|Shinran Shonin walking during a snow storm|
“Hearing the Name, having joy in shinjin (faith)” is the abstruse tenet of Jōdō Shinshū, the anjin (settled mind) of the Shōnin, as well as the basis for salvation. “Hearing” is the working of the Name; other than this working, the Name is not found. “Hearing” is the great shinjin that is the mind of great compassion, so it is the real cause of birth in the Land of Recompense. The Name, arising from the ocean of vows, is anchored in the ocean of great wisdom and compassion. It is the mind of great compassion that hears the mind of great compassion. The Buddha’s mind is itself the mind of great compassion; hence, the Buddha’s mind hears the Buddha’s mind. The mind of bombu (foolish beings) is not capable of hearing the Buddha’s mind. So, what sort of mind is it that hears the Buddha’s mind? It is the Buddha’s mind that hears. How does the bombu’s mind work, and where is it headed? The bombu’s mind is likened to murky water, while the Buddha’s mind is equal to the Moon. Just as the Moon dwells in the murky water, the Buddha’s mind becomes imprinted on the bombu’s mind, as it were. This is called “hearing” or shinjin. Being bombu, people are simply incapable of reverently receiving the Buddha’s mind of great compassion. However when something that cannot happen is made to happen, and one turns to reverently receive the Buddha’s mind thanks to the Buddha’s mind, this is called “inconceivability.” Relying on the inconceivable Buddha-wisdom, we hear the inconceivable vows, and so the shinjin received is also inconceivable. “Exclusively hold fast to this practice and only uphold shinjin” is what the Shōnin means by “to receive.”
Buddha-Dharma cannot be heard by bombu as a matter of course; to be able to hear it is inconceivable. However, without putting effort into listening to the Buddha-Dharma, one cannot possibly hear it. Be that as it may, it is impossible for bombu to hear the Buddha-Dharma through their own efforts. It is entirely because of the benevolence of the Buddha that bombu can hear the one-thought moment of shinjin; this is beyond human concepts and expression.
To distinguish and study the merits of the Dharma-gates alone does not help to sail across the sea of birth-and-death. One cannot do without leaving behind speech and texts and straightforwardly trusting with awe  in the Buddha’s mind. What the Shōnin means by “leaving behind the texts” is to accept wholeheartedly his preaching—not drawing a snake and adding feet to it, not putting in one’s own ideas, but listening to it with a sincere mind. By regarding the holy texts as being sacred, one can partake of the taste of “leaving behind the texts.” Studying the texts logically while being constrained by intellectual reasoning, as long as it remains theory, can never be Buddha-Dharma. When sailing across the sea of suffering in birth-and-death, Buddha-Dharma transcends birth-and-death altogether. Hearing of the ship’s existence while remaining an onlooker is of no avail. Without boarding the ship of Great Compassion, there is no Buddha-Dharma. Among the devotees of Jōdō Shinshū, the majority are prone to be so attached to name and form, overly attached to the sense perceptions of self-power (jiriki).
To study how to cross over the sea of suffering in birth-and-death, how to acquire shinjin, how to determine the true and real shinjin and so forth, as long as one sets off from one’s standpoint to accommodate the Buddha’s mind, to resolve the matter on one’s own, even if hundreds of thousands of years are spent, this is still too difficult to yield a result. Most practicers are irritated by this point. The Shōnin noticed this and taught us that “shinjin is the call of the Tathagata. It is the command of the great compassion that summons us to trust it.” He exhorted, “You shall not establish, imagine, create or discriminate shinjin in your mind, and so assume this is shinjin.” In order to see and know the state of mind that is the great shinjin of the Shōnin, you should refer to the following texts: