Categories
1. Buddhism
2. Shin Buddhism
3. The Four Noble Truths
4. The Eightfold Path
5. The Golden Chain
6. Pledge(Kokun)
7. Three Treasures (Three-Fold Refuge)
8. Symbols of Buddhism
9. Selected Meditations
10. Selected Readings
11. Six Paramitas
12. Seven Spiritual Fathers (Seven Patriarchs of the Nembutsu)
13. Glossary of Terms
14. Buddhism Education Classes
15. Literature and Links on Buddhism

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Buddhism

Buddhism is a way of life that was developed over 2,500 years ago in India. Since then, it has spread throughout Asia and into other parts of the world as well. Buddhism as it is practiced today has three major streams.  Theravada Buddhism (the Teaching of the Elders) is the oldest stream and can be found in Asian countries like Sri Lanka and Thailand in the south. Mahayana Buddhism is the Buddhism of northern Asian countries like China, Korea, Viet Nam and Japan. The third stream is Vajrayana, the Buddhism of Tibet.

Buddhism developed out of a wish held by the Buddha to overcome the suffering he experienced in life. It was not his intention to establish a new religion. He did not establish churches. He did not build altars nor organize rituals. What he taught was based upon what he learned from others, but more importantly, from the experiences in his own life.

The Buddha was born as Siddhartha Gautama, a prince in a kingdom in northern India. As the one designated to be the future king, he was given all of the education and training befitting him, but also sheltered from the unpleasant experiences of life. He was so sheltered, in fact, that he knew nothing of such everyday experiences as illness, aging, and death until he was well into his teenage years. Upon seeing illness for the first time, he asked, “did the sick bring this upon himself?” The reply that came was that all living things must endure illness. The same questioning came regarding aging and death. And he asked himself, why were we born into human life if only to suffer from one painful experience to the next? He then encountered a monk with a peaceful and fulfilled countenance who he was told is walking the spiritual path, searching for answers to the mysteries of life. And in this monk he saw his future; rather than succeed his father as king, he found a more important quest, of finding a way to end suffering.

At age twenty-nine, he left the palace and leaving behind his wife and son, his parents, and all the status and comforts of royalty, embarked on his spiritual journey. He learned from the wise men in the forests, and eventually joined a group of five monks engaged in severe ascetic practice. Through fasting and meditation, through subjecting his physical body to all types of austerities, Gautama continued his search for spiritual insight. But after six years, he was reduced to flesh and bone, on the verge of death. Reflecting on his life to that point, he realized that he had been living at the two extremes and that neither was conducive to awakening. It is here that he decided on the middle path, avoiding the extremes of luxury and self-renunciation. And with a clarity of thought, he sat under what was to become known as the Bodhi tree to reflect on meaning of life.

It was through this period of meditation in which he reflected on life’s experiences that Gautama attained enlightenment and became known as the Buddha, the awakened one. The content of that awakening was initially expressed in his first teaching in which he explained the Four Noble Truths: Life is suffering, there are causes to that suffering, there can be an end to suffering, and the path leading to the end of suffering.

The original word for suffering is dukkha, often expressed as a wheel with its axle out of kilter. The wheel, a metaphor for our lives, does not turn smoothly because its essence is off-center. Before his awakening, we can presume that the Buddha saw life as we do, that any experiences of suffering are the result of external forces. He lists the principal causes as birth, illness, aging, and death. We suffer because illness comes to us from outside, because the reality of impermanence causes aging and death, we suffer because people are unkind or because they do not understand us, and so forth.

He saw that the one undeniable truth is that life is impermanent, and it is the transient nature of life that brings about all of the suffering. No matter how hard we try to hold on to our health, we get sick, no matter how hard we try to hold on to our youth, we grow old, and no matter how hard we try to hold on to the people we love, death brings separation and ultimately our own demise.

His realization, though, was that impermanence is neutral, the changes that result are not necessarily good nor bad in and of themselves; they are labeled good or bad depending on our reaction to them. The cause of suffering, therefore, lies totally in ourselves, in our reactions to those changes. Suffering is caused by our own ignorance of that reality of impermanence. And, since we are the cause of our own suffering, that suffering can be overcome. The way to overcome that suffering is the Eightfold Path, the fourth aspect of the Four Noble Truths.

The path which encourages right understanding, thinking, speech, conduct, livelihood, endeavor, mindfulness, and meditation is meant to provide us with a new perspective in living, a new way of living that promotes wisdom and compassion in our interaction with the world about us, and ultimately leads to happiness and meaning in our own lives.

The Buddha attained his enlightenment at the age of 35, and for the next 45 years, shared his understanding of life with everyone he encountered. The truths he awakened to came from his own experience of life, not from any revelation from the heavens. As a result, there is no acknowledgment of gods. Buddhism is focused on this life and has no definitive view of creation nor afterlife. Heaven and hell, therefore, are conditions we create here and now; not a reward or punishment after death. In its essence, therefore, Buddhism does not fit into the normal definition of religion. There are no commandments nor beliefs its followers must hold to. It is, simply stated, the encouragement of a way of life that enables us to discover the meaning of our birth as humans beings and the true joy of living.

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Shin Buddhism

The tradition of the Higashi Honganji is called Jodo Shinshu or Shin Buddhism. It is a denomination that was founded by Shinran Shonin (1173-1262) in Japan, formally called Shinshu Otani-ha (The Otani branch of the Shinshu denomination). Its foundation is based on three sutras (recorded sermons of Sakyamuni Buddha), the Larger Sutra of Eternal Life, the Smaller Sutra of Eternal Life, and the Mediation Sutra, the main teachings of what is called Pure Land Buddhism.

The Pure Land tradition was developed in China, but did not develop into a separate denomination until the 12th Century in Japan with the appearance of Honen Shonin (1133-1212), Shinran’s teacher. Honen was a student at the Tendai monastery at Mt. Hiei in Kyoto. Being dissatisfied with the traditional monastic path of climbing up the ladder to enlightenment which made Buddhism inaccessible to most people, Honen chose the teaching of the Nembutsu, the recitation of Namu Amida Butsu (I take refuge in Amida Buddha). He left the monastery to share the teaching with those people for whom Buddhism was inaccessible.

Shinran shared a similar path. He entered the monastery at the age of nine, then spent twenty years in study of the Tendai teachings. The experience, though, left him empty and feeling faraway from the awakening the Buddha described. He left the monastery in 1201, and joined the Sangha established by Honen. In his teacher, he saw a totally different model of a Buddhist teacher, a teacher who considered himself first and foremost a fellow student, a person who exhibited total humility in all aspects of his life.

Through Honen and the teaching of the Nembutsu, Shinran discovered a path of Buddhism open to him. He wrestled with the fact that the gaining of knowledge and practice during two decades had not made him a better person. In fact, that experience had left him more arrogant, feeling superior to those who studied and practiced less than him, and as a result, further and further from the awakening he saw in the model of Sakyamuni Buddha. In Honen and in the teaching of Nembutsu, he realized that Buddhism is truly universal, and open to anyone who could come to an honest evaluation of himself as a being controlled by ego. It was the awakening to the truth that he was what he termed a bombu, a person clouded by ignorance and filled with self-centeredness. In Namu Amida Butsu, he saw the vehicle that enabled him to see the truth about himself. It brought together the ignorance that creates suffering for the self and for those around him, Namu, and the truth extolled by Buddhism, the reality of life as described in the Four Noble Truths as expressed in Amida Butsu.

Pure Land Buddhism has been incorrectly described as a theistic version of Buddhism, with Amida Buddha in the role of a god leading us to “salvation” expressed as birth in the Pure Land. Shinran’s understanding, however, was that Amida Buddha was not that mythical Buddha who promised salvation to anyone who repeated his name, but rather, a symbol for the Dharma itself.

It is, therefore, a teaching which brings about a true understanding of the life of suffering the Buddha described and the ignorance which creates it. It was a path of Buddhism that showed that awakening was available to all beings. It was a path for those who were struggling to survive, who did not have the opportunities to live in monasteries and devote their lives to study and training, who could not, through their own powers, polish their lives and climb the ladder towards enlightenment. It addressed the concerns of all human beings and required only a true and honest introspection of one’s own limitations. That honest reflection, in Shinran’s mind, was the first and essential step towards awakening and liberation.

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The Four Noble Truths

Upon his enlightenment, Buddha gave his first sermon in beautiful Deer Park on the outskirts of Benares in northeast India.  The contents of this first sermon were the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, which formed the foundation of the Buddhist teachings.

1. We all experience suffering;
All beings are subject to suffering.  No one escapes . . . suffering is universal.

2. Suffering is caused by the Three Poisons of greed, hatred, and delusion;
The cause of suffering is ignorance.  And the ignorance of oneself is the greatest ignorance.

3. The end of suffering is nirvana;
Ignorance, the cause of suffering, can be overcome.

4. The path to nirvana or enlightenment is the Eightfold Path;
The way to overcome ignorance is the Eightfold Path.

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The Eightfold Path

The Buddha-Dharma is the realization within one’s deepest consciousness of the oneness of all life. For the attainment of this purpose, Buddha showed us the Eightfold Path.

1. RIGHT VIEW
Right views means to keep free from prejudice, superstition, and delusion . . . and to see correctly the true nature of life.

2. RIGHT THOUGHTS
Right thoughts means to turn away from the hypocrisies of this world and to direct our minds toward truth and positive attitudes and action.

3. RIGHT CONDUCT
Right conduct means to see that our deeds are peaceful, benevolent, compassionate, and pure . . . to live the teachings every day.

4. RIGHT SPEECH
Right speech means to refrain from pointless and harmful talk . . . to speak kindly and courteously to all.

5. RIGHT LIVELIHOOD
Right livelihood means to earn our living in such a way as to entail no evil consequences. To seek that employment to which we can devote our complete enthusiasm and devotion.

6. RIGHT EFFORT
Right effort means to direct our efforts continually to the overcoming of ignorance and craving desires.

7. RIGHT MINDFULNESS
Right mindfulness means to cherish good and pure thoughts, for all that we say and do arises from our thoughts.

8. RIGHT MEDITATION
Right meditation means to concentrate our will on the Buddha, his life and his teachings.

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The Golden Chain

I am a link in the Buddha’s golden chain of love that stretches around the world. I must keep my link bright and strong.

I will try to be kind and gentle to every living thing, and protect all who are weaker than myself.

I will try to think pure and beautiful thoughts, to say pure and beautiful words, to do pure and beautiful deeds, knowing that on what I do now depends my happiness and misery.

May every link in the Buddha’s golden chain of love become bright and strong and may we all attain perfect peace.

Pledge(Kokun)

Watakushi tachiwa mihotoke sama no kodomo de arimasu.
We are all Buddha’s children.

Watakushi tachiwa mihotoke sama no oshie wo mamorimasu.
We will all follow the Buddha’s teachings.

Watakushi tachiwa minna nakayoku itashimasu.
We will all be friendly to everyone.

The Four Marks of Existence:

1. Life is a Bumpy road.
2. Life is Impermanent.
3. Life is Interdependent.
4. Life is Fundamentally Good.

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Three Treasures (Three-Fold Refuge)

Difficult is it to receive life in human form, now we are living it. Difficult is it to hear the Buddhadharma, now we hear it. If we do not receive awakening in the present life, then in what life can we hope to receive it. Let us reverently take refuge in the Three Treasures of the Truth.

I take refuge in the Buddha. May we, together as one, begin on the great path of Enlightenment, holding in our hearts the supreme aspiration.

I take refuge in the Dharma. May we, together as one, enter the storehouse of the Dharma, and attain true wisdom as deep as the ocean.

I take refuge in the Sangha. May we, together as one, united in the spirit of universal brotherhood as a member of the Sangha, strive to live for the enlightenment of all beings.

The incomparable, deep and profound Dharma is difficult to encounter, even through countless ages of kalpas. Now we are privileged to hear and receive it. Let us endeavor to thoroughly understand the true meaning of the Buddhadharma.

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Symbols of Buddhism

Wheel of Dharma–Dharmacakra
The most widely used symbol of Buddhism, the eight spokes of the Wheel of Dharma symbolize the teaching of the Eightfold Path. Revolving around the hub of truth, the wheel, like life, is always in motion.

Images of Buddha
The images of Buddha in the altar are not idols to be worshipped. Rather, they are symbols of enlightenment representing the highest ideals of perfect wisdom and compassion.

Gassho
The gesture with hands together in front of the chest, symbolizes the unity of oneself with the Buddha and is the highest form of respect.

Nenju–Juzu
Meditation beads are used in Gassho. They are a symbol of unity and harmony.

Incense (Oshoko)
Incense diffuses sweet fragrance, transcending its shape and color. This burning of incense symbolizes the transcending of selfishness or ego to become one with all others.

Flowers
Flowers adorn the altar. They are appreciated not only for their beauty, but is a symbol of impermanence . . . they are beautiful in the morning, but fade in the heat of day. They remind us of the continuous change within and around us.

Candlelight
The lights burning in the altar symbolize wisdom, the light through which we understand truth. For Buddhists, wisdom is realized only through immediate and direct experience.

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Selected Meditations

With deepest reverence and compassion, we are here together in the spirit of Gautama, the Buddha, the Enlightened One. Life is one. We are one with the Buddha. We are one with the teaching. We are one in the spirit of universal brotherhood. We resolve to be earnest followers of the Buddha and to dedicate our lives to the way he has pointed out. Then may we, like him, attain the noblest state of Nirvana.

We surround all people and all forms of life with infinite love and compassion. Particularly do we send forth loving thoughts to those in suffering and sorrow; to all those in doubt and ignorance; to all who are striving to attain truth; and to those whose feet are standing close to the great change men call death, we send forth oceans of wisdom and love.

May the infinite light of wisdom and compassion so shine within us that the errors and vanities of self may be dispelled; so shall we understand the changing nature of existence and awaken into spiritual peace.

To all enlightened ones who are present in their teachings, we pledge our loyalty and devotion. We dedicate our lives to the way of life they have laid down for us to walk. We resolve to follow their example and labor earnestly for the enlightenment and welfare of all mankind.

Our life is filled with warmth in sharing life with others. It is a simple truth to learn, but a difficult practice to truly fully realize. In personal life, it means to act by placing ourselves in the position of another, and in community life, it means to give service with joy and gratitude for the betterment of all. The practice of making others happy is based upon the clear understanding of life which is oneness. In deep gratitude, let us realize this oneness of all life, the heart of which is compassion.

As one little candle lights another, so the light of buddha’s compassion will pass from one mind to another mind endlessly.

Open the eyes of the mind, and break through the darkness of ignorance. And close the roads of all evils. Therefore, O Ananda, be ye lamps unto yourselves. Rely upon yourselves and do not rely on external help.

- Shakamuni Buddha - Parinirvana Sutra

Though I cannot see the light that enfolds me, my eyes being blinded by self-centered desires, the heart of true compassion constantly, endlessly, illuminates, and nurtures my body and mind.

- Shinran

The Nembutsu is neither a religious practice nor a good act on the part of man. Since it is practiced without any self-generated effort, it is called “non-practice.” Since it is a good created without any self-generated effort, it is ”non-good.” Since it is completely the workings of absolute compassion, and since it transcends all self-generated effort, it is neither a religious practice nor a good act of man.

- Shinran, Tannisho

The faults of others are easy to see but the faults of our own are difficult to recognize. If one sees hat he has a fault he must realize that the fault must be very grave indeed for him to recognize it himself; thus, he must take steps to correct his fault. Because it is difficult for us to see many of our faults, we should listen to the advice of others.

- Rennyo

If one walks looking far ahead and pays no attention to the ground beneath his eyes, he will stumble. If one gazes critically upon others and forgets to look into himself, he will bring tragedy upon himself.

- Rennyo

Let us cease from wrath, and refrain from angry looks. Not let us be resentful when others differ from us. For all people have hearts, and each heart has its own leanings. Their right is our wrong, and our right is their wrong. We are not unquestionably sages, nor are they unquestionably fools. Both of us are simply ordinary persons. How can anybody lay down a rule by which to distinguish right from wrong? For we are all, one with another, wise and another, wise and foolish, like a ring which has no end.

- Prince Shotoku

There is no place where moonlight casts not its cheering ray; whoever has the seeing eye with him, alone htat light will stay.

- Honen

The notion of emptiness engenders compassion. Compassion does away with the distinction between self and other. When one sees the illusory nature of man, true compassion arises.

- Tan Luan

To study the way of the Buddha is to study yourself. To study yourself is to forget the self. To forget yourself is to have the objective world prevail in you. To have the objective world prevail in you is to let go of your “own” body and mind, as well as the body and mind of “others.” The enlightenment thus attained may seem to come to an end, but though it appears to have stopped, this momentary enlightenment should be prolonged and prolonged.

- Dogen

Vast, vast, extremely vast, are the scrolls of yellow silk (the sutras). Hundreds and thousands “In” (Buddhism) and “Out” (Confucianism and Brahmanism). Profound, Profound, very profound. Ways are marked and ways are shown, Hundreds of ways.

What benefit in writing and reading, finally to die? Unknown and unknowable, self never knows self; thinking, thinking, and thinking, yet no sign of wisdom!

- Kukai

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Selected Readings

We surround all people and all forms of life with infinite love and compassion. Particularly do we send forth loving thoughts to those in suffering and sorrow; to all those in doubt and ignorance, to all who are striving to attain truth; and to those whose feet are standing close to the great change we call death, we send forth oceans of wisdom and love.

May the infinite light of wisdom and compassion so shine within us that the errors and vanities of self may be dispelled; so shall we understand the changing nature of existence and awaken into spiritual peace.

In the memory of all who have gone before, we dedicate our lives to the way of life they have laid down for us to walk. We resolve to follow their example and labor earnestly for the enlightenment and welfare of all living things.

Our life is filled with warmth in sharing life with others. It is a simple truth to learn, but a difficult practice to fully realize. In personal life, it means to act by placing ourselves in the position of another, and in community life, it means to give service with joy and gratitude for the betterment of all. The practice of making others happy is based upon the clear understanding of life which is oneness. In deep gratitude, let us realize this oneness of all life, the heart of which is compassion.

As one little candle lights another, so the light of Buddha’s compassion will pass from one mind to another mind endlessly.

Hold fast to the truth as a lamp. Seek enlightenment alone in the truth. Look not for assistance to anyone besides yourselves. Therefore, O Ananda, be ye lamps unto yourselves. Rely upon yourselves and do not rely on external help.

- SHAKAMUNI BUDDHA – Parinirvana Sutra

Though I cannot see the light that enfolds me, my eyes being blinded by self-centered desires, the heart of true compassion constantly, endlessly, illuminates and nurtures my body and mind.

- SHINRAN

The Nembutsu is neither a religious practice nor a good act on the part of man. Since it is practiced without any self-generated effort, it is called “non-practice.” Since it is a good created without any self-generated effort, it is “non-good.” Since it is the manefestation of absolute compassion, and since it transcends all self-generated effort, it is neither a religious practice nor a good act of man.

- SHINRAN, Tannisho

“If, upon my obtaining Buddhahood, all beings in the ten quarters aspiring in all sincerity and faith to be born in my Country, meditating (pronouncing my name; Namu Amida Butsu) up to ten times, were not be born there, then may I not attain the Supreme Enlightenment.”

- The Eighteenth Vow – The Larger Sutra of Eternal Life

The faults of others are easy to see but the faults of our own are difficult to recognize. If one sees that he has a fault he must realize that the fault must be very grave indeed for him to recognize it himself; thus, he must take steps to correct his fault. Because it is difficult for us to see many of our faults, we should listen to the advice of others.

- RENNYO SHONIN

If one walks looking far ahead and pays no attention to the ground beneath his eyes, he will stumble. If one gazes critically upon others and forgets to look into himself, he will bring tragedy upon himself.

- RENNYO SHONIN

Let us cease from wrath, and refrain from angry looks. Nor let us be resentful when others differ from us. For all people have hearts, and each heart has its own leanings. Their right is our wrong, and our right is their wrong. We are not unquestionably sages, nor are they unquestionably fools. Both of us are simply ordinary persons. How can anybody lay down a rule by which to distinguish right from wrong? For we are all, one with another, wise and foolish, like a ring which has no end.

- PRINCE SHOTOKU

The notion of emptiness engenders compassion. Compassion does away with the distinction between self and other. When one sees the illusory nature of humankind, true compassion arises.

- T’AN LUAN

To study the way of the Buddha is to study yourself. To study yourself is to forget the self. To forget yourself is to have the objective world prevail in you. To have objective world prevail in you is to let go of your “own” body and mind, as well as the body and mind of “others.”

- DOGEN

The instructed disciple considers of the material shape, and the other elements: ‘This is not mine, I am not his, this is not my self.’ So that when these elements change and become different he has no grief, or sorrow, or suffering, or lamentation, or despair.

- Samyutta 3,19

If outsiders should speak against the Buddha, or against the Dharma, or against the Sangha, you should not bear malice or suffer heart-burning.
Likewise if outsides should praise the Buddha, or praise the Dharma, or praise the Sangha, you should not be filled with pleasure or be lifted up in heart. Were you to be so that would stand in the way of your awakening.

- Digha 1,3

Develop the state of mind of friendliness, for as you do this ill-will grows less. Develop compassion and anger grows less, develop joy and aversion grows less, develop equanimity and dislike grows less.

- Majjhima 2, 91

It is said, Nirvana, Nirvana. Now what is Nirvana?
Whatever is the extinction of passion, and aversion, and confusion, this is Nirvana.
Is there a way for the realization of this Nirvana?
There is. It is the Noble Eightfold Path, which itself is for the realization of Nirvana.

- Samyutta 4,251

The results of karma cannot be known by thought and so should not be speculated about. Thus thinking, one would come to distraction and distress. Therefore, Ananda, do not be the judge of people; do not make assumptions about others. A person is destroyed by holding judgements about others.

- Anguttura Nikaya

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Six Paramitas

The term, paramita, literally means, “going to the furthest,” growing towards perfection. A Mahayana teaching, it lists six kinds of practice by which bodhisattvas are able to attain enlightenment. The Japanese word for paramita, Higan means the other shore of enlightenment, the world of peace and liberation. We are on the shore of suffering, anger, and depression, and the practice of the Six Paramitas enables us to cross over to the other shore.

In the Jodo Shinshu tradition, the premise is that we are unable to work towards our own perfection (enlightenment) due to our innate self-centeredness. Although we are encouraged to practice to the best of our abilities, the teaching is more importantly a reminder of the egocentric nature of our lives.

Of the six paramitas, the first term listed is the original Sanskrit, the second term is the Japanese translation.

1. Dana – Fuse – giving, offering, generosity.
It is the practice of an open heart, of giving freely what is needed by others.

2. Sila – Jikai – discipline, observing the precepts.
It is to develop good behavior, to obey the rules of parents and teachers, of society. Buddhism encourages the development of the three-fold disciplined behavior of body, speech, and mind.

3. Ksanti – Ninniku – patience, inclusiveness.
One who is patient can endure long and be able to overcome many difficulties. With patience, we can develop an open heart, and frustration and anger will diminish.

4. Viryai – Shojin – endeavor, diligence, perseverance.
It is to strive with one’s whole heart, not for short periods of concentrated effort, but continuously over long periods. Spiritual strength enables the individual to continue on without giving up in the face of difficulties.

5. Dhyana – Jozen – meditation, contemplation.
The practice of meditation helps the person to develop the other paramitas. Meditation allows the person to concentrate upon the mind, to learn to understand it. Through meditation, one can penetrate the mind’s delusions and gain insight into ultimate reality.

6. Prajña – Chie – wisdom, insight, understanding.
It is to see things as they are, without the prejudices and perspectives that come from within. It is the letting go of opinions and concepts, the relinquishment of the self that brings this wisdom that leads directly to enlightenment.

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Six Paramitas
Seven Spiritual Fathers (Seven Patriarchs of the Nembutsu)
Glossary of Terms
Buddhism Education Classes
Literature and Links on Buddhism

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Seven Spiritual Fathers (Seven Patriarchs of the Nembutsu)

1. RYUJU (Nargarjuna)
India (c.150-250 AD)
Igyo-bon or Book of Easy Practice. He taught that Enlightenment through one’s own power was a “Difficult Path” but when one relied on Faith in Amida it was an “Easy Path.” Originator of Middle Way School. Clarified difference between Difficult Path (self-power) and Easy Path (utterance of Amida Buddha’s name with a faithful mind.)

2. TENJIN (Vasubandhu)
India (c. 420-500 AD)
Jodo Ron or Commentary on the Pure Land. He stressed Faith in the Primal Vow of Amida, which will bring salvation to all sentient beings. Importance of singlehearted Shinjin in Amida Buddha for birth in the Pure Land of Peace and Bliss.

3. DONRAN (T’an-luan)
China (476-542 AD)
Ojoronchu or Commentary on Rebirth into PureLand. He taught that salvation through Jiriki or Self Power was a difficult path while enlightenment through Tariki or Amida’s Power was more suited to the ordinary man. Concept of Other Power. Birth in Pure Land is due to Amida Buddha’s Vow (vow to lead all beings to Enlightenment.)

4. DOSHAKU (Tao Ch’ao)
China (562-645 AD)
Anrakushu or Commentary on the Peace and Bliss of Pure Land. He classified the way to enlightenment into two-Path of the Holy and the Path of the Pure Land. For holy men the difficult path may be followed to attain enlightenment but for those who are weak and sinful, the only way was the Path of the Pure Land. Divided Buddha’s teaching into sacred Path and Pure Land. Stressed teaching Shinjin and meaning of Nembutsu.

5. ZENDO (Shintao)
China (613-681 AD)
Kangyo Sho or Commentary on the Amitayur-Dhyana Sutra. He went a step further than Doshaku and classified the Path of the Pure Laqnd into the Gate to the Essential and Gate to the Universal Vow. The former is a method of meditation and doing good deeds to attain enlightenment inthe Pure Land of Amida. The latter is the most suited for sentient beings. Those who are ignorant and sinful have only to rely on the Primal vow of Amida. Common mortals could attain Enlightenment by virtue of Vow and Practice enbodied in the Nembutsu.

6. GENSHIN
Japan (942-1017 AD)
Ojo yo shu-Principles essential for Rebirth into the Pure Land. He first pointed out the evils of superstition prevalent in Japan during his time. He taught of a Temporary Pure Land where those who have not the true faith are born and a True Pure Land where those who have true faith are born. Teaching of Pure Land was the only way to Enlightenment.

7. GENKU (Honen Shonin)
Japan (1133-1212 AD)
Senjaku Shu or Selecting the Primal Vow and Nembutsu. In these corrupt days he stressed that the only way for sentient beings to attain salvation was through the wholehearted faith in Amida. Teacher of Shinran Shonin. Clarified importance of uttering the Nembutau which is vowed by Amida Buddha. Announced Way of the Nembutau as separate school of Buddhism.

Categories
Buddhism
Shin Buddhism
The Four Noble Truths
The Eightfold Path
The Golden Chain
Pledge(Kokun)
Three Treasures (Three-Fold Refuge)
Symbols of Buddhism
Selected Meditations
Selected Readings
Six Paramitas
Seven Spiritual Fathers (Seven Patriarchs of the Nembutsu)
Glossary of Terms
Buddhism Education Classes
Literature and Links on Buddhism

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Glossary of Terms

AMIDA BUDDHA (also Amitabha)
The Buddha of Infinite Light and Life which appears in several sutras of Sakyamuni Buddha as an expression of transcendental wisdom and unconditional compassion. Amida Buddha is not an historical personage nor a salvific deity, but a spiritual landscape created in response to the search for the meaning of life.

BODHISATTVA
One who has entered the path to enlightenment for others as well as for oneself; a concept unique to Mahayana Buddhism.

BOMBU
The unawakened being; the ignorant being; the “self” controlled by ego, unable to do acts of true good, true compassion; the subject of the Buddha’s compassion.

BUDDHA
One who is awakened. In our tradition, Buddha usually refers to either the historical Buddha, Sakyamuni, or Amida Buddha. However, especially in its non-capitalized usage, it refers to anyone who is enlightened. A term originally used as a title of respect to address Sakyamuni Buddha; it is an honorific title used to describe one who is awakened.

DHARMA
The teachings of the Buddha, the fundamental spiritual truth that is the source of our enlightenment.

ENLIGHTENMENT
Buddhahood, the highest state of awareness; to understand and embody the true reality of life.

GATHA
Buddhist songs. The original gathas were poems that appeared in the body of sutras.

GAUTAMA
(See Sakyamuni Buddha)

HONEN SHONIN
Refer to An Introduction to Shin Buddhism.

IGNORANCE
That which keeps us from the attainment of enlightenment; it is the inability to see things as they are. In Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, it is generally acknowledged that we cannot rid ourselves of this ignorance because of our innate self-centeredness.

KALPA
Kalpa is a Sanskrit (an ancient Indian language) word which may be closest to the English word, eon. One understanding is that it is the period of time required for one to take away all the poppy seeds in a ten-mile-square city filled from corner to corner with the seeds if one took away one seed every three years. Another definition is the period required for a celestial being to wear away a ten-mile-cubic stone if she touched it with her garments once every three years. Buddhism does not use the concept of infinity. Rather, it uses the concept of kalpa to denote a period of time unfathomable by us.

KARMA
The concept that life in the physical and mental spheres consists of interconnection of causes, conditions, and effects; that everything in life is due to accumulated causes, conditions, and effects from the beginning of time.

NAMU AMIDA BUTSU
Literally, “I take refuge in Amida Buddha.” Namu means the ignorance that creates suffering for the self and those around him, Amida-Butsu refers to the truth extolled by Buddhism, the reality of life.

NEMBUTSU
Literally, Nembutsu means “to think of Buddha”. In Jodo Shinshu, it means the recitation of Namu Amida Butsu.

NIRVANA
The ultimate goal of Buddhist aspiration and practice in which greed, hatred, and delusion are extinguished and the highest wisdom and compassion are attained. Generally, the term is synonymous with enlightenment.

PURELAND
In the story of Amida Buddha, it is the purified realm created in contrast to the world of suffering as described by Sakyamuni Buddha in the Four Noble Truths. It is similar to the state of Nirvana or Enlightenment; not a physical place to be realized or sought after death.

SAKYAMUNI BUDDHA (also Shakyamuni or Shakamuni)
(ca 560 B.C.E.) Founder of Buddhism. The term, Sakyamuni literally means, “the Sage of the Sakya Clan.” Gautama, another term often used to refer to the Buddha, is his family name and Siddhartha is his given name.

SANGHA
Originally the community of Buddhist monks and nuns. In the Jodo Shinshu tradition, the term includes both ordained and lay followers of the Buddhadharma.

SHINJIN
True entrusting. In Pure Land teaching, the depth of human delusion makes it impossible to attain enlightenment through self-effort alone. Awakening is made possible, however, through the Nembutsu in which we realize the true compassion as expressed in Amida’s Primal Vow. (See Eighteenth Vow in selected readings)

SHINRAN SHONIN
(1173-1262) The founder of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. (Refer to An Introduction to Shin Buddhism).

SHOSHIN-GE
“The Hymn of True Faith”. A poem by Shinran Shonin giving a summary of the Shin teaching by recounting the spiritual contributions of the Seven Great Teachers in his lineage.

SIDDHARTHA
(See Sakyamuni Buddha)

SUTRA
Written versions of the talks or lessons of Sakyamuni Buddha. Different sutras form the basis for the various “sects” of Buddhism. The Three Pure Land Sutras forming the basis for Jodo Shinshu Buddhism are The Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life, the Sutra of Contemplation on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life (the Meditation Sura) and the Amid Sutra.

TANBUTSU-GE
“Verses Praising the Buddha”.

TATHAGATA (Nyorai)
Synonymous with “buddha,” usually interpreted to refer to a buddha’s realization of truth. One of the epithets of Buddha. One who has arrived from and gone to suchness. Suchness, or thusness as it is sometimes referred to, means reality, the true form of things. It indicates the absolute reality which transcends our individual understanding of “reality” in the phenomenal world.

TI-SARANA
The Three Treasures: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

VANDANA
Sanskrit for “paying one’s respects.”

Categories
Buddhism
Shin Buddhism
The Four Noble Truths
The Eightfold Path
The Golden Chain
Pledge(Kokun)
Three Treasures (Three-Fold Refuge)
Symbols of Buddhism
Selected Meditations
Selected Readings
Six Paramitas
Seven Spiritual Fathers (Seven Patriarchs of the Nembutsu)
Glossary of Terms
Buddhism Education Classes
Literature and Links on Buddhism

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Buddhism Education Classes

Tannisho class is held at the temple in both English and Japanese. In English, class is held on the second and last Sunday of each month at 9:00 a.m.. In Japanese, class is held on the first and third Sunday of each month at 11:30 a.m..

The Tannisho is a collection of the teachings of Shinran Shonin, the founder of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. It’s probably the most accurate interpretation of Shinran’s thoughts and beliefs and has continued to be a highly regarded work in the religious community for several centuries. Compiled several decades after Shinran’s death by one of his disciples, Yuien, the Tannisho is considered a literary classic on Buddhism.

The West Covina Buddhist Temple provides a valuable, modern translation by Dr. Taitetsu Unno on the Tannisho, so please refer to it for more detailed information & insights.

Please refer to the calendar section or call the temple for upcoming class information .

Literature and Links on Buddhism

A valuable resource for literature, insights, and information on Jodo Shinshu Buddhism is presented by the West Covina Buddhist Temple.

Another valuable resource on Jodo Shinshu Buddhism is Shin Dharma Net, provided by Dr. Alfred Bloom. Dr. Bloom is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the study of Shin Buddhism.

Categories
Buddhism
Shin Buddhism
The Four Noble Truths
The Eightfold Path
The Golden Chain
Pledge(Kokun)
Three Treasures (Three-Fold Refuge)
Symbols of Buddhism
Selected Meditations
Selected Readings
Six Paramitas
Seven Spiritual Fathers (Seven Patriarchs of the Nembutsu)
Glossary of Terms
Buddhism Education Classes
Literature and Links on Buddhism

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