Namu Amida Butsu

This work is especially dedicated to Zuiken Saizo Inagaki, who sheds light on the pristine and original teachings of Jodo Shinshu (Shin Buddhism) for many people, including myself. I regard him as my soul teacher and I am very much influenced by his words and thoughts, which are deeply imbued with the Wisdom of Compassion of Amida Buddha. I read most of his writings available in Chinese language and I wish to share some of his golden words in this blog in English. Rev. George Gatenby and Mr. Gabriel Schlaefer have been kindly and untiringly assisting me to edit the translated essays so that they are readable and true to the intent of Sensei. May all partake of the wisdom of Shinshu teaching and be overpowered by the light of Amida Buddha.

Namu Amida Butsu!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

CHAPTER 19 Reflect Just on the Living Sentences

Revised 8 July, 2017

“Doing nothing at all” is the essence of the Buddha-dharma. “Doing nothing at all…” It is the Buddha who lets me become a Buddha, so it is alright to do nothing, isn’t it?

It goes without saying that in repaying the Buddha’s benevolence we must work hard, however. Nevertheless, to gain birth in the Pure Land, it is all right to do nothing, as this will only agree with placing reliance on the Primal Vow-power for birth. In so doing the Primal Vow-power will only become fully functional.

With the thought of “having to do something for birth,” the Primal Vow-power will die out. But people who go to the temple to listen to sermons always think that they should “do something,” “obtain shinjin,” “say the nembutsu” and “have joyful faith” to seek for birth in the Pure Land. They keep toying with the idea of “having to do something for birth.” The true Shin Buddhism is simply doing nothing.

We must work hard in all other matters, but when attending to “the salvation of the Buddha” we simply do nothing. It is like Miyamoto Musashi who made good use of his two swords. When it is time to work hard, we just go all out; when we don’t need to, our “calculation” and “self-power” must all be thrown away. Birth in the Pure Land does not require power from our side; it is of no avail unless you relinquish your power.

The mentality of “it will happen if I do something” is not acceptable. The nembutsu is a natural response to shinjin. It is said that “true faith must accompany the nembutsu.” When shinjin is realized, the nembutsu will express itself spontaneously. Therefore it is not true to assert that “vocalizing the Name is necessary” and so forth. It would be better not to be so attached to calling the Name. When something should be expressed by its natural course, let it be so. When asked, “What about shinjin?” Shinjin is just to hear.”

When expressed in words, for example, in Rennyo’s Gobunsho, it touches among others on “realizing faith (shinjin).” Rather than remain silent, it is necessary to say the basic things. Therefore it was expressed, “Realizing faith means understanding the Eighteenth Vow. Understanding this Vow means understanding the meaning of Namo Amida Butsu.”

What does “understanding the meaning of Namo Amida Butsu” mean? It is a sense of “gratitude” from the bottom of one’s heart for this understanding. This is precisely the meaning of Namo Amida Butsu.”

“Doing nothing at all
Realising birth
How inconceivable it is!

This is the meaning of Namu Amida Butsu; this is precisely realization of faith (shinjin).

It is “such an absolutely hell predestined being” “gains deliverance.” Isn’t that extraordinary? Isn’t it inconceivable? Who is this “absolutely hell predestined being”? That’s “me!”

Of all the Zen sayings, there is one recorded as, “Reflect just on the living sentences, not the dead ones.” The dead sentences, even if there are a thousand or a million of them, will be useless. One living sentence or utterance is just enough to bring about “enlightenment.”

It is the same in Jodo Shinshu. A single living sentence is just enough to accept anjin with reverence upon hearing of it. But it is fruitless to listen to sermons without substance, even if for 30 years.

Shakyamuni Buddha when compared to myself is immeasurably great! Mahasattva Nagarjuna, Mahasattva Vasubandhu, and the others of the seven masters are immeasurably great when compared to myself, something beyond imagination! Nevertheless, people always hold them to be inferior to them. How could this be? Though it is said one has to be “simple-hearted, simple-hearted,” people who are really simple-hearted will accept anjin reverently even with one sentence.

The words of humans and of bonbu (foolish beings) cannot be taken seriously by doers of the nembutsu (gyonin). Don’t listen to any words beside those of the Buddha, the seven masters, and the sages.

Hikone City, Ryusenji Temple

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