How can I avoid bad karma? Is karma important in Jodo Shin Shu?

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rodolfosancheznusa36
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How can I avoid bad karma? Is karma important in Jodo Shin Shu?

Post by rodolfosancheznusa36 »

I'm new to the Jodo Shinshu path and I'm very interested in this. If I have read correctly, observing the precepts strictly is not that important since we are guaranteed rebirth in Sukhavati/Jodo. But I'm worried about my worldly life here on earth and how breaking the precepts can make my life more miserable in some way. Please help.

Namu Amida Butsu. 🙏🙏
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Re: How can I avoid bad karma? Is karma important in Jodo Shin Shu?

Post by Aemilius »

Karma and merit do matter in Pureland buddhism. See for example the nine levels of rebirth, that are described in the Meditation of Amitayus sutra (Kangyo), one of the Three Pureland sutras. The nine levels are found at the end of this sutra https://jodoshinshu.faith/the-sutra-of- ... able-life/
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"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
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Re: How can I avoid bad karma? Is karma important in Jodo Shin Shu?

Post by Zhen Li »

rodolfosancheznusa36 wrote: Sun Sep 25, 2022 1:55 pm I'm new to the Jodo Shinshu path and I'm very interested in this. If I have read correctly, observing the precepts strictly is not that important since we are guaranteed rebirth in Sukhavati/Jodo. But I'm worried about my worldly life here on earth and how breaking the precepts can make my life more miserable in some way. Please help.

Namu Amida Butsu. 🙏🙏
As Aemilius points out, the Pure Land Sutras are full of encouragement to do good and avoid evil. While the 9 levels are not so relevant in Shin, encouragement to do good is still present.

But we just don't think of it in terms of having a set of precepts to obey at the fear of punishment or a worse rebirth.

There are many ways we can approach this topic, but I think the fundamental approach in Shin is to focus on receiving Shinjin. After you receive Shinjin you will come naturally to accord with morality because your mind will be attuned to Buddha-nature—this is definitely not to say you are going to become perfect, but you will, in a way, have a "good influence" in your life.

So, in short, in Shin we come to uphold morality by the support of Amida's natural working. It happens spontaneously. So, we do not reject morality, but we also do not require that you uphold rules in order to be saved—this is the key. All that is required for birth is Shinjin and the Nembutsu.
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Re: How can I avoid bad karma? Is karma important in Jodo Shin Shu?

Post by Konchog Thogme Jampa »

Keep the precepts as a personal choice but not as an add on to Amida’s Vow Power it makes no difference
4. From each and every dear companion we will part.
We will leave possessions for which we've strived so hard.
The body's guest house the guest, consciousness, will lose.
To renounce this life is what bodhisattvas do.

Om Mani Padme Hum

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https://geometriq.bandcamp.com/track/ ... ite-part-1

དཀོན་མཆོག་ཐོགས་མེད་འབྱམས་པ

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Re: How can I avoid bad karma? Is karma important in Jodo Shin Shu?

Post by laic »

rodolfosancheznusa36 wrote: Sun Sep 25, 2022 1:55 pm I'm new to the Jodo Shinshu path and I'm very interested in this. If I have read correctly, observing the precepts strictly is not that important since we are guaranteed rebirth in Sukhavati/Jodo. But I'm worried about my worldly life here on earth and how breaking the precepts can make my life more miserable in some way. Please help.

Namu Amida Butsu. 🙏🙏
Hi, the final two paragraphs of Zhen Li's post are good.

I would just say that the causal basis of birth in the Pure Land is the Vow, the very nature of Reality-as-is. Trust/faith in such a Reality (Shinjin) allows all good to "become so of itself, beyond our calculation."

There is a little verse that I read of Rennyo....

Desiring to be born
In the Land of Bliss
Is not to trust
In Amida's Power
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Re: How can I avoid bad karma? Is karma important in Jodo Shin Shu?

Post by Shinjin »

Question: “Why does Jodo Shinshu deny and discourage the observance of Buddhist precepts? Can I observe precepts and be a Shinshu follower? Why it is said in Jodo Shinshu that “there are no precepts”?
Answer: In Jodo Shinshu we do not deny nor discourage anybody to try to observe precepts. We are not against precepts; we do not say that followers of this school should not try to observe precepts or lead a moral life. What we say is that we should not think that trying to observe precepts creates personal merits that can be used to have more chances to be born in the Pure Land. We are born in the Pure Land and become Buddhas only due to Amida’s Power, not to our own efforts in observing precepts or in doing such and such practices.
My advice is this: as a voluntary choice and not a requirement for birth in the Pure Land, try your best to live a moral life, which can include not to hurt anybody directly or indirectly, don’t steal, don’t engage in sexual misconduct, don’t make abortions, don’t lie, don’t drink intoxicants, don’t eat meat, etc., but never relate this to your attainment of Buddhahood which comes only through Amida Buddha’s Other Power. Your success or lack of success in voluntarily observing precepts has no connection with your Enlightenment, so be relaxed in this matter. This is the difference between Jodo Shinshu and other Buddhist schools.

What a Jodo Shinshu follower does is to delete once and for all the words “personal merit” or “personal virtue” from his Buddhist vocabulary. These concepts may have some significance in other schools but in Jodo Shinshu they have no significance at all.

Neither Shinran Shonin nor any patriarch of our school ever said, “kill, steal, lie, cheat on your wife, etc.”, but rather they intended to say: “even if you don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat on your wife, etc., it doesn’t mean that you are a good person capable of attaining Buddhahood by yourself.” This should be very well understood.
Also, even if it is said in the sacred texts that in the last age of the Dharma precepts do no longer exist, this doesn’t mean that we should kill and steal as we like. The expression, “there are no precepts” means that people living in the last age of the Dharma are no longer capable of using precepts in order to advance to Enlightenment. Thus, precepts are as good as non-existent for the last goal of Buddhist practice. I repeat, precepts are as good as non-existent for the last goal of Buddhist practice which means the attainment of Buddhahood. However, we can still read in the sutras and other Buddhist books about the precepts so we can’t say they have been deleted from our written or collective memory. We can read about them and see how the Buddhas wants us to behave, think and talk, so we should try to guide our lives by them as much as possible, but doing so no longer constitutes a means to advance on the path to Enlightenment. This is because our capacities to truly observe the precepts both in letter and spirit are as little as non-existent. Jodo Shinshu states that the minds and environment of beings living in this age distant from the physical presence of Shakyamuni are so much perverted that they cannot advance to Buddhahood by themselves using various methods of self-improving until one day purity, perfect wisdom and compassion are achieved.

So, what we say is that Jodo Shinshu doesn’t believe in the spiritual capacities of unenlightened beings. This is why we do not insist on precepts. Everything unenlightened beings do in the three ways of action[1] is poisoned by ignorance and egoism, so they can’t be called pure or good actions useful for attaining Buddhahood. Attachment to our so-called goodness is just another illusion among the many that we inherit from the distant past.
That being said, I ask you again, please do not misunderstand the teaching of our school:

- Jodo Shinshu is not an encouragement to immorality, irresponsibility or laziness.

- Followers of this school may try their best to lead a life based on non-harming Buddhist principles explained in the precepts.

- Jodo Shinshu states that Enlightenment comes through Amida Buddha and is not gained by the actions of unenlightened beings

- Jodo Shinshu believes that only Buddhas have true merits that can be shared with others.
In short, do your best in your everyday life to live according to the precepts but rely only on Amida for the attainment of Buddhahood. Also, if you fail in perfectly observing the precepts, and I am certain that you will fail, don’t ever feel that you are excluded from Amida’s salvation. Don’t transform your trying to observe precepts into an obstacle blocking the non-discriminating Compassion of Amida Buddha.

More Jodo Shinshu articles here in regards to precepts https://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania ... %20SHINSHU
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Re: How can I avoid bad karma? Is karma important in Jodo Shin Shu?

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"22. The Buddha said to Ānanda and Vaidehī, “Those who attain birth in the highest grade of the highest rank are as follows: suppose there are sentient beings who wish to be born in that land; they attain birth by awakening the three minds. What are the three? The first is sincere mind; the second, deep mind; the third, mind aspiring for birth by directing one’s merits. Those who possess these three minds will unfailingly born in that land.

“There are also three kinds of sentient beings who will assuredly be born there. What are the three? They are, first, people who possess a heart of compassion, refrain from killing, and observe the precepts; second, people who recite the Mahayana sutras of greater scope; third, people who practice the six forms of mindfulness. They aspire for birth by directing merits thus acquired; performing these meritorious acts for one to seven days, they will attain birth.

“When such person is about to be born in that land, because of his undaunted, diligent practices, Amida Tathagata comes to him with Avalokiteśvara, Mahāsthāmaprāpta, countless transformed Buddhas, a great assembly of a hundred thousand monks and sravakas, and innumerable devas, along with seven-jeweled palaces. Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, holding a pedestal made of diamond, comes before the practicer with Bodhisattva Mahāsthāmaprāpta.

“Then Amida Tathagata sends forth great rays of light to illuminate the practicer’s body and offers his hands in welcome together with many other bodhisattvas. Avalokiteśvara and Mahāsthāma­prāpta, with countless other bodhisattvas, all praise and encourage the practicer in his resolution. The practicer, seeing all of this, leaps and dances out of joy,..."

The Sutra of Contemplation on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
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Re: How can I avoid bad karma? Is karma important in Jodo Shin Shu?

Post by Zhen Li »

I was reading this article on Shinjin by the late Rev. Inagaki earlier today and thought the following might make for a good contribution to this topic:
Question 17  Do I need to abide by the precepts?

  Yes and No. Yes, because the precepts that were laid down by the Buddha are conducive to enhancing people's moral behavior and bringing them happiness. By trying to keep one or two of the prescribed precepts, you will know how much you owe to Amida for transferring to you the merit that he has gained by keeping all the precepts.

  No. By trying to observe the precepts, you are likely to count on the merit of that act for your salvation and overlook Amida's great merit that is transferred to you.


Question 18  Do I need to practice meditation?

 Yes and No. Yes, because moderate meditation helps induce concentration of mind, which can assist you to attain shinjin.

 No. Intensive meditation, like Zen, frequently leads you away from the Way of Other-Power.
This also links to the process of turning through the three vows (Sangan Tennyu).

In other words, Shin Buddhism does not simply say "no" to self-power since it is the teaching of the Buddha and is consistent with bodhicitta. But if one is relying on self-power techniques in order to attain liberation, then that is not what Shinran taught. But just because anyone can attain Shinjin, doesn't mean you can attain Shinjin by intentionally being immoral—this is another extreme.

If you recite the Nembutsu, focus on listening to the Dharma, and continually discuss and enquire about Shinjin, you will come, by Amida's natural working, to receive Shinjin. Those who persist in this always receive Shinjin, 100 out of 100. Of those who mix various practices (precepts, meditation, tantra, etc.), perhaps 1 or 2 out of 100 will attain birth.
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Re: How can I avoid bad karma? Is karma important in Jodo Shin Shu?

Post by rodolfosancheznusa36 »

Zhen Li wrote: Tue Sep 27, 2022 5:35 am I was reading this article on Shinjin by the late Rev. Inagaki earlier today and thought the following might make for a good contribution to this topic:
Question 17  Do I need to abide by the precepts?

  Yes and No. Yes, because the precepts that were laid down by the Buddha are conducive to enhancing people's moral behavior and bringing them happiness. By trying to keep one or two of the prescribed precepts, you will know how much you owe to Amida for transferring to you the merit that he has gained by keeping all the precepts.

  No. By trying to observe the precepts, you are likely to count on the merit of that act for your salvation and overlook Amida's great merit that is transferred to you.


Question 18  Do I need to practice meditation?

 Yes and No. Yes, because moderate meditation helps induce concentration of mind, which can assist you to attain shinjin.

 No. Intensive meditation, like Zen, frequently leads you away from the Way of Other-Power.
This also links to the process of turning through the three vows (Sangan Tennyu).

In other words, Shin Buddhism does not simply say "no" to self-power since it is the teaching of the Buddha and is consistent with bodhicitta. But if one is relying on self-power techniques in order to attain liberation, then that is not what Shinran taught. But just because anyone can attain Shinjin, doesn't mean you can attain Shinjin by intentionally being immoral—this is another extreme.

If you recite the Nembutsu, focus on listening to the Dharma, and continually discuss and enquire about Shinjin, you will come, by Amida's natural working, to receive Shinjin. Those who persist in this always receive Shinjin, 100 out of 100. Of those who mix various practices (precepts, meditation, tantra, etc.), perhaps 1 or 2 out of 100 will attain birth.
You mentioned this
Those who persist in this always receive Shinjin, 100 out of 100. Of those who mix various practices (precepts, meditation, tantra, etc.), perhaps 1 or 2 out of 100 will attain birth.
I'm very sorry but I don't get this part. So you mean I'm not allowed to do other buddhist practices other than the Nembutsu? Will doing tantra for example prevent me from rebirth in Jodo? Sorry my English comprehension is bad.

I also asked this question because I'm also doing other buddhist practices for my life here on Earth, not just for attaining rebirth in Jodo. That's why I sometimes do other things aside from nembutsu. Like to accumulate merit and purify negative karmas. I also sometimes ask Avalokiteshvara when I'm in emotional distress or when I need help. Are all of it ok?
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Re: How can I avoid bad karma? Is karma important in Jodo Shin Shu?

Post by Zhen Li »

rodolfosancheznusa36 wrote: Wed Sep 28, 2022 7:16 am I'm very sorry but I don't get this part. So you mean I'm not allowed to do other buddhist practices other than the Nembutsu? Will doing tantra for example prevent me from rebirth in Jodo? Sorry my English comprehension is bad.

I also asked this question because I'm also doing other buddhist practices for my life here on Earth, not just for attaining rebirth in Jodo. That's why I sometimes do other things aside from nembutsu. Like to accumulate merit and purify negative karmas. I also sometimes ask Avalokiteshvara when I'm in emotional distress or when I need help. Are all of it ok?
Nothing prevents birth except doubt. The Buddha would never say that people who do good deeds cannot be born in the Pure Land.

I would also suggest that trying to avoid bad karma in this life is not worth the effort, since it would take innumerable lives of practice to have an effect just from accumulating merits, and we can just be born in the Pure Land right after this life.

But again, as Inagaki Sensei says: yes, you should practice good deeds, but no, you should not let them be practiced as a simultaneous method of buddhahood.

If you clearly compartmentalise in your mind that Nembutsu is for liberation, and various sundry practices are for worldly benefit, then I think there is no issue with that. Just be careful not to let your mindfulness slip in this regard.
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Re: How can I avoid bad karma? Is karma important in Jodo Shin Shu?

Post by Aemilius »

In the Visualisation of Amitayus sutra Buddha says in several places that by attaining a particular visualisation one's karma during many kalpas becomes purified. These visualisations are hard to attain and they require effort, usually an effort lasting many years. On the other hand if you cannnot attain for example the visualisation of the ground in Sukhavati, obviously your karma has not been purified. If it has not been purified, how can you say you have attained "true faith" or rebirth in Amida's pureland ?

Visualisation sutra: "11. When you have accomplished this visualization, contemplate on each object very clearly, one by one. Whether your eyes are open or closed, do not lose the images. Except when sleeping, you should always be mindful of these images. Visualizing them in this way is called the proximate vision of the ground of the World of Perfect Bliss. If you attain a state of samadhi, you will see the ground so clearly and distinctly that it is impossible to describe it all in detail. This is the visualization of the ground and is known as the third contemplation.”

The Buddha said to Ānanda, “Hold firmly to these words of the Buddha and expound this method of contemplating on the ground for the benefit of the multitude of beings in the future who desire to attain emancipation from suffering. If you have envisioned the ground, the evil karma binding you to birth-and-death for eighty kotis of kalpas will be eliminated, and so when you take leave of this life, you will assuredly be born in the Pure Land in the next life. "
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
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Re: How can I avoid bad karma? Is karma important in Jodo Shin Shu?

Post by Aemilius »

There are many leves of rebirth in this world too, for example the "free bread station" level:

Image
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
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