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Gatha of True Faith

SHOSHIN NEMBUTSU GE

    念  佛  偈

 gatha-of-true-faith

Introducing this excellent composition of the Gatha of True Faith in the Nembutsu – Saying the Name (Namo Amida Butsu, 南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛),  Master Shinran expressed his deep 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.

Listening deeply to the commentaries of the seven great Pure Land Masters before him, he meticulously highlighted their essential teachings on the True Pure Land Way that he himself would single-heartedly follow.

Poetically written in Classical Chinese, these four line verses captured the intimate kindness and exhortations of The Pure Land Masters. They fervently urged all mundane foolish persons (凡 夫 , bombu) – like ourselves in this Dharma Ending Age – to entrust themselves entirely to Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow which promises to free everyone from the vicious cycle of birth, suffering and death. With profound he wrote the Shoshin Ge…

GATHA OF TRUE FAITH IN THE NEMBUTSU –     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 Primal Vow embodying The Name, bestows true settlement           
This Vow of Sincerity and Joyful Entrusting is the cause of birth                           
We are brought to 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 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.
Entrusting in Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow and saying the Name                                   
For arrogant sentient beings with perverted views                                                                
To accept and be blessed with Shinjin is difficult indeed                                                    
It is the most difficult of all difficulties that 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                                                   
One responds gratefully 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 人,
          萬 善 自 力 貶 勤 修, 圓 滿 德 号 勸 專 稱.
Tao Cho determined that it is difficult to get realization by the path of sages     
Clarifying that only the Pure Land Way could deliver us         
He discouraged 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 causes of their 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 Name of the Buddha                               
Who has also 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 in these great Masters’ expositions.
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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 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 in mortal flesh.

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

Page 2 – The Primal Vow

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Embraced and not forsaken

Embraced and not forsakena_edited-3

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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This poem has been set into a beautiful musical composition by:

Richard St. Clair – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKuPh_fbg4I

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

The Primal Vow

阿      陀      本   

the-primal-vow-2

The Primal Vow that embodies Saying the Name, is Amida Buddha’s absolute promise to all wretched sentient beings like ourselves, firmly caught in the net of samsara, the vicious cycle of birth, suffering and death. 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 in this present life, the moment when they fully entrust themselves to 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.

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Amida Buddha in His practising stage many, many billions of years ago – as Bodhisattva Dharmakara, under the guidance of Buddha Lokesvararaja – 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 capacities and natures of beings – the main purpose is to free everyone, without exception – from the relentless and painful cycle of samsara. All these Vows have already been wonderfully fulfilled when the Bodhisattva attained Perfect Enlightenment ten kalpas ago as Amida Buddha and His Pure Land splendidly established, to receive all beings who wish to be born there in accordance with His Vows.

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 has already accomplished our Pure Land birth 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 ready to receive Amida Buddha’s precious gift of Salvation.

By sincerely and joyfully entrusting ourselves single-mindedly to Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow, we have fully accepted  His Absolute Confidence in saving all beings – His inconceivable Faith-mind (Shinjin, 信 心). Thus, we have completed the cause of our Pure Land birth, here and now in this life. Spontaneously we would Say the Name (Nembutsu – Namo Amida Butsu 南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛) endowed with Amida Buddha’s infinite virtues which are instantly transferred to us for our birth in the Pure Land at the end of this painful existence in mortal flesh.

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

The Primal Vow that embodies The Name bestows true settlement
This Vow of Sincerity and Joyful Entrusting is the cause of birth
We are brought to 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 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-mindedly 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-mindedly and fully accept Amida’s Shinjin.

Thus, Saying the Name fulfilled 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. With the one thought moment of True Entrusting (Shinjin, 信 心) in The Primal Vow, we Say the Name, deeply grateful to Amida Buddha for having saved us, particularly in this spiritually defiled Dharma Ending Age (末 法 時 代) when all persons are badly consumed by the evil passions of greed, hatred, ignorance, jealousy and arrogance.

If we seriously desire to be completely free from all pain and suffering at the end of this precious human life which gives us the right opportunity of encountering The Buddha Dharma, we should know that we Do Not have any other choice but to fully entrust our karmic destiny to Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow.

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Let us Listen deeply and HEAR: 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

 

 

True Buddha and Land

ORIGINAL TEXT IN KYOGYOSHINSHO

淨 土 真

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….

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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

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The Larger Sutra on The Buddha of Immeasurable Life taught by Shakyamuni Buddha, 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 Lokesvaraja – the Tathagata, Perfectly Enlightened One, Possessed of Wisdom and Practice, Unsurpassed One, Teacher of Gods and Men, 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. On listening deeply to the teachings of the Buddha, he awakened aspiration for the highest, Perfect Enlightenment. So, renouncing his throne, he became a monk under the guidance of Buddha Lokesvararaja.

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 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 varied karmic propensities, natures and capabilities – to be born in a Buddha-land of Peace and Provision. His ultimate aspiration is 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 – the vicious cycle of birth, old age, suffering and death – and finally to have everyone attaining Buddhahood in His Pure Land; each Vow fulfilled exactly according to what He promised.

Boddhisattva Dharmakara had made these 48 inconceivable Vows in front of Buddha Lokesvararaja and the large holy assembly, explicitly emphazing in each Vow, that He did not deserved to be a Buddha, if each Vow is not fulfilled as he promised.

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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 this Vow of Light (Wisdom), Bodhisattva Dharmakara had earlier declared this aspiration before The Buddha:

Even though the Buddha-lands are as innumerable
As the sands of the Ganges
And other regions and worlds
Are also innumerable
My Light shall shine everywhere
Pervading all those Lands
Such being the result of my efforts
My glorious power shall be immeasurable.

This Vow of Light is His promise of Infinite Wisdom capable of dispelling the ignorance of all sentient beings filling the countless universes.

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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 this Vow of Life (Compassion), Bodhisattva Dharmakara had earlier declared this aspiration before The Buddha:

When I become a Buddha,
My Land shall be most exquisite
And its people wonderful and unexcelled
The seat of Enlightenment shall be supreme
My Land, being like Nirvana itself
Shall be beyond comparison
I take pity on living beings
And resolve to save them all.

This Vow of Life is His Great Compassion that bestows Infinite Life to every sentient being born in His Land of Peace and Bliss.

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The Primal Vow (18th Vow), that embodies Saying the Name, is Amida Buddha’s absolute promise to all wretched sentient beings like ourselves who are firmly caught, for trillions 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 sentient beings – especially in the Semblance and Dharma Ending Ages – fully in accord with the extremely poor spiritual capacities of deluded beings.

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Fulfillment of Dharmakara’s Vows had been wonderfully accomplished when the Bodhisattva 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 Land of Immeasurable Light is a True and Real Buddha Land. Both had naturally arisen through the fulfilment of the Buddha’s Original Vows of Great Compassion. Thus, incorporating the Sanskrit names for ‘Amitabha’ (Infinite Light) and ‘Amitayus’ (Infinite Life), He is called Amida Buddha.

The Larger Sutra describes in detail the glorious adornments and splendid attributes of Amida Buddha’s Pure Land – “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…”

We should gratefully understand that The Land of Bliss was established by the marvellous fruition of Amida Buddha’s Vow-Power, solely for the sake of receiving all suffering beings who sincerely aspire to be permanently freed from all suffering.

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Listening deeply ( 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 of error of 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 modern day scholars and teachers of Jodo Shinshu who try to mix the True Teachings with other Buddhist traditions like Zen. They just deny themselves together with their gullible listeners, the only viable escape route out of samsara. How sad and painful this is !

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Let us take heed of the benevolent advice of Master Shinran who repeatedly urged us throughout his expositions, to entrust ourselves single-heartedly and steadfastly to a True and Real Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow which promises to deliver all mundane foolish persons (凡 夫, bombu) to the shore of Enlightenment.

As we have now accepted Amida Buddha’s compassionate offer of the ‘easy’ escape route out of this painful world of delusion, we now belong  to the Group of Truly Settled, while still living out this present life. Our birth in Amida Buddha’s True and Real Land of Peace and Bliss at the end of this life, is therefore, absolutely assured.

Single-heartedly entrusting our karmic destiny entirely to Amida Buddha and the Primal Vow, we Say the 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 persons like ourselves.

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 now HEAR:

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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Karmic-consciousness of Shinjin

 Original Text in The KYOGYOSHINSHO

信 心 業 識

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What does Master Shinran say about our Karmic-consciousness of Shinjin – the Entrusting Faith in Amida Buddha and His Primal Vow – and our good karma from the past….
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“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 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.

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Master Shinran’s deep self-reflection and personal experience of the Inconceivable gift of True Entrusting, Shinjin ( 信 心) in Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow (阿 彌 陀 佛 本 願), are wonderfully expressed through his large treasury of beautiful and direct expositions written in profound gratitude to Amida Buddha for His Boundless 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, he tells us that it arises through our repeated exposure – in our past lives as well as in this life – to the Buddha Dharma and particularly to the true Dharma on Amida Buddha taught in The Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life.

Comparing what Shakyamuni Buddha had spoken about on our precious human birth, the  causes necessary for birth – fertile father , fertile mother and the appropriate karmic-consciousness of the being to be born – must be present and united for birth to take place in this human realm. However, the incomparable difference is this – while the karmic-consciousness of a sentient being leads that being to be born in an unenlightened, defiled realm of perpetual suffering within samsara – the karmic-consciouness of Shinjin leads one to be born in Amida’s Enlightened Pure Land of Nirvana.

The above classical writing clearly reveals to us, that the good karmic connections with the Buddha Dharma from our past must be present, accumulated and ripened to that instant – that one-thought-moment (一 念)  – when they would spontaneously trigger off this extremely rare karmic-consciousness of True Entrusting (信 心) and naturally allows us to know at that moment, without any doubt, the presence of Amida Buddha and His Primal Vow which embodies His Name.

The Shinjin (信 心) of Amida Buddha, His Absolute Confidence in saving all sentient beings, is the ever-present Light of Great Compassion bestowed on all suffering beings a long time ago. It is immediately received and accepted by those of us who truly entrust our karmic destiny entirely to Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow. Saying The Name (Namo Amida Butsu   南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛), we take refuge in Amida Buddha, grateful to Him for having saved us. We immediately belong to the Rightly Assured Assembly (正 定 聚) of those whose birth in Amida’s Pure Land is absolutely guaranteed at the end of this painful existence in mortal flesh.

Thus, with the active outer cause of Amida’s virtuous Name and Compassionate Light, this karmic–consciousness of Shinjin (信 心), the inner cause, when spontaneously activated in our ordinary lives, completes the required causes for  our birth in The Pure Land. True and Real Shinjin is necessarily accompanied by Saying the Name. However, Saying the Name is not always accompanied by Shinjin which comes from the power of the Primal Vow. Shinjin is the essence of the True Pure Land Way and all that is required for us to be born in the Land of Happiness at the end of our lives.

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The importance of good karma from the past, accumulated through our repeated exposure to The Buddha Dharma in countless lives, is also strongly emphasized in the following verses found in The Larger Sutra of Immeasurable 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.

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This diamond-like Shinjin is single-minded, unwavering, not mixed with any self-powered practices, entirely free from doubt and naturally rely on the inconceivable working of The Primal Vow which embodies Saying the Name (Namo-Amida-Butsu  南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛) endowed with infinite virtues. Mundane foolish persons (凡 夫 – bombu) in this Dharma Ending Age , who aspire to be forever freed from pain and suffering at the end of this life, have no other choice but to fully rely on Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow.

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 suffering in this Dharma Ending Age.  This precious human existence has given us an extremely rare 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 who have good karma from the past, realizing that we are incapable of saving ourselves by our 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 for as long as we live in this unsatisfactory world.

May all who are brought here due the ripening of good karma from the past, listen deeply to the wonderful teachings of Master Shinran and not to squander away their precious human birth. Single-mindedly take the easy Path of True and Real Shinjin in The Primal Vow of Amida Buddha without any distraction whatsoever from self-power practices. Put your karmic destiny entirely in the hands of Amida Buddha, clearly  and definitely HEAR:

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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Footprints of JodoShinshu

ESHINNOSATO MUSEUM             恵 信 尼 里 記 念 館

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Facing the majestic range of snow-covered Mount Myoko in Niigata Prefecture Japan, stands the splendid Eshinnosato Museum. Located 5 km from the small town of Arai and reachable by taxi, our visit on 1st April 2016 became the highlight of our recent tour of Japan.

The enormous contribution by Eshinni-ko (1182-1270) – Shinran Shonin’s wife – has often been overlooked by JodoShinshu followers. She had been a devoted wife and a constant support for Master Shinran in all his Dharma activities and after the passing of our benevolent teacher, encouraged their daughter Kakushinni in preserving, propagating and transmitting his incomparable True Pure Land teachings to the world in its original form – in order that mundane foolish persons like us today – could learn the only viable Way of extricating ourselves from the relentless cycle of pain and suffering of samsara.

Through a series of letters – the original of which are exhibited at the museum, together with paintings depicting the living and teaching scenes of her life with Master Shinran – they give us that ineffable feeling about a great woman who is behind the revealing of Amida Buddha’s gift of salvation to all suffering beings like us. It is no wonder that Master Shinran had regarded and treated her as a manifestation of Avalokitesvara.

The Eshinnosato Museum is not a shrine or temple but a wonderful place – rightfully and clearly commemorating the immense veneration of fellow travellers to Amida Buddha’s Pure Land – for a wonderful woman whom many, including myself, considered as the Mother of JodoShinshu.

This memorable trip of karmic connection with Eshinni-ko is certainly a great blessing from Amida Buddha and a teaching for us to deeply hear The Call of Boundless Compassion.

NAMO AMIDA BUTSU   南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛

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SAKAI BRANCH OF HONGWANJI TEMPLE      堺 市 本 願 寺

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On 4th April 2016, we took a pleasant morning stroll around the city of Sakai in Osaka and as we pass by many Buddhist temples of different Mahayana traditions in the area, we were touched by the rich culture and strong influence of Buddhism in Japan. Our visit to Sakai City was not planned but it certainly gave us an amazing surprise when we walked up to the main gate of Sakai Branch of Hongwanji Temple.

Originally constructed at this site by Rennyo Shonin, the great restorer of the wonderful teachings of Jodo Shinshu, the temple was burnt down by a disastrous fire in 1798 leaving only the main gate and a historic bell. The present Hondo (the main prayer hall) built in 1825 is the largest wooden building in Sakai City. In order to promote Buddhism amongst the rising traders and manufacturers developing steady trade through Ming China, Master Rennyo founded this beautiful temple which became the centre dispensing the precious teachings of Master Shinran in Sakai.

On entering the historic main gate marked by a pillar inscribing Master Rennyo’s name, we were presented the standing sculptures of Master Shinran on the right and Master Rennyo on the left, beautifully adorned by cherry blossoms in full bloom. This is really a rare sight for us as we have not seen the beautiful statues of these great teachers together in front of a great teaching hall. We were overwhelmed by the compassionate energy of Master Rennyo in bringing the real benefits to the common people during his time. The Hondo, Shinsho Hall (信 證 殿 – Hall of True Entrusting and Realization) appropriately named after the original temple Shinsho-in (信 證 院), is a magnificent yet serene prayer and teaching hall with the image of Amida Tathagata at the centre of worship.

Our visit to Sakai Hongwanji Temple by chance must have been the ripening of our good karma from the past which allowed us to continue hearing the Call of Boundless Compassion.

NAMO AMIDA BUTSU   南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛

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Four Seals of Dharma

南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛D

I take refuge in Amida Buddha, Saying The Name in profound gratitude for His  inconceivable gift of salvation

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The Four Seals of Dharma define all authentic Buddhist Teachings taught by Shakyamuni Buddha during His lifetime. From the perspective of The True Pure Land Teachings (JodoShinshu) expounded by Master Shinran, they contain  the Four Seals of Dharma with The Primal Vow of Amida Buddha that embodies Namo Amida Butsu (南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛), clearly taught as the Right and only path available that assures mundane foolish persons (凡 夫 , bombu) absolute freedom from the firm clutches of samsara – the end of suffering and attainment of Nirvana at the end of their lives.

Master Shinran does not directly enumerate or describe the four Dharma seals in his writings but they are randomly mentioned. The following poem which is adapted from a previous post (Amida’s Gift of Salvation) touches on the four seals:

The texture of life
Appears rough or fine,

Constantly fashioned by karmic threads

Accumulated from countless time.

Fleeting and impermanent

Closely examining the fabric
We will definitely see,
The ugly threads of stained emotions
That weave the net of suffering without cease.

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 true and real Land of Enlightenment,
An extremely long time ago

By Amida’s grace and compassion.
Inconceivable

The Buddha’s Primal Vow
Call of Boundless Compassion,
Saves even an evil person like me

In my wretched condition.

Namo Amida Butsu

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The first four stanzas deeply express the Four Seals of the Buddha Dharma, authenticating the True Pure Land Teaching transmitted directly from Shakyamuni Buddha through the seven Pure Land Masters to Master Shinran – Impermanence (Anicca), All stained emotions have the nature of Suffering (Dukha), Emptiness/insignificance of all phenomena (Anata) and Absolute freedom (Nibbana/Nirvana is Inconceivable).

The last verse intimately convey to us the unique teaching on Amida Buddha and His fulfilled Land taught by Shakyamuni Buddha particularly for saving wretched, evil persons in this Dharma Ending Age, according to  their true nature and capacity – those who realised their total failure and inability to save themselves by self-power. Namo-Amida-Butsu guarantees salvation of all suffering beings who entirely entrust their karmic destiny to Amida Buddha and His Primal Vow.

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Namo-Amida-Butsu  南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛

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