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Adrian Cirlea

preot buddhist Jodo Shinshu presedinte Asociatia Buddhista Jodo Shinshu din Romania

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Orthodox Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Teachings. Official website of Amidaji temple.

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01. AMIDAJI BOOKSTORE - LIBRERÍA AMIDAJI - BIBLIOTECA AMIDAJI - LIBRAIRIE AMIDAJI - Aug 8, 2020 4:07:00 PM


BOOKS IN ENGLISH

LIBROS EN ESPAÑOL

LIVRES EN FRANÇAIS
LIVROS EM PORTUGUÊS (disponível em breve)




02. LIBRERÍA AMIDAJI - Compra y Apoya al Templo Amidaji - Aug 8, 2020 3:43:00 PM


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El Dharma de Amida, Rev Josho Adrian Cirlea


Este libro representa la esencia de la Enseñanza Budista Jodo Shinshu tal como es enseñada en el Templo Amidaji y en nuestra Sangha internacional. Su estudio es una obligación para cualquier seguidor. Si alguien no puede leerlo, se lo leerá el sacerdote o uno de los colegas del Dharma.
”El Dharma de Amida” contiene el conocimiento mínimo requerido para un miembro del Templo Amidaji. Es un libro simple sin citas y términos técnicos, limitado a lo estrictamente necesario para comprender el mundo de los nacimientos y muertes repetidos (samsara) y el Camino para escapar de él.

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Los cuatro pensamientos profundos que orientan la mente hacia el Dharma de Amida, Rev Josho Adrian Cirlea 
Los Cuatro Pensamientos Profundos son enseñanzas fundamentales;son una etapa preliminar a cualquier camino o práctica budista. Tienen el efecto de orientar la mente hacia el Dharma del Buda y deben ser un compañero constante no importa si uno es un principiante o un seguidor veterano. A veces se denominan como las Cuatro contemplaciones, los cuatro Entendimientos o los cuatro Recordatorios. Dado que en este libro los explico en el contexto de la Puerta del Dharma de la Tierra Pura de la escuela Jodo Shinshu (El Dharma de Amida), decidí llamarlos los Cuatro Pensamientos profundos que orientan la mente hacia el Dharma de Amida. Estos pensamientos profundos son:
1.   Preciosidad del nacimiento humano.2.   La impermanencia y la muerte.3.   Karma - la ley de causa y efecto4.   El Samsara e ssufrimiento.
Si uno contempla, entiende y nunca olvida estos cuatro pensamientos, entonces uno es un seguidor serio del Buda Shakyamuni y el Buda Amida. Comprender y recordar tal contemplación, no es algo especial; lo que sí tiene valor es poseer un simple entendimiento de que nuestra situación está definida por las anteriores cuatro verdades

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LAS VERDADERA ENSEÑANZA DEL BUDA AMIDA Y SU TIERRA PURA, Rev Josho Adrian Cirlea
Este libro es un proyecto a largo plazo que comenzó hace unos años como reacción a la aparición en la sangha internacional de algunas opiniones divergentes que amenazan con destruir las posibilidades de que muchas personas escuchen el genuino Dharma de Amida. También es un trabajo en progreso, y el lector puede esperar que vuelva, tarde o temprano, con nuevas ediciones y mejoras.
Como todos sabemos, el Dharma es el segundo de los Tres Tesoros (Buda, Dharma y Sangha) en los que todos nos refugiamos cuando nos convertimos en discípulos budistas. En pocas palabras, el papel de la Sangha es asegurar una transmisión genuina del Dharma como fue enseñado por el Buda Shakyamuni y los Maestros de nuestra tradición (Jodo Shinshu), para que todos podamos recibir fe (shinjin) y alcanzar la Budeidad en la Tierra Pura. Sin tal transmisión adecuada, en realidad no hay Sangha y no hay posibilidad para la liberación del nacimiento y la muerte, es decir, no hay posibilidad para convertirnos a nosotros mismos enbudas.
Más que esto, el Dharma es la medicina suprema dada por el Buda, el Doctor Supremo, y al recibirlo debemos tener la actitud de pacientes humildes cuya salud y salvación dependen totalmente de la prescripción del médico y la correcta administración de la medicina. Si somos sacerdotes o maestros, simplemente no podemos ser descuidados con la salvación de las personas del nacimiento y la muerte, de la misma manera en que un buen farmaceuta no le da veneno a quienes acuden a él buscando medicina prescrita por su médico.
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Comentario sobre el Sutra de Buda de Vida Infinita, Rev Josho Adrian Cirlea
En primer lugar, debe entenderse claramente que este no es un estudio académico, secular o histórico, sino un comentario religioso. Su objetivo es explicar en términos fáciles de entender el significado profundo del Sutra más grande para que así las personas puedan recibir fe en el Buda Amida y nacer en Su Tierra Pura después de la muerte. Yo, el autor de este comentario, acepto con fe el contenido del sutra y considero que describe eventos reales, un Buda real y existente llamado Amida y un lugar iluminado real llamado la Tierra Pura. El deseo de mi corazón es que los lectores lleguen a compartir la misma opinión para que surja la verdadera fe y aspiración en ellos. Hay muchas maneras de leer el Sutra más grande y existen varias capas de  interpretación, por eso se benefician diferentes tipos de practicantes: aquellos que optan por enfocarse en el Buda Amida pero aún se aferran a su poder propio como seguidores de los votos 19 y 20, así como los seguidores del Voto Primordial (el Voto 18) quienes son practicantes que confían exclusivamente en el poder del Buda Amida.
Sin embargo, debido a que el Jodo Shinshu es la escuela del Voto Primordial, este comentario y explicación está escrito desde la perspectiva del Voto Primordial y la total confianza en el Poder del Buda Amida.
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¡MÁS LIBROS SEGUIRÁN PRONTO! ¡CONSULTE ESTA PÁGINA OTRA VEZ PARA LAS ACTUALIZACIONES!

Información importante sobre envíos a Latino América comprando en Amazon:
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03. AMIDAJI BOOKSTORE - ENGLISH BOOKS - Aug 7, 2020 4:52:00 PM


Click to return to the main page of Amidaji library
If you buy one of these books you support Amidaji and its Dharma activities.
Some books are sold via Amazon while some are sold from this page by PayPal.
About Amazon - you can go to any Amazon page from any country (USA, UK, Spain, Germany, India, Japan, France, etc) and type Josho Adrian Cirlea in their search engine. All my books will appear automatically in your own currency and so you can order them from your country. 
Those who can't afford or don't want to buy can download the free online editions in pdf at this link (click here).


AMIDA DHARMA - the essential doctrine of Amidaji International Temple, by Josho Adrian CirleaThis book represents the essence of Jodo Shinshu Buddhist teaching as it is taught at Amidaji temple and in our international Sangha. Its study is an obligation for any follower. If somebody can’t read it, it will be read to him by the priest or one of the Dharma colleagues.

Amida Dharma contains the minimum knowledge recquired for a member of Amidaji. It is a simple book without quotations and technical terms, limited to what is strictly necesary to understand the world of repeated births and deaths (samsara) and the Path to escape from it.
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The Meaning of Faith and Nembutsu in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, by Rev Josho Adrian Cirlea

This book is, as the title shows, an attempt to explain the meaning of faith and Nembutsu in accordance with the teaching of our school. It contains a very detailed explanation of the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha, sentence by sentence, word by word, and other important teachings and explanations related with faith (shinjin) and nembutsu (the saying of the Name of Amida Buddha). 
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The Four Profound Thoughts which Turn the Mind Towards Amida Dharma, by Rev Josho Adrian Cirlea 


This book offers a detailed explanation and deep contemplation on the basic Buddhist teachings of 1) the preciousness of human birth, 2) impermanence and death, 3) karma, and 4) the suffering of the various samsaric states of existence (including bardo), all in relation with Amida Buddha's undiscriminative salvation. 
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Commentary on the Sutra on the Buddha of Infinite Life, by Rev Josho Adrian Cirlea

This is not an academic, secular or historical study, but a religious commentary. Its goal is to explain in easy to understand terms the deep meaning of the Larger Sutra so that people can receive faith in Amida Buddha and be born in His Pure Land after death. 
There are many ways to read the Larger Sutra and various layers of interpretation, which is why different types of practitioners benefit from it - those who choose to focus on Amida Buddha but still cling to their self-power like followers of the 19th and 20th Vows, as well as followers of the Primal Vow (18th) who rely exclusively on Amida’s power.However, because Jodo Shinshu is the school of the Primal Vow, this commentary and explanation is written from the perspective of the Primal Vow and the complete reliance on the Power of Amida Buddha.  Members and followers of Amidaji temple should look to this commentary as their guide in reading and studying the Larger Sutra. A new and revised explanation of the 48 vows is included in this book.
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The True Teaching on Amida Buddha and His Pure Land, by
 Rev Josho Adrian Cirlea
The Dharma is the supreme medicine given by the Buddha, the supreme Doctor, and in receiving it we must have the attitude of humble patients whose health and salvation depend totally upon the Doctor’s prescription and proper administration of the medicine. If we are priests or teachers we simply cannot be careless with people’s salvation from birth and death, just like a good pharmacist does not give poison to those who come to him looking for the medicine prescribed by their doctor.As long as we ourselves are not Doctors (Enlighted beings/Buddhas) we should also not change the Medicine (the Dharma), but instead act as the good pharmacist and give to others exactly what the Doctor has prescribed. Trully, Amida Dharma is not our property and in dealing with it, we should act only as transmitters, not creators of the teaching. This is exactly what I am trying to do in this book – to show the true teaching about Amida Buddha and His Pure Land, while also counteracting some of the most spread wrong views of our time. 
PayPal in Euro: 18 Euro (shipment included):



The Path of Acceptance - Commentary on Tannisho, by Rev Josho Adrian Cirlea

This book is an adaptation of my Dharma talks on the sacred text of Tannisho – Notes on Lamenting Divergences, given  at Tariki Dojo Craiova during the usual days of practice. Each chapter is explained in easy to   understand terms so that to be accesible to beginers and the general public. 

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The Larger Sutra on the Buddha of Infinite Life in which the story of Amida Buddha and His saving activity is revealed by Shakyamuni Buddha. Shinran Shonin considered this sutra to be the true reason for Shakyamuni's appearing into this world.
The translator, Hisao Inagaki Sensei, kindly donated many copies of this edition to be sold as fundraising for the building of Amidaji Temple Romania.


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More books will follow soon!
Please stay in touch!




04. Librairie Amidaji - Achetez et soutenez le temple d'Amidaji - Aug 7, 2020 3:49:00 PM

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AMIDA DHARMA, Rev Josho Adrian Cirlea
Le Bouddhisme Jodo Shinshu ou Amida Dharma est le chemin vers le Nirvana (l'Illumination Parfaite) par la foi en Bouddha Amida. Ce chemin a été enseigné par le Bouddha Shâkyamuni (le Bouddha historique) et a par la suite été transmis à notre époque par une longue série de maîtres et d'enseignants parmi lesquels je mentionne Shinran Shonin (1173-1262), le fondateur de cette école au Japon et Rennyo Shonin ( 1415-1499), le restaurateur.
Les mots "Jodo Shinshu" signifient "École Véritable de la Terre Pure" et "Dharma" signifie l'enseignement. Amida Dharma est l'enseignement sur le salut inconditionnel offert par Amida Buddha. Avec l'aide de ce Bouddha appelé Amida, nous sommes nés dans Sa Terre Pure (Sa sphère d'influence) après la mort où nous atteignons l'Illumination Parfaite (Nirvana).
Ce livre représente l'essence de l'enseignement Bouddhiste Jodo Shinshu tel qu'il est enseigné au temple d'Amidaji et dans notre Sangha internationale. Son étude est indispensable à tout adepte. Si quelqu'un ne peut pas le lire, il lui sera lu par le prêtre ou l'un des collègues du Dharma.
Amida Dharma contient les connaissances minimales requises pour un membre d'Amidaji. 

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D'autres livres suivront bientôt




05. Discover your Buddha nature with Amida's help - Aug 3, 2020 10:19:00 AM

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Question: I heard somebody say that we do not need to aspire for birth in the Pure Land because “everything is in the mind”.
My answer: Those who say that we don’t need the Pure Land to attain perfect Enlightenment and discover our innate Buddha nature because “everything is in the mind” are gravely deluded. As we all know from daily life, in some places and with some people we become more agitated or more calm. Although everything happens in the mind, the environment and the people around us influences our minds. There will always be more peace in our minds when we are in the presence of peaceful people.

The samsaric environment in which we live is the effect of our personal and collective karma. It is like the dream which occurs at night because of our thoughts and actions during the daytime. It is our manifestation and emanation. Here everything, from noisy people to evil beings and various difficulties, can be an obstacle for the mind to discover its own inner peace and Buddha nature. However, in the Pure Land everything is leading to Enlightenment. That environment is manifested by Amida from ultimate Reality and it is filled with His enlightened presence and various Enlightened saints. Unlike here where every material object can hurt us or cause us drown even more in illusions and attachments, in the Pure Land the water, the trees, the “food”, the flowers, the breeze are all emanating deep enlightened sounds and teachings because those are enlightened manifestations, not samsaric phenomena like here in our world. This is why in that enlightened realm the various layers of our illusory personality are immediately melt and our mind naturally finds its true essence – the Buddha nature.  
Please never forget the Base, the Path and the Fruit.Buddha nature is the base in the sense that we already have it, just it is now covered by the many layers of illusions and blind passions. It is also the fruit meaning that we’ll discover it when we attain perfect Enlightenment in the Pure Land, while the Nembutsu of Faith in Amida’s Primal Vow is the Path. We cannot discover our innate Buddha nature without Amida’s help and birth in His enlightened realm.


06. Some sayings of Nagarjuna on emptiness and Buddha nature - Aug 2, 2020 10:33:00 AM
Bodhisattva Nagarjuna, the 1st Patriarch
of Jodo Shinshu school
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Bodhisattva Nagarjuna said in Praise of the Element of Attributes (words in normal brackets are my own and words in special brackets [..] are the words of Master Dolpopa:
“Homage and obeisance to the element of attributes (Buddha nature with its innate qualities),Definitely dwelling in all sentient beings,Which if one does not thoroughly knowOne wanders in the three existences.
[Due to being mixed with limitless defilement, the element of attributes is not seen;For example,][1]just as due to having purified milkThe essence of butter [is seen] without [obstructive] defilement,So due to having purified [and extinguished] the afflictive emotions [through the Path]The very undefiled element of attributes [is manifestly seen]. (Buddha nature becomes visible only after we extinguish the afflictive emotions. In our case, the Path for purifying afflictive emotions is the Nembutsu of Faith and the place for purifying them is the Pure Land of Amida that we attain after death.)
Just as a butter-lamp dwelling inside a potIs not in the least perceived,So the element of attributes (Buddha nature with its innate qualities) alsoIs not perceived inside the pot of afflictive emotions.
[Finally] when the [obstructive] pot has [entirely] been broken,[The element of attributes] illuminates[And is seen] to the ends of space.
The element of attributes is not [newly] produced,[And its entity] never ceases [while one is a sentientbeing].At all times [during the basal state, the path, and thefruit] it is without afflictive emotions [in its nature]—In the beginning [in the basal state], the middle [duringthe path], and the end [during the fruit primordially]free from defilement.(Buddha nature and its innate enlightened qualities is the same no matter we discover it or not. Buddha nature is the Base in the sense that it has always existed and it is the Fruit in the sense that we can discover it after following the Path, which in our case, is the Nembutsu of Faith and birth in the Pure Land.)
Just as a vaidurya gemAt all times is luminousBut dwelling inside an [obstructive] stoneIts light is not manifest,So the element of attributes obscured by afflictive emotions Is very undefiled [in its nature],But its light is not manifest in the cyclic existence [ofafflictive emotions],Becoming [manifestly] luminous in Nirvana. (Nirvana is the discovery of our Buddha nature.)
 [Although the element of attributes is naturally pure, itis obstructed by obstructing factors;For example,] even the undefiled sun and moonAre obscured by five obstructions – Clouds, mist, smoke,The face of Rahu[2], and dust and the like.Similarly, the mind of clear light [which is the natureof all sentient beings]Is obscured by five obstructions—Desire, harmful intent, laziness,Excitement, and doubt.
[Therefore, although a Buddha in which all qualitiessuch as the powers and so forth are integrally completeexists primordially[3] in all sentient beings, thedefilements are extinguished through striving atthe Path clearing away obstructions, but the clearlight is not consumed; for example,]When a garment [made from a hard mineral] that isstainedWith various defilements and to be cleansed [of defilement]by fire is put in fire, its stains are burned but it is not.So, similarly, with regard to the mind of clear light (Buddha nature)Which has the stains of desire and so forth,Its stains are burned by the fire of wisdom [on thePath]But [since it does not burn the clear light, the qualitiesof the clear light do not become non-existent theway iron is consumed or worn away, and hence]that [path] does not [burn away] the clear light. (The Buddhist Path destroys the stains of blind passions and illusions, but does not destroy the Buddha nature and its innate qualities. The Pure Land of Amida Buddha where we are to be born is like a great fireplace where the stains of defilements are removed and the Buddha nature is revealed automatically.)
All the sutras [such as the Mother Sutras and so forth]Spoken by the Conqueror that teach emptinessOvercome the afflictive emotions [of conceiving self ]But do not diminish [and refute] the essential constituent. (The above sutras who teach emptiness do so to help us abandon the idea of a permanent self (ego) in our blind passions and ignorance, but do not say that “the essential constituent” or Buddha nature does not exist.)
[Ultimately the element of attributes cannot be refuted;For example,] just as water existing on the sphere of earthResides [in its nature] without defilement,So the pristine wisdom inside afflictive emotionsSimilarly [always] abides without defilement [neversuitable to be non-existent]. (Buddha nature exists and is not stained by our afflictive emotions that cover it since the beginingless past.)
[Though it exists, it is not seen if the obstructions arenot purified;For example,] just as a child exists in the bellyOf the womb but is not seen,So the element of attributes coveredWith afflictive emotions also is not seen [though alwaysresident]. (We cannot see Buddha nature and its innate qualities – here described as “element of attributes” –  as long as we are unenlightened and have blind passions.)
 [A single river has different states due to relation withother causes and conditions;]Just as a river in summerIs said to be ‘warm’But that [same river] itself in cold seasonIs said to be ‘cold,’So when [the element of attributes is] covered with thenets of afflictive emotions,It is called ‘sentient being,’But when that [element of attributes] itself is separatedfrom afflictive emotions,It is called ‘Buddha.’”[4] (Buddhas are those who uncovered their Buddha nature from afflictive emotions and illusions, while sentient beings are those whose Buddha nature is still covered by them.)


[1] Brackets [..] are from Master Dolpopa’s [Interlinear Commentary on Nagarjuna’s] Praise of the Element of Attributes.[2] Rahu is a chief demigod (asura) who sometimes obscures the sun.[3] See chapter six of this book,“On the idea of innate or primordial Enlightenment”. [4] The Essence of Other-Emptiness, Taranatha, translated and annotated by Jeffrey Hopkins in collaboration with Lama Lodro Namgyel, Snow Lion Boston & London, 2007, p. 63-67

07. Only Buddhas can see Buddha nature - Jul 30, 2020 11:19:00 AM
Hinayana Sravakas
(source of photo here)
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All beings have Buddha nature which is the Basis and also the Fruit (the finalization) of the Path. However, even among those who are disciples of the Buddha not all have the same aspiration. Thus, not everyone obtains the fruit of discovering their Buddha nature.                                                                                                                                                      
 In the Queen Srimala Sutra it is said:
“O’ Bhagavan, the wisdom of the Buddha Nature is the World Honored One’s wisdom of Sunyata (Emptiness). The Buddha Nature is not something that has been seen or realized by any Arhat, or Pratyekabuddha. 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. […]
 All the [sravaka] disciples and Pratyekabuddhas are stuck in the domain of the four inverse views because of their incorrect knowledge of emptiness. This is why none of the Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas have ever seen or attained the Buddha Nature. Only the Buddha’s have experienced the extinction of all suffering and destroyed all the stores of defilement. They alone have practiced all the paths which lead to the extinction of suffering.”[1]
In the Mahaparinirvana Sutra it is said:
“The wise perceive emptiness and non-emptiness, the permanent and the impermanent, suffering and bliss, Self and non-Self. The empty is the totality of samsara and the non-empty is Great Nirvana, non-Self is samsara, and the Self is Great Nirvana. To perceive the emptiness of everything and not to perceive non-emptiness is not termed the Middle Way, to perceive the non-Self of everything, and not to perceive the Self is not termed the Middle Way. The Middle Way is termed the Buddha-dhatu (Buddha nature/Buddha essence). For this reason, the Buddha-dhatu is eternal and unchanging. Because beings are enveloped in ignorance, they are unable to perceive it. Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas  perceive the emptiness of everything, but do not perceive the non-emptiness, they perceive the absence of self [i.e. non-Self] in all things, but do not perceive the Self. For this reason, they do not attain the ultimate emptiness. Because they do not attain the supreme emptiness, they do not walk the Middle Way. Because they lack the Middle Way, they do not perceive the Buddha-dhatu.”
An Arhat is the saint and the culmination of the Hinayana Buddhist teaching. He has overcome the outward manifestation of the afflictive emotions but has not completely uprooted their psychic imprint. He is free from samsara but has no attained perfect Enlightenment. For this reason we say he did not discover the Buddha nature.
A Hinayana Sravaka (Hinayana Hearer) is the Buddhist disciple who fears samsara and wishes to achieve Nirvana but has little compassion. It is said:
“One who is afraid upon seeing the suffering of samsaraAnd yearns to achieve NirvanaBut has little interest in benefiting sentient beings – These are the three marks of the Hearer family.”[2]
These should NOT be confused with the sravakas mentioned in the The Larger Sutra which refer to people who might have been Hinayana sravakas in a previous existence before being born in the Pure Land and who are now faithful enlightened disciples of Amida Buddha and hear the teaching directly from Him.
A Pratyekabuddha (Solitary Realizer) is one who has the above three marks and in addition is arrogant, keep his master’s identity secret and prefer to stay in solitary places. It is said:
“Fear at the thought of samsara, yearning for Nirvana,Little compassion, arrogance,Secretive about their teachers, and enjoying solitudeA wise one should understand that these are the marks of the Solitary Realizer family.”[3]
The Sravakayana (Sravaka vehicle) and Pratyekabuddhayana are the two vehicles (yana) of the Hinayana, while the Bodhisattvayana is the Mahayana which aims at attaining Nirvana for all beings.
According to the above sutras the Arhats, Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas of the Hinayana do not attain Buddhahood and so they do not discover their Buddha nature because they have an “incorrect knowledge of emptiness”, that is, they can’t accept the difference as explained in this book between other emptiness or non-empty-emptiness (“supreme emptiness”)of Buddha nature, and self emptiness or empty-emptiness of samsaric phenomena which simply means that Buddha nature is only empty of illusions, blind passions, and any samsaric phenomena (empty of other things that are not Buddha nature – other emptiness), but NOT empty of itself and its own innate qualities (“attributes”), as Queen Srimala said:
“The Buddha nature is empty from, separate from, independent from and different from all the stores of defilement. 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”.
On the other hand, the samsaric phenomena are empty of themselves because they are depending on causes and conditions and always changing. Many people nowadays, followers of Mahayana in name only call themselves Madhyamikas or Middle Way disciples but have a wrong view on emptiness in the sense that they think everything is self-empty, including the great Nirvana and Buddha nature. However, as Mahaparinirvana Sutra said “the empty is the totality of samsara and the non-empty is Great Nirvana”. Hinayana Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas perceive the emptiness of everything that relatively exists in samsara and know the non-self aspect of all samsaric phenomena, but they don’t perceive the non-emptiness of Nirvana and the true Self of Buddha nature. Only those who become Buddhas and start using its myriad innate qualities to help all beings see and know Buddha nature. We ourselves, followers of the Primal Vow, will become Buddhas in the moment we are born in the Pure Land of Amida and see Buddha nature.
Many so-called Mahayana practitioners talk all day long about emptiness and oneness but don’t accept that Buddha nature and Buddhas dwelling in it are NOT self-empty but only empty of illusions, blind passions and attachments. They are nothing more than pitiful atheists and materialists who follow the wrong view of nihilistic emptiness and who will never see Buddha nature. Please stay away from them!

to be continued 



[1] Queen Srimala and her Lion’s Roar Sutra, chapter 9, verse 97, translated by Tsultrim Gyurme, https://whatdobuddhistsbelieve.wordpress.com/teachings/queen-srimala-sutra[2] The Jewel Ornament of Liberation – The Wish-fulfiling Gem of the Noble Teachings, Gampopa, translated into English by Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaka, New York, 1998, p.51[3] The Jewel Ornament of Liberation – The Wish-fulfiling Gem of the Noble Teachings, Gampopa, translated into English by Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaka, New York, 1998, p.51

08. The wrong view of nihilistic emptiness - Jul 29, 2020 12:42:00 PM


Click here to return to the main page On Buddha nature
Unfortunately, many nowadays followers are confused by wrong views and deny the existence of individuated Buddhas by misinterpreting ultimate reality or Dharmakaya of Dharma nature as some kind of nihilistic emptiness in which nothing exists. They think that when one attains Enlightenment he goes into some kind of extinction when in fact, at that moment only illusions and blind passions disappear and go extinct, thus allowing for true reality to be revealed. Simply stated, it is like waking up from a dream and realizing we are not the person in the dream and that the reality to which we were awakened to (Buddha nature/ultimate Dharmakaya) is the true reality with real qualities unlike the false appearances of the dream.
Buddhas do not exist in the way we exist, that is, conditioned samsaric beings with illusions, blind passions, attachments and a distorted view of reality, but this does NOT mean they do not actually exist! Their existence is grounded in the true reality of Buddha nature which upon being discovered we refer to as Dharmakaya of Dharma nature (ultimate Dharmakaya).  We cannot say that our dream like samsaric existence is true and real while the Buddhas realm of existence is just a myth, symbol or metaphor! It is idiotic to state such a thing! Being now awake to the true reality, a Buddha has access to all the inherent qualities of this natural state of wakefulness which include a clear mind, clear thinking and knowing, the capacity to act unrestricted[1], etc. The dream person had only a relative existence and appeared under certain causes and conditions as every dream is formed under the influence of various thoughts and actions, while the awakened person or Buddha has true existence because He has access to the reality as it is with all its inherent qualities. Thus, instead of being a nihilistic emptiness, the state of awakening is actually full of real life and unlimited capacities. Nobody who wakes up from a night dream thinks that he is now extinct while the dream was the true reality. In the same way, one who becomes a Buddha and awakens to the reality of Buddha nature does not turn into a literary metaphor, symbol or fictional character, nor does He think He is now extinct, but realizes that this is the true Reality and the true mode of living. 
Many nowadays Buddhists do not understand the meaning of avoiding the extremes of nihilism and eternalism or of existence and non-existence, so let me explain it in very simple words. To say that everything exists, including a samsaric self (ego) and an eternal creator god is the extreme of eternalism, while to say that nothing exists is the extreme of nihilism. However, by saying in relation to samsaric beings and their environment that they exist only in a relative way because they depend on causes and conditions and are constantly changing, I avoided the extreme of both nihilism (non-existence) and the extreme of eternalism. Because samsaric beings and their environment exist only at a relative level we do not say that they exist eternally and without change (eternalism), but we also do not say they do not exist at all (nihilism) like they do not appear. Samsaric phenomena are like a dream – its “real” when we dream it, but actually from the point of view of the awakened state of mind they do not truly exist in an absolute sense. In the same way, when we speak about Buddhas we do not say they exist like us, unenlightened beings caught in samsara, so we do not fall in the extreme of eternalism (existence), but we also do not say they do not exist at all which means we do not fall in the extreme of non-existence and nihilism. Buddhas do not exist like us, but they also exist as Enlightened Beings awakened to the true reality of Buddha nature. However, when deluded scholars explain them as myths, symbols, metaphors or fictional characters they actually reduce them to non-existence, because it is like saying that they exist only as expressions of the imagination of unenlightened beings, something like a benevolent Santa Claus.
As you have seen at chapter five, I like to compare this Buddha nature with the open space of a beautiful park where one roams freely and does whatever he wants, and the state of samsaric beings with that of prisoners living in a smelly narrow cell. Prison life is fixed, extremely limited and filled with suffering while life in the open space of nature is a happy one, unconditioned and free. As our limited minds are incapable to understand that which is beyond conceptual thinking and this book is intended for ordinary people without any pretension of the high spiritual insight of the esoteric schools, I think it’s very useful to use this image of the open space of a beautiful park versus the narrow prison cell to explain the characteristics of Buddha nature and those of samsaric existence. People who lived many years in a smelly and narrow prison cell might not think to the beautiful natural park outside their world with fresh air, birds chirping, clean water and lack of stress, but this does not mean that park doesn’t exist. In the same way, samsaric beings might tend to deny the existence of Buddhas with their natural enlightened qualities or the extraordinary and other worldly descriptions of the Pure Lands but this does not mean that their attitude has anything in common with the true teaching.
The fact that the entire canon of sutras is filled with active Buddhas and their miraculous actions for guiding and saving sentient beings should make us reflect that although beyond our understanding, they are very much alive and real. The world of Buddhas and their activities is so extraordinarily presented in the sutras not because they are mythical but because their reality is truly extraordinary and beyond the karmic confines of our samsaric existence. Those descriptions point to a totally different reality and way of living.
If you live in an ugly prison cell and you hear about somebody visiting a spectacular waterfall or walking through a high mountain with big trees and chirping birds, fresh air and invigorating smells you might find it too fantastic to believe. However, your narrow cell is not the true reality. It’s the same with the reality of the Buddhas which is the true Reality. As beings who lived their entire lives in the narrow cells of our limited bodies that survive on food and water, grow old and sick, etc, we find it hard to believe that some guys can actually have as many bodies or forms they like, go wherever they want in seconds without leaving the place where they stay at present, hear everyone’s thoughts, know everyone’s previous lives and anything they want to know, etc. However, this is the Reality of those who dwell in their Buddha nature and are called Buddhas.  We should not deny their existence because we have never experienced this.   
Many Masters urged us to not fall in the extreme view of nihilistic emptiness that denies the extraordinary qualities of the ultimate reality, the existence of the Enlightened Ones who dwell in it, or the Pure Lands which are the expression in transcendental forms of the same reality manifested for the sake of saving sentient beings.
In The Meaning of Faith and Nembutsu I showed that the only people who self-exclude from the salvation offered by Amida Buddha in His Primal Vow are those who slander the right Dharma.  As Master T’an-luan explained, to slander the right Dharma means “saying there is no Buddha”[2]and quoting a sutra he stated that such people cannot be born in the Pure Land of Amida and attain Enlightenment, but go directly to the lowest hell.
Also, Master Padmasambhava said:
“The sign of having gone astray is to start making statements such as ‘There are no Buddhas above! There are no sentient beings bellow! Everything is emptiness since it doesn’t exist!The shortcoming of this way of straying is the conceptual thought, ‘everything is emptiness!’. Such an attitude makes you abandon all forms of spiritual activity such as devotion and pure perception, refuge and bodhicitta, loving kindness and compassion, and so forth. Instead you become involved in mundane pursuits. With regard to evil, this attitude makes you wantonly engage in unvirtuous actions. Someone who acts in this way of perverting what is true will have no other place to go than Vajra Hell. Having perverted the truth of what is virtuous, the effect of such demented practice is to take rebirth as someone holding the extreme view of nihilism. Having perverted the truth of cause and effect, you flounder through the ocean of suffering. Tsogyal, there are many who claim to realize emptiness, but very few realize the ultimate natural state.”[3]
Very few can actually dwell in the natural state of ultimate reality and see things with the innate wisdom of Buddha nature, which is why many practitioners who play smart with ideas of emptiness while they are still unenlightened and not free from the bondage of samsara fall into the nihilistic views. Such a view is dangerous for all aspects related with the Buddhist Path as the deluded person who is influenced by it not only that he denies the existence of Buddhas, but also does not understand rebirth, the law of cause and effect and may even neglect morality and the teachings on good behavior. Everything can go wrong for the one with a nihilistic view of emptiness. This is exactly why Shakyamuni said in the Sutra on the Supreme Refuge:
“ ‘Even if all sentient beings gave rise to the view of ego, as big as mount Sumeru, I would not be horrified. The reason is that although they have not yet attained emancipation, they do not at any time reject the law of causality and retributions for their acts. If someone gave rise to the view of voidness, as small as a poppy-seed, I would not tolerate this. What is the reason? Because such a view goes against the law of causality and those who hold it are most likely to fall into an evil realm. Wherever they are born, they will undoubtedly disobey my teaching.”[4]

to be continued


[1] See for example the 32 qualities explained at chapter five.[2] Master T’an-luan Commentary on Vasubandhu’s Discourse on the Pure  Land (Ojoronchu), The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.145 [3] Advice from the Lotus-Born, translated from the Tibetan by Erik Pema Kunsang, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1994, p. 45.[4] Passage quoted by Master Tao-ch’o in Collection of Passages on the Land of Peace and Bliss -  AN LE CHI , translated by Zuio Hisao Inagaki, Horai Association International, Singapore, 2015, p.40

09. What did Shinran mean by "shinjin (faith) is Buddha nature"? - Jul 28, 2020 11:27:00 AM
The crest of Amidaji. The eight petal
lotus represents the eight elements of faith
(shinjin) and the eight precepts of faith. Click here to return to the main page On Buddha nature
I heard some people misinterpreting the saying used by Shinran; “shinjin is Buddha nature” as to mean that shinjin (faith) actually means to believe in the existence of Buddha nature. Of course, Shinran accepted the existence of Buddha nature as He was quoting a lot from Mahaparinirvana Sutra and other sutras were Shakyamuni teaches about it. However, this was not his intention when he said that “great shinjin”  or “great faith” is Budha nature. First let’s see how he said that:

"The person who attains shinjin and joy
Is taught to be equal to the Tathagatas.
Great shinjin is itself Buddha-nature;
Buddha-nature is none other than Tathagata".[1]
What did Shinran mean by being equal with the Tathagathas (Buddhas) because of having shinjin (faith)? He explained:
“The Garland Sutra states that those who have attained true shinjin (faith) are already certain to become Buddhas and therefore are equal to the Tathagatas.”
So, because people who entrust to Amida are certain to become Buddhas in the Pure Land, they are called “equal to the Tathagatas”. It does NOT mean we are now Tathagatas or Buddhas but that all Buddhas look to us as their future colleagues in Enlightenment and saving sentient beings.
“The Buddhas in the ten quarters rejoice in the settling of this mind [of shinjin] and praise it as being equal to the hearts and minds of all Buddhas. Thus, the person of true shinjin (faith) is said to be equal to Buddhas. He is also regarded as being the same as Maitreya, who is in [the rank of] succession to Buddhahood.”
“…all Buddhas feel great joy when such a person rejoices in the realization of true shinjin, and they proclaim, ‘This person is our equal.’ Sakyamuni's words of rejoicing are found in the Larger Sutra: ‘The one who sees, reveres, and attains [the Dharma] and greatly rejoices - that person is my excellent, close companion’; thus He teaches that the person who has attained shinjin is equal to Buddhas.”
Shinjin or great faith is the cause of becoming Buddhas. However, according to Shinran, shinjin does not mean to have faith in Buddha nature, but to hear and entrust to the promise of Amida Buddha in His Primal Vow:
"Shinjin (faith) is hearing the Vow of the Tathagata and being free of doubt".[2]
"'Entrusting' is to be free of doubt, believing deeply and without any double-mindedness that the Tathagata's Primal Vow is true and real."[3]
"Concerning entrusting:
One becomes sure of the attainment of Birth [in the Pure Land]. This mind, being deep trust, is like diamond."[4]
This shinjin which means to entrust to Amida’s Primal Vow is the very cause of attaining Nirvana or Buddha nature.
Honen Shonin said:
"Through entrusting oneself, one is enabled to enter the city of Nirvana.”[5]
And Shinran commented:
“'The city of Nirvana' is the Pure Land of peace.'Through entrusting oneself, one is enabled to enter': These words exhort us to know that the person who has realized true and real shinjin is able to enter the true land fulfilled through Tathagata's Primal Vow. Know that shinjin (faith) is the seed of Enlightenment, the seed for realizing the supreme Nirvana."[6]
He also said:
"'The Vow of entrusting with sincere mind is the cause of Enlightenment'[7]: refers to true and real shinjin, which is given by Amida Tathagata. This shinjin is the very cause for the attainment of the supreme Enlightenment."[8]
This Nirvana or Buddha nature will be attained not ‘here and now’ as some deluded scholars say, but after birth in the Pure Land:
“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.”[9]
“We clearly know from the Tathagata’s teaching of truth and the Master’s commentaries that the Pure Land of Peace and Provision is the True Land of Recompense. Sentient beings with delusion and defilements cannot see Buddha nature here, because it is covered over by evil passions. The Nirvana Sutra says: ‘I say that bodhisattvas of the tenth stage see a little of Buddha nature’. Hence, we know that when we reach the Buddha Land of Peace and Bliss, Buddha nature will certainly be revealed to us – through the merit transference by the Primal Vow Power.’”[10]
In letter 14 of Lamp for the Latter Ages (Mattosho), Shinran explained the verses quoted at the beginning of this chapter in the following way:
“The person who attains shinjin and joy
Is taught to be equal to the Tathagatas.
Great shinjin is itself Buddha-nature;
Buddha-nature is none other than Tathagata.
Nevertheless, among the people of single-hearted practice there seem to be some who misunderstand, saying that the statement by fellow-practicers that the person who rejoices in shinjin (faith) is equal to Tathagatas reflects an attitude of self-power and inclines toward the Shingon teaching. I do not wish to pass judgment on others, but for my own clarification I write you of this matter.There is another hymn:
Those who attain true and real shinjin (faith)
Immediately join the truly settled;
Thus having entered the stage of non-retrogression,
They necessarily attain Nirvana.
The statement, “they attain Nirvana,” means that when the heart of the persons of true and real shinjin (faith) attain the fulfilled land [of the Pure Land] at the end of his or her present life, that person becomes one with the light that is the heart of Tathagata, for His reality is immeasurable life and His activity is inseparable from immeasurable light. This seems to be the reason for saying: “Great shinjin is itself Buddha-nature; Buddha-nature is none other than Tathagata.” In my understanding, this corresponds to the Eleventh, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Vows.”[11]
So, according to Shinran the reason for saying that shinjin is Buddha nature is to show that people who have faith (shinjin) are sure to attain Buddha nature (Nirvana/perfect Enlightenment/Buddhahood) after birth in the Pure Land. Thus, shinjin (faith) is the cause that leads us to Nirvana and Buddha nature.
The jewel of Buddha nature is hidden under billions of layers of blind passions, illusions and attachments accumulated during many lifetimes. This is why it is impossible to find it while you are still caught in this samsaric realm of existence, itself the effect of your karma and the collective karma of all unenlightened beings.  However, in the Pure Land, the same jewel is in plain sight, you just stretch your arms and “take it”. This is how easy it is to discover your Buddha nature in the enlightened environment of Sukhavati.
Shinran always kept in mind the method for attaining Buddha nature. As I mentioned earlier at chapter six, all the genuine Dharma Gates of Buddhist teaching talk about three main aspects: 1) the Basis, 2) the Path and 3) the Fruit. The Basis is the hidden Buddha nature which is already perfectly Enlightened and filled with innumerable qualities. In our case, the Path is to entrust (shinjin) in Amida Buddha and say His Name in faith, wishing to be born in His Pure Land after death (the Primal Vow). The Fruit is the discovery of Buddha nature or Nirvana that we attain after being born in the Pure Land.  This is why shinjin (faith) is Buddha nature – because shinjin is the Path to Buddha nature.
To say that shinjin means to have faith in Buddha nature is like assuming that because one has Buddha nature one is already enlightened and does not need to do anything else. It is to eliminate the Path to Buddha nature which in the case of Jodo Shinshu is faith (shinjin) and the Nembutsu of faith. To accept the existence of Buddha nature (which is something Buddhists of all schools should accept) does not mean we actually dwell in the Buddha nature, or that we have really discovered it.
To prove even more that shinjin does NOT mean to have faith in the existence of Buddha nature and other ideas related with ultimate reality, I quote the following passage from Shinran:
"When I deeply contemplate matters, I find that attainment of joyful faith arises from the Tathagata’s mind in which the Primal Vow was selected and embraced, and that the awakening of true faith occurs through the compassionate skilful means of the Great Sage. However, monks and laypeople of this latter age and the masters of these days, drowned in the concepts of “one’s self-nature [being identical with Buddha]” and “[all that exists is in] one’s mind,” despise true Enlightenment in the Pure Land; or, deluded by self-power efforts to perform meditative and non-meditative good practices, they are ignorant of the adamantine true faith".[12]
Those who say that “all exists in one’s mind” and are constantly talking about Buddha nature but not the Pure Land method to attain it are people who have no true faith (shinjin) in the Primal Vow. They are the ones who deny the existence of Amida Buddha, calling Him a metaphor, symbol or fictional character or who say that the Pure Land is “here and now” or in one’s mind, and not a real, enlightened place to be attained after death, etc. What they do is to deny the existence of Dharmakaya as compassionate means (Dharmakaya of expediency/Sambhogakaya) on the basis of a nihilistic interpretation of Dharmakaya of Dharma nature. They do not understand that although our Buddha nature and the Buddha nature of Amida are the same in their ultimate reality, we actually need to have faith in Amida in form and Name in order to reach it. Also, they deny forms and manifestations thinking that everything exists in one’s mind, when we see that unenlightened minds as well as enlightened minds are always accompanied by forms and manifestations – samsaric minds give rise to samsaric worlds and enlightened minds manifest Pure Lands or other enlightened forms to save all beings.
Shinjin (faith) itself is the manifestation of Amida in the heart and mind of the follower who has listened deeply and opened himself to His Primal Vow and it contains the acceptance of the reality of Amida Buddha and His Pure Land that are to be found outside of one’s mind. As Honen Shonin said:
„Although there is one Amida Buddha, His teachings have different interpretations. The Shingon school teaches that Amida Buddha resides in one’s own heart (mind); they do not admit His existence outside of one’s heart. The Pure Land school, however, teaches that Bodhisattva Dharmakara realized Buddhahood and became Amida Buddha and now resides in the West. These two viewpoints reflect great differences between the two schools”.
Shinjin or simple faith is a direct link with Amida in form and Name. As the true nature of Amida in form and Name is ultimate Dharmakaya of Dharma nature or Buddha nature itself, we can also say that shinjin is a direct link to this ultimate Reality, too. However, shinjin cannot appear in our hearts and minds by understanding ultimate reality (which is impossible to know at the level we are now as unenlightened beings) but by becoming open to Amida in form and Name (Dharmakaya as compassionate means/Dharmakaya of Expediency/Sambhgakaya aspect). This is what many nowadays deluded scholars do not understand – without accepting the existence of Amida and His Pure Land one cannot receive shinjin because shinjin itself is not some kind of unmanifested Dharmakaya, but is received through the Dharmakaya of compassionate means, that is, Amida Buddha in His transcendental and manifestation aspect. The Primal Vow does NOT mean faith in ultimate Dharmakaya as this is beyond anything and cannot be grasped  by our unenlightened minds, but in the specific Amida Buddha (whose nature is ultimate Dharmakaya) who manifested in a specific form and Name with whom beings can have a relation of faith and create a karmic connection.  This is why Shinran said:
“Since it is with this heart and mind of all sentient beings that they entrust themselves to the Vow of the Dharma-body (Dharmakaya) as compassionate means, this shinjin (faith) is none other than Buddha-nature.This Buddha-nature is Dharma-nature. Dharma-nature is Dharma-body. For this reason there are two kinds of Dharma-body with regard to the Buddha. The first is called Dharma-body as Suchness (Dharmakaya of Dharma nature) and the second, Dharma-body (Dharmakaya) as compassionate means.”
Faith (shinjin) is directed to Amida in the aspect of Dharmakaya as compassionate means (Sambhogakaya) which is not separated from Dharmakaya of Dharma nature or Buddha nature. This is also why we can say that in its ultimate reality faith is Buddha nature. Although the Buddha nature or Dharmakaya of Dharma nature “has neither color nor form” and “the mind cannot grasp it nor words describe it”, from this “oneness was manifested form, called Dharma-body as compassionate means (Amida in form and Name).”[13]
Amida Buddha as the object of our faith is Amida as compassionate means that is never separated from His Dharmakaya of Dharma nature. Thus, Amida is not something that exists “in our minds” or some kind of unmanifested Dharmakaya. He is a living Buddha with access to the ultimate reality beyond any concepts and forms, but also very active in His Pure Land as well as in our samsaric realms, guiding us to salvation through His Primal Vow.
Just as the Name is true and real because it was manifested by Amida from Dharmakaya of Dharma-nature, shinjin is also NOT an empty samsaric phenomena, because the “attainment of joyful faith arises from the Tathagata’s Mind in which the Primal Vow was selected and embraced”.Thus, although is manifested in our minds as faith, its origin is in Amida’s Mind and is awakened in us “through the compassionate skilful means of the Great Sage”. I already explained this process in The Meaning of Faith and Nembutsu[14], so I will not insist on it now.
Both faith (shinjin) and the Nembutsu of faith are manifested in our minds and on our lips by Amida Buddha as Dharmakaya of compassionate means (Amida as Sambhogakaya) from the Dharmakaya of Dharma nature. This is why they are NOT samsaric phenomena and NOT empty, but TRUE AND REAL. They are true and real because they are rooted in ultimate reality and can be used by Amida Buddha to take us to His enlightened realm, itself not empty and not false, where we will naturally discover our innate, not empty and not false, Buddha nature.
Only real vehicles (the Primal Vow, faith and Nembutsu) and real friends (Amida Buddha) can take us to real destinations (the Pure Land where we attain the real Buddha nature).

to be continued


[1] Shinran Shonin, Hymns of the Pure Land (Jodo Wasan), The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p. 350-351[2] Shinran Shonin, Notes on Once-calling and Many-calling, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.474 [3] Shinran Shonin, Notes on the Inscriptions on Sacred Scrolls, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.493[4] Shinran Shonin, Gutoku's Notes, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.612[5] Shinran quoted and explained this passage from  Honen's The Passages on the Nembutsu Selected in the Primal Vow in his Notes on the Inscriptions on Sacred Scrolls, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.513[6] Shinran Shonin, Notes on the Inscriptions on Sacred Scrolls, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.513[7] A quote from a passage from 'The Hymn of True Shinjin' by Gutoku Shinran, disciple of Shakyamuni, in Japan. Shinran explains his own words from that hymn. [8] Shinran Shonin, Notes on the Inscriptions on Sacred Scrolls, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.518[9] Shinran Shonin, Hymns of the Pure Land, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.350[10] Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, chapter V, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 229-230[11] Shinran Shonin, Lamp for the Letter Ages, letter 14, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.541[12] Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, chapter III, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 83[13] Shinran Shonin, Notes on ‘Essentials of Faith Alone’, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.461[14] The Meaning of Faith and Nembutsu in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, by Rev Josho Adrian Cirlea, Dharma Lion Publications, Craiova, 2018, p. 145.

10. Building the walls of Amidado (Hall of Amida) - Jul 24, 2020 4:46:00 PM
Amidado after building exterior walls
and treated them with wood lacquerAs you may know, in June I built the roof and last year the metal frame and concrete platform of Amidado (Hall of Amida).

These days I started working on the walls. Here you can see some photos with the materials I bought and the progress I made until now. My plan is to make a sandwich type of wall. This is composed of double walls filled with thermal insulation. On the outside walls I must also add  another insulation and a water resistant paint. However, I made only one wall and postponed the rest for another time when I am able to raise more funds. I will also need a double door and windows, a stove, etc. The cost of all the things that need to be done for Amidado is around 2000 euros, maybe more.

Amidado after building exterior walls
and treated them with wood lacquerThe double door and windows are a must do as it would be a tragedy if winter finds me without them. 


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Namo Amida Bu

treating the exterior walls with wood lacquer
treating the exterior walls with wood lacquer

the building process
the building process
some of the materials I bought
some of the materials I bought



11. CONSTITUCIÓN DEL TEMPLO INTERNACIONAL AMIDAJI - Jul 23, 2020 8:41:00 AM

Traslated from English by Kosho Arana Sensei
Cualquier lugar donde se encuentren seres no iluminados necesita algún tipo de organización, especialmente si es un lugar para el Dharma. En nuestro caso, si queremos preservar y transmitir la enseñanza del Jodo Shinshu, necesitamos un buen equipo de personas que puedan lograr ese objetivo. Sin embargo, nuestro equipo no puede trabajar sin reglas comunes que nos ayuden a centrarnos en nuestro objetivo religioso, por lo que espero que esta Constitución proporcione la base administrativa, las reglas y los lineamientos para nuestras aspiraciones.
Durante muchos años de sacerdocio en los que he observado de cerca los caminos de varios templos y comunidades Jodo Shinshu, me di cuenta de que es muy necesaria una reforma tanto en cuestiones doctrinales como administrativas.
La falta de firmeza y claridad de liderazgo de la actual escuela japonesa Jodo Shinshu sobre lo que uno debe enseñar y aprender ha generado un caos doctrinal en el que todos dicen lo que quieren y lo etiquetan como Jodo Shinshu, así este problema se extiende por todas partes. Aunque los documentos oficiales de la institución del Hongwanji están ahí para ser vistos y seguidos por todos, las herejías peligrosas y las opiniones equivocadas prevalecen entre muchos sacerdotes y laicos en templos y centros de todo el mundo[1]. También, muchos templos, especialmente fuera de Japón, se convirtieron en meros instrumentos para la agenda de varios grupos ideológicos con dudosas teorías en claro contraste con la enseñanza general del Buda Dharma y la moral budista.
Al mismo tiempo, los candidatos a sacerdotes no verifican a fondo si su comprensión y conocimiento están de acuerdo con la enseñanza auténtica de nuestra escuela y el sacerdocio se ofrece con demasiada facilidad en base a la noción de que la cantidad debe prevalecer sobre la calidad.
Presentaciones académicas sofisticadas que no ayudan a las persona simples a recibir fe en Amida y que a menudo contienen comparaciones inútiles y académicas con religiones y filosofías no budistas, así como discursos de motivación mundanos prevalecen entre la élite responsable de la difusión del Dharma mientras que se evitan las conversaciones sobre los verdaderos asuntos importantes que son la vida después de la muerte y la realidad  del Buda Amida y Su Tierra Pura.
También la combinación del Nembutsu con otras prácticas es frecuente en muchos centros, aunque el voto primordial es claro sobre lo que debemos hacer y seguir qué es lo siguiente: fe exclusiva en Amida, la recitación exclusiva de Su Nombre y el exclusivo deseo de nacer en Su Tierra Pura después de lamuerte.Al contemplar los elementos anteriores y otros que constituyen el estado decadente de la sangha Jodo Shinshu en nuestra era, que nunca es contrarrestada por el liderazgo oficial de Hongwanji, decidí crear una nueva organización internacional basada en estrictos principios budistas ortodoxos y Jodo Shinshu.
Sé que existe una necesidad entre los seguidores auténticos de la Tierra Pura por explicaciones ortodoxas y simples, así como de un ambiente religioso de devoción y fe donde puedan escuchar profundamente el Dharma y confiar en Amida. Sinceramente espero que Amidaji se convierta en el hogar espiritual de estos seres honestos.
Namo Amida Bu, Reverendo Jōshō Adrian Cîrlea, Templo Internacional AmidajiJulio 16, año 2564 de la era budista(2020 E.C)



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[1]Por ejemplo, aunque tenemos el documento oficial de Kyosho (Las Doctrinas Esenciales del Jodo Shinshu) que dice claramente que el nacimiento en la Tierra Pura se alcanzará después de la muerte, hay muchos sacerdotes en todas partes que promueven las herejías de la “Tierra Pura está aquí y ahora ". “Al alcanzar el“corazón que confía (en Amida)”-despertando a la compasión de Amida Tathagata a través del poder del Voto Primordial- caminaremos por el sendero de la vida recitando el Nombre de Amida (Nembutsu). Al final de la vida, naceremos en la Tierra Pura y alcanzaremos la Budeidad, volviendo de inmediato a este mundo delirante para guiar a las personas al despertar."Jodo Shinshu Kyosho (Las Doctrinas Esenciales del Jodo Shinshu)También hay otras opiniones erróneas como decir que el Buda Amidaes un mito, una metáfora, un símbolo o un personaje ficticio, además de negar la existencia de Su Tierra Pura como un verdadero lugar iluminado, etc.

12. The Nembutsu is true and real - Jul 22, 2020 11:16:00 AM

wooden plaque with Nembutsu
in the courtyard of AmidajiClick here to return to the main page On Buddha nature
“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."[1]
The above words of Shinran Shonin summarizes many of the teachings presented in this book.
“All matters without exception are empty and false”, that is, all samsaric phenomena are empty of themselves and by being empty they are also a lie, (“without truth”), a magical display, an illusion and not ultimately real. The Nembutsu alone is true and real because it is the Name manifested by Amida Buddha from the ultimate reality and Buddha nature itself. It is part of the Dharmakaya of Compassionate means which is inseparable from the Dharmakaya of Dharma-nature.
As Buddhas are truly awake (the word “Buddha” means the “Awakened One”) they constantly invent methods to take us out of the dream world and bring us to the true reality of Buddha nature. Among these methods, the most easy to use by ordinary people filled with heavy illusions and blind passions is the Nembutsu of faith in Amida.
Did it happen to you to be in a nightmare and you did a certain thing to get out of it and awake? For example, when I was a child, blinking my eyes in the dream was the quickest way for me to escape a nightmare. It is the same with the Nembutsu of faith. We are saying ‘Namo Amida Bu’ (Nembutsu) in the dream of samsara, with our minds that are sleeping minds, but this Namo Amida Bu is the means through which Amida guides us out of sleep. The Name works because it is not part of the dreaming world but of the True Reality, so by saying it we enter into Amida’s influence and thus on the path to Awakening.
In the nightmare of repeated births and deaths we say the Nembutsu of faith and, after a while, depending on how long or short our life is, we die in the dream and wake up as Buddhas in the Pure Land of Amida. Then our true and real life begins as Awakened Ones helping other beings to wake up from their own nightmares.
We think that we dream when we are sleeping and that now we are awake because we do not sleep. In fact, we just go from one dream to another. In all these wanderings, the Name of Amida is the only contact we have with the world of reality and Enlightenment, with Amida Buddha and His Pure Land. Although we say it in the dream, the Nembutsu is the only element that does not belong to the dream.
The Name of Amida is not part of samsara but the world of Enlightenment. When we say the Nembutsu of faith we enter the stage of non-retrogression for discovering this ultimate reality we’ll attain upon leaving our present samsaric bodies.

Shinran Shonin explained how the ultimate reality of Amida Buddha - His Dharmakaya of Dharma nature, represented in the following passage by the word “Suchness”, as well as all His manifestations for the sake of saving sentient beings (glorious body of skilful means/Dharmakaya of compassionate means) are included in His Name which is thus called, the “great practice”:
" It is the treasure-sea of merits of true Suchness, ultimate reality. For this reason, it is called great practice".[2]
"The ten repetitions of the Name[3]arise from the unsurpassed faith by taking as object the Name of Amida Tathagata of a glorious body of skilful means that comprises immeasurable merits that are true and pure".[4]
Attention here, please -  the Name is manifested by Amida from True Suchness (Dharmakaya of Dharma-nature) but the saying of the Name on our part does not mean we understand Suchness in the here and now, but that we have faith in “Amida Tathagata of a glorious body of skilful means”, that is, in Amida manifested as Dharmakaya of Compassionate means (Sambhogakaya)[5]. We are not supposed to dwell in ultimate reality while we are still in our samsaric bodies, and we cannot actually have faith in Dharmakaya of Dharma-nature which is beyond anything we can conceive with our unenlightened minds. This is why we need Amida Buddha in form and Name as He was explained in the Larger Sutra by Shakyamuni. However, Amida as Dharmakaya of Compassionate means, that is, His transcendental manifestation in the Pure Land and His Name, are never separated from His Dharmakaya of Dharma-nature. This is why the Nembutsu is true and real and contains all the myriad enlightened qualities of Buddha nature.
Honen Shonin gave us a very important teaching on the contents of the Name of Amida Buddha. Please listen carefully to his words and my explanations:
"The Japanese designation for Amitabha - Amida - consists of only three characters (A-MI-DA). Within this Name, however, is the merit of the inner realization of Tathagata Amida and His external activities, as well as the merit of Buddha Shakyamuni's extremely profound teachings, which are as numerous as the grains of sand in the Ganges. Who can fathom this?
Master Shan-tao, in the chapter 'Essentials of the Commentary' of the 'Commentary on the Meditation Sutra', interpreted this Name thus:
'The Chinese term for Amida Buddha, 'A-mi-t'o-fo', is a transliteration of the language of India. It was interpreted into Chinese as 'Enlightened One Whose Life Is Immeasurable (Wu-liang-shou-chiao)'. 'Immeasurable Life (Wu-liang-shou) points to the Dharma, and 'Enlightened One (chiao)' is a person. Both the Dharma and the person are combined into 'Enlightened One Whose Life Is Immeasurable'. Accordingly, He is referred to as 'A-mi-t'o-fo'.’ […]
Therefore, all of the merits of the teachings, the meditative practices on the phenomenal aspect of reality and the noumenal principle, the unmatched power acquired through meditation and wisdom, the wisdom of inner realization, and the merit of external activities, as well as all of the virtues and undefiled Enlightenment of Tathagata Amida, Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, Bodhisattva Mahasthamaprapta, Bodhisattva Samanthabhadra, Bodhisattva Manjusri, Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, Nagarjuna, and the Bodhisattvas[6]and Sravakas[7]of the Pure Land are encompassed in the three characters of the Name of Amida. This being so, would there be any Dharma not included in the teaching for birth in the Pure Land?”[8]
The above teachings of Master Honen and Master Shantao are extraordinary! The Name we say as Nembutsu in the formula of Namo Amida Bu or any other way (Namo Amituofo/Namo Amitabha, etc) contains the Enlightenment of Amida Buddha himself (His “wisdom of inner realization“) which includes all the 32 innate qualities that I talked about at chapter V, and all His manifestations for the sake of saving sentient beings (His “external activities”). More than this, by listing other Buddhas and Enlightened Bodhisattvas (Buddhas who manifest as Bodhisattvas) Master Honen implies that in fact the inner realization (Enlightenment) and activities (manifestations) of ALL Buddhas are included in Amida’s Name. The names given there, Amida, Avalokitesvara, Mahasthamaprapta, Samantabhadra, Manjushri, Ksitigarbha or the Enlightened Ones of the Pure Land, etc, do not indicate a closed list, but are a hint to the fact that all Buddhas are included as those names are connected with many other Buddhas, too.  Therefore, there is NO practice and no teaching that is not included in the Name of Amida. Although we cannot follow all teachings and practices through our own power, if we rely on Amida Buddha and say His Name in faith we automatically fulfill all Dharma Gates because all are included in the Nembutsu.
Master Honen continues:
“The three Japanese characters in the name of Amida (A-MI-DA) are interpreted by other Buddhist schools in a number of different ways. The Shingon school teaches that the letter 'A' in the Sanskrit alphabet indicates the origin of all phenomena and the state of nonproduction, and that the letter 'A' produces forty-two Sanskrit characters. All existence is contained in the letter 'A'; therefore, the Name of Amida is considered to be most meritorious.
The Tendai school teaches the theory of the three aspects of truth articulating ultimate reality - the truths of emptiness, temporariness, and the middle path; the doctrine of the three causes leading to Buddhahood - the innate Buddha nature, the wisdom discerning the ultimate principle, and virtuous deeds that cultivate wisdom; the teaching of the three bodies of a Buddha - the Dharma Body, the Rewarded Body, and the Transformed Body (Trikaya doctrine); and the merits possessed by a Tathagata: these theories are all contained in the three characters of the Name of Amida. Hence, the merit of the letters is considerable. As illutrated, each school has interpreted the three letters in the Name of Amida from its own doctrine's perspective.
Now the essence of our Pure Land school is the belief that the three characters, 'A-MI-DA', embody the entire Buddhist teachings, including the theory of the Shingon school that the letter 'A' in the Sanskrit alphabet indicates the origin of all phenomena and the state of nonproduction; the teachings of the oneness of the three aspects of truth taught by the Tendai school. the theory that the middle path emerges from the eightfold negation taught by the Sanron school[9]; the theory of the five levels of contemplation from the principles of mind-only of the Hosso school[10]; basically, all of the Dharma in the universe. This is because no Buddhist doctrines are excluded from the teaching for birth in the Pure Land.
Nevertheless, the heart of the vows of Amida Buddha does not expect one to believe in all of the above. He will come to receive all beings who simply recite Nembutsu with deep devotion."[11]
Even if we don’t understand the above teachings of the Buddhist schools listed by Honen Shonin, we are amazed to hear that all of them are comprised in the Name of Amida and so, if we say the Name in faith it is like we fulfill all of them. Of course, our spiritual capacities being limited we cannot follow and practice anything related with the self power paths like Shingon, Tendai, Sanron, Hosso or others, so we cannot say that we have any merit in this. It is the Name of Amida that is meritorious, pure and perfect and because of it we’ll be able to reach the goal of all Buddhist Paths, teachings and practices – the discovery of Buddha nature with its enlightened qualities. I will not insist on the Tendai, Hosso and Sanron, but I would like to say something about the Shingon teachings on the letter “A”.  In the Japanese – English Buddhist dictionary it is explained,
“Meditation on the Sanskrit letter ‘A’ is the most important meditation in Esoteric Buddhism. The sound ‘A’ is regarded as the source from which all words are produced. It is therefore termed ‘the mother of all sounds’. […]. In Esoteric Buddhism it symbolizes the unity of the whole world”.[12]
“The commentary on the Mahavairocana Sutra says: ‘The ‘A’ syllable gate is the king of all mantras’”. [13]
In The Ten Stages of Mind, Master Kukai[14]quotes the Mahavairocana-sutra,
“Why is this mantra teaching? Because the principle of the letter A is that all natures (dharmas) are fundamentally unborn…”[15]
Here “natures (dharmas)” means samsaric phenomena. From the point of view of ultimate Buddha nature, such phenomena are not real, so they are not actually born. Their birth, development and disappearance are like a magical display. They seem to appear, but they do not really exist.
He also said:
“Again, the five types of letter ‘A’[16] are the mind of the highest Enlightenment. That is, based on these letters sounds issue forth and Buddhism is taught…”[17]
The Bodhicitta-sastra states:
“In the minds of all sentient beings there is an element of pure nature…It is likened to one of the sixteen phases of the moon – that in which the moon appears brightest…Therefore, a mantra practitioner should, by means of ‘A’ –syllable visualization, awaken the inherent brightness within his mind, causing a gradual cleansing and brightening, and a realization of the knowledge of the non-arising of phenomena. The ‘A’ –syllable has the meaning of the originally non-arisen nature of all dharmas (samsaric phenomena)”.[18]In his writing entitled Meaning of Sound, Word, and Reality (Shōji jissō gi), Kukai said:
“For what does the sound ‘A’ stand? It denotes a name-word (myōji) of the Dharmakaya Buddha; namely, it is sound and word.’”[19]
In The category of Invariant Meanings he writes:
“The sound ‘A’ is the mother of all letters; it is the essence of all sounds; and it stands for the fountainhead of all-inclusive Reality.”[20]
In The Category of Ultimate Meanings, he writes:
“A sutra states: “The letter A signifies ‘the Enlightened mind,’ ‘the gateway to all teachings,’ ‘nonduality,’ ‘the goal of all existences,’ ‘the nature of all existences,’ ‘freedom,’ and ‘the Dharmakaya.’” These are the ultimate meanings of the letter A.”[21]
So, as we see above, the Name of Amida Buddha which contains the letter “A” , described as “the mother of all letters”, “the king of all mantras”, “Dharmakaya”, “the fountainhead of all-inclusive Reality”, “the mind of the highest Enlightenment”, etc, is not just a simple name, nor a samsaric phenomena, but the manifestation of ultimate reality. It is part of the Dharmakaya of Compassionate means which is inseparable from the Dharmakaya of Dharma-nature (Buddha nature).  This is why Shinran said that “Nembutsu alone is true and real” and this is why we conclude that the Name of Amida is NOT empty of itself, but only empty of illusions, blind passions and anything that is false. Not only that the Name is not empty of itself, but is actually filled with all the qualities of Buddha nature that are revealed through the inner realization or perfect Enlightenment of Amida and all Buddhas. It also contains all the manifestations of Amida and the Enlightened Ones and all perfect teachings and authentic Dharma Gates. This is why Honen said “no Buddhist doctrines are excluded from the teaching for birth in the Pure Land”. All the merits of Buddhist teachings and practices that lead to Enlightenment are included in the Name of Amida, so when we say Namo Amida Bu in faith we fulfil all of them.
The length of time needed to explain all the subtleties of Amida’s Name presented in the above passages by Master Honen would be too much for this simple book, so I will not insist further. However, for us, ordinary people, to be born in the Pure Land there is no need to understand or believe in all of them, as Honen said at the end of the text:
“Nevertheless, the heart of the vows of Amida Buddha does not expect one to believe in all of the above. He will come to receive all beings who simply recite Nembutsu with deep devotion”.
Ordinary people don’t need to be engineers or know everything about flying technology to travel by planes. In the same way, we don’t need to know all the “technical” and transcendental details of the Name of Amida to be saved by Him, but simply entrust to Him and say His Name in faith. The promise of Amida Buddha in His Primal Vow is easy to understand by everybody: “entrust to me, say my Name (Nembutsu) and wish to be born in my land”. Nothing else. No deep understanding about the ultimate nature of the Name, the meaning of letter “A” or the various teachings of Shingon, Tendai, Sanron, Hosso, etc mentioned in the above passages. If we just hear the Promise of Amida and say His Name in faith that is enough to be taken to the Pure Land at the end of our illusory bodies and discover our Buddha nature there. The Name of Amida brings our salvation without us knowing how it works, just like a plane will take us to destination even if we are ignorant peasants who know nothing about flying technology.
to be continued 


[1]  Shinran Shonin, Tannisho, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997[2] Shinran Shonin, Kyogyoshinsho, chapter II, Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 9 [3] Here the number ten is used to signify that any number of Nembutsu is equally good. [4] Shinran Shonin, Kyogyoshinsho, chapter III, Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 163 [5] The Dharmakaya of Dharma-nature is identical with the Dharmakaya reffered to in the Trikaya doctrine, and the Dharmakaya of Expediency (Dharmakaya of Compassionate means) corresponds to the Sambhogakaya or Recompensed Body. Nirmanakaya or various Transformed Bodies are manifested/emanated from Sambhogakaya and thus, we can consider it as part of the Dharmakaya of Expediency. [6] Bodhisattvas in the Pure Land refer to those who attained Enlightenment in the Pure Land and are now Buddhas who manifest s Bodhisattva. For a better understanding of this idea read chapter “The qualities of Bodhisattvas in the audience” from my book, Commentary on the Sutra on the Buddha of Infinte Life, Dharma Lion Publications, Craiova, 2020, p. 24, https://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.com/2019/01/commentary-on-sutra-on-buddha-of.html[7] Here “sravaka” is not used with the sense of a Hinayana follower, but of a close enlightened disciple of Amida in His Pure Land.[8] Honen Shonin, Commentary on the Three Sutras of Pure Land Buddhism, The Promise of Amida Buddha - Honen's Path to Bliss, The Promise of Amida Buddha - Honen's Path to Bliss; English translation of the Genko edition of the works of Honen Shonin - Collected Teachings of Kurodani Shonin: The Japanese Anthology (Wago Toroku), translated by Joji Atone and Yoko Hayashi, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2011, p.81-82 [9] The Sanron school was one of the six schools of Nara and one of the thirteen schools of China. The Sanron tradition was first transmitted to China by Kumarajiva (344-413) in the early 5th century and then introduced into Japan in 625. Sanron literally means 'three treateses' reffering to the three texts on which the school was based. The three treatises are Nagarjuna's Treatise on the Middle Way (Madhyamaka Sastra) and Treatise on the Twelve Gates (Dvadasamukha Sastra), and Aryadeva's (3rd century) One Hundred Verse treatise (Sata Sastra).  The Promise of Amida Buddha - Honen's Path to Bliss; English translation of the Genko edition of the works of Honen Shonin - Collected Teachings of Kurodani Shonin: The Japanese Anthology (Wago Toroku), translated by Joji Atone and Yoko Hayashi, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2011, fn 98, p.424[10] The Hosso school, a Mahayana school, was one of the six school of Nara and one of the thirteen schools of China. The Hosso school is based on the doctrine of Mind-Only as advocated by Asangha (310-390), Vasubandhu (5th century), and Dharmapala (6th century). The main text of the school is the Treatise on the Attainment of Consciousness-Only (Vijnaptimatratasiddhi Sastra, Jp. Jo Yuishiki-ron), compiled by the 7th century Chinese pilgrim Hsuan-tsang. The Hosso tradition was introduced into Japan in 652.[11] Honen Shonin, Commentary on the Three Sutras of Pure Land Buddhism, The Promise of Amida Buddha - Honen's Path to Bliss; English translation of the Genko edition of the works of Honen Shonin - Collected Teachings of Kurodani Shonin: The Japanese Anthology (Wago Toroku), translated by Joji Atone and Yoko Hayashi, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2011, p.82-83[12] The Seekers Glossary of Buddhism, edited by Van Hien Study Group, Sutra Translation Committee of the United States and Canada, 2003, p.1[13] Shingon, Taiko Yamasaki (192), The Seekers Glossary of Buddhism, edited by Van Hien Study Group, Sutra Translation Committee of the United States and Canada, 2003, p.1 [14] Founder of Shingon Buddhism in Japan.[15] The Shingon Ajikan, Meditation on the Syllable ‘A’: An analysis of components and development by Ronald S. Green[16] Refers to a, ā, am, ah, āh as elucidated in the Mahāvairocana-sūtra (Hakeda 220-1)  [17] The Shingon Ajikan, Meditation on the Syllable ‘A’: An analysis of components and development by Ronald S. Green[18] The Shingon Ajikan, Meditation on the Syllable ‘A’: An analysis of components and development by Ronald S. Green [19] The Shingon Ajikan, Meditation on the Syllable ‘A’: An analysis of components and development by Ronald S. Green [20] The Shingon Ajikan, Meditation on the Syllable ‘A’: An analysis of components and development by Ronald S. Green [21] The Shingon Ajikan, Meditation on the Syllable ‘A’: An analysis of components and development by Ronald S. Green

13. The enlightened manifestations for the sake of saving sentient beings - Jul 19, 2020 3:30:00 PM
Amida Buddha and His Pure Land
always guiding samsaric beings to
what is true and realClick here to return to the main page On Buddha nature
The innate qualities of Buddha natureare activated when we attain perfect Enlightenment, that is, when we actually discover it. As I explained earlier, the discovered Buddha nature is called Dharmakaya. This Dharmakaya and its innate qualities enter into action in the moment of Enlightenment, taking various forms and manifestations for the sake of saving sentient beings.

While the mind-streams of beings and the samsaric environment in which they live are the effect of various causes and conditions and are thus considered to be empty of themselves, the Dharmakaya is only empty of illusions, blind passions and any samsaric phenomena, but NOT empty of itself. Because of this, the ultimate reality and everything that is rooted in it has true and real existence. Buddhas (fully Enlightened Beings) are true and real no matter the form they manifest or the emanations they create for the salvation of samsaric beings.
The minds of people in samsara are constantly changing like feathers in the wind, depending to various causes and conditions, while the minds of Buddhas are fixed in true reality like mountains. Anything the samsaric beings think, say, do or manifest is false, while everything the Buddhas think, say, do or manifest is true.
What do unenlightened beings manifest? They manifest samsaric realms and samsaric forms which lead to more illusions, blind passions and suffering.What do the Buddhas manifest? They manifest enlightened reams and enlightened forms which lead to wisdom, Buddha nature and happiness.
The manifestations of Buddhas include Pure Lands, transcendental forms or various sacred formulas like Names and mantras, dharanis, etc. All these are true and real because they belong to what is true and real. Such manifestations do not depend on causes and conditions or on the limitations of the mind-streams of samsaric beings, but on the Infinite Wisdom and Infinite Compassion that is inherent in the ultimate Dharmakaya or Buddha nature.  When we attain perfect Enlightenment and discover our Buddha nature in the Pure Land of Amida, we’ll also be capable to manifest whatever forms we want to save others.
Anything related with the ultimate reality of the Buddhas, their activities and manifestations is included in the teaching on the Two Bodies or the Three Bodies (Trikaya)[1].
The Two Bodies doctrine that we use at Amidaji was explained by Master T’an-luan in his Ojoronchu. According to him, all Buddhas have two bodies (aspects):
1. Dharmakaya of Dharma-nature (Hossho Hosshin)[2]2. Dharmakaya of Expediency (Hoben Hosshin), which is also called Dharmakaya of Compassionate means[3].

The first is the ultimate, unconditioned reality beyond form – the discovered Buddha nature or the Buddha nature activated when attaining perfect Enlightenment. This Nirvanic body is equally shared by all Buddhas[4], while the second is the specific and individuated manifestation of each one of them for the sake of saving sentient beings.
The relation between the two is described as follows (words in brackets are my own):
“From the Dharmakaya of Dharma-nature originates the Dharmakaya of Expediency; through the Dharmakaya of Expediency, the Dharmakaya of Dharma nature is revealed. These two Dharmakayas are different, but inseparable; they are one, but not the same. For this reason, the extensive presentation and the condensed presentation enter into each other. These two are comprised in the Dharmakaya”.[5]
“The Nirvanic Dharma-body is the body of Dharma-nature (Buddha nature); since the Dharma-nature is Nirvanic, the Dharma-body is formless. Because it is formless, there is no form which it cannot manifest. For this reason, the Body adorned with the marks of excellence (Dharmakaya of Compassionate means) is itself the Dharma-body”. [6]
As we have seen in the above passages, all manifestations of the Buddhas are themselves ultimate Dharmakaya, included in the Dharmakaya, manifested from Dharmakaya, not separated from Dharmakaya. As Dharmakaya is the ultimate reality of Buddha nature, all Buddha’s manifestations are not empty or false like the samsaric phenomena, but true and real.
The various Dharmakayas of compassionate means are “different” and “not the same” in the sense that they do not appear in the same way to the unenlightened beings for which they are manifested, but “are one”  and “inseperable” because they are the ultimate Dharmakaya of Dharma nature (Buddha nature) itself.
The Dharmakaya of Compassionate means (Dharmakaya of Expediency) includes, as I said above, the Pure Lands of the Buddhas, their transcendental forms or bodily forms in accordance to the beings they save, various sacred formulas like Names and mantras, etc. The Pure Land of Amida Buddha[7], Amida Himself[8] in many manifestations and His Name are part of this Dharmakaya of Compassionate means and are inseparable from the ultimate Dharmakaya of Dharma nature.  Because of that they are truly existent and NOT empty of themselves. Only samsaric phenomena are ultimately non-real (they exist only at relative level), while the Nirvanic manifestations are always REAL.          
Amida, in His causal stage as Bodhisattva Dharmakara made the following promise about His Pure Land:
My land, being like Nirvana itself,Will be beyond comparison.”[9]
This means that all the manifestations of the Pure Land are grounded in the perfect Enlightenment of Amida Buddha and are conducive to Enlightenment. We ourselves will attain Enlightenment when we are born in the Pure Land because the essence of the Pure Land is Enlightenment/Nirvana/Dharmakaya/Buddha nature itself. Otherwise, if the Pure Land was not an enlightened realm and not grounded in ultimate Buddha nature, it would produce only sensorial attachments, like other Samsaric realms do, but Shakyamuni Buddha[10]and our Masters[11]were very clear that this is not the case.
Also, Bodhisattva Vasubandhu stated in his Jodoron[12]:
"The adornments of the Land of the Buddha of Immeasurable Life are the wondrous manifestations of the ultimate reality (Dharmakaya/Buddha nature)".
And in the Essentials of Faith Alone, Master Seikaku said:
“’The Land of Bliss is the realm of Nirvana, the uncreated’.
The “uncreated” is referring of course, to ultimate Dharmakaya beyond forms or the Buddha nature from which all the manifestations for the sake of saving sentient beings emerge in accordance with the specific vows of different Buddhas. In our case, the Pure Land of Amida appeared when He attained perfect Enlightenment and thus brought His 48 vows to fulfilment. In that moment, from ultimate Dharmakaya or Buddha nature, His land took the form and manifestations described in the sutras and especially in His 31stand 32nd Vows, while also maintaining its formless Dharmakaya essence.
Because the Pure Land is Nirvana in manifestation and it is grounded in the ultimate reality of Dharmakaya of Dharma nature, it is NOT empty of itself like the samsaric phenomena, but truly REAL.
to be continued 


[1] The Dharmakaya of Dharma-nature is identical with the Dharmakaya reffered to in the Trikaya doctrine, and the Dharmakaya of Expediency (Dharmakaya of Compassionate means) corresponds to the Sambhogakaya or Recompensed Body. Nirmanakaya or various Transformed Bodies are manifested/emanated from Sambhogakaya and thus, we can consider it as part of the Dharmakaya of Expediency. [2] In the Hongwanji edition is translated as “Dharma body as Suchness”. The Pure Land Writings, Volume II, Tanluan, Commentary on the Treatise on the Pure Land, The Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, Japan, 2018, p.134[3] In the Hongwanji edition it is translated as “Dharma body as Compassionate means” . The Pure Land Writings, Volume II, Tanluan, Commentary on the Treatise on the Pure Land, The Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, Japan, 2018, p.134 [4] T’an-luan said: “All Buddhas Tathagatas are called ‘equally enlightened ones’”. Master Shan-tao said: “All Buddhas have attained one and the same Enlightenment”. Also in the Garland Sutra, quoted by Shinran Shonin in his Kyogyoshinsho, it is said: “The bodies of all Buddhas are only one Dharma body”. [5] “Ojoronchu – T’an-luan’s Commentary on Vasubandhu’s Discourse on the Pure Land, A Study and Translation” by Hisao Inagaki, Nagata Bunshodo, Kyoto, 1998.p.264-265[6] Ojoronchu, Master T’an-luan, as quoted in The Three Pure Land Sutras, A Study and Translation from Chinese, by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Nagata Bunshodo, Kyoto, 1995, chapter 3 – Development of the Pure Land teaching in China, p.88[7] See the chapter “The two aspects of the Pure Land” from my book, The True Teaching on Amida Buddha and His Pure Land, Dharma Lion Publications, Craiova, 201, p.101[8] See the chapter “The doctrine of the Three Buddha-Bodies and Two Buddha-Bodies in relation with Amida Buddha and His Pure Land, from my book, The True Teaching on Amida Buddha and His Pure Land, Dharma Lion Publications, Craiova, 201, p.88[9] 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.9-10[10] For example, when He explained the role and origin of the wonderful birds of the Pure Land, Shakyamuni said:“Shariputra, you should not assume that these birds are born as retribution of their evil karma. The reason is that none of the three evil realms exists in that Buddha-land. Shariputra, even the names of the three evil realms do not exist there; how much less the realms themselves? These birds are manifested by Amida Buddha so that their singing can proclaim and spread the Dharma”.[11] For example, Master T’ao-ch’o said in his An Le Chi, „The streams, birds, and forests all expound the Dharma, which awaken people to the principle of non-arising.”[12] Treatise on the Pure Land, in The Pure Land Writings, vol I – the Indian Masters, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 2012, p. 57

14. On the idea of innate or primordial Enlightenment - Jul 18, 2020 9:25:00 AM

Click here to return to the main page On Buddha nature
Whenever I used the image of seeds planted into a good soil and growing into trees was just to explain the potential we have of becoming Buddhas. However, I have never used it in order to say that the Buddha nature we discover when we become Buddhas is something created by us and not already present with all its enlightened qualities beyond the many layers of illusions and blind passions. As I clearly specified in fascicle 2 of Amida Dharma, the potential I refer to is to awaken to the Buddha nature that is already present:
“Just like all seeds have the natural potential to become trees, all sentient beings have the natural potential to become Buddhas, that is, to awaken to their own Buddha nature. Beyond the various layers of our delusory personality, the Buddha nature is the true reality, uncreated and indestructible, the treasure hidden in every one of us. When it's discovered, the causes of suffering and repeated births and deaths are annihilated and the one who attained it becomes himself a savior and guide of all beings that are still caught in the slavery of samsara”.
So, our Buddha nature is primordially pure and primordially enlightened, having all the innate qualities I talked about in the last chapter. What we call attainment of perfect Enlightenment, Buddhahood or Nirvana actually means the discovery of this Buddha nature, like finding a shining jewel hidden in the mud. It does not at all means that before Enlightenment the Buddha nature did not exist and came into existence after, or it existed only as a seed, and now it exists as something different. In fact, the Buddha nature is eternal and has always existed no matter some discover it or not (attain or do not attain Buddhahood). This is similar with lighting up a room where there are treasures which were not seen before due to darkness. One cannot say that the treasures appeared when the light was turn on, as they existed before too, just they were hidden in the dark.Shakyamuni Buddha said in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra:
“It is not the case that the inherent nature of Nirvana did not primordially exist but now exists.  Regardless of whether there are Buddhas or not, its intrinsic nature and attributes are permanently present. Because beings are enveloped by the afflictions (kleshas), they do not perceive it and they say that Nirvana does not exist. Bodhisattva-mahasattvas, who train their minds with morality, insight and meditative concentration, eradicate the afflictions and then come to perceive it. Hence, they know that Nirvana is permanently present by nature and is not something which did not exist primordially but now does exist. Therefore, they deem it to be permanent. For example, noble son, suppose there was a well containing the seven kinds of treasures in a dark room. People might know that they are there but are unable to see them, because of the darkness. Then a wise person, skilled in means, came bearing a large, bright lamp and illumined things so that everybody could see them. This person did not think to himself that originally there was no water or the seven kinds of treasure there but now there is. Nirvana too is like that: it is primordially existent and does not just come into existence in the present. Because of the obscuring darkness of the afflictions, beings do not see it. The Tathagata, endowed with all-knowing awareness (sarvajna-jnana) lights the lamp of insight with His skill in means (upaya-kausalya) and causes bodhisattvas to perceive the permanence, the bliss, the Self, and the purity of Nirvana. Therefore, the wise will not say that this Nirvana did not exist primordially but now exists. […]
“For example, noble son, suppose there is water endowed with the eight tastes below the ground but nobody is able to reach it. Then some wise person sets to work and digs down until he reaches it. Nirvana is like that. Or else, suppose there is a blind man who cannot see the sun or moon. A skilled doctor might cure him so that he becomes able to see them, though it is not the case that the sun and moon did not originally exist but now do. Nirvana is like that – it has existed primordially and not just come into being in the present.”
So, Nirvana, Dharmakaya, Buddhahood, etc, and Buddha nature are the same thing. They all refer to the discovery of the inherent Buddha nature, dwelling in it and never being blind to it again. In the Queen Srimala Sutra it is said:
“The ‘extinction of suffering’ is known as the Dharmakaya of the World Honored One, which is beginningless, uncreated, unborn, undying, free from destruction, permanent unchanging, eternal, inherently pure, and separate from all the stores of defilement. The Dharmakaya is also not different from the inconceivable Buddha nature.  The Dharmakaya of the World Honored One is called the Buddha nature when it is obscured by the stores of defilement. […]“[2]
When one is not yet Enlightened we just say he has Buddha nature but he does not see it – “it is obscured by the stores of defilement”. When one attains Enlightenment we refer to His Buddha nature as Dharmakaya body of ultimate reality. So, actually Dharmakaya is the discovered Buddha nature that has always been there. The same we can say about Nirvana or Emancipation (Enlightenment). Shinran Shonin himself quoted Mahaparinirvana Sutra on this topic, in his Kyogyoshinsho:
“Emancipation is called the supreme that is unexcelled… The supreme that is unexcelled is none other than true Emancipation; true Emancipation is none other than Tathagata… If one has attained highest perfect Enlightenment, one is free of desire and free of doubt. To be free of desire and free of doubt is true Emancipation, true emancipation is Tathagata… Tathagata is Nirvana, Nirvana is the inexhaustible, the inexhaustible is Buddha-nature, Buddha-nature is unchanging, the unchanging is highest perfect Enlightenment.”[3]
“The Dharma-body (Dharmakaya) is eternity, bliss, Self, and purity. It is forever free of all birth, aging, sickness, and death, of not-white and not-black, not-long and not-short, not-this and not-that, not learning and not non-learning; hence, whether the Buddha appears in the world or does not appear in the world, He is constantly unmoving and without change (His Buddha nature never changes) “[4]
To be “forever free” from birth, aging, sickness, death, etc, means to be eternal, that is, without beginning or end. Also, whether somebody becomes a Buddha or not (awakens or not to his Buddha nature) that Buddha nature never changes. By quoting these passages and many others it is clear that Shinran Shonin was very much aware of the doctrine of Tathagatagarbha and innate Enlightenment. More than this, he also wanted to express the idea that Buddha nature itself, which is the non-ceasing and non-perishing element of all beings, is the very thing that makes possible the attainment of Enlightenment:
“All sentient beings are non-ceasing and non-perishing, and thus attain highest perfect Enlightenment.”[5]
The non-ceasing and non-perishing aspect of sentient beings is their Buddha nature and exactly because they have Buddha nature, they are able to attain perfect Enlightenment, that is, to reach a point when they can see the Buddha nature, as perfect Enlightenment is nothing else than turning the light on and see the treasure in the room that has always been there.
This teaching that because of Buddha nature we can aspire to and become Buddhas (beings who dwell in their Buddha nature) is very important. Everybody want to be happy and all beings search for a meaning in their lives. Thus, they intuitively know there is something stable that can be found beyond the everyday ups and downs, sorrows and difficulties. That something they always search and long for is actually the unconscious intuition of their Buddha nature but unfortunately, they do not know where to search and so they are looking for fulfillment in the wrong places. Unlike false teachers and worldly ideologies, the Buddhas appear in the world to turn our minds in the right direction and offer us the right tools to dig into our layers of illusions and blind passions to discover our Buddha nature. The right tools are the various Dharma Gates and practices associated with them, so if we do not practice the Dharma we cannot find the Buddha nature, no matter it already exists with all its innate qualities.
I heard a lot of people nowadays wrongly assuming that because they have Buddha nature they are already Enlightened without the need to do anything. However, we are warned against such an attitude in many sutras and instructions of various Masters:
 “Or a person might say: ‘I have already attained unsurpassed Enlightenment! Why? Because I have the Buddha nature. Any person possessing the Buddha nature has assuredly attained unsurpassed Enlightenment. Consequently, I attain Enlightenment.’ Then, one should know, such a person infringes the parajika (does a great sin/offence). Why so? There surely is the Buddha nature. But not yet having practiced the best expedient of the Way, the person has not yet seen it. Having not yet seen it, there can be no attaining of unsurpassed Enlightenment.”[6]
Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche also said on this matter:
“Our basic nature is in no way different from that of a Buddha. It’s like pure space, which, whether it is obscured by clouds or is a cloudless and clear sky, remains the same in its basic, essential nature. But if you pretend that your nature is already enlightened and don’t progress along the path of removing the obscurations, then your enlightened nature doesn’t become realized. […][7]If our nature wasn’t already enlightened, we couldn’t awaken to it no matter how hard we tried. Buddha nature cannot be fabricated. Our nature is primordially enlightened, but at present our ordinary body, speech and discursive thinking obscures it. The nature of our mind, Buddha nature, is like space itself, but it is space obscured by clouds. The whole point of Dharma practice is to remove the clouds and allow the actualization of what already is – the awakened state of mind, the Buddha nature.”[8]
All the genuine Dharma Gates of Buddhist teaching talk about three main aspects:
1)      The Basis, 2) The Path and 3) the Fruit
The Basis is the hidden Buddha nature which is already perfectly Enlightened and filled with innumerable qualities. This Buddha nature resides in all beings but it is not yet manifesting due to being covered by many layers of illusions and blind passions.
The Path is composed of the various practices taught in many sutras and Dharma Gates with the intention of removing the illusions and blind passions that obscure our already present Buddha nature.
The Fruit is the Buddha nature that has had the illusions and blind passions that obscured it removed, thus allowing it to be seen and manifest itself. This fruit is called perfect Enlightenment, Buddhahood, Nirvana, Dharmakaya, etc
In the case of Pure Land Dharma Gate or Jodo Shinshu (Amida Dharma), the Path is to say the Nembutsu of Faith in Amida Buddha, aspiring to be born in His Pure Land after death where in such a perfectly enlightened environment our illusions and blind passions will naturally melt like ice meeting fire, thus revealing our innate Buddha nature. We will talk about this in one of the next chapters.

to be continued


[1] The idea of innate or primordial Enlightenment is also called Original Enlightenment.[2] Queen Srimala Sutra, Chapter 8: The Dharmakaya, https://whatdobuddhistsbelieve.wordpress.com/teachings/queen-srimala-sutra[3] Mahaparinirvana Sutra as quoted by Shinran Shonin in his Kyogyoshinsho, chapter V, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.181[4] Mahaparinirvana Sutra as quoted by Shinran Shonin in his Kyogyoshinsho, chapter V, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.188. [5] Mahaparinirvana Sutra as quoted by Shinran Shonin in his Kyogyoshinsho, chapter V, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.189[6] Mahaparinirvana Sutra, translated by Kosho Yamamoto from Dharmakshema’s Chinese version, edition printed by Dr Tony Page, 2004,verse 397,  p.65[7] From the book As it is, translated by Erik Pema Kunsang, https://quotes.justdharma.com/pretending-enlightenment-tulku-urgyen-rinpoche/[8] From the book As it is, translated by Erik Pema Kunsang https://quotes.justdharma.com/buddha-nature-cannot-be-fabricated-tulku-urgyen-rinpoche/

15. Amidaji is open to international membership - Jul 17, 2020 7:06:00 AM


Do you want a Sangha which focuses on solving “the greatest matter of afterlife” through simple faith in Amida Buddha?
Do you want a Sangha which is not ashamed to be religious, devotional and faith oriented?Do you want a Sangha which is not affiliated to the ideological agenda of political groups?Do you want a healthy Dharmic environment focused on listening deeply to the Jodo Shinshu teaching as it was taught by Shakyamuni Buddha, Shinran Shonin and Rennyo Shonin?Do you want a place without modernists and false teachers who are not capable to accept the existence of Amida Buddha and His Pure Land?
If your answer to the above is YES, then Amidaji International Temple might be the right place for you! We accept members from any country and we intend to develop a genuine Sangha of orthodox Jodo Shinshu Buddhists all over the world.
Click here to read Amida Dharma –the essential doctrine of Amidaji.
Click here to download our Constitution, find everything you need to know about the purpose of Amidaji, activities, membership, priesthood, organization, etc.

Click here to read the conditions to be accepted as a member of Amidaji


Please read carefully the information from the above links and think deeply before joining us.  Do not hurry. Life and death is serious business and we are looking for dedicated people. Namo Amida Bu 


16. Constitution of Amidaji International Temple - Jul 17, 2020 5:54:00 AM
The crest of Amidaji 
Click here for the Spanish version
Any place where unenlightened beings meet needs some kind of organization, especially if it is a Dharma place. In our case, if we want to preserve and transmit the Jodo Shinshu teaching, we need a good team of people who can accomplish that goal. However, a team cannot work without common rules that will help us focus on our religious goal, so I hope this Constitution will provide the administrative base, rules and regulations for our aspirations.
During many years of priesthood in which I have closely watched the ways of various Jodo Shinshu temples and communities I realized that a reform in both doctrinal and administration matters is very much needed.
Due to the lack of firmness and clarity from the leadership of Japanese Jodo Shinshu school on what one should teach and be taught, a doctrinal chaos in which everyone says whatever they want and label it as Jodo Shinshu is spread everywhere. Although the official documents of Hongwanji institution are there to be seen and followed by everybody, dangerous heresies and wrong views are prevalent among many priests and lay people in temples and centers around the world[1]. Also, many temples, especially outside Japan, became mere  instruments for the agenda of various ideological groups with dubious theories in clear contrast with the general  teaching of the Buddha Dharma and Buddhist morals.
the crest of Amidaji without the name
of the temple At the same time, priest candidates are not thoroughly checked if their understanding and knowledge is in agreement with the authentic teaching of our school and priesthood is offered too easily on the reasons that quantity should prevail over quality.
Academic sophisticated presentations that do not help the simple person to receive faith in Amida and which often contain useless and scholarly comparisons with non-Buddhist religions and philosophies, as well as worldly motivational discourses are prevalent among the elite responsible for the spreading of the Dharma while talks about important matters of life after death or the reality of Amida Buddha and His Pure Land are avoided.
Also mixing of Nembutsu with other practices is prevalent in many centers, although the Primal Vow is clear on what we should do and follow – exclusive faith in Amida, exclusive saying of His Name and exclusive wish to be born in His Pure Land after death.
Contemplating on the above and other elements that constitute the decadent state of the Jodo Shinshu sangha in our era, which is never counteracted by the official leadership of Hongwanji, I decided to create a new international organization based on strict orthodox Buddhist and Jodo Shinshu principles.
I know there is a need among authentic Pure Land followers for orthodox and simple explanations, as well as for a religious environment of devotion and faith where they can listen deeply to the Dharma and entrust to Amida. I sincerely hope that Amidaji will become the spiritual home of these honest beings.
Namo Amida Bu,
Josho Adrian Cîrlea,Amidaji Temple,July 16th 2564 Buddhist Era (2020 C.E.)


Click here to download Amidaji Constitution in pdf 

Click here to read how you can help Amidaji by donation or by becoming a patron of Amidaji


[1]For example, although we have the official Kyosho (the Essential of Jodo Shinshu) document which clearly says that birth in the Pure Land is to be attained after death, there are many priests everywhere who promote the heresies of “Pure Land being here and now”.“Attain­ing the “entrust­ing heart”—awakening to the com­pas­sion of Amida Tatha­gata through the work­ing of the Pri­mal Vow—we shall walk the path of life recit­ing Amida’s Name (Nem­butsu).  At the end of  life, we will be born in the Pure Land and attain Bud­dha­hood, return­ing at once to this delu­sional world to guide peo­ple to awakening.”
(Jodo Shinshu Kyosho (The Essential of Jodo Shinshu) There are also various other wrong views like calling Amida Buddha a myth, metaphor, symbol, or fictional character as well as denying the existence of His Pure Land as a real enlightened place, etc.


17. Rules of conduct implied in the Ryogemon - Jul 17, 2020 5:53:00 AM

please also read Rules of the temple/dojo
The rules of conduct are found in Rennyo Shonin’s Letters[2]:
-         respect other Buddhist schools and do not denigrate their teachings or followers[3]-         do not belittle other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas-         do not denigrate the kami (gods of Shintoism)[4]-         do not put on airs of a high spiritual person – be humble-         do not impose[5]our faith on people of various religions or Buddhist schools
-         be careful when you talk about Jodo Shinshu teaching with people who are not karmically mature and not open to understanding and receiving it – do not impose it on them; in general, speak only when it is truly necessary and at the right time. -         do not be proud and do not become noisy, especially in the public, with your convictions and faith in Jodo Shinshu; be discrete, act normal, and enjoy your faith in silence and humbleness.-         do not denigrate or slight government and local authorities because you have faith and they don’t-         meet your public obligations and duties in full without fail-         take the laws of the state as your outer aspect[6], store Other Power faith deep in your hearts and take the principles of humanity and justice as essential[7].


[1]Ryogemon is the creed of Jodo Shinshu Buddhist teaching, composed by Rennyo Shonin, the Restorer of our Jodo Shinshu school. In it we find all we need to know and accept in order to be born in the Pure Land of Amida:“Having abandoned the mind of self-power to perform various practices and miscellaneous acts, I have entrusted myself to Amida Tathagata with singleness of heart recognizing that He has resolved my crucial after-life problem once and for all.I understand that at the moment such entrusting Faith arises in me, my deliverance from samsara is settled with the assurance of birth in the Pure Land, and joyfully accept that recitation of the Nembutsu which follows is to express my indebtedness to Amida.How grateful I am that I have come to this understanding through the benevolence of the founder, Shinran Shonin, who appeared in this country (Japan) and of the Masters of the succeeding generations who have guided me with deep compassion!From now on, I will abide by the rules of conduct all my life.”[2]References to these rules can be found on pages 20, 27, 32, 34, 35, 40, 41, 47, 50, 53, 71, 74, 77, 81 from Rennyo Shonin Ofumi (The Letters of Rennyo), published by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center Translation and Research in 1996.[3]Rennyo said in one of his many letters referring to this aspect: „Within our tradition there must be no slandering of other teachings and sects. As the teachings were all given by Shakyamuni during His life time, they should be fruitful if they are practiced just as they were expounded. In this last Dharma age, however,  people like ourselves are not equal to the teachings of the various sects of the Path of  Sages; therefore, we simply do not rely on them or entrust ourselves to them”. [4]We do not rely on the kami, but this does not mean that we denigrate them. [5] This does not mean we should not do missionary work, but that we should not force people to convert to Jodo Shinshu.[6]Act accordingly with the laws of the state you live in. Of course, this does not apply to laws that are inhumane, criminal or go against the Buddhist teaching and morality.[7]Try to be compassionate and treat all people equally no matter their differences. 


18. Conditions for being accepted as a member of Amidaji - Jul 17, 2020 4:58:00 AM

fragment from Amidaji Constitution
The applicant for full (adult) membership has to express the wish to become a member either verbally or in writing and sign the Membership Pledge (click here to download it) by which he promises that he will accept the teaching of Amidaji and observe the Constitution. Also, he must be in accord with “the conditions for being accepted as a member of Amidaji temple" as explained below. Membership can be decided by any priest or lay teacher of Amidaji sangha.

If the candidate is accepted as a full (adult) member he will attend a refuge ceremony (kieshiki) conducted by any priest (or lay teacher in case a priest is not available) of Amidaji sangha on which occasion he will receive a Dharma name from him and a certificate of membership. (online kieshiki ceremonies can be done for those who are not able to come to the temple).
A simple catechism consisting of teaching the contents of the essential of Amidaji doctrine contained in the book Amida Dharma is offered to the kieshiki candidate followed by a short oral examination. If the candidate passes the examination he or she is accepted as an adult member and is offered kieshiki ceremony.
Jodo Shinshu followers of any branch or without any official affiliation can become members of Amidaji as long as they observe Amidaji Constitution and regulations. If they already have a Jodo Shinshu Dharma name, they may keep it, but they must receive the Three Refuges in accordance with the teaching of Amidaji. Those who left Amidaji and wish to re-enter the sangha must receive the Three Refuges again while keeping their former Dharma name.These are some general conditions for being accepted as a member of Amidaji temple:
to know and accept the doctrinal foundation of Amidaji temple as explained in the book Amida Dharmato abandon any non-Buddhist religious path or faith, and among all Buddhist methods to follow exclusively the Jodo Shinshu teachingto abandon any spiritual practice, be it recitative, meditative or of any other form, and dedicate exclusively to saying the Nembutsu of the Primal Vow[1]. to have faith in Amida Buddha or sincerely aspire to faithto wish to be born in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha after deathto not embrace, promote or support wrong views and divergences from the Jodo Shinshu teaching as defined by Amidaji temple to observe this Constitution, the rules of the temple or dojo and guide oneself in one’s daily life in accordance with the rules of behaviour implied in the Ryogemon and by the Eight Precepts of Faith mentioned in the Amida Dharma.




[1] Breathing techniques or mental and physical relaxation exercises which do not contain any spiritual or religious elements are not included in this category.

19. SOBRE LA NATURALEZA BÚDICA - Jul 16, 2020 1:47:00 PM


translated from English by Kosho Arana Sensei
Todos los seres sintientes tienen la naturaleza Búdica. Esta naturaleza de Buda ahora está oscurecida, pero siempre ha estado allí. La naturaleza Búdica oscurecida puede convertirse en la naturaleza Búdica revelada (no oculta) si los oscurecimientos se purifican, y estos se purificarán automáticamente cuando nazcamos en la Tierra Pura del Buda de Amida.

 Allí, en ese reino Iluminado, todo conduce a la Iluminación, a diferencia de aquí, en el samsara, donde todo conduce a más oscurecimientos, pasiones ciegas y sufrimiento. Practicar para alcanzar la Iluminación aquí en este ambiente samsárico es como tratar de derretir el hielo colocándolo en la nieve, mientras que nacer en la Tierra Pura es como poner hielo en una poderosa estufa.
El hielo de nuestros oscurecimientos será derretido por el Poder Iluminado de Amida y Su Tierra Pura, revelando así nuestra naturaleza innata de Buda. En esta serie trato de ofrecer algunas explicaciones simples sobre lo que es la naturaleza Búdica basada en varios sutras y tratados. Quizás te gustaría saber y regocijarte de antemano por lo que realmente descubrirás en la Tierra Pura de Amida.
Aquí están los artículos publicados hasta ahora. Se agregarán más tan pronto como se escriban. Por favor ten paciencia. Cuando toda la serie esté lista y revisada, se imprimirá como un libro.
1) La Naturaleza Illusoria del Samsara

2) La Realidad de laNaturaleza Búdica

3) La diferencia entre el falsoser y el verdadero ser (la Naturaleza Búdica)

4) La Naturaleza Búdica no estávacía de sí misma sino solo vacía de fenómenos samsáricos

5) Las Cualidades Iluminadas dela Naturaleza Búdica

6) ...........................................
7) ...............................................
8)................................................

A ser continuado



20. The enlightened qualities of Buddha nature - Jul 15, 2020 11:30:00 AM


Buddha nature and its qualities
 like a beautiful parkClick here to return to the main page On Buddha nature
            As mentioned previously, the Buddha nature has many innate qualities (attributes), also called the qualities of liberation or Dharmakaya. They are usually compared with the attributes of a precious jewel, like for example, its light, color and shape that are inseparable from it. I will also use a different comparison to help you make an idea. Imagine you lived for many years in a smelly, isolated and narrow prison cell where you could not walk, nor see the sun and breathe fresh air. Then, you are liberated into the most beautiful park where you have everything you need. Now think to the “qualities” of your tiny prison cell and those of the beautiful park. Bad air, bad smell, cement walls and floor, artificial light, restricted area for movement, versus fresh air, unrestricted movement and freedom, open space, natural light from the sun, chirping of birds, etc. The things you could not even dream about when you were imprisoned you can now do freely by having access to the open space of nature and its wonderful qualities.samsaric existence like a smelly,
narrow prison cell

In the exact way that park with all its beauties has always been there even if you were imprisoned and could not see it, the Buddha nature with its inherent qualities has always been present although you were living within the limitations of samsaric existence.

There are two aspects of Buddha nature: 1) the aspect of space and 2) the aspect of wisdom and luminosity.  
The aspect of space represents the emptiness of samsaric phenomena, that is, our Buddha nature being empty of illusions, blind passions, and any type of defilements. It also pervades everything, like space. There is no place where it is not present.
The aspect of wisdom and luminosity comprises the thirty-two innate qualities of Buddha nature. However, it is said that each of these thirty-two has millions of further qualities. Thus, there is an unceasing display of qualities from the Buddha nature (Dharmakaya).[1]
Any Buddha has two kinds of wisdom which are inherent in the Buddha nature:
1) the wisdom of the true nature of things and 2) the wisdom of the variety of phenomena. The thirty-two qualities of Buddha nature belong to the wisdom of the variety of phenomena. Such qualities are inherent to the Buddha nature just like the rays of light belong to the sun. The clouds may hinder us from seeing the sun and its natural qualities, but when they are dissipated we can clearly admire them and receive their benefits. It is not that the sun and its qualities were created when the clouds disappeared because they were always there although we could not perceive them.[2]The same applies to the Buddha nature and its innate qualities. They are always present under the many layers of our samsaric personalities and they will become manifest when we enter the enlightened realm of Amida’s Pure Land which has the power to dissipate the clouds of various illusions and obscurations.
The thirty-two qualities are classified in three categories: a) the ten powers, b) the four fearlessnesses and c) the eighteen distinct qualities.[3]
a)      The ten powers 1)      The power to know what is correct, for example, that virtuous actions lead to happiness,and what is incorrect, for example, that virtuous actions lead to misery. The first power includes full knowing of the three types of beings karma: the karma that will manifest in this life, the karma that will manifest in the very next life and the karma that is not so strong and will manifest in another indefinite period of time in the future.  
2)       The power of knowledge of the results of actions. This means to know that certaincauses bring certain results, including the positive actions and negative actions. In short, this power represents the capacity to know every detail about all the particular individual relationships between causes and results, why this or that person was born in such and such a  realm of existence and is experiencing this or that type of life, etc. Nobody except the Buddhas have the ability to know every little karmic detail of someone’s life. 
3)      The power to know the makeup of beings. This means to know the different aspirationsand interests of beings, so that when He wants to guide them a Buddha knows who are those impressed by the display of miraculous powers, by the good behavior of the teacher or by his wisdom or who have faith in hearing the teachings, etc
4)      The power of knowing the different capacities and potential of beings. Some excel inunderstanding, some in diligence, some in mindfulness, while others in faith or in meditation, etc 
A Buddha knows all of this.
5)      The power of knowing the different aspirations and interests of beings. For example, some are interested in Hinayana, some in Mahayana, while others in Vajrayana. Some are interested in knowledge and wisdom, while others in morality or meditation, etc
6)      The power to know all paths and where they lead. A Buddha knows what faults or qualities may arise on this or that path, and what paths to be avoided.
7)      The power of knowing the various states of meditation  and concentration (samadhi),what defilements are eliminated by them and what qualities or obstacles one may encounter in one’s practice.
8)      The power of having the divine sight and clairvoyance through which the Buddha can seeeverything in the past, present and future. Nothing can stay hidden from Him and so He looks with compassion upon all beings everywhere.
9)      The power of knowing the countless past lives of all beings without exception
10)  The power of knowing the final elimination of any defilement, that everything that needs to be eliminated has been eliminated. The Buddha knows that for Him all the veils of emotional and cognitive obscurations have been removed together with their habitual tendencies.
b)     The four fearlessnesses These four fearlessnesses apply to any hostility with regard to what Buddhas teach or say about themselves and others. Ven. Thrangu Rinpoche explained them as follows:
“In the first fearlessness, the Buddha looks at himself and thinks, ‘All my faults have been eliminated.’ Nobody else can say, ‘There's one fault that you haven't eliminated.’ Everything that needs to be eliminated has been eliminated. This first fearlessness is called sarvadharma- sambhodi in Sanskrit and means that the Buddha has gained realization of the variety of phenomena.
The second fearlessness is the perfection of realization; all the positive qualities in oneself have been developed, and one can say, ‘All these qualities have been realized.’ No one can say, ‘There's this quality that you haven't developed.’ Having all qualities developed, the Buddha is endowed with the wisdom of knowing all phenomena. No one can accuse the Buddha by saying, ‘You don't know about this area of phenomena.’ The Buddha is fearless because He knows thatHe has the wisdom of the true nature of phenomena.
The third is the fearlessness of teaching the path to benefit others. It is a fearlessness of telling beings, ‘This is the path you must follow to get the result.’ No one can say, ‘Actually, this path doesn't help. That's just a lot of hardship for no purpose.’ The Buddha has this fearlessness in that He can say that if one practices this path it will bring the result, and no one can contradict Him.
The [fourth] fearlessness also benefits others by teaching them the obstacles to be avoided on the path. […] The Buddha is able to teach beings the Path and the obstacles, and He knows that none of these is a waste of time or effort. So the ability to teach people the obstacles to the path is attained through the wisdom of knowing all phenomena. […] It isn't the case that the Buddha thinks, ‘Whoops! I left one out. I forgot to tell them that they have to give that up. Oh dear, Ihaven't taught very well today.’ The Buddha has complete knowledge of what to teach. When the Buddha says that one should avoid something, He doesn't leave anything out. He also doesn't worry that somebody will be able to dispute with Him or that He's made a mistake.
So there are two aspects of fearlessness which benefit oneself and two aspects of fearlessness which benefit others, making up four fearlessnesses. The reason the Buddha is shown seated on a lion supported throne in many pictures and statues is to symbolize these four fearlessnesses, because a lion is unafraid of any other animal.”[4]  c) The eighteen distinct qualitiesThese are the result of the presence of the ten powers and the four fearlessnesses. They are called “distinct qualities” because they belong only to the Buddhas and not to Pratyekabuddhas[5], Arhats[6]of the Hinayana or bodhisattvas in aspirations[7]. The eighteen qualities can be classified in four groups: 1) the six qualities of conduct, 2) the six qualities of realization, 3) the three qualities of activity and 4) the three qualities of ultimate wisdom.
The six qualities of conduct are: 1)      Buddhas never make any mistake or error. Most of the time Arhats of Hinayana andPratyekabuddhas do not make mistakes, but sometimes they do like for example, stepping on a snake by accident, so this quality of never ever making any mistake belongs only to the Buddhas.2)      The Buddha never speaks nor makes any sounds in a way that is not meaningful.3)      A Buddha never forgets anything. Pratyeka Buddhas and Arhats of the Hinayana cansometimes forget things, but this never happens to a Buddha4)      A Buddha is always in meditation. No matter what He does, His meditative state is never lost.5)      A Buddha never has any impure or ego-centric thoughts. He always looks to beings withindiscriminative Compassion and always wishes to benefit them.6)      A Buddha is never in a state of ignorance, dullness or a neutral state when He is notaware or not understanding something or somebody. Awareness and understanding are always present.
The six qualities of realization are: 1)      A Buddha always aspire to benefit and teach sentient beings. His aspiration neverdisappears or decreases. 2)      His diligence never decreases. His motivation to benefit and teach is always present.3)      A Buddha is always aware of the beings He has to teach and never forgets them. He knows who is to be taught and trained, and what is the proper time to do this.4)      There is never a degradation in the concentration of a Buddha 5)      A Buddha knows and understands everything about samsara and Nirvana6)      A Buddha has ultimate and supreme wisdom because He is completely free from anydefilements and their causes. A Buddha no longer has any obscuration related to the defilements and no obscuration to knowledge. He also has the wisdom of knowing that Liberation has occurred and that now He dwells in the ultimate Dharmakaya or Buddha nature. This kind of wisdom never declines nor disappears.
The three qualities of activity are:1)      All the actions of a Buddha are meaningful and benefit sentient beings. No matter whata Buddha does, even when He stays silent or closes His eyes, or walks, laughs, etc has a meaning and is for the benefit of sentient beings. 2)      All the words of the Buddha are meaningful and benefit sentient beings. A Buddha never ever says useless words or without benefit.3)      A Buddha never has any pointless thoughts and motivations.All these three qualities of activity of the Buddha are preceded by wisdom and followed by wisdom.
The three qualities of ultimate wisdom are:1)      Buddhas can see into the past with wisdom that is without attachment and without anyimpediment. 2)      Buddhas can see into the present with wisdom that is without attachment and without anyimpediment 3)      Buddhas can see into the future with wisdom that is without attachment and without any impediment
A Buddha is free of the obscurations and obstructions of defilements as well as the obscurations and obstructions to knowledge. In seeing the past, present and future the wisdom of a Buddha is free from desire and the obstructions brought by desire, free from anger and the obstructions caused by anger, and free from ignorance and the obstructions caused by ignorance. Also, when seeing the past, present and future, a Buddha’s wisdom is not subject to belief in a permanent self of samsaric phenomena but is able to see their emptiness as well as the Buddha nature which is not empty of itself. Thus, He never falls for incorrect beliefs and ideas.
All Buddhas have these 32 qualities of  liberation and they are also found in our Buddha nature, just we cannot use them in the state of samsaric beings. As long as we have not yet awakened to our Buddha nature these qualities remain hidden bellow the many levels of illusions and blind passions just like a precious gem with amazing qualities stays hidden in a pile of shit.  However, after we are born in the enlightened realm of Amida Buddha where everything is conducive to Enlightenment, we’ll immediately discover our Buddha nature and activate these 32 and other amazing qualities.

to be continued 


[1] On Buddha Essence, A Commentary on Ranjung Dorje’s treatise, Khenchen Thrangu, translated by Peter Alan Roberts, edited by Clark Johnson, Shambhala, Boston & London, 2006, p. 62-62.[2] On Buddha Essence, A Commentary on Ranjung Dorje’s treatise, Khenchen Thrangu, translated by Peter Alan Roberts, edited by Clark Johnson, Shambhala, Boston & London, 2006, p. 51[3] In my explanations of the thirty-two qualities I relied on two books: On Buddha Essence, A Commentary on Ranjung Dorje’s treatise, Khenchen Thrangu, translated by Peter Alan Roberts, edited by Clark Johnson, Shambhala, Boston & London, 2006, p. 50-60 and Treasury of Precious Qualities, volume I, Jigme Lingpa, Padmakara Translation Group, revised edition, Shambhala Publications, 2010, p. 456 – 459 These qualities are also taught in various Mahayana sutras and treatises. [4] On Buddha Essence, A Commentary on Ranjung Dorje’s treatise, Khenchen Thrangu, translated by Peter Alan Roberts, edited by Clark Johnson, Shambhala, Boston & London, 2006, p. 56-57[5] Pratyekabuddhas are solitary Buddhas who attained personal freedom from birth and death without following a teacher. However, they did not attain the perfect Enlightenment of the Buddhas, don’t have Infinite Wisdom and Compassion and are not interested in saving sentient beings. [6] The Arhats of the Hinayana are beings who attained personal freedom from birth and death but did not attain the perfect Enlightenment of the Buddhas. Thus, they do not have Infinite Wisdom and Infinite Compassion and are not interested in saving sentient beings. [7] Bodhisattvas in aspirations are not Buddhas yet but follow the Path to become one for themselves and all beings. 

21. 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
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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

22. 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 


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

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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 I will proofread it and print it in book format.

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) 

4. Buddha nature is not empty of itself but only empty of samsaric phenomena 

5. The enlightened qualities of Buddha nature 

6. On the idea of innate or primordial Enlightenment 

7. The enlightened manifestations for the sake of saving sentient beings 

8. The Nembutsu is true and real 

9. What did Shinran mean by "shinjin (faith) is Buddha nature"? 

10. The wrong view of nihilistic emptiness  (NEW!)

11. Only Buddhas see Buddha nature (NEW!)

12. to be continued

13. to be continued

.........



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24. 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


25. 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