Listening Deeply to the Amida Dharma

Listening Deeply to the True Pure Land Dharma

深 聞 淨 土 教 行 信 證

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Listen Deeply to The True and Real Pure Land Teaching 
Listen Deeply to The True and Real Pure Land Practice 
Listen Deeply to The True and Real Pure Land Shinjin 
Listen Deeply to The True and Real Pure Land Realization

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Listening Deeply (深 聞) to the True Pure Land teachings of Venerable Master Shinran is the most effective practice that will surely lead us to hear and finally accept, without any doubt, the True and Real existence of Amida Buddha and His fulfilled Pure Land of Peace and Happiness. The hindrance of doubt that constantly obstructs our ‘Hearing’ of Amida’s Compassionate Vows, would be gradually removed from our egoistic minds, as we persist in listening deeply to the True Pure Land Dharma.

In his magnum opus the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho (教 行 信 證), described in the previous chapter, Master Shinran carefully 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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Passages on the Pure Land Way is a concise treatise beautifully written by Master Shinran that carefully summarizes all his expositions on the ‘Easy Path’ that will definitely take us out of samsara – the dreadful cycle of birth, suffering and death. The opening article states:

“The radiant light, unhindered and inconceivable, eradicates suffering and brings realization of joy; the excellent Name, perfectly embodying all practices, eliminates obstacles and dispels doubt. This is the teaching and practice for our latter age; devote yourself solely to it. It is eye and limb in this defiled world; do not fail to endeavour in it. Accepting and living the supreme, universal Vow, then, abandon the defiled and aspire for the pure. Reverently embracing the Tathagata’s teaching, respond in gratitude to his benevolence and be thankful for his compassion.”

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“To begin, the teaching of the Pure Land way is found in the Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life. The central purport of this sutra is that Amida, by establishing the incomparable Vows, has opened wide the dharma-storehouse, and full of compassion for small, foolish beings, selects and bestows the treasure of virtues.”

“It reveals that Shakyamuni appeared in this world and expounded the teachings of the way to enlightenment, seeking to save the multitudes of living beings by blessing them with the benefit that is true and real. Assuredly this sutra is the true teaching for which the Tathagata appeared in the world. It is the wondrous scripture, rare and most excellent. It is the conclusive and ultimate exposition of the One Vehicle. It is the right teaching, praised by all the Buddhas throughout the ten quarters. To teach Tathagata’s Primal Vow is the true intent of this sutra; the Name of the Buddha is its essence…”

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“The practice of the Pure Land way is the great practice that embodies Amida’s perfect benefiting of others. It is revealed in the Vow that all the Buddhas praise the Name, also known as “the Vow that all the Buddhas say the Name.” It may further be called “the Vow of the right act, which is Amida’s directing of virtue for our going forth…”

“The great practice is to say the Name of the Tathagata of unhindered light. This practice, comprehensively encompassing all practices, is perfect and most rapid in bringing them to fullness. For this reason, it is called “great practice.” Saying the Name, then, breaks through all the ignorance of sentient beings and readily brings all their aspirations to fulfillment. Saying the Name is in itself mindfulness; mindfulness is nembutsu; nembutsu is Namo Amida Butsu…”

“The passage declaring the fulfillment of the Vows in the Larger Sutra 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. 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.”

“With these passages from the sacred words of the Buddha and from the treatises, we know in particular that the great practice is not a foolish being’s practice of directing his or her own merit toward attainment of birth. It is the fulfilled practice that Amida directs to beings out of great compassion, and therefore is called “not-directing virtue [on the part of beings].”

“This practice indeed embodies the Primal Vow, in which the nembutsu is selected and adopted. It is the supreme, all-surpassing universal Vow. It is the true and wondrous right dharma that is the One Vehicle. It is the unexcelled practice that perfectly embodies all good acts.”

Thus, with entrusting faith (shinjin) in Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow, we are profoundly grateful to the Buddha for having saved us. Spontaneously we would say the Name endowed with infinite virtues:

Namo Amida Butsu 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛

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“Pure shinjin is shinjin that actualizes Amida’s profound and vast benefiting of others. It arises from the Vow of birth through the nembutsu, also known as “the Vow of sincere mind and entrusting.” It may further be called “the Vow of shinjin, which is Amida’s directing of virtue for our going forth.” However, for the shallowest of foolish beings – the multitudes of the basest level – it is impossible to realize pure shinjin, impossible to attain the highest end. This is because we do not depend on Amida’s directing of virtue for our going forth and because we are entangled in a net of doubt.”

“It is through the Tathagata’s supportive power, and through the vast power of great compassion and all-embracing wisdom, that a person realizes pure, true, and real shinjin. Therefore, that mind will not be inverted; that mind will not be vain or false. Truly we know that the supreme, perfect fruit of enlightenment is not difficult to attain; it is pure shinjin, true and real, that is indeed difficult to realize.”

‘When persons realize pure shinjin that is true and real, they realize the mind of great joy. Concerning the attainment of the mind of great joy, the Larger Sutra states:

The person who aspires with a sincere mind to be born in the land of happiness shall reach the full illumination of wisdom and acquire virtues unexcelled.

Further, the sutra states: Such a person is “one of great, majestic virtue”; moreover, he or she is “a person of vast and unexcelled understanding.”

“This shinjin is indeed the superlative means of sweeping away doubt and attaining virtues. It is what is truly manifested in the sutra, all virtues being fulfilled instantly in it. It is the wondrous way of attaining longevity and deathlessness. It is the pure shinjin of vast, majestic virtue.”

“Hence, whether with regard to practice or to shinjin there is nothing whatever that has not been fulfilled through Amida Tathagata’s directing of virtue to beings out of the pure Vow-mind. It is not that there is no cause or that there is some other cause. Let this be known.”

Thus, with entrusting faith (shinjin) and Saying the Buddha Name, we are truly settled in our minds and hearts, knowing that our realization of Nirvana is fully assured.

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“The realization attained in the Pure Land way is the wondrous fruition attained through Amida’s perfect benefiting of others. It arises from the Vow of necessary attainment of nirvana, also known as the “Vow of the realization of great nirvana.” It may further be called “the Vow of realization, which is Amida’s directing of virtue for our going forth.” This realization is purity, reality, and no-birth (nirvana), ultimate and consummate.”

Concerning the supreme nirvana, the passage teaching the fulfillment of this Vow in the Larger Sutra states:

“The sentient beings born in that land all dwell among the truly settled, for in that Buddha Land there is not one who is falsely settled or not settled.”…

“Necessarily one achieves the abandoning of his world, transcending and parting from it, and attains birth in the land of peace. One cuts off crosswise the five evil courses and the evil courses close naturally (jinen). Ascending the way is without limit; to go is easy and yet no one is born there. Never at variance with that land, one is drawn there by its spontaneous working.”

“With these sacred words of the Buddha we know clearly that when foolish beings possessed of all blind passions – the multitudes of beings caught in birth-and-death and defiled by evil karma – realize the mind and practice that Amida directs to them for their going forth, they come to dwell among the truly settled of the Mahayana teaching. Those who dwell among the truly settled necessarily attain nirvana. When one necessarily attains nirvana, [one attains] eternal bliss. Eternal bliss is great nirvana. Great nirvana is the fruit that manifests itself in the field of benefiting and converting others….”

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Concluding the Passages on Pure Land Way, Venerable Master Shinran writes:

“My fervent wish is this: Whether monk or layperson, when on board the ship of the great compassionate Vow, let pure shinjin be the favourable wind, and in the dark night of ignorance, let the jewel of virtue be a great torch. Those whose minds are dark and whose understanding deficient, endeavour in this way with reverence! Those whose evils are heavy and whose karmic obstructions manifold, deeply revere this shinjin! Ah, hard to encounter, even in many lifetimes, is the decisive cause of birth, Amida’s universal Vow; and hard to realize, even in myriads of kalpas, is pure shinjin that is true and real…”

“If you should come to realize 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 and countless lives. Hear and reflect on the truth that one is grasped, never to be abandoned – the teaching of attaining birth in the Pure Land with transcendent quickness and ease; and let there be no wavering or apprehension…”

“How joyous I am, realizing as I humbly reflect that my heart and mind stand rooted in the Buddha-ground of the universal Vow, and that my thoughts and feelings flow within the dharma-ocean, which is beyond comprehension. Filled with praise for what I have heard and joy in what I have attained, I gather words expressing the truth and select passages from the commentaries of the masters. In this, I am mindful solely of the unexcelled honored ones, and in particular seek thus to respond to the immense benevolence they have shown me.”

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May all sincere seekers of Ultimate Salvation from the treacherous realms of samsara, deeply ponder on these quotations from The Passages on the Pure Land Way. Reading Master Shinran’s magnum opus the ‘Teaching, Practice, Shinjin and Realization’, would clearly tell us all we need to know about birth in Amida Buddha’s fulfilled Pure Land of Peace and Happiness.

Therefore, by Listening Deeply to the wonderful True Pure Land Dharma, we would be lead to entrust ourselves fully in Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow.

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

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