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Subject: Shin Dialogue - Mappo, Suffering, etc.

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  • Paul Roberts
    This is part of an ongoing dharma dialogue with someone who has become a person of TRUE ENTRUSTING - SHINJIN. === Questioner: If people are more inclined to
    Message 1 of 5 , Dec 30 10:50 AM
      This is part of an ongoing dharma dialogue with someone who has become a
      person of TRUE ENTRUSTING - SHINJIN.

      ===

      Questioner: If people are more inclined to introspection during dark times
      on a personal basis.....wouldn't that then mean that during a dark time on
      the whole planet, Mappo, as we are in now....wouldn't that mean that people
      would then be more inclined to introspection on a large scale? You
      know...the whole micro/macro thingy.

      Wouldn't we get large masses of people turning searching for something? Or
      do you think they are doing exactly that....hence the large number of people
      interested in spiritual pursuits these days.....but most engaging in
      attempting to bootstrap themselves into enlightenment?

      Perhaps there have always been as many seekers as there are now although it
      seems to me that
      the numbers are increasing. Does the phase of Mappo spur people on to seek
      and search for something more to life?

      ===

      I sense two ideas in your question: one is MAPPO, which is a feature of the
      age where even those who try to become Buddhas using the path(s) of the
      sages simply cant't. The other is what happens to people when they are in a
      crucible of suffering, whether we're talking about a private crucible, or
      the kind of crucible we experience as a planet on 9/11, or from the recent
      tsunami, where the emotional aftershocks are spread via the global news
      media so rapidly.

      Of course such terrible experiences to tend to get people shaken out of
      their everyday complacency, and thinking about the big picture issues of
      suffering, salvation, life's meaning, etc.

      But - my experience and observation is that these effects are transitory for
      most people. In NYC, for example, 9/11 really broke everyone's heart, and
      created a very heart opened stance in the whole population that is very
      uncharacteristic of my hometown. The same phenomenon was visible in
      Washington DC among the usually fractious politicians.

      That halo effect lasted for a while, but (for most people) gradually faded.

      This hearkens back to your questions about you can keep your heart so raw
      and open as it has been during our dialogue. Because you're not a Buddha,
      it's not an easy thing to do - and maybe not really doable at all.

      For me, what remains is the WILLINGNESS to be opened - again and again -
      even as we reflexively shut down.

      This call to vulnerability and openness, to being willing to feel fully, to
      allow the waves of empathic awareness, both positive and negative, wash over
      us without resistance or aversion - is actually part of our buddhic
      calling - and not just a calling for those who are called to the helping
      professions, or to parenthood.

      It is, in its essence, the calling to fully embrace our YIN - our primal
      receptivity - in its entirety...and it is a calling on us all.

      But how many even understand that, much less embrace it?

      Yet, in moments of deep suffering, when we are ravaged by anguish and
      horror, our egoic armor is pierced, and there is nothing any of us can do in
      those moments but surrender to the waves washing over us, again and again.

      ===

      Questioner: In the meantime I was searching the yahoo groups on shin
      buddhism...not a lot happening there although I did read through the
      archives of one of the larger groups and found, some posts of yours which I
      am reading....and a few new links to check out as well. It sure sounds like
      a lot of noise and distortion on that list though....then again maybe that's
      just my cynicism shining through as it does at times.

      ===

      No, you are seeing accurately an example of how Shin Buddhism is in deep
      decline. There are not many places where the simple dharma that pierced you
      so completely, and brought you to a state of peace and entrusting, is being
      shared in a straightforward way.

      And that is tragic in the deepest sense of the word - looking with the eyes
      of Buddha. Because it means that all those 100,000 people in the tsunami,
      and all of the 8 billion on the planet, get washed away by death, and then
      re-enter yet another life, in this world system or another, in a higher or
      lower realm, based on their karma, and go through another round of suffering
      in endarkenment again...and again...and again.

      ===

      Questioner: If you ever decide to write a few books on shin
      buddhism....maybe you could explain it for western dummies and drop all the
      yana, gata, tara, yaka, attva and nada terms/language and just say it in
      plain old english.....does there have to be translation necessary in order
      to 'get
      it'?

      ===

      No - and you are a living example of that. Plain English is just as powerful
      as plain Japanese for people willing to listen deeply, with their whole
      being.

      ===

      Questioner: Is there a purpose in using that language? Can't the concepts
      just be explained in a simple, concise manner without the words/names which
      leave a gap in my mind and leaving me wondering what it is they are talking
      about?

      ===

      Carl Jung said that in every generation the truth needs to be re-languaged
      in order to be transmitted accurately. My own gifts and calling - and
      suffering - prepared me to do that. And so I did, with you, and so I am
      doing, with one or two others.

      But it's not me INVENTING anything. It's more a matter - in terms of Shin
      Buddhism - of being humble enough to hear Shinran directly - and accept what
      he is saying deeply for oneself (MONPO leading to SHINJIN) - and then saying
      it as plainly as he said it to all the Japanese peasants - and all the
      highly educated people too.

      Shinran knew this complexification was going to be a problem - and he knew
      that egotism was going to make it hard - VERY hard - for people to accept a
      path of entire dependence on OTHER power.

      You will remember back, and if you choose, you will find that same egotism
      in you - which I neatly, and lovingly, deconstructed. But that was only
      because I had gone through the same process - and uncovered the same
      fractals of egotism in my own path walk - with my own secret pride about my
      own accomplishments, understandings, etc.

      That's what causes people to complexify SHIN - this secret egotism. The
      symptoms are many and varied. I stopped posting directly to the SHIN
      newsgroups because I didn't want to fight people who needed to hold onto
      their egotism, and wouldn't do an honest job of comparing what they thought
      (and their teachers teach and their clerics preach - their own INVENTIONS)
      compared to Honen, Shinran and Rennyo.

      When people will not be HOW (honest, open and willing) - I simply need to
      accept that, and step away from the conversation - not that I want to - but
      because it cannot proceed in such karmic conditions of willful endarkenment.

      If someone insists the 2 + 2 = 5, it doesn't really matter what a person who
      knows the facts of basic arithmetic says.

      And I recognize, as I say this, that there ARE karmic forces in play that I
      can't see because I am a non-buddha.

      So - I try to be responsive to where I am being led to speak clearly and
      boldly (as with you) because the person is willing to yield - not to me -
      but to the dharma sword that cuts away and exposes, as it reveals the root
      cause of our suffering, and takes away all ground that egotism grasps.

      Then, having prepared the way by shredding egotism entirely in the heart of
      the willing hearer, the ultimate dharma of Shin Buddhism offers the answer
      that can bring the result of Buddhahood in the next life, and the peace of
      entrusting in this life. That moment - the critical moment of SHINJIN - may
      only last for one thought in this life, but one thought-moment is enough.
      This is the great mystery of Amida's Primal Vow.

      So Shinran taught - and so I teach as well.

      ===

      Questioner: My brain balks at these words and shuts down when I read
      them.....lights on....no one ome....come again some other day *grin* Then
      again...maybe other people don't have a problem with the whole
      thing.....perhaps it's just my hang up.

      Do you eventually read the words enough that you come to understand what
      they mean so that what you read makes sense to you?

      ===

      For me, having Unno's books, and one or two people to talk to, laid a lot of
      groundwork and made it easier. I was ready, but if I had to go back to
      Shinran's writing at the moment of my own encounter it would have been too
      much heavy lifting in the midst of my grief.

      So yes, having someone boil it all down, and present the critical 20%, in
      simple universal terms, and - especially - speak with the kind of power and
      clarity that compels the listener to deep introspection - without being
      pushy or demanding - is a gift, always.

      That's what I did with you - and because you were listening from a stance of
      HOW (honest, open, willing) - we were able to consummate this karmic
      dialogue and you were able to experience birth into SHINJIN.

      Shinran taught that the person of SHINJIN is equal to a Buddha - not because
      they are free, in this life, of their karmic burden. We most assuredly are
      NOT (which rankles other Buddhists when we admit it). We are equal to a
      Buddha because our birth AS a Buddha in the next life is assured.

      True Buddhists (not the post-modernist variety) - including Shinran -
      recognize our problem of suffering as Buddha taught - a cyclical problem
      that goes on from one life to another.

      Therapeutic Buddhism that helps to reduce suffering by reducing cravings and
      aversions may help us to feel better to a degree - but the arc of one's
      life, and the infinite extension of one's ontological endarkenment - are not
      affected enough to preven the terrible wheel of birth and death from
      crushing us over and over again. Our egotism remains - thus we MUST take
      birth again.

      Consider those people destroyed by the tsunami. How much suffering...how
      much sorrow...for those who remain behind. And those swept away - whether
      upper class western tourists, or little children living in third world
      impoverishment - now go through the tunnel of transmigration into new lives,
      new bodies - their memories lost - and their suffering bound to continue in
      some other life.

      Endless cycles of birth, suffering, and death...again, and again, and again.

      Endless ignorance - with loss of memory - understanding - awareness - from
      life to life...again, and again, and again.

      And that's why the muddling up of Shin dharma is such a profoundly tragic
      thing. I can't imagine, at this point, how I would cope at all if I didn't
      know that after this life I will become a Buddha, and be able to help those
      who I have loved - but could not help here.

      And I live with great joy through the remaining years of this life, knowing
      that my beloved Jessie had that one thought-moment, and at that moment
      became a person of SHINJIN, because of the mysterious and karma-transcending
      power of Amida's primal vow. And that nothing that happened afterwards was
      able to shake her loose from Amida's grasp.

      Everything else may be swept away, including egotistical, goofball, muddled
      up Shin Dharma.

      Everything else may be swept away - even our own will to remain firm in our
      commitment to our own life.

      Everything else may be swept away. Nonetheless, we are grasped, never to be
      abandoned, by Amida Buddha.

      Everything else may be swept away. But Buddhahood awaits us in the next
      life, when we will be re-born in the Pure Land, ending our endless journey
      through uncountable lives of ignorance and sorrow - the end of suffering at
      last, just as Buddha promised.

      Everything else may be swept away. But the Primal Vow holds.

      NamuAmidaButsu -

      Paul
    • lotusaware
      Thank you for this discussion. It echoes much of my experience and the temptations I have personally faced in trying to understand all this. I got a serious
      Message 2 of 5 , Dec 30 4:26 PM
        Thank you for this discussion. It echoes much of my experience and
        the temptations I have personally faced in trying to understand all
        this.

        I got a serious heads up from a young lady in the local Temple. She
        pointed out that the problem with coming to grips with Shin Buddhism
        and the approach to it is

        that many in the West are so used to and conditioned by linear
        thinking and approaches that they are trapped by such an approach;
        the oriental mind typically approaches spiritual matters and life
        itself in a circular way.

        This has a number of implications.
        1. The truth is most often communicated by 'stories'.
        2. The truth is not directly presented, more like "dancing around the
        mulberry bush", and then letting the listener find the mulberry bush
        for themselves.
        3. All life is circular, seasonal, and understanding requires a
        repetition of the "seasons" for deep understanding (Monpo). William
        Samuel said, "A book hasn't been read until it has been read 7 times."

        The difficulty then is not in the language, but in the thinking
        required by the language. Japanese and Chinese are "contextual
        languages". There often is no direct translation for a character or
        concept because it includes the context, so one character/word in a
        sinaitic language may require a paragraph of translation, and a host
        of associations. English and similar Euro-based languages are quite
        direct - one word, one meaning.

        Beyond that the concepts in Shin Buddhism may be only understood in a
        strange kind of dialogue between "self-power" and "Other-Power".

        For instance,
        Whose Shinjin is it?
        Mine or Amida's?

        If I try to have Shinjin I fail - that is self-power;
        if I accept Amida's Shinjin - that is Other-power -
        and in THAT acceptance "my" Shinjin and "Amida's" Shinjin become one.

        What a relief! I don't have to understand it.

        I could go on but I will stop here. I will only comment that Alfred
        Bloom newly edited book, LIVING IN AMIDA'S UNIVERSAL VOW, I found
        much to absorb deeply - and I found much philosophical pap. A first
        grade philosophy student would get an F- for some of the reasoning in
        article's attempting to "explain" and "justify" Shin Buddhism.

        One can't "justify" Amida's acceptance of me "Just As I Am".
        (Especially since Amida doesn't exist in our space-time continuum!).

        lotusaware


        --- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, Paul Roberts <netpaul@o...> wrote:
        > This is part of an ongoing dharma dialogue with someone who has
        become a
        > person of TRUE ENTRUSTING - SHINJIN.
        [snip]
      • Robert Garvey
        If the concepts could be explained simply and concisely, then there would be far fewer books on Buddhism. A quick search on Amazon yields over 6,000 titles.
        Message 3 of 5 , Dec 31 5:55 PM
          If the concepts could be explained simply and concisely,
          then there would be far fewer books on Buddhism. A quick
          search on Amazon yields over 6,000 titles.

          So many words are expended because the truth is beyond our
          ability to express it. All those books are indicating what
          is in the end ineffable. They are the finger pointing at
          the moon.

          A good reason for the words from other languages is that
          they express concepts more succinctly. It does take some
          time to appreciate what dhukka implies and that the usual
          word used, "suffering", is not as good a translation as
          some other words. I think that "faith" is a poor choice
          for translation of shinjin. Some writers now prefer to
          use shinjin.

          best wishes for the new year,

          Robert

          --- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, Paul Roberts <netpaul@o...> wrote:
          >
          > ===
          >
          > Questioner: Is there a purpose in using that language?
          > Can't the concepts just be explained in a simple, concise
          > manner without the words/names which leave a gap in my
          > mind and leaving me wondering what it is they are talking
          > about?
          >
          > ===
        • Robert Garvey
          I take issue with attributing the complexity to the writer s ego and cite a passage relevant to this. ``Here we have to stop for a moment and consider just
          Message 4 of 5 , Dec 31 6:35 PM
            I take issue with attributing the complexity to the
            writer's ego and cite a passage relevant to this.

            ``Here we have to stop for a moment and consider just what
            it is we are really looking for when we ask for a more
            easily understandable approach to religion.

            ``What I suspect is behind this request is our inveterate
            tendency to seek that which is agreeable to our tastes.
            As long as we try to understand religion in this way, our
            very "understanding" will prevent any insight into the
            true meaning of religious life. For religion to become
            something that affects us to the very core of our being,
            we must rid ourselves of this self-centered, self-seeking
            approach. This is vital to any true religious search.''

            Takashi Hirose
            Lectures on Shin Buddhism
            copyright 1980
            Higashi Honganji Publication Department


            That passage is taken from a lecture entitled "The
            Way of the Disciple" which begins with Reverend
            Hirose commenting that he was asked to avoid using
            Buddhist technical terms as much as possible.

            gassho,

            Robert


            --- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, Paul Roberts <netpaul@o...> wrote:
            >
            > That's what causes people to complexify SHIN - this
            > secret egotism. The symptoms are many and varied.
          • Shin02143@aol.com
            In a message dated 12/30/04 7:27:16 PM, lotusaware@yahoo.com writes:
            Message 5 of 5 , Jan 1, 2005
              In a message dated 12/30/04 7:27:16 PM, lotusaware@... writes:

              << One can't "justify" Amida's acceptance of me "Just As I Am".

              (Especially since Amida doesn't exist in our space-time continuum!).


              lotusaware >>

              But "our space-time continuum" is an illusion anyway. We all exist in
              Amida's "space-time continuum". It is just a little bit difficult to grasp.
              So rather than grasp, or try to grasp, let go and let Amida. That
              is what other-power means to me.

              gassho,
              Rick
              (Egen)
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