Month: September 2019

Vasubandhu – 2nd True Pure Land Master

Bodhisattva Vasubandhu

天 亲 菩 萨

Vasubandhu - artwork

In these beautiful verses from his Gatha of True Faith, Venerable Master Shinran, in expressing his deep gratitude to Bodhisattva Vasubandhu, quotes the essential teachings on the True Pure Land Way expounded by the 2nd great Lineage Teacher of Jodo Shinshu…

“Bodhisattva Vasubandhu, composing a treatise declared
That he himself took refuge in The Tathagata Of Unhindered Light.
In accordance with the sutras, he revealed the true and real  
And elucidated the Great Vow of Cross-wise Transcendence.

Through the power of His Primal Vow, Amida directs His merits
Manifesting the One-mind in order to save the multitudes of beings    
So when one takes refuge and enters the great treasure ocean of virtues 
Definitely, one obtains entry into Amida’s Great Assembly.

When one reaches that lotus-store world
One instantly realizes the body of suchness or dharma nature
Playing in the forest of blind passions, one uses transcendental powers
Entering the garden of birth and death one uses skillful means to guide others.”

Thus, the second teacher of the True Pure Land lineage, had strongly encouraged all mundane foolish persons (凡 夫, bombu), like ourselves, to entrust ourselves single-heartedly, in Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow, the Other Power that definitely saves us from samsara, the vicious cycle of relentless pain and suffering. Bodhisattva Vasubandhu clearly explains to us, through his wonderful Treatise on the Pure Land that, the moment when we are able take refuge without any doubt in Amida Buddha and His Primal Vow, our births in the Land of Happiness are instantly assured.

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Bodhisattva Vasubandhu was born in Peshawar (present day Pakistan) around the 4th to 5th century. Born into a Brahmin family, he first studied and seriously followed the Theravada Buddhist teachings. Later, inspired by his brother Asanga who was a well-versed, accomplished teacher and Master of the Buddha Dharma, he was soon converted to the Mahayana. Legend had it that, because he actually spoke ill of the Mahayana teachings earlier and had slandered it, Vasubandhu was extremely remorseful and wanted to cut off his own tongue. But Asanga admonished him to refrain from such foolish action and urged him to use his tongue, instead, to propagate widely the Mahayana Dharma.

Vasubandhu was famous for being the original propagator of the ‘Consciousness Only’ teachings, known as Yogacara, which asserts that all phenomena, whether physical or mental can ultimately be reduced to ( or attributable) to one basic consciousness called Alayavijnana (Storehouse consciousness). He meticulously analysed and explained this Alaya consciousness (also described as our 8th consciousness) in his voluminous treatise and how it influenced our senses and perceptions. He is therefore considered as the founder of the Yogacara School of Buddhism.

Noted by countless people through the ages, as the author of a thousand discourses on the Buddha Dharma, Bodhisattva Vasubandhu was an influential scholar, philosopher and Buddhist Master. Among his wonderful commentaries on the Sutras and works of other great Mahayana teachers, Vasubandhu’s major work – Commentary on the Treasury of Abhidharma (Abhidharma-kosa-bhasya) has been used as an encyclopedia  and important source of information on the Abhidharma of all Mahayana schools.

Vasubandhu’s wide range of discourses on the priceless treasury of Dharma teachings that include his treatises on karma and the five aggregates; his excellent commentaries on the Diamond Sutra, Lotus Sutra and other Sutras, certainly made him an important link to the sublime teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha. It is for this reason that many Mahayana sects today have actually traced their lineage to this prolific scholar, writer, debater and accomplished Buddhist Master.

However, Bodhisattva Vasubandu’s most prominent discourse that is of special interest to Master Shinran and passionately highlighted by him, is his Treatise on the Pure Land (淨 土 論 – Jodo Ron). This wonderful teaching was translated into Chinese by a monk named Bodhiruci in the 6th century. Written in verse, as well as in prose, this excellent treatise from Vasubandhu, presents 24 stanzas in the gatha section and also vividly describes the 29 Adornments (merits) of the Pure Land. This comprehensive text  is now looked upon by millions of Pure Land Buddhists as their primary authority and discourse focusing on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life Sutra (Larger Pure Land Sutra).

Because of his truthful realization and compelling emphasis on Amida’s Vow-power that absolutely gives ordinary foolish persons a chance to obtain liberation easily and quickly, Bodhisattva Vasubandhu was deeply revered by Master Shinran. Widely quoting Vasubandhu in his own writings, The Jodo Ron has therefore become an important canonical text of Jodo Shinshu.

The most interesting aspect of Vasubandhu’s own journey on the path toward enlightenment was that, despite being a strong proponent in many self-power Mahayana practices, he himself finally took the Pure Land path and was born in Amida’s Fulfilled Land. As quoted by Master Shinran, Bodhisattva Vasubandhu sincerely and openly states in his Treatise on the Pure Land:

“O World-honored one, with the mind that is single
I take refuge in the Tathagata of unhindered light
Filling the ten quarters
And aspire to be born in the land of happiness.

Relying on the sutras
In which the manifestation of true and real virtues is taught,
I compose a gatha of aspiration, a condensation,
That accords with the Buddha’s teaching.

Contemplating the power of the Buddha’s Primal Vow,
I see that no one who encounters it passes by in vain.
It quickly brings to fullness and perfection
The great treasure ocean of virtues.”

Thus, Vasubandhu clearly professed his single-hearted faith in the Tathagata of Unhindered Light. He honestly declared that, through the power of Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow, foolish persons like ourselves can easily attain enlightenment and be quickly freed from the painful torture of samsara.

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The True Pure Land Dharma specially taught by Bodhisattva Vasubandhu was the sole interest of Master Shinran, as it directly revealed the wonderful working of Amida Buddha’s Universal Vow of Boundless Compassion, made to effectively save ordinary foolish persons, like him (and us too) from the treacherous “ocean of samsara”. In his excellent Treatise on the Pure Land (淨 土 論 – Jodo Ron), Vasubandhu tells us that, the moment when we are able take refuge without any doubt in Amida Buddha and His Primal Vow, our births in the Land of Bliss are instantly assured. Our salvation is therefore, effectively made possible solely by the power of the Primal Vow, through which Amida’s infinite merits and virtues are transferred to us – firstly, for our going forth to the Pure Land at the end of our lives and secondly, for our subsequent return to this world (in seen or unseen ways), wonderfully possessed with innumerable skillful means to save others.

Knowing that this “Path of cross-wise transcendence” is the only appropriate path now available for badly defiled, ordinary foolish persons, constantly distracted and overwhelmed by greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance and doubt, Bodhisattva Vasubandhu, without any reservation, urged us to choose this wonderful path which he himself finally took.

The Primal Vow, is Amida Buddha’s absolute promise to save all miserable persons like ourselves who are incapable to perform any spiritual practice. Thus, abandoning all self-powered practices, and single-heartedly relying on this Vow of Great Compassion, is now, the only option available to us, if getting out of samsara at the end of this life, is indeed our goal. Persons with entrusting faith (Shinjin – 信 心) in the Primal Vow, are truly settled in their minds and hearts, knowing that their attainments of Buddhahood are guaranteed, while they are still living out this precious life in mortal flesh.

Entrusting Faith (Shinjin – 信 心) on our part – the persons to be saved – is the faith-mind consciousness that fully accept the Primal Vow without any doubt. It comes about with the awareness that we are evil beings who have been transmigrating from the beginningless past with absolutely no possibility of escape from this vicious cycle of relentless pain and suffering. Thus, we accept Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow that embraces us and that its Vow power absolutely guarantees our births in the Pure Land. We would then, Say the Buddha’s Name – (南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛 – Namo Amida Butsu) – in deep gratitude, for the rest of our fleeting lives and thus remembering, the inconceivable Compassion of the Buddha, for having saved, even spiritual idiots like us.

Stage of the Truely Settled (正 定 聚), also called the Stage of Non-retrogression (住 不 退 轉) – is a term originally used in the traditional Mahayana teachings to describe the stage of spiritual development in the Bodhisattvas’ paths to enlightenment, when these Bodhisattvas will never backslide in their attainments. Their arduous practices of vast merit gathering, flawless good deeds and extremely difficult disciplines on the Path of Sages, through countless billions of lives, have brought them up to the eighth stage (Sanskrit: bhumi) on a ten bhumi spiritual climb, before realizing Buddhahood. These Bodhisattvas on the 8th bhumi and above have attained the Stage of Non-retrogression – they belong to the Group of persons absolutely assured of advancing to Nirvana.

This Stage of Non-retrogression, which Vasubandhu ascertained, is also the same stage instantly received by us – foolish sentient beings with the lowest spiritual capacity – the very moment, here and now, when our Shinjin is truly settled. As we are now relying single-heartedly and fully on Amida Buddha’s Vow -power, we too are absolutely assured of advancing to Nirvana, without going through countless billions of lives, performing self-power, difficult practices, on the Bodhisattvas’ path.

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Ten Hymns on Bodhisattva Vasubandhu – composed by Master Shinran in profound reverence and gratitude to this great Jodo Shinshu teacher (based on his writings):

(From: Hyms on the Pure Land Masters – 1997 copy right Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha)

11…
Sakyamuni’s teachings are numerous,
But Bodhisattva Vasubandhu compassionately urges us,
Who are possessed of blind passions,
To take refuge in Amida’s universal Vow.

12…
The adornments of the Pure Land of peace
Are perceived only through the wisdom shared by Buddhas.
That land is infinite, like space,
Vast and without bounds.

13…
Of those who encounter the power of the Primal Vow,
Not one passes by in vain;
They are filled with the treasure ocean of virtues,
The defiled waters of their blind passions not separated from it.

14…
The sages of the Tathagata’s pure lotus
Are born transformed from the flower of perfect enlightenment;
Thus, the aspirations of sentient beings
Are swiftly and completely fulfilled there.

Pure lotus: the lotus appearing when Amida attained Buddhahood. The sentient beings who come to be born from this lotus are the same in practicing the nembutsu and follow no other way.

15…
The immovable sages, who were formerly humans and devas,
Are born from the ocean of wisdom, the universal Vow;
The virtues of their mental activity are pure
And free of discrimination, like empty space.

16…
Vasubandhu, author of the Treatise, took refuge
In the unhindered light with the mind that is single;
He teaches that by entrusting ourselves to the Vow’s power,
We will reach the fulfilled land.

17…
To take refuge, with the mind that is single,
In the Buddha of unhindered light filling the ten quarters
Is, in the words of Vasubandhu, author of the Treatise,
The mind that aspires to attain Buddhahood.

18…
The mind that aspires to attain Buddhahood
Is the mind to save all sentient beings;
The mind to save all sentient beings
Is true and real shinjin, which is Amida’s benefiting of others.

19..
Shinjin is the mind that is single;
The mind that is single is the diamond-like mind.
The diamond-like mind is the mind aspiring for enlightenment;
This mind is itself Other Power.

20…
On reaching the land of the Vow,
We immediately realize the supreme nirvana,
And thereupon we awaken great compassion.
All this is called Amida’s “directing of virtue.”

Land of the Vow: the land of Amida’s Primal Vow of compassion.

Here ends the Hymns on Bodhisattva Vasubandhu.

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Listening Deeply to the True Pure Land expositions of Master Shinran and the core teachings on Amida’s Vow-power, strongly emphasized by Bodhisattva Vasubandhu, may all foolish mundane persons like us, take heed of the benevolent advice of these truly accomplished teachers. Let us seize this precious opportunity and make full use of this extremely rare human birth before it quickly comes to the inevitable end.

Thus, abandoning all self-power meditative and non-meditative practices and entrusting our karmic destiny entirely to Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow, we have, without any doubt HEARD:

The Call of Boundless Compassion

The Buddha’s infinite merits and virtues
Are bestowed equally on all beings.
May all accept Amida’s Gift of Shinjin
And obtain birth in His Land of Peace and Bliss.

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

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True and Real Shinjin

The Faith-Mind of True Entrusting

真 實 信 心

Lotus Pond

In the chapter on Shinjin (信 心), Venerable Master Shinran passionately wrote in his wonderful magnum opus, the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho…

“As I reflect, I find that our receiving of Shinjin arises from the Vow-mind with which Amida Tathagata selected the Vow, and that the clarification of this True Mind has been skilfully taught to us through the compassion of The Great Sage, Shakyamuni.

But both monks and lay persons in this Dharma Ending Age and tradition teachers of these times are still floundering in the concepts of “self-nature” and “mind only”. Therefore, they disparage the True Realization of Enlightenment in The Pure Land Way. Being lost in the self-power attitude of meditative and non-meditative practices, they are confused and ignorant of the diamond-like True Shinjin.”

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True and Real Shinjin (真 實 信 心) is the Sincere Mind and Absolute Confidence of Amida Buddha that all the original Vows made by Him, trillions of years ago, to save every being from samsara – the vicious cycle of birth, suffering and death – would definitely be fulfilled accordingly as He promised. He had then, boldly made those forty-eight amazing Vows when He was performing extremely hard practices and disciplines as Bodhisattva Dharmakara, under the mentorship of Buddha Lokesvararaja. Out of deep reflections over an incredibly long period of contemplation and His great compassion for the various painful situations of suffering all beings had to endure, He had strongly pledged that each individual Vow – expressing His Compassionate Aspiration appropriate to the karmic condition of different sentient beings – would be fulfilled according to the wishes of those beings, as promised in that particular Vow.

Then, through the immensely arduous practices of moral conduct, generosity and meditational disciplines, endured over trillions of years, the Bodhisattva finally fulfilled all His Vows and thus, He became Amida Buddha. His Pure Land of Peace and Serene Sustenance, was wonderfully established for the sake of receiving all suffering beings who wish to be born there and it is here that Amida Buddha resides. Though not all beings in the innumerable worlds are saved at this moment, the fulfillment of His Vows and His Absolute Confidence (Shinjin – 信 心), ensured that all sentient beings will eventually be saved with their births in The Pure Land sooner or later, as they gradually come to fully entrust themselves in His Vow of Boundless Compassion.

Amongst Amida Buddha’s forty-eight Vows, the two most important Vows specifically identified by Venerable Master Shinran are the 17th Vow (The Vow that All Buddhas would Praise Amida’s Name) and the 18th Vow – Amida’s Primal Vow (The Vow of Sincere Mind, Joyful Entrusting and Saying the Name). These Vows have been exclusively selected by Master Shinran as the Vows specially made to save him and all sentient beings in this Dharma Ending Age when everyone of us, without exception, is heavily burdened by the five defilements of greed, hatred, ignorance, jealousy and arrogance – all drowning in the adverse environments in which we live, especially in this materialistic world badly consumed by our own intractable egos and constantly distracted by the adverse pollution of scientific knowledge.

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Amida’s Primal Vow (阿 彌 陀 佛 本 願) states:

“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.”

Thus, for those who single-heartedly and steadfastly take refuge in Amida Buddha, The Primal Vow is the highest Mahayana Teaching that promises the Salvation for every person, particularly for the ordinary masses – not just for the well-endowed, monks or the practising sages. Amida Buddha’s Pure Land way – the one and only path open to every person, under any karmic circumstances or environments – is a path totally free from obstacles.

Master Shinran says that the main reason for Shakyamuni Buddha’s appearance in this world is solely to preach The Primal Vow of Amida Buddha especially for the miserable, mundane foolish persons (凡 夫 , bombu), who are firmly caught in the net of samsara:

“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 evil Age of The Five Defilements
Should entrust themselves to the absolute true words of The Tathagata.”

Therefore, wretched, mundane foolish persons like us, should simply entrust ourselves to Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow without any doubt, gratefully Saying the Buddha’s Name and be freed from samsara forever, when this life ends. Total reliance on The Primal Vow is now the only viable way out of this crazy cycle of relentless painful existence. We should be realistic enough to know that besides receiving Shinjin in The Primal Vow,  we DO NOT have any other choice – if Buddhahood, the end of all suffering is indeed our aspiration and goal.

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Fulfillment of The Primal Vow (本 願 成 就) had already been fully accomplished when The Bodhisattva, after trillions of years of Sincere, True and Selfless difficult practices, brought this Vow to perfection and became Amida Buddha with His Pure Land wonderfully established ten kalpas ago, even though not all sentient beings have been born in The Pure Land yet. The enlightenment of all sentient beings like us had already been fulfilled at the hands of Amida Buddha who had accomplished all our aspirations and necessary attendant practices.

Therefore, The Primal Vow is always in an active mode, instantly fulfilled whenever any sentient being is karmically ready to joyfully accept the Shinjin of Amida Buddha without any doubt or apprehension.

Thus, the moment when we have ‘Listened Deeply’ to The Buddha Dharma and are able to ‘Hear’ without any doubt, the inconceivable fulfillment of The Primal Vow, Amida Buddha’s True and Real Shinjin is realized in us – we can then accept willingly, this precious gift of Shinjin freely given to us by Amida Buddha, Joyfully Entrusting ourselves and our karmic destiny completely to Amida Buddha and His Primal Vow.

Naturally, with this one-thought-moment of True Shinjin, we are truly settled – in our minds and hearts – and would Say the Buddha’s Name (Namo-Amida-Butsu, 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛), taking refuge in Amida Buddha, deeply thanking Him for having saved us. It is really inconceivable that wretched persons like us are enabled to receive and experience this salvation while still living in this world.

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Shinjin (信 心) of Other-Power, our entrusting faith-mind, that place complete reliance on the Primal Vow, is the core essential teaching of Venerable Master Shinran who had repeatedly expounded and clearly explained it in all his poems and writings. In the chapter on Shinjin (信 心), he passionately wrote this beautiful passage:

“Reverently contemplating Amida’s directing of virtue for our going forth, I find    there is Great Shinjin.
.. Great Shinjin is the superlative means for attaining longevity and deathlessness
.. It is the wondrous way to awaken aspiration for the pure and rejection of the defiled
.. It is the straightforward mind directed to us through the selected Vow
.. It is Shinjin that actualizes Amida’s profound and vast benefiting of others
.. It is true mind that is diamond-like and indestructible
.. It is pure Shinjin by which a person easily reaches the Pure Land where no one goes
.. It is the mind that is single, realized by the person who is grasped and protected by the compassionate light
.. It is Great Shinjin, rare and unsurpassed
.. It is the quick path difficult for people to accept
.. It is the true cause of attaining great Nirvana
.. It is the white path by which all virtues are fulfilled instantly
.. It is the ocean of Shinjin that is itself suchness or true reality.”

Again in his ‘Notes on the Essentials of Faith alone’, Master Shinran wrote:

….. Hearing the inconceivable selected Primal Vow and the holy Name of supreme wisdom without a single doubt is called true and real Shinjin; it is also called the diamond-like mind. When sentient beings realize this Shinjin, they attain the equal of perfect enlightenment and will ultimately attain the supreme enlightenment, being of the same stage as Maitreya, the future Buddha. That is, they become established in the stage of the truly settled. Hence Shinjin is like a diamond, never breaking, or degenerating, or becoming fragmented; thus, we speak of ‘diamond-like Shinjin.’ …..”

Another exposition by Master Shinran, concerning being equal to Maitreya, for persons who have truly settled Shinjin, is found in this wonderful passage in letter 14 written to one of his followers… (from Mattosho – Lamp for the Latter Ages):

“…Further, concerning being equal to Maitreya: Maitreya is of the stage equal to enlightenment; this is the causal stage of attainment. The moon becomes perfectly full on the fourteenth or fifteenth day, and this stage of Maitreya corresponds to the still half-formed moon on the eight or ninth day. This is like the practice of self-power. As for us, although we are foolish beings, Shinjin has been established and our stage is that of the truly settled. This is the causal stage of attainment, the stage equal to enlightenment. Maitreya’s way is self-power; ours is Other Power. Although there is this difference between self-power and Other Power, the causal stage of attainment is equal. Further, Maitreya’s attainment of the perfect enlightenment will be long in coming, but we shall reach nirvana quickly. He awaits the dawn 5,670,000,000 years hence, but we are as though separated by only a film of bamboo. Among gradual and sudden teachings, his is the sudden and ours is the sudden within the sudden.

Nirvana is the perfect enlightenment. T’an-luan’s Commentary tells of a tree called “great firmness.” This tree lies buried underground for one hundred years, but when it sends forth shoots, it grows one hundred yards a day. Just as the tree spends one hundred years underground, we abide in this Saha world in the stage of the truly settled. And just as it grows one hundred yards in a single day, such is our attainment of nirvana. This is a metaphor, revealing to us the form of Other Power. The growth of the pine, which does not exceed several inches each year, is very slow, showing us the form of self-power.

Further, concerning being equal to Tathagata: illuminated by the light of the Buddha, foolish beings possessed of blind passions attain Shinjin and rejoice. Because they attain Shinjin and rejoice, they abide in the stage of the truly settled. Shinjin is wisdom. This wisdom is the wisdom attained because we are grasped by the light of Other Power. The Buddha’s light is also wisdom. Thus we can say that the person of Shinjin and the Tathagata are the same. “Same” means that, in Shinjin, they are equals. The stage of joy signifies the stage in which people rejoice in Shinjin. Since a person rejoices in Shinjin, he or she is said to be the same as the Tathagata…”

Thus, True and Real Shinjin (真 實 信 心) on our part, is the faith-mind consciousness that we would naturally realize through the power of The Primal Vow. When Amida’s True and Real Mind of Shinjin reaches suffering beings who single-heartedly entrust themselves to The Primal Vow without any doubt, it is received by them, accepted and manifested as their ‘Entrusting Mind’ (信 心), the Shinjin (faith) of Other-power.

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The Entrusting Mind (信 心) is The True and Real Shinjin of Amida Buddha instantly bestowed on sentient beings who, having Listened Deeply (深 聞) to The Dharma of Amida Buddha, finally ‘Heard’ (聞) how The Primal Vow arose – its origin and fulfillment – are altogether free of doubt. As this Shinjin – our entrusting faith-mind – comes wholly from Amida Buddha, it is truly the decisive cause of our birth in The Pure Land. True Shinjin is unfailingly accompanied by Saying the Buddha’s Name (Namo-Amida-Butsu, 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛), which is selected and accomplished by Amida Buddha as the practical and easy medium of transferring His Infinite merits and virtue to suffering beings.

Therefore, a person’s Shinjin is “the mind that accepts The Primal Vow without doubt”. Regarding this Entrusting Mind (our faith-mind), Master Shinran states in his True Pure Land Teaching – Kyo Gyo Shin Sho:

“There are two aspects to this mind:

.. One is to believe deeply and decidedly that you are a foolish being of karmic evil caught in birth and death, ever sinking and ever wandering in transmigration from innumerable kalpas in the past, without a condition that would lead to emancipation.

.. The second is to believe deeply and decidedly that Amida Buddha’s Forty-eight Vows grasped sentient beings, and that allowing yourself to be carried by the power of the Vow without any doubt or apprehension, you will attain birth in the Pure Land.”

Thus, when we receive The Inconceivable Gift of Shinjin from Amida Buddha, our birth in His Pure Land is assured. The Entrusting Mind that places complete reliance on Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow without any doubt, is therefore, the karmic-consciousness of Shinjin that completes the required causes for our birth in The Pure Land. Both The Primal Vow and Nembutsu (念 佛) – that is Saying the Buddha’s Name with deep gratitude, are the vital objects of our entrusting mind.

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Nembutsu (念 佛) – Single-heartedly Saying the Buddha’s Name – is the essence of Joyful Entrusting (Shinjin – 信 心) embodied in The Primal Vow. It is the act of true settlement and our spontaneous expression of taking refuge/entrusting in Amida Buddha and the Primal Vow, deeply remembering the Boundless Compassion of the Buddha.

The Vow that All Buddhas Praise His Name (諸 佛 稱 名 願) – Amida’s 17th Vow – states:

“If, when I attain Buddhahood, the countless Buddhas throughout the worlds in the ten quarters should not all praise and Say My Name, May I not attain The Supreme Enlightenment.”

Thus, with the fulfillment of this Vow, Saying the Buddha’s Name (Namo-Amida-Butsu, 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛) with faith, is praised and fully supported by all Buddhas – whose main aim is to see that all suffering beings like us are effectively saved.

Although all Buddhas have their own realms or energetic spheres of influence, They know that Amida’s path of Salvation is the easiest for all beings. Therefore, They direct us to Amida Buddha and encourage us to Say the Buddha’s Name.

The Name of Amida Buddha is endowed with His perfect merits and virtues which are directed to us through the power of the Primal Vow. Gratefully Saying the Buddha’s Name, single-heartedly entrusting ourselves to Amida Buddha and the Primal Vow, therefore, guarantees our birth in The Pure Land at the end of this life.

The Larger Sutra states: “All sentient beings, as they hear The Name, realise even one thought-moment of Shinjin and joy, which is directed to them from Amida’s Sincere Mind, and aspiring to be born in that Land, they will attain birth and instantly dwell in the stage of non-retrogression.”

Thus, Saying the Buddha’s Name is the Great Practice contained in The Primal Vow – the Right Act and infinite virtue directed to us by Amida Buddha for our going forth to The Pure Land. The Nembutsu, directed to us from Amida Buddha’s Vow-mind, effectively breaks through all our ignorance and readily brings all our aspirations to fulfillment. It is not our self-power practice or good act. The Nembutsu (念 佛) is also not for the purpose of gaining merits or our prayer for material benefits.

With deep gratitude abiding in our hearts, we spontaneously and constantly say the Nembutsu (Namo-Amida-Butsu, Thank You Amida Buddha) – whether standing, walking, sitting, lying down, in times of happiness  or in sadness, in any circumstance or environment and living in the exhilarating embrace of Namo-Amida-Butsu – 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛 – till the end of our lives in this unsatisfactory physical existence.

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The Precious Gift of Shinjin, the entrusting faith-mind, is freely given by Amida Buddha to all persons whether good or evil, irrespective of gender, environment or social status. However, many people cannot put their trust in Amida Buddha or the Primal Vow because they doubt the Boundless Compassion of Amida Buddha and so unable to entrust themselves or their destiny entirely in Amida Buddha – they reject this gift of Shinjin. Though this is the ‘easy way’ out of samsara, it is also the most difficult of all difficulties for most people to accept, as they are heavily burdened by The Hindrance of Doubt.

Expressing beautifully in poetry, Master Shinran, through his deep reflections and passionate personal experience of Shinjin wrote…..

“Entrusting in Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow and Saying The Name
For arrogant sentient beings with perverted views
To accept and be blessed with Shinjin is difficult indeed
It is the most difficult of all difficulties that one could meet

Encouraging beings of the ten quarters with the words
“With Sincere mind Entrust yourselves and Aspire for birth”
Amida established The Vow beyond conceptual understanding
And made it the cause of birth in the True and Real Fulfilled Land.”

Only those with karmic links with Buddhas from the past – nurtured and ripened by Listening Deeply in this life – and those who realized their utter inability in performing meditative and non-meditative Buddhist practices, will come to entrust themselves and their karmic destiny fully in Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow.  Thus, putting aside all self-centred practices and disciplines, they spontaneously accept and receive this inconceivable gift of Shinjin.

On receiving Shinjin, we are ‘Embraced and Not Forsaken’ (攝取不捨) by Amida Buddha who instantly transfers His entire store of infinite karmic merit to us for our going forth to The Pure Land. Though we remain our foolish selves, filled with the same five defilements as other persons living in this Dharma Ending Age, we are Truly Settled in mind and heart. While still living in this world, we instantly belong to the Truly Settled Group, also called Rightly Established Group (正 定聚) of those whose birth in The Pure Land is Absolutely Assured.

People who receive Amida Buddha’s Gift of Shinjin ‘know’ that they have been embraced by the Light of Boundless Compassion and definitely assured of birth in The Pure Land. They ‘know’ that this is their last deluded existence in samsara and that they will become Buddhas at the end of their lives in mortal flesh.

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The Buddha’s infinite merits and virtues
Are bestowed equally on all beings.
May all accept Amida’s Gift of Shinjin
And obtain birth in His Land of Peace and Bliss.

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Persons of truly settled Shinjin have definitely Heard:

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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