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
 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.
As Shinran said in

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]

Concluding thoughts on the suffering of the lower realms

Article connected to first three parts of this collection of teachings:

The hells, preta and animal realms are called the three lower realms, where suffering is more intense than in the rest of the six planes of existence. We must not only read about the various pain and suffering in the lower realms, but deeply contemplate on them until we become fully aware of their reality and that we too have a great chance to be reborn there. A master of the past once said:

 "At present it is difficult to endure sitting for merely a single day with my hand stuck in burning coals, or to remain naked for that long in a cave of ice during the winter winds, or to go for a few days without food and drink, or for my body to be stung by a bee and the like. If even these are difficult to endure, how will I bear the sufferings of the hot hells, the cold hells, the hungry ghosts, or the animals devouring each other alive?"[1]

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Contemplating the suffering of the gods

Six heavens of the World of Desire from the Wheel of Life
The gods (devas) experience the most pleasure, health and comfort among all the beings of samsara. Also, the higher their plane of existence, the longer is their lifespan and the happiness they enjoy. However, they also meet with some specific types of suffering which I will explain after I describe in short, each deva realm.

In the World of Desire (Kamadhatu), there are six classes of gods with their specific realms.

The first realm is the Heaven of the Four Kings (Caturmaharaja), which are located on four cardinal points of the Mount Sumeru: 1) East: Dhrtarastra, 2) South: Virudhaka, 3) West: Virūpāksa, 4) North: Vaisravana. Each of these divine rulers has their own following of  Caturmaharajakayika gods.
As Master Genshin explained, “one day and night in the realm of the Four Kings is as long as fifty years of human life, and life in the realm of the Four Kings lasts five hundred years”.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Contemplating the suffering of human beings

the Human Realm from the Wheel of Life
As I previously explained in the first section, life in human form is most desirable and does not contain the extreme pain of hells, pretas and animal realms. However, humans have their own difficulties and specific sufferings. Generaly speaking, these are called the Eight Sufferings, namely, birth, old age, disease, death, encountering what is unpleasant, separation from what is pleasant, not getting what one wants and the suffering associated with the five aggregates (skandas). Some of these appear in other realms of existence too, but here I will explain them in relation with the human realm.