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 5, 2012

7. Shinran Shōnin

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 [1] 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:

The universal Vow difficult to fathom is indeed a great vessel bearing us across the ocean difficult to cross. The unhindered light is the sun of wisdom dispersing the darkness of our ignorance. [2]

The radiant light, unhindered and inconceivable, eradicates suffering and brings realization of joy. [3]

The Shōnin’s words do not touch on how to understand, to believe, whether our mind and feeling should be like this or that, to cultivate virtue, to stop evils, etc. It just unfolds the fact of the accomplished Dharma-body, as though depicting the spectacle of sunrise in the eastern quarter of the sky. Right above me, who have been drifting along on the sea of birth-and-death, the Sun of the great compassion is rising, emanating its embracing light. Other than the Sun, the rays of the Buddha-wisdom of great compassion, what could be accomplished by thinking, pleading and designing of one’s own accord to create the causal seeds for attaining birth? The ray of the Primal Vow of the One Vehicle is absolute and non-dual. What is still not enough with this one thing? The Name that reveals the Primal Vow-power, the mind and body of the Buddha, as well as His Pure Land—all are formed into the command that is calling to me. The sound of this call is flowing throughout the ten quarters, which is incomprehensibly “felt” as it makes its imprint on my mind presently. This one Dharma has accomplished the attainment of birth; apart from this one Dharma, bombu cannot possibly create their own way to birth. This one Dharma becomes the sound, the white path, the Name, the Buddha-body, as well as the Pure Land, as manifestations to call to me. Those who discover shinjin in the calling sound can attain birth, while those who come upon shinjin within their sense perception and discriminating mind will not escape from samsara.

“Taking refuge (kimyō), therefore, is the command of the Primal Vow, summoning us to trust it.” [4] Reading this sentence for a thousand or even a hundred thousand times may lead you to the realization of true and real shinjin. “Taking refuge” (kimyō) refers to shinjin, and shinjin refers to the explication of “the command of the Primal Vow, summoning us to trust it.” Such a marvelous explication has not been sought after, and is unheard of in all other Buddhist schools and world religions.

“Taking refuge” refers to the object of the One Vehicle of the Primal Vow, which is absolute and non-dual—diamond-like shinjin. “The command of the Primal Vow, summoning us to trust it” refers to the teaching of the One Vehicle of the Primal Vow, which is absolute and non-dual. The object and the teaching are one, together revealing their absoluteness and non-duality (one object, one Dharma) in the great ocean of shinjin. This is the culmination of Jōdō Shinshū, the pure essence of shinjin.

The command is the embracing light (external cause); taking refuge (kimyō) is the internal cause of shinjin. When the internal and external are one, sentient beings are delivered. Though we are saved by shinjin, this shinjin is not a bombu’s mind. There is no shinjin other than the embracing light.

The Shōnin says, “How joyous I am, my heart and mind being rooted in the Buddha-ground of the universal Vow, and my thoughts and feelings flowing within the Dharma-ocean, which is beyond comprehension!” [5] These words reveal the entire reality of the Shōnin. When Amida's light and heart (Vow) totally illuminate our heart, our state of mind will transform, and the Nembutsu will flow out. How great this is!

The shinjin of the Shōnin is likewise revealed in the following words:

To manifest shingyo (serene entrusting) within the power of the Vow and reveal the incomparable fruit of enlightenment in the land of peace. [5]

Shingyo is shinjin. Where does shingyo reveal itself? In our mind? In our daily conduct? The Shōnin says that it is revealed within the Vow-power. The joy of the Shōnin is to find “my shinjin” and “my attainment of birth” within the Vow-power of the great compassion of the Tathagata. This joy instantly turns into the Tathagata’s practice of teaching people to believe in the Dharma. You should read this hundreds or thousands of times to appreciate the taste of the holy words.

The Shōnin manages to eliminate his dark night of the distant past in the One Vehicle of the Primal Vow, awakening from the deep slumber. His outpouring of joy is shown as follows:

When one has boarded the ship of the Vow of great compassion and sailed out on the vast ocean of light, the winds of perfect virtue blow softly and the waves of evil are transformed. The darkness of ignorance is immediately broken through, and quickly reaching the land of immeasurable light, one realizes great nirvana and acts in accord with the virtue of Samantabhadra. [6]

When the above words are gathered and recited together with “my heart and mind being rooted in the Buddha-ground of the Universal Vow,” it will be like the Shōnin’s countenance beaming before us.

Taking refuge (kimyō), therefore, is the command of the Primal Vow, summoning us to trust it. [4]

The unhindered light is the sun of wisdom dispersing the darkness of our ignorance. [3]

To manifest shingyo (serene entrusting) within the power of the Vow and reveal the incomparable fruit of enlightenment in the land of peace. [5]

When reciting the three sentences above repeatedly, the clouds of our doubt are dispelled all of a sudden, and we meddle into the unhindered light. It affords us the delight of forgetting ourselves in the sounds of the great compassion.

Zuiken-sama





[1] 仰信signifies that we respect someone because of their honorability and character, not because of evidence.

[2] The True Teaching, Practice, and Realization of the Pure Land Way (The Collected Works of Shinran, Vol. I, 3)

[3] Passages on the Pure Land Way (The Collected Works of Shinran, Vol. I, 295)

[4] The True Teaching, Practice, and Realization of the Pure Land Way (The Collected Works of Shinran, Vol. I, 38)

[5] The True Teaching, Practice, and Realization of the Pure Land Way (The Collected Works of Shinran, Vol. I, 291)

[6] The True Teaching, Practice, and Realization of the Pure Land Way (The Collected Works of Shinran, Vol. I, 56)

2 comments:

  1. visiting here with a smile. take care.. have a nice day ~ =)

    Regards,
    http://www.lonelyreload.com (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..

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  2. Thanks for the visit, please come again and read my post.

    May you find Amida Buddha's love and compassion.

    You are not alone!

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