This is a non-sectarian, educational blog assisting lay persons in walking the Pure Land Path without intra/inter-faith sectarian bias.
Those who are of simple faith (especially those raised in Jodoshinshu homes and communities) should feel perfectly free to ignore this blog – it was created for those from diverse backgrounds for whom the investigation of the issue of birth and death must be impartial and thorough-going due to not having any pre-existing relationship with the Jodoshinshu tradition.
Shinran quotes extensively from many texts in his KyoGyoShinSho to demonstrate to the learned scholars of Mt. Hiei that his master, Honen Shonin, did not fabricate a new teaching. He then further distilled and refined Honen’s teaching so that what remains is both simple and practicable since it is the absolute quintessence of the teachings of the masters of the Mahayana and Ekayana.
Some of us, having heard Amida‘s call, and having afterwards encountered the teachings of Honen and Shinran, have felt the need to verify that Jodoshinshu is not the simplistic and sectarian aberration it is often made out to be. In studying the texts and teachings of the masters mentioned in KyoGyoShinSho and especially those seven masters extolled in Shoshinge, we realize that Shinran provided a way in and forward which is specifically for, and suited to, those blessed with the gift of simple faith, and at the same time he also provides a way in and forward which is specifically for, and suited to, those individuals not so blessed (such was his compassion). These (simple and complex) aspects of the teaching in no way repudiate or invalidate one another, rather they each abide in their proper sphere. Jodoshinshu is for all and has a depth suited to every level of capacity and recipiency. To insist that all those who explore this depth are by that simple fact not persons of true and real shinjin (as, sadly, some have done) is disingenuous and unhelpful. Again, this blog would not exist if Jodoshinshu were not being taught simplistically and with sectarian bias.
When one has arrived at that point where it is obvious that Jodoshinshu is not a sectarian aberration, one may cease to investigate these matters and simply listen to the call and respond by calling the name in gratitude for being grasped, never to be abandoned. I have merely put the results of my researches online that others may benefit from them if they have doubts (not about Amida or the Primal Vow, but) about the way the teaching is being presented in some circles.
Please be aware that there is no desire on our part to convert anyone from one religion to another or even from one Buddhist tradition to another. Our intent is to assist those who have not been raised Jodoshinshu but who nevertheless feel a karmic link with this tradition to better appreciate the nuances which an ill-informed, biased and/or sectarian approach occludes. Tangentially, we are also pleased to provide the general public with some sense of the rich simplicity and nuanced complexity of this tradition.
Our Approach to the Dharma
The historical projection of the Dharma was based upon the faith, wisdom and compassionate vows of Great Enlightening Beings (Mahasattva Bodhisattvas), not rote-learning, belief-systems or sectarianism. The Ekayana Shin Dharmalog takes as its guiding principles the highest written articulation of the Dharma as found in the Mahāvaipulya Buddhāvataṃsaka Sūtra (The Great and Vast Buddha speaks of the Flower Ornament Scripture), Mahāprajñāpāramitā Sūtra(s) (Great Perfection of Wisdom Scriptures) and Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra (Flower of the Wonderful Law Scripture), among other Ekayana sutras.
What is Ekayana Shin Dharma
The term Ekayana is Sanskrit for ‘One Vehicle’ and has special reference to the universal applicability of the Dharma (as also the skillful means or upaya used in its dissemination) and the universal availability of Buddha-Nature or the Reality Body (i.e. the Dharmakaya). Taken to its logical conclusion, the Ekayana unites and comprehends all authentic and traditional philosophic/religious traditions, seeing each as the outcome of the skillful application of expedient means suited to the needs and capacities of a given time, place and people.
The term Shin (真) is Japanese and means variously ‘true, faith, core, sincerity, reality and trust’. It is used in reference to the Jodoshinshu (True Pure Land School – 浄土真宗) of Shinran Shonin, who reinvigorated and reformed Jodo Dharma – eliminating elitism, authoritarianism, mercantilism and superstition.
The term Dharma is Sanskrit for ‘that which supports’ and it generally refers to all mental and physical phenomena. However, when capitalized, this term has special reference to the complete range of process and content involved in the theory and practice of the human development project ostensibly initiated (nearly 2500 years ago) by Siddhārtha Gautama Śākyamuni. Ultimately, though, it refers to Reality as-it-is.
What is Skillful Means?
The phrase ‘upaya-kaushalya‘ is Sanskrit for ‘skillful use of expedient means’, and refers to the process of creative application of expedient means to facilitate awakening or the intent to awaken (bodhi or bodhichitta) for the benefit of all beings. True Dharma is a reflection of reality itself. However, the skillful use of expedient means is necessary in order to project the Dharma effectively into a given historical context in order to free the minds of the people living within that context from bondage, including freeing them from bondage to the very means expediently employed (i.e. any form which the Dharma may take) in response to contextual contingencies.
Records of the Dharma
Our ‘Suggested Reading List‘ exists to supply the necessary minimum of guidance to practitioners so that they may test their own motivations, perceptions and understandings using texts specifically chosen for their capacity to fulfill this essential function and for their mutual reference and complementarity and non-sectarian views.
Community of the Dharma
The Community of the Dharma (sangha) includes any and all persons who have experienced the transformative effects of the Dharma according to any of its valid traditional formulations.