Making Effort

and Pureland Buddhism in the Philippines

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A Basic Background on Jodo Shinshu Buddhism

Pureland Buddhism is a school of Mahayana Buddhism. It applies Jiri Rita which means by helping others, I help myself. In contrast, to the more traditional way of self-teaching, Gari-gari. It is widely practiced in Japan and is also an important school in China, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam.

The school of Pureland Buddhism that I practice is called Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. It was founded by Japanese Monk, Master Shinran and made to flourish by his disciple Rennyo.

It teaches that the ultimate purpose of life is to achieve Absolute Happiness that will never fail us even after death. This can be achieved thru Amida Buddha’s vow, which lifts the veil of ignorance or the dark mind and lets us gain a mind of light or Absolute Happiness. The way to achieving Amida Buddha’s vow is through these 3 things:

  1. Listening to Buddhism
  2. Chanting (is like a prayer venerating the teachings)
  3. Doing the 6 Good Deeds

At the core of these teachings is the Law of Cause and Effect, which essentially means, “Stop doing bad deeds and do good deeds.”

These are the foundations of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, as one studies more about it the depth of each, and more teachings will be discovered.

If you are interested to learn more about Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, we have regular Skype Live lectures. Alternatively, we also have a one-on-one study with a Buddhist teacher. This is great for people who are not comfortable listening with a group. Aside from that the teacher will pace this according to your availability and understanding so you can get the most from your study.

You can join or leave a message on these links if you  are interested:


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The Law of Cause and Effect 2 (CONDITION)

The Law of Cause and Effect is actually The Law of Cause, Condition and Effect (Read here first about The Law of Cause and Effect for its detailed discussion). It states that for every Cause (action or deed) – regardless of its nature, there will be a corresponding inescapable Effect (result), and that our Own Causes will only give us our Own Effects.

Good Fate/Destiny < Good Actions | Bad Fate/Destiny < Bad Actions | Own Fate/Destiny < Own Actions

The CONDITION is what happens in between the Cause and Effect. This cannot eliminate the Effect but only affect the manner it is manifested. So the complete chart will be like something below:

Law of Cause Condition Effect

Take for example the cherry blossoms, they blossom every spring but during winter you see nothing but withered-looking trees. The tree has that energy or ability (CAUSE) to produce flowers (EFFECT) but this depends on the weather (CONDITION).

In our lives, our parents and partners are examples of Conditions that brings out the Effect of a past Cause. Living as a cruel and violent person in the past may birth us into an unloving and poor family but there are many such families out there why were you born into that specific family?

CAUSE: Living as a cruel and violent person in the past
EFFECT: Born into an unloving and poor family
CONDITION: Your parents / family

You could have been born to different parents where the Bad Effect is worse. Maybe aside from being an unloving and poor family they also live in a country at war.

The Law of Cause (,Condition) and Effect is also called The Law of Karma. It is inescapable. No Condition will make us escape our Karma, it only affects the manner of its manifestation.

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The 8 Minds or 8 conciousness

These represent the levels of consciousness in humans. The first 5 minds are our senses. The first 7 minds are all temporary, when we die these die too. The 8th mind,our Alaya mind, remains even after we die. We are not a physical body alone. Our true mind, the Alaya mind, is our true self . Below is a description of each mind or consciousness.

  1. Visual Mind (Gen-Shiki)

Our ability to see

  1. Auditory Mind (Ni-Shiki)

Our ability to hear

  1. Olfactory Mind (Bi-shiki)

Our ability to smell

  1. Gustatory Mind (Zes-shiki)

Our ability to taste

  1. Tactile Mind (Shin-Shiki)

Our ability to feel

  1. Mental Mind (I-shiki)

Our ability to think or receive information from the other senses

  1. Attachment (Mana-Shiki)

This is our attachment to things, people, idea and so on. This is mine, I own this, I own that. This is the root of all evil

  1. Alaya Mind (Araya-Shiki)

The store house of our karmic energy or karmic seeds (these are colorless and formless), This is our true self, it is deep within. It is constantly changing because we are doing different interactions every day. This is a mind that does not die, it is eternal, transmigrating from past to present then continues to the future. It is the source of our lives, likened to a river that continuously flows and from time to time a bubble appears in the river – this bubble is our physical body. This bubble eventually disappears as the river flows just like how our physical body dies. The physical body is just an appearance for the Alaya mind. Alaya in Sanskrit means “storage” just like in ”HimALAYA” which means storehouse of snow

Is like a corpse, it doesn’t listen to the teachings of Buddhism. It is shrouded in darkness and loneliness with no one for company. This is the reason we feel lonely even if we are with a lot of people because the Alaya mind is always suffering alone. We have to make our Alaya mind listen and we do this by listening to Buddhism.

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The 3 Mirrors

When we think of mirrors only one thing comes into mind and that is that thing that reflects our image back to us. Mirrors in Buddhism serve the same function, it helps us see ourselves. In Buddhism there are 3 Mirrors that reflect ourselves, the Mirror of self, Mirror of Others and Mirror of Dharma. We will talk about each one below.

The 3 Mirrors in Buddhism

  1. Mirror of Others
    This is our reflected image in the eyes of others. This mirror does not reflect our true selves, it shows a distorted image of it. Why? Because we do things so others will approve of us. Because this is based on people’s biased evaluation of us, depending on how beneficial or convenient we are to them. So it’s futile to rejoice or get depressed over other people’s opinion of you because these opinions are mostly biased.
  2. Mirror of Self
    The Mirror of Self is self-reflection. While self-reflection is good as we mentioned that is it one of the 6 Good Deeds this kind of mirror tends to be biased too. This mind of conceit cannot see our shortcomings. It’s easy to see our good qualities but hard to accept our faults. Because of this it is impossible to see our true self through this mirror.7 kinds of Conceit

    1. Pride over inferiors . Looking down on someone in a lower position than me or someone who has lesser than me (school, job or society).

    2. Pride over equals. Finding something we are superior at or better at over people who are our equals.

    3. Stubborn pride. Even when we know we are in the wrong we still can’t admit it. In Buddhism we are encouraged to admit our mistakes immediately. “Don’t take pride in not making mistakes, but instead take pride in correcting mistakes immediately.” Every mistake is an opportunity to do better.

    4. Pride over superiors. Finding something we are better at over our superiors.

    5. Pride in thinking that one knows the truth, also known as Grandiose Pride. (Also pride in the belief of having attained enlightenment). One thinks that they are an enlightened being or they have a certain kind of wisdom, they are a spiritual leader, they are buddha. Conceit makes us deluded and self-righteous.

    6. Conceit in ones humility. Pride in ones humbleness. If we try to accept that we have failings, then we take pride that we are able to be humble. Even our humility is tainted with pride.

    7. Pride in the wrong. Pride in doing something bad. For example, a thief taking pride in their agility or someone who commits murder and take pride in their cruelty.

  3. Mirror of Dharma
    This is our image reflected in the eyes of the Buddha or the teachings of the Buddha. To seek Buddhism is to see the true image of yourself or to be aware of yourself.  It doesn’t distort anything and shows us everything exactly as it is. Buddhism goes beneath our tangible exterior and places our actions in 3 categories. Buddhism places emphasis on the actions of the mind because it is the source. Conceit is the hardest obstacle when seeking for the true nature of ourselves.


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The 3 Worlds and the 10 Directions

Before reading this please read: The Law of Cause and Effect

We have discussed about the Law of Cause and Effect and how it is the core of Buddhist teachings.  How is the Law of Effect related to the 3 Worlds and 10 Directions? Before we get to that let us first identify what are the 3 Worlds and the 10 Directions.

The 3 Worlds are:

  1. The Past
  2. The Present
  3. The Future

and the 10 Directions are:

  1. North
  2. South
  3. East
  4. West
  5. North East
  6. South East
  7. North West
  8. South West
  9. Up
  10. Down

We can say that the 3 Worlds means anytime and the 10 Directions means anywhere. The Law of Cause and Effect encompasses the 3 Worlds and the 10 Directions. It means the Law of Cause and Effect holds true anytime and anywhere.

We said that the Law of Cause and effect states that for every Cause there is corresponding Effect. Since the Law of Cause and Effect encompasses the 3 Worlds, a Cause (deeds or actions) we planted on the Past may manifest its Effect (result) not only in the Past, but also in the Present or Future.

Take for example a child born with handicap. It would make living more challenging. What did a newly born child do to deserve to be born in such a condition? Our birth is determined of how we are in our past life. By looking at the state of how we are born or the state of our current life, we can determine what seeds or deeds we planted in our past life. Same thing with the future, we can know how our future will play out by looking at the seeds we plant in this present life. Are we planting good seeds or bad?

The 10 Directions show that the Law of Cause and Effect applies to all places. No corner left out.

Always plant good seeds then you can have good results in the future. We can’t change the actions we did in our past but we can still do something with how our future will turn out.



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What is Buddhism?

Buddhism is a religion and a philosophy taught by Sakyamuni Buddha or Gautama Buddha in the 6th century B.C. (around 2,600 years ago). He left us with 7,000 sutras.

Today there are two major schools of Buddhism, the Theravada and the Mahayana. Despite the variety, these two schools still share the common elements of tradition, attitude, and core teachings of Buddhism. Like a deeply rooted tree that have developed branches.

Theravada, the oldest surviving form of Buddhism, is largely practiced in the Southern Asian countries of Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, and Thailand. This maybe the most orthodox school of Buddhism as it holds the earliest teachings of the Buddha. It places little or no emphasis to deities. The goal of its teachings is to achieve Nirvana or a state of bliss free from the bonds of the never ending cycle of rebirth.

Mahayana is practiced in different forms mostly in Japan, Korea, China and Tibet. We say different forms because Mahayana is not a single group but a variety of schools such as Zen, Pureland and Tibetan, to name a few. Several Mahayana schools honor a variety of Buddhas.

Siddharta Gautama (Sakyamuni Buddha’s real name) discovered truths through reasoning rather than divine revelation.He achieved enlightenment not by concerning himself with entities beyond our experience but by finding our purpose in life, which involves true happiness. Having lived a life of extravagance and a life of extreme asceticism, and still not finding true happiness, he concluded that there must be a middle path between these 2. From there the core teachings of Buddhism started. In a nutshell, Buddhism advises us to do things the right way, and that is we should do good deeds so we will reap good results.
“The kind of seed sown  will produce that kind of fruit.  Those who do good will reap good results.  Those who do evil will reap evil results.  If you carefully plant a good seed,  You will joyfully gather good fruit.”                                    
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The 7 Charities

A broomThe Japanese character for “person” (below) has the meaning that one person supports another to live.
Japanese Character for Person
Indeed we cannot live without other people. We all depend on one another, for business, relationships, family, and just living in general.
No man is an island, goes the saying.
For this reason, in Buddhism, the attitude of harmony is highly regarded. Without harmony there is conflict and it becomes difficult to accomplish a task.
With solidarity or harmony in our homes, work and social, greater happiness can be achieved.

How can we practice harmony? By doing the 7 Charities, for instance. They are:
1. Warm eyes
2. A smile
3. Kind words
4. Sincere gratitude
5. Physical labor/ volunteering
6. Yielding way
7. Share a meal and shelter

They are part of the 6 Good Deeds taught by Buddha to bring happiness to the giver and receiver.

Learn more about this topic and others in our meetings at Meetup