Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A test for those who want to become priests and teachers related with Amidaji temple

Dear friends,

I am sometimes asked by readers and Dharma friends to support them in becoming priests or teachers in our Jodo Shinshu tradition. This test is part of the examination I give them before I decide if I write or not a reccomendation letter for them to Hongwanji mother temple in Kyoto or to other Japanese officials that I know, or if I accept them as teachers in Amidaji system. Its also the basic knowledge a teacher or priest related with Amidaji or who wishes to be related with Amidaji must posses, no matter he/she was previously ordained.
This test is an oral exam at Amidaji temple during one or more special training retreats that me and the candidate will arrange in advance. Also, new questions might be added while at the temple.

However, the test can also be a useful method of learning and for personally checking one's understanding, even without wanting to become a priest. By answering to each question and searching for the right passages in the sacred texts anybody will surely advance in understanding the Amida Dharma and be better prepared to help others. 

Namo Amida Butsu

1. Explain the Buddhist teaching on rebirth and the six planes of existence.

2. Define and explain the law of karma. Present a significant parable and quotes from the Buddhist teaching.

3. Explain the influence of karma from the past as it is explained in the Jodo Shinshu teaching. Use quotes from the sacred texts.

4. What is a Buddha? Explain the term “Buddha”, “Buddhahood”, “Tathagata”, “Buddha-nature” and “Nirvana”. Explain the doctrine of the “The Three Buddha bodies” and the “two Buddha bodies” in accordance with the Jodo Shinshu teaching.  Show the relation between them. Use passages from the sacred texts.

5. What is Bodhi Mind? How does this appear in the teaching of Shinran Shonin? Use quotes in your explanations.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The benefits of being born in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha

this article is a continuation of the teaching series, 
In order to help my Dharma companions to awake aspiration for the Pure Land, I will further explain the benefits of being born there. These should be read and contemplated in contrast with the previous descriptions of the sufferings of samsara, and with the rest of the Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind Toward Amida Dharma: the preciousness of human birth, impermanence and death, and karma - the law of cause and effect.

But before I enter into the details of this topic, we must remember a few key points. First of all, the goal of Buddhism is to become a Buddha. Not to paint this life in different colors, not to become a smart or interesting kind of Buddhist, but to become a Buddha. The Buddhist path is not a method of relaxation or a tablet for headache, something like “how can we become happier and calmer people” or a recipe for momentary happiness, but a road to Buddhahood or complete Freedom for us and all beings.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Simple Nembutsu service at Amidaji temple

                                                     (please click on the highlighted words in the text 
                                                                       as they lead you to very important teachings!) 

This is a simple religious service based entirely on Nembutsu recitation. The rhytm of recitation is held by hitting a wooden mokugyo in a normal or faster speed. This service is useful to anybody, especially to newcomers who don't know to recite the various hymns included in other services. Thus, they can join immediately in the temple chanting without any difficult introductions. As you see in the video, the recitation can sometimes be accompanied by bowing three times. The priest bows three times from standing, while the rest of the sangha from sitting. Also, when the priest enters the Hondo (Dharma Hall) and approaches the altar he bows three times from standing while saying Nembutsu. The sangha also accompanies him from sitting. Here Nembutsu is recited as:

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Second visit of Shaku Shinkai from Brasil at Amidaji temple

Josho and Shinkai in the Hondo (Dharma Hall) of Amidaji
Shaku Shinkai (Thais Campos) from Brasil visited Amidaji for the second time and stayed for a three days retreat.

First time she came in August 2016. Since then she works at the translation of my books and articles into Portughese. The Portughese section of this website is maintained through her dedicated work.

As you already know, visitors are welcomed at Amidaji if they do not mind the simple conditions and sincerely wish to learn the orthodox Jodo Shinshu teaching promoted at our temple.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Samsara is suffering - description and contemplation of the suffering of the six realms of samsaric existence

This article is the 4th part of the teaching series
The Four Profound Thoughts that Turn the Mind Toward the Dharma

The Wheel of Life representing all
the Six Realms of Samsaric Existence
 As Shinran said in Tannisho, "it is hard for us to abandon this old home of pain, where we have been transmigrating for innumerable kalpas down to the present". Our minds are conditioned by our habitual karma from beginingless time to think that we can find hapiness and fulfilement in the samsaric states of existence, and so we continue to project false images of beauty to various objects of desire and make ourselves dependent on them. However, if we look more deeply at samsaric existence with eyes influenced by the Buddha Dharma we come to realize that everything, from the worlds of the gods, to the hell realms, is nothing but an ocean of suffering and insatisfaction. This awareness, as well as the previous three profound thoughts, will naturaly lead us to the only wish that worths something - to go out, to escape samsara and to attain the state of Buddhahood for us and all beings, including our dear ones.

In order to help us become aware of the painful reality of the samsaric existence and to make us desire to escape from it, Shakyamuni Buddha and all the Masters of our lineage and other lineages put great efforts in describing the six planes of existence:

Concluding thoughts on the suffering of samsaric existence

Article connected to this collection of teachings:
of the suffering of the six realms of samsaric existence 

As we have seen in the description of the six realms, there is absolutely no place in samsara without suffering. Everything is a cause for suffering, everything is multyplying suffering, and everything, even the intoxicating pleasures of the gods, contain the seed of suffering.

"Beings in hell suffer from hell-fire,
Pretas suffer from hunger and thirst,
Animals suffer from being eaten by each other,
Humans suffer from having a short life,
Asuras suffer from wars and quarrels,
And the gods suffer from their own mindlessness.
In samsara there is never a pinpoint of happiness."[1]