Faith That Is Common For All

There are a series of advertisements that have caught my attention. The pictures display how people who are looking at the same thing might have a very different way of seeing it. In the passport picture, the ad suggests that people might see a passport as a means of getting away to places new and interesting (adventurous); another might see a passport as a meaningful and loving symbol of the country they are from (pride), while another might see it as meaning that they wonʼt be tied down to one place (elusive), they are free to move around.

In the picture of the city, some might see the metropolis as a wonderful symbol of modernization; others as something ugly, dirty and the source of all modern day problems; while someone else might see it as being a place for successful young people to inhabit.

In YOU WERE BORN FOR A REASON it says “We each perceive things differently according to our own situation. To a wealthy individual, the ticking of the clock may sound like a reminder to put his money safely in the bank, while to someone in debt, it may serve as a reminder that time is running out.”

Buddhism teaches about the self, or more specifically the true self. It teaches that we have a mind within us which is also known as our true self. This self has been traveling from the eternal past and, after we die, it moves into the future world. It keeps transmigrating like this, all the while collecting and storing our deeds in the form of karma. Because the deeds from person to person are unique, the results that they produce are also unique. Therefore we each become a sum of our past actions, that is from this life and from our countless lives before. It is these deeds that we have practiced that have made us who we are today, determining our sex, our country of birth, the parents we are born to, our talents and abilities and so on. Some people were born in favorable circumstances, others were not. It is not something that has come about by luck, or randomness. And because of our past deeds we each see the world in our own unique way. When we listen to a Buddhism lecture, we hear it from our own point of understanding. If there are one hundred people listening to a lecture, there will be one hundred different ways of understanding it. We each see the world through our own eyes based on what is in our true self. Certainly individuality is the way of the world.

But Buddhism also teaches something that is in common for all. This is Amidaʼs salvation. While the nature of this world is individuality, the nature of Amidaʼs Vow is commonality. Shinran described the salvation of the Vow as being the same for one and all. The salvation that Shinran got is the same salvation that all people will get.

This was the issue of the argument that Shinran had with his fellow disciples, whether or not the Shinjin (faith) of their master, Honen, was the same for him as it was for them. Shinran stated that his and Master Honenʼs was the same, and as a result of this stance he was reviled by his fellow disciples for being arrogant. But Honen ʼs words on the matter clarify the matter: “…because each person has different knowledge, his faith is likewise different. But other-power faith is the gift of Amida Buddha bestowed on all men” (REASON, page 181). The other disciples thought that Shinran was talking about Self power faith that is based on oneʼs lifeʼs experiences and learning. But Shinran, with his experience of salvation, was talking about the kind of faith that does not differ from one person to the next, throughout space and time. For this reason it is known as the purpose of not just this life, but of many lives.

Frank Costelloe, U.S.A

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #18 | 2012, Faith That Is Common For All

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