Spiritual Power of Shinjin-Transpersonal Faith

THE BENEFITS OF SHINJIN - The Awakening to Self-transcending Faith


1. All divine beings work together to protect and support those of sound faith.
2. The power and virtue of the Name is fused with their being.
3. The power to transform suffering and death into higher spiritual levels of experience is a spiritual gift to those of sound faith.
4. The Buddhas protect them and constantly send them loving thoughts.
5. They receive spiritual praise and joy.
6. They are constantly embraced by Amida's spiritual light.
7. They are filled with spiritual joy at this embrace.
8. They are filled with gratitude and live a life of reciprocation for all these benefits.
9. Their lives lived in the embrace of Amida's Infinite Light helps others discover a sound faith.
10. They attain the rightly established state shinjin and are assured of attaining Buddhahood and Nirvana.

This has been called the Mind of No Retreat. It is roughly similar to the anagamin of Theravadin Buddhism. In each case the devotee is assured of attaining nirvana at the next rebirth. Thus the present life is one of infinitely open spiritual discovery, hope and courage to be.

WE LEARN FURTHER FROM THE AMIDA SUTRA:
1) Amida is the cosmic prototype of all Buddhas.
2) Amida is Dharma as the Universal Sustaining Compassion
3) Amida is the Lord of Light and the Lord of Life.
4) The wish to be reborn into Amida's Sphere of Influence is the result of Amida's compassionate activity.
5) Our ability to keep the Name in mind and to recite it is the result of Amida's activity, and the activity of all Buddhas who support him.
6) Amida supports all Buddhas and all Buddhas support Amida.
7) We experience the Awakening of Faith when we recite/listen to the Name and recite/listen to the sutra.
8) The sutra and the Name are empowered by Amida and all Buddhas.
9) The Awakening of Faith is not something we earn through practice. It is a gift of grace from Amida manifested in the Name, the sutra and the arising of the wish.
10) Shakyamuni's enlightenment changed the world so that the arising of the wish in us is possible. The wish is fulfilled as it is made.
11) The followers of the Way of the Sacred Name achieve a condition equal to that of the anagamin--Non-returners (The Mind of No Retreat.). At the next rebirth they attain complete, supreme enlightenment and Nirvana. Their destiny is sealed forever.
12) The visions and images in the sutra are spiritual gifts from the Buddha. They are not created by our own minds, but are rather the result of skillful means expressing boundless compassion for our condition.
13) Shinran stated that the faith liberated were equal to Maitreya, the Buddha of the future.
14) The power of the sutra is in the Sacred Name, and the power of the Sacred Name is in the sutra.
15) Amida combines all the divine powers that have ever existed, exist or will ever exist into one sustaining spiritual force which embraces all beings without prejudice or discrimination and shares those powers without cause or condition.(kenosis)

Amida is referred to in many ways in various contexts. Amida as a word means literally 'infinite'. Buddha as a word means literally 'awake.' Namu as a word means 'mindful'. Thus: namo amida buddha=mindful of infinite awake, refuge in infinite awake, Refuge in Amida Buddha, Reverence for Amida Buddha, etc. It is better to think of it as having many possible facets so that we don't get attached to a formulaic phrases but focus on the inner experience of the awakening of selfless faith, Amida's gift of grace to us revealed in the Sacred Name.

Oyasama the Sacred Parent
Amida is not male, female or neuter, although Amida is referred to as 'he' in English. He is all gender possibilities united and working in harmony and then transcending gender identification in sound faith (shinjin). The wonderful Japanese oyasama has no gender identification. It means 'sacred parent. We should use this designation more in North American Shin.

Amida statues, which are NOT to be worshipped, by the way, depict 'him' with Afro hair, Asian shaped eyes, and olive colored skin in Greek robes. Amida thus combines all the human races and cultures into one statue and then transcends racial and cultural identifications. Amida always calls us beyond ourselves. THE AMIDA CALLS OUR MINDS FORTH FROM THE TOMB OF OUR SKULLS, FROM THE TOMB OF THE EGO-LOGICAL MIND. We answer that call when we recite the Holy Name and Title namo amida buddha in gratitude for the embrace of the Infinite.

SHINJIN: This is a key concept in Shin Buddhism. It refers to an awakening of a universal, self-free faith experience, a kind of satori of faith. It is selfless, universal, generic, non-sectarian awakening to Other Power. Shinran divided all faith experiences into two varieties, self-power and Other Power (jiriki and tariki). Self-power faith is found in all religions. It is often expressed in the form, "I put my faith in……." It is not bad or evil. It is merely the starting point of understanding what faith life means. Self-powered faith is partisan and sectarian, a brand-name faith if you will. Tariki is universal faith that leads us to nirvana. It is the gift of Other Power in an act of self-emptying compassion and wisdom (kenosis) with no ulterior motives or hidden agendas. All beings who experience this faith awakening of Other Power will enter nirvana (Pure Land) upon the descent of death. They live the life of the truly assured.

Those who abide in jiriki faith will be reborn again and will then have opportunities to purify their faith experience from the self-powered intentions. They will then attain nirvana. No one is excluded from the final spiritual fulfillment. Of course there is more to shinjin and it deserves exploration.

It may also be called sound faith or sane faith. This is because it is a deep level faith experience available to all no matter what their formal sectarian identification. It is sane and sound because it unites all spiritual people in one common experience that transcends sectarianism. Hostility and hatred towards others of other traditions becomes impossible when sharing the awakening to a universal, generic faith experience of self-transcending faith of Other Power. Read Tannisho for more information.

See the Seiten for the Shin Buddhist Creed, p. 13

A Re-Phrasing of the Shin Buddhist Creed for Reflection: I rely on the Infinite Buddha with my whole heart for the attainment of Nirvana. I give up trust in my powerless self and abandon all practices based on the false ego.

I know that because of the Infinite's Self-Emptying Compassion I am assured of becoming spiritually alive the very moment I place my trust in the Infinite. I call the Sacred Name, namo amida buddha, in happiness and thanksgiving for the gift of Amida's Universal Promise to embrace all beings who so call the Sacred Name.

I am grateful to Shinran Shonin and his followers for leading me to this profound teaching. I will try to live throughout my life according to the Way of the Sacred Name they have taught.

Sensei Ulrich

June 11, 2000

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