The Shin Buddhist way of life is
the life of unending gratitude.
The Path of Gratitude and Humility
Cleveland Buddhist Temple was founded in the Jodo Shinshu, or Shin, Buddhist tradition. Jodo Shinshu is the path of gratitude and humility. 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 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 sermon 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 bartender … 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 true strength of life
The life of humility is the most powerful and dynamic life. In the West, we think humility means being weak or passive, but humility 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 life of others’ sacrifices
When we begin to look at life from the perspective of a recipient, then everything in life is a gift—what we know, what we own, what we have achieved. They are all in a sense gifts, because nothing can be accomplished on one’s own. A successful businessman is successful because of his customers, because of his employees, because of others who taught him business knowledge. An Olympic gold medalist accomplishes an amazing athletic feat that would not have been possible without her coaches and teammates, family and supporters.
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.