My Winding Path to JodoShinshu
淨 土 真 宗 行
Under the cherry blossoms…..
Transporting active memories through my mind’s eye
Pensively, I witness the unfolding of nature,
In this fleeting, impermanent but wonderfully miraculous life
Exhibiting clearly both suffering and pain, joy and pleasure.
There is really no difference between myself and others
And for everyone regardless of status, race or age,
Endless struggle for achievements and gains is what matters
While we carelessly act on life’s transient stage.
How extremely foolish and ignorant am I
Still so attached to these fleeting apparitions,
Like trying to grasp at the clouds floating by
In order to increase my wealth and possessions.
But then, how else can I possibly live
In this stressful materialistic society,
Even when someone speaks about her religious belief
It is rarely away from gains, benefits or money.
Even good persons with strong religious faiths are struck by misfortunes
Suffering from traumatic accidents, diseases and calamities,
While many non-religious evil persons enjoy good fortunes
Through cheating, manipulation, theft, and immoral activities.
Greatly intrigued by the inequalities most have endured
I often thought about the character of the Creator,
Why some are made healthy, rich, talented and well-endowed
While others are born sickly, deformed, stupid and poor.
The usual answer is that God’s activities are incomprehensible
So be thankful for what you have and just praise Him,
Even learned people have agreed that He is not answerable
Therefore, stop asking questions lest you may upset Him.
Seeking for truth, I turned to the Bible with fervour
Strongly encouraged by a warm-hearted sincere friend,
The fraternity was wonderful with a nice church atmosphere
But not favoured by God my two-year lessons soon came to an end.
Other strong sincere believers in God, I too met with reverence
Conducting their lives with little difference in deed,
But in them I could sense a clear class arrogance
While they firmly project themselves as a special creed.
God is also faithfully worshipped by many other beliefs
Benefitting and guiding those with such affinity,
To them He is Love that brings benefits and reliefs
As for myself, He has left me thoroughly confused and empty.
If I preach Love and display a praiseworthy intention
But eternally condemn to hell those who failed to please,
My conditional love is egoistic and certainly lacks compassion
So, I am not different from the common man or beast.
Again, I pondered my fragile existence deeply
The common dilemma shared by everyone far and near,
Through tainted perceptions each one views differently
Only a few could see vaguely, others totally unclear.
If God is that good living force we possess within
Producing all the good things, love, joy and happiness,
Then, to personify Him as a jealous and revengeful being
Is extremely disrespectful and really frivolous.
These thoughts constantly invaded an insecure, curious mind
Asking why we are born in this world to live, suffer and die,
But keenly aware that our rare intelligence is extremely hard to find
I should not let this precious human existence just slip by.
By chance I stumbled clumsily into a Buddhist lecture
And was caught listening to a Sri-Lankan speaker,
The monk’s speech on the topic of Rebirth was forceful and sure
Arousing the curious imagination of a pathetic thinker.
Condescendingly, I hurled at him many smart queries
Egoistically expecting no satisfactory answers in reply,
But the monk was on his toes returning the volleys
Tearing me mentally to shreds, my ideas went dry.
I was rudely shocked and amazed to discover a new dimension
Hidden in what I thought was legendary folklore,
A so-called religion I considered mere superstition
Fragments of which I heard my mother mentioned before.
A lifetime study may help to understand the basic tenets
Like impermanence, interdependence, cause and effect,
Buddhism covers everything in this world and all the countless planets
Encompassing all our scientific knowledge within a speck.
I also learned that the imaginative God is merely a factor
In an inconceivable cyclical series without beginning or end,
Great ego and pride however, marked the created Creator
Whose past good deeds had propelled Him to His heaven.
Buddhism is an analytical and sublime education
For eradicating the ego that caused our suffering,
It certainly demands a humble attitude and concentration
Qualities often spoken about but usually lacking.
The intellectual aspect of the Buddha Dharma is indeed appealing
But it also feeds the knowledge ego with no benefit,
As this is the same habitual ego that I am eradicating
Discovering a practical method for me is no easy feat.
Habitual tendencies from countless lives shaped this existence
Naturally creating that powerful demon from infinite time,
Only a skillful method from the Buddha’s immense treasury has relevance
To awaken this foolish and stubborn being in this lifetime.
Like a wise physician, The Buddha prescribed appropriate cures
Out of compassion for the boundless suffering multitude,
Skillfully peeling off the strong impediments that obscures
The root of our sicknesses, that craving egocentric attitude.
As our mental and physical conditions carried from the past greatly differ
Some spiritual medicines are only meant to relief,
Others worked immediately but the symptoms still linger
While the use of poison against poison is quick and brief.
However, miracle cures are widely advertised and attractive
So many seek for them and shunned proper treatments,
These temporary cures offer quick solutions and are sometimes effective
Naturally drawing in the crowds with deep-rooted ignorance.
The quacks and the Gods eventually caused more harm
Though some are actually kind with good intentions,
At times, I too felt disillusioned with an undesirable qualm
And desperately thought of seeking their help without reflections.
For fifteen years, I followed the path meant for monks and sages
Who left their homes in search of enlightenment,
The practices prescribed were arduous and effective in stages
As methods of meditation are coupled with non-attachment.
Realizing I had been following unsuitable, difficult practices
I switched to those that are meant for the householder,
But doing meritorious deeds and emulating past masters
Were still beyond my evil mind and hypocritical nature.
During those years I wondered aimlessly without any direction
Contented with feeding the ego with tainted merit gathering,
While pretending to be well-versed without a solid foundation
I treated Buddhism as an interesting subject good for debating.
Serving the temple and monks without attachment or conditions
Is indeed an excellent practice taught for the laity,
However, when results were seen not up to my expectations
My evil mind was again disturbed and poisoned with anxiety.
The sutras described the great sacrifices of Bodhisattvas
Accomplished practicers returning to this world to help beings,
Delaying their enlightenment to alleviate the suffering of others
They showed me a selfless path amongst material things.
Outwardly, I appeared able to perform good deeds and actions
And follow the Bodhisattvas’ path towards Buddhahood,
But inwardly my mind was badly poisoned with many reservations
And honestly incapable to carry out the smallest good.
Then a marvelous Tibetan Lama appeared at this juncture
And imparted to me wonderful teachings from his skillful treasury,
As head of an unbroken lineage, he was an accomplished teacher
Whose moral conduct, wisdom and compassion were exemplary.
I stayed at the foothills of the Himalayas with great enthusiasm
Receiving from my guru profound teachings which were unique,
Fathoming for the first time the sublime implications of Buddhism
Since I heard my maiden Buddhist lecture at the Polytechnic.
Devoting much time strongly committed to practices and meditations
I thought it was easy to awaken that spiritual eye,
Unaware that those were difficult practices taught to superior persons
I made no real progress while another twelve years had gone by.
However, the fascinating stories of holy sages who gained liberation
Through the same mysterious practices that I had received,
Kept me struggling along for many years without the slightest realisation
That only those with superior circumstances had achieved.
The pride of building a Tibetan styled temple with a thousand audience
Strongly crushed by the agony of disappointments and loss of confidence,
It was really unthinkable to leave my beloved guru and dharma friends
With immense guilt in my mind, burning in pain and utter confusion.
For a period, I was badly besieged with traumatic failures
Shattering my hardened ego and I was painfully disillusioned,
My unsettled mind was raging uncontrolled like wild fires
I was completely lost and ironically hoped that God had beckoned.
Like an extremely sick man who had taken the wrong medicine
My suffering was indeed severe and facially quite apparent,
Finding a solution to remain sane and realistic was my only concern
I could not accept the advice that I should be repentant.
The sub-conscious ego-centric nature so deeply embedded in me
Persistently searched for exciting means beyond my circumstance,
And totally blind to this, I certainly failed to see
The wisdom of the Enlightened Ones and their presence.
Such was the confused fate of a pretentious practitioner
Who had for countless lifetimes hardened that evil passion,
And whose proper place will naturally be Hell for sure,
Unless an Enlightened One grasps him out of compassion.
I may waste this precious and unrepeatable human life
Hanging on precariously before it comes to the unavoidable end,
With impure thoughts driving that chronic strife
My self-power efforts and contrivance will surely be in vain.
Recalling a past accomplished Master’s advice on excellent gateways
For beings in this Dharma Ending Age seeking ultimate salvation
Those who firmly aspire to be permanently free from suffering always
Should practice according to their own capacities to receive emancipation.
With a confused unsettled mind, disillusioned, lost and uneasy
After thirty years trying strenuously to find the Light of Dharma,
Then in 1994, I abandoned all practices seeking solace in Kyoto City
Under the cherry blossoms, past causes suddenly ripened my good karma.
While reflecting deeply on the Buddha’s compassionate intention
I recalled the wonderful Pure Land teachings of Venerable Shinran,
Writing in Classical Chinese about the work of Boundless Compassion
As I prostrate saying NamoAmituoFo at the Temple of Hongwan.
Inconceivable Gift of Entrusting Faith, True and Real
Mysteriously ignited this blind and ignorant being with joyful insight,
Knowing that Amida Buddha’s Great Vow had been wonderfully fulfilled
With the warm and exhilarating embrace of Unhindered Light.
This one-thought moment of Joyful Entrusting in His Primal Vow
Is the Shinjin of Amida Buddha bestowed on me alone, a wretched person,
And though it is the easy Path of Salvation here and now
It is the most difficult of all difficulties, the knowledge of true settlement.
Completing the cause of birth in the Land of Serene Sustenance
I am unconcerned about the weight of my defilements and evil karma,
Discarding completely all sundry practices and disciplines
Single-mindedly,I take refuge in The Compassionate Vow of Amida Buddha.
I still remained an ignorant, ordinary human being with evil passions
Yet constantly protected by the Light of Boundless Compassion
Basking in the working of His Universal Vow and untiring presence
Gratefully I say NamoAmituoFo accepting the unfolding of karmic conditions.
Looking back on those years since receiving Amida’s diamond-like Shinjin
Knowing without any doubt this is my last deluded life in Samsara,
I am truly thankful to The Compassionate Ones and their skillful means
For leading me out of difficult self-power into the arms of Amida Buddha.
I am greatly indebted to my compassionate Teacher Master Shinran
For teaching and transmitting the pristine Amida Dharma,
His wonderful discourses on Teaching, Practice, Faith and Realisation
Elucidate the true purpose of the appearance of Shakyamuni Buddha.
Words cannot express my profound gratitude for his benevolence
In clearing all my doubts and entrusting in the Absolute Confidence of Amida.
All I can do is to Listen Deeply to his excellent, incomparable teachings
And sharing the same with anyone interested in the True Pure Land Dharma.
NAMO AMIDA BUTSU 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛
NAMO AMIDA BUTSU 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛
NAMO AMIDA BUTSU 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛
Completed in Singapore on 13th August 2013 …..by Heng
HOME PAGE – The Call Of Boundless Compassion
page 2 – The Primal Vow