Author: Heng

I have been a serious Buddhist, a disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha for 50 years. Practicing self-powered disciplines not in accord with my lowest of the low capacity, I was a false disciple until 25 years ago when I found the teachings Master Shinran who truly made me a true disciple the Buddha as I am now able to follow His teaching fully in accordance with my minuscule spiritual capacity. I am writing this blog in deep gratitude to The World-honored Ones for having saved me from the painful cycle of samsara. Namo Amida Bu Heng (Oct. 2015)

Shan Tao – 5th True Pure Land Master

Master Shan Tao

善 导 大 师

Shan Tao (Final) - artwork

These beautiful verses, from the Gatha of True Faith, were composed by our Venerable Master Shinran with deep reverence and gratitude to Master Shan Tao. They precisely capture the essential teachings carefully expounded by this great Lineage Teacher of the True Pure Land School…

“Shan Tao alone understood the Buddha’s true intent
Pitying meditative and non-meditative practicers and people of grave evil
He revealed that Amida’s Light and Name are the cause and condition of birth
When they enter the wisdom ocean of The Primal Vow.

Followers would certainly receive the diamond-like mind
When the one-thought moment of joy and gratitude arises
Like Vaidehi they would similarly acquire the three insights
And instantly realize the eternal bliss of Dharma Nature.”

Thus, this 5th Lineage Master of Jodo-Shinshu (宗), clearly understood the true intent for Shakyamuni Buddha’s appearance in this world. He emphasized that, in this degenerated age when people are overwhelmed by deep-rooted mental and physical defilements, only Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow could save us from samsara – the vicious cycle of birth, suffering and death.

Arising from his unique interpretation of the ‘Meditation Sutra on Infinite Life’  (觀 經) and his deep personal realization, Master Shan Tao clearly proves that, through sincere Faith (信 心 – Shinjin) and the great practice of exclusively Saying the Buddha’s Name (念 佛 – Nembutsu), all ordinary foolish persons would definitely be born in The Land of Peace and Bliss at the end of their mortal lives. This is made possible solely by the inconceivable fulfillment and power of the Primal Vow.

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Master Shan Tao (613 – 681), was born in China, Shantung Province, during the Sui Dynasty. He became a monk at a very young age under the tutelage of Ven. Ming Sheng and among the various teachings he received, he was a very serious scholar of the Avatamsaka and Vimilakriti Sutras. At the age of 20, he took up full ordination and monastic precepts from Master Miao Kai. Searching for a practice that would be in accord with his aptitude, he found the ‘Meditation Sutra on Infinite Life’ (經), in his preceptor’s library. Filled with ecstatic joy, he diligently practiced the 16 meditations taught in the Sutra and attained deep one-pointed Samadhi, clearly perceiving Amida’s Pure Land with its glorious adornments, as if they were right in front of his eyes.

Master Shan Tao’s faith in the True Pure Land Path was fully settled when all his doubts were cleared on a visit to Master Tao Cho, a senior accomplished teacher who was very well-known for his marvellous expositions and practices on the True Pure Land Path at that time. Seriously taking the advice of Master Tao Cho, he abandoned the first 13 meditations in the Meditation Sutra and concentrated solely on the practices that were rooted in Amida’s Primal Vow. He stayed on and received many precious instructions from his compassionate teacher, till the day when the elderly Master went forth to the Pure Land at the age of 84.  Master Shan Tao was only 33 years old then.

As his understanding of the Pure Land Path deepened through further studies, rigorous practices and deep personal realization, Master Shan Tao concluded that, with sincere Faith and Saying the Buddha’s Name (念 佛 – Nembutsu), mundane foolish persons filled with blind passions, would definitely be saved by the power of the Great Compassionate Vow of Amida Buddha. He was an extremely fervent practitioner himself, taking refuge and constantly Saying the Buddha’s Name, adoring Amida and praising His infinite virtues, always in profound gratitude, mindful of the Buddha’s Boundless Compassion.

From the clear expositions in his ‘Gate of Contemplation and Saying the Buddha’s Name’  (觀 念 法 門 – Kannen Bomon), ‘Praise for Birth in the Pure Land’ (往 生 禮 讚 – Ojo Raisan) and other wonderful writings, Master Shan Tao earnestly exhorts us to abandon completely, all double-minded, meditative and non-meditative practices. In rejecting such sundry practices, he tells us that not one in a thousand could attain birth in the Pure Land through such unsettled practices. On the other hand, the one mind of sincere Faith, that is expressed by ordinary foolish persons in single-heartedly Saying the Buddha’s Name, however, absolutely assures every aspirant, birth in the Pure Land.

Prior to Master Shan Tao, teachings on Amida’s Pure Land were mostly part of or mixed with the other schools, such as Tiantai, Chan or Vajrayana. These excellent Mahayana teachings strongly demand the extremely strict self disciplines and keeping of moral precepts together with the rigorous practices of concentration and wisdom, from persons of the highest spiritual grade on The Path of Sages. They are totally beyond the miniscule capabilities of ordinary foolish persons (凡 夫 – bombu), in this badly tainted Dharma Ending Age (末 法 時 代 – Mappo), in which every one is deeply inundated by the uncontrollable afflictions of greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, doubt , etc.

Because of his vast and wide dissemination of the Pure Land teachings throughout China, Master Shan Tao had produced the greatest impact on the society then. Those who listened to him and followed the Path of Nembutsu, had numbered in hundreds of thousands, with a huge number of people even abandoning the householder’s life. Emperor Gao Zhong of the Ming Dynasty revered him deeply and bestowed the name Kuang Ming (Wisdom Light) to his temple. Therefore, he was well-known as the Master of Kuang Ming Temple (寺).

Master Shan Tao was a contemporary of the famous monk Xuan Zhang, who had brought back large volumes of Buddhist scriptures from India, after a miraculous journey of more than ten thousand miles through the wilderness. He stayed for long periods of time at Xuan Zhang’s Ci En Temple where Buddhist Sutras and Commentaries written in Sanskrit were translated into Chinese. Master Shan Tao had himself, during his lifetime, hand copied more than 100,000 copies of the Amitabha Sutra and over 300 exquisite paintings of the Pure Land, which were presented to his followers and other Buddhist temples.

Today, almost all the Chinese Pure Land schools have considered Master Shan Tao as one of their Founding Masters. In recent years, a new Pure Land group called ‘The Pure Land School of Shan Tao Tradition’ has made its appearance in some countries. For Jodo Shinshu, he has been deeply revered as their 5th Lineage Teacher.

On the 14th March 681 at the age of 69, Master Shan Tao left his mortal self and returned to the Pure Land. He has left behind a wonderful legacy, passing down to fortunate persons like us, the precious Nembutsu teaching – the sole lamp lighting the Path of Salvation in this Dharma Ending Age of spiritual darkness.

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The True Pure Land Dharma specially taught by Master Shan Tao was the sole interest of Master Shinran, as it directly revealed the wonderful working of Amida Buddha’s Universal Vow of Boundless Compassion. The teaching of Master Shan Tao, essential to Jodo Shinshu, is highlighted by Master Shinran – that mundane foolish persons who are overwhelmed by stubborn blind passions and possessed with the lowest spiritual aptitude – should rely entirely on Amida’s Primal Vow for their Salvation. Master Shan Tao, in taking pity on the multitudes of these lowly gifted, hopeless persons, exhorts every one to abandon all meditative and non-meditative practices which are definitely not in accord with their pathetic spiritual capacities.

In his wonderful expositions on the Pure Land teachings, Master Shan Tao recommends that aspirants perform the 5 right practices – reciting Sutras, contemplating Amida and His Pure Land, worshipping Amida, Saying the Buddha’s Name and praising Amida.  Yet, he repeatedly urges hopeless, wretched persons (凡 夫 – bombu), like ourselves, to put all our attention single-mindedly, on the central or main practice of Saying the Buddha’s Name (念 佛 – Nembutsu) which is the Right act of assurance that guarantees our birth in the Pure Land. He asserts that, Saying the Buddha’s Name with faith and deep gratitude to Amida Buddha, is the only path free from obstacles, as it comes directly from Amida Buddha’s Vow-power.

Thus, the moment when we are able to entrust ourselves single-heartedly in the Primal Vow, Amida Buddha’s infinite merits and virtues are transferred to us for our going forth to the Pure Land. Master Shan Tao carefully explains in his marvellous expositions, that the Path of the Pure Land is now, the only appropriate path suitable for the badly defiled, ordinary foolish persons with strong intractable egos, in this Dharma Ending Age. Without any reservation, he compassionately urges us to exclusively follow the Path of Faith and Nembutsu, specially created by Amida Buddha, for spiritual idiots like us.

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 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 firmly 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, pathetic persons 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, deep meditations 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, is 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 will not backslide into samsara ever again and 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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Twenty six Hymns on Master Shan Tao composed by Master Shinran in profound reverence and gratitude to this 5th Lineage Teacher (based on his writings):

(From: Hymns on the Pure Land Masters – 1997 copyright Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha)

62
Manifested from the ocean-like great mind
Was Master Shan-tao;
For the sake of beings of this defiled world in the latter age,
He called on the Buddhas of the ten quarters to bear witness to his teaching.

His teaching: his Commentary on the Contemplation Sutra.

63
Shan-tao appeared in the world in succeeding ages,
Manifesting himself as Fa-chao and Shao-k’ang,
And by revealing the treasury of virtues,
He fulfilled the Buddhas’ fundamental intent.

Treasury of virtues: He refers to the Name as the “treasury of virtues,” for all roots of good have been gathered in it.

64
If women did not entrust themselves to Amida’s Name and Vow,
They would never become free of the five obstructions,
Even though they passed through myriads of kalpas;
How, then, would their existence as women be transformed?

65
Shakyamuni, revealing the “essential” gate
To lead people of meditative and non-meditative practices
And provisionally teaching the right and sundry practices,
Wholly urges us to perform the saying of the Name alone.

Right and sundry practices: the five right practices and the five sundry practices. The five right practices [focusing on Amida Buddha] are: 1) worship, 2) recitation of the sutras, 3) contemplation, 4) saying the Name, and 5) praise and making offerings. When it is said that there are six right practices, praise and making offerings are listed separately.

66
Performing auxiliary and right practices together is “mixed praxis”;
Since those who endeavour in this way
Have not attained the mind that is single,
They lack the heart that responds in gratitude to the Buddha’s benevolence.

l.1: Practices focused solely on Amida Buddha are called the “right practices”; practices focused on other Buddhas and other good acts are “sundry practices.” The four or the five right practices other than saying the Name are auxiliary practices. Solely and single-heartedly practicing the saying of the Name is “wholehearted single praxis.”

67
Practicers who pray for worldly benefits,
Although they may perform chiefly the saying of the Buddha’s Name,
Are also termed people of mixed praxis;
In rejecting such practice, it is taught that not one in a thousand attains birth.

Not one in a thousand: Master Hui-kuan’s commentary states not one in ten thousand.

68
Although their meanings are not the same,
Sundry practices and mixed praxis are alike;
Acts which are not the practice that leads to the Pure Land
Are all termed sundry practices.

Sundry practices and mixed praxis: Sundry practices are all the various practices; mixed praxis refers to performing the auxiliary acts while praying for benefits of this world.

69
Master Shan-tao, calling the Buddhas to bear witness,
Led us to overturn the two minds of meditative and non-meditative practices;
Presenting the parable of the two rivers of greed and anger,
He ensured the safeguarding of the shinjin of the universal Vow.

Calling the Buddhas to bear witness: Shan-tao addressed the Buddhas of the ten quarters, praying to them to become witnesses to his composition of a commentary on the Contemplation Sutra.
Greed: to desire a woman, to desire a man.
Anger: to be wrathful and enraged.
Safeguarding (shugo): shu means, for example, becoming the ruler of a country and protecting it; go means gathering all together and protecting, though not becoming the country’s ruler.

70
Even when the time of extinction of the sutras has come,
Foolish beings, by encountering the true teaching of the universal Vow –
The exposition of which was the fundamental intent of the Tathagata’s appearance in the world –
Will think on Amida and attain enlightenment.

Extinction of the sutras: the extinction of the Buddha’s teaching. There will be, for the ten thousand-year period of the last dharma-age, only accommodated teachings, not the real teaching. After the ten thousand years, the teaching of Amida will survive for one hundred years.
True teaching: to take the true and real as the essence. “True” is the opposite of temporary and provisional. The eighty-four thousand dharma-gates are provisional teachings. The Pure Land way alone is the true teaching.

71
The inconceivable working of the power of the Buddha-dharma
Is such that external hindrances and karmic fetters do not obstruct us;
Hence, the universal, Primal Vow of Amida
Is termed the “decisive cause” of birth.

Decisive cause: it is superior to all the various good acts.

72
The mind and practice of self-power do not bring one
Into the fulfilled land established through the power of the Vow;
Hence, sages of the Mahayana and Hinayana
All entrust themselves to Amida’s universal Vow.

73
When we come to know truly that we are possessed of blind passions,
And entrust ourselves to the power of the Primal Vow,
We will, on abandoning completely our defiled existence,
Realize the eternal bliss of dharma-nature.

74
Shakyamuni and Amida are our father and our mother,
Full of love and compassion for us;
Guiding us through various skillful means,
They bring us to awaken the supreme shinjin.

l.1: Shakyamuni is likened to our father, Amida to our mother.
Awaken (hotsu-ki): hotsu means to awaken what has existed from the past; ki means to give rise to something new, for the first time.

75
Persons who have thoroughly realized the true mind,
Because it is the diamond-like mind,
Are equal to those who accomplish
The three grades of repentance; thus Shan-tao teaches.

Diamond-like mind: true shinjin.
Three grades of repentance: In the high grade, blood flows from the eyes and emerges from the body. In the middle grade, blood flows from the eyes and sweat issues from the body. In the low grade tears flow, and thoughts of repentance penetrate to the marrow.

76
Only with the diamond-like shinjin
Can we, living in the evil world of the five defilements,
Completely abandon birth-and-death forever
And reach the Pure Land of naturalness.

77
When the time comes
For shinjin, indestructible as diamond, to become settled,
Amida grasps and protects us with compassionate light,
So that we part forever from birth-and-death.

Indestructible (kengo): ken refers to firmness of mind; go refers to firmness of thought.
Grasps and protects: we are grasped and protected in the mind of the Tathagata of unhindered light.

78
Concerning those who have not realized true and real shinjin,
Shan-tao teaches that they “lack one mind”;
Know, therefore, that all who lack this mind that is single
Do not yet possess the threefold shinjin.

Threefold shinjin: shinjin of the Primal Vow.

79
Persons who realize the true entrusting that is [Amida’s] benefiting of others,
Because they are in correspondence with the Vow,
Accord with Shakyamuni’s teaching and the words of the Buddhas;
Thus, there is nothing that obstructs them.

Obstructs: distracts and confuses.

80
Those who are free of even a moment of doubt,
Having been able to hear the nembutsu of the Pure Land way,
Are praised as “rare and excellent persons,”
And are ascertained to “have realized right-mindedness.”

Free of even a moment of doubt: there is no doubting of the Primal Vow.
Realized right-mindedness: to have shinjin that leads to birth in the Pure Land.

81
When people are not in correspondence with the Primal Vow,
Various conditions arise to trouble and confuse them.
To lose sight of shinjin in confusion
Is to “lose right-mindedness.”

82
Since shinjin arises from the Vow,
We attain Buddhahood through the nembutsu by the [Vow’s] spontaneous working.
The spontaneous working is itself the fulfilled land;
Our realization of supreme nirvana is beyond doubt.

83
The time has come when the five defilements increase;
Those who doubt and revile Amida’s Vow are numerous.
Both monks and lay people despise the nembutsu
And harm any they see engaging in it.

84
Those who revile and attack the Primal Vow
Are termed “persons completely blind to dharma” or “persons lacking the seed of Buddhahood.”
Passing kalpas numerous as the particles of the great earth,
They long sink in the three evil courses.

Revile and attack: to say that the teaching one follows is superior and that the teaching others follow is inferior.
Persons lacking the seed of Buddhahood: those for whom it is hard to attain Buddhahood; those wholly without trust in the Buddhist teaching.
Particles: fine particles of dust; particles that alight on the tips of rabbit’s fur or sheep’s fleece. There is nothing more slender than such fur or fleece.

85
Although they have been given the teaching of the path to the West,
They have obstructed themselves and obstructed others from accepting it,
And so for vast kalpas since the distant past,
They have spent their lives meaninglessly and in vain.

86
Had we not received the power of the universal Vow,
When could we part from this Saha world?
Reflecting deeply on the Buddha’s benevolence,
Let us think on Amida always.

87
Casting off long kalpas of painful existence in this world of Saha,
We live in expectation of the Pure Land, the uncreated;
This is the power of our teacher, Shakyamuni;
Let us respond always in gratitude for his compassion and benevolence.

Here ends the Hymns on Master Shan-tao

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Listening Deeply to the True Pure Land expositions of Master Shinran, highlighting the wonderful explanations on the absolute relevance and significance of the marvellous teaching of Nembutsu with faith, strongly emphasized by Master Shan Tao, may all foolish mundane persons like us, follow only, the True Pure Land Path. May all suffering persons be free of doubt and mindfully take heed of the benevolent advice of these truly accomplished teachers. Let us seize this extremely rare opportunity and make full use of this precious human birth before it 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, as we single-heartedly Say the Buddha’s Name in gratitude, 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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Gatha of True Faith

SHOSHIN NEMBUTSU GE

正  信  念  佛  偈

 gatha-of-true-faith

Introducing this excellent composition of the Gatha of True Faith in the Nembutsu – Saying the Buddha’s Name (南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛 – Namo Amida Butsu), Master Shinran sincerely expresses his profound gratitude to Shakyamuni Buddha for His True Dharma teaching on Amida Buddha and His fulfilled Land of Peace and Bliss…

“Thus, taking refuge in the true words of the Great Sage and carefully examining the commentaries of the great Patriarchs, I realize the depth and vastness of the Buddha’s benevolence. So, I compose the following Gatha of True Faith in the Nembutsu.”

These wonderful verses of true Faith (Shinjin – 信 心), were beautifully composed by Venerable Master Shinran, perfectly introducing the essential teachings on The True Pure Land Path taught by Shakyamuni Buddha and transmitted down to him through the Ages by the seven Lineage Masters. With deep reverence and gratitude for the benevolence of these outstanding Teachers, he carefully selected and pin-pointed those teachings, specifically relevant to the True Pure Land Path. Listening deeply to their commentaries and clear explanations on the three Pure Land Sutras, particularly ‘The Sutra of Infinite Life’ (壽 經), Master Shinran meticulously highlighted only those expositions that are deeply rooted in Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow, that he himself would single-heartedly follow:

“My heart and mind stand rooted in the Buddha-ground of the Universal Vow and my thoughts and feelings flow within the Dharma realm…”

Poetically written in Classical Chinese, these verses captured the vast kindness and intimate exhortations from Master Shinran as well as from every one of the seven Pure Land Masters. They fervently urged all mundane foolish persons (凡 夫 , bombu), like ourselves, to single-heartedly entrust themselves entirely to Amida Buddha’s Vow of Great Compassion which promises to liberate everyone from samsara – the vicious cycle of birth, suffering and death – especially during this Dharma Ending Age.

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This Dharma Ending Age in which we now live, is the Age, when human beings – badly overwhelmed by greed, hatred, ignorance, jealousy and arrogance  – are absolutely incapable of practicing strictly in accordance with Shakyamuni Buddha’s lifetime teachings to obtain enlightenment by their own self-power, strict discipline, difficult practices. The Buddha, out of great compassion for all suffering beings, exhorts all His disciples who truly do not have the aptitude for these practices, to sincerely entrust themselves completely to Amida Buddha’s fulfilled Primal Vow which is a sure and easy way for them to break free from the torture of samsara.

The Primal Vow, is Amida Buddha’s absolute promise to save all miserable persons like ourselves who are truly 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 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 filled with blind passions, who have been transmigrating endlessly for trillions of past lives, 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, entrusting ourselves whole-heartedly to the Vow power that 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, pathetic persons like us.

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The seven True Pure Land Masters cited by Master Shinran in the Gatha of True Faith were all truly well versed in the teachings and practices taught in most of the Theravada and Mahayana traditions which they had actively propagated earlier during their lifetimes. Yet, all the seven Lineage Teachers, ultimately took the True Pure Land Path themselves and were born in Amida Buddha’s Land of Peace and Bliss. It was through their wisdom and direct experience, that made them finally chose the Pure Land gate for freeing themselves and escaping from samsara.

Master Shinran and the seven Lineage Masters of Jodo-Shinshu (宗), had strongly encouraged all mundane foolish persons (凡 夫, bombu), spiritual idiots like ourselves – miserable human beings who simply lack the spiritual capacity and aptitude for difficult, self-powered, Buddhist practices – to entrust ourselves single-heartedly, to Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow, the Other Power that guarantees our complete freedom from all pain and suffering. They repeatedly urged us, through their wonderful expositions of the sutras and personal realizations, to take this ‘Easy Path’ that absolutely assures our attainment of Buddhahood at the end of our present lives.

Thus, Master Shinran together with our Lineage Teachers, have left behind a wonderful legacy, passing down to us, the precious teaching of Faith and Nembutsu – the sole lamp lighting the Path of Salvation in this Dharma Ending Age of spiritual darkness.

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With profound gratitude to the World-honored Buddhas and deep reverence to the seven True Pure Land Lineage Masters before him, Master Shinran meticulously wrote the Shoshin Ge…

GATHA OF TRUE FAITH IN THE NEMBUTSU 

正 信  念  佛  偈

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(1). 歸 命 無 量 壽 如 來 , 南 無 不 可 思  議 光.
Entrusting myself to The Tathagata of Infinite Life 
I take refuge in The Inconceivable Light. 
(2). 法 藏 菩 薩 因 立 時 , 在 世 自 在 王 佛 所,
      覩 見 諸 佛 淨 土 因 , 國 土 人 天 之 善 惡 .
      建 立 無 上 殊 勝 願 , 超 發 希 有 大 弘 誓.
Boddhisattva Dharmakara in His practising stage
Under the guidance of Buddha Lokesvararaja,
Examined the causes that create the various Buddhas’ Pure Lands 
And the good and evil of humans and devas in those Lands.
He established the unsurpassed, incomparable Vow                   
And boldly declared this extremely rare, Universal Vow.
(3). 五 劫 思 惟 之 攝 受, 重 誓 名 聲 聞 十方.
      普 放 無 量 無 邊 光, 無 㝵 無 對 光 炎 王
And after five kalpas of deep contemplations and reflections               
He strongly pledged that His Name shall be heard in the ten directions       
Everywhere, He sends forth Immeasurable, Boundless Light                            
Unhindered, Incomparable, Majestically Brilliant Light
(4). 清 淨 歡 喜 智 慧 光, 不 斷 難 思 無 稱 光,
       超 日 月光 照 塵 剎, 一 切 群 生 蒙 光 照,
Pure Light, Joyful Light, The Light of Wisdom 
Continuous, Inconceivable, Ineffable Light      
The Light that Outshines the sun and moon, illuminating countless worlds 
The multitudes of beings are all embraced by His Light.
(5). 本 願 名 号 正 定 業, 至 心 信 樂 願 為 因,
      成  等 覺 證 大 涅 槃, 必 至 滅 度 願 成 就.
The Name embodying The Primal Vow, is the act of true settlement 
This Vow of Joyful Entrusting with a Sincere Mind is the cause of birth           
We will realize the stage equal to enlightenment and supreme Nirvana           
And through the fulfillment of the Vow, we will surely attain Nirvana
(6). 如 來 所 以 興 出 世, 唯 說 彌 陀 本 願 海,
      五 濁 惡 時 群 生 海, 應 信 如 來 如 實 言.
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 
(7). 能 發 一 念 喜 愛 心 , 不 斷 煩 惱 得 涅 槃 ,
       凡 聖 逆 謗 齊 回 入 , 如 眾 水 入 海 一 味.
When the One-thought moment of entrusting joy is awakened in one’s mind 
Nirvana will be attained without severing blind passions 
Commoners, sages, dharma offenders and slanderers alike are thus converted    
Like water from all sources acquiring the same taste on entering the ocean.
(8). 攝 取 心 光 常 照 護, 已  能 雖 破 無 明 暗,
      貪 愛  瞋 憎 之 雲 霧, 常 覆 真 實 信 心 天.
The embracing light of compassion illumines and protects us always
Having already broken through the darkness of our ignorance             
Still the clouds and mists of greed, desire, anger and hatred 
Constantly obscure the sky of true and real Shinjin.
(9). 譬 如 日 光 覆 雲 霧, 雲 霧 之 下 明 無 暗.
       獲 信 見 敬 大 慶 喜, 即 橫 超 截 五 惡 趣.
But just like the light of the sun being blocked by clouds and mists 
Beneath those clouds and mists, there is brightness, not darkness    
So on receiving Shinjin we experience gratitude and great joy           
And instantly transcend cross-wise the five evil courses.
(10). 一  切 善 惡 凡 夫 人, 聞 信 如 來 弘 誓 願,
         佛 言 廣 大 勝 解 者, 是 人 名 分 陀 利 華.
All ordinary foolish persons whether good or evil              
When they have heard and entrust in the Universal Vow of the Tathagata 
The Buddha called them persons of vast excellent understanding    
Who are also named by people as ‘Pundarikas’
(11). 彌 陀 佛 本 願 念 佛, 邪 見 憍 慢 惡 眾 生,
         信 樂 受 持 甚 以 難, 難 中 之 難 無 過 斯.
Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow that embodies saying His 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 anyone could meet
(12). 印 度 西 方 之 論 家, 中 夏 日 域 之 高 僧,
         顯 大 聖 與 世 正 意, 明 如 來 本 誓 應 機.
The treatise Masters from India to the west
And the Eminent Monks from China and Japan
Clarified the true intent of The Great Sage’s appearance in this world
Revealing that Amida’s Primal Vow accords with the capacities of beings
(13). 釋 迦 如 來 楞 迦 山, 為 眾 告 命 南 天 竺,
         龍 樹 大 士 出 於 世, 悉 能 推 破 有 無 見.
Shakyamuni Tathagata on Mount Lanka 
Prophesied to the masses that in South India
Mahasattva Nagarjuna would appear in this world
To dispel the views of being and non-being
(14). 宣 說 大 乘 無 上 法, 證 歡 喜 地 生 安 樂,
         顯 示 難 行 陸 路 苦, 信 樂 易 行 水 道 樂.
Proclaiming the unexcelled Mahayana Teachings          
He realized the Stage of Joy and was born in the Land Of Peace and Bliss 
Revealing that difficult practices are like hardships on the overland way  
He urged us to take the easy path of Shinjin sailing joyfully by waterway
(15). 億 念 彌 陀 佛 本 願, 自 然 即 時 入 必 定,
         唯 能 常 稱 如 來 号, 應 報 大 悲 弘 誓 恩.
When one deeply remembers Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow          
Naturally in that instant, one enters the Stage Of Definitely Settled           
And solely Saying the Tathagata’s Name always  
Gratefully respond to Great Compassion’s Universal Pledge and grace
(16). 天 親 菩 薩 造 論 說, 歸 命 無 㝵 光 如 來,
         依 修 陀 羅 顯 真 實, 光 闡 橫 超 大 誓 願.
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
(17). 廣 由 本 願 力 回 向, 為 度 群 生 彰 一 心,
         歸 入 功 德 大 寶 海, 必 獲 入 大 會 眾 數.
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
(18). 得 至 蓮 華 藏 世 界, 即 證 真 如 法 性 身,
         游 煩 惱 林 現 神 通, 入 生 死 園 示 應 化.
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
(19). 本 師 曇 鸞 梁 天 子, 常 向 鸞 處 菩 薩 禮,
         三 藏 流 支 受 淨 教, 焚 燒 仙 經 歸 樂 邦.
Facing toward the dwelling of our Teacher Tan Luan          
The emperor of Liang paid tribute to him as a Bodhisattva          
When he received the Pure Land teachings from tripitaka Master Bodhiruci 
Tan Luan burnt his Taoist scriptures and took refuge in The Land Of Bliss
(20). 天 親 菩 薩 論 註 解, 報 土 因 果 顯 誓 願,
         往 還 回 向 由 他 力, 正 定 之 因 唯 信 心.
Bodhisattva Vasubandhu explains in his treatise                   
That the fruition of the Fulfilled Land is itself manifestation of The Vow.
Going to the Pure Land and returning are merit transference of Other Power 
And the cause of true settlement is solely due to Shinjin.
(21). 惑 染 凡 夫 信 心 發, 證 知 生 死 即 涅 槃,
         必 至 無 量 光 明 土, 諸 有 眾 生 皆 普 化.
When a deluded and defiled, mundane foolish person awakens Shinjin 
That person realizes, knowing that birth and death is Nirvana 
Without fail, that person will reach the Land of Immeasurable Light      
And then, universally guides all sentient beings to enlightenment 
(22). 道 綽 決 聖 道 難 證, 唯 明 淨 土 可 通 入,
        萬 善 自 力 貶 勤 修, 圓 滿 德 号 勸 專 稱.
Tao Cho asserted that achieving realization by the path of sages is difficult 
Clarifying that only the Pure Land Way could deliver us 
He downgraded the diligent practices of myriad good and self-power   
Urging us to solely Say the Name endowed with perfect virtues
(23). 三 不 三 信 誨 慇 懃, 像 末 法 滅 同 悲 引,
        一 生 造 惡 值 弘 誓, 至 安 養 界 證 妙 果.
With deep concern he taught the three aspects of entrusting and of doubt
And Compassion in the Dharma Ages of Semblance, Ending and Extinction 
So, those with lifelong evil, should solely depend on The Great Vow,
Realizing the perfect fruit of nirvana in the Land of Serene Sustenance 
(24). 善 導 獨 明 佛 正 意, 矜 哀 定 散 與 逆 惡,
        光 明 名 号 顯 因 緣, 開 入 本 願 大 智 海.
Shan Tao alone understood the Buddha’s true intent        
Pitying meditative and non-meditative practicers and people of grave evil 
He revealed that Amida’s Light and Name are the cause and condition of birth
When they enter the wisdom ocean of The Primal Vow.
(25). 行 者 正 受 金 鋼 心, 慶 喜 一 念 相 應 後,
        與 韋 提 等 獲 三 忍, 即 證 法 性 之 常 樂.
Followers would certainly receive the diamond-like mind        
When the one-thought moment of joy and gratitude arises     
Like Vaidehi they would similarly acquire the three insights  
And instantly realize the eternal bliss of Dharma Nature 
(26). 源 信 廣 開 一 代 教, 偏 歸 安 養 勸 一 切,
        專 雜 執 心 判 淺 深, 報 化 二 土 正 辦 立.
Genshin widely expounded the Buddha’s lifetime teachings     
Yet, he took refuge in the Land of Peace, urging others to do the same  
Discerning that single-minded practice is profound; sundry practices shallow 
He differentiated the respective births in The Fulfilled or Transformed Lands
(27). 極 重 惡 人 唯 稱 佛, 我 亦 在 被 攝 取 中,
         煩 惱 障 眼 雖 不 見, 大 悲 無 倦 常 照 我.
Extremely evil persons should just Say the Buddha’s Name  
Who has already grasped and embraced me 
Though blind passions have obscured my eyes and I cannot see   
Great Compassion is untiring and constantly illumines me.
(28). 本 師 源 空 明 佛 教, 憐 愍 善 惡 凡 夫 人,
         真 宗 教 證 興 片 州, 選 擇 本 願 弘 惡 世.
Our teacher Genku was well-versed with Buddhism              
And he showed pity on ordinary foolish people, whether good or evil 
By spreading the True Teaching and Realisation in this scattered land         
He propagated widely the selected Primal Vow to this evil world.
(29). 還 來 生 死 輪 轉 家, 決 以 疑 情 為 所 止,
         速 入 寂 靜 無 為 樂, 必 以 信 心 為 能 入.
Our continued return to this cyclic home of birth and death      
Is certainly due to the hindrance of doubt 
Swift entrance into the peaceful, uncreated Realm of Bliss 
Is necessarily brought about by Shinjin 
(30). 弘 經 大 士 宗 師 等, 拯 濟 無 邊 極 濁 惡,
         道 俗 時 眾 共 同 心, 唯 可 信 斯 高 僧 說.
The Mahasattvas and Teachers of the tradition who propagated the sutras 
Save boundless beings of grave evil and defilements
Both monks and lay people of this present Age, should, with one mind 
Solely trust the expositions of these great Masters.

 

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These wonderful verses convey a clear message from Master Shinran and the seven great Teachers of The True Pure Land Tradition. They exhort us to take refuge single-heartedly in Amida Buddha, abandoning all self-power efforts and sundry practices for attaining emancipation and entrust ourselves entirely to The Primal Vow. Knowing with certainty that we are assured of salvation here and now, we naturally Say the Excellent Name endowed with perfect virtues, in deep gratitude for the Great Compassion of Amida Buddha.

Let us Listen Deeply to this beautiful Gatha and HEAR The Call of Boundless Compassion, accepting the inconceivable gift of Shinjin (信 心), The Entrusting faith freely bestowed by Amida Buddha on all hopeless persons and be forever freed from the firm clutches of pain and suffering in the relentless cycle of samsara at the end of our wretched lives.

Thus, we have clearly 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.

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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Shinran Shonin and the 7 Pure Land Masters

Jodo Shinshu Lineage Masters

净 土 真 宗 七 宗 师

Jodo Shinshu Teachers revised artwork

These wonderful verses from the Gatha of True Faith, beautifully composed by Venerable Master Shinran, perfectly introduced the essential teachings on The True Pure Land Path taught by Shakyamuni Buddha and transmitted down to him through the Ages by the seven Lineage Masters. With deep reverence and gratitude for the benevolence of these outstanding Teachers, he carefully selected and specifically pin-pointed those teachings that are deeply rooted in Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow.

In his vast treasury of  expositions, the Venerable Master strongly urges all of us to single-mindedly place our trust on these collected, pristine Pure Land teachings, painstakingly and earnestly explained by each one of these truly accomplished Masters…

“The treatise Masters from India to the west
And the Eminent Monks from China and Japan   
Clarified the true intent of The Great Sage’s appearance in this world 
Revealing that Amida’s Primal Vow accords with the capacities of beings

The Mahasattvas and Teachers of the tradition who propagated the sutras
Save boundless beings of grave evil and defilements
Both monks and lay people of this present Age, should, with one mind 
Solely trust the expositions of these great Masters.”

Though truly well versed in the lifetime teachings and practices taught by Shakyamuni Buddha on all the major Theravada and Mahayana traditions, yet, all the seven Lineage Teachers, ultimately took the True Pure Land Path and were born in Amida Buddha’s Land of Peace and Bliss. It was through their wisdom and direct experience, that made them finally chose the Pure Land gate for freeing themselves and escaping from samsara – the vicious cycle of birth, suffering and death.

Thus, Master Shinran and the seven Lineage Masters strongly encouraged all mundane foolish persons (凡 夫, bombu), like ourselves – miserable human beings who simply lack the spiritual capacity and aptitude for difficult, self-powered, Buddhist practices – to entrust ourselves single-heartedly, in Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow, the Other Power that guarantees our complete freedom from all pain and suffering. They repeatedly urge us, through their wonderful expositions of the sutras and personal realizations, to take this ‘Easy Path’ especially made for foolish spiritual idiots, that absolutely assures our attainment of Buddhahood at the end of our present lives.

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Shinran Shonin (1173 – 1263) – the Venerable Founder of Shin Buddhism – was born in Kyoto, Japan. His family came from the Fujiwara Clan. Having loss both his parents at a tender age of nine, he was guided by his uncle Noritsuna, who later brought him to Mount Hiei, the most famous Centre for Buddhist teachings and practices in Japan at that time. As he himself wished, Master Shinran was quickly ordained into monkhood and diligently practiced Tendai Buddhism under eminent Buddhist Masters.

Yet, after 20 years of rigorous studies and practices, excelling himself in both meditational and non-meditational disciplines, he was completely disillusioned. With deep introspection, he found that being an extremely foolish person of deep evil, his serious studies and arduous practices were useless and would not bring him any closer to enlightenment in his life. Therefore, taking an extremely bold step forward, he painfully left Mount Hiei, seeking to find another path to Enlightenment.

In a mental state of utter anguish, he decided to take a 100 day retreat at Rokkaku-do, a temple in Kyoto dedicated to Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara and built by Shotoku Taishi – the Japanese Prince who introduced Buddhism to Japan. Sincerely praying to Shotoku Taishi (considered to be a manifestation of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara) to show him an appropriate Path to Enlightenment, Master Shinran received a revelation on the 95th day, in a dream, to visit Master Honen, who was then actively propagating the Pure Land teaching based exclusively on Saying the Buddha’s Name ( Nembutsu – 念 佛).

Listening deeply for 100 consecutive days to the Dharma teachings of Master Honen – who was truly learned in all aspects of the Buddha Dharma – Master Shinran was fully convinced that he had found for himself, a good teacher – a knowledgeable Dharma friend. Thus, under the mentorship of Master Honen, he cleared all his doubts and entrusted himself single-heartedly in Amida’s Primal Vow. Receiving the Buddha’s inconceivable Gift of Salvation at the age of 29, he knew, there and then, that, he would become a Buddha in Amida’s Pure Land, the moment his physical life ended.

However, in the year 1207, when the Japanese authorities began persecution of the Nembutsu teaching, Master Shinran, stripped off his monkhood, was exiled to Echigo Province – a remote old province in north-central Japan. Yet, he continued to spread the precious Nembutsu teaching to the simple folks in the countryside, while living an extremely harsh life as a, simple, normal lay person, married with children. After about 4 years in exile, he was pardoned in 1211 but he did not return to Kyoto, as he chose to continue propagating the precious Amida Dharma to the people who needed it most. In the year 1214, he moved to live in the Hitachi Province and in the Kanto region (present day Tokyo area), he tirelessly explained the teaching Faith and Nembutsu. During almost 20 years of his residence in that area, common illiterate folks and householders who earnestly followed his teachings, must have numbered in tens of thousands.

In around the year 1232, when he was about 60 years old, the Venerable Master decided to move back to Kyoto. The probable reason for that move back to Kyoto – where there was abundance of reference Buddhist texts, sutras and commentaries – was perhaps to allow him to concentrate on writing down what he had been taught, his realizations and intimate experiences on the True Pure Land way. Since he knew, without any doubt, that this marvellous Amida Dharma offers the only assured path of Salvation, he passionately wanted to record it for all evil, foolish persons like himself and others, who ardently wish to be permanently freed from all pain and suffering.

That magnificent and extremely difficult task of accurately collecting and establishing the essential teachings relevant to this ‘easy path’ out of samsara, took Master Shinran over 30 years to accomplish. Arising from this compassionate endeavor to benefit himself and others, for his and future generations, he systematically composed his magnum opus, the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho (Teaching, Practice, Faith and Realization on the Pure Land Way – 淨 土 教 行 信 證). Together with his other large treasury of wonderful writings, poems and letters, he had formed and developed a complete, consistent approach that had led to his own profound realization on the path of Faith and Nembutsu, which he eagerly wished to share with others.

Although he had devoted his whole life to the dissemination of the pristine Amida Dharma of Salvation for all suffering beings through Faith and Nembutsu, Master Shinran never intended to form a separate sect. He considered himself to be just a follower of his teacher Honen. However, the compelling appeal of his wonderful and beautiful writings, soon solidified his profound thoughts and realization of Salvation, into the Jodo-Shinshu Buddhist tradition.

Having lived through a life of tortuous trials and tribulations, both as a monk as well as a householder– one in which he was finally awakened by the Light of the Buddha’s Boundless Compassion – the Venerable Master had displayed to us that, even hopeless ordinary persons filled with blind passions can be saved. He was therefore, profoundly grateful to the Buddhas and the seven Pure Land Masters for their compassion and heart-felt benevolence in transmitting the precious teaching of Faith and Nembutsu to him.

His fervent wish was that others would also listen deeply to this precious Pure Land Dharma, pristinely passed down from Shakyamuni Buddha through the ages and quickly receive Amida Buddha’s gift of Salvation. Thus, truly settled in mind and heart, immersed in the Nembutsu of gratitude and clear knowledge that he would become a Buddha at the end of his life of delusion, our Venerable Master Shinran returned to the Land of Peace and Bliss, on January 16, 1263 at the age of ninety.

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The Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho ( 淨 土 教 行 信 證 – Teaching, Practice, Faith and Realization) – Master Shinran’s masterpiece written in classical Chinese in six volumes – captures the complete teaching that allows ordinary foolish people to gain Enlightenment through simple Entrusting Faith (Shinjin – 信 心) in Amida Buddha and His Primal Vow. It is an amazing spiritual pilgrimage and journey of discovery through the ages, from the Enlightenment of Shakyamuni Buddha, to the chronological dispensation of this wonderful Pure Land Dharma by the seven Lineage Teachers, to Master Shinran and now, to wretched sentient beings like ourselves.

The Venerable Master’s basis for quoting only the specially selected passages from the Sutras and the expositions of the Lineage Masters, was to testify the Absolute Truth of Salvation for all suffering beings, that freely flowed entirely from Amida Buddha’s Vow-mind. Having to sieve through the enormous amount of teachings from each and every one of the 7 Pure Land Masters before him, Master Shinran carefully collected only what was essential and leaving out what was not relevant to his own awakening to the marvellous working of Amida’s Vow of Great Compassion. He was unconcerned about the criticisms of others whose minds are not really rooted in Amida Buddha’s Salvation.

Master Shinran’s benevolent aspiration to benefit future generations effectively, now comes to miserable persons like us, in the form of his Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho, poems and other wonderful writings. Those who have listened deeply to Master Shinran’s expositions would definitely see the profound systemization on his True Pure Land thoughts and spiritual awakening that solely focus on the inconceivable gift of Salvation bestowed by Amida Buddha through His Primal Vow. Aptly expressing his single-hearted refuge in this wondrous Compassionate Vow that effectively saves all beings in pain and suffering, he passionately wrote:

“My heart and mind stand rooted in the Buddha-ground of the Universal Vow and my thoughts and feelings flow within the Dharma realm…”

Master Shinran earnestly urged 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 permanently from suffering in this Dharma Ending Age.  This precious human existence has given us an extremely rare opportunity now – 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 and have realized that they are incapable of saving themselves by their 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 – which surpass our conceptual understanding – for as long as we live in this unsatisfactory world.

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The seven Lineage Masters, deeply revered and cited by Master Shinran, had all strongly exhorted ordinary foolish persons like us, to consider and single-mindedly take the Pure Land path – their only viable option to escape from samsara. It is for this reason that, in the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho, he had beautifully expressed his joy and gratitude for encountering this extremely rare, True Pure Land Dharma:

How joyous I am, Gutoku Shinran, disciple of Sakyamuni! Rare is it to come upon the sacred scriptures from the westward land of India and the commentaries of the masters of China and Japan, but now I have been able to encounter them. Rare is it to hear them, but already I have been able to hear. Reverently entrusting myself to the teaching, practice and realization that are the true essence of the Pure Land way, I am especially aware of the profundity of the Tathagata’s benevolence. Here I rejoice in what I have heard and extol what I have attained.

Summarizing the selected passages from the sutras and commentaries from the seven Pure Land teachers who had transmitted this precious Dharma to him, the Venerable Master also composed the Gatha of True Faith (Shoshin Nembutsu Ge – 正 信 念 佛 偈). These beautiful verses, which formed part of the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho, condensed the essential expositions from each of these Lineage Masters who were part of the Buddhas’ golden chain that naturally created this marvellous link to Master Shinran, through whom the mind of Great Compassion flowed and then, firmly embracing those of us who entrust ourselves to the Primal Vow, today.

How wonderful and fortunate it is that we are able to hear, this true and real Dharma of Salvation, skilfully explained and carefully preserved through the ages, by the ineffable benevolence of these great teachers!

First – Bodhisattva Nagarjuna – (2nd to 3rd century)

Second – Bodhisattva Vasubandhu – (4th century)

Third – Master Tan Luan – (476-542)

Fourth – Master Tao Cho – (562-645)

Fifth – Master Shan Tao – (613-681)

Sixth – Master Genshin – (942-1017)

Seventh – Master Honen – (1133-1212)

The essential teachings from each one of these Lineage Masters, magnificently brought together by Master Shinran, have formed the wonderful Jodo-Shinshu School. In the articles that will be posted separately, their core expositions that are deeply rooted in the Great Vow, have been skilfully presented as beautiful verses by Master Shinran, in his Gatha of True Faith, which now serve as splendid headings for the individual posts, that would concisely capture the biographies and the True Pure Land teachings of these excellent Dharma Masters.

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Listening Deeply to the incomparable True Pure Land expositions of Master Shinran and the seven Lineage Masters, on the absolute relevance and significance of the marvellous teachings, based exclusively on Faith and Nembutsu, may all foolish mundane persons like us, be brought, to single-heartedly accept, the True Pure Land Path. All suffering persons who wish to be freed from samsara, should mindfully take heed of the benevolent advice from these accomplished teachers and be free of doubt by simply entrusting themselves solely, to power of the Primal Vow. Let those who are brought here through their good karma from the past, 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, as we Say the Buddha’s Name in gratitude, 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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Dharma Ending Age

 TEXT IN KYO-GYO-SHIN-SHO

末 法 時 代

dharma-ending-age-fa

In his wonderful exposition on The Pure Land Way, Master Shinran, quoting from the writings of Master Tao Cho of China earnestly wrote….

“Further, The Great Collection Sutra states:
In the Dharma Ending Age
Out of billions of sentient beings practicing to cultivate the Way
Not one will attain Enlightenment.
We are now in The Dharma Ending Age
It is the evil world of the five defilements
The Pure Land Gate is the one and only path that affords passage.”

This is indeed an extremely bold statement regarding The Dharma Ending Age in which we now live. Yet, it is absolutely true, when we would honestly look into ourselves and see the pitiful states we are painfully trapped in – our real natures, puny spiritual aptitudes and the extremely adverse living environments we have to face everyday.

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Dharma Ages in general, are broad time periods starting from Shakyamuni Buddha’s Parinirvana (when He left His flesh body on this earth). They define the distinctive characteristics of sentient beings and their spiritual capacities in practicing the lifetime teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha. It should be pointed out that The Buddha Dharma, which naturally manifests of itself, is absolute, everlasting and imperishable; it does NOT change at all through the Ages. Rather, it is the nature, understanding and abilities of Buddha Dharma followers born into this world that have changed. Thus, the classification of the Dharma Ages is just a chronological progression describing the moral and spiritual degeneration of human beings engage in the various practices of The Buddha Dharma.

The sole purpose of The Buddha’s appearance in this world as a human being in mortal flesh more than 2500 years ago, is to teach us about this dreadful, cyclical existence of pain and suffering, called samsara and how we can put a permanent end to this unsatisfactory, relentless torture we have been experiencing, at long last.

Suffering beings like us do not know why we are born here – in a fleeting environment firmly attached to greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance and doubt – living perhaps for only a short period of a 100 years and then blindly leaving this world in agony for another unknown existence of continued pain and suffering. How painfully foolish and blind we are, not making use of this extremely rare human birth which has brought us the right conditions to free ourselves from samsara.

We should know that the Buddha Dharma is the only True Teaching in this world of absolute delusion, that gives us a chance and means of escaping from samsara. Yet, painfully ignorant of this fact, the majority of us are led to become agnostics or to simply follow other widely touted, false spiritual teachings, which firmly keep us, mercilessly strapped to the treacherous wheel of samsara.

With Boundless Compassion for the suffering multitudes, Shakyamuni Buddha tirelessly taught the Dharma for 45 years, showing individual persons or groups – in accordance with their natures and spiritual capacities – appropriate means on how to escape from samsara. Through His countless discourses, He is said to have taught 84,000 paths leading to enlightenment and always dispensing the appropriate Dharma medicines for those with high spiritual capacities, as well as for the lowly endowed, foolish persons, during His lifetime and for future generations.

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In the Right Dharma Age (正 法 時 代) which lasted 500 years from the Buddha’s Parinirvana, the Tathagata’s wonderful presence and powerful Buddha-field, enabled persons of different capacities to use the self-power methods (both meditative and non-meditative), to leverage themselves and obtain emancipation. Even despicable murderers like Angulimala (the crazy terrorist who had already killed 100 people passing through his forest) and Sunita (the illiterate, lowest caste, untouchable night-soil carrier), were able to attain enlightenment by solely taking refuge in the Buddha, as they both practised strictly in accordance with His direct instructions.

Shakyamuni Buddha tells us in The Great Collection Sutra that, during the Right Dharma Age, His disciples will be resolute in acquiring wisdom. Disciples of The Buddha born during this Age were morally resolute with excellent spiritual faculties and due to their good karma from the past, they had appeared in the immediate, powerful energetic influence of a True Living Buddha, A World-honored One, Teacher of gods and humans.

Thus, the self- power practices of the difficult moral disciplines and meditations taught by The Buddha were fully in accord with the strong spiritual capacities and natures of these followers on this Path of Sages – mainly for monks and those who are spiritually well-endowed. Therefore, countless persons gained various levels of emancipation, practicing strictly and truthfully in accordance with the methods He taught and many were permanently freed from the firm clutches of samsara.

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The Semblance Dharma Age (像 法 時 代), that followed after the Right Dharma Age, lasted another 1000 years. During this period many practitioners of the Buddha Dharma were resolute in self-power meditations and performance of difficult Buddhist practices. However, most of them, not understanding their own defiled natures and the adverse influence of the Dharma Age they were in – being further away from the Buddha’s direct energetic field – failed to gain permanent freedom from samsara, having been unable to practice strictly in accordance with the teachings and difficult disciplines.

It is called Semblance Dharma Age, simply because most of the followers of The Buddha Dharma at that time, still thought they had the same spiritual capabilities as their counterparts on the Path of Sages in The Right Dharma Age, though they could only practice a semblance of The Right Dharma. Their emancipation was denied by their own egoistic clinging to self-power practices which were simply beyond their actual abilities.

On the other hand, those who counted themselves as foolish persons, truthfully admitting their low spiritual capabilities and relying on the other-power teachings of Amida Buddha and His Pure Land, flourished. Thus, many followers during the Semblance Dharma Age, taking refuge in Amida Buddha and the power of His Vows, were freed from samsara at the end of their lives.

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The Dharma Ending Age (末 法 時 代 – ‘Mappo’ in Japanese), quickly followed after the end of the Semblance Dharma Age, 1500 years after The Buddha’s Parinirvana. This Dharma Ending Age will continue until all forms of practices of The Buddha Dharma taught by Shakyamuni Buddha become extinct in this world. This is the Dharma Age in which followers of The Buddha Dharma are resolute in building towers and temples, practicing meritorious conduct, repentance and other self-power Buddhist practices – both meditative and non-meditative – without any regard for their own innate natures and minuscule spiritual capabilities.

Conflicts and strife amongst followers of the Buddha Dharma, become widespread with the proper practice of the good Dharma that gives practicers a method of permanently ending pain and suffering, becoming practically impossible. The time for achieving the enlightenment that extricates us out of samsara through self-centered practices in this life, has already passed in this Dharma Ending Age.

All the Dharma practitioners who engage in self-power practices, aspiring to achieve release from samsara at the end of their lives, are really not aware that these good practices are no longer in accord with the actual nature of beings in this Age. They should know that, no matter how hard they try or for how long, their egoistic struggles are ineffective and would surely be in vain.

On the other hand, another extremely obvious behaviour we would observe in almost ALL the suffering human beings in this Dharma Ending Age today, is that, they are resolutely attached to this life and to future existences in samsara. All of us would naturally struggle in vain to find happiness and to avoid suffering in this life, although many understand about the temporary nature of our lives. Those who are spiritually inclined, would pray for a better future life in another realm in samsara. It is therefore, abundantly clear that the majority of people in this last Dharma Age, have really no aspiration at all to leave this vicious cycle of birth and death.

The persistence of doubt overwhelmed our minds and hearts in this defiled world. Yet, doubt itself, is just a natural mechanism and manifestation of the ego. It is our arrogant, self-centered tendency, to dismiss anything we cannot see or perceive with our eyes and to construe as false, transcendental existences that are absolutely true but beyond the limited sphere of knowledge of us humans. Unaware that our strong attachment to samsaric life, has been solidly hardened through countless trillions of previous experiences in our past lives, we automatically accept as real, the relative knowledge of science, technology and the huge overload of materialistic information. These are the illusive fetters that further strengthen, the sense of our own intelligence and arrogance, that certainly cause us to be spiritually blind to the presence of the Great Compassion of the Buddhas.

Master Shinran has confirmed in his Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho, that we are now deep in The Dharma Ending Age, in a world consumed by the five defilements of greed, hatred, illusion, jealousy and arrogance. His intention in specifically highlighting this Dharma Ending Age (末 法 時 代 – ‘Mappo’ in Japanese) or Last Dharma Age, is clearly to differentiate it from the earlier Dharma Ages which had been in steady decline since Shakyamuni Buddha’s Parinirvana. However, many followers today, not understanding the true significance and connotation of the term ‘Mappo’, have incorrectly translated it into English as ‘Age of Dharma Decline’ – an obvious case in which the actual meaning of this important term, is truly lost in translation.

He further wrote:

Truly we know that the teachings of the Path of Sages were intended for the periods when the Buddha was in this world and for the Right Dharma Age; they are altogether inappropriate for the times and beings of the Semblance and Dharma Ending Ages and the Age when the Dharma has become extinct. Already their time has passed; they are no longer in accord with beings.

The true essence of the Pure Land Way compassionately draws all the innumerable evil, defiled beings to enlightenment without discrimination, whether they be of the periods when the Buddha was in the world, of the Right, Semblance or Dharma Ending Ages, or of the time when the Dharma has become extinct.

This is the Dharma Age in which no sentient being is able to escape from samsara by  relying on their own self-centered efforts. Those who think they could are, simply put, too egoistic and unrealistic about their own nature and spiritual capabilities as they continue to struggle in vain to achieve emancipation, till the end of their fleeting lives.

Shakyamuni Buddha has firmly revealed to us that the main purpose for which He came to this world was to preach Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow which promises to save all mundane foolish persons (凡 夫, bombu), good or evil, irrespective of their gender, social status, and intelligence or living environments and the Dharma Ages they are in. This was especially so in The Semblance Dharma Age and particularly effective in this latter Dharma Ending Age when The Pure Land Gate is the one and only viable escape route out of samsara.

In this Dharma Ending Age, human beings are absolutely incapable to practice strictly according to Shakyamuni Buddha’s lifetime teachings to obtain enlightenment by their own self-power, strict discipline, difficult practices. The Buddha, out of great compassion for all suffering beings,  exhorts all His disciples like ourselves who truly do not have the capacity for these practices, to sincerely entrust themselves and single-heartedly take refuge only in Amida Buddha and His fulfilled Primal Vow. This is a sure way of breaking free from the vicious cycle of samsara at the end of our lives in mortal flesh.

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Listening Deeply to what the Buddhas have taught and understanding the enormous impact of The Dharma Ending Age, let us not struggle in vain with self-power practices which are totally useless to us in our plight to get out of samsara at the end of this terrible existence. May we become True Disciples of Buddha by truthfully acknowledging our persistent shortcomings and accordingly rely solely, on Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow for our permanent freedom from samsara.

Knowing that our karmic destiny is now fully settled, we would be deeply grateful to Amida Buddha for having saved us through the power of His Primal Vow, and for our assured births in The Land of Absolute Happiness at the end of our suffering lives. Single-heartedly, we would Say The Buddha’s Name (Namo Amida Butsu 南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛) which is endowed with His infinite merits and virtues, for as long as our breaths last.

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.

Thus, we have Truly Heard:

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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Tao Cho – 4th True Pure Land Master

Master Tao Cho

道 绰 大 师

Dao Chuo (Final) - artwork

These beautiful verses, from the Gatha of True Faith, were composed by Venerable Master Shinran with deep reverence to Master Tao Cho. They precisely capture the essential teachings on The True Pure Land Way carefully expounded by this great Lineage Teacher…

“Tao Cho asserted that achieving realization by the path of sages is difficult
Clarifying that only the Pure Land Way could deliver us 
He downgraded the diligent practices of myriad good and self-power   
Urging us to solely Say the Name endowed with perfect virtues.

With deep concern he taught the three aspects of entrusting and of doubt
And Compassion in the Dharma Ages of Semblance, Ending and Extinction 
So, with lifelong evil, we should solely depend on The Great Vow,
Realizing the perfect fruit of Nirvana in the Land of Serene Sustenance.”

Thus, this 4th Lineage Master of Jodo-Shinshu (宗), clearly emphasized that, in this Dharma Ending Age, only Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow could save us from samsara – the vicious cycle of birth, suffering and death. He strongly discouraged us from depending on our own self-power and various diligent practices, which simply cannot free us from samsara.

Master Tao-Cho carefully explained that, persons living in this Dharma Ending Age, are constantly overwhelmed by deep-rooted evil passions and do not possess the spiritual aptitude to perform the difficult meditative and non-meditative practices taught for the superior disciples during Shakyamuni lifetime. We should therefore, depend single-heartedly on The Great Vow and take the easy path for our assured birth in Amida’s Pure Land, at the end of our wretched lives.

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Master Tao Cho (562-645), was born in China, Shanxi Province, during the Chin Dynasty. At the age of 14, he left home and took up monkhood. Being extremely serious and hardworking in his extensive studies of the Buddhist Sutras and commentaries, he soon became a renown scholar and Dharma teacher. Particularly, his deep knowledge and understanding of the Nirvana Sutra (大 涅 槃 經), led him to deliver complete series of expositions on this voluminous teaching to a wide audience, many times.

However, later in the year 609, Master Tao Cho came across an epitaph inscribed on a temple wall at Hsuan Chung Temple, made in reverence to Master Tan Luan and was so deeply impressed by it, that, he was instantly converted to the Pure Land Dharma. Thereafter, he devoted himself single-heartedly to the study and practice of Pure Land Sutras and commentaries from Pure Land Masters before him. He lectured extensively on the Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life (大 無 量 壽 經) and particularly, he focused deeply, on the Contemplation Sutra (觀 無 量 壽 經) which he expounded to his disciples, more than 200 times. It is also recorded that he himself, fervently recited the Buddha’s Name (念 佛 – Nembutsu) as many as 70,000 times a day, gratefully bowing and offering incense to Amida Buddha.

Master Tao Cho, beautifully composed and passed down to us, his wonderful ‘Collection of Teachings on the Land of Peace and Bliss’ (安 樂 集 – Anraku Shu), in which he quoted many teachings of Master Tan Luan, a teacher whom be deeply revered. In this highly important writing, he clearly brings out the true relevance and profound significance of the Nembutsu teaching. Carefully, he expounds the teaching differentiating the Path of Sages taught to superior Dharma practitioners in Shakyamuni Buddha’s lifetime and the Path of the Pure Land, that is now fully in accord with the poor spiritual capacity of people in this defiled Age of utter confusion.

The vast accomplishments of Master Tao Cho in the study, practice and dispensation of Amida Buddha’s Pure Land Dharma, have made him an extremely important teacher to all the Chinese Pure Land schools that have named him as their lineage Master. In fact, it was Master Tao Cho who first use the term ‘True Pure Land Teaching’, to differentiate it from other sects with mixed and sundry practices that partially include the Amida Dharma.  His compassionate exhortations to foolish persons like ourselves, to abandon all sundry practices and to rely solely on the Nembutsu of Faith for our salvation, have certainly established his position as well, as the 4th lineage Teacher of Jodo Shinshu.

At the age of 84, Master Tao Cho passed away at Hsuan Chung Temple. He has left behind a wonderful legacy, passing down to us, the precious Nembutsu teaching – the sole lamp lighting the Path of Salvation in this Dharma Ending Age of spiritual darkness.

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The True Pure Land Dharma specially taught by Master Tao Cho 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 wonderful ‘Collection of Teachings on the Land of Peace and Bliss’ (安 樂 集 – Anraku Shu), Master Tao Cho clearly 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 Peace and Bliss are instantly assured. He asserts that, Saying the Buddha’s Name with faith and deep gratitude to Amida Buddha, is the only path free from obstacles, due to the natural working of the Primal Vow.

Master Shinran pin-pointed an extremely important aspect of Jodo Shinshu taught by Master Tao Cho – that mundane foolish persons like us, who are overwhelmed by stubborn blind passions and possessed with the lowest spiritual aptitude, should only rely on Amida’s Primal Vow. In all his writings, Master Tao Cho has repeatedly urged us, to abandon any tendency on our part to perform the self- powered, difficult sundry practices, that were actually meant for superior disciples on the Path of Sages, as this extremely difficult path to Enlightenment, is now, completely irrelevant to us, in this sad, Dharma Ending Age.

In his wonderful exposition on The Pure Land Way, Master Shinran, quoting from the writings of Master Tao Cho earnestly wrote….

“Further, The Great Collection Sutra states:
In the Dharma Ending Age
Out of billions of sentient beings practicing to cultivate the Way
Not one will attain Enlightenment.
We are now in The Dharma Ending Age
It is the evil world of the five defilements
The Pure Land Gate is the one and only path that affords passage.”

Thus, Master Tao Cho strongly exhorts us, to follow single-heartedly, the Path of the Pure Land, as he carefully tells us that, this Wonderful Path out of samsara is, the only appropriate means suitable for the badly defiled, ordinary foolish persons of our time. As we are constantly distracted and inundated by greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance and doubt, we would definitely be incapable to save ourselves by our own power. Therefore, he earnestly urges us to choose this easy path of true entrusting (信 心 – Shinjin) in the Primal Vow, specially created by Amida Buddha, for spiritual idiots like us, in this degenerated Age.  

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 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, pathetic persons 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, deep meditations 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, is 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 will not backslide into samsara ever again and 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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Seven Hymns on Master Tao Cho – composed by Master Shinran in profound reverence and gratitude to this 4th Lineage Teacher (based on his writings):

(From: Hymns on the Pure Land Masters – 1997 copyright Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha)

55
Setting aside the myriad practices of the Path of Sages,
Our teacher, Master Tao-ch’o,
Proclaims the single gate of the Pure Land way
As the only path that affords passage.

Tao-ch’o abandoned his study in the Nirvana school and wholly took refuge in the Pure Land path.

56
Setting aside his extensive work on the Nirvana Sutra,
Our teacher, Master Tao-ch’o,
Entrusted himself to Other Power – the working of the Primal Vow –
And urged the multitudes of the world of the five defilements to do so also.

57
Sentient beings of the five defilements in the last dharma-age
May perform the practices of the Path of Sages,
But not one will thereby attain realization;
So states the World-honored one, the master of the teaching.

58
Following the teaching of Master T’an-luan,
Master Tao-ch’o also determined
That to awaken aspiration for enlightenment and perform practices in this world
Is the way of self-power.

59
Wrongdoing and evil acts in this defiled world
Are like violent winds and torrential rains;
All the Buddhas, sorrowed by this,
Urge us to take refuge in the Pure Land.

Wrongdoing and evil acts: the commission of wrong and evil is rife.

60
Though we commit evil throughout our lives,
If we say the nembutsu always
With our hearts turned wholly to Amida,
Our obstructions fall away by the [Vow’s] spontaneous working.

61
In order to guide sentient beings
Even though they commit evil all their lives,
Amida urges them to “say the Name,”
Vowing not to attain Buddhahood “if they are not born.”

Even though they commit evil all their lives: Even though we may commit evil all our lives, we should entrust ourselves to Amida’s Vow and be born in the Pure Land.

Here ends the Hymns on Master Tao-ch’o

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Listening Deeply to the True Pure Land expositions of Master Shinran, highlighting the wonderful explanations on the absolute relevance and significance of the marvelous teaching of Nembutsu with faith, strongly emphasized by Master Tao Cho, may all foolish mundane persons like us, follow only, the True Pure Land Path. May all suffering persons be free of doubt and mindfully take heed of the benevolent advice of these truly accomplished teachers. Let us seize this extremely rare opportunity and make full use of this precious human birth, before it 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, as we Say the Buddha’s Name in gratitude, 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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HOME PAGE: callofboundlesscompassion.wordpress.com

 

True Disciples of Buddha

TEXT IN KYO-GYO-SHIN-SHO

真 佛 弟 子

lotus pond_edited-1

In this beautiful passage from his magnum opus – the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho – Venerable Master Shinran carefully explains to us, the meaning of ‘True disciple of Buddha’…..

“In the term “True disciple of Buddha”, ‘True’ contrasts with ‘false’ and ‘provisional’. ‘Disciple’ indicates a disciple of Shakyamuni and the other Buddhas. This expression refers to the practicer who has realized the diamond-like heart and mind. Through this Shinjin and practice, one will without fail transcend and realize great Nirvana: hence, that practicer is called ‘True disciple of Buddha’.”

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Suffering sentient beings like us have been transmigrating endlessly in samsara – the vicious cycle of countless births, suffering and deaths – unable to extricate ourselves from the unfathomable ocean of pain and suffering. We do not know why we are born here – in this ever-changing environment – so badly defiled and firmly attached to greed, hatred, ignorance, jealousy, and arrogance. Constantly struggling in vain to find happiness and to avoid suffering, we may perhaps live for 100 years but finally we still have to blindly leave this human existence in agony for another unknown realm of suffering. How sorrowful it is that this extremely rare human birth, would be so unwisely squandered by us and would just end in this way, completely beyond our comprehension!

We should know that the Buddha Dharma is the only True Teaching in this world of absolute delusion, that gives us a chance and means of escaping from samsara. Painfully ignorant of this fact, the majority of us are led to become agnostics or to simply follow other widely touted, false spiritual teachings, which definitely and relentlessly keep us mercilessly strapped to the treacherous wheel of samsara.

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Amida Buddha’s True and Real Shinjin (真 實 信 心), is His Sincere Mind and Absolute Confidence that all persons who single-heartedly accept His Primal Vow, will definitely be born, as they wish, in His Land of Peace and Bliss, at the end of their present lives. This Great Compassionate Vow had been wonderfully fulfilled ten kalpas ago when the Tathagata attained Supreme Buddhahood, after trillions of years, perfectly performing the extremely difficult practices of a Bodhisattva; thus creating the Pure Land:

“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 offenses
And Those Who slander The Right Dharma.”

The Primal Vow (阿 彌 陀 佛 本 願) is clearly the Buddha’s Promise to save all beings from the dreadful cycle of samsara. Saying the Buddha’s Name (南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛 – Namo Amida Butsu), fulfilled in the Primal Vow, is thus, the active cause of our births in the Pure Land. It is Amida Buddha’s Great Practice of directing His infinite virtues to us for our going forth. By the power of this Vow of Great Compassion, persons with the lowest spiritual aptitude, like ourselves, who are absolutely incapable to perform difficult meditational and non-meditational practices, are effectively pulled out from jaws of samsara, at the end of this life.

Through Amida Buddha’s innumerable manifestations in this world, The Tathagata, without a moment respite, tirelessly saved countless beings in the past and continues right now, to lead badly defiled persons in the present, out of samsara, this painfully unsatisfactory world of delusion.

By simply entrusting ourselves to Amida Buddha and the Primal Vow, we are assured of birth in the Pure Land. We should know that Amida Buddha has already accomplished our Pure Land births by fulfilling for each of us our aspirations and all the necessary attendant practices. All ignorant sentient beings will realise this fact sooner or later – with the ripening of their good karma from the past – when they would become ready to receive Amida Buddha’s inconceivable gift of Entrusting Faith (信 心 – Shinjin) in the marvellously wonderful Primal Vow.

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Shakyamuni Buddha who appeared in this world out of His great compassion for all suffering beings, have effectively taught us, individually or as a group, appropriate methods of ending this fearful samsaric nightmare of birth, old age, sickness and death. The Exalted One persistently exhorts us to listen deeply to His teaching about the truth of our suffering and how we can put a permanent end to this suffering.

However, the sheer weight of negative karma, defilements and stubborn evil passions accumulated by us through billions upon billions of births, are so incredibly immense and varied, that extremely few of us would listen to what the Buddha taught. Every one of us has already built up a solid and intractable ego totally overwhelmed by our blind passions, that firmly hold us in this sphere of perpetual suffering. Thus, as we live through our fleeting lives without any suitable condition for emancipation, we would painfully leave this human life and are again recycled within the treacherous realms of gods, demi-gods, humans, hungry spirits, animals and hell beings.

It is said that Shakyamuni Buddha – the World-honored One, Teacher of gods and humans – skilfully taught 84000 methods and more when He walked on this earth over 2500 years ago, effectively prescribing the appropriate Dharma medicine to each individual or group, in accordance with their natures and spiritual capacities. During the Buddha’s lifetime and 500 years thereafter, superior disciples who strictly perform the extremely difficult practices, fully in accord with the appropriate methods taught by Him on the Path of Sages, were able to attain emancipation then. Many of them could leverage on the Buddha’s physical presence and wonderful energetic-field, to attain freedom from samsara at the end of their lives. Those superior Dharma practitioners were indeed ‘True disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha’.

However, Shakyamuni Buddha revealed that, the true intent for His appearance in this world, was solely to preach Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow which seeks to save the vast majority all persons trapped in samsara, especially the lowest grade of Dharma followers who are absolutely incapable of performing any practices. The Buddha knows that, as His physical presence receded in time and space, extremely few disciples in future generations would be able to attain even the entry stages to Enlightenment, through the strict practices taught to superior disciples on the Path of Sages during His lifetime. Thus, by delivering the true teaching of Salvation – The Large Pure Land Sutra – He urges us to take the easy Path of the Pure Land, effectively out of samsara. All foolish persons, in this Dharma Ending Age, who fully entrust themselves to Amida’s Primal Vow, are therefore, called ‘True Disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha’.

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All the Buddhas, in the innumerable universes and galaxies throughout the ten directions, have the same Great Compassion for all suffering samsaric beings, who are continuously and blindly trapped in the realms of gods, demi-gods, humans, animals, hungry ghosts and hell-beings. They want us to become fully Enlightened Buddhas and hence be completely free from all pain and suffering. Yet, due our intractable egos, developed over countless lifetimes – our solid intellectual and emotional arrogance – most of us simply do not have the aspiration or the humility to listen deeply to what the Buddhas taught.

These World-honored Buddhas know that, entrusting in Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow, is the easiest and most effective method of securing the Salvation of all pathetic, suffering beings – particularly during the Dharma Ages that lack the physical presence and the immediate energetic-field of a Buddha. Thus, all the Buddhas throughout the ten directions, praise and fully support Saying Amida’s Name which embodies the Primal Vow. Mundane foolish persons like us, should mindfully take heed of all the Buddhas’ exhortations and become their ‘True Disciples’ by simply entrusting ourselves single-heartedly to Amida’s Compassionate Vow.

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Shinran Shonin , a True disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha, was born in Japan and lived from 1173-1263. Deeply understanding the right and true intent of Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings and the explanations transmitted by the Venerable Masters before him, he clearly expounded to us, about the true and provisional teachings in relation to The Path of Sages and The Pure Land Way. He also carefully explained about the distinctive characteristics of The Right, Semblance and Dharma-ending Ages which define the spiritual capacities of Dharma practicers.

The teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha on the Path of Sages were intended for the period when He was in this world and through the five hundred years of The Right Dharma Age (正 法 時 代); they are altogether inappropriate for the times and nature of beings in the thousand years of the Semblance Dharma Age (像 法 時 代) and during the materialistic years of the Dharma Ending Age (末 法 時 代) that followed. Out of millions of human beings who seek to cultivate the Way by performing meditative and non-meditative practices during the Dharma-ending Age, not one will gain perfect realization at the end of their extremely rare human lives.

We are now entrenched in The Dharma-ending Age; it is the evil world of the five defilements. This one gate – the Pure Land Way – is the only path that affords passage. Furthermore, even within the Pure Land Way, not one of us is able to come to the end of suffering by performing any self-power meditative or non-meditative practices. These practices are no longer in accord with the times and nature of beings. Yet most followers of the Buddha Dharma today, ignorant of this fact, do not even admit or honestly recognize their own inability and unfavourable circumstances they are now in, letting this life pass by in vain and struggling without any hope of ever coming close to emancipation. In short, they are painfully ignorant of Shakyamuni Buddha’s skilful teachings and true intention for His appearance in this world.

However, in this Dharma-ending Age, followers who truly and deeply listened to the Buddha’s teachings, will realize their own inability, utter foolishness and adverse circumstances they are in, knowing that they are doomed to complete failure by self-power practices. Wishing to be forever freed from the clutches of samsara, they single-heartedly entrust themselves and their karmic destiny entirely to  Amida Buddha and the Primal Vow. Saying the Name (南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛 – Namo Amida Butsu) as they receive the inconceivable gift of Shinjin (Entrusting mind – 信 心), they know without any doubt that they have now joined the assembly of those assured of Nirvana and would be freed from the crazy cycle of pain and suffering at the end of their lives.

The practice of listening deeply to the Buddhas’ teachings and single-hearted reliance on Amida Buddha and His Primal Vow are fully in accord with our true natures, spiritual aptitudes and The Dharma-ending Age. Followers of Shinjin belong to the rightly-established group whose births in Unconditioned Land of Peace and Bliss at the end of their lives, are absolutely guaranteed. They are thus, wonderfully and rightly described by Master Shinran as ‘True Disciples of Buddha’.

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True Disciples of Buddha – are therefore, the appropriate term for Buddhist followers – especially in this Dharma Ending Age – who rely completely on Amida Buddha’s absolute Vow-power (Other-power) and are truly settled in diamond-like Shinjin. They know without any doubt that, they will be Buddhas in Amida’s Pure Land at the end of their present lives. Naturally, they would live out the rest of their lives, remaining as foolish persons filled with blind passions, yet carefully watch over and constantly protected by the Compassionate Light of Amida Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha and all the Buddhas in the ten directions.

However, as expounded by Master Shinran in the Chinese text mentioned above, ‘True’ is contrasted with ‘False’ and ‘Provisional’. These latter categories of Buddhists, really do not have the aspiration or the appropriate means that are in accord with their true natures, aptitudes and circumstances, to escape from samsara, at the end of their pitiful existence in this mortal world:

False disciples of Buddha are people who may call themselves Buddhists, yet, they often mix their views and practices with other non-Buddhist, religious teachings. These are unstable, confused, ignorant followers, who always try to compare Buddha with God and Nirvana with Heaven. It is extremely sad that they do not even understand that the Buddhas’ teachings are the only methods that could get them out of samsara, while all other non-Buddhist spiritual paths, would only perpetuate their pain and suffering, relentlessly, in samsara.

Provisional disciples, on the other hand, are actually good Buddhists who are practicers of the difficult, expedient means taught by Shakyamuni Buddha in meditational and non-meditational disciplines meant for the truly superior disciples on the Path of Sages, during His lifetime. These followers of Buddha, depend largely on their own self-power efforts, practices and strict moral conducts to gain Enlightenment, without honestly taking stock of their own aptitudes for such difficult practices. Being followers of doubt and uncertainty, they may also mix their self-power practices with partial reliance on Amida Buddha’s Pure Land way.

Provisional disciples of Buddha are therefore, the good Buddhists who actually do not understand that, as the Buddha’s energetic presence have receded in time, all their self-power struggles are simply not in accord with their extremely poor spiritual aptitude, circumstances and the Dharma Age they are in. It is again extremely sorrowful, that they still harbour doubts and simply cannot entrust themselves single-heartedly to Amida’s Primal Vow, which is now, the only option available, that could assure them of Enlightenment at the end of this samsaric life.

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Listening Deeply to the Buddha Dharma in general and to the Amida Dharma in particular, may all wretched foolish persons come to accept Amida’ precious Gift of Shinjin and become ‘True Disciples of Buddha’. May they, for as long as they live, continue to Say the Buddha’s Name – which is fully endowed with the Buddha’s infinite merits and virtues – in deep gratitude to Amida Buddha for His Boundless Compassion.

True Disciples of Buddha have definitely 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.

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

 

Home Page: The Call of Boundless Compassion

Amida Buddha’s Call – Introduction

THE CALL OF BOUNDLESS COMPASSION    

大 悲 無 倦 常 照 我

namoamitofu-fa

Saying the Buddha’s Name (南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛 – Namo Amida Butsu), that embodies Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow, is our sincere response, in deep gratitude for the Compassionate Call from the Tathagata of Immeasurable Light and Life. Through the power of the Vow, the Buddha’s infinite merits and virtues are equally bestowed on us, for our going forth to the Pure Land of Peace and Bliss…

“Extremely evil persons should just Say the Buddha’s Name
Who has already grasped and embraced me
Though blind passions have obscured my eyes and I cannot see
Great Compassion is untiring and constantly illumines me.”

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I take refuge in Amida Buddha, single-heartedly Saying the Name of the Tathagata of Unhindered Light, in profound gratitude for the inconceivable Gift of Salvation unconditionally bestowed on me. I fully accept and joyfully entrust myself, taking the only viable route, the easy path specially made for mundane foolish persons – the ‘White Path’ – out of this vicious cycle of birth, suffering and death…

White Path JPG

This Blog is created out of constant reflections on The Boundless Compassion of Amida Buddha, clearly and thoroughly expounded in the excellent teachings of Venerable Master Shinran on The True Pure Land Way. Based strictly on his wonderful magnum opus the Kyo Gyo Shin Sho, his other excellent expositions and poems, most articles posted here, would have each, a calligraphic visual presentation quoting the original classical Chinese text.

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Suffering beings like ourselves do not know why we are born here – in a perishing environment firmly attached to greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance and doubt – living perhaps for only a short period of a 100 years and then blindly leaving this world in agony for another unknown existence of continued pain and suffering. How painfully foolish and blind we are, not making use of this, extremely rare, precious human birth which has brought us the right conditions and opportunity to free ourselves forever from samsara – this vicious cycle of birth, suffering and death.

We should know that the Buddha Dharma is the only True Teaching in this world of absolute delusion, that gives us a chance and means of escaping from samsara. Painfully ignorant of this fact, the majority of us are led to become agnostics or to simply follow other widely touted, false spiritual teachings, which definitely and relentlessly keep us mercilessly strapped to the treacherous wheel of samsara.

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All the Buddhas, in the innumerable universes and galaxies throughout the ten directions, have the same Great Compassion for all suffering samsaric beings, who are continuously and blindly trapped in the realms of gods, demi-gods, humans, animals, hungry ghosts and hell-beings. They want us to become fully Enlightened Buddhas and hence be completely free from all pain and suffering. Yet, due our intractable egos, developed over countless lifetimes – our solid intellectual and emotional arrogance – most of us simply do not have the aspiration or the humility to listen deeply to what the Buddhas taught.

These World-honored Buddhas know that, entrusting in Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow, is the easiest and most effective method of securing the Salvation of all pathetic, suffering beings – particularly during the Dharma Ages that lack the physical presence of a Buddha. Thus, all the Buddhas throughout the ten directions, praise and fully support Saying Amida’s Name which embodies the Primal Vow. Mundane foolish persons like us, should take heed of their exhortations by listening deeply to the Buddha Dharma and entrusting ourselves single-heartedly to this Universal Vow of Boundless Compassion.

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Mundane foolish persons (凡 夫 – bombu), who have ‘Listened Deeply’ (深 聞) to the teachings on Amida Buddha and His fulfilled Vows, are brought to receive the Inconceivable gift of  Shinjin (信 心), the entrusting faith in Amida Buddha and His Primal Vow. With the ripening of good karmic seeds from their past lives, further nurtured by listening deeply to the Buddha Dharma in this life, these extremely rare persons, are able to entrust their karmic destiny single-heartedly to Amida Buddha and the power of His Vows. Their amazing journeys are gratefully told here under blog posts, listed below, as ‘Pundarikas’- rare white lotuses that arise from the mud of blind passions.

These marvellous stories from persons of Shinjin in Amida’s Primal Vow, are told by them solely for the purpose of encouraging would-be seekers trying to find the ‘EASY’ path of getting out of samsara. They are certainly not expressions of their ego trips but are simply ways of showing how “the most difficult of all difficulties” is resolved by just “listening deeply” to the Amida Dharma taught by Shakyamuni Buddha.

With profound gratitude to The Buddhas for saving them from samsara – the dreadful cycle of birth, endless suffering and death – they Say The Buddha’s Name (念 佛, Japanese: Nembutsu), which is the act of true settlement. Thus, when Shinjin is received, even wretched persons, like ourselves, who are overwhelmed with deep-rooted ignorance and blind passions – completely incapable of extricating ourselves from the firm clutches of pain and suffering – are saved solely by Amida Buddha and the power of His Compassionate Vow. Persons with truly settled Shinjin are embraced and not forsaken by Amida Buddha, as they now belong to the Truly Settled Group (正 定 聚) whose birth in the Pure Land is absolutely assured while they are still living out this precious, yet fleeting life of perpetual suffering.

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Amida Buddha’s True and Real Shinjin (真 實 信 心), is His Sincere Mind and Absolute Confidence that all persons who single-heartedly accept His Primal Vow, will definitely be born, as they wish, in His Land of Peace and Bliss, at the end of their present lives. This Great Compassionate Vow  of  “Sincere Mind, Joyful entrusting, Aspiration for birth and Saying the Buddha’s Name”, had been wonderfully fulfilled ten kalpas ago when the Tathagata attained Supreme Buddhahood, after trillions of years, perfectly performing the extremely difficult practices of a Bodhisattva:

“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 offenses
And Those Who slander The Right Dharma.”

The Primal Vow (阿 彌 陀 佛 本 願) is clearly the Buddha’s Promise to save all beings from the dreadful cycle of samsara. Thus, Saying the Buddha’s Name (南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛 – Namo Amida Butsu), fulfilled in the Primal Vow, is the active cause of our birth in the Pure Land. It is Amida Buddha’s Great Practice of directing His infinite virtues to us for our going forth. By the power of this Vow of Great Compassion, we are effectively pulled out from this treacherous samsaric world of delusion, at the end of this life.

Through Amida Buddha’s innumerable manifestations in this world, The Tathagata, without a moment respite, tirelessly saved countless beings in the past and continues right now to lead those in the present who are karmically ripe, out of samsara, the  painful and relentless realms of unsatisfactory existences.

Being always amongst the multitudes, The Tathagata, using various skilful methods, sets up the appropriate karmic connections with sentient beings to enable them to be saved in the future. We should know that Amida Buddha has already accomplished our Pure Land births 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 karmically ready to receive Amida Buddha’s precious gift of Shinjin.

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Shakyamuni Buddha, who appeared in India over 2500 years ago, taught about the persistence of suffering and how to put an end to suffering. For 45 years, The World-honored One, Teacher of gods and humans expounded countless Dharma discourses and brought immeasurable number of disciples to enlightenment. The Tathagata’s strong presence and Buddha-field enabled persons of different capacities to obtain emancipation in the Age of Right Dharma (正 法 時 代) lasting 500 years from His parinirvana.

The Buddha then revealed that the main purpose for which He came to this world was to preach Amida Buddha’s Vow of Boundless Compassion which promises to save all mundane foolish persons (凡 夫, bombu), good or evil, irrespective of age, gender, social status, intelligence or living conditions. Shakyamuni Buddha knows that Amida’s Primal Vow is fully in accord with the nature and the extremely poor spiritual capacities of suffering beings, especially during the 1000 years of The Semblance Dharma Age (像  法 時 代) that came after the Age of Right Dharma and particularly, in the present Dharma Ending Age (末 法 時 代) that followed.

We are now deep in this Dharma Ending Age (末 法 時 代) in which human beings – badly overwhelmed by greed, hatred, ignorance, jealousy and arrogance  – are absolutely incapable of practising strictly in accordance with Shakyamuni Buddha’s lifetime teachings to obtain enlightenment by their own self-power, strict discipline, difficult practices. The Buddha, out of great compassion for all suffering beings, exhorts all His disciples like ourselves who truly do not have the aptitude for these practices, to sincerely entrust themselves completely to Amida Buddha’s fulfilled Primal Vow which is a sure and easy way for us to break free from the torture of samsara, at the end of this life in mortal flesh.

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Shinran Shonin, a true disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha, lived in Japan from 1173 – 1263. He listened deeply to the Buddha Dharma and honestly realizing that he was utterly incapable in performing difficult Buddhist practices, he abandoned all those sundry meditative and non-meditative practices after 20 years as a fervent practitioner. Single-heartedly he entrusted himself and took refuge in Amida Buddha and His Primal Vow. Receiving The Inconceivable gift of Shinjin (信 心),  the profound entrusting faith bestowed on him through the power of Amida Buddha’s Compassionate Vow, he clearly know, without any doubt, that he would become a Buddha at the end of his life.

With immense gratitude to Amida Buddha and deep compassion for his fellow suffering beings, he passionately composed in classical Chinese, 6 volumes of an excellent literacy masterpiece, the Kyo Gyo Shin Sho – The Teaching, Practice, Faith and Realization of the Pure Land Way (淨 土 教 行 信 證) – a wonderful complete exposition on the only viable and direct path to Amida’s Pure Land of Peace and  Bliss. For more than 30 years, he meticulously wrote down what he had been taught, his thoughts, experiences and intimate realizations on the inconceivable compassionate activities of the Tathagatas.

His huge treasury of wonderful writings included collections of Dharma teachings from the sutras and commentaries from his lineage teachers, beautiful poems, heart-felt writings and letters to his followers. All these Pure Land Dharma expositions from the Venerable Master, carefully and aptly delineating the ‘White Path’, or  ‘Easy Way’, is the only path now available for wretched beings like us to get out of samsara, at the end of our miserable lives.

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The two World-honored Ones’ Boundless Compassion and the true benevolence of Master Shinran are extremely difficult to repay by a small, foolish and worthless lay follower. But strongly inspired by Master Shinran’s earnest teachings and his beautiful four line poetry, his Gatha of True Faith ( 信 偈), I make this pale attempt to convey my heartfelt gratitude to the Tathagatas and to Master Shinran. I sincerely wish that one more person will be encouraged to listen deeply to the True Pure Land Teachings of Master Shinran and come to hear The Call of Boundless Compassion; thereby putting a permanent end to that foolish person’s pain and suffering in samsara.

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.

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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Home Page – The Call Of Boundless Compassion:

Chapter 2 – The Primal Vow (阿 彌 陀 佛 本 願)
Chapter 3 – Gatha of True Faith (正 信 念 佛 偈)
Chapter 4 – True and Real Shinjin (真 實 信 心)
Chapter 5 – True Disciple of Buddha (真 佛 弟 子)
Chapter 6 – Amida’s Gift of Salvation (南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛)
Chapter 7 – Karmic-consciousness of Shinjin (信 心 業 識)
Chapter 8 – TRUE AND REAL Teaching (真 實 教 行 信 證)
Chapter 9 – Listening Deeply (深 聞 淨 土 教 行 信 證)
Chapter 10- Hindrance of Doubt ( 疑 情 為 所 止)
Chapter 11- Dharma Ending Age (末 法 時 代)
Chapter 12- True Buddha and Land (淨 土 真 佛 土)
Chapter 13 – Ajatasatru – The Story of who we really are
Chapter 14 – Song on The Texture of Life
Chapter 15 – Stage of the Truly Settled (正 定 聚)
Chapter 16 – Natural Working of the Primal Vow (自 然 法 爾)
Chapter 17 – Saying the Buddha’s Name ( 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛 )
Chapter 18 – Precious human birth
Chapter 19 – Embraced and not forsaken (攝 取 不 捨)
Chapter 20 – Shinran Shonin and The 7 Pure Land Masters

Blog Posts : PundarikasAmazing Journeys to receive Shinjin

18  Oct.2015 – Heng Ng: Embraced by Amida
03 Nov.2015 – Valerie: I Now ‘Get It’
04 Nov.2015 – Paul Roberts: Amida is a Real Buddha
08 Nov.2015 – Camille: Finding my True Dharma Family
12 Nov.2015 – Rick St.Clair: Finding a True Teacher of Shinjin
05 Dec.2015 – David Kruemcke: Abandoning self-power Pure Land
20 Dec.2017 –  Paul Roberts – Tribute to a Good Teacher
19 Nov.2018 –  Stage of the Truly Settled
08 Oct.2019 –  Ajatasatru – Story of who we really are

Other Blog Posts: Dharma articles and poems

25 May 2016 – Embraced and not forsaken
20 June2016 – Four Seals of Dharma
17 July 2016 – Footprints of JodoShinshu
04 Sept2016 – Hindrance of Doubt
28 Sept2016 – Dharma Ending Age
03 Jan. 2018 – Natural Working of the Primal Vow
15 Oct.2018 –  Amida’s Primal Vow
22 Oct.2018 –  Saying the Buddha’s Name ( 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛 )
08 Dec.2018 – Precious human birth
08 Mar.2019 – Embraced and not forsaken
22 Jun.2019 – Shinran Shonin and The 7 Pure Land Masters
03 Aug.2019 – Nagarjuna – 1st True Pure Land Master
23 Sep.2019 – Vasubandhu – 2nd True Pure Land Master
08 Oct.2019 – Tan Luan – 3rd True Pure Land Master

Blog Posts with: Songs on Shin Buddhism

16 Dec 2016 –  Amida’s Gift of Salvation (music by Rick)
27 Jan. 2017 – Embraced and not forsaken (music by Rick)
07 Feb. 2017 – Nembutsu of Gratitude (lyrics & music by Rick)
09 Apr. 2017 – Song on The Texture of Life (music by Rick)