?What Is Shin Buddhism?? Essay, Research Paper
Shin Buddhism was the creation of Shinran Shonin, who lived in Japan around 800 years ago. He saw, as did Buddha, that what stands in the way of our awakening to the Dharma is really only us. Specifically, it is our ego, or that illusion we have that we are a fixed and separate entity apart from everything else. Thus, Shin Buddhism starts by getting us to see our egocentric, arrogant and self-centered nature. Shin Buddhism “attacks” our ego-self. When we awaken to the fallacy of our “self,” we are literally “saved from ourselves,” and become free.
But Shin Buddhism does not lead to any kind of negative self-hate, schizophrenia or cynicism. This is because it says with deep compassion that, “Even as selfish as I am, I am still allowed to live…I am ‘OK’ because of the infinite compassion of the Dharma.” It is to see deeply into the true meaning of what it means to be a human being.
The meaning of the Meditation Sutra, one of the key beliefs of Shin Buddhist is, “Don’t try to ‘get rid of’ the pain of life, or your shortcomings – that is impossible; instead, live with it all, but turn your focus inward and honestly evaluate yourself. This leads to a kind of rebirth. “Kill” your ignorance and be reborn in the truth, then live with the truth.
An important concept in Shin Buddhism is Tariki (Other Power, or Power Beyond the Self), which tells us that we cannot enlighten ourselves only through our self-power. Our ego-self cannot deny or challenge itself. Thus, we all need a “teacher.” This can take the form of a sensei (minister, priest, etc.) and/or the events in our lives, especially those that cause us difficulty, i.e., those events that illustrate the impermanence of life. In this sense, the Dharma is both our teaching and our teacher.
Finally, Shin Buddhism cautions us to always remember that, even if we do awaken to the Dharma and to our true, egocentric nature, we don’t become “better people.” We’re still egotistical, judgmental, impatient, fallible and arrogant. In that sense, Buddhism is really beyond ethics, beyond “right and wrong,” because it accepts, with compassion, that to be human is to be flawed. However, though we don’t become “better” (more moral) people, we do gain insight. As mentioned above, what can change is the way we look at our lives and our relationship to others. We can come to see that our lives and, indeed, all life, is both interdependent and precious. This insight can have a profound and transforming effect on how we live our lives.
Shinjin (sheen-jean) is the most important term in Shin Buddhism. “Shin” means to understand or trust. This is a twofold understanding. We must understand not only the ignorance and smallness of the self, but also, the greatness of the Dharma (”Amida Buddha,” infinite compassion, truth/impermanence). Thus, because of the futility of our self-efforts, we have no choice but to simply and humbly trust in the Dharma.
Namu Amida Butsu is, in essence, a verbal expression of this experience of Shinjin. Namu expresses our recognition of the futility of our self (humility). Amida Butsu (Amida Buddha) expresses the recognition that our futility is embraced and liberated by the Dharma. In other words, “bow to” (seek the truth) and be saved by the Dharma.
To Shinran Shonin, these two terms, Shinjin and Namu Amida Butsu, are all we need to live if we where Buddhists.
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?What is Shin Buddhism? By Franklin E. Zimring ?1994