Master Shinran would say – and I would say as well – that there is not a single one. But for so many people who have some sort of practice – some sort of Buddhism or Hinduism or Taoism or New Age religion – this is very, very hard to accept. It is difficult (as Master Shinran says) to even hear this teaching -But for so many people who have some sort of practice – some sort ofBuddhism, Zen/Tibetan, Taoism or New Age religion this is very, very hard to accept. This because of religious conceit, or even because people wish to see themselves as superior.
It is difficult to meet true teachers,
And difficult to instruct.
It is difficult to hear the teaching well,
And more difficult to accept it.
In his analysis, Shinran Shonin divides all of Mahayana into two types of teaching. One is sudden attainment, and the other is gradual attainment. In discussing the Mahayana of sudden attainment, he says that there are again two types of teaching and two kinds of transcendence. He classifies these teachings as “True and Real.” The REAL teachings are, he says, the teaching of the Path of Sages; the path of difficult practice. Shinran Shonin includes the teachings of Zen, Shingon, Tendai, Kegon, and other schools in this category. The True AND Real teaching is that of easy practice. It is the teaching of the Primal Vow of the Pure Land way. He calls it, “the teaching of the Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life.”
Shinran continues with his discussion on gradual attainment. Here again he speaks of two kinds of teachings and two kinds of departure. The two teachings are the accommodated teaching of the path of difficult practice, and the other is the path of easy practice; the essential gate of the Pure Land way, or the Meditation Sutra. Two kinds of departure are also described as being lengthwise or crosswise. The lengthwise dimension refers to realization or Enlightenment, and the crosswise dimension refers mind of doubt, which is a temporary “Border Land” within the Pure Land. .
The point is, that with some of yesterdays and today’s indulgences in metaphysics, magic, and trends, people still think they are a spiritual path. People believe they are enlightened already. Many wish for many things and even elevate themselves as guru’s. People are not very humble in there approach to religion. People want fireworks. Spiritual arrogance, and the ego of those who think they know it all.
As this author has experienced what Shinran has experienced, I see the artificiality of those who try to push a different Path, even when someone is satisfied with their own path.
From the superiority of meditation cults, to hippy trippy belief systems, these people think they are there already. The path of Sages and magical chants, those seeking more than what is there. It is only when our own resources are completely exhausted, when our conceit, arrogance and pride are thoroughly depleted, that we can extend our entrusting hand to the saving light. It is only when we are stripped of every illusion and see ourselves as nothing, that our consciousness is able to recognize the Primal Vow and its full significance for the first time. When we find ourselves at this critical juncture, we can either fall prey to the abyss of doubt or raise our crestfallen gazes to the possibility of true and enduring emancipation.