Tag: Shinran Shonin

True and Real Shinjin

The Mind of True Entrusting

 真 實 信 心 

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In the chapter on Shinjin, Master Shinran passionately wrote…

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

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

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True and Real Shinjin (真 實 信 心) is The Absolute Confidence of Amida Buddha that His Sincere Aspiration to save all sentient beings from samsara, the relentless cycle of birth, suffering, old age and death, will definitely be fulfilled. He had boldly made Forty-eight amazing Vows when He was performing extremely hard practices and disciplines as Bodhisattva Dharmakara, under the guidance of Buddha Lokitesvaraja billions of years ago. Out of deep reflections over an incredibly long period of contemplation and His great compassion for the various painful situations of suffering all beings have to endure, He had strongly pledged that each Vow – expressing His Compassionate Aspiration appropriate to the karmic condition of different sentient beings – would be fulfilled accordingly, as He had promised.

Through the hard practices He performed over countless billions of years, The Bodhisattva had fulfilled all His Vows and thus He became Amida Buddha. The Pure Land had been established for the sake of receiving all suffering beings and it is here that Amida Buddha abides. Though not all sentient beings in the innumerable worlds are saved at this moment, the fulfilment of His Vows and His Shinjin ensure that all sentient beings will eventually be saved with their birth in The Pure Land sooner or later, as they come to fully entrust themselves in His Vow of Boundless Compassion.

True and Real Shinjin is the main teaching of Master Shinran who had repeatedly expounded and clearly explained it in his Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho. He passionately wrote this beautiful passage:

“Reverently contemplating Amida’s directing of virtue for our going forth, I find there is Great Shinjin. Great Shinjin is the superlative means for attaining longevity and deathlessness. It is the wondrous way to awaken aspiration for the pure and rejection of the defiled. It is the straightforward mind directed to us through the selected Vow. It is Shinjin that actualizes Amida’s profound and vast benefiting of others. It is true mind that is diamondlike and indestructible. It is pure Shinjin by which a person easily reaches the Pure Land where no one goes. It is the mind that is single, realized by the person who is grasped and protected by the compassionate light. It is Great Shinjin, rare and unsurpassed. It is the quick path difficult for people to accept. It is the true cause of attaining great Nirvana. It is the white path by which all virtues are fulfilled instantly. It is the ocean of Shinjin that is itself suchness or true reality.”

Amongst Amida Buddha’s forty-eight Vows, the two important Vows specifically identified by Master Shinran are the 17th Vow (The Vow that All Buddhas Praise His Name) and the 18th Vow (The Primal Vow). These Vows have been exclusively selected by Master Shinran as the Vows specially made to save him and all sentient beings in this Dharma Ending Age when everyone of us, without exception, is heavily burdened by the five defilements of greed, hatred, ignorance, jealousy and pride – all drowning in the adverse environments in which we live, especially in this materialistic world consumed by ego and scientific knowledge.

The two important Vows that directly concern us are……

The Vow that All Buddhas Praise His Name (諸 佛 稱 名 願) states: “If, when I attain Buddhahood, the countless Buddhas throughout the worlds in the ten quarters should not all praise and Say My Name, May I not attain The Supreme Enlightenment.”

Thus, with the fulfilment of this Vow, Saying the Name of Amida Buddha (Nembutsu: Namo-Amida-Butsu, 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛) which is endowed with the Infinite merits and virtues of Amida Buddha, is praised and fully supported by all Buddhas whose main purpose is to save all beings.

Although all Buddhas have their own realms or energetic spheres of influence, They know that Amida’s path of Salvation is the easiest for all beings. Therefore, They direct us to Amida Buddha and encourage us to Say the Name.

The Primal Vow (阿 彌 陀 佛 本 願) states: “If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings of the ten quarters, with Sincere Mind, Joyfully Entrusting themselves, Aspiring to be born in my Land, and Saying My Name perhaps even ten times, should not be born there, may I not attain The Supreme Enlightenment. Excluded are those who commit the five grave offences and those who slander the Right Dharma.”

Thus, for those who single-mindedly and steadfastly Take Refuge in Amida Buddha, The Primal Vow is the highest Mahayana Teaching that promises the Salvation for every person, particularly for the ordinary masses – not just for the well-endowed, monks or the  practising sages. Master Shinran says that the main reason for Shakyamuni Buddha’s appearance in this world is solely to preach The Primal Vow of Amida Buddha especially for mundane foolish persons (凡 夫 , bombu).

Therefore, mundane foolish persons like us should simply entrust ourselves to Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow, gratefully Saying His Name and be freed from samsara forever when this life ends here. Total reliance on The Primal Vow is our only viable way out of this crazy cycle of relentless painful existence. We should be realistic enough to know that besides receiving Shinjin in The Primal Vow,  we DO NOT have any other choice – if Buddhahood, the end of all suffering is indeed our aspiration and goal at the end of this life.

Thus, Shinjin is Amida Buddha’s True and Real Mind of Boundless Compassion directed to us through the power of The Primal Vow. When this True and Real Mind of Shinjin reaches suffering beings who could single-mindedly and steadfastly rely on Amida Buddha and the working of The Primal Vow, it is received by them, accepted and manifested as their ‘Entrusting Mind’ (信 心), the Shinjin of Other-power.

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Fulfilment of The Primal Vow (本 願 成 就) had already been fully accomplished when The Bodhisattva, after billions of years of Sincere, True and Selfless difficult practices, brought this Vow to perfection and became Amida Buddha with His Pure Land wonderfully established ten kalpas ago, even though not all sentient beings have been born in The Pure Land yet. The enlightenment of all sentient beings like us had already been fulfilled at the hands of Amida Buddha who had accomplished all our aspirations and necessary attendant practices.

Therefore, The Primal Vow is always in an active mode, instantly fulfilled whenever any sentient being is karmically ready to joyfully entrust himself/herself and accept the Shinjin of Amida Buddha without any doubt or apprehension.

Thus, the moment when we have  ‘Listened Deeply’ to The Buddha Dharma and are able to ‘Hear’ without any doubt, the inconceivable fulfilment of The Primal Vow, Amida Buddha’s Shinjin is awakened in us – we can then accept willingly, this precious gift of Shinjin freely given to us by Amida Buddha, Joyfully Entrusting ourselves and our karmic destiny completely to Amida Buddha and His Primal Vow.

Naturally, with this one-thought-moment of True Shinjin, we are truly settled in our minds and would Say His Name (Namo-Amida-Butsu, 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛), taking refuge in Amida Buddha with deep gratitude to Him for having saved us. It is really inconceivable that we are enabled to receive and experience this salvation while still living in this world.

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The Entrusting Mind (信 心) is The Shinjin of Amida Buddha instantly bestowed on sentient beings who, having Listened Deeply (深 聞) to The Dharma of Amida Buddha, finally ‘Heard’ (聞) how The Primal Vow arose – its origin and fulfilment – are altogether free of doubt. As this Shinjin comes wholly from Amida Buddha, it is the truly decisive cause of our birth in The Pure Land. True Shinjin is unfailingly accompanied by Saying the Name of Amida Buddha (Nembutsu: Namo-Amida-Butsu, 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛) which is selected and accomplished by Amida Buddha as the practical and easy medium of transfering His Infinite virtue to suffering beings.

Therefore, Shinjin is “the mind that accepts The Primal Vow without doubt”. Regarding this Entrusting Mind (Shinjin), Master Shinran states in his True Pure Land Teaching – Kyo Gyo Shin Sho:

“There are two aspects to this mind. One is to believe deeply and decidedly that you are a foolish being of karmic evil caught in birth and death, ever sinking and ever wandering in transmigration from innumerable kalpas in the past, without a condition that would lead to emancipation. The second is to believe deeply and decidedly that Amida Buddha’s Forty-eight Vows grasped sentient beings, and that allowing yourself to be carried by the power of the Vow without any doubt or apprehension, you will attain birth in the Pure Land.”

Thus, when we receive The Inconceivable Gift of Shinjin from Amida Buddha, our birth in His Pure Land is assured. Shinjin in the Primal Vow, the Entrusting  Mind that place complete reliance on Amida Buddha, is therefore the karmic-consciousness required for our birth in The Pure Land. Both The Primal Vow and Nembutsu (念 佛) are the vital objects of our entrusting mind.

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Nembutsu (念 佛) – Single-mindedly Saying the Name (Namo Amida Butsu, 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛) is the essence of Joyful Entrusting (True Shinjin) in The Primal Vow. The Nembutsu is our spontaneous expression of Taking Refuge in Amida Buddha whenever we remember The Primal Vow, realising with Deep Gratitude, His Boundless Compassion in saving even wretched persons like ourselves – the multitudes of suffering beings who are unable to free themselves, with their own power, from the painful cycle of samsara.

The Name of Amida Buddha is endowed with perfect virtues, praised and glorified by all the Buddhas in the ten directions – wonderfully fulfilled through “The Vow that the Name shall be praised by all Buddhas”.

The Larger Sutra states: “All sentient beings, as they hear The Name, realise 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 will attain birth and instantly dwell in the stage of non-retrogression.”

Thus, Saying the Name is the Great Practice contained in The Primal Vow – the Right Act and perfect virtue directed to us by Amida Buddha for our going forth to The Pure Land. The Nembutsu effectively breaks through all our ignorance and readily brings all our aspirations to fulfilment. It is not our self-power practice or good act. The Nembutsu is also not for the purpose of gaining merits or our prayer for material benefits.

With deep gratitude abiding in our hearts, we spontaneously  and constantly say the Nembutsu (Namo-Amida-Butsu, Thank You Amida Buddha) – whether standing, walking, sitting, lying down, in times of happiness  or in sadness, in any circumstance or environment and living in the exhilarating embrace of Namo-Amida-Butsu till the end of our lives in this unsatisfactory existence.

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The Precious Gift of Shinjin, our entrusting mind, is freely given by Amida Buddha to all persons whether good or evil, irrespective of gender or social status. But many people cannot put their trust in Amida Buddha or the Primal Vow because they doubt the Boundless Compassion of Amida Buddha and so unable to entrust themselves or their destiny entirely in Amida Buddha – they reject this gift of Shinjin. Though this is the ‘easy way’ out of samsara, it is also the most difficult of all difficulties for most people to accept, as they are heavily burdened by The Hindrance of Doubt.

Expressing beautifully in poetry, Master Shinran, through his deep reflections and passionate personal experience of Shinjin wrote…..

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 one could meet

Encouraging beings of the ten quarters with the words
“With Sincere mind Entrust yourselves and Aspire for birth”
Amida established The Vow beyond conceptual understanding
And made it the cause of birth in the True and Real Fulfilled Land

Thus, only those with karmic links with Buddhas from the past and those who, realising their utter inability in performing meditative and non-meditative Buddhist practices, put aside all these self-centered disciplines and whole-heartedly Listened Deeply to Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow, will come to Entrust themselves and their destiny fully in Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow, receiving and accepting this inconceivable gift of Shinjin.

On receiving Shinjin, we are ‘Embraced and Not Forsaken’ (攝取不捨) by Amida Buddha who instantly transfers His entire store of infinite karmic merit to us for our going forth to The Pure Land. Though we remain our foolish selves, filled with the same five defilements as other persons living in this Dharma Ending Age, we are Truly Settled in mind and heart. While still living in this world, we instanteously belong to the Rightly Established Group (正 定聚) of those whose birth in The Pure Land is Absolutely Assured.

People who receive Amida Buddha’s Gift of Shinjin ‘Know’ with the one-thought moment of True Entrusting that they have been embraced by Boundless Compassion and definitely assured of birth in The Pure Land. They ‘Know’ that this is their last deluded existence in samsara and that they will become Buddhas at the end of their lives in mortal flesh.

Persons of True Shinjin have definitely 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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Dharma Ending Age

 TEXT IN KYOGYOSHINSHO

末 法 時 代

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

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

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Dharma Ages are broad time periods starting from Shakyamuni Buddha’s Parinirvana. They define the distinctive characteristics of sentient beings and their spiritual capacities in practicing the lifetime teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha. It should be pointed out that The Buddha Dharma itself, being absolutely everlasting and imperishable, does NOT change at all through the Ages. Rather, it is the nature, understanding and abilities of Buddha Dharma followers born into this world that have changed. Thus, the classification of the Dharma Ages is just a chronological progression describing the moral and spiritual degeneration of beings engage in the practice of The Buddha Dharma.

The sole purpose of The Buddha’s appearance in this world as a human being in mortal flesh about 2600 years ago, is to teach us about this dreadful, cyclical existence of pain and suffering and how to put a permanent end to this unsatisfactory, relentless torture we have been experiencing in this samsara, at long last.

Suffering beings like us do not know why we are born here – in a perishing environment attached to greed, hatred, ignorance jealousy and pride – 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.

With boundless compassion for the suffering multitude, The Buddha taught for 45 years, showing individual persons or groups – in accordance with their natures and spiritual capacities – appropriate means on how to escape from samsara. Through His countless discourses, He also dispenses the appropriate Dharma medicines for those spiritually less endowed, foolish persons, during His lifetime and for future generations.

In the Right Dharma Age (正 法 時 代) which lasted 500 years from His Parinirvana, The Tathagata’s strong presence and Buddha-field enabled persons of different capacities to use the self-power methods He taught them to obtain emancipation. Shakyamuni Buddha tells us in The Great Collection Sutra that during the Right Dharma Age his disciples will be resolute in acquiring wisdom. Disciples of The Buddha born during this Age were morally resolute with excellent spiritual faculties and due to their good karma from the past, appeared in the immediate energetic influence of a True Living Buddha, A World-honored One, Teacher of gods and humans.

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

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

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

On the other hand, those counted as foolish persons, truthfully admitting their low spiritual capabilities and relying on the other-power teachings of Amida Buddha and His Pure Land, flourished. Thus, many followers during the Semblance Dharma Age, relying on the power of Amida Buddha’s 48 Vows were freed from samsara at the end of their lives.

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

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

Master Shinran in his original Classical Chinese text quote above, confirmed that we are now deep in The Dharma Ending Age, in a world consumed by the five defilements of greed, hatred, ignorance, jealousy and pride. His intention of specifically highlighting this Dharma Ending Age (末 法 時 代) is clearly to differentiate it from the other Dharma Ages. However, many followers not understanding its significance, have translated this term into English as ‘Age of Dharma Decline’ which is incorrect. He further wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

In deep gratitude to Amida Buddha for having saved us and freeing us from all pain and suffering at the end of our lives, we Say The Name (Namo Amida Butsu 南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛) endowed with infinite virtues and embodied in The Primal Vow.

Thus, we have Truly Heard:

The Call of Boundless Compassion

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

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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

Sakai2.JPG

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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True and Real Shinjin

                ORIGINAL TEXT – KYOGYOSHINSHO

真 實 信 心 

true-entrusting-fa

In the chapter on Shinjin, Master Shinran passionately wrote…

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

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

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True and Real Shinjin (真 實 信 心) is The Absolute Confidence of Amida Buddha that His Sincere Aspiration to save all sentient beings from samsara, the relentless cycle of birth, suffering, old age and death, will definitely be fulfilled. He had boldly made Forty-eight amazing Vows when He was performing extremely hard practices and disciplines as Bodhisattva Dharmakara, under the guidance of Buddha Lokitesvaraja billions of years ago. Out of deep reflections over an incredibly long period of contemplation and His great compassion for the various painful situations of suffering all beings have to endure, He had strongly pledged that each Vow – expressing His Compassionate Aspiration appropriate to the karmic condition of different sentient beings – would be fulfilled accordingly, as He had promised.

Through the hard practices He performed over billions of years, The Bodhisattva had fulfilled all His Vows and thus He became Amida Buddha. The Pure Land had been established for the sake of all suffering beings and it is here that Amida Buddha abides. Though not all sentient beings are saved at this moment, the fulfilment of His Vows and His Shinjin ensures that all sentient beings will eventually be saved with their birth in The Pure Land sooner or later, as they come to entrust themselves in His Vow of Boundless Compassion.

Amongst the forty-eight Vows, the two important Vows specifically identified by Master Shinran are the 17th Vow (The Vow that All Buddhas Praise His Name) and the 18th Vow (The Primal Vow). These Vows have been exclusively selected by Master Shinran as the Vows specially made to save him and all sentient beings in this Dharma Ending Age when everyone of us, without exception, is heavily burdened by the five defilements of greed, hatred, ignorance, jealousy and pride – all drowning in the adverse environments in which we live, especially in this materialistic world.

The two important Vows that directly concern us are……

The Vow that All Buddhas Praise His Name (諸 佛 稱 名 願) states: “If, when I attain Buddhahood, the countless Buddhas throughout the worlds in the ten quarters should not all praise and Say My Name, May I not attain The Supreme Enlightenment.”

Thus, with the fulfilment of this Vow, Saying the Name of Amida Buddha (Nembutsu: Namo-Amida-Butsu, 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛) which is endowed with the Infinite merits and virtues of Amida Buddha, is praised and fully supported by all Buddhas whose main purpose is to save all beings.

Although all Buddhas have their own realms or energetic spheres of influence, They know that Amida’s path of Salvation is the easiest for all beings. Therefore, They direct us to Amida Buddha and encourage us to Say the Name.

The Primal Vow (阿 彌 陀 佛 本 願) states: “If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings of the ten quarters, with Sincere Mind, Joyfully Entrusting themselves, Aspiring to be born in my Land, and Saying My Name perhaps even ten times, should not be born there, may I not attain The Supreme Enlightenment. Excluded are those who commit the five grave offences and those who slander the Right Dharma.”

Thus, for those who single-mindedly Take Refuge in Amida Buddha, The Primal Vow is the highest Mahayana Teaching that promises the Salvation particularly for the ordinary masses – not just for the well-endowed, monks or the  practising sages. Master Shinran says that the main reason for Shakyamuni Buddha’s appearance in this world is solely to preach The Primal Vow of Amida Buddha especially for mundane foolish persons (凡 夫 , bombu).

Therefore, mundane foolish persons like us should simply entrust ourselves to Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow and be freed from samsara forever when this life ends here. Total reliance on The Primal Vow is our only viable way out of this crazy cycle of relentless painful existence. We should be realistic enough to know that besides receiving Shinjin in The Primal Vow,  we DO NOT have any other choice.

Thus, Shinjin is Amida Buddha’s True and Real Mind of Boundless Compassion directed to us through the power of The Primal Vow. When this True and Real Mind of Shinjin reaches suffering beings who could deeply and single-mindedly rely on Amida Buddha and the working of The Primal Vow, it is received by them, accepted and manifested as their ‘Entrusting Mind’ (信 心), the Shinjin of Other-power.

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Fulfilment of The Primal Vow (本 願 成 就) had already been fully accomplished when The Bodhisattva, after billions of years of Sincere, True and Selfless difficult practices, brought this Vow to perfection and became Amida Buddha with His Pure Land wonderfully established ten kalpas ago, even though not all sentient beings have been born in The Pure Land yet. The enlightenment of all sentient beings like us had already been fulfilled at the hands of Amida Buddha who had accomplished all our aspirations and necessary attendant practices.

Therefore, The Primal Vow is always in an active mode, instantly fulfilled whenever any sentient being is karmically ready to joyfully entrust himself/herself and accept the Shinjin of Amida Buddha without any doubt or apprehension.

Thus, the moment when we have ‘Listened Deeply’ to The Buddha Dharma and are able to ‘Hear’ without any doubt, the inconceivable fulfilment of The Primal Vow, Amida Buddha’s Shinjin is awakened in us – we can then accept willingly, this precious gift of Shinjin freely given to us by Amida Buddha, Joyfully Entrusting ourselves and our karmic destiny completely to Amida Buddha and His Primal Vow.

Naturally, with this one-thought-moment of True Shinjin, we are truly settled in our minds and would Say His Name (Namo-Amida-Butsu, 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛), taking refuge in Amida Buddha with deep gratitude to Him for having saved us. It is really inconceivable that we are enabled to receive and experience this salvation while still living in this world.

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The Entrusting Mind (信 心) is The Shinjin of Amida Buddha instantly bestowed on sentient beings who, having Listened Deeply (深 聞) to The Dharma of Amida Buddha, finally ‘Heard’ (聞) how The Primal Vow arose – its origin and fulfilment – are altogether free of doubt. As this True and Real Shinjin comes wholly from Amida Buddha, it is diamond-like and the truly decisive cause of our birth in The Pure Land. True and real Shinjin is unfailingly accompanied by Saying the Name of Amida Buddha (Nembutsu: Namo-Amida-Butsu, 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛) which is selected and accomplished by Amida Buddha as the practical and easy medium of transferring His Infinite virtue to suffering beings.

Therefore, Shinjin is “the mind that accepts The Primal Vow without doubt”. Regarding this Entrusting Mind (Shinjin), Master Shinran states in his True Pure Land Teaching – KyoGyoShinSho :

“There are two aspects to this mind. One is to believe deeply and decidedly that you are a foolish being of karmic evil caught in birth and death, ever sinking and ever wandering in transmigration from innumerable kalpas in the past, without a condition that would lead to emancipation. The second is to believe deeply and decidedly that Amida Buddha’s Forty-eight Vows grasped sentient beings, and that allowing yourself to be carried by the power of the Vow without any doubt or apprehension, you will attain birth in the Pure Land.”

Thus, when we receive The Inconceivable Gift of Shinjin from Amida Buddha, our birth in His Pure Land is assured. Shinjin, the Entrusting Mind we receive from Amida Buddha is therefore the decisive cause of our birth in The Pure Land. Both The Primal Vow and Nembutsu (念 佛) are the vital objects of our Shinjin.

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Nembutsu (念 佛) – Saying the Name (Namo-Amida-Butsu, 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛) is the essence of Joyful Entrusting (True Shinjin) in The Primal Vow. The Nembutsu is our spontaneous expression of Taking Refuge in Amida Buddha whenever we remember The Primal Vow, realising with Deep Gratitude, His Boundless Compassion in saving even wretched persons like ourselves – the multitudes of suffering beings who are unable to free themselves, with their own power, from the painful cycle of samsara.

The Name of Amida Buddha is endowed with perfect virtues, praised and glorified by all the Buddhas in the ten directions – wonderfully fulfilled through “The Vow that the Name shall be praised by all Buddhas”.

The Larger Sutra states: “All sentient beings, as they hear The Name, realise 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 will attain birth and instantly dwell in the stage of non-retrogression.”

Thus, Saying the Name is the Great Practice contained in The Primal Vow – the Right Act and perfect virtue directed to us by Amida Buddha for our going forth to The Pure Land. The Nembutsu effectively breaks through all our ignorance and readily brings all our aspirations to fulfilment. It is not our self-power practice or good act. The Nembutsu is also not for the purpose of gaining merits or our prayer for material benefits.

With deep gratitude abiding in our hearts, we spontaneously  and constantly say the Nembutsu (Namo-Amida-Butsu, Thank You Amida Buddha) – whether standing, walking, sitting, lying down, in times of happiness  or in sadness, in any circumstance or environment and living in the exhilarating embrace of Namo-Amida-Butsu till the end of our lives in this unsatisfactory existence.

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The Precious Gift of Shinjin, our entrusting mind, is freely given by Amida Buddha to all persons whether good or evil, irrespective of gender or social status. But many people cannot put their trust in Amida Buddha or the Primal Vow because they doubt the Boundless Compassion of Amida Buddha and so unable to entrust themselves or their destiny entirely in Amida Buddha – they reject this gift of Shinjin. Though this is the ‘easy way’ out of samsara, it is also the most difficult of all difficulties for many people to accept.

Expressing beautifully in poetry, Master Shinran, through his deep reflections and passionate personal experience of Shinjin wrote…..

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 one could meet

Encouraging beings of the ten quarters with the words
“With Sincere mind Entrust yourselves and Aspire for birth”
Amida established The Vow beyond conceptual understanding
And made it the cause of birth in the True and Real Fulfilled Land

Thus, only those with karmic links with Buddhas from the past and those who, realising their utter inability in performing meditative and non-meditative Buddhist practices, put aside all these self-centered disciplines and whole-heartedly Listened Deeply to Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow, will come to Entrust themselves and their destiny fully in Amida Buddha and The Primal Vow, receiving and accepting this inconceivable gift of Shinjin.

On receiving Shinjin, we are ‘Embraced and Not Forsaken’ (攝取不捨) by Amida Buddha who instantly transfers His entire store of infinite karmic merit to us for our going forth to The Pure Land. Though we remain our foolish selves, filled with the same five defilements as other persons living in this Dharma Ending Age, we are Truly Settled in mind and heart. We immediately belong to the Truly Settled Group (正 定聚) of those whose birth in The Pure Land is Absolutely Assured.

People who receive Amida Buddha’s Gift of Shinjin ‘Know’ with the one-thought moment of True Entrusting that they have been embraced by Boundless Compassion and definitely assured of birth in The Pure Land. They ‘Know’ that this is their last deluded existence in samsara and that they will become Buddhas at the end of their 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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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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TRUE AND REAL TEACHING

KYOGYOSHINSHO – ORIGINAL CHAPTER TITLES

淨 土 真 實 教 行 信 證

true-and-realfa

TRUE AND REAL – a description repeatedly emphasized in all his expositions…

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Revealing the TRUE AND REAL Pure Land Teaching 
Revealing the TRUE AND REAL Pure Land Practice 
Revealing the TRUE AND REAL Pure Land Shinjin 
Revealing the TRUE AND REAL Pure Land Realization

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TRUE AND REAL (真 實)- This is a description repeatedly emphasized over and over again by Master Shinran throughout all his classical writings, starting as quoted above, with the title of each chapter of his truly marvellous magnum opus The KyoGyoShinSho. He wants to strongly impress upon us the TRUE AND REAL existence of Amida Buddha and His Fulfilled Pure Land – His TRUE AND REAL enlightenment – pleading with us to listen deeply and reflect on his teachings.

JodoShinshu, The True Pure Land Way taught by Master Shinran requires a follower to take refuge single-mindedly in a TRUE AND REAL Amida Buddha and His TRUE AND REAL Fulfilled Land. It is the natural teaching of TRUE AND REAL entrusting (Shinjin) specifically bestowed by Amida Buddha on foolish persons incapable of difficult practices and therefore must necessarily take as essential these TRUE AND REAL manifestations.

Yet, “the monks and laity of this Dharma-ending Age and religious teachers of these times are floundering in concepts of ‘self-nature’ and ‘mind only’ and they disparaged the true realization of enlightenment in the Pure Land Way”. These wrong concepts, prevalent among other Mahayana traditions, particularly Zen, suggest that Amida Buddha is not a real Buddha and the Pure Land is not a real place but just in the mind.

It is really preposterous for anyone to take refuge in a Buddha who is not TRUE AND REAL and a Pure Land that is not TRUE AND REAL. It is a great pity that the repeated emphasis of TRUE AND REAL (真 實) throughout Master Shinran’s expositions have fallen on many deaf ears of persons who most definitely have not HEARD what he is talking about.

Outright false teachings – that go so far as to teach that Amida Buddha is a fictional character, a myth and that the Pure Land is not a real place, but a state of consciousness attainable here and now – come both from other Buddhists traditions and from within JodoShinshu. These absolutely wrong views – that deny the TRUE AND REAL existence of Amida Buddha and His Pure Land – cast doubts in the minds of Pure Land practicers and become major hindrances for them to accept the Shinjin of Amida Buddha. They strongly obstruct the only path possible for these followers to get out of samsara, the endless cycle of pain and suffering.

False teachings taught in other Buddhists sects, are certainly regrettable but since they are just propagating their own deluded self-power practice methods, at least they do not identify themselves as JodoShinshu. These false teachings are harmful poisons administered from outside, hindering the acceptance of TRUE AND REAL Shinjin by many who are searching for the only Dharma medicine available.

If we are truthful followers of JodoShinshu, then it is essential that we are wholeheartedly guided by the wonderful teachings of Master Shinran and do not bring in false ideas from other traditions and mixing them with the pristine teachings on Amida Buddha.

However, it is truly sad and lamentable that – hiding behind the facade as teachers of JodoShinshu – many of them, particularly those from the West, have been propagating these toxic teachings under the auspices of JodoShinshu temples.

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False teachers within JodoShinshu – who are mostly respected scholars and learned teachers mixing the True Pure Land teachings with false concepts from other traditions – are set to destroy from within, the aspiration and acceptance of TRUE AND REAL Shinjin – the only viable path for utterly ignorant, incapable persons of this Dharma–ending Age. They try to out-smart Master Shinran by blatantly reinterpreting his teachings and cause immeasurable damage to the Shinjin of unsuspecting listeners.

Denying the TRUE AND REAL existence of Amida Buddha and His Pure Land, is certainly severe slandering of the Right Dharma – a grave offense that caused these false teachers along with their students to be totally deaf to the message of TRUE AND REAL salvation promised in The Primal Vow of Amida Buddha.

It is a great pity and utterly sad that many followers, already at door of salvation, are karmically linked to these false teachers within JodoShinshu; living their lives in vain without even coming close to accepting the precious gift of Shinjin from Amida Buddha.

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This TRUE AND REAL Teaching of Master Shinran is unmistakable, loudly and clearly repeated throughout his expositions. Only those who are completely deaf to this Right Dharma would fail to HEAR it. Let us listen, listen deeply to this incomparable message of salvation and receive the TRUE AND REAL inconceivable gift of Shinjin from a TRUE AND REAL Buddha – Amida Buddha.

May those who are now under the spell of false teachings conjured by false JodoShinshu teachers – after listening deeply to this TRUE AND REAL message – quickly abandon these false teachers 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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