- Hello sisters and brothers,
So many of us are practicing our nembutsu faith as solitaries. Some can drive
an hour or two and be near a Shin sangha. Others of us have to drive several
hours just to be near another Buddhist.
I am most concerned for those of us who must listen for The Name in isolation.
Speaking personally it feels like being in exile. Shin is unlike Zen or
Vipassana, or Vajrayana, or Nichiren; not better (necessarily) but definitely
different. A Shin Buddhist in a Nichiren community (my situation) is like a
kitten raised with piglets by a sow [I have a deep and abiding affection for
both cats and pigs, btw.] I will survive, nourished by the community I worship
with, but I still dream of the taste of my own mother's milk.
I think that we who live our faith as anchorites (in seclusion, either
intentional or situational, from our fellows), need to support each other. We
are each other's family in faith.
We may punch each other's buttons and get on each other's nerves; we may say the
wrong things inadvertently; we may lack sensitivity to the other's karmic
burdens. Still, we are family. I suspect, perhaps out of some unconscious
chauvinism, that Shin Buddhists need other Shin Buddhists (at least in the West)
with a palpable passion unequalled among other Buddhist families.
At any rate, I depend on this e-community to be the Shin family I do not have
'in 'the flesh.' Forgive me my ego excesses and my neediness: this is the only
community I can call on for affinity and empathy.
With palms together,
Peter (Shaku Kyobo)