When it comes to religion, there are two types of rational minds: those who believe that faith is all smoke and mirrors, and those who, though rejecting that which is miraculous or supposition, see in the teachings of prophets, saints and other holy figures, incomparably valuable kernels of truth.

Believers in an afterlife hold that the only mechanism for admittance into paradise is faith. And the transmission of doctrine is the basis of the religious mission. The three authors of this book contend that between the swaddling clothes of birth and the cerements of death, there is a higher purpose, if we could but identify it. That purpose, according to the teacher Shinran, is to “destroy the root of suffering and gain joy in being alive, so that we can “rejoice at having been born human and live on in eternal happiness.”

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