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how to trust in amida

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    • #2474

      when i chant the nembutsu or keep amida in mind a true sense of peace washes over me. but beyond these moments when i do not remember my connection with the buddha i am constantly second guessing my practice and faith. it is especially hard for me right now as i am in the midst of a depressive episode.

      a buddhist group which helped me begin my buddhist practice has recently become critical of pure land sect and it is disheartening. they criticize its reliance on amida as a savior and say it is unconducive to the self.

      on the one hand gautama buddha espoused that we alone save ourselves and walk the path. but he also stated that all buddhas revere amida and amida’s power is unsurpassed. i also wonder if the mahayana foundations are questionable.

      i used to consider myself an atheist as a young teenager. now i am opening up to the possibility of more. i do believe there is something larger than sentient beings can comprehend. i am very fond of the trikaya philosophy.

      i have problems with self-hatred and self-reliance. i do not trust myself and depend a lot upon others…. i do not have the means to conduct a general buddhist practice. meditation is miserable during depressive episodes. but chanting the nembutsu gives me great relief.

      i have purchased several buddhist books, most of them now pure land specific, such as Come As You Are from amida shu. i also have the 3 pure land sutras, the lotus sutra, the dhammapada, and another book which i ironically cannot find right now but is my favorite. i do not remember the title or author, it is printed in both japanese and english and reads like a mix of the 3 PL, lotus sutra, and dhammapada. it is very poetic and romantic which are things i am drawn to and easy for me to understand. as for the actual sutras themselves, i find it difficult to read them and understand their meaning, especially as how it fits today in modern circumstances, in my own life

      i have been frustrated lately…the deeper i want to delve into pure land the more resistance i come up against from myself. i have felt like giving up on my practice altogether. i do not want to, but i feel like i am just too self critical to believe that i can be saved by amida. it sounds like a dream come true, to know something out there cares about me and accepts me ispo facto regardless of how i view myself… but i am not a good fit for “pragmatic buddhism” either.

      how do we revitalize our faith in times of doubt and sorrow? how can we learn to trust in amida when we do not trust ourselves?

    • #2476

      Hi Xavier,

      I see you have found the 30 days course, which is great. In terms of the Buddha’s teaching, if you study the Pali Cannon you can discover the roots of Pureland Buddhism there.

      For example, the Buddha was very clear that the first step on the path was refuge – which is nembutsu. His disciples took refuge in a living Buddha – Shakyamuni. We take refuge in Amida. In lists of virtues you find in the Pali cannon, faith is often listed first.  Before the Buddha died the instructions that he gave to lay people were to go to the places of his relics, and keep him in mind. Buddhists have been circumambulating stupas reciting the Buddha’s name or his epithets since the early days of Buddhism. We do the same but with the name of Amida Buddha.

      In terms of faith – it’s normal to feel disconnected sometimes. Amida’s presence is not conditioned by our feeling towards him. Amida is always present, whether we can feel that in our hearts or not. Like the sun behind the clouds, it’s easy to forget the sun is always there, but it is our practice to remember. The most basic principle is to say the nembutsu and trust, or experiment with trusting, that this is true.

      We are foolish beings, and invariably will go through phases of doubt. When are filled with faith we may find that it is easier to keep the precepts connect with others and so on, but the Buddha loves us whatever condition we are in.

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