Vol XLIX, No 12       December 2003

Sacrifice, Devotion, Allegiance, Proselytization, Practice?

The first four terms are not terms often heard in Buddhism, and for Jodoshinshu, not even the last. The
idea of sacrificing oneself or things for the Buddha or Buddhism hardly exists, and Buddhist martyrdom is
almost a contradiction in terms. Devotion too, is weak inasmuch as the object of Buddhism is awakening to
reality and not devotion to a creator of that reality. Allegiances and loyalties are a Samurai thing, and not
something particularly conducive to awakening. Shinran Shonin chose honesty over loyalty. A religious search
knows no bounds or limits, is not limited to a particular teacher, time or place. As for proselytizing, Buddhists
traditionally talk only when asked to, with forced conversion looked upon as a negative act with negative
consequences. Even unasked for Buddhist preaching, however polite and enthusiastic, seems at best, oddly out
of place, and at best “pushy’ and in bad taste.
As for practice, most Buddhists, especially European-American Buddhists, will ask “What is your
practice”? They mean of course, “What meditative practice do you do?”. Do you sit, do you chant, do you
study under a teacher, etc. etc. In other words, what do you do to cultivate awakening? For Jodoshinshu people
it is not so simple, inasmuch as our ego continually and incessantly interferes with this cultivation. Our practice
then is non-practice – the seeing of our efforts to clarity and connection as ego-driven. And that seeing is
energized by acts in our everyday life. The seeing is visited upon us when our ego-practice is seen and let go of
or made to let go. Self-Power is ego-power, Other-Power is Reality-Power. Ego-Power is in the aggressive
tense, Other-Power is in the passive tense. When Self-Power is experienced and let go, in that short moment,
what is left is reality itself, indescribable, formless, inconceivable, enjoyable, connected to everything, problemless,
nothing needing resolution, “Truths in its Heaven, alls right with the world”.


Rev. Mas