Thursday, July 21, 2016

Emotional instability does not mean absence of faith


My mind can never be at peace.
Since the Buddha and me both know this simple truth,
Namo Amida Butsu comes naturally on my lips.
There are people who confuse emotional instability with the absence of faith (shinjin), and so they hope that faith will give them some kind of constant emotional stability. However, it is normal for unenlightened beings (and people of faith remain unenlightened until death and birth in the Pure Land!) to experience various degrees of emotional instability. It is exactly why Amida urges us to entrust to Him, and not on our own so called, ”personal power” and "personal achievements or merits". Trully, nothing stable can be achieved by an unenlightened mind, especially not Nirvana or birth in the Pure Land.

We must bear in mind that faith will not give us absence of desires while we are still here in our samsaric bodies. Faith will only make us enter the stage of non-retrogression, which means that no matter how many desires we have or how low we are on the scale of spiritual evolution, we will surely reach the Pure Land in the moment of death.

Thus, an unenlightened person who entrusts to Amida continues to suffer while still in his/her samsaric body. For a non-Buddha mind clinging is always present, and so,  there will always be suffering, insatisfaction, and some kind of emotional instability. I often say this to my Dharma friends - shinjin (faith) is not satori (Enlightenment)! Not even a little satori, so much more a greater satori which leads to absence of desires and constant emotional stability!

A person of faith is not supposed to feel or experience special things in order to check if he has faith or not. Faith is knowing, not experiencing. To know you are saved no matter what you feel or don't feel, no matter you have some deep mystical experiences or not. This is the only constant aspect in a person of faith -  he knows he is saved by Amida Buddha.

Of course, everyone is different, so I do not deny that some can succesfully change or improve various things in their personal lives, due to their own specific karmic baggage and the influence of Amida Buddha on them, but NOTHING can be certain as long as we are still in these samsaric bodies, and as long as desire is not entirely wiped out from our minds. Some have easier lives than others and fewer family problems, some have strong personalities, while others don't, etc. However, Amida Buddha does not use anything from our unenlightened personality in order to save us. His salvation depends entirely on His infinite merits and power  - this is exactly why our entrusting must be completely to Him, and why we should not worry about things like "emotional instability" or various delusions and attachements we have. There is absolutely NO condition imposed by Amida Buddha, that after we receive faith in Him we should act or feel as if we are not bombus[1] anymore.

Amida is focused especially on beings who cannot save themselves by any method, and who, due to their strong karmic attachements and blind passions, will never be capable of having a constant emotional stability. Truth be told, only Buddhas have constant emotional stability because they have no desires and no ups and downs, so we must wait until we ourselves attain Buddhahood in the Pure Land of Amida if we want to be completely free of any emotional instability.





[1] Persons filled with blind passions.

12 comentarii:

Dave Kruemcke said...

Yes.
Without Amida none of us in this realm of suffering and desire would be capable of saving ourselves.

Maitri said...

How does one grow in faith when reading the Mahayana Sutras? I am not sure they were taught by the Buddha. How does one even have such faith to begin entrusting? By knowing they are unable to achieve any degree of results in Buddhist practice? Thank you- I enjoy your blog.

Jōshō Adrian Cirlea said...

Hi, Maitri,
There are some who deny the authenticity of the Mahayana sutras in general, and of the three Pure Land sutras, in particular, saying that because they appeared later in written form, they are in fact, the creation of some monks. Many Theravadins share the same opinion on this matter and claim that their Pali canon is the only authentic set of sutras. However, common sense dictates that the time when a Buddhist sutra was put into written form was not automatically the time of its creation. During Shakyamuni Buddha’s life and later, upon His physical death, His discourses (sutras) were transmitted orally and sometimes by His closest disciples through special states of mind called Samadhi for hundreds of years before they were put into written form. The Pali Canon was, in fact, preserved in the artificial language of Pali (which neither the Buddha nor anyone else ever spoke) while the Mahayana sutras were initially preserved in Sanskrit (a language which Shakyamuni, a highly educated person, may have spoken). Some make the claim that the Pali Canon of the Theravada school is the oldest and thus the most reliable collection of sutras. Positing that all the discourses or sutras originated from Shakyamuni, then the fact that some were put into written form earlier than the others is not proof of their exclusive authenticity or superior content. The Mahayana and Pure Land sutras did exist and were transmitted in the same timeframe with the sutras of the Pali Canon.

We understand that some monks recognized only the Pali Canon as valid because they were supposedly the first of the Buddha’s discourses to be written down, while others considered the Mahayana and Pure Land sutras as being genuine as well. Each group put into written form their own basket (pitaka) of recognized sutras, some earlier and some later. But no one can prove by documentary evidence that his school’s basket of sutras were actually preached by Shakyamuni while the others’ were not.

By the same token, no one can prove that Shakyamuni did not impart some sutras only to a group of special disciples which were open and more prepared to receive them than others and who, in turn, transmitted such sutras to their own chosen disciples in an uninterrupted succession, until one day they decided it was time to give them a written form.

No one can check and investigate the Buddha’s mind or the minds of His closest disciples and their actions by means of documentary evidence. If we read about the Buddhist councils who first compiled orally the discourses of the Buddha, soon after His physical death, we see that the monks who attended such councils could all recite by heart dozens of those discourses and that all were accomplished Masters. Other sutras, the Mahayana and Pure Land sutras, were transmitted by Samadhi and were not written down until some time after the Pali Canon.

Also, we know from the first passages of the Sutra on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life (Larger Sutra), that among the assembly gathered on the Vulture Peak, where Shakyamuni delivered it, there were “twelve thousand monks […] all great sages who had already attained supernatural powers.” This aspect is extremely important because it is an indication about who were the monks who heard that sutra and later transmitted it to further generations. They were monks who had “attained supernatural powers,” and it follows that these monks used their mind power to accurately transmit this sutra by Samadhi to others. Among these monks we read the names of Venerable Mahakasyapa, Venerable Sariputra, Venerable Mahamaudgalyayana and Ananda. “All of these were Elders”, says the sutra. But monks with supernatural powers were not the only listeners. Great transcendental Bodhisattvas like Samantabhadra, Manjusri and Maitreya, the future Buddha, were present too, and they all rejoiced at hearing the Amida Dharma, which can only mean they had faith in it and later helped in its promotion.

Jōshō Adrian Cirlea said...

Next, great Buddhist Masters like Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu, Shan-taors, and many others including Honen, Shinran, Rennyo, accepted the Larger Sutra as valid and as coming from Shakyamuni Buddha. We ourselves cannot do otherwise and accept their testimony.

This is also how Master Seikaku, disciple of Honen Shonin, advised us to accept Amida's salvation in faith on the basis that Shakyamuni himself told us about it:

"Suppose that a man whom one deeply trusts and of whom one has no cause for suspicion whatever, tells you about a place which he knows well at firsthand, saying that there is a mountain here, a river there. You believe deeply what he says, and after you have accepted these words, you meet other people who say it is all false. There is no mountain and no river.

Nevertheless, since what you heard was said by a person whom you cannot think would speak a mere fabrication, a hundred thousand people might tell you differently but you would not accept it. Rather, you deeply trust what you heard first. This is called trust.
Now, believing in what Sakyamuni taught, entrusting yourself to Amida's Vow, and being without any doubt should be like this."

So, Mahayana sutras were actually taught by Shakyamuni Buddha. Please, be sure about this, and do not listen to various false teachers who say otherwise. Shakyamuni Buddha is the One who said the story of Amida first. You can read it here, at this link (copy and paste in your browser):

"The Story of Amida as told by Shakyamuni Buddha"
http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.ro/2015/01/the-story-of-amida-buddha-as-told-by.html

Shakyamuni Buddha advised us to accept His teaching on Amida Buddha in faith only. There is no other way for this teaching:

“Even if a great fire were to fill the universe of a thousand million worlds, you should pass through it to hear this sutra, to arouse joyful faith, to uphold and chant it, and to practice in accordance with its teachings."

You can also go in the left column of this website and download my book THE TRUE TEACHING ON AMIDA BUDDHA AND HIS PURE LAND, where you can read all you need to know about Amida Buddha and His Pure Land. It is also a book where I counteract many nowadays wrong understanding related with Amida Buddha and His Pure Land.

Jōshō Adrian Cirlea said...

After you accepted that the teaching on Amida Buddha's salvation was first taught by Shakyamuni Buddha, your mind will become more open to its simple message.
You asked, "How does one even have such faith to begin entrusting? By knowing they are unable to achieve any degree of results in Buddhist practice". My answer is simple, what is there more important than attaining complete freedom from birth and death? This is the goal of Buddha Dharma - 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. So, do you want to become a Buddha and finish quickly with the never ending cycle of Samsara? Then, simply entrust to Amida Buddha. This faith is a simple one, not a special thing you must develop into your mind. It is the way Amida Buddha promised that He will save you - if you simply entrust yourself to Him say His Name in faith, and wish to be born in His Pure Land. Please reffer to my article, "Faith is simple, nothing special" http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.ro/2010/01/faith-is-simple-nothing-special.html

However, if you wish to know about the benefits of an Amida devotee during this life, please reffer to my article,

"The ten benefits in this life of a nembutsu follower (explanations and a few questions & answers)":
http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.ro/2008/12/ten-benefits-in-this-life-of-nembutsu.html

Also watch this very important video by my friend, Paul Roberts - LISTENING DEEPLY
http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.ro/2011/06/listen-deeply-video-teaching-by-paul.html

Jodo Shinshu starts and ends with LISTENING DEEPLY to Amida Dharma. To listen deeply until one becomes open and accepts Amida's salvation by having a simple faith in Him.

Then you can refer my articles in the chapter VII. SHINJIN (FAITH) AND NEMBUTSU from the TABLE OF CONTENTS of this website
http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.ro/p/here-is-collection-of-articles-posted.html

That TABLE OF CONTENTS is a collection of all my teachings on this website. I am glad you enjoy it, and I hope you will find it useful.




Dave Kruemcke said...

This was an extraordinarily exceptional article that explains so very much.
The post itself and the responses were great and very informative :)

Thank you so much Rev. Josho for taking the time and effort to clarify these questions for us all.

Namo Amida Butsu.

Jōshō Adrian Cirlea said...

Dear Dave,

Thank you. I am glad you found my answers useful. Just as I am closed to those who are searching for debates, I am always open and willing to answer to those who are in a learning mood and ask questions in order to better understand Amida Dharma. This is exactly why I answered Maitri.
Best wishes to all!
Namo Amida Butsu

Maitri said...

Josho,

Thank you very much for this detailed response. You provided several links which I will read all of them in time.

I am a person who does not have the ability to generate strong faith. My mind is naturally suspicious and doubtful. I do not mean to denigrate the Pure Land path at all. I deeply admire the Pure Land teachings and gentle humility it instructs Buddhists to cultivate.I am simply a person for whom faith and belief is very elusive. Faith for me is confusing because I do not have it. It is like a person who can see red or blue explaining these colors to a blind person. You have faith, but I am the blind person and can't conceive of the experience you have. In fact, i envy those who have genuine conviction and confidence as my mind and karma is given to doubtful states.

Personally, i have the most confidence in the Pali canon, but I know of the historical gaps in putting the suttas to text. There are also many spurious texts, masters and commentaries which makes maintaining confidence difficult.
There is so much non-sense permeating the Buddha's teachings these days. You are right that the path is to gain liberation, not for corporate mindfulness and feel good Buddhist secularism.

I have read the Pure Land Sutras, but it didn't give me confidence, but made me feel less likely to achieve any great realization in this life. The Pure Land method is a simple teaching, but confuses my mind.Perhaps i have faith the Dharma, but not in my ability to realize it.

Again, thank you for your insight and response. I just wanted to share how doubt is difficult to overcome for persons like myself.

Jōshō Adrian Cirlea said...

Dear Maitri, I repeatedly say this, to all my friend and readers, FAITH IS SIMPLE, NOTHING SPECIAL. So, not a special experience.
Exactly because people tend to imagine various difficult things related with faith, I wrote some articles like the one we are comenting on, and like these:
"Depend on Amida, not on your feelings"
http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.ro/2016/06/do-not-ask-yourself-if-you-feel-right.html
"Do not associate shinjin (faith) with any special feeling or state of mind"
http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.ro/2016/04/do-not-associate-shinjin-faith-with-any.html
"Questions and answers on intellectual obstacles to shinjin (faith)"
http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.ro/2015/10/question-and-answer-on-intellectual.html
or I share Paul Robert's video - "Shinjin (faith) - our part and Amida's Path"
http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.ro/2015/08/shinjin-our-part-and-amidas-part.html
Please check those, too.

This simple faith does not need great skills or mind efforts. It is simply to say, "Ok, Amida Buddha, from now on I will rely exclusively on You for my birth in the Pure Land. Namo Amida Butsu". Of course, in order to say and accept in your heart these simple words, you need to also accept that Amida Buddha is a real, living Buddha, exactly as Shakyamuni, Nagarjuna and our Masters accepted Him. I explained this in my article,
"If Amida's Primal is true"
http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.ro/2015/05/if-amidas-primal-vow-is-true.html
(please read it, too)

The Pure Land sutras are certainly hard to read and understand without faith and devotion. Especially they are hard to read by someone who doubts that they were actually taught by Shakyamuni. Unfortunately, many people nowadays play smart with the sutras and treat them like mythological texts, so how can they understand them and obtain something good from them? Their minds are certainly not in the learning mood....

There is nothing to realize on the Pure Land Path other than the simple fact that you cannot escape by yourself from the endless cycle of Samsara, and that Amida Buddha offers His hand to help. This helping hand is His Pure Land which He emanated especially for beings like you and me, and His Promise (His Primal Vow/18th Vow) that He will make you be born there if you have faith in Him, say His Name and wish to go there. There are many gates and paths inside the Buddha Dharma, but the true Pure Land path/gate (Jodo Shinshu) is nothing else than this.

Please do not worry that you have doubts. These can be overcome by sincere and repeated listening to the Dharma with humbleness and devotion.
Do not forget to see that video of Paul Roberts on "listen deeply"
http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.ro/2011/06/listen-deeply-video-teaching-by-paul.html

I am always here oif you need me to answer your questions. My Dharma friends from TrueShinBuddhism yahoo group are also available, at
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/true_shin_buddhism/info

Please download the free editions of my books which are listed in the left collumn of this website!
Namo Amida Butsu

Maitri said...

Josho,

Thank you very much for your reply.

You stated, "This simple faith does not need great skills or mind efforts. It is simply to say, "Ok, Amida Buddha, from now on I will rely exclusively on You for my birth in the Pure Land. Namo Amida Butsu".

Perhaps I am very muddle minded, but I have difficult time understanding what faith actually is. It can't be as simple as saying you accept something when in your heart you doubt it. How could a untrue declaration be seen as genuine faith? From your reply here, where is a turn of entrusting oneself to Amida. How does it happen? Of crossing a boundary from doubt and disbelief to being a person of faith? This is what I fail to grasp in my mind and heart. Faith may be simple, but it doesn't come. I think that there are some of us for whom faith will not be an effective path. It's almost liked being locked out of the Buddha's home in a way.

I am posting this sincerely, not as an attempt to be belligerent. But stating that doubts, " can be overcome by sincere and repeated listening to the Dharma with humbleness and devotion" seems to assume a sense of respect and belief in the first place. I just find this so confusing. How do people not have doubt and have total confidence in these teachings? Again, it's like telling a blind person what the colors red or blue are; it's easy to say "red like the rose, or blue like the sky" when one can see. But when one is seeing using these descriptions of color can't describe the color when talking a blind person. It's on a different plane of experience.

Thanks again for your insight and thoughts. They are appreciated.

Jōshō Adrian Cirlea said...

Dear Maitri,
I did NOT mean faith is just a matter of words!
Faith means to say with both mind and heart and without any doubt: "Ok, Amida Buddha, from now on I will rely exclusively on You for my birth in the Pure Land. Namo Amida Butsu".

You do not have any doubt that Amida Buddha saves you and brings you to His Pure Land when you die. So, faith is to know you are saved by Amida Buddha. This is all - nothing else is involved. I mean, nothing special to feel or experience. No special wisdom to develop.
In this sense, it is a simple faith.

The turn is from a person who did not accept Amida's existence and doubted he/she can be saved so easily, to a person who accepts Amida's existence and His helping hand.

Perhaps for the moment, your karmic good from the past, as Master Rennyo puts it, is not riped yet, so you are not opened to Amida's salvation in the present moment. But you will be one day. Perhaps now you will follow another path from the many Dharma paths taught by Shakyamuni, perhaps you will continue to listen to Amida Dharma until one day, sooner or later, your doubts will be cleared. You chose.

This Path - the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha where He promised that He will bring to His Pure Land all those who simply entrust to Him, is a path for ALL beings and it can save ALL beings, because it does not recquire anything special from them, no virtue, no quality, no nothing. It is a point where we all turn sooner or later, because we realize we cannot attain anything stable, epecially Enlightenment, through our own efforts. At that moment, we all turn to Amida. The wish of any Buddha, especially Amida, is to bring all beings to freedom from birth and death, so they all invent various methods to fulfill this goal. Among all Buddhas, Amida has the easiest method, and is the very reason why Shakyamuni himself reccomended Him.

Not I am the one who said that doubts can be overcome by sincere and repeated listening to the Dharma with humbleness and devotion, but Rennyo Shonin did, like for example, when he said:

"Regardless of our doubts, if we listen intently with our entire being, we will be given shinjin (faith) because of Great Compassion. The Buddhist teaching begins and ends in hearing."

So this is what we do in Jodo Shinshu - we listen again and again to Amida Dharma, until one day we hear it without any doubt. Until one day we have that mind click and we say, "Yes, this is it. This is true".

Humbleness and devotion are things that can appear in peope's minds when listening to the Dharma. To realize you have limitations is also a form of humbleness. You can start with this. Also, to read Pure Land sutras with respect can be done too, even if one still has doubts related with Amida Buddha's salvation. To put aside for a moment, all you think you know (in fact, what an unenlightened person really knows when compared with the knowledge and wisdom of a Buddha!), and try to listen to what Shakyamuni Buddha said or Shinran or Rennyo have to say about Amida Buddha. To weight your situation as a person still caught in samsara and your real chances to ever escape it. To know yourself and realize how much effort you can really put in various practices which rely on your personal capacities and power. Just think - can you really attain Enlightenment through your efforts? All these are part of listening deeply.

Jōshō Adrian Cirlea said...

So, you can try to give Amida Dharma a chance. Or you can try other path from the Buddha Dharma. But all methods, even those who may not seem related with faith, recquire some sort of devotion and dedication. And all start and end with a bow in front of a Buddha statue or image. This bow can be the start in a shorter or longer journey to complete faith in Amida Buddha.
Buddha Dharma without bowing is gymnastic. All forms of authentic Buddhism start and end their practice (even meditation) with bowing to show respect, devotion and gratitude to the origin of the teachings - the Buddha. With time, and with constant bowing, devotion and respect grows larger and larger. The mind stream of a sincere follower will become more open to the influence of the Buddhas, and one day, he/she will be able to receive a Dharma teaching which recquires complete abandonment (a complete bow) to the Buddha called Amida, whom all Buddhas reccomend. Any gesture done toward Amida Buddha is a cause which brings one even more closer to Him and His influence. So, I advise any follower to try to show respect to the Buddhas and sutras, and all Dharma methods, even if they do not believe in all of them.

This is all for now. I do not know what I can say more. Please join trueshinbuddhism group
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/true_shin_buddhism/info
Perhaps my Dharma friends from there can help you more.

Best wishes!
Namo Amida Butsu

PS:
Faith is present or not. You said - " How do people not have doubt and have total confidence in these teachings?" They simply have it after pondering sincerely on all the things above, until one day they became opened enough and could simply say with both mind and heart - "Ok, Amida Buddha, from now on I will rely exclusively on You for my birth in the Pure Land. Namo Amida Butsu".

Because you do no have faith now, you cannot understand the simplicity of faith and so you find it confusing. I understand this. All those who have this simple faith were people of doubt somewhere in their past, and after they listened the Amida Dharma, they gradually or suddenly developed devotion toward it. For some the path was longer in this life, for other it was shorter. Somehow you have to find a breach in your ego and give Amida Dharma a chance. Please carefully read what I wrote in these answers and download my books in the left column. If you find any difficulty in downloading them, write to me at josho_adrian@yahoo.com and I will send them personally.