信心 and how to develop it

信心 and how to develop it

Postby Lazy_eye » Sat May 01, 2010 5:00 pm

Hi,

This came up in an earlier thread but it was a bit of a tangent so I would like to raise it again here.

Buddha name recitation, on the surface, sounds like the simplest of methods, except that it should be supported by 信心/shinjin. Otherwise, isn't it just a method for calming the mind, no different than counting breaths or even repeating some nonsense syllables? It's 信心 which makes the difference.

But how does one develop this? I'd be interested in hearing how both the Chinese and Japanese Pure Land schools approach this question.

Since, as I understand it, in Jodo Shinshu the nembutsu is seen more as an expression of gratitude, I might also ask: how does gratitude come about? I am asking this as someone who is neither very grateful nor devout by nature.

On a related note, what is the link between Other Power and sunyata? Could Amitabha be seen as a personification of sunyata -- or to ask it differently, would contemplation of Amitabha be a way to develop realization of sunyata? Again I would be interested in responses from across the traditions.

Namaste,
LE
Last edited by Lazy_eye on Sun May 02, 2010 12:10 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 信心 and how to develop it

Postby teebee » Sat May 01, 2010 8:08 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Since, as I understand it, in Jodo Shinshu the nembutsu is seen more as an expression of gratitude, I might also ask: how does gratitude come about? Understand I am asking this question as someone who is neither very grateful nor devout by nature.


Umm, not too easy to answer that one.

As a Shin Buddhist since 1958 it is only
over the past 2-3 years that I have felt
immense gratitude to Amida Buddha.

Before that I was uneasy since Shin to
my western mind can seem very theist.

Gassho,

Terry Beresford
Stepping Stones

Belief systems are like lovely stepping stones over the quicksand of ignorance and amnesia.
Each may be useful, but if you stand too long upon one, it will sink into the quicksand and
you may be trapped. So the wise course is to skip over each stone, appreciate its
usefulness and beauty, and find your way over the quicksand without getting mired in it.
(Anon)

http://buddhism.terryberesford.com/
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Re: 信心 and how to develop it

Postby kirtu » Sun May 02, 2010 9:33 pm

teebee wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote: how does gratitude come about? Understand I am asking this question as someone who is neither very grateful nor devout by nature.


Umm, not too easy to answer that one.

As a Shin Buddhist since 1958 it is only
over the past 2-3 years that I have felt
immense gratitude to Amida Buddha.

Before that I was uneasy since Shin to
my western mind can seem very theist.


Terry -
Why did you remain a Shin Buddhist if you were uneasy? Were you raised in a Shin family or environment? If not, why did you convert? What has changed in the past few years that now inspires your gratitude? Answering these questions might help other Shin or other Pure Land Buddhists.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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Re: 信心 and how to develop it

Postby teebee » Sun May 02, 2010 11:31 pm

kirtu wrote:Terry -
Why did you remain a Shin Buddhist if you were uneasy? Were you raised in a Shin family or environment? If not, why did you convert? What has changed in the past few years that now inspires your gratitude? Answering these questions might help other Shin or other Pure Land Buddhists.Kirt


Very good questions Kirt.

I don't think that uneasiness
is a good reason to change
ones beliefs. It is a reason to
challenge oneself though.

My unease came from my
western concept of such
words as faith, salvation and
saved.

Now I am older with more
time on my hands I have
now grasped the meaning of
these terms.

Example; Faith to the
western mind means we take
something on faith until we
know with certainty. while in
Shin Buddhism, faith is
certainty.

No, I am not from a Buddhist
upbringing. The word convert
bothers me, but to me I
became a Buddhist after
reading the Buddhist segment
in H.G. Well's "Outline of History".

Gassho,

Terry Beresford
Stepping Stones

Belief systems are like lovely stepping stones over the quicksand of ignorance and amnesia.
Each may be useful, but if you stand too long upon one, it will sink into the quicksand and
you may be trapped. So the wise course is to skip over each stone, appreciate its
usefulness and beauty, and find your way over the quicksand without getting mired in it.
(Anon)

http://buddhism.terryberesford.com/
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Re: 信心 and how to develop it

Postby Dodatsu » Mon May 03, 2010 2:49 pm

Hi, here is a link from Rev Dr Inagaki Hisao's, a well-known Shin Buddhist translator and my personal mentor, homepage "Amida Net". This is a 38 Q&A on "Shinjin", hope it helps.

http://www12.canvas.ne.jp/horai/shinjin-38.htm

Gassho
Contemplating the power of Tathagata's Primal Vow,
One sees that no foolish being who encounters it passes by in vain.
When a person single-heartedly practices the saying of the Name alone,
It brings quickly to fullness and perfection [in that person] the great treasure ocean of true and real virtues.
- Shinran Shonin
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Re: 信心 and how to develop it

Postby Lazy_eye » Tue May 04, 2010 1:23 pm

Thank you -- the QA is very informative and answers most of my questions. I'm particularly interested in the Amida=Buddha nature angle.

My beginner's impression is that Shinran's teachings are a logical extension of anatta and sunyata. That is, what he is saying is essentially no different from what the Heart Sutra tells us. However, he has radically simplified the path, democratized it and taken out the element of striving, providing instead a kind of direct encounter with sunyata via Amitabha.

Although I hear Shin described as the antithesis of Zen, in Zen it is stressed that you cannot actually "make" yourself enlightened (c.f. the famous anecdote about Matsu and the ceramic tile). So maybe Zen is not as much about "self-power" as it seems?
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Re: 信心 and how to develop it

Postby Dodatsu » Tue May 04, 2010 1:29 pm

Perhaps you might be interested in the following 2 articles, also by Sensei Inagaki:
http://www12.canvas.ne.jp/horai/nembutsu-zen.htm (Nembutsu and Zen)
http://www12.canvas.ne.jp/horai/voidness-vowpower.htm (Shunyata and the Vow-Power)
Gassho
Contemplating the power of Tathagata's Primal Vow,
One sees that no foolish being who encounters it passes by in vain.
When a person single-heartedly practices the saying of the Name alone,
It brings quickly to fullness and perfection [in that person] the great treasure ocean of true and real virtues.
- Shinran Shonin
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Re: 信心 and how to develop it

Postby Namu Butsu » Tue May 04, 2010 1:44 pm

Hello Dodatsu,

Thanks for the link. Your teacher has a way of explaining Shin Buddhism very simplicit. :)
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"Just say the nembutsu and be liberated" Shinran Shonin
"However hard it may be to bid farewell to this world, when the conditions that bind us to this saha [samsara] realm run out, we are powerless to do anything as the final hour arrives and we are swept away to that Land." -A Record in Lament of Divergences
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Re: 信心 and how to develop it

Postby Namu Butsu » Tue May 04, 2010 1:46 pm

I love how he said shinjin is an evolutionary process. We may not know the exact minute, hour, day that we attain it. Its similar to Taitetsu Unno's explanation of Deep hearing and its truely long life time process.

Namo Amida Butsu
Image
"Just say the nembutsu and be liberated" Shinran Shonin
"However hard it may be to bid farewell to this world, when the conditions that bind us to this saha [samsara] realm run out, we are powerless to do anything as the final hour arrives and we are swept away to that Land." -A Record in Lament of Divergences
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Re: 信心 and how to develop it

Postby Namu Butsu » Tue May 04, 2010 1:48 pm

I don't think that uneasiness
is a good reason to change
ones beliefs. It is a reason to
challenge oneself though.


I feel you. Sometimes I will find myself uneasy about Shin Buddhism but when I just stick with those doubts and continue on I find myself more accepting of the teachings :)
Image
"Just say the nembutsu and be liberated" Shinran Shonin
"However hard it may be to bid farewell to this world, when the conditions that bind us to this saha [samsara] realm run out, we are powerless to do anything as the final hour arrives and we are swept away to that Land." -A Record in Lament of Divergences
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Re: 信心 and how to develop it

Postby Nosta » Mon Jun 28, 2010 5:56 pm

In the link that Dodatsu gave us, on Question 8 we find: "It is generally established in other Pure Land schools that people go through the conversion process in two or three lives. For example, during the first life, you hear the Name and become mindful of Amida; in the second life, you concentrate on the recitation of the Nembutsu; and in the third life, you attain birth in the Pure Land through the realization of shinjin."

Does that mean that it will be hard for me to reach Pure Land (reach P. Land at a phenoumenon level, the "dimension"/place where one, after death, may learn the path to Nibbana swiftly) in this very life? That i whould take one more life after this one? I tought that the "easy" path of Pure Land was meant to reach. Nibbana in one shot (i mean after dying).
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Re: 信心 and how to develop it

Postby Tatsuo » Mon Jun 28, 2010 9:52 pm

I never heard about that conversion process in two or three lives. Neither in Tendai Pure Land practices nor in Jodo-shu or Ji-shu. What Pure Land schools is he talking about?
    南無阿弥陀佛
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Re: 信心 and how to develop it

Postby Nosta » Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:15 pm

SOrry but i forget to give the link (that was given by Dodatsu on some post above):
http://www12.canvas.ne.jp/horai/shinjin-38.htm

Check the Question 8 and the last sentence on it (i will "copy&past" so you dont need to see the link):

"Question 8  Do I necessarily need to go through the three- vow conversion process to attain shinjin?

 No. Some people go through this process but many others do not. Anyone wishing to attain shinjin can start delving into the problem of shinjin just as he or she stands. You can go straight to the 18th vow and entrust yourself to Amida wholeheartedly, thereby attaining shinjin.

  It is generally established in other Pure Land schools that people go through the conversion process in two or three lives. For example, during the first life, you hear the Name and become mindful of Amida; in the second life, you concentrate on the recitation of the Nembutsu; and in the third life, you attain birth in the Pure Land through the realization of shinjin."

Never heard about that too. I really hope to attain the "Transformed Pure Land" right after this life! :-D
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Re: 信心 and how to develop it

Postby gyougan » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:21 am

I wonder if it is possible to attain true shinjin without first falling into despair.

We have a tendency to think that we can save ourselves. Only when we truly realize how deep in trouble we are as sentient beings trapped in samsara and how impossible it is for us to escape samsara by becoming a buddha or even arhat... only then we can hang on to the last string of hope, namely Amida Buddha's compassion. At this point, shinjin is a natural outcome. It is not simply a belief or faith, it's experience.
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Re: 信心 and how to develop it

Postby Huifeng » Thu Jan 06, 2011 12:55 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Hi,

This came up in an earlier thread but it was a bit of a tangent so I would like to raise it again here.

Buddha name recitation, on the surface, sounds like the simplest of methods, except that it should be supported by 信心/shinjin. Otherwise, isn't it just a method for calming the mind, no different than counting breaths or even repeating some nonsense syllables? It's 信心 which makes the difference.

But how does one develop this? I'd be interested in hearing how both the Chinese and Japanese Pure Land schools approach this question.

Since, as I understand it, in Jodo Shinshu the nembutsu is seen more as an expression of gratitude, I might also ask: how does gratitude come about? I am asking this as someone who is neither very grateful nor devout by nature.

On a related note, what is the link between Other Power and sunyata? Could Amitabha be seen as a personification of sunyata -- or to ask it differently, would contemplation of Amitabha be a way to develop realization of sunyata? Again I would be interested in responses from across the traditions.

Namaste,
LE


On the easiest ways is to immerse yourself in the tradition. Once one sees how many people have had success through practicing what are essentially the same practices that you are doing now (though perhaps rather more intensely!), it will certainly inspire one with great faith and confidence.

On the other hand, it is best to avoid those naysayers and skeptics who always like to cast doubt on such practices. Such company is like poison in one's ears.

So, read all those old stories, from the story of the Buddha himself - my favorite! - through the likes of Arya Nagarjuna, Arya Asanga and Arya Vasubandhu, the great masters of China like Master Huiyuan and Master Shandao. (Or whatever tradition you wish to develop faith in.)

Last point: Whenever the voice arises saying "But it is my nature to question! It is my nature to be skeptical!", without going overboard and falling into blind faith, remember that this "my nature" stuff is just ego, ultimately all these things are conditioned. We can condition them to faith in the Triple Jewel, which leads towards liberation, or we can condition them towards doubt, which leads to ongoing samsara. Every conditioned thing can change, we just have to condition it in the most beneficial direction.
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Re: 信心 and how to develop it

Postby Huifeng » Thu Jan 06, 2011 12:57 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:... in Zen it is stressed that you cannot actually "make" yourself enlightened (c.f. the famous anecdote about Matsu and the ceramic tile). ...


The emphasis of that story is really that you cannot "sit" yourself into enlightenment, because "sitting" is the body, whereas awakening is in the mind.
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Re: 信心 and how to develop it

Postby Astus » Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:36 pm

"When I carefully consider the matter, my birth in the Pure land is settled without doubt for the very reason that I do not rejoice about that which I should be bursting with joy. ... If our hearts were filled with joyful happiness and we desired to go swiftly to the Pure Land, we might be misled to think that perhaps we are free of blind passion." (Tannisho, IX.)
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: 信心 and how to develop it

Postby Nosta » Sun Jan 09, 2011 7:59 pm

Some masters dont speak on shinjin or gratitude. They say that one should recitate hardly in order to achieve the one pointedness mind and also because you will be more able to do the recitation in
the hour of your death. I may be wrong, but from some passages that i read on the Amithaba sutras, i never found anything on shinjin or gratitude. I mean,
Buddha didnt say to not show gratitude, but i dont think that he says either to show gratitude if you want to enter in Amithaba realm.

In fact, what i am saying is: we have 2 different opposite views. For the learner this is not good. I am confused with that. :-(
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Re: 信心 and how to develop it

Postby Shutoku » Sun Jan 09, 2011 10:25 pm

Nosta, in Jodo Shinshu, there is no concern with reciting at the time of death.

With Shinjin, our attaining birth is assured regardless of deathbed recitations, or even any specific number of recitations. This is I suspect different than other schools of Pure Land Buddhism.

My understanding about Shinjin and Gratitude is this, and it relates very much to the passage from the Tannisho which Astus posted.
When I carefully consider the matter, my birth in the Pure land is settled without doubt for the very reason that I do not rejoice about that which I should be bursting with joy. ... If our hearts were filled with joyful happiness and we desired to go swiftly to the Pure Land, we might be misled to think that perhaps we are free of blind passion." (Tannisho, IX.)

Our gratitude is precisely because we don't have the capacity on our own to attain enlightenment, due to our blind passions and attachments, which are so deep we aren't even capable of recognizing how wonderful Amida's vows for us are.

Jodo Shinshu is all about other power, and Shinjin also comes through other power. We cannot contrive with our egos, ways of getting it. Just as we cannot contrive that we will fall in love with such and such a person. We fall in love or we don't, but we cannot contrive to make it so.

I know it is ironic to post this on a message board, but often I think we worry and talk too much about these things.
Two quotes of Shinran come to mind on this for me:
As for me, I simply accept and entrust myself to what my revered teacher told me, "Just say the nembutsu and be saved by Amida"; nothing else is involved. (Tannisho, II.)


and perhaps more to the point:
I, for my own part, attach no significance to the condition, good or bad, of persons in their final moments. People in whom shinjin is determined do not doubt, and so abide among the truly settled. For this reason their end also - even for those ignorant and foolish and lacking in wisdom - is a happy one.

You have been explaining to people that one attains birth through the Tathagata's working; it is in no way otherwise. What I have been saying to all of you from many years past has not changed. Simply achieve your birth, firmly avoiding all scholarly debate. I recall hearing the late Master Honen say, "Persons of the Pure Land tradition attain birth in the Pure Land by becoming their foolish selves." Moreover, I remember him smile and say, as he watched humble people of no intellectual pretensions coming to visit him, "Without doubt their birth is settled." And I heard him say after a visit by a man brilliant in letters and debating, "I really wonder about his birth." To this day these things come to mind.

Each of you should attain your birth without being misled by people and without faltering in shinjin. However, the practicer in whom shinjin has not become settled will continue to drift, even without being misled by anyone, for he does not abide among the truly settled.
Lamp for the Latter Ages, VI.
Namo Amida Butsu
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Re: 信心 and how to develop it

Postby plwk » Mon Jan 10, 2011 12:25 am

They say that one should recitate hardly in order to achieve the one pointedness mind and also because you will be more able to do the recitation in the hour of your death.

Be grateful that one has this precious human life to even utter 'Namo Amitabha Buddha' as a continuous mind stream, then even at the hour of death, it is a testament to His Vows and our practice.
I may be wrong, but from some passages that i read on the Amithaba sutras, i never found anything on shinjin or gratitude.
I mean, Buddha didnt say to not show gratitude, but i dont think that he says either to show gratitude if you want to enter in Amithaba realm.

Be grateful that when even Sariputra and the Bodhisattvas did not know of this wonderful Dharma Door, the Buddha taught It without request and with It, we have this wondrous Name as our Lotus Liberation as in the Amitabha Sutra.
Be grateful that when we learned of His 48 Vows, the wondrous balm for us and how when even the Dharma will be lost, this Dharma will survive another 100 years as our anchor in the Larger Amitayus Sutra.
Be grateful that when the Buddha taught on the 16 Contemplations, we are forever closing the roots on samsara and opening the door of Liberation as in the Contemplation Sutra.
In fact, what i am saying is: we have 2 different opposite views. For the learner this is not good. I am confused with that. :-(

Be grateful that with this confusion, it is a chance to see how the Buddha has taught all Dharmas without contradiction and how this mind with that Name of Liberation, the Nature of Amitabha is fundamentally ours too...
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