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Switch to Forum Live View Jodo Shinshu and Mystical Experience
10 years ago  ::  Apr 07, 2008 - 3:54AM #11
Posts: 16
I have read through your posts and although you say that you are not "anti Shinshu", the tenor of much of what you have to say is definitely antagonistic towards the Hongwanji--Nishi and HIgashi.
There is a great deal of disinformation about the Hongwanji, and about Shinshu in general.[/QUOTE]

I have no reason at all to be antagonistic.  That does not mean, however, that I will not describe what I see.  All the Japanese Buddhist sects in Japan (I can't comment on the overseas branches and breakaway versions) are first and foremost a family funeral business.  That is not to say that there is no genuine practice.  But it is not the priests' main job.

As far as what the training of priests involves, I only really know about the Zen sects.  Unlike the picture often painted in the West, intense top-down hazing is the main feature of this training.  Japanese society being the way it is, I would imagine this to also be true for Shinshu and other sects, but I'm not in a position to say for certain.

Whatever is wrong with sectarian Buddhism in Japan or other Asian countries, it still contains some genuine practice.  But that does not mean that people should watch what they say for fear of offending the stalwarts of one sect or another.  (Stalwarts who tend to be Westerners.  Most Japanese can handle hearing somebody say Japanese Buddhism's a funeral business, because they know it's true.)

If you want to accuse me of disinformation, you might want to provide some specific instances.
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10 years ago  ::  Apr 07, 2008 - 4:01AM #12
Posts: 16
[QUOTE=rev.shinetsu;388515]I don't know about the mysticism aspect though.  The Buddha was a sort of almost scientific sort of guy, telling us to doubt, to question, and to resolve the answers so that we wouldn't doubt anymore.  If it works for you, great, but he was always looking to cause-and-effect, not mysticism, and he found answers, not just feelings.[/QUOTE]

The word mystical has several different meanings.  I think that the original poster was asking about the experience of enlightenment as understood in other schools of Buddhism, and not about magic.
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10 years ago  ::  Jul 04, 2008 - 5:58PM #13
Posts: 10
Cause-and-effect is an intellectual endeavor. Mysticism is a spiritual state of mind. Cause-and-effect, like a mathematical equation, lays things out, solidifies them. Mysticism touches the spiritual nature of things, understands them implicitly. Mysticism often finds wisdom. Cause-and-effect often finds rules, law and procedure. The balance between the combination of the two determines the quality of the conscientious undertaking of the religious quest. Cause-and-effect is to mysticism as science is to art. They both play a part in human understanding at deeper levels but they have little to do with each other on the surface. Magic is not really either mysticism or religious cause-and-effect. Because magic uses occult forces, that is negative energies and entities, it does not really fit into mysticism or cause-and-effect except as a component, one of the factors that contributes to a larger situation. Magic is 'user-friendly' - it has to be used like a tool and it in turn uses the user which is a means of 'demonic possession.' When the occult forces are out of balance in a religion then access to the wisdom of mysticism and the ethics of law and procedure become shady and destructive. Mysticism can tend into dark magic if it follows darker trends in the psyche, trends of taking to own, including knowledge or wisdom. But mysticism can much more likely tend toward 'lighter' trends in the psyche and that is where great religious insight lies. Most religious mystics had a unique balance of the two trends that make them tremendously valuable to humanity. When those people are lost to us the human race suffers more than it should ever need to suffer.
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10 years ago  ::  Aug 14, 2008 - 3:02PM #14
Posts: 1
I am a Canadian Jodo Shinshu Buddhist.
On the topic of Ministers who have a genuine practice rather than parroting the books they have studied I have encountered many here. I cannot speak to how it is in Japan though.

As for Jodo Shinshu being a funeral business, I think you would find this happens a lot with many religions where that religion is culturaly dominant.
In North America many people never step foot in a Christian church except for a baptism, wedding or funeral. People who never practiced religion at all generaly have Christian funerals here, and there is no question many churches make big money from the funeral business. I'm not sure we should fault them for this.
I will say that without exception every funeral I have attended over the last dozen years, the Sensei's have made a point to explain against the superstitions you mentioned.

I think we find in any religion a great many who sort of go through the motions without any real thought or understanding of what they are doing (especealy if it is the families religion over many generations) and you will find some individuals within that same religion who are very serious about it and want to understand it not only intellectiualy but also and more importantly in their hearts. People being what we are and all.

As far as mystical experience, maybe it does need to be defined more, but I would suggest that if we were to take any of the things described in the Larger Sutra, or the Contemplation Sutra as being in anyway a reflection of what the Buddha said, or what happened with some of his desciples such as Ananda, and Queen Vaidehi, they did indeed have what could be described as mystical experiences in seeing Amida. Even if the Sutras are not literal reflections of the Buddha's words or the desciple's experiences, they certainly go to great length to describe some fairly mystical things.
So in my humble opinion such a mystical experience is fine, but is not the focus of Jodo Shinshu, and such experiences are sort of meaningless without shinjin, which is the focus of Jodo Shinshu.
"Just say the named and be saved by Amida"
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10 years ago  ::  Sep 14, 2008 - 5:49PM #15
Posts: 34
Spider, you're quite right, and there are plenty of good comments here.  It's too easy to criticize a religion based on its "lesser" members, and this is the usual argument you see toward Asian strains of Buddhism.  It's shocking to some that not all Asian Buddhists know the Four Noble Truths by heart, but I think this is more a Western conceit.

Sometimes the most quiet and unassuming people you meet in Asia are in fact devout and serious Buddhists, but you wouldn't know it, because they're not showing off.  Speaking as one whose been in Japan, Thailand and Vietnam, this has been my experience.

Getting back on topic, it would help to define what the term 'mystical' here is, but others have already covered this.

Best wishes!
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