Jodo Shinshu and personal morality

Jodo Shinshu and personal morality

Postby steveb1 » Fri Jan 10, 2014 9:50 am

Shin teaches that Amida accepts us "just as we are" and saves and enlightens us regardless of our actions. This brings in the question of ethical action, "Buddhistic" action, in the world. If, because of Amida's guarantee of salvation, we are free to do anything, Shinjin could be viewed as a license for committing anti-Dharmic acts. I am certain that this was not Shinran Shonin's ntention, but the only thing I recall him saying about indulging in bad behavior, knowing that we're already saved, was something to the effect, "Just because we know there is an antidote, doesn't mean that we should drink poison".

I really don't think that moral nihilism is, or ought to be, a consequence of being embraced by Amida's grace, but my education on this point appears to be somewhat inadequate.

Can anyone enlighten me on this issue?
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Re: Jodo Shinshu and personal morality

Postby Astus » Fri Jan 10, 2014 12:45 pm

This is the problem of 'licensed evil', a known misinterpretation of the teachings of Honen and Shinran. The answer is that those who renounce the world and want to attain birth in the Pure Land don't wilfully commit any evil actions, don't intentionally engage in greed and hatred.

Things you may read:

The Question of 'Licensed Evil'
The meaning of “there are no precepts”
Jodo Shinshu: Shin Buddhism in Medieval Japan, p 53ff
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Jodo Shinshu and personal morality

Postby steveb1 » Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:24 pm

Astus wrote:This is the problem of 'licensed evil', a known misinterpretation of the teachings of Honen and Shinran. The answer is that those who renounce the world and want to attain birth in the Pure Land don't wilfully commit any evil actions, don't intentionally engage in greed and hatred.

Things you may read:

The Question of 'Licensed Evil'
The meaning of “there are no precepts”
Jodo Shinshu: Shin Buddhism in Medieval Japan, p 53ff


Astus, thank you very much for these sources. I look forward to delving into them :)
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Re: Jodo Shinshu and personal morality

Postby Northern Light » Thu Jan 16, 2014 2:11 pm

steveb1 wrote:Shin teaches that Amida accepts us "just as we are" and saves and enlightens us regardless of our actions. This brings in the question of ethical action, "Buddhistic" action, in the world. If, because of Amida's guarantee of salvation, we are free to do anything, Shinjin could be viewed as a license for committing anti-Dharmic acts. I am certain that this was not Shinran Shonin's ntention, but the only thing I recall him saying about indulging in bad behavior, knowing that we're already saved, was something to the effect, "Just because we know there is an antidote, doesn't mean that we should drink poison".

I really don't think that moral nihilism is, or ought to be, a consequence of being embraced by Amida's grace, but my education on this point appears to be somewhat inadequate.

Can anyone enlighten me on this issue?


It's a great question Steve, and something that everyone that considers themself a 'Nembutsu Practitioner' or even having an interest in Pure Land should ask themselves.

My own take is that whether we have the faith that Amida will accept us as bombu, as we are, as fallible humans, or whether we're 'strictly self power' practioners of other schools of Buddhism, if we're going to act immorally, we will. I explained what I meant really poorly there! but what I mean is, that neither an attitude towards self power nor other power will stop us from acting immorally if the intent arises and our resilience is weak.

In the most part, speaking only for myself (who else can I speak for! :D ), my faith in Amida's infinite life and acceptance of me just as I am, is more likely to cause me to make more effort where the precepts are concerned, than seeing myself as 'off the hook' and making less effort to act morally.

:buddha1: Namu Amida Bu!
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo
Nichiren Buddhist.
My lifetime outlook: "...just take the good.... there is always bad..... but just take the good". :)
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Re: Jodo Shinshu and personal morality

Postby steveb1 » Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:43 pm

Northern Light, thank you for the encouraging words :)

It does occur to me that if gratitude is Shin's primary mode, then truly grateful people would naturally tend not to act hatefully and would tend to curb their worst impulses ...

Gassho,

Steve
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Re: Jodo Shinshu and personal morality

Postby Northern Light » Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:37 pm

steveb1 wrote:Northern Light, thank you for the encouraging words :)

It does occur to me that if gratitude is Shin's primary mode, then truly grateful people would naturally tend not to act hatefully and would tend to curb their worst impulses ...

Gassho,

Steve


That's exactly how I see it Steve. Anyone who sees any 'potential' in the concept of 'Licenced Evil', clearly hasn't embraced Amida.

Once you have made the vow to Amida, and are reciting the mantra of his name and are living with his light and love, you would not consider taking advantage of the primal vow, and deliberatly acting immorally.

Of course, we are still vulnerable and infallible bombu, so we will occasionally act in a less than perfect way. We're not Shakyamuni unfortunately!... and we live in a very different age.

Since starting to practice Pure Land Buddhism I would heartily say I am less likely to act immorally, even with the knowledge of Amitabha's vow and his lack of discrimination between good and evil people.

Thats's how I see it anyway! :)
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo
Nichiren Buddhist.
My lifetime outlook: "...just take the good.... there is always bad..... but just take the good". :)
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Re: Jodo Shinshu and personal morality

Postby steveb1 » Fri Jan 17, 2014 7:50 pm

Yes, that's how I think it works, too :)
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