Category: 南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛

Karmic-consciousness of Shinjin

Original Text in The KyoGyoShinSho

信 心 業 識

karmic-consciousness-of-shinjin-fa-1

This wonderful passage, beautifully written by Venerable Master Shinran, vividly tells us that our Karmic-consciousness of Shinjin – the Entrusting faith in Amida Buddha and the Primal Vow – is the essential cause for our birth in the Land of Peace and Bliss. Nurtured by listening deeply to the Dharma on Amida Buddha, this Karmic-consciousness of Shinjin naturally arises in us, with the ripening of the seeds of our accumulated, good karma from the past…

“Truly we know, that without the virtuous Name, our compassionate father, we would lack the direct cause of birth. Without the Light, our compassionate mother, we would stand apart from the indirect cause of birth. Although direct and indirect causes may come together, if the Karmic-consciousness of Shinjin is lacking, one will not reach the Land of Light.

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

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Suffering beings like ourselves 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 condition to free ourselves from samsara – this vicious cycle of repeating birth, old age, sickness, suffering and death.

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Master Shinran’s deep self-reflection and personal experience of the Inconceivable gift of Entrusting Faith (Shinjin – 信 心) in Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow are truly heart-felt and marvellous. Thus, they are wonderfully expressed through his large treasury of beautiful and direct expositions, written in profound gratitude to Amida Buddha for His Great Compassion and grace that have saved him from samsara, “the ocean of suffering”.

Knowing that the karmic-consciousness of Shinjin (信 心 業 識) is the inner cause required for our birth in Amida’s Pure Land, Master Shinran tells us that, it arises through ‘Listening Deeply’ to the Buddha Dharma in general and to the pristine Amida Dharma in particular, as taught in The Larger Sutra of Infinite Life. With the ripening of the positive karmic energy carried forward from our past lives, these repeated exposures to the Dharma, would, at some point, suddenly cause us to fully awaken, to the Boundless Compassion of Amida Buddha.

Comparing this with what Shakyamuni Buddha had spoken about our extremely rare human birth and the necessary causes – fertile father, fertile mother and the appropriate karmic-consciousness of the being to be born – which must be present and inter-dependently fused together, for birth to take place in this human realm. However, we should clearly be aware of the vast, incomparable difference between the two distinct categories of karmic-consciousnesses, that would certainly lead beings to the two different types of births.

The impure karmic-consciousness of a sentient being, would certainly lead that being to look for its parents inside the desire realms of samsara, according to the karmic energy it possesses at the point of death.  That being will, without fail, be naturally pulled to the appropriate location and take birth in one of the unenlightened, defiled realms of perpetual suffering in samsara – as a god, demi-god, human being, hungry ghost, animal or hell-being. How painful this is!!

On the other hand, the Pure Karmic-consciousness of Shinjin, freely given by Amida Buddha and willingly accepted by us, is the decisive cause that would definitely lead us to be born in His Enlightened Pure Land of Nirvana. We would know,  instantly, that our complete freedom from the pain and suffering of samsara, is absolutely guaranteed. How joyous this is!!

The above classical writing in Chinese, clearly reveals to us, that the good karmic connections with the Buddha Dharma from our past must be present, accumulated, nurtured and ripened to that point, when they would spontaneously trigger off this extremely rare Karmic-consciousness of Entrusting Faith in Amida Buddha and His Primal Vow. This is the one-thought-moment (一 念), when we are fully awakened to the compassionate presence of Amida Buddha and His Primal Vow which embodies Saying His Name.

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Good karma from the past, accumulated through our repeated exposure to The Buddha Dharma in countless lives – which hitherto, stayed unrealized – suddenly ripens in us through ‘Listening Deeply’ again, to the Amida Dharma in this life.

Instantaneously, at that moment, we become aware of the Great Compassion of Amida Buddha, in trying tirelessly to save incorrigible beings like us from the distant past. Thus, we are now able to entrust ourselves fully in Amida Buddha and the power of the Primal Vow. This wonderful fact has been strongly emphasized in the following verses found in The Larger Sutra of Infinite Life:

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

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

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

The True and Real Shinjin (信 心) of Amida Buddha is His Absolute Confidence in saving all sentient beings. It is the ever-present Light of Great Compassion that have illumined all suffering beings a long, long time ago. It is received and accepted by those of us, who, knowing that they absolutely incapable in performing difficult practices, have now abandoned all self-power meditational and non-meditational practices and disciplines. Our only option, then, to escape from samsara, is to single-heartedly entrust our karmic destiny entirely to Amida Buddha’s Shinjin.

Truly settled Shinjin on our part is the entrusting faith that is unwavering, single-hearted, entirely free from doubt and naturally rely on the Natural working of The Primal Vow which embodies Saying the Buddha’s Name (Nembutsu – 念 佛 ). We know that in this Dharma Ending Age, a degenerated, evil period of the five defilements, in which Shakyamuni Buddha’s strong energetic field of influence have receded in time, everything is fleeting and ultimately false. Only the Nembutsu is true and real. True Shinjin is always accompanied by gratefully Saying the Buddha’s Name.

Saying The Buddha’s Name (Namo Amida Butsu  – 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛), we take refuge in Amida Buddha, deeply grateful to Him for having saved us. We are now truly settled in our minds and hearts in our quest to get out of samsara. Truly we know, without any doubt, that our births in Amida’s Pure Land are absolutely assured at the end of this painful existence in mortal flesh.

Thus, together with the active outer cause of Amida’s virtuous Name and Compassionate Light and our Karmic–consciousness of Shinjin (信 心), the inner cause,  we have now completed the required causes for  our birth in The Pure Land. It is truly inconceivable that, even spiritual idiots like us, are embraced and not forsaken by the Buddha’s Light of Boundless Compassion.

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

He sincerely exhorts us, the multitudes of foolish beings drowning in the ocean of suffering – those whose good karma from the past have now ripened – 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 Entrusting Faith from Amida Buddha and Say the virtuous Name – which surpass our conceptual understanding – for as long as we live in this unsatisfactory world.

May all who are brought here due to the ripening of good karma from the past, listen deeply to the wonderful teachings of Master Shinran and not to squander away their exceedingly rare human births. How marvellous it is to be forever free from the evil realms of perpetual pain and suffering!!

Single-mindedly take the Easy Path of  Shinjin and Nembutsu, without any distraction whatsoever from any self-power practices. As you have now placed your karmic destiny entirely in the hands of Amida Buddha, you have, clearly and 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.

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Clearly knowing that we are saved and constantly being protected by
The Light of Boundless Compassion, we gratefully say the Buddha’s Name:

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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HOME PAGE: The Call of Boundless Compassion

VIDEO LINK: Karmic- Consciousness of Shinjin
This video is specially designed and infused with solfeggio frequencies, to enhance your experience of Listening Deeply to this wonderful Dharma of Salvation.

Genshin – 6th True Pure Land Master

Master Genshin

源 信 大 师

Genshin (Final) - artwork

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

“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

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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Thus, this 6th 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, all persons are badly overwhelmed by the deep-rooted afflictions of greed, hatred, ignorance, jealousy and arrogance. Most of us are therefore, bound for the non-virtuous, painful realms of hell-beings, hungry ghosts and animals, the 3 lowest realms of samsara – the vicious cycle of birth, suffering and death.

Earnestly, in his superb expositions, Master Genshin tells us to listen deeply to the Buddha Dharma. He fervently encourages all foolish evil persons, like ourselves, to entrust ourselves single-mindedly to Amida Buddha’s Vow-power for our Salvation, by accepting the great practice directed to us by the Buddha, in Saying His Name:

Namo Amida Butsu – 南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛

The above sincere advice from Master Genshin, arose from his thorough understanding of the Buddha Dharma and deep personal realizations. He knew that it would be impossible for human beings in this Dharma ending Age, to perform meditative and non-meditative practices to gain enlightenment through their own self-power.

If we honestly look into ourselves, we would see that, the enormous amount of negative karma constantly being created by us, vastly outweighed the small merits we accumulate from good practices, which therefore cannot, in any way, cause our freedom from samsara. Furthermore, our shallow spiritual aptitude, pathetic behaviour and arrogance, would certainly dragged us into the three lowest, dreadful realms of samsara.

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Master Genshin (942-1017), the Abbot of Eshin Temple on Mt. Hiei, was born in Yamato, Japan (present day Nara prefecture), during the reign of Emperor Murakami. At the request of his dying father, his pious mother sent him to Mt. Hiei, Kyoto, when he was only 7 years old, to learn Buddhism from Ryogen. At the age of 13, he took up full monastic precepts and was then given the Buddhist name Genshin. Being exceeding studious, intelligent and eloquent, his lecture on The Lotus Sutra, so greatly impressed the Emperor, that he was appointed as court lecturer, even though he was only 15 years old.

The young scholar, thinking how that recognition would please his mother, promptly sent the Royal gifts from the Emperor to his mother. But his mother was not pleased, fearing that he would be carried away by his early success. She severely rebuked him saying: “The idea of your leaving home was that you might enter the way of true enlightenment and not to gain profit and make a name for yourself.” She added a little verse which reads: “I thought you would become a bridge to connect this world with the next, but I am sad to find that you are only a monk of this world.”

After that admonishment from his mother, the young monk became even more zealous in his studies. Withdrawing himself almost completely from the world at large, as well as associations with fellow monks, it is said that he read through the entire Buddhist canon five times, so that he might find true enlightenment. That study retreat to obtain a thorough understanding of the Buddha Dharma, however, turned out to be Master Genshin’s foundation for writing the Ojo Yoshu – ‘Collection of Essentials teachings for Birth in the Pure Land’. This masterpiece work collects the core teachings, that persistently urged and showed the way, on how ignorant human beings, could easily obtain enlightenment through birth in Amida Buddha’s Pure Land.

The Ojo Yoshu (往 生 要 集), a celebrated Pure Land exposition completed in the year 985, is basically, Master Genshin’s exhortation to foolish persons like us, to seek immediately, for the only path now available, so that we can quickly get out of this fearful samsara. He vividly highlighted the impermanence and polluted nature of our human life, impressing on us, the almost certain likelihood, that we will fall into the 3 lowest desire realms of extreme pain and torture. Compassionately writing this wonderful treatise, he strongly urged us to make our escape from samsara with utmost urgency by following the Pure Land Way, before it is too late.

As mentioned in the preceding passage, the most notable and poignant aspect of the Ojo Yoshu – ‘Collection of Essential Teachings for Birth in the Pure Land’ – is the lengthy description of the unimaginable torture and extreme suffering experienced by beings in the polluted, desire realms of samsara, especially the 3 lower realms of hell-beings, hungry ghosts and animals, where most of us will be headed. This is in sharp contrast with the peaceful and pleasurable environment experienced by residents of the Pure Land. Master Genshin’s vivid, detailed description of the impure worlds, is obviously made to spur us on, to aspire for birth in the Pure Land with utmost urgency.

Throughout his life, Master Genshin had maintained an outward appearance as a monk and scholar of the Tendai sect, having wrote many books on that school. Yet, he deeply professed his faith in the saving grace of Amida Buddha, encouraging others to do the same. His meticulous collection of the core teachings and expositions on the Pure Land Way, have set the compassionate tone, both in Japan and in China, for the multitudes to entrust themselves fully in Amida Buddha’s Great Compassionate Vow.

At the age of 76, Master Genshin left his mortal self and returned to the Pure Land. He has left behind a wonderful literature, 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 Genshin 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 Genshin, essential to Jodo Shinshu, is that mundane foolish persons like us, who are firmly controlled by stubborn blind passions and possessed with the lowest spiritual aptitude, should rely entirely on Amida’s Primal Vow for their Salvation.

He strongly discouraged miserable persons, spiritual idiots like ourselves, to perform self-power meditative and non-meditative practices to attain enlightenment. In his Ojo Yoshu, Master Genshin admonishes us against performing self power practices, dedicated for our birth in the Pure Land, as they are shallow practices of doubt that can only cause us, to be born in a transformed land. Thus, he encourages us to entrust ourselves fully in the Primal Vow without any doubt, and be assured of our births in the true Fulfilled Land of Peace and Bliss.

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 Mind (Shinjin – 信 心) on our part – the persons to be saved – is our faith-mind consciousness that fully accepts 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.

In deep gratitude, for the inconceivable Compassion of the Buddha, for saving hopeless persons like us, we Say the Nembutsu (念 佛):

Namo Amida Butsu – 南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛

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Ten Hymns based on Master Genshin’s writings, composed by Master Shinran: 

Master Genshin stated:
“Originally a Buddha, I appeared in this world;
The conditions for teaching others having already run their course,
I am returning to my primal land. “

Our teacher Genshin earnestly set forth,
From among all the teachings of the Buddha’s lifetime,
The single gateway of the nembutsu,
And spread it among the beings of this defiled world in the latter age.

Master Genshin, who was among the assembly
That heard Sakyamuni on Vulture Peak,
Taught the difference between the fulfilled and transformed lands,
Thereby clearly setting forth the benefit of single praxis over mixed.

Our teacher, Master Genshin,
Following the discourse of Master Huai-kan,
Quoted the Sutra of the Bodhisattva’s Dwelling in the Womb
To clarify the realm of indolence and pride.

In praise of persons of single practice,
He teaches that not one in a thousand will fail to attain birth;
In admonition of persons who perform mixed praxis,
He states that not one in ten thousand will be born.

He declares that births into the fulfilled Pure Land
Are not numerous,
And teaches that sentient beings born into transformed lands
Are not few.

For all people – men and women, of high station and low –
Saying the Name of Amida is such
That whether one is walking, standing, sitting, or reclining is of no concern
And time, place, and condition are not restricted.

My eyes being hindered by blind passions,
I cannot perceive the light that grasps me;
Yet the great compassion, without tiring,
Illumines me always.

We who aspire for Amida’s fulfilled land,
Though we differ in outward condition and conduct,
Should truly receive the Name of the Primal Vow
And never forget it, whether waking or sleeping.

For sentient beings of extreme evil, profound and immense,
There is no other way;
Wholeheartedly saying the Name of Amida,
We will be born into the Pure Land.

Here ends the Hymns on Master Genshin

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Listening Deeply to the True Pure Land expositions of Master Shinran and the wonderful teachings from Master Genshin, on the relevance and significance of single-minded reliance on Saying the Buddha’s Name, all ordinary foolish persons like us, should take heed of the sincere advice from these accomplished teachers. May all suffering persons abandon all self-power meditative and non-meditative practices and aspire for birth in the Land of Peace and Happiness by entrusting their karmic destiny entirely to Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow.

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.

>>>

Clearly knowing that we are saved and constantly being protected by
The Light of Boundless Compassion, we gratefully say Amida’s Name:

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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HOME PAGE: callofboundlesscompassion.wordpress.com

Listening Deeply to the Buddha Dharma

Listening Deeply to the Buddha Dharma

深 聞 佛 法

listening-deeply-fa

Listening Deeply leads us to The True Pure Land Teaching 
Listening Deeply leads us to The True Pure Land Practice 
Listening Deeply leads us to The True Pure Land Faith 
Listening Deeply leads us to The True Pure Land Realization

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Pathetic human beings like ourselves do not know why we are born here, to live, suffer and die. We are totally ignorant of the facts of our existence in this world. Yet, when we deeply ponder on the inconceivable natures and complicated elements that created the entity we call a human being, we may then, have a sense of how extremely difficult and rare it is to be human. Most of us however, would simply speculate that we are created by an almighty God, who, by deduction, must be even more complicated than us. Others are agnostics and would not believe that there is a future existence.

All human beings constantly struggle in vain, to find happiness and to avoid suffering. We may perhaps live for 100 years in this body, but without fail, the vast majority of us would die in ignorance and utter confusion. People with religious beliefs, would leave this world clinging desperately to the imaginary sleeve of a created Creator, while the so-called agnostics may, in pain and fear, beg to be saved in the last desperate moments of their lives. How sad and pitiful is our common plight!!

Generally speaking humans are more intelligent than other sentient beings in the universe but most of us, especially the so called ‘clever scientists’, could just vaguely understand the physical part of the human being. Their arrogance has caused them to be totally blind to the other part – our metaphysical or mind aspect – that jointly create us humans. Although the Buddha Dharma is the only true teaching in this world that gives us a correct view of the absolute truth and provides a sound solution for our sorrowful existence, very few people would listen deeply to it.

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Listening Deeply to the Buddha Dharma (深 聞 佛 法), would certainly lead us to find the answers regarding our existential questions on life and death. Out of great Compassion for all sentient beings, Shakyamuni Buddha, who appeared in the world about 2600 years ago, has given us the excellent teaching about life and death, as well as, 84,000 specific methods for realizing the absolute Truth. These skillful methods are taught by the Buddha, in accordance with the vast and diverse understanding levels of human beings. The World-honored One, is thus, the true source for all the streams of the Buddha Dharma in this world.

The basic tenets of the Buddha Dharma is applicable to all the authentic traditions of Buddhism. In the first turning of the Wheel of Dharma, Shakyamuni Buddha teaches the Truths about suffering, the Arising of suffering, the Ending of suffering and the Path leading to the end of suffering. Arising from these Four Noble Truths, the various teachings about Impermanence, Interdependence, and karma – the law of cause and effect – that naturally operate on all phenomenon, are skilfully taught by the Teacher of gods and humans.

Listening Deeply to the vivid descriptions about samsara- the vicious cycle of birth, suffering and death – that have mercilessly trapped us for of billions of lives, would certainly urged all discerning persons to aspire for a perfect place completely free from all pain and suffering. We are then, made aware that everything in this world is impermanent, fleeting, subject to disintegration and without fail, will be recycled again and again to take new forms, in the six treacherous realms of samsara.

This natural working of karma, also determines where our future births will be, according to the accumulated positive or negative karmic energy we possess at the point of death. However, we should know that, within the six desire realms in samsara, there is not a single land that is satisfactory. None is free from impurities, pain and endless strife.

The extreme torture and pain that would be inflicted on beings in three lower realms of existence in samsara – animals, hungry ghosts and hell beings – are so intense and fearful, that they are truly beyond our wildest imagination. The Buddha Dharma also describes the insatiable desires and unsatisfactory conditions of the three higher realms of humans, asuras and long live gods, who are mostly destined for the three lower realms once the good karma that caused them to be born there, is used up.  Listening Deeply and understanding the dreadful nature of these realms, would fervently drive our impetus and urgency, to get out of samsara quickly.

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Listening Deeply to the Buddha Dharma, therefore, awakens our aspirations to be freed from samsara. This can be achieved in various ways. Consistent exposures to the Buddha’s teachings through reading the scriptures, listening to Dharma teachings from true knowledgeable teachers and closely observing the fleeting natures of our existence, would surely strengthen our resolve.

When we honestly ponder on the purpose of our own short lives, that are being perpetually hit by natural disasters and sicknesses, and the extremely adverse environments in which we live, we would push ourselves to look for an escape route out of samsara. In this regard only the Buddha Dharma, has an effective method, suitable for each individual or group, that could achieve our aspirations and goal of extricating ourselves from the firm clutches of samsara.

We are now living in the Dharma Ending Age, a period when every person is badly overwhelmed by the defilements of greed, hatred, ignorance, jealousy and arrogance; living in an environment, extremely unconducive for strict practices. We are constantly being pounded by distractions, overloaded with illusive informations and strongly controlled by the hindrance of doubt.

Therefore, for ordinary foolish persons like ourselves, it is not easy at all, for us to perform difficult, meditational and non-meditational practices, to attain freedom from samsara by depending on our own self-power. Yet, our egoistic habits have made us blind to this fact.

For this reason, Shakyamuni Buddha had appeared in this world, to teach persons with the lowest spiritual aptitude, the wonderful Pure Land Way of Salvation that rely solely on the other-power of Amida Buddha’s fulfilled Vows, to attain birth in His Land of Peace and Happiness. This is especially efficient during this Age that lacks the physical presence and energetic-field of a Buddha.

Listening Deeply to the Buddha Dharma in general, therefore, causes us to search for this ‘Easy’ path that will surely lead us out of samsara. This marvellous True Pure Land Way is extremely difficult to believe but really easy to follow, even for those who are lowly gifted. When persons who have awaken the strong aspiration for enlightenment, honestly realize that they are indeed incapable to perform the difficult practices taught in the Buddha Dharma, they would be brought to listen deeply to the True Pure Land Dharma.  

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The wonderful True Pure Land Dharma is clearly and thoroughly expounded by Venerable Master Shinran in his magnum opus the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho – ‘Teaching, Practice, Faith and Realization’. This voluminous text teaches us how we can easily escape from samsara, by simply relying on Amida’s Primal Vow. Throughout the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho, Master Shinran repeatedly exhorts us – mundane foolish persons (凡 夫 , bombu), to Listen Deeply, to the only teaching available that can cause the lowest grade of Dharma followers to be effectively saved. He urge us to reflect, to ponder, to take heed and finally to accept fully the inconceivable Gift of Entrusting Faith (Shinjin) in Amida’s Primal Vow.

Listening Deeply to the True Pure Land Dharma, is the only practice required on the Pure Land Way. With the ripening of our good karmic seeds from the past, this practice, would at some point, spontaneously trigger off the single-minded Entrusting Faith (Shinjin) in us, to fully rely on Amida Buddha’s Vow of Boundless Compassion. Thus, we are assured of our births in the Land of Peace and Bliss. We would gratefully say the Buddha’s Name – Namo Amida Butsu (南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛).

The poem below describes the practice of Listening Deeply, to the Buddha Dharma in general and the True Pure Land Dharma in particular:

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Listening Deeply To Master Shinran’s Exhortations:

The vicious cycle of birth and death
Firmly holds all suffering beings,
Yet those wishing to be free
Struggled in vain with self-centered means.
Blinded by idiotic spiritual faculties
Their efforts are useless with little effect,
So, mundane foolish persons
Listen Deeply and reflect.

We should honestly realize that
In this Age of corrupted Dharma
We are doomed to complete failure
Salvation surely denied by self-power.
Taking the easy path of the Pure Land
We are saved by the Buddha’s Vow-power
So, mundane foolish persons
Listen Deeply and ponder.

The Larger Sutra clearly expounds
The true Land of Peace and Happiness
Revealing to us The True Teaching
That saves those in utter wretchedness.
With True and Real existence
Amida’s Salvation is absolutely perfect
So, mundane foolish persons
Listen Deeply and accept.

Fulfilling His Primal Vow
Amida saves all without exception
When we sincerely Say His Name
The Great Practice of Compassion.
By simply entrusting in His promise
Our Salvation is guaranteed
So, mundane foolish persons
Listen Deeply and take heed.

With the one-thought moment
Of complete reliance on The Vow
We are grasped and not forsaken
By His Light of Great Compassion.
This is the precious gift of True Shinjin
Bestowed solely by Amida’s grace
So, mundane foolish persons
Listen Deeply and be embraced.

On receiving settled Shinjin we know
That we will obtain True Realization
So, with profound gratitude to Amida 
We joyfully come into His presence.
Listening Deeply before receiving Shinjin
We simply say Namo Amida Butsu
Listening Deeply after receiving Shinjin
We continue to say Namo Amida Butsu

The Buddha’s infinite merits and virtues
Are bestowed equally to 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

……………………………………………..

Through the practice of Listening deeply to the Buddha Dharma, may all ordinary foolish persons who sincerely aspire to escape from the painful realms of samsara at the end of their lives, accept the True Pure Land Way and follow this ‘Easy’ path to Salvation. Thus, they have Heard:

The Call of Boundless Compassion

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

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Next Chapter: Listening Deeply to the True Pure Land Dharma

True Pure Land Teachings

Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho – Chapter Titles

淨 土 真 實 教 行 信 證

true-and-realfa

In his magnum opus the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho, Venerable Master Shinran carefully explains to us, the wonderful teachings on the True Pure Land Way, that would definitely lead us out of samsara – the vicious cycle of birth, old age, suffering and death. He sincerely wished, that all who listened deeply to this marvellous teaching, would aspire for birth in Amida Buddha’s Pure Land of Peace and Happiness.

Written in classical Chinese, this voluminous work has six chapters, capturing the True and Real aspects of the Pure Land, as well as the essential causes that would enable us to be born there. The title descriptions of the first four chapters, open up a clear vision and hope for all mundane foolish persons firmly trapped in the ‘net of samsara’.

Revealing the True and Real Pure Land Teaching 
Revealing the True and Real Pure Land Practice 
Revealing the True and Real Pure Land Shinjin 
Revealing the True and Real Pure Land Realization

Master Shinran’s repeated emphasis on the description ‘True and Real’, is clearly meant to dispel the absolute wrong views, strongly propagated by many scholars and Pure Land teachers alike, who are sadly misleading themselves and their gullible followers.

These outright false teachings have blatantly portrayed Amida Buddha as a fictional character, symbol or a myth and the Pure Land as not a real place, but just in the mind, a poetic description of Nirvana or a state of consciousness that is attainable here and now. Deceptive teachers who spread such poisonous views usually come from both, the meditative Buddhists traditions like Zen and from within Jodo-Shinshu, by scholars who still harbour the Zen mentality. Lamenting on these disparaging views, that would certainly obstruct aspirants on the way to the Pure Land, the Venerable Master writes:

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

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

Persons preaching the True Pure Land Way should carefully take stock of their own egoistic inclinations and not to speak as though they have already attained supreme enlightenment. It is indeed lamentable that these scholars and errant teachers are planting such false views in the minds of the multitudes of unenlightened, ordinary foolish persons, in this degenerated Dharma Ending Age, in which we are all  overwhelmed by greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance and doubt.

It would be a great pity and utterly sad that many followers, already at door of Salvation are karmically linked to these false teachers inside Jodo Shinshu, who are now out in great numbers, to destroy the True Pure Land Dharma of Master Shinran from within. These unsuspecting, innocent seekers of Truth are therefore being led astray, without ever coming close to receiving the precious gift of Shinjin from Amida Buddha.

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The True Pure Land Teaching is carefully expounded in The Larger Sutra of Infinite Life (觀 無 量 壽 經), which was delivered by Shakyamuni Buddha some 2600 years ago at Rajagriha, India. It was taught by The World-Honored One to 12,000 highly-accomplished monks and witnessed, by a large gathering of Great Bodhisattvas, such as Samantabhadra, Avalokitesvara, Manjusri, and Maitreya, as well as many lay Bodhisattvas. To preach this Sutra, is true reason for the Buddha’s fortunate appearance in this world. 

This Sutra tells us, how Amida Buddha’s 48 Vows arose and how they were wonderfully fulfilled, when Amida Buddha attained Enlightenment 10 kalpas ago. Upon the perfect fulfillment of the Vows, a True and Real Pure Land was thus established, to receive all sentient beings who sincerely aspire to be born there. Among these Vows, the 18th Vow also called The Primal Vow, is the central or main Vow, which pledged to free all sentient beings from samsara, by an easy path that is fully in accord with the poor aptitudes of the vast majority of followers.

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

“If, When I attain Buddhahood
Sentient Beings of The Ten Quarters
With Sincere Mind, Joyfully entrusting themselves
Aspiring To Be Born in my Land
And Saying My Name perhaps even ten times
Should Not be born there
May I Not Attain The Supreme Enlightenment
Excluded Are Those Who commit the five grave offenses
And Those Who slander The Right Dharma.”

Thus, The Primal Vow, is Amida Buddha’s statement of Absolute Confidence (Shinjin – 信 心) and Promise to save all suffering sentient beings from samsara, especially those who are unable to extricate themselves by their own self-power.

This Vow of Boundless Compassion would definitely caused countless mundane foolish persons (bombu 凡 夫), both good or evil, stupid or intelligent , male or female from different social status and environments – to be born directly into The Land of Peace and Provision. It is the Other-power that all beings can rely on for extricating themselves from samsara.

We should know that Amida Buddha had already accomplished our Pure Land births through the power of The Primal Vow, by fulfilling for each of us our aspirations and their attendant practices. All ignorant sentient beings will realise this fact sooner or later when they are karmically ready to receive Amida Buddha’s precious gift of Salvation.

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The True Practice of the Pure Land Way is the Great Practice selected by Amida Buddha in His Primal Vow of great Compassion. Saying Amida’s Name – Namo Amida Butsu, 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛 – is therefore, the Buddha’s fulfilled practice bestowed on us, for our births in His Land of Peace and Happiness. As the Name comes directly from Amida Buddha, it is certainly, not our practice to gain enlightenment by our own, self-power efforts. When we are able to fully entrust ourselves to the Primal Vow, Saying the Buddha’s Name, becomes our expression of taking refuge in the Infinite Saving-power of the Buddha, that guarantees our salvation.

As mentioned before, this Great Practice of Saying His Name, had been selected by Amida Buddha and given to all suffering beings, as a practical and easy channel by which the Buddha transfers His infinite virtues and merits to mundane foolish persons (凡 夫 – bombu) like us. It is now the only option available for those who honestly realize that they are utterly incapable of performing any difficult meditative or non-meditative practices.

Thus, wishing to be born in Amida’s Pure Land, all discerning aspirants would sincerely and joyfully entrust their karmic destiny entirely to the power of The Primal Vow. Deeply grateful to the Buddha for having saved spiritual idiots like us, we would single-mindedly say Namo Amida Butsu (南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛).

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The true shinjin (信 心) of Other-Power, is our entrusting faith-mind, that places complete reliance on the Primal Vow. It is the core essential teaching of Venerable Master Shinran, who had repeatedly expounded and clearly explained it, in all his writings and poems. This Shinjin comes solely from Amida Buddha’s directing of virtue for our going forth to the Pure Land.

“Great Shinjin is the superlative means of attaining longevity and deathlessness. It is the wondrous way to awaken aspiration for the pure and rejection of the defiled. It is the straightforward mind directed to us through the selected Vow. It is shinjin that actualizes Amida’s profound and vast benefiting of others. It is true mind that is diamond-like and indestructible. It is pure shinjin by which a person easily reaches the Pure Land where no one (with a mind of doubt) goes. It is the mind that is single, realized by the person who is grasped and protected by the compassionate light. It is the quick path difficult for people to accept. It is the true cause of attaining great Nirvana….”

Thus, when we fully entrust ourselves to The Primal Vow of Great Shinjin, in which Saying Amida’s Name is the essence, we would, for as long as our breaths last, be deeply thankful for the precious gift of entrusting faith, freely transferred to us by the Buddha.

Spontaneously we would say:

Namo Amida Butsu (南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛).

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The True Realization of The Pure Land Way is clearly and carefully expounded by Master Shinran:

“To reveal, with reverence, the true realization: It is the wondrous state attained through Amida’s perfect benefiting of others; it is the ultimate fruition of supreme Nirvana. It arises from the Vow of necessary attainment of Nirvana, also known as the Vow of realization of great Nirvana.”

“The Vow of necessary attainment of Nirvana is stated in the Larger Sutra:

“If, when I attain Buddhahood, the human beings and devas in my land do not dwell among the settled and necessarily attain Nirvana, may I not attain the supreme enlightenment.”

“When foolish beings possessed of blind passions, the multitudes caught in birth-and-death and defiled by evil karma, realize the mind and practice that Amida directs to them for their going forth, they immediately join the truly settled of the Mahayana. Because they dwell among the truly settled, they necessarily attain Nirvana. To necessarily attain Nirvana is [to attain] eternal bliss. Eternal bliss is ultimate tranquillity. Tranquility is supreme Nirvana…”

Thus, when we are able to entrust ourselves single-mindedly in Amida’s Primal Vow, we instantly belong to the stage of truly settled of those who are assured of the True Realization of Nirvana. We would naturally live the rest of our fleeting human lives, in deep gratitude to the Tathagata, by Saying the Nembutsu:

Namo Amida Butsu (南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛)

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The True Pure Land Way taught by Master Shinran, teaches pathetic followers, to take refuge single-mindedly in a True and Real Amida Buddha and a True and Real Fulfilled Land. It is the wondrous teaching of entrusting faith – The True and Real Shinjin, (真 實 信 心)specifically bestowed by Amida Buddha on foolish persons incapable of difficult practices. Therefore, we must necessarily take as essential, these True and Real existences of Buddha and Land, to be counted, as true followers of Jodo Shinshu.

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These wonderful True and Real Teachings of Master Shinran are unmistakable. They are clearly and loudly repeated throughout all his expositions. Only those who are karmically blind and completely deaf to this Right Dharma, would fail to HEAR it. Let us listen, listen deeply to this incomparable message of Salvation and receive the inconceivable Gift of Entrusting Faith (Shinjin) from Amida Buddha.

May those who are now under the spell of false teachings conjured by ignorant teachers of the True Pure Land Way, be awakened by listening deeply to this True and Real message of Venerable Master Shinran. May every aspirant of the True and Real Pure Land, quickly abandon all divergent, false teachings and immediately leave those atrocious teachers who propagate them.

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

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Clearly knowing that we are now saved and constantly being protected by
The Light of Boundless Compassion, we gratefully say Amida’s Name:

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

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True Buddha and Land

Original Text in Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho

淨 土 真 佛 土

true-buddha-and-land

Bodhisattva Dharmakara made the relevant Vows that established the true Pure Land of Peace and Bliss – the Vows of Immeasurable Light and Life – when He became Amida Buddha ten kalpas ago, through the fulfillment of all His compassionate Vows…

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

Thus, Master Shinran clearly tells us that Amida Buddha is a True and Real Buddha and that the Pure Land is a True and Real Buddha Land. From the natural perspective of all unenlightened human beings like ourselves, these are the historical facts related to us by Shakyamuni Buddha who appeared in India about 2600 years ago. We should therefore, trust the true words of the Buddha and must never say that Amida Buddha is a myth and that the Pure Land is only in the mind. It is truly sad that so many, so-called followers of Jodo Shinshu today, particularly scholars, have opined such slanderous, wrong views, by blatantly misinterpreting the Buddha’s words, with their defiled human minds of absolute delusion.

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The Larger Sutra on Infinite Life (無 量 壽 經), was personally delivered by Shakyamuni Buddha, at Rajagriha, in the presence of 12,000 monks, many Great Bodhisattvas and lay Bodhisattvas. This is the True Teaching that tells us about the amazing spiritual journey of a supremely resolute practitioner of the Buddha Dharma named Bodhisattva Dharmakara. It was during the time, trillions of years ago, when a Buddha named Lokesvararaja – the Tathagata, Perfectly Enlightened One, Possessed of Wisdom and Practice, Unsurpassed One, Teacher of gods and humans, Buddha and World-Honored One, Knower of the World – appeared in this world. Dharmakara was then a king with superior intelligence, courage and wisdom and he distinguished himself in the world. Yet, he was able to see through the enormous suffering in this world of insatiable desires. Renouncing his kingdom and throne, he became a monk and through the marvellous mentorship of Buddha Lokesvararaja, he awakened aspiration for the highest, perfect Enlightenment. Respectfully prostrating to the Buddha, he sincerely beseeched the World-Honored One, to explain fully, the practices by which Buddhas established their Pure Lands.

Dharmakara listened deeply to the Buddha’s detailed explanation of the characteristics of billions of glorious Buddha-lands, as well as, the good and evil natures, of gods and humans living in those Lands. Thereupon, he strongly resolved, to practice diligently with vigour, vowing to create an unsurpassed Pure Land that would receive all sentient beings who wish to be born there and escape from samsara – the vicious cycle of birth, old age, suffering and death, at the end of their fleeting lives.

Following strictly the wonderful instructions of the Buddha and deeply contemplating over a long, long period of time, Dharmakara strictly performed all the incredibly difficult pure practices and hard disciplines required for the establishment of a perfect Buddha-land. He resolved that his Pure Land would be special, adorned with infinite excellent qualities, attributes and a perfect environment conducive for the practice of the Buddha Dharma and attainment of Perfect Enlightenment of all its residents.

Out of great compassion for all suffering sentient beings, he carefully selected and boldly made 48 inconceivable Vows, pledging to cause all persons – in accordance with their particular varied karmic propensities, natures and capabilities – to be born in a Buddha-land of Peace and Provision. His ultimate aspiration was to save all sentient beings – especially those who are unable to save themselves by their own power. Firstly, He sought to get everyone quickly out of samsara and finally to have everyone attaining Buddhahood in His Pure Land. Each Vow would be appropriately fulfilled exactly according to what He promised.

Bodhisattva Dharmakara had clearly made these 48 inconceivable Vows in front of Buddha Lokesvararaja and witnessed by the large holy assembly of accomplished monks and Bodhisattvas. Each Vow is complete and all-encompassing, individually tailored to the particular karma of every aspirant of his Pure Land. Having strongly pledged that every one of His Vows would be fulfilled exactly according to what He promised, He tirelessly performed all the pure practices that would wonderfully create a Land of Peace and Ultimate Happiness, that could accommodate every category of aspirants. If any one of His Vow is not fulfilled accordingly, He unreservedly stated that He did not deserve to be called a Buddha.

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The Vow of Immeasurable Light (光 明 無 量 之 願) states:

“If, when I attain Buddhahood, my light should be limited, unable to illuminate at least a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddha-lands, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”

In connection with the fulfillment of this Vow of Light (Wisdom), Shakyamuni Buddha said to Ananda:

“The majestic light of the Buddha Amitayus is the most exalted. No other Buddha’s light can match his. The light of some Buddhas illuminates a hundred Buddha-lands, and that of others, a thousand Buddha-lands. Briefly, that of Amitayus illuminates the eastern Buddha-lands, as numerous as the sands of the River Ganges. In the same way, it illuminates the Buddha-lands in the south, west and north, in each of the four intermediate quarters, above and below…”

“For this reason, Amitayus is called by the following names: the Buddha of Infinite Light, the Buddha of Boundless Light, the Buddha of Unhindered Light, the Buddha of Incomparable Light, the Buddha of the Light of the King of Flame, the Buddha of Pure Light, the Buddha of the Light of Joy, the Buddha of Light of Wisdom, the Buddha of Unceasing Light, the Buddha of Inconceivable Light, the Buddha of Ineffable Light, and the Buddha of the Light Outshining the Sun and the Moon.”

“If, sentient beings encounter his light, their three defilements are removed; they feel tenderness, joy and pleasure; and good thoughts arise. If sentient beings in the three realms of suffering see his light, they will all be relieved and freed from affliction. At the end of their lives, they all reach emancipation.”

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The Vow of Immeasurable Life (壽 命 無 量 之 願) states:

“If when I attain Buddhahood, my life-span should be limited, even to the extent of a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of kalpas, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”

In connection with the fulfillment of this Vow of Life (Compassion), Shakyamuni Buddha said to Ananda:

“The life of Amitayus is so long that it is impossible for anyone to calculate it. To give an illustration, let us suppose that all the innumerable sentient beings in the worlds of the ten quarters were reborn in human form and that every one become a shravaka or pratyekabuddhas. Even if they assembled in one place, concentrated their thoughts, and exercised the power of their wisdom to the utmost to reckon the length of the Buddha’s Life, even after a thousand million kalpas, they could still not reach its limit. So it is with the life-span of shravakas, bodhisattvas, heavenly beings and human beings in his land.”

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The Vow that all the Buddhas Say the Name  is stated in The Larger Sutra:

“If, when I attain Buddhahood, the countless Buddhas throughout the worlds in the ten quarters do not all praise and Say my Name, may I not attain the Supreme Enlightenment.”

In connection with the fulfillment of this Vow, Shakyamuni Buddha said to Ananda:

“All Buddhas, Tathagatas, in the ten quarters, as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, together praise the inconceivable, supernal virtue of Amitayus…”

Thus, in this spiritually defiled Dharma Ending Age when all human beings are karmically overwhelmed by the evil passions of greed, hatred, ignorance, jealousy and arrogance, everything we perceive is fleeting; ultimately false. Only Saying the Buddha’s Name (Nembutsu, 念 佛) – remembering the Buddha – which is fully supported by all the other countless Buddhas in the infinite worlds, is True and Real.

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The Primal Vow (阿 彌 陀 佛 本 願), that embodies Saying the Buddha’s Name, is Amida Buddha’s absolute promise to all wretched human beings like ourselves who are firmly caught, for billions of lives, in the net of samsara. Those who come to realize and truthfully admit their utter inability to free themselves by struggling in vain with their own self-power efforts and practices, are assured of Salvation, the moment when they single-heartedly entrust themselves, taking refuge in Amida Buddha and the power of The Primal Vow.

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

This Primal Vow is the universal pledge made to provide an ‘easy’ path to all human beings who are unable save themselves by their own power. This Vow is especially in accord with the extremely poor spiritual capacities of deluded beings submerged in the extremely unfavourable environments during the Semblance and Dharma Ending Ages.

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Fulfillment of Dharmakara’s Vows had been wonderfully described by Shakyamuni Buddha in The Larger Sutra. The Bodhisattva had attained Perfect Enlightenment ten kalpas ago and became Amida Buddha with His Pure Land exquisitely established. This “western Buddha-land of Peace and Bliss is located a hundred thousand kotis of lands away from here” and it is here that Amida Buddha resides.

Amida Buddha is a True and Real Buddha and The Pure Land is a True and Real Buddha Land. We should whole-heartedly entrust ourselves to this knowledge as it comes directly from Shakyamuni Buddha – a trustworthy and indisputable source. Both Buddha and Land had naturally arisen through the fulfilment of the Original Vows of Great Compassion. Thus, incorporating the Sanskrit names for  ‘Amitabha’ (Infinite Light) and ‘Amitayus’ (Infinite Life), He is called Amida Buddha.

The glorious adornments and splendid attributes of Amida Buddha’s Pure Land have been established by the marvellous fruition of Amida Buddha’s Vow-power, to receive and accommodate, the diverge groups of followers who sincerely wish to be born there. This special place is a True and Real Land of Peace and Provision, that provides all its residents a perfect and conducive environment for the practice of Buddha Dharma, under the compassionate guidance of Amida Buddha.

“In that Buddha-land, the earth is composed of seven jewels, namely, gold, silver, beryl, coral, amber, agate and ruby – which have spontaneously appeared. The land itself is so vast, spreading boundlessly to the farthest extent, that it is impossible to know its limit…”

“Again, seven-jewelled trees completely fill that land. There are some made of gold, some of silver, and others made of beryl, crystal, coral, ruby or agate. There are also trees made of two to seven kinds of jewels…”

“Again, the halls, monasteries, palaces and pavilions are spontaneous apparitions, all adorned with the seven jewels and hung with curtains of various other jewels, such as pearls and moon-bright mani gem…”

In short, the Pure Land is created with perfect attributes, such as a pure environment, exquisite accommodations and excellent provisions for all its residents. It is indeed, an ideal and conducive place for every follower to practice the Buddha Dharma, without any disturbing distractions.

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

These appalling wrong views, are often propagated by ‘smart’ modern day scholars who talk like enlightened Buddhas and many teachers of Jodo Shinshu who try to mix the True Pure Land teachings with other Buddhist traditions like Zen. These egoistically deluded persons, simply deny themselves together with their gullible listeners, the only viable escape route out of samsara. How sad and painful this is!

Let us take heed of the benevolent advice of Master Shinran who repeatedly urged us throughout his expositions, to accept, single-heartedly, the entrusting faith (Shinjin – 信 心) in Amida’s Primal Vow, which unfailingly delivers all mundane foolish persons, like us (凡 夫, bombu), to a real Pure Land.

As we have now accepted Amida Buddha’s compassionate offer of the ‘easy’ escape route out of this painful world of delusion, we are truly settled in mind and heart, while still living out this present life. Our birth in Amida Buddha’s Pure Land of Peace and Bliss at the end of this mortal life, is therefore, absolutely assured.

Single-heartedly entrusting our karmic destiny entirely to Amida Buddha and the Primal Vow, we would Say the Buddha’s Name (Namo Amida Butsu, 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛), knowing without any doubt that we are taking refuge in a True and Real Buddha and His True and Real fulfilled Land. We are profoundly grateful to Amida Buddha for having saved, even wretched spiritual idiots, like ourselves.

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

Clearly and distinctly, we have now 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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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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