Buddhist Beliefs, Practices and Experiences

Buddhist Lifestyle

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Shinran Shonin: Religious Reformer
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Buddhist Practice as Nembutsu
The Primal Vow: Power of Love
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Our Buddhist lifestyle may be described as the daily living in simplicity, peace, gratitude, wisdom and compassion. However, we do not just decide one day to live in this special way, it is the natural result of a process of faith, devotion, practice and then more practice. As Sangharashita stated “commitment is primary, lifestyle is secondary.”  That is to say, effort and dedication to our practice is the only way to live an authentic Buddhist lifestyle. Through daily practice and attending fellowship, the lifestyle will take care of itself. When we engage in daily practice of the nembutsu as a living practice, and not just an intellectual exercise, naturally, our lives will be transformed into the substance of shinjin, the experience of awakening.

 

Going for Refuge

 

First of all, our Shin lifestyle originates from our faith or Going for Refuge in the Three Jewels, which are the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.

 

Take Refuge in the Buddha

 

To take refuge in the Buddha is to entrust in the living source of understanding, faith and compassion, symbolized as Amida, the Buddha of Immeasurable Life and Light and her historical human manifestation, Shakyamuni Buddha. One sees the historical Buddha as the greatest teacher and the embodiment of our true human potential. Ultimately, the Buddha is our true nature or universal self. Therefore, when we take refuge in the Buddha, we really take refuge in ourselves.

 

Take Refuge in the Dharma

 

To take refuge in the Dharma is to entrust in Reality-as-it-is, the Ocean of Oneness, the Buddha’s teachings and the path of understanding, faith and compassion.

 

Take Refuge in the Dharma

 

To take refuge in the Sangha is to entrust in the community that practices according to the Buddhist path and strives to manifest and embody Enlightenment here on Earth.

 

 

Tenfold Precepts

 

From this standpoint, the Buddhist lifestyle takes form and further deepens through the daily practice of the Tenfold Precepts (see ‘Ethical Living’ web page). One cannot claim to follow a Buddhist lifestyle without the daily Going for Refuge in the Three Jewels and diligently practicing of the Precepts. As a consequence of our daily Going for Refuge, naturally, we begin to develop our spiritual hears to heed or attune ourselves to the calling of Light and Life itself (Amida) within our bodies and environment. To deeply listen to this sacred calling is to place our hearts and minds in Amida or the Primal Vow and to voice the nembutsu–Namu-Amida-Butsu.  

 

The diligent practice of these Tenfold Precepts eventually arouses a deep awareness of our foolish and self-centered nature, while at the same time, we awaken to the compassionate embrace of the Primal Vow that accepts us regardless of our imperfections and confusion.   As we deepen our practice and it becomes part of us as a living experience, and we begin to cast off our old confused selves and experience a spiritual renewal or rebirth. Progressively we are empowered to avoid creating suffering, fear and despair and bring into being joy, understanding, and peace into our world. This religious renewal directly affects our way of thinking and behaving, and transforms our environment, relationships and the world.

 

Shin Affirmation

 

Our Buddhist lifestyle is summed up in the Shin Affirmation, written by Rennyo Shonin in 16th Century, Japan. The Shin Affirmation is recited weekly at our fellowship’s gatherings.

 

Entrusting in the Primal Vow of Buddha,

Calling out her Sacred Name,

I shall pass through the journey of life with strength and joy.

 

Living in the Light of Buddha,

Reflecting upon my imperfect self,

I shall proceed to live a life of gratitude.

 

Following the Teachings of Buddha,

Listening to the wholesome Path,

I shall share the Dharma with all.

 

Rejoicing in the compassion of Buddha,

Respecting and aiding all sentient beings,

I shall work towards the welfare of society and the world.

 

As a result, the daily Going for Refuge, practicing the Tenfold Precepts and awakening to shinjin by living the nembutsu, our Buddhist lifestyle of simplicity, peace, gratitude, love, compassion and wisdom naturally manifests itself. 

 

Simplicity as a Way of Life

 

Simplicity as way of life focuses attention on the absolute essentials and serves as an effective practice to clear the many obstructions that inhibit our deep hearing of the nembutsu, as the sacred call of life. Simplicity as a Buddhist practice strips away the evitable distractions of our modern 21st century life that competes for our attention and keeps us under the torrents of the rat race, addictions, fear and unrestrained materialism. Instead, it directs us to look at what is truly important for our spiritual journey such as family, nembutsu, dharma, sangha and the Earth. Living an unadorned life helps us to be awake, free and open that further cultivates the Buddhist virtues of humility and gratitude. This does not mean that we should live in caves or huts without electricity and running water. On the contrary, it means living a comfortable and balanced life yet not under the sway of attachments or aversions such as gain or loss, praise or blame, fame or shame and happiness and hopelessness.

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Simplicity of life impels us to want or possess fewer things, appreciating more of what we have and using what we possess in the service of others. When we have fewer distractions in our lives then we can concentrate more in our inner realm and truly live the Buddha Dharma and manifest the nembutsu. At its core, simplicity is the living practice of reality as it is.

 

First Steps to Simplicity

 

How can you practice simplicity? First you must examine your life to see what worldly things or habits clutter your life and ultimately obstruct your spiritual practice. Are you running around too much? Are you trying to do too many things at once? Is your life littered with one activity after another? Do you have any time to cultivate silence and introspection? Is your busy lifestyle hampering you from practicing Buddhism? Or being with your family?  Are you living your life from material things or to impress your peers, family or neighbors? Once you ask yourself these types of questions and make an inventory of habits and lifestyle, then you can make the changes to simplify your life with the objective of enhancing your Buddhist practice. Remember simplicity is the way of life that helps us put more attention to what is happening within us so we can hear the call of life and awaken to our Buddha nature in service to others.

 
 
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.