The Benefits of Shinjin
The old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times” seems to have hit us. Many will be hurt by the financial down-turn. Then there are the wars which never seem to end, along with the „normal‟ crime and violence that happens every day. It is hard to keep our perspective.

Our Jodo shinshu emerged in difficult times. Shinran and Rennyo were not „to the manor born‟. Their teachings came out of the school of hard knocks. Both men lived in turbulent times, somewhat to ours. The rulers of their day had established what we might term as military dictatorships. There were no civil rights---in fact such an idea would have not been seriously discussed back then.

There were no banks, no saving accounts, no RRSP's. Many people lived with little money, or with no money at all. Well over 90% were illiterate. Is it possible to survive under such circumstances? Our ancestors did.

They didn't have any self-help books. There were neither psychologists nor counsellors. The extended family, the elders, their talents & some good fortune, & of course Shinran‟s teachings was all they had.

Keep all of this in mind as we read this version of Shinran‟s list of the 10 benefits of shinjin. In some contexts I like to describe shinjin as "sound faith‟ or "sane faith.‟ We usually avoid using the word faith too much, but in these troubled times, both sanity and soundness are much in demand.

It was the teachings of Shinran & Rennyo that caused the Shin Buddhist people to face their troubles with courage. They felt a sense of strength that allowed them to simply endure. Families and friends pulled together in many creative ways, and it was the Buddha Dharma that provided the foundations of their actions.

These are some of the reasons that the recitation of the Nembutsu alone would often be the cause for tears of gratitude. Chanting the sutras was exploring the spiritual ground under their feet. It was what kept them sane and sound in troubled times.

THE TEN BENEFITS OF SHINJIN

  • We belong to the Sangha of the Truly Assured.
  • Our minds are rooted in deep profound joy.
  • We are moved by gratitude and grace.
  • Our lives become channels for the power of empathy and compassion.
  • All of our karma, good, bad and neutral, is transformed into mindful living and nirvana.
  • The power and the virtues of the Bodhisattva Vows are transferred to our lives.
  • We are constantly surrounded by Infinite Light.
  • All Buddhas accept us just as we are.
  • We are uplifted and protected by the power of the Buddha Dharma.
  • All divine powers embrace those of shinjin.

To paraphrase Shinran, how wonderful it is to plant our lives in the Vow and then experience our minds flowing into the infinite sea of Dharma.

Shinran‟s shinjin and our shinjin are the same. The benefits are the same. Please reflect on this deeply.

Sensei Ulrich
September 11, 2011

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