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An Unconventional View of Shinjin

"If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the lands of the ten quarters who sincerely and joyfully entrust themselves to me, desire to be born in my land, and call my Name, even ten times, should not be born there, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. Excluded, however, are those who commit the five gravest offences and abuse the right Dharma." - the 18th Vow of bodhisattva Dharmakara

Of the 48 Vows that Amida Buddha fulfilled, the 18th Vow is most precious to Pure Land followers.

In Shin Buddhism it is known as the Primal Vow.

Shinran, the founder of Jodo Shinshu, the Japanese Buddhist school which evolved into the post-modern form of Shin Buddhism, advocated that birth in the Pure Land is settled in the midst of life.

As a Shin Buddhist, my birth in the Pure Land is settled in my lifetime. When I entrust myself to Amida Buddha, birth there is settled at that moment.

In my present life, my spiritual journey consists of Shinjin, which is faith, belief, devotion and godliness. The Shin Buddhist concept of Shinjin in English may be limited by the devotee's understanding of the definitions for the term:

1. Faith
2. Belief
3. Devotion
4. Clear heartmind

By saying the Nembutsu out of sincere gratitude, I place my faith in Amida's Primal Vow. For belief in both Amida Buddha and my rebirth in the Pure Land of Bliss is based on that Vow. Thus am I devoted to the Buddha.

For the essence of the first three definitions for Shinjin is expressed succinctly in the Name-that-calls.

Within the context of the Buddhist concept of no-self, clear heartmind refers to humility. Hence the concept of the Name-that-calls, which consists of saying the Nembutsu out of sincere gratitude with the belief that it is Amida Buddha calling. This is known as Buddha Remembrance.

Since Amida is the Buddha of the Pure Land, clear heartmind refers to the pure mind that promotes calm insight to perceive the spiritual essence of Buddha Nature.

With calm insight, one is able to see Amida Buddha and the Pure Land as spiritual concepts symbolizing the bodhisattva way, and out of devotion, purify the heartmind through mindful practice with the intent to awaken all sentient beings to Sakyamuni Buddha and his Buddhadharma.

For the devout Shin Buddhist, shinjin as clear heartmind implies one takes faith in Amida Buddha's Primal Vow, believes in Amida Buddha and his birth in the Pure Land, and is devoted to saying the Name-that-calls with sincere gratitude. Yet this clear heartmind is not derived from the concept of man as god but from faith in Amida's Primal Vow that the devotee will be born in the Pure Land.

Due to the Buddhist concept of no-self, clear heartmind is derived from the non-practice of Buddha-Remembrance. By saying the Name-that-calls with sincere gratitude, one calls out to Amida Buddha with the belief that Amida calling to them.

In Buddhist psychology, clear heartmind refers to spiritual qualities of the mind associated with a bodhisattva. With respect to shinjin, clear heartmind is associated with faith, devotion and belief.

Indeed, shinjin as clear heartmind consists of belief in Amida, devotion to Amida and faith in Amida's Primal Vow that one's birth in the Pure Land is fulfilled.

1 comment:

Steve said...

With sincere gratitude
to Amida Buddha for his Primal Vow,
Buddha Nature is
affirmed by
Namu Amida Butsu.