Re: Losing my Religion?
- Reply below.
--- In email@example.com, "Shoren \"the ever pesty\"" <shoren108@y...> wrote:
> Hello all,
> Well, I feel at a crossroads. I am not sure I believe in anything anymore. I read a few
essays from this site, http://www.livingdharma.org/Library.html And now I feel like any
understanding I may have had was illusion.
> I had a simple faith, Amida, in the far distant past, worked hard for the benefit of all
beings and eventually made a way to save even the likes of me. I gassho on Sunday and
felt genuine appreciation for that work he did and how it gave me peace of mind.
> Now I hear Amida is a fictional character created 300 years after Shakyamuni's death. So
Buddha did NOT tell Sariputra about Amida as spoken in the sutras? And that he(Amida) is
a construct to criticize the stagnation of Hinayana? So Dr. Haneda says in his essay.
Aaron, there will be many crossroads. Life is full of them. This "crisis in consciousness" is
A step on the road which helped me was a brief conversation I had with Rev. Katani. He
said that westerner tend to ask whether something is true or not, while the oriental tends
to ask "What does it mean to me?"
This points to the Kalama Sutra in which the Buddha said to the citizens of Kalama when
trying to deal with various religions and philosophies that don't accept something because
it is traditional or it comes from some authority, examine it to see if it brings a blessing
and benefit, if it is rational and useful to you.
There is a stage in which Amida is a vital, living personality which we can relate to. In a
more mature stage we see Amida is something else, something very potent and powerful.
Let me give you an example. When I was young I wondered if the world was flat. I was not
old enough to understand the math and physics which enabled me to be convinced that
the world was an oblate spheroid (round). I also thought that the earth was the center of
the universe. As I became more educated I discovered the solar system, the galaxy and
then the universe. The earth shrank to something very tiny by universal standards. This
called my whole existence into question and as for purpose, well..........who am I really in
the total scheme of things.
Lots of suffering as the Buddha pointed out from worrying about such ego, self-power
based concepts. Why not accept the grandeur of the universe and my ability to view its
wonders, to view the earth and my ability to view its wonders, to view my life and view its
Now Amida is something like the universe compared to me. Amida is "eternal", unbounded
Light and Life, we can barely comprehend such a thing, so we create an image. Jung calls
such an image an archetype. But this one has potency. We want a god to relate to, so we
give this image a personality and a mission like a person might have.
Let's take the next step upward but first a little diversion.
Riddle: Would 2+2 = 4 whether the world existed or not? Better, would a + a = 2 a
whether the universe existed or not?
It is non-material so it doesn't depend on existence. It is a principle which is true in any
universe, and it is true without being dependent on space and time.
Now back to the subject.
Consider all Buddhas, all the Awakened Ones, hold the same Vows to seek Wisdom and to
exercise compassion. The Vow to liberate all beings, all sentient and all insentient beings
is just such a principle - it is endemic to consciousness. Anyone who wakes wants others
to know the joy, the gladness, and the peace which waking brings.
How to express this for people? The authors of the Larger Sutra had the problem of
sharing the immensity of this concept, had the problem of how to share what being Awake
(Buddha) is and what it means.
So using the life of the historical Buddha as a basis they told his story as a Bodhisattva in
development. They told his story and his teaching to reflect the incredible power and
immensity of the concepts of BEING AWAKE to people who are mostly ASLEEP. So they told
a story which is not only the story of Shakyamuni but which is the story of everyone who is
WAKING UP and therefore seeking that liberated state. It is the story of enLIGHTenment, an
enLIGHTenment which enLIVEns us. AND IT IS UNIVERSAL, UNBOUNDED LIFE ITSELF.
This is beyond individual personhood. Amida is therefore not some superman or some
god who is going to "save" us from hell and guilt and shame. It is the very vitalizing being
The story of Dharmakara and Amida is our individual story! My story and your story and
The Name of this Awakened Consciousness and Power is "Namu Amida Budda". Read the
Larger Sutra very carefully and you will see that Dharmakara begins as a king, becomes a
monk, becomes the follower of a Buddha, then the follower of many Buddhas, and finally,
in the end, embraces all beings as Buddhas to study, to learn from, to accept as teacher,
and finally to embrace all as Buddha.
Now this is a kind of truth which is off the charts in a practical sense. Amida is literally
that which sees that all beings are the Buddha. This is incredible humility in action. His
training is such that he studies all Buddhas, then more Buddhas, than all beings.
The message and meaning for us is that when we do as he did, LET GO OF SELF-POWER, in
our humility we truly wake. WAKE to what? To the Amida which we are!
Namu - I bow in respect to
Amida - The Buddha, the Clear Light and Life, in which I am manifesting and which is
CALLING ME and which is the Life and Light within every living being
Buddha - the Other Power, my own Awakened Self free of limitation.
Word, concepts, and images don't do justice to what this is.
The point, Aaron, is that there is something acting here which is universally available to
help us if we will let go and invite it, and wonderfully it is not separate from us. The image
of it in the Temple is a story filled with many meanings.
Please note...... Put your two hands together, palm to palm. Put the Ojuzu around them.
They appear to be separate, but the hands belong to one person, you. The Ojuzu
represents that you are surrounded by Wisdom and Compassion. One hand represents
self-power and the other represents Other-Power. Put them together, letting go of self-
power and there is nothing left but Other-Power. There is no difference. When there is no
self-power, there is also no Other-Power!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Name of that state is
NAMU AMIDA BUDDA
You are not separate from that, but as long as you believe in separateness, then it is
separate - and is to be honored. "IT", Amida, is eternal and not dependent on matter,
space or time. It cannot be put inside this "bag of water", this skin which surrounds all the
meat and bones inside that skin.
IS IT REAL? IT IS AS REAL AS YOU ARE!
Amida is that within you which seeks liberation and which knows the way to find it in this
very lifetime - and beyond.
Finally Aaron, please continue to read the writings of Rev. Nobuo Haneda and the others
on that website. There is much to learn and there is much deeper within the "fiction". Be
prepared to encounter the world beyond your limitations.
Amida is NAMU AMIDA BUTSU itself. That is the mystery, the wonder and the power.
lotusaware (Shaku Renjo (John))
- That's great advice, Galen, bows to you and Prof. Matsunaga.
From: Galen Gorelangton <monto48@...>
Sent: Tue, 25 Oct 2005 14:17:35 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: [shinlist] Re: Losing my Religion?
My name is Galen, and this is the first poste I am sending on
this group, which I have recently joined. I have been reading through
the chain entitled "Losing my Religion?" and cannot help but think of a
few things. First, a few simple words by the Temple Master of my dojo,
Professor Matsunaga; once, during a dharma-talk, he stated very matter
of factly, somthing to the effect of;
"If you want to believe that Amida is an actual person that lives in
a place called the Pureland, that is ok; if you want to believe that
Amida is your idealized self, and the Pureland is this absolute moment,
that is ok too."
It is just that simple, at least in his mind. The truth of the
matter, I think, is that we truely are foolish being that realy have
no clue as to the matter of these things, or even any method for
judging truth objectively. We are rather helpless things, we humans.
Which of us can truely claim to know whether or not there is a land so
many kalpas to west, or for that matter, what the true intent of the
writers of the sutras was?