Month: July 2016

Karmic-consciousness of Shinjin

 Original Text in The KYOGYOSHINSHO – 信 心 業 識

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What does Master Shinran say about our Karmic-consciousness of Shinjin and our good karma from the past….
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Truly we know, that without the virtuous Name, our compassionate father, we would lack the direct cause of birth. Without the Light, our compassionate mother, we would stand apart from the indirect cause of birth. Although direct and indirect causes may come together, if the karmic-consciousness of Shinjin is lacking, one will not reach the Land of Light.

The karmic-consciousness of True and Real Shinjin is the inner cause. The Name and Light – our father and mother are the outer cause. When the inner and outer causes are united, one realizes the True Body in The Fulfilled Land.

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Master Shinran’s deep self-reflection and personal experience of the Inconceivable gift of True Entrusting, Shinjin ( 信 心) in Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow (阿 彌 陀 佛 本 願), are wonderfully expressed through his large treasury of beautiful and direct expositions written in profound gratitude to Amida Buddha for His Boundless Compassion and grace that have saved him from samsara, “the ocean of suffering”. Knowing that the karmic-consciousness of Shinjin (信 心 業 識) is the inner cause required for our birth in Amida’s Pure Land, he tells us that it arises through our repeated exposure – in our past lives as well as in this life – to the Buddha Dharma and particularly to the true Dharma on Amida Buddha taught in The Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life.

Comparing what Shakyamuni Buddha had spoken about on our precious human birth, the  causes necessary for birth – fertile father , fertile mother and the appropriate karmic-consciousness of the being to be born – must be present and united for birth to take place in this human realm. However, the incomparable difference is this – while the karmic-consciousness of a sentient being leads that being to be born in an unenlightened, defiled realm of perpetual suffering within samsara – the karmic-consciouness of Shinjin leads one to be born in Amida’s Enlightened Pure Land of Nirvana.

The above classical writing clearly reveals to us, that the good karmic connections with the Buddha Dharma from our past must be present, accumulated and ripened to that instant – that one-thought-moment (一 念)  – when they would spontaneously trigger off this extremely rare karmic-consciousness of True Entrusting (信 心) and naturally allows us to know at that moment, without any doubt, the presence of Amida Buddha and His Primal Vow which embodies His Name.

The Shinjin (信 心) of Amida Buddha, His Absolute Confidence in saving all sentient beings, is the ever-present Light of Great Compassion bestowed on all suffering beings a long time ago. It is immediately received and accepted by those of us who truly entrust our karmic destiny entirely to Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow. Saying The Name (Namo Amida Butsu   南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛), we take refuge in Amida Buddha, grateful to Him for having saved us. We immediately belong to the Rightly Assured Assembly (正 定 聚) of those whose birth in Amida’s Pure Land is absolutely guaranteed at the end of this painful existence in mortal flesh.

Thus, with the active outer cause of Amida’s virtuous Name and Compassionate Light, this karmic–consciousness of Shinjin (信 心), the inner cause, when spontaneously activated in our ordinary lives, completes the required causes for  our birth in The Pure Land. True and Real Shinjin is necessarily accompanied by Saying the Name. However, Saying the Name is not always accompanied by Shinjin which comes from the power of the Primal Vow. Shinjin is the essence of the True Pure Land Way and all that is required for us to be born in the Land of Happiness at the end of our lives.

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The importance of good karma from the past, accumulated through our repeated exposure to The Buddha Dharma in countless lives, is also strongly emphasized in the following verses found in The Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life:

Without a stock of goodness from the past
One cannot HEAR this Sutra
But those who had observed the precepts
Can HEAR the Right Dharma.

One who had met a World-honored One in the past
Can accept this teaching
Such a person respectfully worships, HEARS
And upholds it, and rejoices so greatly as to dance

Arrogant, corrupt and indolent people
Find it hard to accept this teaching
But those who had met Buddhas in their past lives
Rejoice to HEAR it.

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This diamond-like Shinjin is single-minded, unwavering, not mixed with any self-powered practices, entirely free from doubt and naturally rely on the inconceivable working of The Primal Vow which embodies the Name (Namo-Amida-Butsu  南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛) endowed with infinite virtues. Mundane foolish persons (凡 夫 – bombu) in this Dharma Ending Age , who aspire to be forever freed from pain and suffering at the end of this life, have no other choice but to fully rely on Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow.

Master Shinran earnestly tells us to leave all non-Buddhist paths, which are FALSE teachings that definitely and firmly keep us in samsara and to put aside all other Buddhist paths which are just provisional teachings which cannot free us from suffering in this Dharma Ending Age.  This precious human existence has given us an extremely rare opportunity – after countless billions of dreadful transmigrations in samsara – to extricate ourselves from the endless cycle of pain and suffering.

He sincerely exhorts us, the multitudes of foolish beings drowning in the ocean of suffering – those who have good karma from the past, realizing that we are incapable of saving ourselves by our own self-power – to seize this rare opportunity of coming into Amida’s presence by Listening Deeply (深 聞) to Amida Buddha’s  Dharma of Salvation. Hear, receive and accept The Inconceivable Gift of Shinjin from Amida Buddha and Say the virtuous Name for as long as we live in this unsatisfactory world.

May all who are brought here due the ripening of good karma from the past, listen deeply to the wonderful teachings of Master Shinran and not to squander away their precious human birth. Single-mindedly take the easy Path of True and Real Shinjin in The Primal Vow of Amida Buddha without any distraction whatsoever from self-power practices. Put your karmic destiny entirely in the hands of Amida Buddha, clearly  and definitely HEAR:

The Call of Boundless Compassion

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

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Footprints of JodoShinshu

ESHINNOSATO MUSEUM             恵 信 尼 里 記 念 館

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Facing the majestic range of snow-covered Mount Myoko in Niigata Prefecture Japan, stands the splendid Eshinnosato Museum. Located 5 km from the small town of Arai and reachable by taxi, our visit on 1st April 2016 became the highlight of our recent tour of Japan.

The enormous contribution by Eshinni-ko (1182-1270) – Shinran Shonin’s wife – has often been overlooked by JodoShinshu followers. She had been a devoted wife and a constant support for Master Shinran in all his Dharma activities and after the passing of our benevolent teacher, encouraged their daughter Kakushinni in preserving, propagating and transmitting his incomparable True Pure Land teachings to the world in its original form – in order that mundane foolish persons like us today – could learn the only viable Way of extricating ourselves from the relentless cycle of pain and suffering of samsara.

Through a series of letters – the original of which are exhibited at the museum, together with paintings depicting the living and teaching scenes of her life with Master Shinran – they give us that ineffable feeling about a great woman who is behind the revealing of Amida Buddha’s gift of salvation to all suffering beings like us. It is no wonder that Master Shinran had regarded and treated her as a manifestation of Avalokitesvara.

The Eshinnosato Museum is not a shrine or temple but a wonderful place – rightfully and clearly commemorating the immense veneration of fellow travellers to Amida Buddha’s Pure Land – for a wonderful woman whom many, including myself, considered as the Mother of JodoShinshu.

This memorable trip of karmic connection with Eshinni-ko is certainly a great blessing from Amida Buddha and a teaching for us to deeply hear The Call of Boundless Compassion.

NAMO AMIDA BUTSU   南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛

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SAKAI BRANCH OF HONGWANJI TEMPLE      堺 市 本 願 寺

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On 4th April 2016, we took a pleasant morning stroll around the city of Sakai in Osaka and as we pass by many Buddhist temples of different Mahayana traditions in the area, we were touched by the rich culture and strong influence of Buddhism in Japan. Our visit to Sakai City was not planned but it certainly gave us an amazing surprise when we walked up to the main gate of Sakai Branch of Hongwanji Temple.

Originally constructed at this site by Rennyo Shonin, the great restorer of the wonderful teachings of Jodo Shinshu, the temple was burnt down by a disastrous fire in 1798 leaving only the main gate and a historic bell. The present Hondo (the main prayer hall) built in 1825 is the largest wooden building in Sakai City. In order to promote Buddhism amongst the rising traders and manufacturers developing steady trade through Ming China, Master Rennyo founded this beautiful temple which became the centre dispensing the precious teachings of Master Shinran in Sakai.

On entering the historic main gate marked by a pillar inscribing Master Rennyo’s name, we were presented the standing sculptures of Master Shinran on the right and Master Rennyo on the left, beautifully adorned by cherry blossoms in full bloom. This is really a rare sight for us as we have not seen the beautiful statues of these great teachers together in front of a great teaching hall. We were overwhelmed by the compassionate energy of Master Rennyo in bringing the real benefits to the common people during his time. The Hondo, Shinsho Hall (信 證 殿 – Hall of True Entrusting and Realization) appropriately named after the original temple Shinsho-in (信 證 院), is a magnificent yet serene prayer and teaching hall with the image of Amida Tathagata at the centre of worship.

Our visit to Sakai Hongwanji Temple by chance must have been the ripening of our good karma from the past which allowed us to continue hearing the Call of Boundless Compassion.

NAMO AMIDA BUTSU   南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛

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