Your Shin Buddhist “go to” page in the Forest City
As a “thank you” for checking it out, we will send the first 7 people to “CONTACT US” this week from our new web page with a greeting, question or message with a copy of Learning the Wisdom of Enlightenment.
Jōdo Shinshū Teaching:
Having entrusted ourselves to the teaching of Namo Amida Butsu, we experience the joy of having received the assurance of buddhahood. From the constant gratitude that arises within, we shall strive to live in service to the community and humanity.
Jōdo Shinshū Tradition:
The Honpa Hongwanji is a community of people joined together in the joy of a common understanding of Amida Buddha. As Jodo Shinshu Buddhists, we shall seek to be mindful of our words and deeds, be responsible citizens of our society, and share with others the truth and reality of Jodo Shinshu. Understanding fully the principle of causality, we shall not practice petitionary prayer or magic, nor shall rely upon astrology or other superstitions.
Shin Buddhist Service Book, Buddhist Churches of American, 1994
“It has been my experience that the only normal people are those you don’t know very well.”
We’ve traveled a little over a week into the new year of 2021.
We came into this year with expectations of change and normality. Yet we literally hauled our 2020 baggage into this New Year with us, even the stuff we pay to keep in storage lockers. I’m exhausted just thinking about all the mental, emotional and physical baggage I dragged here with me.
When I came across the sentence “It has been my experience that the only normal people are those you don’t know very well.” in a book, which one I can’t remember, I thought “Wow, a perfect Shin Buddhist concept!”
I used to think everyone but me was “normal.” That everyone but me knew how to navigate this life. That others would never drag baggage from an old year into a new one. That everyone but me was always happy, always popular, always, and I mean always, knew how to engage in small talk.
After all, what normal person doesn’t know how to chit chat at parties, gatherings or after church coffee hours? Shin Buddhism for me was a revelation that I was not missing something everyone else “got.” It let in the light that we are all in the same boat. Shin tells us to “come as you are” for rational reason – the concept of “normal” in this life of samsara it just that, a concept.
What a relief!
It answers so many questions with logic and reason. It helps me begin to understand why my relationships and circumstances change over time. Not only do I change – impermanence – but everything is changing, all the same time and probably at warp speed.
When the character in the book said “It has been my experience that the only normal people
are those you don’t know very well.” it rang true. We are all normal in that we are bonbu, foolish human beings of greed, anger and folly. We aspire to wisdom and compassion with our Buddhist teachings to reduce our dissatisfactions. We try to understand how to walk the Eightfold Noble Path to contribute to a more compassionate life for all sentient beings. We even mediate, chant, read the sutras, light our incense, but at the end of the day, many of us are still foolish human beings.
Saying the Nembutsu, Namo Amida Butsu, centers me in the reality of this world. It comforts me in that I am welcome to come as I am. It reminds me to focus on and express gratitude for all I have received. It places me in the community of Buddhists whose collective energy contributes to the causes and conditions that affect me in a positive and supportive way.
Shin is a way of living this life of samsara with grace and equanimity. It does not eliminate the dukkha, the suffering, pain, dissatisfaction, loss. This is the reality of life - the First Noble Truth. What I do, say and believe impacts everyone and everything because of our interconnectedness and interdependence. So the concept of a “normal” 2021 is also just that, a concept.
Shin Buddhism and the Nembutsu grounds me to not attach or cling to thinking life ‘should be otherwise.’ It liberates me, if not from causes and conditions I cannot change, but of my relationship to them.
May the New Year of 2021 be an uneventful one and where the easy path of Shin’s ‘Come as you are’ be understood and embraced.
Excerpt on Patience: The Way of the Bodhisattva by Shantideva. Revised Edition, 2006. Shambhala, Boulder. This 8th century CE Indian Buddhist monk and scholar lived in the famous Nalanda monastery. Each stanza offers a thought we can just relax into and consider. Shantideva was an adherent of Nāgārjuna, a Pure Land master.
The Way of the Bodhisattva by Shantideva
Seated Guanyin Bodhisattva. Northern Song Dynasty (1127). The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Kansas City, MO 3-10
Chapter 6 – Patience, continued from September 19, 2020 edition Stanzas 54 - 63 of 134