me, but by either Carlos or Paul. I hope this dialogue will prove useful to all those who have doubts on the Shinshu Dharma after hearing the divergences of some modern scholars blinded by their own lack of faith.

Some modernist Shin Buddhist "teacher" writes:
Someone informs you that there is a country somewhere in the world which is rich in all manner of natural resources, where its citizens lead carefree lives with everything necessary for their welfare and happiness paid for by the government. You are also informed that this country offers free citizenship to anyone in the world on condition that they swear allegiance to the country's leader. Would you not be skeptical and demand empirical evidence for this country's existence? Yet there are Pure Land Buddhists who believe in the existence of a supernatural being called Amitabha [Amida] who, upon their demise, will whisk them off to a literal Pure Land adorned by gold, precious stones and all sorts of magical sights and sounds even though there is no empirical evidence for such a realm.

Carlos writes: I must confess this is a tough one and I honestly admit that it causes me to experience "doubt attacks" from time to time. For the moment, I want to stick to Senjaku.


Hi Carlos -

First of all, let me say that I do not know what the term SENJAKU means. And if I don't know, I'm sure others don't, either. So perhaps you could provide us with an explanation, either directly or through a link.

But - more to the point, let me ask you (and everyone) a question: What direct, empirical evidence do you have for Shakyamuni Buddha's teaching about rebirth?

Or, what direct evidence do you have for Shakyamuni Buddha's teaching about karma?

Or, what direct evidence do you have for Shakyamuni Buddha's teaching about emptiness?

Or this: What direct evidence do you have that there is actually such a being as a Buddha, who is fully enlightened?

Or even this: What direct evidence do you have that your ultimate nature is Buddha-nature?

Of course, my friend, you have no direct evidence of any of these realities. And yet, you find yourself drawn to the Buddha and His teachings.


What causes you to BELIEVE that these things are true, or might possibly be true?

Let me tell you the answer.

Deep inside, there is a part of you that INTUITS the nature of reality beyond what you can currently perceive with your natural senses.

- You have an INTUITIVE SENSE that the Dharma of rebirth is true - even though you cannot prove it.

- You have an INTUITIVE SENSE that the Dharma of emptiness is true - even though you cannot prove it.

- You have an INTUITIVE SENSE that there is such a thing as a TRUE BUDDHA - and that the man we call Shakyamuni was actually such a being - even though you cannot prove it.

- You have an INTUITIVE SENSE that your ultimate nature is Buddha nature - even though you cannot prove it.

Not just you, or others who follow some version of the Pure Land Path, but ALL Buddhists in all the Dharma schools are taking part in the larger Sangha because they have an intuitive sense of that which cannot be proven right now using the tools of science - which are tools of empirical verification.

Now - there are also many, many people whose capacity to evaluate spiritual teaching by listening deeply and hearing what their intuitive sense would tell them is totally broken. Just like a deaf person cannot hear, and a blind person cannot see - so those modernists who demand empirical proof FIRST - before they will even bother listening deeply - are necessarily blind and deaf when it comes to transcendental reality.

They are blind and deaf WILLFULLY - because they won't humble themselves. They won't take the time to empty their cup, and ASK INSIDE for answers to questions that empirical verification cannot provide for small, foolish beings.

Carlos, if you ever want to come from your home in the Phillipines to visit me here in New Jersey, I sincerely hope you don't take an airplane piloted by a blind man. I'm pretty sure it would turn out badly for you (smile).

Similarly, if you ever want to come to the blessed state of settled SHINJIN, I hope you don't spend your time listening seriously to modernists who claim to be Buddhist teachers of one sort or another, but are blind to transcendental reality.


Let me say one other thing about modernist thought, in general.

I've been on this earth, in this body, since 1952. Back then, in the middle of the 20th Century, there were two modernist ideas that absolutely DOMINATED intellectual discourse in the major universities around the world (including Japan).

Those two ideas were the ideas of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud.

I can't even begin to guess how many tons of ink and paper were used to write thesis after thesis, book after book, article after article, applying their ideas of all sorts of situations involving the human condition.

Indeed, in Shinshu circles, there was an attempt to re-interpret Master Shinran's teaching as some sort of Marxism.

By the end of the 20th century, both Marx and Freud were old hat, and really intellectually discredited. No one worth his salt in academia spends any time trying to make a name for himself or herself championing ideas that now seem hopelessly quaint and out of date.

Fifty years from now, I guarantee you that whatever the modernists are saying today will sound just as quaint, and just as out of date.

Merely human ideas spoil eventually - just like the milk in your refrigerator.

But the True Teaching of the Pure Land Way never spoils. It never is out of date.

It is pristine. It is perfect. It provides the Dharma medicine we need to end our painful and interminable journey through Samsara.

That's just the way it is...and there is nothing else like it, ANYWHERE.

Namu Amida Butsu! Thank You, Amida Buddha!



2 comentarii:

LT Jeanette Shin, CHC, USN said...

Paul, that is a wonderful dialogue!

We cannot acquire shinjin through postmodern philosophical discussions, or through scientific experimentation. Unless we are willing to truly hear the Dharma, it will remain just another intellectual puzzle.

Paul said...

It's always good to hear from you, Jeanette. You and Adrian are both outstanding examples of what we need more of in the Shin Sangha: TRUE PRIESTS who put the True Teaching in the place of honor it deserves to be.

I look forward to hearing more from you - and about you - in the future.