By Paul Roberts

IF YOU HAVE A PERSONAL INTEREST in the teachings of Shinran known as Shin Buddhism or Jodo Shinshu you need to know about Professor Eiken Kobai.

Why? Because he is a Shin Buddhist scholar that I can recommend without reservation as a TRUE TEACHER of Shinran’s teaching.

You might ask: Is the input of a TRUE TEACHER that important to the transmission of SHINJIN the state of TRUE ENTRUSTING that leads to rebirth in the Pure Land at the end of this life as a Buddha and the end of suffering at last?

No, it’s CRITICAL.

That was the opinion of Rennyo, known as “Rennyo the Restorer,” because he restored Shinran’s teaching to a Shin Buddhist community that had lost its way.

Here’s what Rennyo said:

Pertaining to the conditions existent towards the realization of rebirth, I (Rennyo) shall establish the Five Conditional Steps here:

  1. The culmination of related past conditions and circumstances leading one to the Dharma.
  2. A “Good teacher of the Dharma.”
  3. The Light of Amida Buddha.
  4. Faith ”Shinjin.”
  5. Amida’s Name.

It appears to me that without the presence of ALL the conditions of these five steps, one will NEVER obtain rebirth.

Therefore, a “Good Teacher of the Dharma” is a bearer of the message, “Place you reliance on Amida Buddha!”

If conditions materialize where there is a culmination of related past conditions and circumstances without the meeting of a “Good Teacher of the Dharma,” rebirth will not be realized.

Why does Rennyo insist that a GOOD TEACHER is one of the five critical components? Because in Shin Buddhism, there is no practice except for listening deeply. Therefore the CONTENT of what is being taught is critical, in order for rebirth to be realized, just as Rennyo says.

So if you’re SERIOUS about Shin Buddhism, don’t be naive about ANY teacher or teaching just because it’s LABELED as Shin Buddhism. Line it up against what Shakyamuni and Shinran say in THEIR teaching.

The story of how I found Professor Kobai’s teaching, and the man himself, is a perfect illustration of why a GOOD TEACHER is one of Rennyo’s five critical conditions in teaching Shinran’s teaching about Amida Buddha’s salvation.