Buddhist Beliefs, Practices and Experiences

Faith and Spiritual Rebirth

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Bright Faith

 

Our faith experience is based on bright faith, which is confidence, deep trust, and noetic (intuitive) and verified experience; it is not about dark faith, which is blind faith and superstition, believing in a set of rules, creeds or far-fetched dogma. Our confidence in the nembutsu and noetic trust in Amida and in the historical Buddha naturally leads us to a profound faith as an awakening experience, called shinjin in Japanese, which means ‘true entrusting’ or the ‘enlightened mind of faith.’ This faith experience is characterized as a received realization of the transcending mystery of love, compassion and wisdom, personified as Amida Buddha.

 

Faith as Received

 

This awakening experience and resulting spiritual rebirth originate from the Primal Vow (Inner Aspiration) itself. That is, the source of transformative faith comes forth from the very fabric of the universe itself. Being the spiritual unfurling of our Inner Aspiration itself, shinjin naturally unfolds from within our deepest subconscious core at the moment when are guided to hear, believe, affirm and entrust ourselves by the Primal Vow of Other Power unto itself. The religious effect of shinjin, as the experience of awakening, through the nembutsu, is the gradual emptying of our old selves, in which a new and vibrant enlightened self is manifested and experienced. To clarify further, this acquired new enlightened mind of faith is the result of the received wisdom and compassion from the One Life (Amida), and can not be considered the fruit of anything that we have done. The enlightened mind of faith (shinjin) is not our mind but is literally the Enlightened Mind of Faith from the One Life itself.

 

Life Calling Unto Us

 

When the primordial voice of Amida, as the nembutsu, is truly heard with our whole being, the transformative light naturally cracks the hard shell of our self-fabricated and foolish ego, allowing us to let go and entrust in the natural flow of Life and Light:

Simultaneously, the light illumines itself in our minds and hearts, intimately manifesting 

itself through the voicing of the nembutsu-Namu-Amida-Butsu. Y. Sumida described this phenomena in the following verse.

 

“The nembutsu take in

Myself as I am

With worries and problems

And transforms everything

Into the highest virtue.”

 

In this evolutionary process of faith, our calling out to Amida, through the nembutsu is really Amida calling unto us. At that moment the Pure Land comes forth and is realized, as shinjin, the experience of awakening. Then and only then, the elemental voice of the Buddha will become our true voice and one can truly begin the experience the cosmic embrace of compassion, wisdom and hope.

 

A Life Transformed

 

As a result of this natural process of voicing the nembutsu and experiencing shinjin, our karmic burdens are transformed into boundless life and light. Our old selves are cast off and we are spiritually born anew within the great light of wisdom and compassion. Rev. Kosho Yukawa once wrote, “Birth in the Pure Land means not to be born but to live.”

Then and only then, we can truly appreciate the Sacred Story of Amida Buddha as our own story. Likewise, we are empowered to be authentic human beings, living in true wholeness within the continuous interplay of light and darkness. By the gift of this experience, we will deeply experience the clarity of understanding that fills our hearts with joy, peace and radiance. In the Prajnaparamita, a main Buddhist scripture, our Buddha said,

 

“The eye of clarity is so called because it brings sight to everyone. It enables every single one to enter the uncreated and unconditional, each in her own way.”

 

It must be noted that this shinjin experience does not happen just one time but it occurs multiple times throughout our lives as we continue on the path to spiritual maturity.  Through repeated castings offs and rebirths, we are nurtured and enabled to grow into genuine human beings. This transformation is poignantly expressed in Shinshu Kyodan Renmei comment,

 

“Amida’s Primal Vow is the wish, -‘Human beings! Please become truly human.”

 

Significantly, this religious process opens us up to the Great Activity of universe that moves to liberate all beings from affliction and distress. And so, we awaken to a new purpose, the way of bodhisattva, in which we engage in the world, helping others to realize their inner potential of shinjin. In the scripture Sutta Nipata, our Buddha said,

 

If you delight in Life, you will become a guide to those who need you, revealing the path to the many.”

 

You might be asking who or what is this Light that awakens us? This Light is not an external power separated from us but it is who we really are; it is nonetheless our true and real self, the One Life. That is to say, we awaken and entrust ourselves to our transcending universal self (Buddha-nature), which is the one life and pure awareness of the cosmos.

 

 
 
Our Beliefs, Practices and Experiences

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Copyright 2006. G.R. Lewis, All Rights Reserved

The author grants permission to copy this document for personal uses only.