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01. Buddha nature is not empty of itself but only empty of samsaric phenomena - Jul 13, 2020 10:04:00 AM

Pine Trees, by Hasegawa Tohaku, Tokyo National Museum
Click here to return to the main page On Buddha nature
There are two types of emptiness: 
1) self emptiness and 2) other emptiness.
We may call the first “empty-emptiness” and the second “non-empty-emptiness”.
Self emptiness means that something is empty of its own entity or self. This is the case with any samsaric phenomena, including the outer world and inner world of unenlightened beings. Anything that appears due to various combinations of causes and conditions is self empty. Anything that changes is self-empty. Anything that can be analyzed and divided in small fragments and atoms is self empty. Any samsaric universe with all the various planets, solar systems and unenlightened beings living there is self empty because they appear due to various causes and conditions, change due to causes and conditions and disappear due to causes and conditions.
Anything that is self empty is a dream, a mirage, a magical display, and ultimately not real. All phenomena and beings of samsaric existence are self empty. The so-called inner or outer reality that unenlightened beings experience is self empty and ultimately not real. It is like when you wake up from a dream and you realize it was just a dream with unreal events, while when you were immersed in it you felt that was the real world. The Awakened Ones (the Buddhas) who also act as awakeners of others became aware of their Buddha nature (true reality) and by dwelling in it they have realized that the dream world of sleeping beings (unenlightened beings/not Buddhas yet) is self empty and not actually real.
Samsara, being self empty has only a relative reality just like the dream is real for the dreamer, while the Buddha nature and those who dwell in it (the Buddhas) experience the True Reality – the reality of the Awakened Ones.  The single goal of all the various Dharma Gates is to help you escape the dream world of samsara and awake to the true Reality or the Reality of Buddha nature which is NOT self empty, but only empty of delusions, empty of blind passions, empty of defilements, etc, and filled with the infinite qualities of true freedom.
It is extremely important to understand the difference between self emptiness that was described above and was mentioned in the Heart Sutra, and other emptiness.  Buddha nature is NOT actually empty or not self empty for the simple reason that it is the true Reality, unconditioned by anything, not created by anything, not dependent on anything, not appearing according to causes and conditions, not changing according to causes and conditions and not disappearing due to causes and conditions. A dream appears due to various reasons but the reality experienced when awake has always been there and it is what you awake to when you stop dreaming. Thousands upon thousands of dreams (samsaric states of existence) may appear and disappear but the reality (Buddha nature) never changes and it is always there. This is why such a reality is not self empty.
There is only one way in which we can say that true reality or Buddha nature is empty and that is other emptiness or non-empty-emptiness. The samsaric phenomena of inner and outer world is empty-emptiness because it is truly empty, while the Buddha nature is non-empty-emptiness because it is only empty of samsara, but not empty of itself and not empty of its innate infinite enlightened qualities. Unfortunately, even during the presence of Shakyamuni Buddha in flesh and bones and nowadays, more than 2500 years after, there are some who do not understand the difference between empty-emptiness and non-empty-emptiness or between what is truly empty (self empty) and that which is only empty of other (empty of delusions and samsaric phenomena). This is exactly why I am writing this text because I want that members of Amidaji have the right understanding of all main Buddhist doctrines.
In the Angulimala Sutra  it is said[1](comments in the brakes are my own),
“For example, a rain-storm falls from a great cloud, and a person with a childish nature picks up a piece of hail. Thinking that it is a precious vaidurya jewel, the person carries it home and, not daring to hold it due to its great coldness thinks to treat it as a treasure and carefully puts it into a vase. Seeing that round piece of hail melt, the person thinks, ‘Empty’, and turns speechless. Similarly, one who meditates on extreme emptiness and considers emptiness to be profound uncomfortably sees all phenomena to be destroyed. Even· non-empty liberation is seen and considered to be emptiness”.
First some people think that samsaric phenomena (the piece of hail) are permanent. Then they realize that they are empty and impermanent. So far so good, nothing wrong here, but the problem appear when they start thinking that because samsaric phenomena are empty and without a self, then everything should be empty and without self, even the Buddha nature (vaidurya jewel) and its innate qualities (non-empty phenomena),
“ For example, having thought that a piece of hail is a jewel, the person meditates even on jewels as empty. Likewise, you also consider non-empty phenomena to be empty. Seeing phenomena as empty, you also destroy non-empty phenomena as empty. [However] empty phenomena are other; non-empty phenomena are other (empty phenomena or samsaric phenomena are different from non-empty phenomena or the qualities and attributes inherent in the Buddha nature). The tens of millions of afflictive emotions like hail-stones are empty. The phenomena in the class of non-virtues, like hailstones, quickly disintegrate. Buddha, like a vaidurya jewel, is permanent. The scope of liberation also is like a vaidurya jewel. […]
Buddha nature is permanent and non-empty of its own entity. Like a pot empty of water who is still a pot but empty of the water element, or a house empty of humans who is still a house but without human beings, the Buddha nature is empty of defilements and the defects of samsara,but not empty of itself and its innate Buddha qualities. This is why we say that Buddha nature is “non-empty-emptiness”,
“An empty home in a built-up city is called empty due to the absence of humans. A pot is empty due to the absence of water. A river is empty due to water not flowing. Is a village that is without ·householders called ‘empty-empty?’ Or are the households empty in all respects? They are not empty in all respects; they are called empty due to .the absence of humans. Is a pot empty in all respects? It is not empty in all respects; it is called ‘empty’ due to the absence of water. Is a river empty in all respects? It is not empty in all respects; it is called ‘empty’ because water is not flowing. Similarly, liberation is not empty in all respects; it is called ‘empty’ because of being devoid of all defects. A Buddha, a supramundane Victor, is not empty but is called ‘empty’ because of being devoid of defects and due to the absence of humanness and godhood that have ten of millions of afflictive emotions.”[2]
Also, the Nirvana Sutra, using the non-existence of a horse in a cow and the non-existence of a cow in a horse, states that the Buddha nature and Nirvana is other-empty in the sense of not being empty of itself:
“Child of lineage, a horse does not exist in a cow, but it is not suitable to say that a cow does not exist, and a cow does not exist in a horse, but it is not suitable to say that even a horse does not exist. Nirvana also is like that; Nirvana does not exist in afflictive emotions, and afflictive emotions do not exist in Nirvana. Hence, it is said to be the non- existence of the one in the other.”[3]
Master Shan-tao said,
“In His attainment of highest truth, the Buddha is the One most revered in all the heavens. He has awakened to the truth that Buddha-nature is not void (not empty of itself)”.[4]
Speaking about the virtues and the activities of those born in the Pure Land, Shakyamuni said,
“With the Buddha eye, they completely realize the nature of dharmas (phenomena)[5].They observe with the eye of equality that the three worlds are empty and nonexistent.“[6]
He also said, when describing the spiritual journey of Bodhisatta Dharmakara before He became Amida Buddha,
“He dwelled in the realization that all dharmas (phenomena) are empty, devoid of distinctive features, and not to be sought after, and that they neither act nor arise; He thus realized that all dharmas (phenomena) are like magical creations.”[7]
From the point of view of ultimate reality or Dharmakaya (Buddha nature) the various phenomena of samsaric existence are like “magical creations” and are seen as “neither act nor arise” because they do not have a real, permanent existence. For Dharmakara Bodhisattva such an understanding of the emptiness of all phenomena of samsaric existence versus the true reality of ultimate Dharmakaya or Buddha nature was not an intellectual one, the product of mind categories and rationalizations, but a genuine realization in which He dwelt constantly. By having access to this true reality, He could then manifest His Enlightened realm in accordance with His Vows.
If the Buddha nature and its innate qualities were really empty of themselves then it would mean that they do not actually exist or they exist only at the relative level (do not have real existence). Without a real Buddha nature with truly existent Buddha qualities (Buddha attributes), there would be no real liberation from samsara and all the Dharma Gates would be useless because they would not really liberate anybody.  
In the Queen Srimala Sutra it is said,
“There are two types of Emptiness wisdom concerning the Buddha Nature which are as follows. (1) The Buddha nature is empty from, separate from, independent from and different from all the stores of defilement. (2) The Buddha nature is not-empty from, is not separate from, not independent from and not different from the inconceivable Buddha Attributes which are more numerous than the sands of the river Ganges”.[8]
In Maitreya’s Sublime Continuum of the Great Vehicle it is said,
“The Matrix of the One gone thus (Tathagatagarbha/Buddha nature) is empty of all the coverings of separable and removable afflictive emotions and is not empty of the inseparable, unremovable, inconceivable Buddha-qualitiesmore numerous than the sands of
the Ganges”[9]
In The Awakening of faith in Mahayana by Master Asvaghosa it is said,
“Suchness (Budhha nature) has two aspects if predicated in words. One is that it is truly empty (sunya), for this aspect can, in the final sense, reveal what is real (by seeing what is false, you can understand the true). The other is that it is truly nonempty (a-sunya), for its essence itself is endowed with undefiled and excellent qualities”.[10]
Liberation and that in which we are liberated (the Buddha nature) cannot be relative or not truly existent. Only the samsaric dream can be relatively real (real for the dreamer) and actually not real from the perspective of ultimate Reality of the Buddha nature in which all Buddhas dwell and where they want to liberate us.  Also, the so-called liberation obtained by those who follow non-Buddhist or heretical views and who do not understand true emptiness is not real liberation.
In the Nirvana Sutra it is said,
“Moreover, release is non-empty-empty (non-empty-emptiness). That which is called "empty-empty" is nothingness. Nothingness is like the release of the forder naked ones (Jains). Since the naked ones do not really have release, it is called "empty-empty." Because real release is not likethat, it is non-empty-empty. Non-empty-emptiness is real release. Real release is the One-gone-thus (Tathagata/Buddha).”[11]
Because samsaric phenomena and the so-called release (liberation) of non-Buddhists are false, they are called “empty-empty”, that is, empty of themselves. Anything which is false does not really exist, so it is a “release” into nothingness.  However, the Buddhist release which leads to innate Buddha nature is true and real. For this reason it is called non-empty-empty, that is, empty in the sense of not having any more illusions, blind passions and defilements. As non-Buddhists, like the Jains mentioned above, do not understand Buddha nature, they remain entangled in illusions, so they cannot have true release.
Shinran Shonin himself quoted Mahaparinirvana Sutra on this aspect in his Kyogyoshinsho,
"The emancipation of non Buddhist ways is called impermanent; the emancipation of Buddhist ways is called eternal".[12]
"The ninety-five nonbuddhist teachings[13]defile the world;
The Buddha's path alone is pure.
Only by going forth and reaching Enlightenment can we benefit others
in this burning house; this is the natural working of the Vow".[14]
Because the Buddhist Path has true knowledge of the Buddha nature and perfect ways to discover it (reaching Enlightenment), we say about it to be supreme among all other religions.

to be continued 


[1] The fragments I quoted here from this sutra are told by Angulimala to Manjushri who pretends to not know the difference between the two types of emptiness. People should not think that since Angulimala was a sinful person what he said is not true, for he is actually a Buddha in disguise! In the same sutra it is said that to the south in a vast land of Buddhas there is a land called “Decorated by all Jewels”, where a Budha called “Liked When Seen by All the World Manifestly Elevated Great Effort” resides, and He manifested as Angulimala. [2] Angulimala Sutra as quoted in The Mountain Doctrine by Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen, translated and introduced by Jeffrey Hopkins, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaka New York, Boulder, Colorado, 2006, p.210-211[3] Mahaparinirvana Sutra, as quoted in The Mountain Doctrine by Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen, translated and introduced by Jeffrey Hopkins, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaka New York, Boulder, Colorado, 2006, p.214[4] Master Shan-tao as quoted by Shinran in his Kyogyoshinsho, chapter I, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.9[5] When “dharma” is written with small “d” it refers to phenomena. When it is written with “D” like in “Dharma”, it refers to the Buddhist teaching.[6] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.44 [7] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.22 [8] Queen Srimala and her Lion’s Roar Sutra, chapter 9, verse 97, translated by Tsultrim Gyurme, https://whatdobuddhistsbelieve.wordpress.com/teachings/queen-srimala-sutra[9] https://whatdobuddhistsbelieve.wordpress.com/tathagatagarbha-in-relation-to-emptiness[10] https://whatdobuddhistsbelieve.wordpress.com/tathagatagarbha-in-relation-to-emptiness[11] Mahaparinirvana Sutra, as quoted in The Mountain Doctrine by Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen, translated and introduced by Jeffrey Hopkins, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaka New York, Boulder, Colorado, 2006, p.213[12] Nirvana Sutra quoted by Shinran, Kyogyoshinsho, chapter V, Kyogyoshinsho - The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.182[13] Shinran explained that by „ninety-five nonbuddhist teachings” he meant not a fixed number but that the nonbuddhist paths are divided into numerous kinds.[14] Shinran Shonin, Hymns of the Dharma Ages, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.401

02. Incapable to save myself - Jul 12, 2020 8:52:00 AM

in front of the altar of Amidaji templeEvery day life is a realization that I am indeed incapable to save myself from samsara and that only Amida Buddha can do that for me.

Nothing truly reliable, nothing stable can be found within myself. I have never been capable to obtain what the Buddhist magazines or people usually describe as "the Buddhist calmness" or "Buddhist serenity". As for virtues or wisdom? I know about them only from the books!

The best way to describe myself on the Buddhist path is that of a demon or evil spirit subjugated by Amida. You probably know the stories of evil spirits and demons subjugated by the Power of various Buddhas, like those related with Padmasambhava of Tibet. I realize that I am indeed like this - an evil spirit who submitted himself to Amida Buddha and has been subjugated by His Power.

How grateful I am for the undiscriminating Compassion of Amida! If I was to be abandoned to the power of my stupidity, savage impulses and blind passions, I could never escape the karmic fate of falling into the lower realms of samsaric existence.

Everyday I see my limitations and evil tendencies, and every day I give thanks to Amida Buddha for saving me just as I am.

Namo Amida Bu 


03. On the Buddha nature - Jul 11, 2020 10:13:00 AM

All sentient beings have Buddha nature. This Buddha nature is now obscured, but it has always been there. Obscured Buddha nature may become unobscured Buddha nature if the obscurations are purified, and they will be automatically purified when we are born in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha. There, in that Enlightened realm, everything is conducive to Enlightenment, unlike here, in samsara, where everything is conducive to more obscurations, blind passions and suffering.
To practice for the attainment of Enlightenment here in this samsaric environment is like trying to melt ice by placing it in the snow, while to be born in the Pure Land is like putting ice into a powerful stove. The ice of our obscurations will be melted by the Enlightened Power of Amida and His Pure Land, thus revealing our innate Buddha nature.

In this series I try to offer some simple explanations on what is Buddha nature based on various sutras and treatises. Perhaps you would like to know and rejoice beforehand at what you will truly discover in the Pure Land of Amida.
Here are the articles posted until now. More will be added as soon as they are written. Please have patience. When the whole series will be ready and proofread it will be printed as a book.

1. The illusory nature of samsara

2. The Reality of Buddha nature

3. The difference between the false self and the True Self (Buddha nature) (NEW!)

4. Buddha nature is not empty of itself but only empty of samsaric phenomena (NEW!)

5.  to be continued

6.  to be continued

.........



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04. The difference between the false self and the true Self (Buddha nature) - Jul 11, 2020 9:56:00 AM
           Click here to return to the main page On Buddha nature
Many Buddhists nowadays might get confused when they read the word “Self” in my previous article because they remember the doctrine of non-self or non-ego that they heard in other parts of the Buddha’s teachings. However, they have to understand the difference between the self that is negated and the true Self that is affirmed in many sutras.

The self that is negated is the idea of a permanent entity that goes unchanged from life to life. This can be refuted by a simple observation of our personalities. Nobody stays the same at all ages and in every period of his present life. I am 42 years old now when I am writing these lines and I can say with certainty that I am not exactly the same person I was at 16 or 20, nor will I be the same if I reach 80. There is, of course, a causal or karmic continuity between me at 20 and me at 42, but definitely, we are not exactly the same person. Anybody can see the changes in his body and mind and certainly after two or three more rebirths the changes will be even greater. This is why sometimes it is said in Buddhism that there is no soul or no self, in the sense that there is no unchanged identity which passes from year to year and life after life. We do not go through the present life and the endless lives of samsaric existence with the same mind or body, so we can affirm without any mistake that there is no permanent self in this unenlightened and illusory driven personality.
However, the Self that is affirmed in the Buddha Dharma is not related with our samsaric personalities, but with the Buddha nature as Shakyamuni said in Mahaparinirvana Sutra,
“The Self spoken of in Buddhism is the Buddha-Nature.”[1]
Only the false self, usually called mind-stream, which is a dynamic and ever changing ensemble of various sensations, feelings, ideas, thoughts, etc, is born again and again in various planes of existence, but NOT the true Self or Buddha nature.
“Buddha-Nature is not something that has been made. Only, it is overspread by defilement. That is why I say that beings do not possess the Self.”[2] 
“Beings do not possess the Self” means that unenlightened personalities are NOT the true Self or Buddha nature because Buddha nature “is not something that has been made” – it is not the product of ideas, sensations, feelings, illusions, blind passions and karma. Unlike our unenlightened mind-streams, the true Self or Buddha nature is eternal and always existing, uncreated, independent and unchanged.
Unfortunately, some Buddhist disciples are against using the term “Self”, stating that it is alien to Buddhism. They have this attitude because they do not know or don’t want to accept that it was used by Shakyamuni himself in many sutras or because they do not get the true meaning of Self. Thus, they misuse the teaching on non-self as explained above and do not get the difference between the false self (non-self) and the true Self (Buddha nature),
“When non-self is talked about, common mortals say that there cannot be Self in the Buddhist teaching. One who is wise should know that non-self is a temporary existence (samsaric/unenlightened existence) and is not true. Knowing thus, one should not have any doubt. When the hidden Tathagatagarbha (Tathagata essence/Buddha nature) is stated as being empty and quiet[3], common mortals will think of ceasing and extinction. ‘One who is wise knows that the Tathagata is Eternal and Unchanging.’”[4]
“The hidden Tathagatagarbha (Tathagata essence/Buddha nature) is stated as being empty” refer to the fact that the Buddha nature is empty of illusion and blind passions, but NOT empty of itself or empty of true Reality[5]. Only samsaric phenomena that are the product of causes and conditions do not have real existence while the Buddha nature is eternal and unchanging because it is the true reality, uncreated and independent of causes and conditions. Being empty of illusion and blind passions or empty of any samsaric phenomena does NOT mean that Buddha nature is non-existent or extinct as some “common mortals” (people without Mahayana wisdom) think.
Whenever the Buddha used expressions like “non-self” or “there is no self”, He referred to the unenlightened personalities of samsaric beings, and whenever He said that there is a Self, He indicated to the Buddha nature. Beings have no self in the sense that their mind-streams are constantly changing and depend on causes and conditions, and have a true Self (with caps lock “S”) in the sense that their true nature beyond the various layers of delusions and blind passions is Buddha nature. This is how we should understand such things and always make the clear distinction between false self (non-self) and true Self.
Also, sometimes the Buddha denies the idea of self in the sense of a creator god-universal self called Brahma who is, in fact, just a mere powerful and mortal god, the product of past karma and still a prisoner of samsara.
In conclusion, any teaching about the non-self given by the Buddha is provisional and applies exclusively to the realm of samsaric phenomena and samsaric beings, while the teaching on true Self represents His true intention in explaining the indestructible Buddha nature.
In the Mahaparinirvana Sutra it is said,
“The empty is the totality of samsara and the non-empty is Great Nirvana. Non-Self is samsara, and the Self is Great Nirvana.”[6]“What is based on causal relations has no Self. Non-self is suffering and empty. The body of the Tathagata is not based on causal relations. Because there are no causal relations, we say that there is the Self. The Self is the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure.”[7]
The ultimate body of any Tathagata or Buddha is uncreated and eternal, always existing and not dependent on causal relations. This is why it is the True Self or Buddha nature. Only that which depends on causes and conditions lacks self and is truly empty.[8]In the Queen Srimala Sutra it is said,
“Bhagavan, the Buddha Nature is neither an impermanent mundane self, nor personality, nor samsaric living being nor destiny. The Buddha Nature is not a realm for misguided sentient beings who adhere to belief in a substantially existent personality or for those who adhere to wrong views and have thoughts which are confused by emptiness (who do not understand the real meaning of emptiness). O’ Bhagavan, the Buddha Nature is the womb of the Dharmakaya, the womb of the Dharmadhatu[9], the womb of the Noumenon, the womb of the inherent purity.”[10]
In the Dharma Drum Sutra it is said,
“Kasyapa said to the Buddha, ‘Please turn to no-self, having talked about Self for a while.’
The Buddha told Kasyapa, ‘I explain the meaning of no-self to destroy the worldly view (wrong view) of self.”
So, the Buddha taught the truth that samsaric phenomena do not have a self in order to help them abandon clinging to things that depend on causes and conditions. However, such a teaching does not imply that there is no true Self beyond illusions
Bodhisattva Vasubandhu also said,
“In pure voidness Buddhas achieve the supreme Self of selflessness, and realize the spiritual greatness of the Self by discovering the Pure Self.”[11]
Here again, the Pure Self or the supreme Self of selflessness stands for the Buddha nature.
The right view of the Buddha Dharma is to accept the existence of the true Self or Buddha nature, which is the real YOU, hidden inside the many layers of “your” deluded and ever changing samsaric personality.
In the Queen Srimala Sutra it is said,
“Know that those living beings who have devout faith in the Buddha and view the Buddha as having Permanence, Bliss, Self and Purity do not stray away from the correct path. In truth it is those living beings that have the Right View. Why is this? Because the Dharmakaya (the aspect of ultimate reality/Buddha nature) of the World Honored One is the perfection of permanence, the perfection of bliss, the perfection of the Noumenon Self, and the perfection of purity. Those living beings who see the Dharmakaya of the Buddha in this way are the ones who have seen correctly. Those who see correctly are called the Sons and Daughters of the Lord, born from His heart, born from His mouth, born from the Dharma, those who act as if they are a manifestation of the Dharma, heirs to the Dharma.”Those who deny the existence of the real Self or Buddha nature by misunderstanding or misinterpreting the various teachings of Shakyamuni on the non-self of samsaric phenomena are in a grave error and they should be regarded as heretics and proponents of wrong views,
“Those who propound the doctrine of non-Self are to be shunned in the religious rites of the monks, and not to be spoken to, for they are offenders of the Buddhist doctrines, having embraced the dual views of Being and non-Being [existence and non-existence].” 
“The doctrine of the Self shines brilliantly; it is like the rising of the apocalyptic fire [lit., the fire of the end of the world, yug-anta-agni], burning up the forest of Self-lessness, wiping away the faults of the heretics.”
In the Angulimala Sutra  it is said,
“Then Angulimala replied to the elder renunciate Dabba, ‘People who lack learning and have wrong views get angry with those who teach the Tathagata-garbha (the doctrine that all beings have the Tathagata essence or Buddha nature) to the world, and expound non-self in place of the Self as their doctrine. He who teaches the Tathagata-garbha, even at the expense of his own life, knowing that such people are inexperienced with words and lacking in balance, has true patience and teaches for the benefit of the world. […]
Then Aṅgulimala said to Purṇa-maitrayaṇi-putra, ‘Ah, elder Purṇa, your practice is that of a mosquito, for you are unable to teach a Dharma-discourse. Even a mosquito can make a buzzing noise, so be silent, you foolish man who are like a mosquito!
Purṇa, those who think that no-self is the Dharma, because they do not understand the Tathagata’s underlying meaning, fall like moths into the lamp of ignorance. […]
Those who were shameless crows in previous lives, who were extremely ungrateful and ate unclean food, are even now impoverished, lacking in shame, and do not have faith in the Tathagata-garbha. In future lives too, these are none other than those who will become agitated upon hearing about the Tathagata-garbha from somebody who gives beneficial teachings”.[12]

 to be continued


[1] Mahaparinirvana Sutra, translated by Kosho Yamamoto from Dharmakshema’s Chinese version, edition printed by Dr Tony Page, 2004,verse 415,  p.68[2] Mahaparinirvana Sutra, translated by Kosho Yamamoto from Dharmakshema’s Chinese version, edition printed by Dr Tony Page, 2004,verse 451,  p.75[3] Being “quiet” indicates that Buddha nature is not evident, but hidden under the many layers of our unenlightened personality or the false self. [4] Mahaparinirvana Sutra, translated by Kosho Yamamoto from Dharmakshema’s Chinese version, edition printed by Dr Tony Page, 2004,verse 443,  p.74[5] I will talk about this very important aspect of Buddha nature being empty of illusions but not empty of itself in the next chapter.[6] Mahaparinirvana Sutra, translated by Kosho Yamamoto from Dharmakshema’s Chinese version, https://www.nirvanasutra.net/stephenhodgetrans4.htm[7] Mahaparinirvana Sutra, translated by Kosho Yamamoto from Dharmakshema’s Chinese version, edition printed by Dr Tony Page, 2004,verse 1184,  p.270[8] Mentions of the true Self and what is not Self can also be found in the Pali canon, from which I quote just a few,” ‘But what have you, young men, to do with a woman ?’ ‘We, Lord, a group of as many as thirty friends of high standing, with our wives, were amusing ourselves in this woodland grove ; one had no wife, so a woman of low standing was brought along for him. Then, Lord, as we were heedlessly amusing ourselves, that woman of low standing, taking our belongings, ran away. Consequently, Lord, we friends, doing our friend a service and seeking for that woman, are roaming about this woodland grove.’” What do you think of this, young men? Which is better for you, that you should seek for a woman or that you should seek for the Self ?’ ‘Truly, this were better for us, Lord, that we should seek for the Self.’ ‘Well then, young men, you sit down, I will teach you Dharma.’” (Source: Mahavagga I 31-32 The Book of the Discipline (Vinaya Pitaka) Volume IV (Mahavagga), translated by I.B. Horner, M.A).Here Shakyamuni says that we must not confuse form, feeling, perception, mental formations, consciousness with the Self or Buddha nature,
“Thus it was heard by me. At one time the Blessed One was living in the deer park of Isipatana near Benares. There, indeed, the Blessed One addressed the group of five monks.
‘Form, O monks, is not-self; if form were self, then form would not lead to suffering and it should obtain regarding form: ‘May my form be thus, may my form not be thus’; and indeed, O monks, since form is not-self, therefore form leads to suffering and it does not obtain regarding form: ‘May my form be thus, may my form not be thus.’
‘Feeling, O monks, is not-self; if feeling were self, then feeling would not lead to suffering and it should obtain regarding feeling: ‘May my feeling be thus, may my feeling not be thus’; and indeed, O monks, since feeling is not-self, therefore feeling leads to suffering and it does not obtain regarding feeling: ‘May my feeling be thus, may my feeling not be thus.’
‘Perception, O monks, is not-self; if perception were self, then perception would not lead to suffering and it should obtain regarding perception: ‘May my perception be thus, may my perception not be thus’; and indeed, O monks, since perception is not-self, therefore, perception leads to suffering and it does not obtain regarding perception: ‘May my perception be thus, may my perception not be thus.’
‘Mental formations, O monks, are not-self; if mental formations were self, then mental formations would not lead to suffering and it should obtain regarding mental formations: ‘May my perception be thus, may my mental formations not be thus’; and indeed, O monks, since mental formations are not-self, therefore, mental formations lead to suffering and it does not obtain regarding mental formations: ‘May my mental formations be thus, may my mental formations not be thus.’
‘Consciousness, O monks, is not-self; if consciousness were self, then consciousness would not lead to suffering and it should obtain regarding consciousness: ‘May my consciousness be thus, may my consciousness not be thus’; and indeed, O monks, since consciousness is not-self, therefore, consciousness leads to suffering and it does not obtain regarding consciousness: ‘May my consciousness be thus, may my consciousness not be thus.’”Anatta-lakkhana Sutta: The Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic, SN 22.59
“At Savatthi. “Bhikkhus, form is impermanent…. Feeling is impermanent…. Preception is impermanent…. Volitional formations are impermanent…. Consciousness is impermanent. What is Impermanent is suffering. What is suffering is non-self. What is non-self should be seen as it really is with correct wisdom thus: This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my Self.”Samyutta Nikaya 22.46
“Bhikkhu you should abandon desire for whatever is non self”Samyutta Nikaya, 22.68  
“Bhikkhu,you should abandon desire for whatever does not belong to self.”Samyutta Nikaya, 22.69 [9]  Literally ‘the essence or expanse of phenomena’. All-encompassing space. Dharmadhatu is synonymous with Buddha nature. It also has the meaning of “sphere of reality”. [10] Queen Srimala and her Lion’s Roar Sutra, verse 108, translated by Tsultrim Gyurme, https://whatdobuddhistsbelieve.wordpress.com/teachings/queen-srimala-sutra[11] Vasubandhu on the Sutralamkara 9:23, Thurman translation. [12] The Mahayana Angulimâla Sutra , translation by Stephen Hodge


05. The reality of Buddha nature - Jul 10, 2020 10:00:00 AM

all beings have Buddha nature
although it is covered by their
blind passionsClick here to return to the main page
 On Buddha nature
Buddha nature has many names like Tathagata-garbha, Buddha-garbha, Self, Nirvana, Buddhahood, Enlightenment, Suchness, Thusness, Dharmakaya, etc, all indicating to the fact that there is something truly REAL, uncreated and unconditioned beyond the various levels of illusion, blind passions, and the empty samsaric phenomena.
In the Tathagatagarbha Sutra, Shakyamuni put on a miraculous display for the sake of teaching beings the doctrine of Buddha nature,
“There appeared in the sky a countless number of thousand-petaled lotus flowers as large as chariot wheels, filled with colors and fragrances that one could not begin to enumerate. In the center of each flower was a conjured image of a Buddha. The flowers rose and covered the heavens like a ratna banner, each flower giving forth countless rays. The petals all simultaneously unfolded their splendor and then, through the Buddha rddhi (power), all withered in an instant. Within the flowers all the Buddha images sat cross-legged in the lotus position, and each issued forth countless hundred thousands of rays. The adornment of the spot at the time was so miraculous (adbhuta) that the whole assembly rejoiced and danced ecstatically. In fact, it was so very strange and miraculous that all began to wonder why all the countless wonderful flowers should suddenly be destroyed. As they withered and darkened, the smell they gave off was foul and loathsome.”[1]
He then explained,

"Kulaputras[2](noble sons), here is a comparison that can be drawn between the countless flowers conjured up by the Buddha that suddenly withered and the innumerable conjured Buddha images with their many adornments, seated in the lotus position within the flowers, who cast forth light so exceedingly rare that there was no one in the assembly who did not show reverence. In a similar fashion, kulaputras, when I regard all beings with my Buddha eye (cakshur), I see that hidden within the blind passions (kleshas) of greed (raga), confusion (lobha), hatred (dvesha ) and obscuration (moha) there is seated augustly and unmovingly the Tathagata jnana (wisdom of Tathagata/Buddha), the Tathagata-vision and the Tathagata kaya (the ultimate body of Tathagata/ Buddha).
Kulaputras (noble sons), all beings, though they find themselves with all sorts of blind passions (kleshas/bonno), have a Tathagatagarbha that is eternally unsullied, and that is replete with virtues no different from my own. Moreover, kulaputras, it is just like a person with supernatural vision who can see the bodies of Tathagatas seated in the lotus position inside the flowers, even though the petals are not yet unfurled; whereas after the wilted petals have been removed, those Tathagatas are manifested for all to see. In similar fashion, the Buddha can really see the beings Tathagata-garbha. And because He wants to disclose the Tathagata-garbha to them, he expounds the sutras and the Dharma, in order to destroy blind passions (kleshas) and reveal the Buddha-dhatu (Buddha element or Buddha nature).
Kulaputras, such is the Dharma of all Buddhas. Whether or not Buddhas appear in the world,the Tathagata-garbha of all beings are eternal and unchanging. It is just that they are covered by the blind passions (kleshas) of sentient beings. […]
The Buddha sees that all kinds of beingsUniversally possess the Tathagata-garbha.It is covered by countless kleshas (blind passions),Just like a tangle of smelly, wilted petals.So I, on behalf of all beings,Everywhere expound the Saddharma[3],In order to help them remove their kleshas (blind passions)And quickly reach the Buddha way.I see with my Buddha eye That in the bodies of all beingsThere lies concealed the Buddha-garbha (essence of Buddha),So I expound the Dharma in order to reveal it.”[4]
The display of lotus flowers that withered and started to smell badly but contained images of Buddhas inside is very easy to understand. The smelly lotuses are us, people filled with blind passions and ignorance, caught in the chains of samsaric existence. However, such wretched beings possess the Buddha nature. In comparison with the deluded personality (the false self) represented by the smelly and withered lotuses, this Buddha nature is our true reality and our true Self, as Shakyamuni also said in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra,
“Non-self (false self or not the true self) is samsara, the Self (true Self) is the Tathagata”[5]
Because samsara and all that it includes, especially the samsaric beings, depends on causes and conditions and it is empty (void), it cannot be our true identity, so it is not the self of anybody, while the true nature of all beings which is eternal, uncreated and unconditioned is what we really are - our true Self, our genuine identity. Speaking in ultimate terms, we are not samsara, but concealed Buddha nature, we are not samsaric beings, but undiscovered Buddhas. When you, the reader of these lines, will discover your Buddha nature and become a Buddha in the enlightened environment of the Pure Land of Amida, then you will become the real YOU or the Real Self.  As Shakyamuni also said,
“’Self’ means ‘Tathagatagarbha’. Every being has Buddha nature. This is the Self. Such Self has, from the very beginning, been under cover of innumerable defilements (kleshas). That is why man cannot see it.”[6]
The term Tathagatha-garbha or Buddha-garbha refer to the same thing. “Garba” means womb, matrix, essence or embryo. So, the Tathagathagarbha or Buddhagarbha are translated as having the essence of Tathagatha or Buddha. When it is said in some texts that “all beings are Tathagathagarbha” it means something like “all beings are havers of the heart-essence of the Tathagatha”[7]and that all beings have the essence (garbha) of the Tathagatha/Buddha.[8]The term Tathagata is a synonym for Buddha. It is composed of "tathā" and "āgata, which means "thus come", or "tathā" and “gata", which means "thus gone". The term refers to a Buddha who has "thus gone" from samsara into Nirvana, but also who has "thus come" from Nirvana to work for the salvation of all sentient beings.  
Now coming back to the Tathagatagarbha Sutra, we see that Shakyamuni makes a number of comparisons to help us better understand the truth that all beings equally possess the Buddha nature (Buddha essence/Tathagatha essence). Let’s read and reflect on them (the words in brackets are my own),
"Or kulaputras (noble sons), it is like pure honey in a cave or a tree, surrounded and protected by a countless swarm of bees. It may happen that a person comes along who knows some clevertechniques. He first gets rid of the bees and takes the honey, and then does as he will with it,eating it or giving it away far and wide. Similarly, kulaputras, all beings have the Tathagatagarbha (the essence of Tathagatha/Buddha nature).It is like pure honey in a cave or tree, but it is covered by kleshas (blind passions/defilimenets), which, like a swarm of bees, keep one from getting to it. With my Buddha eye I see it clearly, and with appropriate virtuous expedients I expound the Dharma, in order to destroy kleshas and reveal the Buddha vision (help them discover their Buddha nature and its inherent Buddha wisdom). And everywhere I perform Buddha deeds for the benefit of the world (Buddha helps all beings discover their Buddha nature). […]
It is just like what happens when all the kernels,The husks of which have not yet been washed away,Are disdained by someone who is impoverished,And said to be something to be discarded.But although the outside seems like something useless,The inside is genuine and not to be destroyed.After the husks are removed,It becomes food fit for a king.I see that all kinds of beingsHave a Buddhagarbha (the essence of the Buddha/Buddha nature) hidden by kleshas (blind passions).I preach the removal of those thingsTo enable them to attain universal wisdom.Just as I have a Tathagata-dhatu (nature of Tathagatha/Buddha),So do all beings.”
Or, kulaputras (noble sons), it is like the genuine gold that has fallen into a pit of waste and been submerged and not seen for years. The pure gold does not decay, yet no one knows that it is there (unenlightened beings cannot see their Buddha nature). But suppose there came along someone with supernatural vision, who told people, 'Within the impure waste there is a genuine gold trinket. You should get it out and do with it as you please.' Similarly, kulaputras, the impure waste is your innumerable klesha (blind passions). The genuine gold trinket is your Tathagatagarbha (Buddha essence/Buddha nature). For this reason, the Tathagata widely expounds the Dharma to enable all beings to destroy their kleshas (blind passions), attain correct perfect Enlightenment and perform Buddha deeds.
"It is like a store of treasureInside the house of an impoverished man.The owner is not aware of it.For a very long time it is buried in darkness,As there is no one who can tell of its presence.When you have treasure but do not know of it (when you are unenlightened),This causes poverty and suffering (you are subject of samsaric sufferings).When the Buddha eye observes beings,It sees that, although they transmigrateThrough the five gati (five realms of samsaric existence)[9]There is a great treasure in their bodiesThat is eternal and unchanging.
"It is like a traveller to another countryCarrying a golden statue,Who wraps it in dirty, worn-out ragsAnd discards it in an unused field.One with supernatural vision sees itAnd tells other people about it.They remove the dirty rags and reveal the statueAnd all rejoice greatly.My supernatural vision is like this.I see that beings of all sortsAre entangled in kleshas (blind passions) and evil actionsAnd are plagued with all the sufferings of samsara.Yet I also see that withinThe dust of ignorance of all beings,The Tathagatagarbha (the essence of Tathagataha/the Buddha nature) sits motionless,Great and indestructible.After I have seen this,I explain to bodhisattvas thatKleshas (blind passions) and evil actionsCover the most victorious body (the Dharmakaya or body of ultimate Reality/Buddha nature).You should endeavor to sever them (we sever our blind passions upon birth in the enlightened environment of Amida’s Pure Land),And manifest the Tathagata jnana (the Buddha wisdom).
Or, kulaputras (noble sons), it is like a woman who is impoverished, vile, ugly and hated by others, who bears an Arya (noble) son in her womb. He will become a Cakravartin King (universal monarch), a ruler of all the four directions. But she does not know his future history and constantly thinks of him as a baseborn, impoverished child. In like fashion, the Tathagata sees that all beings are carried around by the samsara cakra (wheel of samsara), receiving suffering and poison, but their bodies possess the Tathagatagarbha (the essence of Tathagatha/Buddha nature). Just like that woman, they do not realize this. This is why the Tathagata (Buddha) everywhere expounds the Dharma, saying, 'do not consider yourselves inferior or base. You all personally possess the Buddhadhatu (the nature of Buddha).'
Or, kulaputras (noble sons), it is like a master foundry man casting a statue of pure gold. After casting is complete, it is inverted and placed on the ground. Although the outside is scorched andblackened, the inside is unchanged. When it is opened and the statue taken out, the goldencolor is radiant and dazzling. Similarly, when the Tathagata observes all beings, He sees that the Buddhagarbha (essence of Buddha/Buddha nature) is inside their bodies replete with all its many virtues. After seeing this, He reveals far and wide that all beings will obtain relief. He removes kleshas (blind passions) with his Vajra jnana (diamond wisdom) and reveals the Buddha-kaya (Dharmakaya or body of ultimate reality) like a person uncovering a golden statue.”[10]
The above passages are so simple to understand that they need no further explanations. The Buddha nature is real and is the true nature of all beings. It is what we’ll find upon birth in the Pure Land of Amida after the death of this illusory body. Unlike the various samsaric planes of existence, the Pure Land (also called Land of Peace) is the soil (realm) of Enlightenment, the perfect garden manifested by Amida where everything is conducive to the discovery of our Buddha nature and its inherent perfect qualities. As Shinran said,
“Tathagata is none other than Nirvana;
Nirvana is called Buddha-nature.
Beyond our ability to attain it in the state of foolish beings,
We will realize it on reaching the Land of Peace”.[11]
More about the special characteristics of this Buddha nature will be explained in the next articles in the series.
to be continued 

[1] Tathagatagarbha Sutra, translated by William H. Grosnick, published in "Buddhism In Practice" (Donald S. Lopez [ed.], Princeton University Press, 1995[2] Kulaputra is a sanskrit term meaning “a nobly born son”. It is used frequently in Mahayana sutras to refer to devoted disciples of the Buddha. [3] The Sanskrit term "Saddharma" is composed of the words 'Dharma' ('law/teaching') and 'sat' ('right, true, and good'). [4] Tathagatagarbha Sutra, translated by William H. Grosnick, published in "Buddhism In Practice" (Donald S. Lopez [ed.], Princeton University Press, 1995. Some words were adapted by me for a better understanding. [5] Mahaparinirvana Sutra, translated by Kosho Yamamoto from Dharmakshema’s Chinese version, edition printed by Dr Tony Page, 2004,verse 119,  p.22[6] Mahaparinirvana Sutra, translated by Kosho Yamamoto from Dharmakshema’s Chinese version, edition printed by Dr Tony Page, 2004, verse 417, p.69[7] The Tathagatagarbha doctrine or Tathagatagarbha Sutras are Shakyamuni’s collection of teachings focused on the idea that all beings have Buddha nature. [8] The Buddha Within, Tathagatagarbha Doctrine According to the Shentong Interpretation of the Ratnagotravibhaga, S.K. Hokam, State University of New York Press, 1991, p.99-100[9] The samsaric realms are numbered six or five. When they are said to be five, the realm of asuras (demigods) is countered among the realms of the devas (gods) and when they are said to be six, the asuras are counted separately. [10] Tathagatagarbha Sutra, translated by William H. Grosnick, published in "Buddhism In Practice" (Donald S. Lopez [ed.], Princeton University Press, 1995[11] Hymns of the Pure Land (Jodo Wasan) – Hymns to Amida based on Various Sutras, The Colelcted Works of Shinran, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Kyoto, 1997, p.350

06. The illusory nature of Samsara - Jul 8, 2020 5:36:00 PM

Click here to return to the main page
 On Buddha nature
“The eye coursing in conceptualityIs very mistaken.What is seen by mistake is unreal.A Buddha does not have the unreal.”[1]
All Dharma gates speak about suffering and the end of suffering. In Jodo Shinshu we do the same, so what is the origin of suffering? Generally speaking, suffering comes from ignorance which means taking as real and permanent that which is unreal and impermanent, desiring unreal objects, identifying with an illusory sense of self and pursuing unreal and useless goals. All that we experience, individually and collectively, with our bodies and unenlightened minds is samsara. Depending on our karma these experiences are classified into the six realms of existence: hell dwellers,hungry ghosts (pretas), animals, humans, asuras (demigos) and gods (devas)[2].   

Simply stated, all beings are in a collective dream where they experience the joys and sorrows they themselves created with their own minds. Just like a beautiful dream or a nightmare is caused by the good or bad thoughts we had during the daytime, we also experience life in the above dreamlike samsaric states due to our own thinking, words and actions.

A dream and a magical display of our own minds –  this is the definition of samsara. A dream is “real” only for the dreamer immersed in his own self-created fantasies, but not real for an Awakened One (a Buddha). A dream exists as long as fantasies and delusions exist and disappears when these disappear.  Thus, we can say that the samsaric dreamlike experiences, good or bad, happy or painful, are the effect, while the delusions and attachments are the causes. As long as the causes for samsara are there in our minds, samsara will continue to exist for us. It is as simple as that.  For the sleeping (unenlightened) mind all the worlds he sees and all the experiences he has are real, although from the perspective of true reality, they are just a dream or a magical display,
“The triple realms of illusory windAre seen as like dreams in dreams.”[3]
Because all phenomena of the samsaric existence arise due to the various combination of causes and conditions and disappear when such causes and conditions disappear, they are said to be empty and without self, that is, without a self existent independent reality of their own. You often hear the concept of emptiness or voidness (sunyata) in the Buddhist texts, so this is exactly what it means – the non-reality (non-real in the ultimate sense) of samsaric phenomena who are constantly changing and do not exist independent of causes and conditions.
Anything that exists due to the combination of causes and conditions cannot have a true, genuine reality.  Although the samsaric phenomena appear as real to our unenlightened eyes, they are actually unreal and not true to the enlightened eyes of the Buddhas. From the perspective of the unenlightened beings, samsara exists, while from the perspective of the Enlightened Ones, samsara is empty or void, that is, it exists only at a relative level, but does not have true existence.This is exactly why it is said in the Heart Sutra:
“When Holy Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva performed the deep practice in the Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom, He contemplated that there were five aggregates (skandhas) but observed that they were devoid of essential nature.
In this case, Shariputra, form is voidness (emptiness) and voidness (emptiness) is itself form; voidness is not different from form, and form is not different from voidness; that which is form is voidness, and that which is voidness is form. So it is for perception, conception, volition and consciousness.
O Shariputra, all things have the characteristics of voidness.[4]
All the physical and mental elements of a being are classified in five types of aggregates (skandhas): 1) form (a generic name for all kinds of matter and the body), 2) feeling or sensation, 3) perception, 4) mental formations (mental states), 5) consciousness or mind. All these elements of a person are considered empty or devoid of essential nature because they depend on various causes and conditions and are always changing just like a guy in his twenties will not be exactly the same when he will be fifty. Here the words “devoid of essential nature” are extremely important as they point to the deep truth that samsaric phenomena are not the ultimate reality or the Buddha nature, which is the essential nature, uncreated, unchanged and indestructible, hence not empty.
In the Sublime Continuum of the Great Vehicleit is said,
“The aggregates [and so forth] which are the fruitions of afflictiveemotions and [contaminated] actionsAre like a magician's illusions, emanations, [because althoughthey appear variously in dependence upon conditions,when analyzed they are without truth'].”[5]
Also, Shakyamuni encourages us in the Diamons Sutra  to,
“Regard this phantom world
As a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud
A flickering lamp — a phantom — and a dream.”

please continue with the article, 
The Reality of Buddha nature



[1] Buddhavatamsaka Sutra, The Mountain Doctrine by Dolpopa, translated and introduced by Jeffrey Hopkins, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaka New York, Boulder, Colorado, 2006, p530[2] I already talked about them in detail in The Four Profound Thoughts Which Turn the Mind Towards Amida Dharma, so I will not describe them again, here.[3] Vajra Garland Tantra, The Mountain Doctrine by Dolpopa, translated and introduced by Jeffrey Hopkins, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaka New York, Boulder, Colorado, 2006, p.69[4] Translation by Zuio Hisao Inagaki, http://web.mit.edu/stclair/www/horai/heart-sk.htmThere are many other English translations from which I mention the one made by Nalanda Translation Committee, “Noble Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva, said to venerable Shariputra, ‘O Shariputra, a son or daughter of noble family who wishes to practice the profound Prajnaparamita should see in this way: seeing the five skandhas to be empty of nature. Form is emptiness; emptiness also is form. Emptiness is no other than form; form is no other than emptiness. In the same way, feeling, perception, formation, and consciousness are emptiness. Thus, Shariputra, all dharmas (phenomena) are emptiness.”Nalanda Translation Committee, https://www.dharmanet.org/HeartSutra.htm [5] Maitreya’s Sublime Continuum of the Great Vehicle, The Mountain Doctrine by Dolpopa, translated and introduced by Jeffrey Hopkins, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaka New York, Boulder, Colorado, 2006, p110

07. If you have a question, ask the Dharma - Jul 8, 2020 3:37:00 PM

studying the Dharma in Amidaji library It is the way of Amidaji to always ask the Dharma in both the most important aspect of the afterlife as well as the details of our daily life.
Do you want to understand samsara? Contemplate the Dharma texts which describe the various sufferings of samsaric existence.
Do you want to escape samsara? Contemplate the teachings of Shakyamuni and the Masters of our lineage on the salvation offered by Amida Buddha and never forget the simple requirements from His Primal Vow, “entrust to me, say my Name and wish to be born in my land”.

Do you want to know about Amida and His Pure Land? Do not ask deluded scholars and priests who complicate their minds and others with difficult theories and who cannot accept their real existence. Better ask Shakyamuni and read the testimony of Ananda and all those present on Vulture Peak when the Larger Sutra was taught, who actually saw Amida and His Pure Land with their very eyes! 

Do you want to get married and have a happy life together? Contemplate the teachings that Shakyamuni gave to couples (men and women). If you are a wife, contemplate what He said about the duties of a good wife and if you are a husband contemplate the duties of a husband. Do not accept feminist groups or people who denigrate family to be your guide in such matters. Believe in Dharma as the Dharma always knows better. 
Do you want to have a moral sexual life? Contemplate the teachings of Shakyamuni and the various Masters against sexual misconduct. Do not ask for instructions in such matters to ideological groups like LGBTQ or others whose sole interest is to change society according to their own depravity.  
Do you want to be a good son or daughter? Contemplate the teachings of Shakyamuni on filial piety, and shut your ears when you hear people denigrating their parents without any reason.
Do you want to be a good parent? Contemplate the teachings of Shakyamuni on the duties of parents and avoid people who abandon, abuse their children or resort to abortions.
Do you want to be a good friend? Contemplate on the teachings of Shakyamuni on friendship.
Do you want to know about racism? Contemplate the teachings of Shakyamuni on the illusory nature of all samsaric concepts and the fact that all beings have been your mother and father. If you do that you will realize there are no races and that it is harmful to divide, promote or discriminate people (positive or negative discrimination is still discrimination) according to the color of their skin. Chose the Dharma and shut your ears to the hateful ideology of KKK, White Power groups, Black Lives Matter, etc, as for them only their "own people" matter, not all living beings who are the concern of the Buddhas.
Do you want to conduct a business or to save money? Yes, Shakyamuni gave teachings on that, too! Better listen to Him than to the instructions of greedy directors!
And you can continue like that with any subjects that are of interest to you.Anything you want to know, ask the Dharma of the Buddha and search in the instructions left by the Masters of our lineage! Rely yourself on the Dharma, not on the various worldly ideologies that are prevalent nowadays. 
For every question you must find a Dharma answer, so put Dharma first anytime.
I heard there are people nowadays, even in the Jodo Shinshu sangha, who pretend that they can find answers from “the Buddha within” (their own Buddha nature) or directly from Amida. That is very tricky, as unenlightened minds can always deceive themselves. This is why I doubt some really do that, especially if their answers are against Dharmic instructions in the sutras or the works of the Masters. This practice proposed by some “to ask the Buddha within” or Amida can be very dangerous no matter the question, if one has a dishonest intention of finding a justification for his own personal ideas.
The way of Amidaji is to ask Amida for guidance while in the same time search for Dharma answers in the sacred texts.It’s better and safer this way and we do not risk to have teachers who impose their will on the sangha by deceiving people and pretending they receive instructions directly from Amida or from "the Buddha witthin". Actually, Amida Buddha is guiding us to find answers in the Dharma itself and will never inspire us with an idea that is contrary to the Buddhist teachings.
In such a chaotic world like ours, the Dharma should be our guiding Light. Amida and all Buddhas always speak through the Dharma, and never through worldly ideologies.Namo Amida Bu

08. La complejidad de la Reforma que necesitamos - Jul 7, 2020 6:19:00 PM

El altar del Templo Amidajitranslated from English by Kosho Arana Sensei
Definición de reforma: Por reforma quiero decir un retorno a las raíces de nuestra religión y un rechazo de las llamadas ideas modernistas o "progresistas" que niegan nuestras doctrinas básicas o las redefinen para que se ajusten a las ideologías mundanas y las mentes carentes de varios momentos históricos.
En primer lugar, debemos ponernos de pie y contrarrestar esas ideas horribles respaldadas por muchos eruditos ilusos hoy en día que presentan a Amida como un mito, símbolo, personaje de ficción, etc., o que niegan Su Tierra Pura como un lugar real para alcanzar después de la muerte, sino que esto se trata de algo en nuestras cabezas o que está "aquí y ahora". Este es el mayor de todos los males y debemos luchar contra él con todas nuestras fuerzas. Ya estoy haciendo esto en mi libro La verdadera enseñanza sobre el Buda Amida y su tierra pura, así como en los artículos que he escrito en la sección dedicada a este tema.Sin embargo, a diferencia de muchos de mis colegas, creo que la reforma del budismo Jodo Shinshu debe ser más profunda que contrarrestar tales puntos de vista erróneos sobre Amida y su tierra pura. El problema es más complejo que eso. El budismo y la religión en general están bajo el ataque constante de un grupo de personas perturbadas que en realidad no son religiosas pero que encuentran la religión muy útil como herramienta para promover sus ideologías mundanas como el matrimonio homosexual,  la destruccióndel papel de padre y madre (u hombre y mujer) y reemplazarlos con los denominados padre 1 y padre 2, inventando nuevas identidades sexuales y negando que los humanos sean hombres y mujeres o diciendo que el género es algo que podemos elegir y no una realidad desde el nacimiento, etc. Los defensores de esta patente locura ideas son los miembros del grupo LGBTQ, un grupo centrado en destruir familias y relaciones normales entre hombres y mujeres y ya promovido en varios centro Jodo Shinshu en todo el mundo, especialmente en Estados Unidos, donde el matrimonio homosexual ya es una "normalidad" anormal. Además, sin tener en cuenta las enseñanzas budistas sobre las diferencias ilusorias entre los seres humanos, algunos centros Jodo Shinshu en los Estados Unidos apoyan oficialmente ideologías racistas u llenas de odio como Black Lives Matter (haga clic aquí para leer) cuyos miembros han cometido muchos asesinatos, saqueos y palizas y  que destacan específicamente una raza entre las otras. En el futuro, me temo que si permitimos que continúe tal actitud, se apoyarán muchas otras ideologías extremistas en nombre del Jodo Shinshu, sin tener en cuenta las enseñanzas budistas generales, la moral budista y el verdadero propósito de un Templo o Dojo.

Podríamos pensar que estas cosas no son tan importantes, pero les recuerdo que muchos de los que promueven puntos de vista tan aberrantes también describen a Amida y Su Tierra Pura como metáforas, símbolos o literatura ficticia, niegan la autenticidad del Sutra más grande y los demás sutras del Mahayana en general o la vida después de la muerte. Muchas de estas personas (con algunas excepciones) hacen parte del mismo grupo de seres que no pueden aceptar la religión tal como es con todos sus valores y creencias de siglos pasados ​​y siempre están ansiosos por cambiar lo que no les gusta.
La mente que piensa que puede cambiar o ignorar (pretender que no existen) los elementos que no le gustan en el Buda Dharma en general y en el Jodo Shinshu (El Dharma de Amida) en particular es la causa por la cual aparecen todo tipo de puntos de vista distorsionados. El Buda Dharma y más específicamente el Jodo Shinshu no son la propiedad ni la creación de mentes no iluminadas, por lo que realmente no importa si a nuestros egos les gustan algunos aspectos o no. Como pacientes enfermos (seres no iluminados) debemos aceptar la medicina prescrita por el Doctor (el Buda). Como budistas Jodo Shinshu, debemos aceptar las enseñanzas específicas relacionadas con el Buda Amida y Su Tierra Pura, tal como las enseñaron Shakyamuni y los Maestros de nuestro linaje, pero también la enseñanza budista general sobre cosmología, karma, vida después de la muerte, moralidad y familia. El Jodo Shinshu NO es algo separado de todo el Buda Dharma y el Budismo Mahayana. Si respetamos al Buda Shakyamuni,  por ende, consideraremos que TODAS sus enseñanzas son verdaderas. No significa que debamos seguir todas las prácticas que enseñó, sino que no podemos negar o pretender que sus otras enseñanzas sobre diversos temas no existen.
Les digo esto con total responsabilidad: si permitimos que los modernistas o las llamadas personas progresistas cambien lo que se les antoje en las enseñanzas budistas generales, siempre y cuando no toquen Amida y Su Tierra Pura, llegará un día en que se distorsionará  (algo que ya está sucediendo) la enseñanza sobre Amida y la Tierra Pura, también. Es lo que hacen estas personas: cambian, destruyen y recrean una religión a su propia imagen. No son religiosos, sino que usan la religión como una herramienta para satisfacer su hambre de aprobación y dominación. Entonces, si queremos despejar y sanar la Sangha internacional, debemos hacer una guerra espiritual total contra cualquier tipo de ideas modernistas y volver a enfatizar la importancia de todas las enseñanzas budistas sobre relaciones personales, la moral, la familia, los padres y los hijos, etc. Nuestro enfoque ortodoxo y conservador es el enfoque que debemos aplicar en todos los aspectos de la enseñanza budista general y enel Jodo Shinshu en particular o vamos a dar la causa por perdida.
La negación de la existencia real de Amida y Su Tierra Pura no es un incidente separado, sino parte de un intento más general de destruir la religión y el Buda Dharma. Las personas que están trabajando en esto son todos seguidores de las mismas ideologías mundanas y parte del mismo mal. Con un enemigo tan extendido debemos luchar en todos los frentes al mismo tiempo. Esta es exactamente la razón por la cual me ven defendiendo las doctrinas específicas de nuestra escuela, así como la unión natural entre el hombre y la mujer, o estoy en contra de usar los templos para justificar e institucionalizar la conducta sexual inapropiada (matrimonio homosexual). Cuando el Buda Shakyamuni dio consejos a las parejas, siempre lo hizo a hombres y mujeres, no a hombres y hombres, ni a mujeres y mujeres, por lo que hay suficiente base doctrinal para defender en nuestras sanghas la unión entre hombre y mujer. También se refirió a los padres como padre y madre en todos sus sutras (discursos) e instrucciones sobre cómo tratarlos y respetarlos, por lo que nuevamente tenemos las bases doctrinales y la ley natural de nuestra parte para defender a la familia normal.
A aquellos que dicen que no debemos hablar de tales cosas en la sangha porque las consideran políticas, les digo que los asuntos relacionados con la familia y las parejas ya fueron enseñados y discutidos por Shakyamuni en varios sutras, por lo que estos son asuntos budistas, no políticos. Además, hablar sobre cómo organizar nuestras sanghas y templos locales según los principios budistas es una preocupación espiritual saludable y ciertamente no un asunto político [1].
Si tenemos buenos templos con miembros y familias dedicadas al Buda Dharma donde nadie se comporta eligiendo lo que les gusta e ignorando en cuenta lo que no les gusta, donde los seguidores no aportan ideologías mundanas de ningún tipo, habrá una apertura natural hacia el Jodo Shinshu (El Dharma de Amida) también. En un lugar donde se acepta toda la enseñanza de Shakyamuni y se rechaza cualquier punto de vista modernista, su enseñanza específica sobre el Buda Amida tendrá más oportunidades de ser recibida con fe.
Es como tratar de preservar una habitación (Jodo Shinshu) en un edificio en descomposición (el Budismo en general). No importa cuán limpio mantengamos esa habitación, si se descuida toda la casa, nuestra habitación pronto estará infestada por ratas (maestros y seguidores falsos) de otras habitaciones. Por lo tanto, debemos tratar nuestra habitación (el Jodo Shinshu) como parte de toda la casa (La Enseñanza general del budismo / Mahayana) y ser ortodoxos y conservadores con todos los puntos de vista y enseñanzas budistas generales mientras insistimos, por supuesto, en nuestro Sendero Jodo Shinshu en particular.

____________________________________________[1] Sin embargo, a veces la religión debe actuar en el ámbito político para defender sus derechos, especialmente en una sociedad donde el matrimonio antinatural ya comenzó a imponerse en algunas iglesias en todo el mundo; vean los casos recientes de sacerdotes o pastores que fueron acusados y traídos a la justicia por negarse a realizar matrimonios homosexuales. En algunos lugares de nuestro mundo incluso se habla de forzar la aceptación del matrimonio homosexual por ley en la sociedad y las iglesias, por lo que una resistencia religiosa en estos asuntos es muy importante.


09. The complexity of the reform we need - Jul 7, 2020 11:23:00 AM
the altar of Amidaji temple
click here for the Spanish version of this article
Definition of reform: By reform I mean a return to the roots of our religion and a refusal of the so-called modernist or "progressive" ideas which deny our basic doctrines or redefine them to conform to the worldly ideologies and faithless minds of various times.
First and foremost we must stand up and counteract such horrible ideas supported by many deluded scholars nowadays which present Amida as a myth, symbol, fictional character, etc, or His Pure Land as not being a real place to be attained after death but something in our heads or"here and now". This is the greatest of all evils and we must fight against it with all our strength. I am already doing this in my book The True Teaching on Amida Buddha and His Pure Land as well as in the articles I wrote in the section dedicated to this topic.
However, unlike many of my colleagues I think that the reform of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism must go deeper than counteracting such wrong views about Amida and His Pure Land. The problem is more complex than that. Buddhism and religion in general is under constant attack by a hoard of disturbed people who are not actually religious but who find religion very useful as a tool to promote their worldly ideologies like gay marriage, destroying the role of father and mother (or man and woman) and replacing them with so-called parent 1 and parent 2, inventing new sex identities and denying that humans are men and women or saying that sex is something we can chose and not a reality from birth, etc. The proponents of such clearly insane ideas are LGBTQ, a group centered on destroying families and normal relations between men and women and already promoted in various Jodo Shinshu centers across the world, especially in USA, where gay marriage is already an abnormal “normality”. Also, in clear disregard to Buddhist teachings on the illusory differences between human beings, some Jodo Shinshu centers in USA officially support racist or hateful ideologies like Black Lives Matter (click here to read) whose members have done many killing, looting and beatings and who specifically single out one race among the others. In the future I am afraid that if we allow such attitude to continue, many other extremist ideologies will be supported in the name of Jodo Shinshu in total disregard to general Buddhist teachings, Buddhist morality and the real purpose of the temple or dojo. 
We might tend to think that these things are not so important, but I remind you that many of those who promote such aberrant views also describe Amida and His Pure Land as metaphors, symbols or fictional literature, deny the authenticity of the Larger Sutra and Mahayana sutras in general or life after death. They are (with some exceptions) part of the same group of beings who can't accept religion as it is with all its values and beliefs from centuries past and always want to change what they do not like. 
The mind who thinks that he can change or disregard (pretend that it does not exist) the elements he doesn’t like in Buddha Dharma in general and Jodo Shinshu (Amida Dharma) in particular is the cause from which all kinds of distorted views appear. Buddha Dharma and Jodo Shinshu are not the property nor the creation of unenlightened minds so it does not really matter if our egos like some aspects of it or not. As sick patients (unenlightened beings) we must accept the medicine prescribed by the Doctor (the Buddha). As Jodo Shinshu Buddhists we must accept the specific teachings related with Amida Buddha and His Pure Land as taught by Shakyamuni and the Masters of our lineage, but also the general Buddhist teaching on cosmology, karma, life after death, morality and family. Jodo Shinshu is NOT something separate from the whole Buddha Dharma and Mahayana. If we respect Shakyamuni we will consider that ALL His teachings are true. It does not mean that we must follow all the practices He taught but that we can't deny or pretend that His other teachings on various topics do not exist.
I am telling you this in full responsibility - if we allow modernists or so-called progressive people to change whatever they want in the general Buddhist teachings as long as they do not touch Amida and His Pure Land, a day will come when they will distort (it is already happening) the teaching on Amida and the Pure Land, too. It is what these people do - they change, destroy and recreate a religion in their own image. They are not religious but they use religion as a tool to satisfy their hunger for approval and domination. So, if we want to clear and heal the international Sangha we must do total spiritual war against any type of modernist ideas and re-emphasize the importance of all Buddhist teachings on family, parents and children relation, morality, etc. Our orthodoxy and conservative approach must be applied in all aspects of the general Buddhist teaching and Jodo Shinshu in particular or we’ll fight a lost cause. 
The denial of the real existence of Amida and His Pure Land is not a separate incident but part of a more general attempt to destroy religion and Buddha Dharma. People who are working on this are all followers of the same worldly ideologies and part of the same evil. With such a wide spread enemy we must fight on all fronts in the same time. This is exactly why you can see me defending the specific doctrines of our school as well as the natural union between man and woman, or why I am against using the temples to justify and institutionalize sexual misconduct (gay marriage). When Shakyamuni Buddha gave advice to couples, He always did that to men and women, not men and men, or women and women, so there is enough doctrinal basis to defend in our sanghas the union between man and woman. 
He also referred to parents as father and mother in all His sutras (discourses) and instructions on how to treat and respect them, so again we have the doctrinal bases and natural law on our part to defend normal family. 
To those who say we should not talk about such things in the sangha because they are political I say that matters related with family and couples were already taught and discussed by Shakyamuni in various sutras, so these are Buddhist matters, not political. Also, how to organize our local sanghas and temple on Buddhist principles is a healthy spiritual preoccupation, not a political affair[1].
If we have good temples with members and families devoted to the Buddha Dharma where nobody picks and chose what they like and disregard what they don’t like, where followers do not bring worldly ideologies of any kind, there will be natural openness towards Jodo Shinshu (Amida Dharma) as well. In a place where all Shakyamuni’s teaching is accepted and any modernist view is rejected, His specific teaching on Amida Buddha will have more chances to be received in faith.
It is like trying to preserve one room (Jodo Shinshu) in a decayed building (general Buddhism). No matter how clean we keep that room, if the entire house is neglected our room will soon be infested by rats (fake teachers and followers) from other rooms. Thus, we must treat our room (Jodo Shinshu) as part of the entire house (general Buddhism/Mahayana teaching) and be orthodox and conservative with all general Buddhist views and teachings while insisting of course, on our specific Jodo Shinshu.





[1] However, sometimes religion must act in the political arena to defend its rights, especially in a society where unnatural marriage already started to be imposed in some churches across the world – see the recent cases of priests or pastors who were accused and brought to justice for refusing to perform gay marriages. In some places in our world there are even talks of forcing the acceptance of gay marriage by law in the society and churches, so a religious resistance in such matters is very important.

10. The miracle of Jodo Shinshu - Jun 23, 2020 4:13:00 PM
There is a famous dialogue between Rennyo Shonin and one of his disciples:

“Hokyo-bo said to Rennyo Shonin, ‘The Myogo (six character NA MO A MI DA BUTSU) you have painted has been destroyed by fire but it has become six Buddhas. How extraordinary!’
The Shonin remarked, ‘It is nothing extraordinary. Since the Buddha (that the Name represents) has become a Buddha, it is nothing extraordinary. What is extraordinary is that an evil bombu (ignorant being filled with blind passions) becomes a Buddha through a single thought of entrusting to Amida"

If you hear that a Buddha or a saint performed miracles, you might become happy and want to see that miracle for yourself, but you will always feel it is quite natural for such superior beings to perform miracles.

However, to hear that you, an ordinary person with strong attachments and blind passions, some of them known only to yourself and kept hidden with shame in the depths of your heart where no one can see them....you the reader of these lines and internet addict who like to read a lot about Buddhism, Nirvana, Buddha-nature, ultimate reality, and virtuous Masters of the past, but always finding yourself incapable to be like them….. imagine that YOU will become a Buddha!

You are sitting in front of your computer for many hours, surfing the internet, reading a lot of good teachings and wise Buddhist quotes, but never really being able to put them into practice for even 24 hours a day. From time to time, you practice a little bit of this, a little bit of that, some zazen, some vipassana, etc., and then you come back to the internet or books to read about the spiritual realizations of others. You read all those pages and try to practice this or that, but in the end you return to your true reality – the every day misery of living with your own ego and fighting with the ego of others.
You, who recognize yourself in my description, imagine that YOU WILL BECOME A BUDDHA! And to become a Buddha at the end of your life, you need nothing else than to entrust yourself completely to Amida!

When I heard for the first time about the promise of Amida, that ordinary people will become Buddhas, through simple faith in Him, I was struck with wonder and couldn’t believe my eyes and ears, as if I had seen or heard someone from another planet.

Soon, after realizing this is true and not just a parable with esoteric and hidden meaning, I found myself saying: “What am I waiting for?” For the first time I felt that Buddhism was speaking to me, and not only to supermen. Since then, every time I recall to mind the promise of Amida’s Primal Vow that everybody who entrusts to Him and says His Name will attain Buddhahood in His Pure Land after death, and realize that I myself will become a Buddha, I feel there is no greater miracle.




11. Never say Amida Buddha is the same with the "god" of monotheists or with any other divine figure outside the Buddha Dharma - Jun 16, 2020 1:03:00 PM

Amida Buddha image from
 Amidaji templeYou should NEVER, EVER, say Amida Buddha is the same with the god of monotheists or with any god and religious figure of a non-Buddhist religion! Don’t use words such as “entrust to Amida Buddha or God”, “be in harmony with Amida Buddha or God”, “communicate with Amida Buddha or God”, etc, like this would be the same! It is NOT the same! Religions are NOT the same, and NO religion outside Buddha Dharma can ever lead you to perfect Enlightenment. Having faith in Amida Buddha and having faith in god do not lead to the same result. Faith in any god, including the so-called “god” of monotheist religions will NEVER lead you to Enlightenment.  Don’t be a politically correct Buddhist in these matters because you will do no good to your fellow practitioners or beginners, but lead them to more confusion. It is exactly because I wanted to clear away the confusion people make nowadays on this topic, that I wrote these articles (and many others!) which I ask you to READ CAREFULLY:

There is NO supreme creator god in the Buddha Dharma
On the powerful pretas who wish to dominate other beings through religion
 Belief in a creator god is an obstacle to shinjin (faith in  Amida Buddha)
 TheThree Refuges in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism (especially read the second part – “Admonition against breaking the Refuge Vows” where I give a lot of quotes from the sacred texts):
Pure Land Buddhist priests and teachers must be very strict and clear about the distinction between Buddhas/Buddha Dharma and non-Buddhist religious figures and teachings. At Amidaji temple we are always very strict, clear, and straightforward on this matter.
Also, don’t fool yourself into thinking that any “god” of any religion is in fact a Buddha who took the form of that god. This is spiritual bullshit! No manifestation of a Buddha will ever teach things that are contrary to Buddha Dharma, nor support a religion who teaches the existence of a supreme creator god, blood sacrifice, denial of karma, rebirth, etc. If any god would be indeed a manifestation of a Buddha then that god would teach ONLY Buddhist doctrines. No manifestation of a Buddha will ever teach things that run contrary to the Buddha Dharma, and as you know, there are elements in other religions that go against Buddhist doctrines!
Perhapsthere may be times when in order to help non-Buddhist beings for reasons that go beyond our capacity to understand, some Buddhas would momentarily take the form of a non-Buddhist god or spirit worshiped in a certain religion (I don't know if or how a Buddha does that, but let's say for the sake of discussion, that He does it ). Buddhas, and especially Amida Buddha, are always helping and trying to influence all beings in various known and hidden ways, no matter what religion or evil spirits these beings follow now, trying to attract them towards the true teaching and faith. However, this does NOT mean that a Buddha is really the same with that god whose form He copies momentarily to offer specific help or guidance, nor does it mean that the religion centered on that god or spirit is an enlightened religion or the same with Buddha Dharma. It also does NOT mean that He encourages or approves the teachings of that religion! There are unenlightened gods and spirits out there in the various universes of samsara, some better or worse than others ( the Buddhist texts speak about them), and these gods and spirits do indeed create religions centered on them which are definitely not the same as the Buddha Dharma. So, in the end, the goal of any Buddha, even if He would momentarily take the form of an unenlightened god/spirit, would be to make people abandon the wrong non-Buddhist teachings and religions and embrace the true teaching, which is the Buddha Dharma.
*
Also (and this is another wrong view that I hear nowadays), some deluded people say that Jesus was a Bodhisattva or a former Buddhist monk! Dear friends, don’t let yourself driven into confusion! If  Jesus was indeed a Buddhist monk, then he was a very bad monk because he ended up accepting the wrong view of an eternal creator god. How can a person teaching such a wrong view can be a Bodhisattva? Such an idea is idiotic.  I don’t deny some good things he taught and did; however, the Compassion of an Enlightened Bodhisattva does not include good deeds only, but true teaching as well, and as we see in the first article mentioned above (There is NO supreme creator god in the Buddha Dharma), to teach wrong views is never a quality of a genuine Bodhisattva or Buddha. If you portray Jesus as a Buddhist Bodhisattva or monk you do a disservice to both him and Christianity as well as to Buddhism.
*
I urge my Dharma friends and students to listen deeply to what I said here, in this spontaneous instruction, and abandon the useless and complicated discussions of "gods who may be manifestations of a Buddha". It’s a tricky business to engage in such a topic. Even if Master Rennyo said in some of his letters that kami of Shintoism may be manifestations of Buddhas or even Amida Buddha, he did that in a certain context and NOT with the idea in mind that ANY kami or god would be a manifestation! Perhaps some are, or perhaps only momentarily a Buddha or Amida himself took the form of some of these kami, but then, they should not be associated anymore with specific Shintoist beliefs which have nothing in common with Buddhist doctrines. Anyway, you probably know that in Shintoism even the ordinary people may become kami after death. Yes, it's a Shintoist belief that ordinary dead people are also kami! So tell me, how can any unenlightened dead person be a Buddha manifestation? Of course, this would be impossible, and I am sure it was not Rennyo's intent to make that connection. 
I repeat, such discussions are very tricky and may lead to confusion, so it's better to avoid them especially now when we are doing Buddhist missionary work in non-Buddhist countries. 
*
I hope my message will not be misunderstood. I don’t say that we, as Buddhists, should be aggressive or slander other religions. However, this does not mean that we should stop saying the truth that ONLY the Buddha Dharma is true and real, leading to perfect Enlightenment and that ONLY Amida Buddha and the Buddhas are worthy of our refuge, faith, and devotion. Truth does not mean slander. Truth must be said so that beings may clearly see the Path to freedom from birth and death. 
Namo Amida Bu
UPDATE:

Here are some passages from the sutras which show how we should regard all Buddhas and the Emancipation attained on the Buddhist Path. Please read and accept the words of the sacred texts:

“The Buddha is the father of the world; all living beings are my sons, ALL is my domain, and I alone am able to save and protect them.”Lotus Sutra
“Rare is the World-Honored One, hard is it to meet Him, Perfect in infinite merit, able to save all. Great teacher of gods and men, He has compassion for the world. All the living in the universe everywhere receive His aid, the Lord Buddha is the Holy Lord, king among gods. Now the Buddha has become the eye of all living beings, the resort of all the world, Savior of all, Father of all the living, who has compassion for and does good [to all]”.Lotus Sutra,  chapter 7 parable of the magic city)
“Know Kasyapa! The Tathagata is also like this; He appears in the world like the rising of [that] great cloud. Universally He extends His great call over the world of gods, men and asuras (demigods), just as that great cloud everywhere covers the three-thousand-great thousand fold region. In the great assembly He sounds forth these words: ‘I am the Tathagata, the Worshipful, the All Wise, the Perfectly Enlightened in Conduct, the Well departed, the Understander of the World, the Peerless Leader, the Controller, the Teacher of Gods and Men, the Buddha, the World-honored One. Those who have not yet been saved I cause to be saved; those who have not yet been set free to be set free; those who have not yet been comforted to be comforted; those who have not yet obtained Nirvana to obtain Nirvana. I know the present world and the world to come as they really are. I am the All Knowing, the All Seeing, the Knower of the Way, the Opener of the Way, the Preacher of the Way. Come to me, ALL you gods, men, and asuras (demigods), to hear the Law”(Lotus Sutra, chapter 5 The Parable of the Herbs)
“I am one who has transcended all, a knower of all, Unsullied among all things, renouncing all, by craving’s ceasing freed. Having known this all for myself, to whom should I point as teacher? I have no teacher, and one like me exists nowhere in all the world, with all its gods, because I have no person for my counterpart. I am the Accomplished One in the world.
I am the Teacher Supreme. I alone am the fully Enlightened One, whose fires are quenched and extinguished. To set in motion the Wheel of the Dharma in a world that has become blind I go to beat the drum of the deathless.”(Majjhima Nikaya, 26)
“The Blessed Ones spiritual powers: having been one, He becomes many; having been many He becomes one; He appears and vanishes; He goes unhindered through a wall, though an enclosure, through a mountain, as though through space; He dives in and out of the earth as though it were water; He walks on water without sinking as though it were earth; seated cross-legged, He travels in space like a bird; with His hand He touches and strokes the moon and sun so powerful and mighty; He wields bodily mastery even as far as the Brahma-world.”Majjhima Nikaya)
“The Buddha’s admonition is indeed profound and appropriate, and His wisdom clearly surveys things in the eight directions, above and below, penetrating all in the past, present, and future. His benevolence covers the whole world and the extent of His merit is majestic and glorious. His light penetrates to the utmost ends of space and guides people to Nirvana. He reveals the sutras, destroys wrong views, and subdues demons. Thus His influence extends boundlessly in the ten directions. The Buddha is the King of the Dharma; His virtue surpasses that of all the sages. He is the teacher of all devas (gods) and humans and enables them to enter the Way according to their wishes. Having been able to meet you, O Buddha, and also to hear the Name of Amitayus (Amida), we have all attained joy and illumination.”[1]Bodhisattva Maitreya to Shakyamuni Buddha in the Larger Sutra
There is nothing to be known beyond what Buddha knows and the Buddhist Path can offer to you as it is said in the Queen Srimala Sutra:
“The Tathagata, having shattered and defeated the four maras (demons) by the incomparable victory of a Buddha, gained the Dharmakaya which is superior to all the worlds and which cannot conceivably be witnessed by any sentient being. Having been made Lord of the Doctrine unhindered in all stages of the knowable, He rightly saw that there is no duty or stage beyond this to be left over or to be understood. Having properly entered the supreme and incomparable stage, which is fearless and endowed with the ten powers, and having clearly seen all the knowable with unhindered knowledge, He uttered the Lion’s roar with the knowing, ‘There is nothing to be known beyond this”.The Lion’s Roar of Queen Srimala Sutra
“At that very instant, the Buddha appeared before them displaying His incomparable body which illuminated pure light all around them. Queen Srimala and her assembly humbly prostrated themselves at His feet, and began praising the Buddha’s qualities: ‘Oh Bhagavan, your bodily form and glory is incomparable. We now worship you, the Lord of our world who is unequaled and unparalleled. Inconceivable is the Buddha’s form and wisdom. Oh Lord your Buddha Nature (Tathagatagarbha) does not die, and for this reason we take refuge in you. For you have purified mind, body, and speech by removing all defilements. You have already arrived at the stage without loss. Thus we worship you, the King of Dharma. You know all that there is to know, O Lord, for everything is contained within your wisdom Body. Thus we worship you.
We worship you, who are beyond limit. We worship you, who cannot be compared. We worship you, who’s Dharma is endless. We worship you, who cannot be explained by worldly understanding.”The Lion’s Roar of Queen Srimala Sutra





[1] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.51-52

12. The roof of Amidado (Hall of Amida) and next plan - Jun 16, 2020 4:00:00 AM
The roof is ready, shinning in the sun!
Click on the photo to enlarge itAs you may know, last year I built the concrete platform and metal frame for Amidado (Hall of Amida). These days I finished the construction of the roof. The total amount I paid for two workers and materials was 750 euros.

I needed to start with the roof this year because it was cheaper than the walls. I will, of course, continue with the walls as soon as I raise the necessary amount which will probably be arround 2000 euros (double walls filled with thermal insulation, door, windows, exterior insulation and paint, workers, etc).

The roof is ready, shinning in the sun!
Click on the photo to enlarge it.
Please help if you can. Any little donation is welcome and very much needed.
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inside the Amidado after I finished the roofphoto from the work
photo from the work





13. All lives matter! Amidaji does NOT take a knee to racist movements - Jun 15, 2020 1:11:00 PM
As I saw a lot of unwise statements made by various Buddhist priests and centers, including Buddhist Churches of America, in the support of the racist movement called "Black Lives Matters" while they say absolutely nothing about the violence and killings made under this slogan in many American cities, and because Amidaji has many readers and supporters in USA,  I decided to publish here what I already stated on my Facebook Page.

I condemn ALL killings, violence and looting,  no matter the skin color of the perpetrator. Thus, I condemn the killing of Mr Floyd by that cop, and I also condemn the violence done by the racist and hateful movement/ideology called Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Antifa against cops, shop owners and anybody who suffered because of their actions.

Next,  I want to say something about racism, too.
Taking a knee as a person of white skin to apologize  for the killing of somebody  with black skin by another one with white skin  means that you accept racism and you promote the delusion of race. Isn't it racist to blame an entire group of people  ("white people" for example") for a killing just because the killer had the same skin color?

Wake up, people! If you think in terms of race you are actually promoting racism. It is sad that many today cannot see the simple truth. Race does NOT exist, dear friends! To think in terms of race IS racism and perpetuates racism. Only a racist can say that a black person was killed by a white person and then pretend that all people of white color take a knee and apologize. A sane person will simply say that a human being was killed by another human being and will keep saying this when a person of black color kills a guy of white color, too! This is because when a sane person looks to human being he sees a human being, not colors or races.
In reality, race is just a mental construct, a illusory concept which creates false meanings from a simple skin color. Our skin may be white or black, our eyes may be black, brown, blue, green, etc. These are just colors or reflections of light, nothing more. To transform these colors into cultures and identities, like "black culture" or "black community" or "white culture" and "white community" is insane and against the Buddhist teaching. Thus I am asking Buddhist teachers and lay people to stop being racist by using "Black Lives Matter", which are actually the same as "White Power", and instead say, ALL LIVES MATTER! 
Yes, "Black Lives Matter" is a RACIST statement  because you support the idea that black race is more important than others. ALL LIVES MATTER is the most compassionate, spiritually healthy and all inclusive statement we need today - the only path for a harmonious humanity. It is unbelievable what great amount of propagandist effort is done today against common sense people who dare to say that all lives matter and how dictatorial are those who insist they are against racism but exclusively promote only one "race". 
The Buddha and Masters of all authentic lineages always used the words  "MAY ALL BEINGS..." whenever they made worldly and spiritual aspirations for us like happiness, long lives or Enlightenment.
As Buddhas never divided people into races we should never do it ourselves. Please do not fall prey to delusions. Namo Amida Bu 


14. Rest in Nembutsu - Jun 11, 2020 8:00:00 AM
Rest in Nembutsu. Let all your thoughts come and go while you just say the Name. Put an image of Amida that you like  in front of you and say Nembutsu while looking at it. Don't force yourself to feel anything special, just look at Amida and say His Name.
Rest in His presence and Name,
Na Mo A Mi Da Bu, Na Mo A Mi Da Bu, Na Mo A Mi Da Bu....

Do not pursue the various thoughts and worries that appear in the mind, but rest in Amida's Name. You can do this wherever you are, even without an image in front of you.

Amida Buddha is always present so you can simply change the focus to Him and leave everything else aside. You do not need meditation techniques which will make you go astray from Amida when this simple resting in the Name can be done in any circumstance and it is in accord with Amida's Primal Vow and Shinran's words:

"In this fleeting world - this burning house - all matters without exception are empty and false, totally without truth and sincerity. The Nembutsu alone is true and real. "

So, rest in Namo Amida Bu, the manifestation of true reality beyond the samsaric delusion.

Rest in the Name and you rest in Amida's presence. This is not a metaphor, nor a symbol, but the actual truth. Amida is in front of you every time, so please, turn your mind to Him and rest in His Name.
Namo Amida Bu


The above instructions appeared to me spontaneously this night at Amidaji temple. May our Dharma friends abandon the intention to mix practices and find everything they need in the Nembutsu of Faith!

15. A simple analogy between Vajrayana and Jodo Shinshu to help undecided practitioners - Jun 10, 2020 8:59:00 AM

I know some people who come from a Vajrayana background and their thinking is still influenced by  Vajrayana terms and concepts but who sincerely wish to follow Jodo Shinshu.For them I am going to make a short analogy between the two traditions to help them have an easy transition. Please listen carefully.
As you may know, in Vajrayana you cannot successfully practice without empowerment. When you receive empowerment from a realized Master you become connected with and blessed by an uninterrupted lineage of transmission which starts with a Buddha and continues with a series of Enlightened Masters. Then your practice can be successful if you are serious and put all your efforts into it. Without this empowerment and connection, your practice will not lead to realization. Also, once empowerment was given you must follow a samaya, that is, a specific set of rules and practices. However, breaking this samaya without repairing it will lead to birth in Vajra Hell.
Somehow, the same happens in Jodo Shinshu but in a different way. In our case, the guru or Enlightened Master is Amida Buddha and He empowers us at the moment we entrust to Him with genuine faith. This "empowerment" is called transference of merit, that is, Amida transfers His merits to us and makes us capable to attain Birth and Enlightenment in His Pure Land.
Many people can say His Name (Nembutsu) and is good to say it, but only those who say it with complete faith in Him will actually receive His merits and enter the stage of non-retrogression for birth in the Pure Land. It's the same difference between those who do a Vajrayana practice without empowerment and those who practice with empowerment. In our case, to say Nembutsu with empowerment is to say it as an expression of complete faith in Amida. The Nembutsu of faith is the Nembutsu of the Primal Vow and the only Path to the center of the Pure Land or  “the fulfilled land of the Pure Land” where we immediately attain Buddhahood. It is called the Tariki Nembutsu or Nembutsu of Amida centered Power.
The other Nembutsu, that is, the Nembutsu said while not having complete faith in Amida is the Nembutsu without empowerment or the jiriki Nembutsu (self-power nembutsu). With the jiriki Nembutsu one can only go to the borderland of the Pure Land if he is very serious in saying it until the end of his life. However, there he will not immediately attain Buddhahood like those who said the Nembutsu of faith or the empowered Nembutsu.
In our case, the samaya we naturally put into practice when we entrust to Amida are the eight elements of faith. These are manifested in our ordinary life by what we at Amidaji call, the eight  "precepts" of faith. In short, our samaya is the requirements of the Primal Vow of Amida: "entrust yourself to me, say my Name and wish to be born in my Land".Breaking of this samaya can be done in a simple way by giving up faith in Amida and choosing another path in which case the practitioner no longer goes to the Pure Land after death, or in the evilest way by denying the existence of Amida Buddha and His Pure Land. Many false teachers nowadays are doing this while pretending to teach Jodo Shinshu and their karmic destination will also be the lowest hell.
In the case of a Vajrayana practitioner, he cannot receive empowerment without faith in the guru who is the embodiment of all Buddhas and the lineage, while in our case, we cannot receive the merit transference from Amida, which I dare to call it, the Nembutsu empowerment, if we do not entrust completely to Him.

So, as you see, despite the differences, the mechanism is the same. Amida Buddha is our Enlightened Master and Guru. We entrust to Him and we receive His empowerment (merits) which makes us successful in our aspiration to be born in His Pure Land after death and attainment of Buddhahood. 
Now you have to make a choice. Follow a guru in human form, have complete faith in him, receive empowerment from him, strive hard in the practices he prescribes to you and be strict in your samaya, or chose Amida Buddha himself as your guru and let Him empower you in the simplest of all the Dharma Gates - the Nembutsu of Faith which can be said in any circumstance and by everybody, no matter his or her spiritual capacities. Both Vajrayana and Jodo Shinshu are genuine paths. However, the first is for people of high spiritual capacities while the latter is the universal gate through which all spiritual losers can be empowered to become Buddhas at the end of their lives.

16. AMIDA DHARMA - the essential doctrine of Amidaji temple (free download edition) - Jun 5, 2020 9:30:00 AM

Click here for the French editionClick here for the Spanish EditionClick here for the Russian editionClick here for the Romanian edition
Click here to listen the audio version
I was inspired to write another introduction into Jodo Shinshu Buddhism which will be known from now on, as the essential book of Amidaji temple, a must-read for all members and students. (75 pages)

Many thanks to my Dharma Kosho Arana (Juan Sebastian Hincapie Arana) for proofreading the English manuscript.

Click here to download the book:

My google page

My page on Academia

You can also find all sections of the book bellow

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please consider a small donation by PayPal:



TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction 

Fascicle 1 - Karma and Samsara 

Fascicle 2 - Buddha-nature and escape from samsara 

Fascicle 3 - Shakyamuni Buddha and Amida Buddha 

Fascicle 4 - Personal power and Amida's Power 
Fascicle 5 - The eight elements of faith 

Fascicle 6 - The eight precepts of faith 

Fascicle 7 - The answer to the Call of Amida Buddha 
Fascicle 8 - The way to Faith - listening to the teaching

Fascicle 9 - The five conditions for birth in the Pure Land 

Fascicle 10 - The benefits in this life of those who have faith in Amida Buddha 
Fascicle 11 - The benefits of birth in the Pure Land after death 
Fascicle 12 - The Three Refuges 
Fascicle 13 - Two wrong views that must be avoided  

Fascicle 14 - The twelve moral precepts 




17. A simple method to help the hungry ghosts - Jun 3, 2020 5:45:00 PM


Click here to read about the state of hungry ghosts 
Click here to return to the main 
page of ceremonies for nonhuman beings

If you find the ceremony for hungry ghosts too difficult or too long, you can simply offer food (boiled rice, cookies, fruits or vegetables) and water to Amida Buddha and say the following words:

Amida Buddha, I offer you this food and water in the name of all hungry ghosts who suffer from hunger and thirst. Please receive it like it is offered by them. May they receive infinite food to forever satisfy their hunger and an infinite quantity of clear water to forever satisfy their thirst. May they be healthy in body and mind, make indestructible connections with you, entrust to you, say your Name and wish to be born in your Pure Land. Namo Amida Bu

If any hungry ghost is in the area (and believe me, there are many!), sees and hears what you are doing and rejoices in your act done in his name, then it is like he is doing it and he receives the karmic merit of that action which literally manifests in the form of infinite food and water. Because the object of your offering is pure (Amida Buddha), the hungry ghosts receive infinite merits and being cured by the sufferings of that state he may also entrust to  Amida Buddha and say His Name. In this way, you are actually saving them physically and spiritually.

My advice is that you never make any offering to Amida Buddha (including incense, flowers, food, water, etc) without saying you are doing it in the name of all beings or a specific being like the pretas (hungry ghosts). You never know how many nonhuman beings you are helping by that simple gesture and aspiration. 
18. Varias maneras de ayudar a los seres no humanos a crear conexiones con el Buda Amida y se encomienden a Él - Jun 3, 2020 6:25:00 AM
un sacerdote budista y un fantasma habriento
translated from English by Kosho Arana
Haz click aquí para regresar a la sección de Ceremonia para ayudar a fantasmas hambrientos y seres en el estado intermedio acrear conexiones con el Buda Amida y recibir fe
Haz click aquí pararegresar a la sección de ceremonias para seres no-humanos

Haz click aquí para regresar a la sección Instrucciones sencillas para seres en el estado intermedio (Bardo) para ayudarlos a nacer en la Tierra Pura

 Si considera que la ceremonia para los fantasmas hambrientos es demasiado difícil o demasiado larga, simplemente puedes ofrecer comida (arroz hervido, galletas, frutas o verduras) y agua al Buda Amida y decir las siguientes palabras:

Buda Amida , te ofrezco esta comida y agua en nombre de todos los fantasmas hambrientos que sufren hambre y sed. Recíbelo como si la ofrecieran ellos. Que reciban comida infinita para satisfacer su hambre para siempre y una cantidad infinita de agua limpia para satisfacer su sed para siempre. Que sean saludables en cuerpo y mente, establezcan conexiones indestructibles con usted confíen en usted digan vuestro Nombre y deseen nacer vuestra Tierra Pura. Namo Amida Bu

Si hay algún fantasma hambriento en el área (¡y créanme, hay muchos!), Van y escuchan lo que estás haciendo y se regocija en tu acto hecho en su nombre, entonces es como si lo estuvieran haciendo y reciben el mérito kármico de esa acción que se manifiesta literalmente en forma de infinito alimento y agua. Debido a que el objeto de tu ofrenda es puro (el Buda Amida), los fantasmas hambrientos reciben méritos infinitos y, siendo curados por los sufrimientos de ese estado, también pueden confiar en el Buda Amida y decir Su Nombre. De esta manera, en realidad los estás salvando física y espiritualmente.

Mi consejo es que nunca hagas ninguna ofrenda al Buda Amida (incluyendo incienso, flores, comida, agua, etc.) sin decir que lo estás haciendo en nombre de todos los seres o de un un tipo de ser específico como los pretas (fantasmas hambrientos). Nunca sabes cuántos seres no humanos estás ayudando con ese simple gesto y aspiración.

19. Instrucciones sencillas para seres en el estado intermedio (Bardo) para ayudarlos a nacer en la Tierra Pura - Jun 3, 2020 5:55:00 AM

translated from English by Kosho Arana
Pregunta:

¿Puede una persona que no confió en Amida Buda durante su vida, cambiar de opinión y confiar en el estado intermedio entre la muerte y el próximo renacimiento (bardo)?

Respuesta:

No recuerdo ningún pasaje de Shinran, Rennyo, Honen u otro Patriarca de nuestro linaje en el que se mencionara específicamente la liberación a través de la fe en el bardo, pero personalmente creo que es posible. De hecho, Shinran también dijo algunas veces en sus escritos que los seres que nacen en la Tierra Pura del Buda Amida "no son exclusivamente de este mundo" [1], así que no veo por qué un ser del bardo no puede ir allí si él está en concordancia con el Voto Primordial de Amida, es decir, si confía en el Buda Amida, dice Su Nombre y desea ir a Su Tierra Pura. El Voto Primordial en sí mismo incluye todos los seres, ya que Amida no dice que solo los seres humanos puedan ir a Su Tierra Pura (- vean mis explicaciones del significado de "seres conscientes de las diez direcciones" del Voto Primordial).

Expliqué la situación de los seres del bardo en el artículo, Contemplando el sufrimiento del estado intermedio. Allí pueden leer que un ser del bardo también puede escuchar, ver e incluso comprender los pensamientos de los demás, por lo que no puedo excluir la posibilidad de que alguien pueda confiar en Amida incluso en bardo. Por lo tanto, si el ser intermedio se entera de la salvación del Buda Amida por un amigo del Dharma que se queda cerca de su cadáver y lo alienta a refugiarse en Amida o si recuerda una enseñanza sobre Amida que recibió durante su vida y decide confiar en Amida, decir Su nombre y desear ir a su tierra pura, entonces estoy seguro de que puede llegar a esa tierra. Sin embargo, no le aconsejo a nadie que espere hasta que el bardo para confíar en el Buda Amida cuando puede hacerlo tan fácilmente aquí en vida. Uno nunca puede saber qué karma e ignorancia pueden manifestarse durante el estado intermedio que pueda impedir que una persona sin fe recuerde o escuche sobre el Buda Amida Entonces, por favor, no malinterpreten mi respuesta y hagan todo lo posible para resolver sus dudas mientras aún estén vivos para que puedan alcanzar automáticamente la Tierra Pura cuando mueran. Es importante saber que para una persona que ya ha confiado en el Buda Amida NO hay bardo, ya que después de la muerte, esta persona va directamente a la Tierra Pura, donde alcanza la Budeidad.

Sin embargo, debido a que muchas personas me pidieron una forma de ayudar a aquellos que murieron y entraron en estado de bardo, escribí las siguientes palabras que se pueden leer a cualquier ser que haya fallecido recientemente, sin importar que él / ella fuera un humano o un animal. Entonces, de vez en cuando, digan estas instrucciones en su mente o en voz alta a la conciencia de la persona fallecida (los seres en el bardo pueden entender sus pensamientos, pero puede ser más fácil para ti concentrarte si hablas en voz alta), y también repite el Nembutsu tantas veces como puedas. Intenta hacer esto durante 49 días mientras el fallecido puede estar en el estado intermedio (aunque este estado puede durar mucho tiempo más de acuerdo al karma específico del ser en cuestión). Una vez que un ser del bardo aspira sinceramente a nacer en la Tierra Pura, se encomienda a Amida y dice Su Nombre, muere en el estado del bardo y renace en la Tierra Pura, ya que el bardo es un estado que puede terminar en cualquier momento.

El Buda siempre está trabajando, tratando de salvar a todos los seres de todos los estados de existencia, no solo de nuestro reino humano, sin embargo si los seres no aceptan la salvación de Amida, entonces Él no puede salvarlos. Las siguientes instrucciones tienen exactamente este objetivo en mente: ayudar a un ser del bardo a establecer la conexión kármica con el Buda Amida y abrirse a Él. Si lo hace, entonces recibe fe, muere en el estado de bardo y va inmediatamente a la Tierra Pura.

(¡Actualización importante!)

Sin embargo, DEBES tener cuidado porque decir las siguientes palabras a una persona que ya tiene una fuerte convicción religiosa no budista, podría enfurecerlo y, en lugar de hacer una conexión con el Buda Amida, puede crear el karma para los reinos inferiores. Por lo tanto, aconsejo estas instrucciones solo para los seres del bardo SOLO si saben que la persona tiene una conexión o una apertura hacia el Buda Amida o el budismo en general, o si no tiene convicción religiosa, pero sabes que podría estar abierto al mensaje que deseas transmitir. Si sospechas que una persona que ahora está en el bardo no tiene esta apertura
(!por cualquier motivo!)al Buda Amida o al budismo en general esto podría generar Un sentimiento adverso hacia su mensaje o Amida Buddha, es mejor que no diga las siguientes palabras, ya que no lo ayudaría en absoluto. Al igual que en la vida diaria no convertimos a las personas por la fuerza, los seres en el bardo tampoco deberían verse obligados a escuchar nuestro mensaje de Dharma, incluso si es el mensaje supremo del Dharma.

 Instrucciones para seres en el bardo:
"Has muerto y ahora estás en el estado intermedio entre la muerte y el próximo renacimiento. Cuando los seres mueren, van a este estado intermedio y luego renacen de nuevo en otra forma o cuerpo, dependiendo de las acciones que hicieron en sus vidas anteriores.Es muy importante que ahora no tengas miedo de nada de lo que ves en el estado en el que te encuentras y desees renacer en la Tierra Pura del Buda Amida. Esta Persona Iluminada - Amida Buda, es suprema en el universo, omnisciente y siempre libre de los repetidos nacimientos y muertes, y cualquier tipo de sufrimiento. Teniendo un gran amor y una gran compasión, hizo el voto de llevar a su Tierra Pura a todos los seres que confían en Él digan su nombre (Namo Amida Bu ) y deseen nacer en Su Tierra Pura después de la muerte. Es por eso que te pido que por favor, tengas fe en el Buda Amida , digas Su Nombre (Namo Amida Bu) y desees nacer en Su Tierra Pura. Por favor no prestes atención a cualquier otra cosa que veas aquí en nuestro mundo o en el estado en que te encuentras ahora, haz esto mejor: confía en el Buda Amida, di Su nombre (Namo Amida Bu) y desea nacer en Su tierra pura.

Namo Amida Bu significa "Encomiendo al Buda Amida / Me refugio en el Buda Amida / Homenaje al Buda Amida".

La Tierra Pura fue creada por el Buda Amida para que todos los seres, incluido tu, puedan alcanzarla fácilmente después de su muerte. Allí, en la Tierra Pura del Buda Amida, estarás libre de todo sufrimiento y nunca volverás a morir.

Entonces, por favor, confía en el Buda Amida, di Su Nombre (Namo Amida Bu) y desea nacer en Su Tierra Pura.

Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu ...... "



__________________________________________________
[1] Shinran mencionó que los seres en TODAS las formas de existencia pueden "escuchar" (lo que sea que "escuchar" pueda significar en varios reinos), el mensaje de salvación de Amida y (si se abren) confiar a Él:

"Cuando los seres sintientes en las diversas formas de existencia a lo largo de las diez direcciones,
Al escuchar el Nombre de Amida de virtudes trascendentes,
Llegan a recibir shinjin (fe) verdadero y real,
Se regocijan mucho de lo que han escuchado "

The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.331

"Seres nacidos en la Tierra Pura en el pasado, presente y futuro
No son únicamente de este mundo;

Vienen de tierras de Buda a lo largo de las diez direcciones.
Y son innumerables, incontables, más allá del cálculo "
The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.332

"Si los que sufren en los reinos del infierno, los animales, los fantasmas hambrientos o los asuras ven la luz de Amida, no hay ninguno que no sienta alivio y, aunque no sea liberado de inmediato, logra la liberación del dolor y la pena después de la muerte".

(Sutra en el camino de la salvación de los humanos por Amida, el Perfectamente Iluminado, que trasciende a todos los Budas, traducido por Chih-ch’ien, citado por Shinran en el Kyogyoshinsho, V)

Kyogyoshinsho - Sobre enseñanza, práctica, fe e iluminación, traducido por Hisao Inagaki, Centro Numata de Traducción e Investigación Budista, Kyoto, 2003, p. 200


20. Various ways to help non-human beings make connections with Amida Buddha and entrust to Him - Jun 2, 2020 5:47:00 PM
a Buddhist priest and a hungry ghostMany people asked me how they can help hungry ghosts, bardo beings and other types of nonhuman beings entrust to Amida Buddha, and if trying to help them goes against the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist teaching.

For people interested in such matters, myself included, I devised two type of ceremonies and a few instructions. I am convinced 100% that because these ceremonies have the single goal of helping non-human beings to make a connection with Amida Buddha, listen to the Dharma about Him and entrust to Him, they are not in contradiction with the Jodo Shinshu teaching.  

Also, the ceremonies do not contain any idea of personal merit or something which can be misunderstood as personal power (jiriki). Although it seems strange for our Jodo Shinshu community, as something like this has never been done before, it does not contradict the teaching of our school, but on the contrary, it corresponds to the universality of Jodo Shinshu which is a Dharma Gate for all beings, not only humans. As Shinran indicated, beings from all forms of existence can entrust to Amida and say His Name,
"When sentient beings in the various forms of existence throughout the ten quarters,
On hearing Amida's Name of transcendent virtues,
Come to attain true and real shinjin (faith),
They greatly rejoice at what they have heard".[1]
Click here to read and download the two ceremonies:
Ceremony for helping hungry spirits and beings in the intermediary state (bardo) to make connections with Amida Buddha and receive faith in Him (nighttime ceremony)

Ceremony for helping all beings to make connections with Amida Buddha and receive faith in Him(daytime ceremony)

If you find the above ceremonies too complicated or too long, you can check these two instructions:

A simple method to help the hungry ghosts
Simple instructions for beings in the intermediary state (bardo) to be born in the Pure Land

Of course, such ceremonies or instructions as the above are not an obligation in our temple sangha. People can simply say Nembutsu to express their faith in Amida and do not mind about nonhuman beings.  



[1] The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.331


21. Ceremony for helping hungry spirits and beings in the intermediate state (bardo) to make connections with Amida Buddha and receive faith in Him - Jun 2, 2020 5:44:00 PM
                                                                                                  A Buddhist priest with a hungry ghostClick here to return to the main page of ceremonies for nonhuman beings
Click here to download the ceremony in pdf

I.                   Arguments for this ceremonyBecause this ceremony has the single goal of helping all beings, especially the hungry ghosts and intermediate beings to make a connection with Amida Buddha, listen to the Dharma about Him and entrust to Him, it is not in contradiction with the Jodo Shinshu teaching.  Although we offer them something to eat in the form of aroma, this is only a skillful means to make them more receptive.  It is like you see a hungry person on the street and offer him food, shelter and a Buddhist book. When he is satisfied and safe under your roof, he might be more open, due to your kind gesture, to read a few lines from the book. It’s the same with these nonhuman beings who are in a very difficult karmic situation and who actually feed (according to the sacred texts) on aroma. By satisfying them with the offering, they might become open to Amida’s message of salvation.
While other people make offerings to spirits for selfish reasons, asking all kinds of personal benefits from them, we just invite them kindly to listen to the teaching about Amida, entrust to Him, say His Name and wish to be born in His Pure Land. By having such a compassionate goal we transform this ceremony into a Dharma instrument. Even if they receive the aroma without paying attention to the teaching fragment at section IV, they at least hear that we offer it to them in the Name of Amida Buddha and while saying Nembutsu. This is enough for them to make a connection with Amida which one day, perhaps in their present life or in a future one, will make them more open to Amida’s message.
Also, this ceremony does not contain any idea of personal merit or something which can be misunderstood as personal power (jiriki). Although it seems strange for our Jodo Shinshu community, as something like this has never been done before, it does not contradict the teaching of our school, but on the contrary, it corresponds to the universality of Jodo Shinshu which is a Dharma Gate for all beings, not only humans. As Shinran indicated, beings from all forms of existence can entrust to Amida and say His Name,
"When sentient beings in the various forms of existence throughout the ten quarters,
On hearing Amida's Name of transcendent virtues,
Come to attain true and real shinjin (faith),
They greatly rejoice at what they have heard".[2]
This being the case, there is no reason why we should not teach Amida Dharma to them too, while offering them a gift to catch their attention[3].    II.                General instructions This is a nighttime ceremony. It should be done after sunset when it is said that the hungry spirits become more active. Place an image of Amida Buddha outside[4] and a small table in front of it. Chose a clean, new plate and a bell (or striking instrument) that you will use exclusively for this kind of ceremony and place them on the table. Do not use the bell for other occasions because at section 5 (end of ceremony)  you will inform the spirits that any time they hear this bell ringing three times they are invited to come again to receive aroma offering and teaching.Light special charcoals that do not produce smoke and place them on the plate – you can find such charcoals on Buddhist websites. As the substance for the aroma offering use the Sur mixing that is usually made in Tibetan traditions for aroma offering[5] and is sold on various Tibetan centers websites. If you cannot get such traditional mixing, use crushed biscuits which contain flour, yogurt, butter, sugar/honey and milk or make your own mixing with those elements[6]. Place the substance for offering in a new vase near the plate with burning charcoals. Whenever you say the verses for the aroma offering, take a pinch of substance and place it on the charcoals so that it produce smoke and aroma. The aroma emanated from the burning of substance is offered to the nonhuman beings in the categories bellow.
Although the ceremony is especially dedicated to beings who feed on aroma like hungry ghosts and those in the bardo (intermediate existence), we first make the offering according to the religious hierarchy: 1) Amida and all Buddhas and Enlightened Bodhisattvas, 2) unenlightened Dharma Protectors (nonhuman beings who are converted to Buddhism and protect the Dharma and Buddhist disciples[7]), 3) lords of the realm (powerful nonhuman beings who rule the lands and regions we live in)[8], 4) all beings without any difference between them, and then to the specific category of hungry ghosts and  bardo beings. When you reach the category of beings who feed on aroma and smells (hungry ghosts) and beings in the intermediate state, say Nembutsu more than at the previous categories[9]. Repeat the verses of offering the aroma a few times until the charcoals become unusable, then move to the other sections.
Be respectful and humble, do not think of any personal merit or achievement, focus on the words you are saying, and have the honest intention to help those beings to entrust to Amida Buddha.  Say the words of the ceremony in your own language as this will help you focus. Nonhuman beings understand your thoughts and thoughts are better formulated when you express yourself in your own language.  If possible, try to learn by heart the words of the ceremony.  III.             The ceremony 
1. Taking refuge in Amida Buddha – say Nembutsu a few times 2. Awakening aspirationAll sentient beings, without exception, have been my parents, brothers and sisters in the course of countless lives in many states of existence. Thus, I must help them entrust to Amida Buddha and be born in His Pure Land where they will attain perfect Enlightenment. For this reason I will make the following ceremony to offer them aroma and the teaching about the unconditional salvation of Amida Buddha.
- struck the bell three times to mark the beginning of the ceremony and for inviting the spirits –
3. Verses when offering the aroma
In the name of all beings I offer this nourishing and beneficial aroma to Amida Buddha and all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the ten directions. May all beings be healthy in body and mind, create indestructible connections with Amida Buddha, entrust to Him, say His Name (Namo Amida Bu) and wish to be born in His Pure Land.  Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu
In the Name of Amida Buddha I offer this nourishing and beneficial aroma to all beings who protect the Dharma and the disciples of Buddha. In the Name of Amida Buddha, may they always be healthy in body and mind, create indestructible connections with Amida Buddha, entrust to Him, say His Name (Namo Amida Bu) and wish to be born in His Pure Land. Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu. 
In the Name of Amida Buddha I offer this nourishing and beneficial aroma to all beings who rule and protect this country, this region and this land, to all who rule over the mountains, the waters, the valleys, the forests and the rocks. In the Name of Amida Buddha, may they always be healthy in body and mind, create indestructible connections with Amida Buddha, entrust to Him, say His Name (Namo Amida Bu) and wish to be born in His Pure Land. Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu
In the Name of Amida Buddha I offer this nourishing and beneficial aroma to all beings[10]. In the Name of Amida Buddha, may they always be healthy in body and mind, create indestructible connections with Amida Buddha, entrust to Him, say His Name (Namo Amida Bu) and wish to be born in His Pure Land. Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu  In the Name of Amida Buddha I offer this nourishing and beneficial aroma to all beings, of any kind, who feed on aroma and smells.In the Name of Amida Buddha, may they always be healthy in body and mind, create indestructible connections with Amida Buddha, entrust to Him, say His Name (Namo Amida Bu) and wish to be born in His Pure Land. Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu... (say Nembutsu  many times when you reach this category of beings) 
In the Name of Amida Buddha I offer this nourishing and beneficial aroma to all beings who are now in the intermediary state between death and next birth and have not found a body yet. In the Name of Amida Buddha, may all their obstacles be removed. May they create indestructible connections with Amida Buddha, entrust to Him, say His Name (Namo Amida Bu) and wish to be born in His Pure Land. Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu.  (say Nembutsu  many times when you reach this category of beings) 
4. Teaching:Now that you have received this nourishing and beneficial aroma, please listen attentively to the teaching about the unconditional salvation of Amida Buddha:
All beings are born and die repeatedly and their lives are filled with various kinds of suffering. The form you have now and everything that happens to you is the effect of your karma, that is, of your deeds, words and thoughts from previous lives. Also, what you do, say and think during your present life will influence the rest of your life and future lives. There is only one escape from this endless cycle of birth, suffering and death – to entrust yourself with all your heart to Amida Buddha and say His Name, Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu, wishing to be born in His Pure Land after death.
The Pure Land was created by Amida Buddha so that all beings, including you, be able to reach it easily after they die in the present form. There, in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha, you will be free from all suffering and you will never die again.
Amida Buddha is supreme in the universe, all-knowing and forever free from the repeated births and deaths, and any type of suffering. Having Great Love and Great Compassion, He made the Vow to bring to His Pure Land all beings, no matter their spiritual capacities, who entrust to Him, say His Name  (Namo Amida Bu) and wish to be born in His Pure Land after death. This is why I ask you to please, have faith in Him, say His Name (Namo Amida Bu), and wish to be born in His Pure Land. The state of mind in which you say the Name of Amida has no importance, so you can say Namo Amida Bu without any worry. No matter the state of mind you are in, or if you have or don’t have any spiritual capacities, you are accepted as you are by Amida Buddha.
Namo Amida Bu means "I entrust to Amida Buddha/I take refuge in Amida Buddha/Homage to Amida Buddha" and "thank you Amida Buddha for saving me as I am". Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu
(After offering the teaching you can say Nembutsu for five minutes or one big nenju)  5. End of ceremonyNow that you have been satisfied with the aroma offering and the teaching about Amida Buddha, I’ll invite you again, some other time, to receive the same gifts. Whenever you hear this bell ringing three times, please know that you are invited here to receive aroma offering and teaching.
6. Eko (merit transference)May all beings receive the infinite merits of Amida Buddha[11], entrust themselves to Him, say His Name in faith and wish to be born in His Pure Land. Namo Amida Bu


[1] If you come to Amidaji I will show you personally how to make every step of the ceremony. [2] The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.331[3] Of course, you can catch the attention of nonhuman beings without this type of ceremony, as you can simply say the  Nembutsu and read the teaching text, because there are always some spirits around. Wherever there is a genuine sangha and temple, nonhuman beings may join in listening the Amida Dharma and receive faith, too. However, you might draw the attention of more beings if you do this ceremony. [4] If you cannot do the ceremony outside your house, then leave the window open and make the ceremony in front of your altar. Do not put the offering directly on the altar but on a special table in front of the altar. [5] The Tibetan style aroma offering (Sur ceremony) is different than the present ceremony.  I was inspired from the Tibetan Sur ceremony but adapted it to fit into the context of Jodo Shinshu teaching. [6] Flour, yogurt, butter, sugar, honey and milk are considered in many Buddhist texts to be beneficial for nonhuman beings, so they can be used in these ceremonies. [7] Dharma Protectors are of a great variety, including spirits, asuras (demigods), gods, etc. Because they are converted to Buddhism they are eager in protecting the Dharma and sincere Buddhist disciples. [8] Because their lives are very long and are present in these lands for thousands of years before we were born, they think they are the lords of these lands and are respected as such by other nonhuman beings. Among various categories of nonhuman beings there are different hierarchies just like in our human world. [9] If you find it easier, you can offer the aroma only to 1) Amida and all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas,  2)  all beings and then to 3) beings who feed on aroma and smells and 4) beings in the intermediate state. Then of course, you continue with the other sections. This is a shortest version. However, my advice is to mention the whole hierarchy of beings.[10] This includes beings of any type and from all the ten directions of samsara.[11] We do not consider ourselves to have true merits, so we wish all beings receive the perfect merits of Amida.

22. Ceremony for helping all beings to make connections with Amida Buddha and receive faith in Him - May 31, 2020 5:44:00 PM


Click here to return to the main page of ceremonies for nonhuman beingsClick here to download the ceremony in pdf
I.                   Arguments for this ceremonyBecause this ceremony has the single goal of helping all beings to make a connection with Amida Buddha, listen to the Dharma about Him and entrust to Him, it is not in contradiction with the Jodo Shinshu teaching.  Although we offer them something in the form of smoke, this is only a skilful means to make them more receptive towards Amida Buddha.  It is like you offer somebody a precious gift or you help him clean his house. By satisfying them with the offering, they might become open to Amida’s message of salvation. The smoke  that comes from the plants used in this ceremony have an effect similar to clearing a place and it is refreshing for the minds of nonhuman beings, so it is very beneficial.

While some people make offerings to nonhuman beings for selfish reasons, asking all kinds of personal benefits from them, we just invite them kindly to listen to the teaching about Amida, entrust to Him, say His Name and wish to be born in His Pure Land. By having such a compassionate goal we transform this ceremony into a Dharma instrument. Even if they receive the smoke offering without paying attention to the teaching fragment at section 4, they at least hear that we offer it to them in the Name of Amida Buddha and while saying Nembutsu. This is enough for them to make a connection with Amida which one day, perhaps in their present life or in a future one, will make them more open to Amida’s message.
Also, this ceremony does not contain any idea of personal merit or something which can be misunderstood as personal power (jiriki). Although it seems strange for our Jodo Shinshu community, as something like this has never been done before, it does not contradict the teaching of our school, but on the contrary, it corresponds to the universality of Jodo Shinshu which is a Dharma Gate for all beings, not only humans. As Shinran indicated, beings from all forms of existence can entrust to Amida and say His Name,
"When sentient beings in the various forms of existence throughout the ten quarters,
On hearing Amida's Name of transcendent virtues,
Come to attain true and real shinjin (faith),
They greatly rejoice at what they have heard".[2]
This being the case, there is no reason why we should not teach Amida Dharma to them too, while offering them a gift to catch their attention[3]. 


II.                General instructions This is a daytime ceremony. It is recommended to be done in the morning, no later than 12 o’clock, when nature wakes up. Place an image of Amida Buddha outside[4] and a table in front of it. Light special charcoals that do not produce smoke and place them on a clean metal plate[5] – you can find such charcoals on Buddhist websites. As the substance for the smoke offering use juniper or a mix of juniper, common sage (salvia officinalis) and various medicinal herbs. Place the mix of plants for offering in another vase near the metal plate with burning charcoals. Whenever you say the verses for the smoke offering, take a pinch of herbs and place it on the charcoals so that it produce smoke. The smoke emanated from the burning of substance is offered to the nonhuman beings in the categories bellow.[6]
Although the ceremony is especially dedicated to all unenlightened beings, we first make the offering according to the religious hierarchy: 1) Amida and all Buddhas and Enlightened Bodhisattvas, 2) unenlightened Dharma Protectors (nonhuman beings who are converted to Buddhism and protect the Dharma and Buddhist disciples[7]), 3) lords of the realm (powerful nonhuman beings who rule the lands and regions we live in[8], and 4) all beings without any difference between them.Repeat the verses when offering the smoke a few times (until the charcoals become unusable), then move to the other sections.
Be respectful and humble, do not think of any personal merit or achievement, focus on the words you are saying, and have the honest intention to help those beings to entrust to Amida Buddha.  Say the words of the ceremony in your own language as this will help you focus. Nonhuman beings understand your thoughts and thoughts are better formulated when you express yourself in your own language.  If possible, try to learn by heart the words of the ceremony.
III.             The ceremony 
1. Taking refuge in Amida Buddha - Nembutsu recitation
2. Awakening aspirationAll sentient beings, without exception, have been my parents, brothers and sisters in the course of countless lives in many states of existence. Thus, I must help them entrust to Amida Buddha and be born in His Pure Land where they will attain perfect Enlightenment. For this reason I will make the following smoke offering and teach them the Dharma about the unconditional salvation of Amida Buddha.
3. Verses when offering the smoke
I offer this smoke to Amida Buddha and all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the ten directions in the name of all beingsMay this smoke transform itself in whatever is necessary and beneficial for them. May all their obstacles be removed. May they always be healthy in body and mind, create indestructible connections with Amida Buddha, entrust to Him, say His Name (Namo Amida Bu) and wish to be born in His Pure Land. Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu
In the Name of Amida Buddha I offer this smoke to all beings who protect the Dharma and the disciples of Buddha. In the Name of Amida Buddha, may this smoke transform itself in whatever is necessary and beneficial for them. May all their obstacles be removed. May they always be healthy in body and mind, create indestructible connections with Amida Buddha, entrust to Him, say His Name (Namo Amida Bu) and wish to be born in His Pure Land.Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu
In the Name of Amida Buddha I offer this smoke to all beings who rule and protect this country, this region and this land, to all who rule over the mountains, the waters, the valleys, the forests and the rocks. In the Name of Amida Buddha, may this smoke transform itself in whatever is necessary and beneficial for them. May all their obstacles be removed. May they always be healthy in body and mind, create indestructible connections with Amida Buddha, entrust to Him, say His Name (Namo Amida Bu) and wish to be born in His Pure Land.Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu
In the Name of Amida Buddha I offer this smoke to all beings. In the Name of Amida Buddha, may this smoke transform itself in whatever is necessary and beneficial for them. May all their obstacles be removed. May they always be healthy in body and mind, create indestructible connections with Amida Buddha, entrust to Him, say His Name (Namo Amida Bu) and wish to be born in His Pure Land.Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu
4. Teaching:Now that you have received this beneficial smoke offering, please listen attentively to the teaching about the unconditional salvation of Amida Buddha:
All beings are born and die repeatedly and their lives are filled with various kinds of suffering. The form you have now and everything that happens to you is the effect of your karma, that is, of your deeds, words and thoughts from previous lives. Also, what you do, say and think during your present life will influence the rest of your life and future lives. There is only one escape from this endless cycle of birth, suffering and death – to entrust yourself with all your heart to Amida Buddha and say His Name, Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu, wishing to be born in His Pure Land after death. The Pure Land was created by Amida Buddha so that all beings, including you, be able to reach it easily after they die in the present form. There, in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha, you will be free from all suffering and you will never die again.
Amida Buddha is supreme in the universe, all-knowing and forever free from the repeated births and deaths, and any type of suffering. Having Great Love and Great Compassion, He made the Vow to bring to His Pure Land all beings, no matter their spiritual capacities, who entrust to Him, say His Name  (Namo Amida Bu) and wish to be born in His Pure Land after death. This is why I ask you to please, have faith in Him, say His Name (Namo Amida Bu), and wish to be born in His Pure Land. The state of mind in which you say the Name of Amida has no importance, so you can say Namo Amida Bu without any worry. No matter the state of mind you are in, or if you have or don’t have any spiritual capacities, you are accepted as you are by Amida Buddha.
Namo Amida Bu means "I entrust to Amida Buddha/I take refuge in Amida Buddha/Homage to Amida Buddha" and "thank you Amida Buddha for saving me as I am". Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu
5. End of ceremonyNow that you have been satisfied with the smoke offering and the teaching about Amida Buddha, I’ll invite you again, some other time, to receive the same gifts.
6. Eko (merit transference)May all beings receive the infinite merits of Amida Buddha, entrust themselves to Him, say His Name in faith and wish to be born in His Pure Land. Namo Amida Bu


[1] If you come to Amidaji I will show you personally how to make every step of the ceremony. [2] The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.331[3] Of course, you can catch the attention of nonhuman beings without this type of ceremony, as you can simply say the  Nembutsu and read the teaching text, because there are always some spirits or nonhuman beings around. Wherever there is a genuine sangha and temple, nonhuman beings may join in listening the Amida Dharma and receive faith, too. However, you might draw the attention of more beings if you do this ceremony. [4] If you cannot do the ceremony outside your house, then leave the window open and make the ceremony in front of your altar. Do not put the offering directly on the altar but on a special table in front of the altar. [5] Buy a new metal plate and use it only for that ceremony. All the vases and instruments selected for the ceremony should not be used for something else. [6] You can also roll a mix of common sage, juniper and various medicinal plants like a big cigar, light it, then say the words of the ceremony. [7] Dharma Protectors are of a great variety, including spirits, asuras (demigods), gods, etc. Because they are converted to Buddhism they are eager in protecting the Dharma and sincere Buddhist disciples. [8] Because their lives are very long and are present in these lands for thousands of years before we were born, they think they are the lords of these lands and are respected as such by other nonhuman beings. Among various categories of nonhuman beings there are different hierarchies just like in our human world.

23. Una analogía simple entre el Vajrayana y el Jodo Shinshu para ayudar a los practicantes indecisos - May 22, 2020 6:37:00 AM


          Traducido del inglés por: Kosho Arana
Conozco a algunas personas que provienen de las escuelas  del Budismo Vajrayana y su pensamiento todavía está influenciado por los términos y conceptos del Vajrayana, sin embargo estas personas sinceramente desean seguir el Camino Jodo Shinshu. Para ellas voy a hacer una breve analogía entre las dos tradiciones para ayudarlas a tener una transición fácil. Por favor escuchen con atención.
Como sabrán, en el Vajrayana no puedes practicar con éxito sin un empoderamiento. Cuando recibes el poder de un Maestro realizado, te conectas y eres bendecido por un linaje de transmisión ininterrumpido que comienza con un Buda y continúa con una serie de Maestros Iluminados. Entonces tu práctica puede ser exitosa si eres serio y pones todos sus esfuerzos en esta práctica. Sin este empoderamiento y conexión (con un linaje de maestros), tu práctica no te llevará a la realización. Además, una vez que se te ha otorgado este empoderamiento, debes seguir un samaya, es decir, un conjunto específico de reglas y prácticas. Sin embargo, romper este samaya sin arrepentirte ante tu Maestro dará lugar al nacimiento en el Infierno Vajra.
De alguna manera, lo mismo sucede en el Jodo Shinshu pero de una manera diferente. En nuestro caso, el gurú o Maestro iluminado es el Buda Amida y Él nos da su empoderamiento en el momento en que nos encomendamos a Él con fe genuina. Este "empoderamiento" se llama transferencia de mérito, es decir, Amida nos transfiere sus méritos y nos hace capaces de alcanzar el nacimiento y la iluminación en su Tierra Pura.
Muchas personas pueden decir El Nombre del Buda (Nembutsu) y es bueno decirlo, pero solo aquellos que lo dicen con completa fe en Él realmente recibirán Sus méritos y entrarán en la etapa de no retroceso para el nacimiento en la Tierra Pura. Es la misma diferencia entre quienes practican Vajrayana sin empoderamiento y quienes practican con empoderamiento. En nuestro caso, decir Nembutsu con poder es decirlo como una expresión de fe completa en Amida. El Nembutsu de la fe es el Nembutsu del Voto Primordial y el único Camino al centro de la Tierra Pura o "la tierra cumplida de la Tierra Pura" donde inmediatamente alcanzamos la Budeidad. Se llama Tariki Nembutsu o Nembutsu del Poder centrado en Amida.
El otro Nembutsu, es decir, el Nembutsu dicho sin poseer fe completa en Amida es el Nembutsu sin poder o el Nembutsu  Jiriki (Nembutsu basado en el poder individual). Con el Nembutsu Jiriki solo se puede ir a la frontera de la Tierra Pura si en verdad eres muy serio en tu práctica de recitación hasta el final de tu vida. Sin embargo, allí (en la Tierra fronteriza) no alcanzarás inmediatamente la Budeidad como aquellos que dijeron el Nembutsu de la fe o el Nembutsu empoderado (empoderado por el Otro Poder de Amita/Tariki).
En nuestro caso, el samaya que naturalmente ponemos en práctica cuando confiamos en Amida son los ocho elementos de la fe. Estos se manifiestan en nuestra vida ordinaria por lo que en Amidaji llamamos, los ocho"preceptos" de la fe. En resumen, nuestro samaya cumple los requisitos del Voto Primordial de Amida: "confía en mí, di mi nombre y desea nacer en mi tierra".La ruptura de este samaya se puede hacer de una manera simple renunciando a la fe en Amida y eligiendo otro camino, en cuyo caso el practicante ya no va a la Tierra Pura después de la muerte, o de la manera más desagradable al negar la existencia del Buda Amida y Su Tierra pura. Muchos falsos maestros hoy en día están divulgando estas graves mientras fingiendo enseñar el Jodo Shinshu y su destino kármico también será el infierno más bajo.
En el caso de un practicante del Vajrayana, no puede recibir el empoderamiento sin fe en el gurú que es la encarnación de todos los Budas y el linaje, mientras que en nuestro caso, no podemos recibir la transferencia de méritos de Amida, que me atrevo a llamarlo, el Empoderamiento del Nembutsu, sino confiamos en totalmente en el Buda Amida (que en esta analogía es nuestro gurú)Entonces, como puedes ver, a pesar de las diferencias, el mecanismo es el mismo. El Buda Amida es nuestro Maestro Iluminado y Gurú. Confíanos en Él y recibimos Su poder (méritos) el cual nos hace exitosos en nuestra aspiración de nacer en Su Tierra Pura después de la muerte para así llegar al logro de la Budeidad.
Ahora tienen que hacer una elección. Seguir a un gurú en forma humana, tener fe completa en él, recibir el poder de él (ritual de empoderamiento), esforzarse en las prácticas que prescriba y ser muy estricto con tu samaya (preceptos del empoderamiento del gurú) o puedes elegir al propio Buda Amida como tu gurú directo y dejar que Él te dé el poder de la manera más simple entre todas las Puertas del Dharma: el Nembutsu de la Fe que se puede decir en cualquier circunstancia y por todos, sin importar sus capacidades espirituales.
Tanto el Vajrayana como el Jodo Shinshu son caminos genuinos. Sin embargo, el primero es para personas de altas capacidades espirituales, mientras que el segundo es la puerta universal a través de la cual todos los perdedores espirituales pueden ser empoderados para convertirse en Budas al final de sus vidas.

24. An appeal to all Buddhist teachers - stop transforming your followers into scared puppies - May 13, 2020 7:09:00 AM

I think its time for all Buddhist teachers to STOP obeying politicians and STOP saying bullshit like "stay home, save lives". Enough is enough!
Don't you realize with all your wisdom that this lockdown is not physically, mentally, or spiritually healthy for your followers? Don't you realize that we can't sacrifice freedom of religious assembly indefinitely for the fear of catching a flu? Illness is part of life, and we cannot stop living, practicing, and coming to temples for fear of illness.
Don't you realize that all these insane dictatorial measures will, in the end, destroy our communities? A Sangha also needs actual face to face meetings and people must come together for practice and services. Keeping our followers in their homes for two months is NOT compassion, but STUPIDITY.Wake up and start acting like teachers by promoting the physical, mental, and spiritual well being of your followers!

We should not transform our sanghas into sheep or scared puppies who cannot go outside their houses because they fear a virosis!Namo Amida Bu

*Update to the above after talking with a few Dharma friends on internet:
Some have recently discovered that people get ill and die. Surprise, surprise! Life is also about illness and death. Is what Shakyamuni Buddha used to say everytime - there is illness, there is death, and there is suffering.
However, the fact that some get ill does NOT justify the suspension of liberties and freedoms which were won by so much blood and sacrifice! The fact that there is illness, death and suffering does NOT mean that temples be closed down, priests and teachers send people away and do not offer them religious services and teachings, or that followers should not meet and worship together. A community needs gathering together, praying together, which are things that can't be replaced by internet! Some are more fragile than others and need the physical presence of a priest, which cannot be done by internet! To hug somebody who has a problem and say Nembutsu with him cannot be done by internet! Atheists and materialists who run our world and the hoards of stupid people who obey them can't understand this because they are not religious people, nor in need of religion. Others do this purposely because they know they must suppress the power of religion. Indeed, religious people who share common values and gather together in a community are an obstacle to their goal of creating a world of ego-centered individuals who live only by themselves.
Please do not allow yourself to be fooled by nice words like "stay home, save a life"! Lives are not saved by staying alone, each one secluded in their own space! Lives are saved and improved by communicating, by meeting face to face, by helping with your own arms and body, by being physically in the presence of those who need you! Let's not allow those fearmongers to destroy our communities! Religious people need to recite together in the same temple, need to work together, even eat and drink together to maintain their sense of community!
Please, dear priests, teachers and Dharma friends, raise your voices and speak up against the tyranny of lockdown. It is said that those who give up their freedom for safety, will lose both their freedom and safety. Governments who can lock us up in our houses will one day suppress our rights to follow our religion and religious values. Secluded individuals cannot resist tyranny. Please wake up!Namo Amida Bu


PS: Since the beginning of this virus hysteria Amidaji refused to close its gates for its followers and my religious activity continued as usual. I also constantly urged people to go out and enjoy life as can be seen here, in this statement. 
25. The Six Realms of Samsaric Existence and Amida Buddha's Pure Land according to Amida Dharma (Jodo Shinshu Buddhism) - May 6, 2020 6:35:00 AM

This is a presentation made by Kosho Arana based on my books.

Narrators:
Part 1: Gansen John Welch (Australia)
Part 2: Kosho Arana (Colombia)
Both Kosho Arana and Gansen John Welch are lay teachers affiliated with Amidaji temple.