Imagine a religion without original sin, a Judgment Day, a wrathful deity, a Creator God, a multitude of gods, an eternal hell or heaven, Satan, a deep sense of guilt, a personality cult, an idolizing of a book, a blood sacrifice, the rejection of personal experience, a conflict with science, holy wars, doctrinal sexism, and a cultish mindset. You may not realize that a religion exists without all of these notions and practices, and it is called Shin Buddhism.
Shin Buddhism is a 700 year old religion and a way of life dedicated to unfold 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 the dharma -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 promise.
Being a natural way, it is also all-inclusive and embracing because like the ocean it accepts everybody – the lost, the outcasts and even non-believers. 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 complete and awakened person. This is the assurance of Shin.
Shin Buddhism means “Buddhism of the Heart”. It does not ask for followers but seeks dedicated adherents to practice understanding, love, and gratitude, so that together we are transformed with all other beings into our highest spiritual potential. As a wholesome vehicle to spiritual practice, it does not have any requirements to join but only to have the gracious faith and commitment to transmute the burdens of daily life into the source of received understanding and compassion. Come as you are and practice with us, and learn to walk the Shin path to inner emancipation and eternal peace.
What We Believe
Below is a brief summary in 21 points of the core beliefs and tents of our Fellowship. These basic beliefs are skillful instruments given to us by the Buddha, so that we can awaken to our deepest inner potential as a human being. They are no creedal pronouncements that bind us into dogmatism but are guideposts that assist us on the path. In order to touch the Ultimate Dimension (Pure land), 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 journey, but let’s not be too attached to them.
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 personal experience of the Oneness of Reality, boundless compassion, love, and hope, and the faith of the inner potential of every human being.
- We believe…there is only One Life (Oneness of Reality), present in everybody, in everything, and everywhere, manifesting in infinite forms that is the beauty and power of the cosmos. This is not a Creator 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.
- 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.
- We believe…in universal salvation. 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 hear, affirm and entrust ourselves to the One Life.
- 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.
- We believe…in the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, as the best vehicle to awakened to the One Life, to engage in the beauty of life, and to offer a practical way to accept impermanence and transcend suffering.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- We believe…in Other Power (tariki). No one human life is wasted or abandoned but all will be transformed by the natural working of the boundless One Life.
- We believe…every person has a natural and endowed purpose to realize enlightenment by embodying the nembutsu for the sake of all beings.
- We believe…faith is a transformational experience whose source comes from the One Life; it is based on confidence, trust, and noetic (intuitive) understanding and is not founded in blind belief, creeds or dogma.
- We believe…spiritual rebirth is the direct result of shinjin, the True Realization, to the transcending One Life.
- We believe…without severing blind passions, one realizes awakening in the Pure Land (Sukavati). 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.”
- 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 the One Life through the voicing the nembutsu.
- We believe…the Pure Land is the symbol of the Ultimate Dimension, 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.
- We believe…death is a new beginning, in which we ascend to the Pure Land, and only then, do we return to this world to skillfully help all beings realize enlightenment.
- 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.
- We believe…our shadow side (bonpu) must be fully and honestly embraced in order to truly experience shinjin, the inner transformational light; thereby, we become authentically whole, as we really are, in the continuous interplay between light and darkness.
- 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 and philosophy.
- We believe…our community serves people and the Earth, as the historical Buddha served people and the Earth.
- We believe…every Shin disciple 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.
“We should know that the Primal Vow of Amida does not discriminate whether one is young or old, good or evil. The Entrusting Heart alone is necessary, for the gracious Vow was made to save sentient beings who are burdened with great karmic evil and intense, fiery passions.”
by Shinran Shonin