Mystical Experience in Jodo Shinshu?

Mystical Experience in Jodo Shinshu?

Postby steveb1 » Fri Oct 14, 2011 1:31 am

In Jodo Shinshu/Shin, only Amida Buddha saves, by a pure grace that circumvents the necessity of practices performed in "The Path of the Sages" which are aimed at attaining enlightenment. Shin might encourage mindfulness and meditation, but only with the understanding that these actions are not in themselves salvific and do not confer enlightenment. Amida takes care of that department. So if the adherant wants to practice, fine, so long as s/he realizes that Amida, not practices, saves.

But how does Shin regard mystical experience? Presumably if a Shin adherant had an experience of divine union, or specifically, union with Amida, Shin would give the same reply that it does in regard to practices: Mystical experience is fine, but it is not necessary to have it, and it does not save or confer enlightenment. At any rate, that's what I'm guessing Shin would say.

If the above surmise is correct, can anyone address the issue of mystical union/experience from a Shin perspective...? I am surprised that for all the devotion and love directed to Amida Buddha, I have never come across any Shin reports of an actual spiritual union with Amida; and certainly, I have seen no "Non-Dual" claims to the effect that our "I amness" is at base Amida's "Amness".

Instead, the union between adherant and Amida seems to simply consist of "being embraced". And, of course, being embraced by Amida is more than "good enough". However, my question is not about experiencing or acquiring "more", but rather why this particular "more" is not evident in Shin texts. Shin people seem never to experience and extoll Amida's embrace to the extent that, say, bhakti devotion in Hinduism, or devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus or Mary in Catholicism, express their versions of devotion and union.

So my question is twofold:

1. Has any historical Shin adherant claimed mystical union with Amida; do any contemporary people claim it ? And if not, why not?
2. If such an experience should occur, how would it - or would it not - fit into the Shin model of Amida's embrace?

Insights, anyone?
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Re: Mystical Experience in Jodo Shinshu?

Postby Astus » Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:15 am

Shin is a school of Buddhism, sounds evident but it's quite important not to forget. Therefore to comprehend its doctrine to the fullest requires some understanding of Mahayana. "Mystical union" is quite a theist concept. In Buddhism there is no "Self" that unites with a divine being. Also, Buddhism has a sophisticated meditation tradition, so all those "experiences" one may have are very well studied and explained there. If you're looking for something similar to union, in other schools' teachings you find that Amida is identified with buddha-nature that is the original nature of mind.
"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: Mystical Experience in Jodo Shinshu?

Postby kirtu » Fri Oct 14, 2011 4:28 pm

Astus wrote:Mystical union" is quite a theist concept.


No it's not, esp. as steveb1 has defined it (my first question was "what is mystical?" and then he defined his terms).

The problem is that as deluded beings we are subject to ingrained habits of delusion and ignorance, in particular dualism. On a deep emotional level we persist in dualism and this gives rise to all the gross habits of ignorance: anger, desire, jealousy, attachment, pride, etc.

The problem is that most of us do not experience union or constant identification with Buddhanature however our specific school teaches this.

However the question was raised in the specific context of Shin Buddhism which presents a unique view and in comparison to other Mahayana schools seems to emphasize the duality between foolish, ordinary sentient being and Amitabha. In this context the experience of shinjin appears to the the ideal. The stories of people who have attained shinjin might be a good starting point.

Kirt
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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: Mystical Experience in Jodo Shinshu?

Postby Astus » Fri Oct 14, 2011 5:40 pm

If mystical union is interpreted as seeing one's buddha-nature then it's not something one would experience as a deluded being who has no hope but the vow of Amita Buddha. Shinjin - as I understand it - is the unwavering faith in being assured of birth in the Pure Land. It also includes the understanding that one is an ignorant human while Amita is a perfectly enlightened buddha. Although without doubt there are people who like to interpret Shinshu in quite a different way to the point of equating shinjin with enlightenment.
"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: Mystical Experience in Jodo Shinshu?

Postby kirtu » Fri Oct 14, 2011 7:38 pm

Astus wrote:If mystical union is interpreted as seeing one's buddha-nature then it's not something one would experience as a deluded being who has no hope but the vow of Amita Buddha.


People in all faiths have what others would describe as "mystical" so I wouldn't be so sure of this. I'm certain that Shin Buddhists have such experiences. I was just suggesting that steveb1's definition was an easy bar to reach, at least for non-Shin Buddhists. We need to hear from Shin Buddhists to get their take.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: Mystical Experience in Jodo Shinshu?

Postby Nighthawk » Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:04 pm

According to old school Shin Buddhism, Astus is correct. Some "scholars" these days have different opinions about it though. Haven't really spent much time reading about their ideas.
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Re: Mystical Experience in Jodo Shinshu?

Postby rory » Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:11 pm

I remember reading about a Shinshu follower in Japan during some calamity who felt utterly embraced by Amida's compassion & then had the strength to help himself and others. It was very powerful.
I've experienced Amida's embrace when i was in the hospital years ago; it's like a golden light that totally embraces you, totally compassionate & washes away any fear of dying you have.After that you know Amida is absolutely real & it's all true.
Theistic union has to do with sex,tantra (certainly tantra in Hinduism); you merge with the beloved and feel ecstasy. I can't speak for other Buddhist schools and what their experiences would be.
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Re: Mystical Experience in Jodo Shinshu?

Postby steveb1 » Fri Oct 14, 2011 11:12 pm

Thanks to everyone for all your replies... I was hoping to be exposed to a variety of views and I'm not disappointed :)
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Re: Mystical Experience in Jodo Shinshu?

Postby Nighthawk » Sat Oct 15, 2011 2:14 am

You might want to check this article out.

http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania. ... ecial.html
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Re: Mystical Experience in Jodo Shinshu?

Postby steveb1 » Sat Oct 15, 2011 2:33 am

Ryoto, thanks much for the cool url - I've bookmarked it and will enjoy exploring it :)
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Re: Mystical Experience in Jodo Shinshu?

Postby Andreas Ludwig » Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:49 pm

Although without doubt there are people who like to interpret Shinshu in quite a different way to the point of equating shinjin with enlightenment.


I never came across someone with that view.
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