My writing ability is bad. I put off telling my conversion to Buddhism, but now respond to

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My writing ability is bad. I put off telling my conversion to Buddhism, but now respond to those who feel my experience will help others. To minimize rambling, I need a structure. The structure will be the Five Conditional Steps to Shinjin found in the Seiten on page 310. The first step is "The culmination of related past conditions and circumstances leading one to the Dharma". I was born in South Carolina, raised on a farm and isolated from the city kids and social interaction. I learned Southern attitudes and prejudices. While the South has a long way to go, it has improved greatly. It still beats Los Angeles hands down. In 1965 I left for college at the University of Hawaii. When I spoke the first question people asked was "Where are you from?". I answered, "Sow Care- oh-line-uh". The next question was "Are you prejudiced?". I was very far from home. Though I had many temples available in Hawaii to attend, I never did. The conditions/circumstances/causes were not ripe. The seed was sowed when I found a book about Indian Buddhism in the school library. I had rejected Christianity in high school and between the lines of Sanskrit in Coomaraswamy's book, I found a philosophy. The principles (like Four Noble Truths, Eightfold Noble Path) were more relavent to life as I experienced it. I soon found frustration in trying to live according to these ideas. My human failings seemed insurmountable. I knew the way, but had guilt when I could not walk it. I tried several disciplines after college, yoga, meditation, Silva Mind Control. All these things have value and did help me. For instance, after being dominated by jealousy for many years, I finally overcame it. Jealousy moved me to violence and contemplating murder (which my hunting background provided the skills and equipment). Perhaps I was just worn down and tired of fighting the jealousy, but one day I realized it was gone. Not like when you vow to go on a diet, and it lasts for a day. It just didn't happen anymore. This left a lot of room, time, and energy for further development. This was one passion out of 108 and took me ten years. When I moved to Sacramento, I came to the bazaar to get some sushi, a desire cultivated in Hawaii. I also was interested in the cultural events and the explanation of Buddhism. I decided to attend service. After service one day, a lady came up to me and said she was Molly Kimura and was glad to see a non-Japanese at service. She was leaving the next week for her first China Buddhist Cultural tour. She wondered if I would like to come over to see the slides of temples, relics, and places when she returned. I have always wanted to go to China, and of course was interested in Buddhism, so I said "Yes". As we parted, Molly turned and said "OH, by the way, I also do some Buddhist counseling". I now know this "by the way" was the whole purpose of her talking to me. When asked by yoga students, "How do I find the teacher right for me?", many masters reply, "Just continue your search, your teacher will find YOU." Educators say a person cannot learn until he is ready. I was now ready and my teacher had just found me. This is the second step to Shinjin, "A good teacher of the Dharma". I was skeptical, wondering "How much is this lady going to try and charge me for this counseling?" Next week I talked to Mieko and John Kono at adult Dharma class. I told Mieko about Molly and asked her if she charged. Mieko assured me that Molly was only concerned about helping people not charging them. (I have since given up trying to repay all the Dharma friends for their kindness and support. One lifetime is not enough and one human does not have the ability). I went to see the slides and made an appointment for counseling. Receiving "The light of Amida Buddha" is the third step. The weight of ones Karma determines the counseling process and individual reactions. The form of the reaction is not important. (I was humbled into this realization by Rev William Masuda after witnessing someone recite Nembutsu for almost 2 hours--he just asked me why I was impressed by the form instead of the source) During counseling with Molly one day, I felt the Light of Amida. I literally felt "light" or "floaty"--you know, like when you have just met the one person right for you. I realized the fourth step, "Faith or 'Shinjin'", as a gift from Amida. The fifth step, "Amidas name" or Na Mu A Mi Da Bu Tsu, often comes out spontaneously a direct link between you and Amida. Amida was gentle with me--it was all internal. I left feeling light. For the rest of the day and until I went to sleep that night, Na Mu A Mi Da Bu Tsu was in my head. Not like I was "Thinking " about it, it just came at various times. I would be watching TV and realize there was no comprehension because my head was filled with Nembutsu. Over and over, NAMUAMIDABUTSU NAMUAMIDABUTSUNAMUAMIDABUTSUNAMUAMIDABUTSUNAMUAMIDABUTSU. I could not consciously stop it for any length of time, nor did I want to because it brought a sense of meditative peace with it. This Nembutsu was different--it was not of my doing. It can't be scientifically proven, but I know it came from Amida. It wasn't "talking to myself" or "remembering" or any other psychological event. This was the experiential gift of Shinjin from Amida Buddha. This was the assurance of non-retrogression, the knowledge that though I must continue to live out my Karma, I am on the right path to the Pure Land. Jodoshinshu talks about benefits of Shinjin in this life. The biggest thing I notice in my life since conversion is the ability to step aside and see my true self. When I can see my true self, I don't create as much negative Karma as before. Shinjin doesn't turn you into a Buddha or Bodhisattva--you are still the same, yet you see it, and seeing it can stop negative participation in your Karma. For instance, when I start to get mad, the feeling still comes, but somewhere between the feeling and the action, I mentally "step aside" and say "Wow, just look at your human self--there you go again." In this mental pause, the action does not come. It is now interesting to watch my Karma unfold, in the knowledge that things are always as they must be. Things not only must be as they are, it is right. So now I continue to nurture my Shinjin at the various conferences, at Molly's monthly gathering for Dharma discussion (zadankai), and by reading with new insight. Most of the above is my experience, but what follows is taken from Christmas Humphreys and says in a different way what I have been trying to say: "Buddhist conversion is the dispersal of an illusion". It "is a turning"--"towards a light by which the darkness of the Unconscious is illuminated to a greater awareness. It is primarily concerned with a revelation of the more True than the more Good, with greater wisdom rather than with greater morality. Hence there is much, at the moment of conversion, of 'Now I see,' or 'Now the way is clear to me'; there is little if anything of 'Now I will abandon the sins of the flesh and develop the nobler virtues'." "...it is a reorientation of the whole man to a new purpose from a new point of view. The same things are seen but henceforth they are seen differently. The cause of the change is the release of a new force in the mind, and the release only comes when pressure has been deliberately built up to a point where something must give way." "'Everyone carries a shadow, says Dr Jung,..So long as it is repressed and isolated the 'shadow' is liable to burst forth in moments of unawareness, to the embarassment of the mind concerned and the bewilderment of his friends." Unaware of his true self, "..the individual projects the contents of his mind onto outside forces, people, and things." Awareness is realizing .."all that we are is the result of what we have thought, and no man is to blame for what we are, or think, or feel, or do, but we ourselves who made us so."The moment of conversion may be in truth a series of movements which are the culmination of a long process of interior growth. The effect may be sudden, yet the cause may be the effect of a long period of effort." "The conversion may come at any age...But whenever it comes it is indeed a second birth..there is an awareness of expansion, of serenity, of certainty as to the Goal and the way to it." We must sometime "choose between bliss and the service of our fellow man. Why? The answer is clear. 'Now bend thy head and listen well O Bodhisattva--Compassion speaks and saith: "Can there be bliss when all that lives must suffer: Shalt thou be saved and hear the whole world cry?'"

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