Buddhist Beliefs, Practices and Experiences

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Experience the One Life

 

Welcome to our web site that explores Shin Buddhist beliefs, practices and experiences of the Buddhist Faith Fellowship of Connecticut and the North American Shin Buddhist Association (NASBA).

 

Imagine a religion without original sin, judgment, a wrathful God, a multitude of gods and saints, an eternal hell, Satan, a sense of guilt, a personality cult, idolizing a book, a blood sacrifice for atonement, a rejection of personal experience, holy wars, hypocritical rules, sexism, a cultish mindset, and money and power obsessions. Luckily, a religion without all of this negative core baggage does exist and it is called Shin Buddhism.

 

Shin Buddhism is an 800 year old religion and a way of life dedicated to manifesting the endowed purpose of every human being to realize enlightenment. This is a natural path open to everyone; it is especially geared to ordinary working people involved in daily responsibilities and worldly entanglements. It is called a natural path because it is devoid of superstitious dogma and is based on personal experience and reality-as-it-is. It uses everything as a vehicle on the journey to enlightenment. It never forces itself onto others and maintains a gentle but persuasive demeanor. What’s more, it does not have a blind eye to what it is to be a real human being but it fully accepts the human condition with all of its limitations and potentialities.

 

Being a natural way, it is also all-inclusive and embracing because like the ocean it accepts everybody, even non-believers and the so-called lowliest of our society. No matter who you are or what you have done or what burdens you carry, you and everyone else is assured to be transformed through the power of great compassion into an authentically real and awakened person. This is the assurance of Shin.

 

At its core, Shin can be seen as an anti-cult; this feature is clearly manifested in our Buddhist Fellowship, which is non-hierarchical, egalitarian and non-dogmatic. Moreover, it does not ask for followers but seeks dedicated practitioners of daily compassion, love and wisdom, so together we can transform ourselves and the world into a happier place. As a wholesome vehicle to spiritual practice, it does not have any requirements to join but only to have the faith and commitment to transmute the burdens of daily life into the source of received wisdom and compassion. Come as you are and practice with us.

American Shin Buddhism
American Shin Buddhism

About the Buddhist Faith Fellowship

 

YOU ARE WELCOMED at the Buddhist Faith Fellowship and at our chapters and groups across North America. We hope you will feel at home as we practice together. Keep in mind, our spiritual community offers you fellowship, learning, enrichment, service and practice.

 

A PLACE FOR FELLOWSHIP There is nothing like having wholesome and faithful friends. We are committed to building relationships between the members of our spiritual family. With our regular gatherings, practice groups, social events, courses and workshops, we are doing just that, and there is a place for you, too.

 

A PLACE FOR LEARNING We are engaged in the study of the whole of Buddhism but put more focus on Shin Buddhism, which is strictly geared for ordinary working people. 

 

A PLACE FOR ENRICHMENT We offer a many opportunities to get involved, with special programs for the environment, outreach ministries, courses and spiritual field trips. With these sorts of activities, there is surely a place for you.

 

A PLACE FOR SERVICE We accept our responsibility to reach out in service to others. Our people minister to those within our spiritual family and outside of our fellowship.

 

A PLACE FOR PRACTICE Every gathering is an occasion for spiritual refreshment full of blessings and inspiration. Our primary reason for meeting together is to practice the dharma, and to awaken to the Oneness of Reality.

The Meaning of “Faith”?
 

Some people wonder, what does the word faith mean within the Buddhist Faith Fellowship’s name? For many North Americans, the word faith is very disquieting and conjures up the baggage of the traditional religions from which many of us are trying to escape from. Around the world, many faith-minded people tend to blindly believe in all sorts of unproven dogma that is akin to superstition.

 

However, for us,  faith is not about believing in the far-fetched and unreasonable or in a fossilized dogma or in an ancient creed or in a set of unverifiable beliefs like those offered by many in today’s marketplace of religion and spirituality. Briefly put, the faith in our organization’s name has several refreshing nuances:

 

1) Faith is the inner inspirational energy that draws and opens us to confidence in the Buddha’s teachings. Something just clicks within us and we feel a deep and comfortable familiarity with the dharma that gives us the conviction that we with all beings can “wake up” and realize our inner potential.

 

2) Faith denotes the time-honored process of practice, in which one has personally verified the teachings through investigation (reading, listening, attending gatherings etc.), experimentation (plenty of practice), analysis (reflection), and all this is crossed checked with the experiences of other practitioners covering a span of 2,600 years. The Buddha said, “Don’t believe because I tell you so…” First, one must try it out and see or not see the results of the process in one’s life’s experience. 

 

3) Faith signifies the spiritual journey or the evolutionary natural path of the Buddha’s teachings that take us into an exciting adventure of inner and outer exploration, in which we will progressively encounter more peace and liberation, and the warm and open heart of boundless life and light.

 

4) Faith does not mean “looking up to” something outside of us in fear or for comfort, but instead means entrusting ourselves to the total dynamic of life and light itself, symbolized as Amida Buddha, which is our true nature. This entrusting faith (shinjin) is a pure and open awareness without any subject or object or belief in any set of concepts. It relates to the Sanskrit word prasada which means “tranquility, stillness and purity” of mind and heart.

 
 

The contents of this web site have been written by founder and senior teacher, of the Buddhist Faith Fellowship in August 2006. Any part of this web site may be copied but we ask you only to cite the author as its source.

 
 
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.