Buddhist Beliefs, Practices and Experiences

21 Shin Buddhist Beliefs

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What We Believe?

 

Below is a brief summary in 21 points of the core beliefs and tents of our international association. These basic beliefs are skillful instruments given to us by the Buddha, so that we can awaken to our deepest inner potential of compassion and wisdom. They are not creedal pronouncements that bind us into dogmatism. In order to touch the Ultimate Dimension, we must go beyond all words and ideas, and experience the ineffable Oneness of Reality as it is. Words and ideas can help us along the path, but let's not be attached to them. Let them serve as guideposts to awakening.

 

The 21 points cover such topics like the ultimate nature of reality, the significance of our Buddha, the purpose of life, basic practices, death, hell, evil, eternal life, salvation, scriptures, etc. Ultimately, these 21 points can be summed up in the belief in the One Life, compassion, love, hope, and the inner potential of every human being.

 

1. We believe….there is only One Life, present in everybody, in everything and everywhere, manifesting in infinite forms who is the beauty and power of the cosmos.  This is not a God but is that which transcends Creator and creation and is our true nature; for this reason, the Buddha is known as the teacher of gods and humans. 

 

2. We believe….in universal compassion. The One Life, symbolized in our tradition as Amida, the Buddha of Immeasurable Life and Light, is infinite in space and time, identifies with our sufferings and joys and enjoins us to be compassionate and loving with others

 

3. We believe….in universal liberation. The One Life actively seeks to liberate all beings by embodying itself as the nembutsu-Namu-Amida-Butsu; this living nembutsu reveals itself when we are spiritually guided to believe, hear, affirm and entrust ourselves to the One Life.

 

4. We believe...the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni was the human manifestation of Amida Buddha who in turn is the compassionate expression of the non-conceptual ultimate dimension, known as the dharmakaya.

 

5. We believe….in the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, as the best vehicle to touch that which is true and real, to engage in the beauty of life, and to offer a practical way to transcend suffering and accept impermanence.

 

6. We believe….life is a bumpy ride, but the universe is fundamentally good; it is our ego-driven life that causes most of the suffering but luckily our self-centeredness can be transformed into a source of wisdom and compassion (Buddhahood). This is the Buddha’s teaching of the Four Noble Truths.

 

7. We believe….nothing just happens but all is the result of karma (cause and effect); this reality emphasizes individual responsibility and the universal karmic power of Amida Buddha, symbolized as the Primal Vow.

 

8. We believe….in the interdependence of all things, in which everything simultaneously co-arises with everything else (mutual creation) and that every form is intimately part of everything else.

 

9. We believe….in Other Power (grace). No one human life is wasted or abandoned but all will be transformed by the natural working of the boundless one Life.

 

10. We believe…every person has a natural and endowed purpose to realize enlightenment by embodying the nembutsu for the sake of all beings.

 

11. We believe…faith is a transformative experience whose source is Life itself; it is based on confidence, trust, and noetic (intuitive) understanding and is not founded in blind belief, creeds or dogma. 

 

12. We believe…. spiritual rebirth is the direct result of awakening and entrusting ourselves (shinjin) to our transcending one Life.

 

13. We believe without severing blind passions, one attains Nirvana. Spiritual rebirth through the nembutsu allows us to live at the juncture of the historical and ultimate dimensions; this corresponds to Shinran’s statement, “I am neither monk nor layman.”

 

14. We believe…eternal salvation is here and now, and regardless of your race, gender, moral status, age, religion, intelligence or education, all can experience this inner reality by just awakening to and entrusting themselves in the One Life, and voicing the nembutsu.

 

15. We believe….the Pure Land is the realm of enlightenment (nirvana) and a concrete image of emptiness (shunyata), which is the transcending deathless and eternal dominion beyond conception, devoid of hatred, greed and ignorance.

 

16. We believe….death is a new beginning, in which we ascend to the Pure Land, only then do we return to this world to help all beings realize enlightenment.

 

17. We believe….hell is not eternal but is a temporary condition or mind-set, which many of us experience on and off on a daily basis. Evil is not a living entity but is simply the symptom of spiritual ignorance; thus, it can be transformed into compassion and wisdom.

 

18. We believe….our shadow side (bonpu) must be fully and honestly embraced in order to truly experience the inner transformative light; thereby, we become authentically whole, as we truly are, in the continuous interplay of light and darkness. 

 

19. We believe….the Threefold Pure Land Sutras, are inspired scriptures, demonstrating the true intent of the Buddha, and for us, are the best teaching to live our lives; but we are open to the entirety of the Buddha Dharma and world spirituality.

 

20. We believe….our community serves people and the Earth, as the historical Buddha served people and the Earth.

 

21. We believe…every Shin practicier should grow in the dharma, have a true engagement with Life, serve others and learn to embody the nembutsu for the sake of all beings.

 

 

a reminder

 

"Buddhism regards beliefs as powerful human inventions that serve as skillful instruments pointing to that which is beyond conception and beyond belief. Therefore, we should not become attached to any belief, even Buddhist ones. We should avoid entangling our spiritual path by concretizing any conceptual model for truth; instead let us awaken to and embody the non-dual truth of Nirvana."

 

                                         -- G.R. Lewis, BFF Senior Dharma Teacher

 
 
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.