Month: October 2016

The Primal Vow

阿      陀      本   


The Primal Vow that embodies Saying the Name, is Amida Buddha’s absolute promise to all wretched sentient beings like ourselves, firmly caught in the net of samsara, the vicious cycle of birth, suffering and death. Those who come to realize and truthfully admit their utter inability to free themselves by struggling in vain with their own self-power efforts and practices, are assured of Salvation in this present life, the moment when they fully entrust themselves to the power of The Primal Vow…

If, When I attain Buddhahood
Sentient Beings of The Ten Quarters
With Sincere Mind, Joyfully entrusting themselves
Aspiring To Be Born in my Land
And Saying My Name perhaps even ten times
Should Not be born there
May I Not Attain The Supreme Enlightenment
Excluded Are Those Who Commit The Five Grave Offences
And Those Who Slander The Right Dharma.


Amida Buddha in His practising stage many, many billions of years ago – as Bodhisattva Dharmakara, under the guidance of Buddha Lokesvararaja – made forty-eight inconceivable Vows, out of great compassion for all suffering sentient beings. These Vows are made fully in accord with the varying karmic capacities and natures of beings – the main purpose is to free everyone, without exception – from the relentless and painful cycle of samsara. All these Vows have already been wonderfully fulfilled when the Bodhisattva attained Perfect Enlightenment ten kalpas ago as Amida Buddha and His Pure Land splendidly established, to receive all beings who wish to be born there in accordance with His Vows.

The Primal Vow – that is the 18th Vow – has caused countless mundane foolish persons (bombu 凡 夫), both good or evil, stupid or intelligent , male or female from different social status and environments – to be born directly into The Pure Land of Peace and Bliss and come to the end of all suffering, the beginning of Buddhahood. We should know that Amida Buddha has already accomplished our Pure Land birth through the power of The Primal Vow, by fulfilling for each of us our aspirations and their attendant practices – all ignorant sentient beings will realise this fact sooner or later when they are ready to receive Amida Buddha’s precious gift of Salvation.

By sincerely and joyfully entrusting ourselves single-mindedly to Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow, we have fully accepted  His Absolute Confidence in saving all beings – His inconceivable Faith-mind (Shinjin, 信 心). Thus, we have completed the cause of our Pure Land birth, here and now in this life. Spontaneously we would Say the Name (Nembutsu – Namo Amida Butsu 南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛) endowed with Amida Buddha’s infinite virtues which are instantly transferred to us for our birth in the Pure Land at the end of this painful existence in mortal flesh.


In the Gatha of True Faith (正 信 偈), Venerable Master Shinran passionately expresses in beautiful poetry, his direct experience on the Primal Vow:

The Primal Vow that embodies The Name bestows true settlement
This Vow of Sincerity and Joyful Entrusting is the cause of birth
We are brought to the stage equal to enlightenment and supreme Nirvana
And through the fulfillment of The Vow, we will surely attain Nirvana.

The reason for The Tathagata’s appearance in this world
Is solely to teach the ocean-like Primal Vow of Amida
The multitudes of beings in this Age of The Five Defilements
Should entrust themselves to the absolute true words of The Tathagata.


“Saved by the inconceivable working of Amida’s Vow, I shall realize birth in the Pure Land”: the moment you entrust yourself thus to the Vow, so that the mind set upon saying the Nembutsu arises within you, you are immediately brought to share in the benefit of being grasped by Amida, never to be abandoned.

Know that the Primal Vow of Amida makes no distinction between people young and old, good and evil; only Shinjin is essential. For it is the Vow to save the person whose karmic evil is deep and grave and whose blind passions abound.”

Thus, for those who entrust themselves to the Primal Vow, no good acts are required, because no good surpasses the Nembutsu. Nor need they despair of the evil they commit, for no evil can obstruct the working of Amida’s Primal Vow. – (Tannisho – Lamenting Divergences chapter 1).


We see that The Primal Vow is clearly Amida Buddha’s pledge to every sentient being. He had already attained Supreme Enlightenment and The Pure Land wonderfully established, although not all sentient beings would single-mindedly entrust themselves to this Vow of Boundless Compassion at this time. The enlightenment of all sentient beings had already been fulfilled at the hands of Amida Buddha. Therefore, The Primal Vow is constantly in an active mode, instantly fulfilled the moment sentient beings single-mindedly and fully accept Amida’s Shinjin.

Thus, Saying the Name fulfilled in The Primal Vow is the Great Practice and an active other-power cause of our birth in The Pure Land and attainment of Nirvana. It is not our good nor is it our self-power practice. With the one thought moment of True Entrusting (Shinjin, 信 心) in The Primal Vow, we Say the Name, deeply grateful to Amida Buddha for having saved us, particularly in this spiritually defiled Dharma Ending Age (末 法 時 代) when all persons are badly consumed by the evil passions of greed, hatred, ignorance, jealousy and arrogance.

If we seriously desire to be completely free from all pain and suffering at the end of this precious human life which gives us the right opportunity of encountering The Buddha Dharma, we should know that we Do Not have any other choice but to fully entrust our karmic destiny to Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow.


Let us Listen deeply and 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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True Buddha and Land


淨 土 真


Bodhisattva Dharmakara made the relevant Vows that established the True Pure Land of Peace and Bliss – the Vows of Immeasurable Light and Life….


Reverently contemplating the True Buddha and Land
I realized that the Buddha is the Tathagata of Inconceivable Light
And that the Land also is the Land of Immeasurable Light
Because they have naturally arisen
Through the fulfilment of Vows of Great Compassion
They are called True Fulfilled Buddha and Land.


The Larger Sutra on The Buddha of Immeasurable Life taught by Shakyamuni Buddha, is The True Teaching that tells us about a supremely resolute practitioner of the Buddha Dharma named Bodhisattva Dharmakara, who, under the guidance of Buddha Lokesvararaja billions of years ago, had awakened aspiration for the highest perfect Enlightenment. As instructed by the Buddha, Dharmakara strictly performed all the incredibly difficult practices and hard disciplines required for the establishment of a pure Buddha-land adorned with infinite excellent qualities and attributes, perfectly conducive for the Enlightenment of all its excellent residents.

Out of great compassion for all suffering sentient beings, He boldly made 48 inconceivable Vows, pledging to cause all persons – in accordance with their varied karmic propensities, natures and capabilities – to be born in a Buddha-land of Peace and Provision. His ultimate aspiration is to save them – especially those who are unable to save themselves by their own power – from samsara, the vicious cycle of birth, old age, suffering and death.


The Vow of Immeasurable Light (光 明 無 量 之 願) states: “If, when I attain Buddhahood, my light should be limited, unable to illuminate at least a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddha-lands, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”

In connection with this Vow of Light (Wisdom), Bodhisattva Dharmakara had earlier declared this aspiration before The Buddha:

Even though the Buddha-lands are as innumerable
As the sands of the Ganges
And other regions and worlds
Are also innumerable
My Light shall shine everywhere
Pervading all those Lands
Such being the result of my efforts
My glorious power shall be immeasurable.


The Vow of Immeasurable Life (壽 命 無 量 之 願) states: “If when I attain Buddhahood, my life-span should be limited, even to the extent of a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of kalpas, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”

In connection with this Vow of Life (Compassion), Bodhisattva Dharmakara had earlier declared this aspiration before The Buddha:

When I become a Buddha,
My Land shall be most exquisite
And its people wonderful and unexcelled
The seat of Enlightenment shall be supreme
My Land, being like Nirvana itself
Shall be beyond comparison
I take pity on living beings
And resolve to save them all.


Dharmakara’s Vow of Light (Wisdom) and His Vow of Life (Compassion) had been wonderfully fulfilled when the Bodhisattva attained Perfect Enlightenment ten kalpas ago and became Amida Buddha with His Pure Land exquisitely established. This “western Buddha-land of Peace and Bliss is located a hundred thousand kotis of lands away from here” and it is here that Amida Buddha dwells.

Thus, Amida Buddha is a True and Real Buddha and The Land of Immeasurable Light is a True and Real Buddha Land. Both had naturally arisen through the fulfilment of His Vows of great Compassion. The Larger Sutra describes in detail the glorious adornments and splendid attributes of Amida Buddha’s Pure Land – “In that Buddha-land, the earth is composed of seven jewels, namely, gold, silver, beryl, coral, amber, agate and ruby….”


Listening deeply ( 法) to the True Teaching taught in The Larger Sutra will certainly dispel the hindrance of doubt in our minds. We will not make the serious of error of saying that Amida Buddha is a myth and that The Pure Land is just in the mind.

These appalling wrong views, are often propagated by modern day scholars and teachers of Jodo Shinshu who try to mix the True Teachings with other Buddhist traditions like Zen. They just deny themselves together with their gullible listeners, the only viable escape route out of samsara.


Let us take heed of the benevolent advice of Master Shinran who repeatedly urged us throughout his expositions, to entrust ourselves single-mindedly and steadfastly to a True and Real Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow (His 18th Vow) which promises to deliver all mundane foolish persons (凡 夫, bombu) to the shore of Enlightenment. Therefore, our birth in Amida Buddha’s True and Real Land of Peace and Bliss at the end of this life, is absolutely assured.

Thus, Saying the Nembutsu (Namo Amida Butsu, 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛), we take refuge in a True and Real Buddha and His True and Real fulfilled Land, profoundly grateful to Amida Buddha for having saved us.

As we have now accepted Amida Buddha’s unconditional offer of the only viable escape route out of this painful world of delusion, we belong  to the rightly-established group of those whose birth in the world of Enlightenment is guaranteed.

Clearly and distinctly, we now HEAR:

The Call of Boundless Compassion

Namo Amida Butsu   南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛
Namo Amida Butsu   南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛
Namo Amida Butsu   南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛


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