Category: Master Shinran’s exposition

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.

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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

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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HOME PAGE: The call of Boundless Compassion

VIDEO LINK: True Pure Land Teachings
This video is specially designed with solfeggio frequencies, to enhance your experience of Listening Deeply to this wonderful Dharma of Salvation.

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

HOME PAGE: The Call of Boundless Compassio:

Gatha of True Faith

SHOSHIN NEMBUTSU GE

正  信  念  佛  偈

 gatha-of-true-faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GATHA OF TRUE FAITH IN THE NEMBUTSU 

正 信  念  佛  偈

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

 

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

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

Thus, we have clearly Heard:

The Call of Boundless Compassion.

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

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

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Shinran Shonin and the 7 Pure Land Masters

Jodo Shinshu Lineage Masters

净 土 真 宗 七 宗 师

Jodo Shinshu Teachers revised artwork

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Second – Bodhisattva Vasubandhu – (4th century)

Third – Master Tan Luan – (476-542)

Fourth – Master Tao Cho – (562-645)

Fifth – Master Shan Tao – (613-681)

Sixth – Master Genshin – (942-1017)

Seventh – Master Honen – (1133-1212)

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

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Listening Deeply to the incomparable True Pure Land expositions of Master Shinran and the seven Lineage Masters, on the absolute relevance and significance of the marvellous teachings, based exclusively on Faith and Nembutsu, may all foolish mundane persons like us, be brought, to single-heartedly accept, the True Pure Land Path. All suffering persons who wish to be freed from samsara, should mindfully take heed of the benevolent advice from these accomplished teachers and be free of doubt by simply entrusting themselves solely, to power of the Primal Vow. Let those who are brought here through their good karma from the past, seize this precious opportunity and make full use of this extremely rare human birth, before it quickly comes to the inevitable end.

Thus, abandoning all self-power meditative and non-meditative practices and entrusting our karmic destiny entirely to Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow, as we Say the Buddha’s Name in gratitude, we have, without any doubt HEARD:

The Call of Boundless Compassion

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

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

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Dharma Ending Age

 TEXT IN KYO-GYO-SHIN-SHO

末 法 時 代

dharma-ending-age-fa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He further wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thus, we have Truly Heard:

The Call of Boundless Compassion

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

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