Hi - I hope you continue in your path. As has been said on here and other places, there are many Dharma Gates. If you don't experience "perfect faith" or Shinjin, don't fret too much over it. If your karma has ripened, Shin teaches that eventually Shinjin will come. If not, keep on the Amida path, as Shin also teaches that the path itself even without receiving Shinjin will provide birth into an "adjacent" or "suburb" of the Pure Land. All is not lost if you don't receive Shinjin. But you may do so later on. And if you don't, you're still "bound for the promised land". Maybe you could just cast your karmic destiny onto Amida's shoulders as an act of hope and faith without expecting an immediate experience of Other Power...?Wayfarer wrote: ↑Sun Sep 22, 2019 1:14 amHi everyone - I have not been participating here for some time, but this thread has drawn my attention.
Since May this year I have been attending a Sunday service at Hongwanji Buddhist Mission which is Jodo Shinsu. I have read a little of the texts, including a primer on Shin from John Paraskevopoulos. The sangha here is very small, often there is only one other person apart from myself, and also the Venerable's family members who attend part of the service. The teacher is Ven. Watanabe who always gives a profound Dharma talk and also leads the service and chanting. I have developed deep affection and respect for Ven. Watanabe.
Myself, I am still wrestling with doubts. I can't follow most of the sutra chanting as it's in Japanese and even with the Roman script transliteration I often can't keep up. Part of the service is in Japanese, although Venerable also makes sure that part of the service is in English for the benefit of English speakers. But one of the doubts I am feeling is whether I can really 'click' with jodo shinshu. I get the idea of other power, but I don't feel as though it has really taken root yet - I hear what Steveb is saying, and can even imagine it, but I don't feel it at this point. But I am putting those doubts to one side - I'm not dismissing them, but simply continuing to turn up anyway.
I have also been committed to daily meditation practice, although in my case, being a working householder with no Zen sangha, it is very much a 'self-power' affair, i.e. persuading myself to get up early enough to sit zazen before work. It's very patchy, my discipline is highly erratic. But reading those comments about abandoning self-power is causing me to have doubts about this practice too!
The other element of the OP that interested me was the comments about C S Lewis. Most of my family are more or less active Christians, in fact as I write this, my wife, son, his wife, and baby son are all at Church. Myself, I am not drawn to Christian services or ceremonies, but I'm not atheist. I would like to live in a world where the different faith traditions are different facets of higher truth, not mutually exclusive competitors. There are various cross-cultural Buddhist-Christian dialogue movements (like Zen Catholicism) which I feel are very congenial to my outlook. Some of these cultural archetypes are very deeply established in the psyche, it is not always up to oneself to change or alter them.
Personally, I find the framework of Mahāyāna understanding to be superior to the Christian, but I also feel very uncomfortable criticizing Christianity, as it's under siege in the Western world and quite often the alternative turns out to be nihilism, materialism and dissolving into meaninglessness. Besides the aspect of Christian teaching on 'boundless love' seems very like 'Amida's boundless compassion' to me, although it's not something I would try and persuade either party to agree with.
Anyway, it is Sunday morning where I am, and am about to set off for the regular service and incense offering. I hope that I can really align and break through with this teaching that I am learning of.
Shin eschews meditation as a means of achieving Bodhi, but allows it for it as a"secular" means of centering, mindfulness, calmness, insight and other such virtues, so if your meditation brings you those gifts, more power to you.
I agree that with the collapse of mainstream Christianity, inroads of "modernity", materialism, reductionism and secularism have invaded even traditional religions...and as you say, nihilism frequently rush in to fill the gap.
My own stance toward Christianity is that of Christ Myth theory. I doubt that Jesus existed as a historical person. However, I suspect that Buddhist cosmology has room for many spiritual "Helping Beings", and for all I know, the celestial, non-historical Jesus of Paul might be such a being. It's only the historical-Gospel Jesus whose existence I doubt.
You probably avoid criticising Christianity out of respect for your Christian friends and family. I try to avoid such conversations when possible and only "talk Shin" when people are curious about it. One can't really promote Shin or other Buddhist expressions to monotheists because there is no single high creator deity in Buddhism, and "Creation" is a perpetual, ever-changing set of conditions called "samsara". Immediately, therefore, there is an abyss between Buddhism and theistic religions that can't be bridged, although ecumenism does have the advantages and disadvantages of sharing differing views in a civilized manner.
Thank you for contributing your experiences and views to this thread.