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!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Single Path Free of Hindrances

The Nembutsu is the great path free of hindrances. I am now walking on this great path, which is the great path of the Primal Vow and of great compassion. The great path is calling to me—the calling sound is the great path. This sound resonates and keeps resounding until it penetrates my body and mind. It is the great mind of compassion; therefore, it can penetrate. It is the Vow-power of the Buddha; therefore, it certainly can penetrate. It is the Buddha-wisdom; therefore, it can inconceivably make one entrust and accept it.

Faith (shinjin) is the great mind of compassion; therefore, it certainly can bring about the great benefit of attainment of birth [in the Pure Land]. This faith is the great Bodhi-mind (great compassion); therefore, even the heavenly gods and earthly deities venerate the practitioners [of shinjin], while maras and non-Buddhists present no obstruction. Neither evil nor karmic retributions come into effect. Though we are children of evil, we are unaffected by evil. Though we live in the seas of karma, we are unaffected by karmic retributions. Some people sigh as follows: ‘I exist as the result of cause and effect, so what sort of karmic evil did I create in my previous life?’ People who sigh thus have not tasted the wonder of the Buddha-Dharma. We suffer in the seas of suffering as a matter of course. Think further: this body of ours has been entrusted with the mind of great compassion, and joined in the activities of the Tathagata. Is there anything more fortunate than this? Is there anything more enjoyable than this? Haven’t we been liberated from the cycle of birth-and-death? Haven’t we broken away from reincarnation? After resolving birth-and-death, what happiness could we still ask for? After attaining birth in the Pure Land, aren’t we disclosed the mind of great compassion (through the Vow-power) and return as a manifested body to the world of suffering to cross over the sentient beings? Such being the case, this body that begins to perform the practices of the Tathagatas, while practicing diligently our own, should we not propagate the Buddha Dharma even if life is distasteful? Don’t our eternal activities take place within the world of suffering (kugai)? This world of suffering is rightly the great place of the way (dojo) for propagating the great compassion. This great dojo is a dojo beginning from time immemorial, and it will extend to the endless future, ad infinitum. In this case, however distasteful this world of suffering may be, we should feel fun and nostalgic at the same time, shouldn’t we? Conversely, those who want to escape alone hastily from the world of suffering make us feel that they have not yet joined in the wonderful practices of great compassion.

The seven calamities, come on! The eight sufferings, come on! You can be aptly revealing the majestic force (anubhāva) of the Primal Vow-power. The mind of propagating the great vehicle—if not as hard as the iron rock, what use is it?  We spend our day in reading samadhi, every single word is Nembutsu, and every verse is burning with the mind and heart of great compassion and vows. To recognize and repay this kindness—that’s beyond my knowledge and ability. However, I am grateful to be endowed with such great benefit! In this present life, when condition allows, three days are not short, and 3,000 years are not long. Regardless of what we have been born as, be it a horse or a cow, if we can spread the great compassion expediently, isn’t it good?

In this present mind, we forget about suffering while living in this world of suffering, forget about poverty while being in poverty, forget about birth-and-death while floundering in birth-and-death, and forget about being good or evil while living in this filthy world. Enjoying the bliss of the Dharma, we can gain the bliss of enlightenment that Buddha himself enjoys (jiju-horahu), which is not the privilege of the bodhisattva. Isn’t this the state of “No evil act can bring about karmic results”?

Open your living eyes and behold the extensive waves of the activities of great compassion! These waves are spreading throughout the entire Dharma realm, extending toward the unending future. What is there but the sounds calling continuously to sentient beings? While listening to the sounds, involuntarily we merge into the sound; the two are merged into one another. Together with the sounds we are spreading and reverberating to the ten quarters, on board the unlimited time machine (vehicle) to transmit the sounds. The taste of ‘The Nembutsu is the path free of hindrances’ lies in this.

At the peak of the lonely mountain, where the dead end appears, our mind is illuminated by the great compassion and enabled to roam the Dharma realm. Once out of the crossroad, there is no looking backward or forward. To the right we have the sound of Dharma and to the left we have the sentient beings with whom we are closely connected. The thought of wishing to find a way out has been turned into a great joyful mind. Being commonplace, we do not go against the conditions [of life] but follow in accord with these conditions. We are accompanied by the Dharma, the Tathagata, our parents, our benevolent teachers, and we travel along with virtuous friends. Ah, what a joy! Let the wind of tomorrow blow tomorrow—we just walk straight ahead unwaveringly on the white path. Our clothing and food will be there, the money needed to buy books will come naturally. Health and long life will also be endowed. I am very steadfast in this belief. Oh, virtuous friends! For the Buddha-Dharma we have only to advance forward with an indomitable spirit, and life lies within. The shinjin that has been endowed should come with bounties, no hesitation. This is the gladness of the person on the great path without hindrances.

(Please also read: The Single Path Free of Hindrance by George Gatenby)

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