Category: Shin Buddhism

Album of Shin Buddhist Songs

净 土 真 宗 佛 歌 集

This album of Shin Buddhist songs (with lyrics based on the poems posted on this blog),  is a collection from the wonderful musical compositions of Richard St. Clair.

These beautiful songs have given the authors a medium to express their profound gratitude to Amida Buddha for bestowing on them, the Tathagata’s inconceivable gift of Salvation. They are intended also to provide mundane foolish persons like ourselves, a channel to Listen Deeply to the Buddha Dharma in general and in particular to the Dharma on Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow.

May all persons quickly ‘HEAR’ The Call of Boundless Compassion:

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SONG ON THE TEXTURE OF LIFE
(with lyrics by Heng Ng)

A fleeting life saved by Amida Tathagata

歸 命 無 量 壽 如 來

THE TEXTURE OF LIFE

The texture of life
Appears rough or fine,
Fashioned by strong karmic threads
Accumulated from countless time.
Fleeting and impermanent

Closely examining the fabric
We will definitely see,
The ugly stained threads of blind passions
Weaving the net of suffering without cease.
Interdependent, interdependent

Our own wretched existence
Despite the persistent hue and cry,
Are just like dust specks
Against the vast sky.
Insignificant

Yet, we have already been proffered
The Unconditioned Land of Enlightenment,
More than fifty billion years ago
By Amida’s grace and compassion.
Inconceivable

The Buddha’s Primal Vow
Call of Boundless Compassion,
Was made to save an evil person like me
In my wretched condition.
Namo Amida Butsu

His wonderful Gift of Salvation
Received by me in this precious human life,
Is the fabric of Infinite Compassion
Assuring my freedom from pain and strife.
Namo Amida Butsu

Recognizing that my useless self-power
Cannot free me from the pain of samsara,
I take refuge and gratefully rely
On the Vow-power of Amida Buddha.
Namo Amida Butsu, Namo Amida Butsu

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, Namo Amida Butsu,
Namo Amida Butsu

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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

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

NEMBUTSU OF GRATITUDE
by Richard St.Clair

This short vocal piece is an expression of the composer’s faith in and gratitude to the Buddha Amida for the assurance of salvation in the Pure Land at his life’s end. The composer wrote his own lyrics for this piece, which was written in one inspired evening in July 2016 in a burst of thankfulness. The lyrics are as follows:

Namu Amida Butsu, Namu Amida Butsu.
Amida is True and Real;
His Pure Land is True and Real.
I take refuge in the Primal Vow,
Amida’s Gift to all suffering beings,
embracing all and forsaking none.

Amida is my loving parent, my Oya-sama,
my Mother and my Father.
Thank You, Amida Buddha,
thank You Amida Buddha:
Namu Amida Butsu; Namu Amida Butsu.

You are my Refuge and my Salvation,
my joy at the certainty of Birth
as a True and real Buddha
in Your Land of Peace and Bliss.
What a Wondrous Gift, this Shinjin!

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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

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

AMIDA’S GIFT OF SALVATION
(with lyrics by Heng Ng)

Namo Amida Butsu 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛

AMIDA’S GIFT OF SALVATION

I take refuge in Amida Buddha
Saying His Glorious Name
In deep gratitude for bestowing on me
His Inconceivable Gift of Salvation.

Endless suffering in the cycle of birth and death
Firmly grips this ignorant, wretched person.
And for billions of lives, I blindly endured
With no condition for emancipation.

But Amida Buddha patiently awaited
While my good karma slowly ripens,
Nurtured for more than fifty billion years
By His association and untiring presence.

Master Shinran’s wonderful message
Expounding Amida’s Gift of Salvation,
Revealed to me the work of Great Compassion
And my assured Salvation in the present.

Marvellously, in this precious human life
I finally Heard Amida’s Primal Vow,
As the spark of True Entrusting
Crosses all the gaps of doubt.

Neither have I, any accumulated merits
Nor ability to perform any good practice.
Yet, this no-root Gift of Entrusting Faith
Simply sprouted from Amida’s grace.

To say that it is simply Inconceivable
Truly describes this ineffable possibility,
How foolish persons with deep evil passions
Are saved by His Compassionate Activity

Accomplishing and fulfilling His Pledge
Amida embraces, not forsaking any person.
We are assured birth in His Land of Peace
The unconditioned realm of Enlightenment.

It is indeed difficult to adequately express
Our gratitude for His Gift of Salvation,
But thankfully calling His Glorious Name
We hear, The Call of Boundless Compassion.

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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

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

EMBRACED AND NOT FORSAKEN
(with lyrics by Heng Ng)

攝 取 不 捨

EMBRACED AND NOT FORSAKEN

Fishes are sustained
Embraced by water
My body and all material things
Are embraced by space.
My wretched mind
Transcends physical matter
Embraced and not forsaken
By Amida Buddha’s grace.

The one-thought moment
Of True Entrusting
Arises when I have Truly Heard
Amida’s Primal Vow.
Boundless Light of Compassion
Embrace without exception
All foolish mundane persons
Here and Now.

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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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Embraced and not forsaken

SESSHU FUSHA

攝 取 不 捨

Embraced

In this stanza from the beautiful Gatha of True Faith, Venerable Master Shinran vividly tells us, that we would receive the inconceivable benefit of being embraced and not forsaken by The Light of Great Compassion, the moment we are able to single-heartedly entrust in Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow. This Universal Vow is Amida’s absolute promise to save hopeless persons like ourselves from the treacherous cycle of birth and death…

“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
But just like the light of the sun being blocked by clouds and mists
Beneath those clouds and mists, there is brightness, not darkness”

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

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

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

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Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow is the Tathagata’s pledge to save all  suffering sentient beings, like ourselves, who are firmly caught, for billions of lives, in the net of samsara – the vicious cycle of birth, suffering and death. All of us have struggled in vain, from the moment we are born, constantly seeking to find happiness and to avoid suffering. Yet, being spiritually blind and ignorant, our continuous search for lasting happiness in this fleeting life, would definitely be futile. Thus, carelessly we live and squander away, this extremely rare, human birth.

However, those who come to realize and truthfully admit their utter inability to free themselves by their own self-power efforts and practices, are assured of ultimate happiness, 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 offenses
And Those Who slander The Right Dharma.”

The Primal Vow is Amida Buddha’s Absolute Confidence (true and real Shinjin – 真 實 信 心) in getting every sentient being out of samsara. The Compassionate saving activities of the Buddha is contained in this Universal Vow – the Other-power that effectively saves all suffering beings trapped in samsara.

Thus, just by simply accepting and entrusting themselves single-heartedly to this Vow – which had already been wonderfully fulfilled ten kalpas ago – countless hopeless sentient beings were saved in the past, are being saved in the present and will be saved in the future.

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 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 the vicious cycle of suffering. Thus, we accept Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow that embraces us and that its Vow power absolutely guarantees our births in the Pure Land.

Listening Deeply to Amida’s Dharma of Salvation – which had been carefully explained by Master Shinran – would certainly arouse our aspiration to free ourselves from the relentless pain and suffering of samsara. This excellent practice, nurtured by the ripening of good karmic seeds accumulated from the distant past, would surely result in our honest admission, that pathetic persons like ourselves, heavily burdened by greed, hatred, ignorance, jealousy and arrogance, would not be able to extricate ourselves from the tenacious net of samsara.

Thus, when we deeply realize the complete uselessness of our struggles to free ourselves through self-power practices, we would then, immediately let go of all these ego-centric, sundry practices and inclinations; naturally allowing ourselves to be instantly embraced by Amida Buddha and the Primal Vow.

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Embraced and not forsaken (Sesshu Fusha – 攝 取 不 捨) by Amida’s Light, persons of entrusting faith (shinjin – 信 心) are always illumined and protected by all Buddhas. Passionately exhorting all suffering beings to entrust themselves single-heartedly in the Primal Vow, Master Shinran urges us in his magnum opus, the KyoGyoShinSho and in his other wonderful writings, that we should, immediately take this ‘easy’ path out of samsara, by accepting this great benefit of being grasped and forever not abandoned by Amida Buddha…

This, then, is the true teaching easy to practice for small, foolish beings; it is the straight way easy to traverse for the dull and ignorant. Among all teachings the Great Sage preached in his lifetime, none surpasses this ocean of virtues. Let the one who seeks to abandon the defiled and aspire for the pure; who is confused in practice and vacillating in faith; whose mind is dark and whose understanding deficient; whose evils are heavy and whose karmic obstructions manifold – let such persons embrace above all the Tathagata’s exhortations, take refuge without fail in the most excellent direct path, devote themselves solely to this practice, and revere only this shinjin.

Ah! hard to encounter, even in many lifetimes, is the decisive cause of birth, Amida’s universal Vow! Hard to realize, even in myriads of kalpas, is pure shinjin that is true and real! If you should come to realize this practice and shinjin, rejoice at the conditions from the distant past that have brought it about. But if in this lifetime still you are entangled in a net of doubt, then unavoidably you must pass once more in the stream of birth-and-death through myriads of kalpas. Wholly sincere, indeed, are the words of truth that one is grasped, never to be abandoned, the right dharma all-surpassing and wondrous! Hear and reflect, and let there be no wavering or apprehension.

In his Poems on the Pure Land, Master Shinran wrote:

“He watches over Nembutsu followers
Within worlds numerous as dust particles
That lie in the ten directions
Embracing and not forsaking them
Hence, he is called ‘Amida’.”

Thus, the moment we accept the fact that even ignorant beings like us, will be born in the Land of Peace and Bliss through Amida’s “marvellously mysterious Vow”, and there arises within us the desire to Say the Buddha’s Name (Nembutsu – ), we already share in the benefit of “being embraced never to be forsaken”.

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Saying the Buddha’s Name (Namo Amida Butsu, 南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛), is Amida’s Great Practice bestowed on all miserable beings and it embodies the Buddha’s Primal Vow. The moment when we come to realize that we are utterly incapable in performing self-power meditative and non-meditative practices, we would surely take the only option available to us by entrusting ourselves to this fulfilled Vow of Boundless Compassion, if gaining freedom from samsara at the end of this precious human life, is indeed our goal.

Thus, Saying the Excellent Name is not our good nor is it our self-power practice for accumulating merits. It is simply our act of true settlement; complete reliance in the Primal Vow and our expression of profound gratitude to Amida Buddha. All the Buddhas throughout the ten directions, with one voice, praise and fully support Saying Amida’s Name, as it is easy to hold and easy to remember, affording all human beings a simple way, to find true meaning in their wretched lives and to free themselves forever from the endless torture of samsara.

Naturally, we enter the Stage of the truly settled of those assured of Nirvana and thereby, live out our remaining days in this perishing material body, listening deeply; gratefully taking refuge in Amida Buddha and the Primal Vow; Saying the Buddha’s Name and so, constantly coming into the Buddha’s presence. We would then, lead our lives,  graciously accepting and abiding with the unfolding of good or bad karma carried forward from our countless past lives.

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Receiving the Gift of Shinjin, solely due to the merit transference of Amida Buddha, we know that, we have now entered into the Rightly Established Group of those absolutely assured of birth in the Pure Land. Saying the Buddha’s Name, we are grateful to be embraced by the Light of Boundless Compassion, as we walk on the only unimpeded Single Path out of samsara…

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

Truly settled in our minds and hearts on this incredible spiritual journey, we now know that this is our last deluded life in samsara. Clearly and definitely, without any doubt, we have HEARD:

The Call of Boundless Compassion

南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛 – Namo Amida Bu
南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛 – Namo Amida Bu
南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛 – Namo Amida Bu

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Home Page: The Call of Boundless Compassion

Amida’s Primal Vow

 阿      陀      本   

the-primal-vow-2

Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow is the Tathagata’s absolute promise to save all wretched sentient beings, like ourselves, who are firmly caught, for billions of lives, in the net of samsara – the vicious cycle of birth, suffering and death. All of us have struggled in vain, from the moment we are born, constantly seeking to find happiness and to avoid suffering. Yet, being spiritually blind and ignorant, our continuous search for lasting happiness in this fleeting life, would definitely be futile. Thus, carelessly we live and squander away, this extremely rare, human birth.

However, those who come to realize and truthfully admit their utter inability to free themselves by their own self-power efforts and practices, are assured of Ultimate Happiness, 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 offenses
And Those Who slander The Right Dharma.”

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Amida Buddha in His practising stage, countless billions of years ago – as Bodhisattva Dharmakara, under the guidance of Buddha Lokesvararaja – boldly made forty-eight inconceivable Vows, out of great compassion for all suffering sentient beings. These Vows are made fully in accord with the varying karmic circumstances, capacities and natures of beings – the main purpose is to ultimately free everyone, without exception – from the relentless and painful cycle of samsara.

All these Vows have already been wonderfully fulfilled when the Bodhisattva – after countless trillions of years of extremely hard practices in meditation, generosity and strict moral disciplines – attained Perfect Enlightenment ten kalpas ago as Amida Buddha. His Pure Land of Peace and Bliss had been splendidly established specifically to receive all beings who really aspire to be born there and be permanently freed from the dreadful torture of samsara. In every one of the Vows, Amida Buddha had declared that each Vow would be accomplished accordingly as He had promised, otherwise, He is not fit to be a Buddha.

Through Amida Buddha’s innumerable manifestations in this world, The Tathagata, without a moment respite, tirelessly saved countless beings in the past and continues right now to lead those in the present who are karmically ripe, to be born in His Land of Serene Sustenance. Being always amongst the multitudes, The Tathagata, using various skillful methods, sets up the appropriate karmic connections with sentient beings to enable them to be saved in the future.

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Listening Deeply ( ) to the wonderful Buddha Dharma taught by Shakyamuni Buddha, gives us a broad understanding of our truly pathetic lives in samsara and thus, develops our aspiration to escape from this painful existence. Because of His great compassion for all suffering beings, the Buddha have taught 84,000 skilful methods and more – each appropriate to the varying capacities and natures of beings – so that every one would have a chance to escape from samsara.

Listening deeply to the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, Venerable Master Shinran, after 20 years of arduous practice on the Path of Sages, realized that he was absolutely incapable in attaining enlightenment through the difficult, self-powered, meditative and non-meditative practices prescribed. This deep and honest understanding about himself and his poor spiritual capacity, lead him to choose the True Pure Land Way that relies solely on the saving power of Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow. Receiving the gift of Shinjin – the entrusting faith from Amida Buddha – he was embraced and not forsaken by the Light of Great Compassion and know, without any doubt, that he would become a Buddha at the end of his physical life.

Exhorting us to listen deeply to the True Pure Land Teachings taught by Shakyamuni Buddha for pathetic beings like ourselves in this Dharma ending age, he tells us, through his wonderful expositions, that we would definitely be saved from the cycle of pain and suffering. By relying on the Other-power, we have given ourselves the extremely rare opportunity to extricate ourselves from samsara. Let us listen deeply and reflect on what he wrote:

“The word ‘Hear’ in the passage from the Larger Sutra means that sentient beings, having heard how the Buddha’s Vow arose – its origin and fulfilment – are altogether free of doubt. This is to ‘HEAR’.

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The Primal Vow – that is the 18th Vow – has caused countless mundane foolish persons (bombu 凡 夫), both good or evil, stupid or intelligent , male or female from different social status and environments – to be born directly into The Pure Land of Peace and Bliss and come to the end of all suffering, the beginning of Buddhahood. We should know that Amida Buddha 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.

The Primal Vow is also Amida Buddha’s simple and clear instruction on how we can confidently get to His Pure Land at the end of this life:

.. Single-heartedly and joyfully entrust yourself to Amida Buddha
.. Aspire to be born in His Pure Land
.. Saying the Buddha’s Name 

Thus, by sincerely and joyfully entrusting ourselves, single-heartedly taking refuge only in Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow; aspiring for birth in the Pure Land, we have fully accepted  His Absolute Confidence – His inconceivable Faith-mind (Shinjin, 信 心) – that continuously seeks to save all suffering beings. Spontaneously, with the one thought-moment of entrusting faith  (Shinjin, 信 心), we would Say the Buddha’s Name (Nembutsu, 念 佛) – (Namo Amida Butsu, 南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛) – deeply grateful to The Buddha for having saved us, here and now, during this present life.

Completing the cause of our Pure Land birth by fully relying on the Other-power (Buddha-centered Power), we are instantly grasped and never forsaken by the Light of Great Compassion. The darkness of our stubborn ignorance is now broken through and the hindrance of doubt in our minds and hearts, that had plagued us for billion of births, naturally disappears, just like darkness dissipating by itself in the presence of Light.

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

“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.

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.”

Regarding fulfilment of The Primal Vow, Master Shinran wrote:

“The passage declaring the fulfilment of the Primal Vow in the Larger Sutra states: All sentient beings, as they hear the Name, realize even one thought-moment of Shinjin and joy, which is directed to them from Amida’s sincere mind; and aspiring to be born in that land, they then attain birth and dwell in the stage of non-retrogression. Excluded are those who commit the five grave offenses and those who slander the right Dharma.”

“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.

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.”

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

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

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

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

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Saying the Buddha’s Name (Namo Amida Butsu, 南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛) embodied in The Primal Vow, is the Great Practice and an active other-power cause of our birth in The Pure Land and attainment of Nirvana. It is not our good nor is it our self-power practice. It is simply our act of true settlement, knowing that we will become Buddhas at the end of this fleeting life. Saying the Buddha’s Name is fully supported by all Buddhas, as it is easy to hold and easy to remember, affording all human beings a simple way, to find true meaning in their lives and to free themselves from the torture of samsara.

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.”

Thus, in this spiritually defiled Dharma Ending Age (末 法 時 代) 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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If we seriously desire to be completely free from all pain and suffering at the end of this precious human life which has given us the right opportunity of encountering The Buddha Dharma, we should completely put aside all meditative and non-meditative practices. We should know that these practices on the Path of Sages are simply beyond our natures and meagre spiritual capacities. Therefore, struggling to practice them for the purpose of getting out of samsara will definitely be in vain.

If we honestly admit that we just Do Not possess the ability to free ourselves by self-power from the  relentless, fearful nightmare of samsara, we will realize that we Do Not have any other choice but to single-heartedly entrust our karmic destiny entirely to Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow.

Thus, fully relying on Other-power – the natural working of Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow – we know that our birth in the Land of Peace and Happiness is absolutely assured while we are still living out this unsatisfactory existence. Our endless wandering in the painful realms of samsara has finally come to an end, at the end of this life in mortal flesh.

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Let us Listen deeply, knowing without any doubt, that Amida Buddha has dedicated all His merits and virtues for our going forth to The Pure Land of Ultimate Happiness. We have now clearly and surely 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

 

 

 

 

Ajatasatru – Our Real Story

THE STORY OF WHO WE REALLY ARE

淨 邦 緣 熟

icchantikas-1

Icchantikas are wretched, hopeless persons lacking the seed of salvation – people like ourselves who are stricken with a common human sickness, most difficult to cure in this world. Completely ignorant about the intractable egos that keep us firmly strapped to the vicious wheel of birth and death, we cannot be cured by self-centered means. Only the Compassionate Light of a Supreme Buddha can cure us…..

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“Concerning beings who are difficult to cure, the Buddha has taught the following in The Nirvana Sutra:
Kasyapa, there are three kinds of people in the world who are hard to cure:
.. those who slander the Great Vehicle,
.. those who commit the five grave offenses, and
.. those who lack the seed of Buddhahood (icchantikas).
These three sicknesses are the most severe in the world; they cannot be treated by sravakas, pratyekabuddhas, or bodhisattvas.”

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An Icchantika (一 闡 提) is the description that Venerable Master Shinran gave himself as he carefully explains to us, in his expositions, on the extreme difficulty for this group of wretched, hopeless, foolish and ignorant persons, to cross the ocean of samsara – the painful cycle of birth and death. Without exception every one of us is an icchantika, a person consumed by the uncontrollable urges of lust, ambition, greed, hatred, jealousy and arrogance, in this Dharma Ending Age. We too are badly plagued by the same deep-rooted human sickness that can only be cured by the Other power of a Supreme Buddha.

He relates to us the wonderful, true story of Ajatasatru – The Story of who we really are:

“As I carefully reflect, I see that the inconceivable  Universal Vow is indeed a great vessel bearing us across the ocean difficult to cross and that the Unhindered Light is the Sun of wisdom dispersing the darkness of our ignorance.

Thus it is that, when karmic conditions for the teaching of birth in the Pure Land had ripened, Devadatta provoked Ajatasatru to commit grave crimes. And when the opportunity arose for explaining the pure act by which birth is settled, Sakyamuni led Vaidehi to select the Land of Serene Sustenance.”

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The story of Ajatasatru, the unborn enemy – told in the Nirvana Sutra and related in Master Shinran’s wonderful exposition, the Kyo Gyo Shin Sho (真 實 教 行 信 證) – is an excellent example of a mundane foolish person (凡 夫, bombu) who is overwhelmed and consumed by the fires of egoistic passions – greed, hatred, deep-rooted ignorance, jealousy and arrogance. Having committed the gravest despicable crimes, Prince Ajatasatru later recognized how evil he was and realized that he was a pathetic ‘icchantika’ – one who lacked the seed of salvation; a person without any hope of emancipation and was certainly condemned to the deepest hell.

The relationship of Ajatasatru’s hopeless plight and our own is direct and similar, but most of us are not truthful enough to recognize that we are just as evil, wretched and hopeless as Ajatasatru. Transmigrating through billions of lives, we have accumulated an incredibly immense amount of evil karma and are also destined for the deepest hell. Truly, Ajatasatru is our story – The Story of who we really are.

Prince Ajatasatru – the beloved son of King Bimbisara of the country of Magda in northern India over 2500 years ago – under the instigation of Devadatta, a rebellious senior disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha, seized the throne and mercilessly starved his blameless father to death in prison. If not for the intervention of his compassionate uncle Jivaka, a true disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha, he would have also killed his own mother Queen Vaidehi for smuggling food to sustain the imprisoned Bimbisara. The extreme pain and unimaginable suffering experienced by Vaidehi brought her to implore The Buddha to show her a place throughout the entire universe and trillion world systems that was completely free from the dreadful agonies of mortal samsaric existence.

That tragic incident in this story of Ajatasatru, presented the ripening of a karmic opportunity for Shakyamuni Buddha, to reveal and teach about Amida Buddha and His Pure Land of Happiness and Serene Sustenance – the undisputable choice selected by a painfully distraught Vaidehi from amongst myriad Pure Lands showed to her by The Buddha, through His transcendental power.

Vaidehi’s prayer to Shakyamuni Buddha at that time, opened up an extraordinary escape route for the masses of wretched, mundane foolish persons (凡 夫, bombu) who truly do not have the nature or spiritual capacity to perform difficult meditative or non-meditative disciplines and sagely practices. This is fully in accord with what the Buddha said to Vaidehi about her poor spiritual capacity at that time: “you are a common mortal with inferior mental capacity”.

Recognizing her own nature and hopelessly inferior spiritual capacity, Vaidehi made this passionate prayer:

“My only prayer is this: World-Honored One, may you preach to me in detail of all the places where there is no sorrow or trouble, and where I ought to go to be born anew. I am not satisfied with this world of depravities, with Jambudvipa, which is full of hells, full of hungry spirits, and of the brute creatures. In this world of depravities, there are many assemblies of the wicked. May I not hear, I pray, the voice of the wicked in the future and may I not see any wicked person.

World-Honored One, although all other Buddha countries are pure and radiant with light, I should, nevertheless, wish myself to be born in the realm of Buddha Amitayus, in the world of Highest Happiness, Sukhavati.”

Thereupon, the Buddha showed His satisfaction with Vaidehi’s wonderful choice of Sukhavati – Amida Buddha’s Pure Land of Ultimate Happiness and Serene Sustenance – revealing His original intent with a heart-felt, gental smile.

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Guided by the power of The Buddha, Vaidehi saw the marvelous splendor of Sukhavati. In that instant, a True Buddha and Land was revealed to her. Thus, she joyfully received the certainty of Shinjin, the Entrusting Faith and insight into the wisdom of the Buddhas. Ecstatically, with joy and gratitude, she exclaimed:

“World-Honored One, Never have I seen such a wonder! People such as I can now see that land by the power of the Exalted One! To remember these words is to remember the name of the Buddha. Namo Amida Butsu.”

Vaidehi recognized that any self-power efforts on her part would be utterly useless and that she was able to see Amida Buddha and The Pure Land only by the Other-power of Shakyamuni Buddha. She also knew without any doubt, that her endless pain and suffering in samsara, would definitely come to an end with her assured birth in Sukhavati.

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Ajatasatru’s amazing journey to receive Shinjin – the Entrusting Faith of Salvation directly transmitted to him by The Buddha – would not have been made, had he not encountered and listened deeply to his uncle Jivaka who was a good teacher – a kind and knowledgeable Dharma friend (善 知 識). It must be the ripening of Ajatasatru’s good karma, accumulated from the distant past, that made him listen to the advice of Jivaka.

Because he killed his father, a fever of remorse arose in his own heart and filthy sores began to cover his entire body – he was consumed by extreme pain and agony. Although Ajatasatru had earlier repented his vile, evil nature and despicable behaviour, he could not see any possible escape from the painful hell he had created for himself.

Six close ministers came before him one after another giving him various advice to seek the miraculous formulas of their trusted gurus. Yet, Ajatasatru cannot put any trust or comfort in their words. It was only on the wonderful Dharma teachings and urging of Jivaka that Ajatasatru built up the confidence to seek the compassionate help of Shakyamuni Buddha who already knew that he would come with Jivaka.

The Buddha taught the Dharma of Salvation to Ajatasatru, radiating the Compassionate Light that instantly healed his body and mind. As Ajatasatru listened deeply, absorbing the wonderful words from the Tathagata, his heavy burden of karmic evil was lightened, enabling him to receive the inconceivable Shinjin, the Entrusting Faith that had no root in his heart. With ecstatic joy and profound gratitude to the Buddha, he exclaimed:

“How is this possible! At the beginning I did not know to revere the Tathagata, and did not entrust myself to the Dharma and Sangha. World-honored One, if I had not encountered the Tathagata, the World-honored One, I would have undergone immeasurable suffering for countless, incalculable kalpas in the great hell.”

Thus, entrusting himself and his karmic destiny entirely to the Other-power of the Buddha, Ajatasatru’s progress to enlightenment was assured. He knew without any doubt that he will be freed from the relentless cycle of pain and suffering at the end of his life. The power of a Buddha’s Great Compassion is truly inconceivable.

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Listening Deeply (深 聞 佛 法) to the Buddha Dharma and to the essential teachings conveyed to us in Ajatasatru – the Story of who we really are – will certainly expose the stark truth, that we are actually the icchantikas who are destined for the lowest hell, without any karmic condition whatsoever for salvation.

Learning from this excellent, true story of Ajatasatru, let us honestly recognize the terrible karmic mess we are in at this time. This precious human birth has given us all, the right opportunities to be repeatedly exposed to Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings on Amida Buddha and  His Primal Vow – the one and only Dharma door that remains open to spiritual idiots like us. Deeply listen, listen, and again listen to this excellent Dharma.

Ajatasatru’s amazing journey to find the only reliable escape route out of samsara, should also be our journey. Firstly, his good karma from the distant past ripened when he found and listened deeply to a kind Dharma friend and spiritual confidant (善 知 識) – his uncle Jivaka – a true disciple of the Buddha.

Next, with Jivaka’s repeated encouragements, he found the courage to seek the Other-power help directly and only from a person who had attained Supreme Enlightenment – the Buddha – and not from sravakas, pratyekabuddhas, bodhisattvas or anyone else. Receiving the Compassionate Light of Shinjin from Shakyamuni Buddha, healed him in body and mind. Thus, he received the inconceivable Gift of Salvation while still living out his remaining life as a mundane foolish person filled with blind passions.

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Maturing of our good karma, accumulated from the distant past – though unconscious to us, due to our deep-rooted ignorance – has brought us these extremely rare encounters, awakening to the untiring presence of Amida Buddha, the greatest of all the Buddhas. We are now freely given, this inconceivable awareness of the omnipresent, Compassionate Light of Salvation of Amida Buddha who has pledged to save us, no matter who we are or how heavy the enormous evil karmic baggage we are now carrying.

May all wretched icchantikas – common mortals like ourselves – not squander away our precious human births by playing the self-power games on the Path of sages. Let us listen deeply to the wonderful Pure Land teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha on Amida Buddha and His Primal Vow that clearly show us ‘the Easy Path’ (in accordance with our nature and circumstances), leading to the end of suffering, in this Dharma Ending Age.

The very moment we take heed of the exhortations of the Buddhas and are able to accept without any doubt, Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow, we will receive His inconceivable Gift of Shinjin, The Entrusting Faith that guarantees our birth in His Land of Peace and Bliss at the end of this life. We are thus, instantly embraced and not forsaken by the Light of Great Compassion, here and now. Our pathetic human sickness – the common disease of icchantikas – is finally and fully cured by Amida Buddha.

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Gratefully taking refuge and entrusting our karmic destiny entirely to Amida Buddha and His Primal Vow, we single-heartedly Say His Name (南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛 – Namo Amida Bu) which is endowed with the Tathagata’s infinite merits and virtues. Moreover, the wonderful Name is also fully supported and glorified by all the Buddhas throughout the ten directions.

Thus, with the merit transference from Amida Buddha for going forth, our birth in the Land of Happiness is absolutely assured, while we are still living out this treacherous existence. We know without any doubt, that this is our last life as deluded beings in the dreadful cycle of pain and suffering, at long 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 clearly and truly heard:

The call of Boundless Compassion

NAMO AMIDA BUTSU  南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛
NAMO AMIDA BUTSU  南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛
NAMO AMIDA BUTSU  南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛

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Home Page: The Call of Boundless Compassion

Precious human birth

A fleeting life saved by Amida Buddha

寶 贵 人 生

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The above poem in Chinese expresses the true nature of this human life, which is characterized by impermanence, suffering from blind passions and the lack of an independent soul. Yet, human birth is extremely rare and becomes really precious to us, the moment when we would use it as the perfect receptacle to listen deeply to the Buddha Dharma and to receive Amida Buddha’s Boundless Compassion…

This human life is fleeting and impermanent
With suffering arising from blind passions
Though illusory and abides in emptiness
Shows us the uncreated Land of Happiness 

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

Suffering beings like ourselves do not know why we are born here – in an ever-changing environment firmly attached to greed, hatred, ignorance, jealousy and arrogance – 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 precious human birth which has brought us the right condition to free ourselves from samsara – the vicious cycle of birth and death.

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This precious human birth is extremely rare and most difficult to obtain amongst the six realms within samsara – our perpetual and unsatisfactory home of painful existence for billions of lives. Our human birth becomes really “precious” only if one would use it beneficially, as a receptacle for the Buddha Dharma and for receiving the appropriate instructions that could lead one permanently out of samsara. Otherwise, human birth is just the same as any other type of samsaric birth – it is simply another unsatisfactory existence perpetuating the vicious cycle of birth and death.

Samsara is unfathomably immense, beings are countless in number, the places where beings inhabit are innumerable and the chains of interdependence that connect beings with each other are simply inconceivable. Driven by our accumulated karma – the cause and effect produced by the actions of our body, speech and thought – we had transmigrated endlessly throughout the six realms. Burning hatred and anger caused us to take birth as hell beings. Insatiable greed made us appear as hungry ghosts. Stubborn ignorance created us as animals. Uncontrollable jealousy caused us to become jealous gods (asuras). Overbearing arrogance and pride made us appear in the realms of gods.

Human beings are created by our collective good and evil karmas that possess different degrees of individual greed, hatred, ignorance, jealousy and arrogance. Therefore, we are able to intellectually perceive, both the good and the evil, the unimaginable suffering of beings in the lower realms of animals, hungry ghosts and hell beings, as well as the pain and pleasures, experienced by beings in the realms of gods and asuras. It is for this reason that human beings are balanced in their ability to vaguely experience and intellectually understand, the full spectrum of pain and pleasure. Therefore, a human birth could give us the best spiritual opportunity and environment, at least, to be able to ignite, that initial spark of faith in the Buddha’s words.

However, the chance of one taking birth as a human being itself, is so minute and counted as almost nothing, when compared with the countless, trillions of beings born in the unfavourable and extremely painful environments, as animals, hungry ghosts and hell beings. On the other hand, most gods, asuras and humans, are naturally destined for the three lower realms of unimaginable suffering – most likely the hell realms – when the good karma that propelled them to these seemingly favourable realms of painful existences, runs out at the end of their current lives. Thus, we should realize, that taking birth as a human being is extremely rare and most difficult to come by.

Now, due to the good karma accumulated from our distant past, we are fortunate enough to obtain this extremely rare human life. Yet, if we continue to live it, completely immersed in our constant struggle just for food, wealth, fame and the quenching of our insatiable desires, then, we would have live this life in vain. When the demon of death finally knocks on our door of impermanence at the end of this life, we are again thrown into the ocean of pain and suffering – the dreadful realms of samsara. Therefore, we must not squander away and waste this rare human life. It could again, take another countless billions of years of painful existence in the other realms, before another perfect opportunity arises for us to get out of samsara. We should know that, besides the Buddha Dharma, all the other religious teachings available today, merely afford their believers, a better but temporary, place of birth within the vicious cycle of samsara.

The one and only true teaching that assures our ultimate freedom from samsara, is the Buddha Dharma, in general and the Dharma of Amida Buddha, in particular. Therefore, let us completely abandon all the other paths, listen deeply to what the Buddhas taught and realize the real treasure uncovered by this precious human birth.

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The Buddha Dharma taught by Shakyamuni Buddha over 2500 years ago, highlights our suffering, the cause of suffering and how we can effectively put a permanent end to all our suffering. For 45 years, The World-honored One, Teacher of gods and humans expounded countless Dharma discourses and brought immeasurable number of disciples to enlightenment. The Tathagata’s strong presence and Buddha-field enabled persons of different capacities to obtain emancipation in the Age of Right Dharma (正 法 時 代) lasting 500 years from His parinirvana.

The Buddha then revealed that the main purpose for which He came to this world was to preach Amida Buddha’s Vow of Boundless Compassion which promises to save all mundane foolish persons (凡 夫, bombu), good or evil, irrespective of age, gender, social status, intelligence or living conditions, especially in the 1000 years of The Semblance Dharma Age (像 法 時 代) and particularly in this latter day of The Dharma Ending Age (末 法 時 代) that followed.

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

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The Dharma of Amida Buddha, preached by Shakyamuni Buddha, is specially designed to permanently free all wretched foolish persons like us, firmly trapped in the net of samsara. In the Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life, He tells us about Amida Buddha, who, during His practising stage trillions of years ago, under the guidance of Buddha Lokesvararaja, had boldly made 48 inconceivable Vows – each one specially made in accordance with the various wishes and conditions of the sentient beings. All these Vows had already been wonderfully fulfilled when Amida attained Perfect Enlightenment ten kalpas ago and His Pure Land of Peace and Happiness exquisitely established to receive all suffering beings who wish to be born there.

The Primal Vow is Amida Buddha’s main Vow – His fulfilled, Universal Vow of Boundless Compassion. It is His absolute pledge to all suffering beings – that those who sincerely and joyfully entrust themselves to Him, aspiring to be born in His Land and Saying His Name – would definitely be born there at the end of their current lives. For pathetic persons like us, who are utterly incapable in performing difficult meditative and non-meditative practices to save ourselves by self-power, total reliance on the Other-power of Amida’s Primal Vow is our only option for getting out of this treacherous samsara at the end of this physical life.

Saying the Buddha’s Name – (南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛, Namo Amida Butsu) – is thus, embodied in Amida’s Primal Vow. It is the act of true settlement expressing our complete reliance and true entrusting (信 心, Shinjin) in the Primal Vow. It is also our devoted expression of taking refuge and profound gratitude to the Buddha for having saved us from ocean of suffering. Single-heartedly entrusting in Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow, is thus, our ‘easy’ path out of samsara.

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Seeing the preciousness of human birth – our realization that human birth is extremely rare and yet, can be easily lost or wasted – we are given the impetus to use it beneficially by devoting our lives to listening deeply to the Buddha Dharma. However, the vast majority of persons in this world, concern themselves solely with the constant struggle to quench their insatiable desires for food, pleasure, wealth and fame, while the others follow religions that fervently teach attachment for longer or eternal lives of happiness in the next life. It is truly lamentable that both non-religious, as well as seriously religious people – not realizing that are actually destined again, for just another realm within the vicious cycle of samsara – cannot see or comprehend, the preciousness of their human births.

The Larger Sutra states:

“To obtain human life is difficult in the extreme
To meet a Buddha in this world is also difficult
It is difficult, too, for a man to attain faith and wisdom
Once you have heard the Dharma, strive to reach its heart.

Even if the whole world is on fire
Be sure to pass through it to hear the Dharma
Then you will surely attain the Buddha’s Enlightenment
And everywhere deliver beings from the river of birth and death.”

In this world with numerous religious believes and faiths – every one claiming that theirs is true – we know with absolute certainty, that almost all of them, cannot put a permanent end to all our suffering. They can only cause us to be temporarily born in one of the realms within samsara. Thus, only the Buddha Dharma is true and real.

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Listening deeply to the Buddha Dharma for the rest of our lives, may we be brought to receive the inconceivable Gift of Entrusting Faith (信 心, Shinjin) in Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow. Single-heartedly Saying the Buddha’s Name and taking refuge only in Amida Buddha, we are grasped and not forsaken by the Light of Boundless Compassion. We know, without any doubt, that samsara has finally lost its grip on us and that we will definitely be born in the Land of Peace and Ultimate Happiness, at the end of our lives. This last birth in the dreadful cycle of birth and death, is truly, a precious human birth.

Thus, we have clearly heard:

The Call of Boundless Compassion

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

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HOME PAGE – The Call of Boundless Compassion

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Call of Boundless Compassion – Front Page

THE CALL OF BOUNDLESS COMPASSION    

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

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

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I take refuge in Amida Buddha, single-heartedly Saying His Name in profound gratitude for the inconceivable Gift of Salvation unconditionally bestowed on me; fully accepting, entrusting and taking the only viable route, the easy path specially made for mundane foolish persons – the ‘White Path’ – out of the vicious cycle of samsara…

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

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

This blog also records the amazing journeys of mundane foolish persons (凡 夫 – bombu)  who have Listened Deeply (深 聞) to the teachings on Amida Buddha and His fulfilled Vows. They are brought to receive the inconceivable gift of  Shinjin (信 心), the entrusting faith that Amida Buddha freely bestowed on them when they single-mindedly entrust themselves and their karmic destiny entirely to the Tathagata and His Primal Vow – (阿 彌 陀 佛 本 願). Their amazing journeys are gratefully told here under blog posts, listed below, as ‘Pundarikas’- rare white lotuses that arise from the mud of blind passions.

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

With profound gratitude to The Buddha for saving them from samsara – the dreadful cycle of birth, endless suffering and death – they Say The Buddha’s Name (念 佛, Japanese: Nembutsu), which is the act of true settlement. Thus, when Shinjin is received, even wretched persons, like ourselves, who are overwhelmed with deep-rooted ignorance and blind passions – completely incapable of extricating ourselves from the firm clutches of pain and suffering – are saved solely by Amida Buddha and the power of His Compassionate Vow.

Persons with truly settled Shinjin are embraced and not forsaken by Amida Buddha, as they now belong to the Truly Settled Group (正 定 聚) whose birth in the Pure Land is absolutely assured while they are still living out this precious, yet fleeting life of perpetual suffering.

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Amida Buddha’s True and Real Shinjin (真 實 信 心), is His Absolute Confidence that all persons who single-heartedly accept His Primal Vow of  “Sincere Mind, Entrusting, and Aspiration for birth; by simply Saying His Name, will definitely be born, as they wish, in His Land of Peace and Bliss, at the end of their present lives.

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

Through Amida Buddha’s innumerable manifestations in this world, The Tathagata, without a moment respite, tirelessly saved countless beings in the past and continues right now to lead those in the present who are karmically ripe out of this vicious cycle of birth, suffering and death.

Being always amongst the multitudes, The Tathagata, using various skillful methods, sets up the appropriate karmic connections with sentient beings to enable them to be saved in the future. We should know that Amida Buddha has already accomplished our Pure Land births by fulfilling for each of us our aspirations and their attendant practices – all ignorant sentient beings will realise this fact sooner or later when they are ready to receive Amida Buddha’s precious gift of Shinjin.

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

The Buddha then revealed that the main purpose for which He came to this world was to preach Amida Buddha’s Vow of Boundless Compassion which promises to save all mundane foolish persons (凡 夫, bombu), good or evil, irrespective of age, gender, social status, intelligence or living conditions, especially in the 1000 years of The Semblance Dharma Age (像  法 時 代) and particularly in this latter day of The Dharma Ending Age (末 法 時 代) that followed.

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

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

With immense gratitude to Amida Buddha and deep compassion for his fellow suffering beings, he passionately wrote in classical Chinese, excellent volumes of a literacy masterpiece, the Kyo Gyo Shin Sho – The Teaching, Practice, Faith and Realization of the Pure Land Way (淨 土 教 行 信 證) – a wonderful complete exposition on the only viable and direct path to Amida’s Pure Land of Peace and  Bliss. For 30 years he meticulously wrote down what he had been taught, his thoughts, experiences and intimate realizations on the inconceivable compassionate activities of the Tathagatas and recording them into a huge treasury of wonderful writings delineating the ‘White Path’, an  ‘Easy Way’ – the only way possible for wretched beings like us to get out of samsara.

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

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

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

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Home Page – The Call Of Boundless Compassion:

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

Blog Posts : PundarikasAmazing Journeys to receive Shinjin

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

Other Blog Posts: Dharma articles and poems

25 May 2016 – Embraced and not forsaken
20 June2016 – Four Seals of Dharma
17 July 2016 – Footprints of JodoShinshu
04 Sept2016 – Hindrance of Doubt
28 Sept2016 – Dharma Ending Age
03 Jan. 2018 – Natural Working of the Primal Vow
15 Oct.2018 –  Amida’s Primal Vow
22 Oct.2018 –  Saying the Buddha’s Name ( 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛 )
08 Dec.2018 – Precious human birth
08 Mar.2019 – Embraced and not forsaken

Blog Posts with: Album of Songs on Shin Buddhism

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

Saying the Buddha’s Name

佛 – Nembutsu

namoamitofu-fa

We sincerely take refuge in Amida Buddha and His Primal Vow, the universal pledge of Boundless Compassion and aspire to be born in His Pure Land of Peace and Bliss. In profound gratitude for this inconceivable Gift of Salvation, we Say the Buddha’s Name, knowing without any doubt, that the Tathagata has permanently saved us from samsara – the vicious cycle of relentless birth, suffering and death – at the end of this precious human life…

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Amida Buddha’s salvific activities – His practice of great compassion, is essentially contained in the forty eight original Vows made by Him countless trillions of years ago, when He was performing extremely difficult practices, as Bodhisattva Dharmakara, under the close mentorship of Buddha Lokesvararaja. Having perfectly fulfilled all His Vows through those extremely hard practices of ineffable endurance and discipline, Amida Buddha finally established the Pure Land of Serene Sustenance to receive all suffering sentient beings who wish to be born there. Amongst all Buddhas, Amida Buddha is Supreme because of His universal Vows – His Infinite Light of Wisdom supersedes all other Buddhas.

The existence of Amida Buddha and The Pure Land is true and real. Yet, it is totally inconceivable and beyond the defiled, unenlightened understanding of foolish sentient beings like ourselves. Perpetually engulfed by the darkness of ignorance and assailed by the hindrance of doubt, there is absolutely no way – by intellectual or scientific means – that we can prove or perceive, the inconceivable, but real existence of Amida.

Through expedient means and innumerable manifestations in this world, Amida Buddha, without a moment respite, tirelessly saved countless beings in the past and continues right now to lead those in the present who are karmically ripe out of this dreadful cycle of birth, suffering and death.

Being always amongst the multitudes, The Tathagata, using various skillful methods, sets up the appropriate karmic connections with sentient beings to enable them to be saved in the future. The Buddha, without being asked, spontaneously helps all sentient beings. We should know that Amida Buddha had already accomplished our Pure Land births by fulfilling for each of us our aspirations and their attendant practices – all ignorant sentient beings will realise this fact sooner or later when they are karmically ready to receive Amida Buddha’s precious gift of Entrusting faith (Shinjin -信 心).

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The Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life, carefully taught by Shakymuni Buddha, describes in detail the history of Amida Buddha, His fulfilled original Vows, and the Pure Land. This Sutra – the king of all sutras – meticulously delivered by the Buddha, while displaying  an unprecedented radiance and joy, affords mundane foolish persons (凡 夫 – bombu) like us, the only viable route out of samsara. It is the main reason for Shakyamuni Buddha’s fortunate appearance in this world.

In his wonderful poems – Gatha of True Faith – Venerable Master Shinran wrote:

 “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.”

The ultimate purpose of the Buddha Dharma is to teach each and every one of us, how we can permanently be freed from samsara – the treacherous realms of pain and suffering. Born into this precious human life, we are now given the rare opportunity of escaping from samsara. Yet, to be completely free from all suffering, we must become Buddhas at the end of this physical life. This is indeed impossible for badly defiled sentient beings like us – wretched persons overwhelmed by persistent greed, hatred, ignorance, jealousy and arrogance – through the performance of self-powered practices.

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Amida’s Primal Vow however, seeks to get us permanently out of samsara and become Buddhas at the end of this life. Through the inconceivable power of the Primal Vow, we are equally saved without exception – whether we are monk or lay, men or woman, good or evil persons, young or old and living in any circumstance or social status. We are definitely saved, according to our wishes, when we accept and are in accord with, the explicit instructions of Amida’s 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 offenses
And Those Who slander The Right Dharma.”

“For Amida vowed to take into Perfect Bliss those who Say the Name, and thus to entrust oneself deeply and to Say the Name is to be in perfect accord with the Primal Vow. Though a person may have Shinjin, if he does not Say the Name it is of no avail. And conversely, even though he fervently Says the Name, if his Shinjin is shallow, he cannot attain birth. Thus, it is the person who both deeply entrust himself to birth through the Nembutsu and undertakes to Say the Name who is certain to be born in the true Buddha Land.”

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Listening Deeply (深 聞 佛 法) to the Buddha Dharma in general and Amida Dharma in particular, naturally nurtures us, allowing us to finally resolve all our doubts regarding Amida Buddha and the Primal Vow. It is the only practice required on our part that had repeatedly enabled us to be exposed to the true Dharma teachings in our past lives and will continue to embrace us, right up to the end of this life.

Persons with unsettled shinjin, if they listen deeply to the Buddha Dharma and clearing all their doubts with persons of Shinjin; Saying the Buddha’s Name as they are so inclined to, may ultimately be awakened to the honest truth that they are indeed incapable to save themselves by struggling in vain with any kind of self-powered, meditative or non-meditative, practices. When the good karma from their past lives ripens, these persons of unsettled shinjin may soon come to realize that the ‘easy’ path of the True Pure Land Way is their only viable route out of samsara.

Persons with Shinjin firmly settled, would naturally continue to listen deeply, Saying the Buddha’s Name, whether once or by many repetitions, deeply grateful for the Boundless Compassion of Amida Buddha, the Other Power that guarantees their salvation from the treacherous ocean of unending suffering and pain.

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True Entrusting (Shinjin -信 心) – on our part – is the faith-mind consciousness that is able to accept without any doubt, fully convinced about the existence of Amida Buddha, His Pure Land and the Power of His Vows, particularly, the Primal Vow. When sparked off by the ripening of good karmic seeds accumulated from our past lives, our repeated listening deeply to the Buddha Dharma, particularly the wonderful Amida Dharma, as taught by Shakyamuni Buddha, will bring us to the point of clear realization – “the one-thought moment” – in which we are awakened to the fact that we are saved by Amida Buddha. Thus, with joy and deep gratitude, we receive and single-mindedly accept this true and real entrusting faith.

Moreover, honestly realizing that we are the lowest of the lowest grade of Dharma practicers, spiritual idiots totally incapable to save ourselves by our own efforts and struggles, we would know that the Pure Land Way is the only option available to us, if getting out of samsara is indeed our goal in this life. We are then able to completely abandon all sundry, egoistic, meditative/non-meditative practices and fully entrust our karmic destiny entirely to Amida Buddha and single-heartedly Say the Buddha’s Name.

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Passages from the Sutras and Master Shinran’s wonderful teachings are found in his magnum opus, the KyoGyoShinSho – expositions on The True Pure Land Way – in which he clearly delineates the great compassionate, salvific activities of Amida Buddha.

“Reverently contemplating Amida’s directing of virtue for our going forth to the Pure Land, I find that there is great practice, there is great Shinjin. The great practice is to Say the Name of the Tathagata of Unhindered Light. This practice, embodying all good acts and possessing all roots of virtue, is perfect and most rapid in bringing about birth. It is the treasure ocean of virtues that is suchness or true reality. For this reason, it is called great practice…”

“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.”

“The sutra passage declaring the fulfillment of this Vow states:
The Buddha-Tathagatas throughout the ten quarters, countless as the sands of the Ganges, are one in praising the majestic power and the virtues, inconceivably profound, of the Buddha of Immeasurable Life.”

“Further it states:
The power of the Buddha’s Primal Vow is such
That those who hear the Name and aspire for birth
All reach that land –
Their attainment of non-retrogression coming about of itself.”

“These passages reveal that Saying the Name breaks through all the ignorance of sentient beings and fulfills all their aspirations. Saying the Name is the right act, supreme, true, and excellent. The right act is the Nembutsu. The Nembutsu is Namo-Amida-Butsu. Namo-Amida-Butsu is right-mindedness. Let this be known.”

“Those who feel uncertain of birth should say the Nembutsu aspiring first for their own birth. Those who feel that their own birth is completely settled (Shinjin) should, mindful of the Buddha’s benevolence, hold the Nembutsu in their hearts and say it to respond in gratitude to that benevolence…” – (Go-Shosoku Shu)

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Saying the Buddha’s Name (Nembutsu – ) is the Great Practice embodied in Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow (阿 彌 陀 佛 本 願) – His pledge of Absolute Confidence (Shinjin – 信 心) in saving every one of us from samsara. This Great Practice had been selected by Amida Buddha and given to all suffering beings, as a practical and easy medium by which the Buddha transfers His infinite virtues and merits to mundane foolish persons (凡 夫 – bombu) like us, those who, wishing to be born in His Pure Land, sincerely and joyfully entrust their karmic destiny single-heartedly to Him.

In this degenerated Dharma Ending Age (末 法 時 代), Dharma practicers, badly defiled by evil passions and living in unconducive environments, are absolutely incapable to attain emancipation by performing self-centered practices. Only the Other power faith in Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow and single-minded rememberance of the Compassion of the Buddha (Nembutsu – 佛), is fully in accord with the extremely poor spiritual capacities of beings like us.

Saying the Buddha’s Name – (Namo Amida Bu – 南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛 ) – for persons of settled entrusting faith (Shinjin -信 心), is their expression of receiving this other power faith which, they know, without any doubt, comes solely from Amida Tathagata’s Primal Vow.

Before receiving Shinjin, there was a time when we were erroneously inclined toward performing self-power practices (including Saying the Buddha’s Name), thinking that, by doing so, we could gain and dedicate more merits for our birth in the Pure Land. We had not realized that these self-centered acts had exposed our lack of Shinjin in the Primal Vow. Ardently reciting the Buddha’s Name without Shinjin, we were merely calling – ‘Buddha, please save me’ – and expressing our aspiration for birth. By relying on such egoistic practice, we actually doubt Amida Buddha’s “mysteriously marvellous” Primal Vow. Any kind of doubt in the saving power of the Primal Vow, certainly obstructs our birth in the True Fulfilled Land of Peace and Bliss.

After receiving Shinjin, we would single-heartededly Say the Buddha’s Name (Namo Amida Bu -南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛), fully aware that it is not our good nor is it our self-power practice. It is simply our expression of taking refuge/entrusting in Amida Buddha and the Primal Vow; sincerely thanking Him for saving us. Without any concern about the number of repetitions, we would just Say the Buddha’s Name, in times of happiness or sadness, under any circumstance, environment or state of mind, whether standing, walking, sitting or lying down. It is truly a wonderful Path completely free of obstacles.

The six character Name – a phonetic transliteration from the original Sanskrit text – has the following wonderful features, skilfully employed by Amida Buddha, that would absolutely cause our birth in Buddha’s Pure Land of Peace and Ultimate Happiness:

Namo – 南 无 – refers to the one to be saved – that pathetic person who wants to be freed from the painful existences in samsara. It is also the call of Amida Buddha to that person commanding him/her to single-heartedly take refuge and fully entrust in the Primal Vow.

Amida Bu (_ddha or _tsu) – 阿 彌 陀 佛 – is the Buddha of Infinite Light/Life, the Saviour (the Other-power) who saves the one to be saved.

Thus, Saying the Name (Namo Amida Bu -南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛) with unshakable entrusting faith, remembering Amida Buddha, causes the person who wants to be saved and the Saviour to become one; effectively fulfilling the Primal Vow. We therefore know, without any doubt, that our deliverance to the shore of ultimate Freedom and Happiness has been firmly secured and absolutely assured, at the end of this miserable existence in mortal flesh.

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Ten benefits of Saying the Buddha’s Name, with true entrusting faith in Amida’s Primal Vow, in our present lives, are clearly stated by Master Shinran:

.. First, the benefit of being protected and sustained by unseen powers.
Second, the benefit of being possessed of supreme virtues.
Third, the benefit of our karmic evil being transformed into good.
Fourth, the benefit of being protected and cared for by all the Buddhas.
Fifth, the benefit of being praised by all the Buddhas
Sixth, the benefit of being constantly protected by the light of the Buddha’s heart.
Seventh, the benefit of having great joy in our hearts.
Eight, the benefit of being aware of Amida’s benevolence
and responding in gratitude to His virtue.
Ninth, the benefit of constantly practicing great compassion.
Tenth, the benefit of entering the stage of the truly settled.”

Thus, from the moment we receive true and real Shinjin, we are truly settled in our minds and hearts; constantly protected and cared for by all the Buddhas. Naturally, we  would live out the remaining days in our perishing material bodies, knowing that Amida Buddha has already transferred His infinite merits and virtues for our going forth to the Pure Land. We would single-heartedly Say the Buddha’s Name in deep gratitude to Him, for as long as our breaths last.

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

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Thus, receiving the Tathagata’s inconceivable gift of Salvation, we single-heartedly Say the wonderful Name, having clearly and surely ‘HEARD’:

The Call of Boundless Compassion

南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛 – Namo Amida Bu
南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛 – Namo Amida Bu
南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛 – Namo Amida Bu

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Home Page: The Call of Boundless Compassion