I regretfully note that my blog has been idle for quite some time. This has certainly not been because I have nothing more to say on the subject of Jōdo Shinshū! Rather, if I were to offer an excuse, it would be that I have been very busy this past year finishing up my university studies. Now that those have been successfully completed, I am once more turning my attention to this blog.
I began writing and posting here almost four years ago as a means of sharing my personal thoughts while traveling on the Great Unhindered Path of the True Pure Land School (Jōdo Shinshū in Japanese). That purpose remains unchanged to this day, and will continue. In fact, there are a number of topics I would like to write about, and essays on these will be forthcoming. I especially wish in the future to use this space as a way of sharing my life experiences related to Buddhism in general, and Shin Buddhism in particular. Thus, I will be posting photos and reflections as I return to Japan this fall to meet with friends new and old and take part in various events while studying in Kyoto.
Of course, the primary intention is always to share the authentic teaching of Jōdo Shinshū in the form that I have been fortunate to receive it. To that end, I will in the coming months be posting several articles from Hōrai (Dharma Thunder) magazine that I have been translating. These are pieces written by the late Rev. Zuiken Inagaki, a beloved and esteemed preacher of Shinran Shōnin's teaching. Although I am hardly the person qualified to undertake such a monumental task, nevertheless I felt that if I do not attempt it, it will not be done.
The copies of Hōrai magazine, from which the excerpts will be drawn, I received as a surprise gift from my good friend Rev. Yuki Sugahara, formerly minister at the Buddhist Church of Florin in California, and now of Oregon Buddhist Temple. Knowing my zest for Zuiken's words, he presented me with over a decade’s worth of issues, each a veritable goldmine containing verses, sermons, essays, and more. Indeed, such is the extent of the Dharma-treasure here contained, that I was at a loss to know where to begin! In addition, I had previously been given two copies of Hōrai magazine by Mr. Inaba, a fellow traveler associated with Kōrinji Temple in Yokohama, to whom I introduced Zuiken Sensei's work while attending religious services there.
In order to repay my debt of gratitude for these wonderful gifts, I have decided to share Sensei’s words in English to the best of my limited ability. The task is a difficult one, as the Japanese employed is frequently antiquated or contains elements of regional dialect. The resulting translations will therefore necessarily be provisional, and it is to be hoped that they improve with time as my knowledge of the Japanese language grows. Fortunately, I have been helped in this endeavor by another good friend and Dharma-brother, Mr. Melvin Lim of Malaysia. A devoted student of Zuiken Sensei's thought, Melvin has long dedicated himself to the promotion of Sensei’s writings through his own blog "Diamondlike Shinjin" (www.diamondlikeshinjin.blogspot.com), to which I give my unreserved recommendation. In the present case, Melvin read my translated drafts and offered invaluable suggestions for their improvement. Of course, any errors of translation are entirely my own.
In conclusion, I would like to note that Zuiken Sensei's teaching is of special significance to me. When I was first starting out on the Pure Land path many years ago, Zuiken's writings were among the first I was fortunate to encounter. Through his joyful verses and clear and unambiguous expositions, Zuiken Sensei has been my good teacher and guide over the years. Indeed, I often feel that he has been at my side all along. In his uncompromising presentation of Shinshu teaching, Zuiken's intention is always to lead the hearer/reader into the all-powerful working of the Primal Vow that is absolute Other-Power—to hear the unconditional Call of Amida's Name, Namo Amida Butsu, and find true peace of mind (anjin) in His all-embracing Light. If someone happening upon this blog encounters the True Dharma through the words of Zuiken Sensei, thereby realizing the indestructible Mind of Joy, I could hope for nothing more.
Kyōkan G. Schlaefer