Shin Buddhism: The Path of Gratitude
The Shin Buddhist way of life is the life of unending gratitude.
The Cleveland Buddhist Temple is a Mahāyāna Shin Buddhist temple. The Shin path is one of gratitude.
While other schools of Buddhism seek to “attain” or “realize” enlightenment, the Shin Buddhist path is one of simply listening and opening one’s heart to receiving it. The pursuit of enlightenment can become something like chasing after a mirage in the desert: You think you have arrived, only to find it has disappeared.
Trying to grasp at or attain enlightenment can be like trying to grab a snowflake that falls. Once you grab it, you have crushed it. But if you open your hand and allow the snow to gently fall into your hand, the snowflake becomes yours, without any effort in grasping.
Rather than pursuing enlightenment, we simply listen to the Dharma and receive it.
Shin Buddhism does not require any particular lifestyle. You don’t have to become a monk or nun or sit for hours in meditation. You can listen to the Dharma in your everyday life, no matter what you do or where you are.
Listening to the Dharma can mean listening to a Dharma talk or lecture, but it can also mean listening or talking to anyone. You never know who might be your teacher of the Dharma, if you have the ears and heart to listen. A taxi driver … a clerk in a store or, even your worst enemy can be your teacher.
The Buddha taught that we live lives characterized by difficulties. These difficulties result from our inability to see things as they are. Our preferences and prejudices influence how we see and engage the world; thus we create difficulties for ourselves and others.
The resolution of difficulties through cultivating a mind that sees things as they are is the Buddha Dharma.
The life of gratitude is the most powerful and dynamic life. In the West, we think gratitude and humility means being weak or passive, but gratitude is the true strength of life.
We think an oak tree is tall and firm, but in a strong wind, the oak tree breaks. A willow or bamboo, however, is soft and flexible, and can bend and not break in a strong wind. A humble person is truly strong, whereas a rigid, stubborn person is actually weak.
The Shin Buddhist way of life is the life of unending gratitude. The more one becomes grateful, the more one becomes humble. The more one becomes humble, the less one needs in life. The less one needs in life, the more one truly has.