Friday, January 22, 2010
Enjoy the presence of the Buddhas
One thing that I especially like in Jodo Shinshu is the feeling of Buddhas being close to me, walking with me, seeing me in my daily life, watching over me.
Buddhas are not just teachers. If you think of the Buddhas only in this way, then the Buddhas will seem very far from you, somehow secluded in their Enlightenment, while you are here to struggle alone following their example.
But this is not the single side of the coin. Buddhas are indeed teachers and “fingers pointing to the moon”, but they are also saviors, active in your daily life. They walk with you, think of you, see you, make plans how to make you understand important things, etc. Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Masters are alive and active – this is a matter of extreme importance.
You can speak directly with the Buddhas, with Amida, Avalokitesvara, Mahasthamaprapta, with Shinran, Rennyo, Nagarjuna, etc. In your times of sorrow or in your happy times, you may chose to speak with each one of them directly as though they are in front of you, because they are indeed in front of you (this is not a metaphor).
Buddhas are in your room, in your car, in the train you are travelling with, in the bar where you drink a beer and enjoy good times with your friends, in your solitude when you find it so hard to endure your sorrow. Amida is always with you, so it is Shinran Shonin.
Please remember this from time to time and I am sure that you will find great comfort in it.
Don’t bother with what some people might say, interpreting Buddhas only in their aspect of ultimate nature or Dharmakaya, because Buddhas, like Amida – and Shinran too, who is also a Buddha – have transcendent bodies of manifestation that can travel and be present everywhere, and can hear and see everything.
Avalokitesvara, for example, hears every single cry of sorrow from the tiniest little insect to humans and gods. Her name translates into “the One who Hears the Cries of the World” and this name is not just a metaphor or symbol of the Compassionate qualities that lies in the Buddha nature, but She really hears the cries of the world, your individual cries or your individual joys, too.
Amida is the same, He knows everything, hears everything and sees everything. He always accompanies you together with all other good friends you have among Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and the Masters.
So, you are never alone, my friend.
Master Shinran said on his death bed:
“If you alone rejoice in Nembutsu-Faith, remember that you are with someone else. If you two rejoice in Nembutsu-Faith, remember that there is still another accompanying you. I, Shinran, am that other person.”
Take these words literally and enjoy the presence of the Buddhas.