True Pure Land Teachings

Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho – Chapter Titles

淨 土 真 實 教 行 信 證

true-and-realfa

In his magnum opus the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho, Venerable Master Shinran carefully explains to us, the wonderful teachings on the True Pure Land Way, that would definitely lead us out of samsara – the vicious cycle of birth, old age, suffering and death. He sincerely wished, that all who listened deeply to this marvellous teaching, would aspire for birth in Amida Buddha’s Pure Land of Peace and Happiness.

Written in classical Chinese, this voluminous work has six chapters, capturing the True and Real aspects of the Pure Land, as well as the essential causes that would enable us to be born there. The title descriptions of the first four chapters, open up a clear vision and hope for all mundane foolish persons firmly trapped in the ‘net of samsara’.

Revealing the True and Real Pure Land Teaching 
Revealing the True and Real Pure Land Practice 
Revealing the True and Real Pure Land Shinjin 
Revealing the True and Real Pure Land Realization

Master Shinran’s repeated emphasis on the description ‘True and Real’, is clearly meant to dispel the absolute wrong views, strongly propagated by many scholars and Pure Land teachers alike, who are sadly misleading themselves and their gullible followers.

These outright false teachings have blatantly portrayed Amida Buddha as a fictional character, symbol or a myth and the Pure Land as not a real place, but just in the mind, a poetic description of Nirvana or a state of consciousness that is attainable here and now. Deceptive teachers who spread such poisonous views usually come from both, the meditative Buddhists traditions like Zen and from within Jodo-Shinshu, by scholars who still harbour the Zen mentality. Lamenting on these disparaging views, that would certainly obstruct aspirants on the way to the Pure Land, the Venerable Master writes:

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

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

Persons preaching the True Pure Land Way should carefully take stock of their own egoistic inclinations and not to speak as though they have already attained supreme enlightenment. It is indeed lamentable that these scholars and errant teachers are planting such false views in the minds of the multitudes of unenlightened, ordinary foolish persons, in this degenerated Dharma Ending Age, in which we are all  overwhelmed by greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance and doubt.

It would be a great pity and utterly sad that many followers, already at door of Salvation are karmically linked to these false teachers inside Jodo Shinshu, who are now out in great numbers, to destroy the True Pure Land Dharma of Master Shinran from within. These unsuspecting, innocent seekers of Truth are therefore being led astray, without ever coming close to receiving the precious gift of Shinjin from Amida Buddha.

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The True Pure Land Teaching is carefully expounded in The Larger Sutra of Infinite Life (觀 無 量 壽 經), which was delivered by Shakyamuni Buddha some 2600 years ago at Rajagriha, India. It was taught by The World-Honored One to 12,000 highly-accomplished monks and witnessed, by a large gathering of Great Bodhisattvas, such as Samantabhadra, Avalokitesvara, Manjusri, and Maitreya, as well as many lay Bodhisattvas. To preach this Sutra, is true reason for the Buddha’s fortunate appearance in this world. 

This Sutra tells us, how Amida Buddha’s 48 Vows arose and how they were wonderfully fulfilled, when Amida Buddha attained Enlightenment 10 kalpas ago. Upon the perfect fulfillment of the Vows, a True and Real Pure Land was thus established, to receive all sentient beings who sincerely aspire to be born there. Among these Vows, the 18th Vow also called The Primal Vow, is the central or main Vow, which pledged to free all sentient beings from samsara, by an easy path that is fully in accord with the poor aptitudes of the vast majority of followers.

Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow (阿 彌 陀 佛 本 願) states:

“If, When I attain Buddhahood
Sentient Beings of The Ten Quarters
With Sincere Mind, Joyfully entrusting themselves
Aspiring To Be Born in my Land
And Saying My Name perhaps even ten times
Should Not be born there
May I Not Attain The Supreme Enlightenment
Excluded Are Those Who commit the five grave offenses
And Those Who slander The Right Dharma.”

Thus, The Primal Vow, is Amida Buddha’s statement of Absolute Confidence (Shinjin – 信 心) and Promise to save all suffering sentient beings from samsara, especially those who are unable to extricate themselves by their own self-power.

This Vow of Boundless Compassion would definitely caused countless mundane foolish persons (bombu 凡 夫), both good or evil, stupid or intelligent , male or female from different social status and environments – to be born directly into The Land of Peace and Provision. It is the Other-power that all beings can rely on for extricating themselves from samsara.

We should know that Amida Buddha had already accomplished our Pure Land births through the power of The Primal Vow, by fulfilling for each of us our aspirations and their attendant practices. All ignorant sentient beings will realise this fact sooner or later when they are karmically ready to receive Amida Buddha’s precious gift of Salvation.

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The True Practice of the Pure Land Way is the Great Practice selected by Amida Buddha in His Primal Vow of great Compassion. Saying Amida’s Name – Namo Amida Butsu, 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛 – is therefore, the Buddha’s fulfilled practice bestowed on us, for our births in His Land of Peace and Happiness. As the Name comes directly from Amida Buddha, it is certainly, not our practice to gain enlightenment by our own, self-power efforts. When we are able to fully entrust ourselves to the Primal Vow, Saying the Buddha’s Name, becomes our expression of taking refuge in the Infinite Saving-power of the Buddha, that guarantees our salvation.

As mentioned before, this Great Practice of Saying His Name, had been selected by Amida Buddha and given to all suffering beings, as a practical and easy channel by which the Buddha transfers His infinite virtues and merits to mundane foolish persons (凡 夫 – bombu) like us. It is now the only option available for those who honestly realize that they are utterly incapable of performing any difficult meditative or non-meditative practices.

Thus, wishing to be born in Amida’s Pure Land, all discerning aspirants would sincerely and joyfully entrust their karmic destiny entirely to the power of The Primal Vow. Deeply grateful to the Buddha for having saved spiritual idiots like us, we would single-mindedly say Namo Amida Butsu (南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛).

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The true shinjin (信 心) of Other-Power, is our entrusting faith-mind, that places complete reliance on the Primal Vow. It is the core essential teaching of Venerable Master Shinran, who had repeatedly expounded and clearly explained it, in all his writings and poems. This Shinjin comes solely from Amida Buddha’s directing of virtue for our going forth to the Pure Land.

“Great Shinjin is the superlative means of attaining longevity and deathlessness. It is the wondrous way to awaken aspiration for the pure and rejection of the defiled. It is the straightforward mind directed to us through the selected Vow. It is shinjin that actualizes Amida’s profound and vast benefiting of others. It is true mind that is diamond-like and indestructible. It is pure shinjin by which a person easily reaches the Pure Land where no one (with a mind of doubt) goes. It is the mind that is single, realized by the person who is grasped and protected by the compassionate light. It is the quick path difficult for people to accept. It is the true cause of attaining great Nirvana….”

Thus, when we fully entrust ourselves to The Primal Vow of Great Shinjin, in which Saying Amida’s Name is the essence, we would, for as long as our breaths last, be deeply thankful for the precious gift of entrusting faith, freely transferred to us by the Buddha.

Spontaneously we would say:

Namo Amida Butsu (南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛).

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The True Realization of The Pure Land Way is clearly and carefully expounded by Master Shinran:

“To reveal, with reverence, the true realization: It is the wondrous state attained through Amida’s perfect benefiting of others; it is the ultimate fruition of supreme Nirvana. It arises from the Vow of necessary attainment of Nirvana, also known as the Vow of realization of great Nirvana.”

“The Vow of necessary attainment of Nirvana is stated in the Larger Sutra:

“If, when I attain Buddhahood, the human beings and devas in my land do not dwell among the settled and necessarily attain Nirvana, may I not attain the supreme enlightenment.”

“When foolish beings possessed of blind passions, the multitudes caught in birth-and-death and defiled by evil karma, realize the mind and practice that Amida directs to them for their going forth, they immediately join the truly settled of the Mahayana. Because they dwell among the truly settled, they necessarily attain Nirvana. To necessarily attain Nirvana is [to attain] eternal bliss. Eternal bliss is ultimate tranquillity. Tranquility is supreme Nirvana…”

Thus, when we are able to entrust ourselves single-mindedly in Amida’s Primal Vow, we instantly belong to the stage of truly settled of those who are assured of the True Realization of Nirvana. We would naturally live the rest of our fleeting human lives, in deep gratitude to the Tathagata, by Saying the Nembutsu:

Namo Amida Butsu (南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛)

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The True Pure Land Way taught by Master Shinran, teaches pathetic followers, to take refuge single-mindedly in a True and Real Amida Buddha and a True and Real Fulfilled Land. It is the wondrous teaching of entrusting faith – The True and Real Shinjin, (真 實 信 心)specifically bestowed by Amida Buddha on foolish persons incapable of difficult practices. Therefore, we must necessarily take as essential, these True and Real existences of Buddha and Land, to be counted, as true followers of Jodo Shinshu.

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These wonderful True and Real Teachings of Master Shinran are unmistakable. They are clearly and loudly repeated throughout all his expositions. Only those who are karmically blind and completely deaf to this Right Dharma, would fail to HEAR it. Let us listen, listen deeply to this incomparable message of Salvation and receive the inconceivable Gift of Entrusting Faith (Shinjin) from Amida Buddha.

May those who are now under the spell of false teachings conjured by ignorant teachers of the True Pure Land Way, be awakened by listening deeply to this True and Real message of Venerable Master Shinran. May every aspirant of the True and Real Pure Land, quickly abandon all divergent, false teachings and immediately leave those atrocious teachers who propagate them.

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

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

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

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