Saturday, February 24, 2018

The meaning of "sincerely entrust themselves to me, desire to be born in my land, and say my Name, perhaps even ten times" from the Primal Vow


"If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings of the ten quarters who sincerely entrust themselves to me, desire to be born in my land, and say my Name perhaps even ten times, should not be born there, may I not attain the supreme Enlightenment.
Primal Vow of Amida Buddha 

One who is sincerely in love will say „I love you” often or seldom, and wish to be with the person he loves. Similarly, a person who sincerely entrusts to Amida Buddha will express his faith by saying the Name of Amida and wish to be born in His Pure Land. It’s as simple as that.
Feelings of love are automaticaly expressed with words of affection, just like faith in Amida will manifest as Namo Amida Bu (Nembutsu). Thus, we can say that the Nembutsu and wish to be born in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha are expressions or manifestations of faith. One who has faith or „sincerely entrusts” to Amida will certainly say His Name and desire to be with Him in His Pure Land. This is why Shinran Shonin said that faith (shinjin) is the cause of birth in the Pure Land and subsequent attainment of Nirvana:

Elements of genuine faith: 1) Accepting the actual, literal existence of Amida Buddha and His Pure Land

Without accepting the actual, literal existence of Amida Buddha there can be no true faith, no true salvation and no real birth in His Pure Land. If we have faith in someone, then it means we are sure beyond any doubt that he is reliable and that he will keep his promise. Also to believe in someone’s promise means that we accept his existence, too. Promises can be made by living persons, in our case by a living, existing Amida Buddha, not by material objects or fictional characters[1]. Thus, we must accept Amida as a living Buddha who can hear, see and save us by taking us to His Pure Land after death.

Honen Shonin said:

"Amida Buddha fulfilled the forty-eight vows and established the Pure Land. He always listens to a person who utters His name".[2]

„Amida Buddha never fails to hear you, regardless of time and circumstances”.[3]

He also said:

Friday, February 23, 2018

Elements of genuine faith: 2) To accept the story of Amida Buddha as told by Shakyamuni Buddha in the Larger Sutra

            - click to return to the main list of the elements of genuine faith in Amida Buddha - 

This sutra explains the apparition of Amida and His Pure Land in terms of cause and effect[1] and cannot be denied, especially because Shakyamuni's main reason of coming to this world was to teach this sutra:

“To reveal the true teaching: It is the Larger Sutra of the Buddha of Immeasurable Life. The central purport of this sutra is that Amida, by establishing the incomparable Vows, has opened wide the Dharma storehouse, and full of compassion for small, foolish beings, selects and bestows the treasure of virtues. The sutra further reveals that Shakyamuni appeared in this world and expounded the teachings of the way to Enlightenment, seeking to save the multitudes of living beings by blessing them with this benefit that is true and real[2]. Thus, to teach the Tathagata’s Primal Vow is the true intent of this sutra; the Name of the Buddha is its essence”[3].

The Larger Sutra reveals the true teaching. It is indeed the right exposition for which the Tathagata appeared in the world, the wondrous scripture rare and most excellent, the conclusive and ultimate exposition of the One Vehicle[4], the precious words disclosing perfect, instantaneous fulfillment, the sincere words praised by all the Buddhas throughout the ten quarters, the true teaching in consummate readiness for the beings of this day. Let this be known”[5].

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Elements of genuine faith: 3)To wish to be born in the Pure Land for the attainment of perfect Enlightenment/Buddhahood


The goal of Buddha Dharma is to become a Buddha. Not to paint this life in different colors, not to become a smart or interesting kind of Buddhist, but to become a Buddha. The Buddhist path is not a method of relaxation or a tablet for headache, something like “how can we become happier and calmer people” or a recipe for momentary happiness, but a road to Buddhahood or complete Freedom for us and all beings.

It is of utmost importance for those who enter the Buddhist path to have the aspiration to become a Buddha. Without this aspiration there is no Buddhism. If we don’t want or don’t feel the urgency of complete freedom from the many sufferings of repeated births and deaths, then Buddhism will remain for us only an object of study, an interesting lecture of mythology or an intellectual delight.

There are, so to speak, two visions one can have about himself and the world. The first is the ordinary vision depending on one's cultural education or daily concerns, and the other is the Dharmic vision.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Elements of genuine faith: 4) The twofold profound conviction (nishu jinshin)

           - click to return to the main list of the elements of genuine faith in Amida Buddha - 

Faith in Amida Buddha means a twofold profound conviction:

1) to know that we are people of deep karmic limitations, incapable to attain Buddhahood through our own power;
2) to know that only Amida Buddha can save us through His Vow Power (Other Power), without asking anything from us

“Deep mind is deep entrusting faith. It has two aspects. First, to believe deeply and unwaveringly that we are actually ordinary beings of karmic evil subject to birth and death, ever sinking and ever transmigrating in samsara since innumerable kalpas ago without a chance to escape from it. Second, to believe deeply and unwaveringly that the Forty-eight Vows of Amida Buddha enfold sentient beings, enabling them to board His Vow-Power and attain Birth.”[1]

"There are two aspects concerning this mind of trust: the first is to believe oneself to be a foolish being of defiled karma, subject to birth-and-death, from incalculable kalpas past constantly sinking and constantly turning, without any condition that could lead to liberation. The second is to believe deeply and decisively that, since one does not doubt that Amida's Forty-eight Vows grasp sentient beings, one rides on the power of that Vow and will without fail attain Birth.."[2]

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Elements of genuine faith: 5)To accept the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha without any doubt and be sure of your birth in the Pure Land

          - click to return to the main list of the elements of genuine faith in Amida Buddha - 

After hearing the Primal Vow you should have no doubt, think that the Primal Vow is reliable and that Amida Buddha will keep His promise and take you to His Pure Land if you entrust yourself to Him, say His Name and wish to go there.

Shinran Shonin said:

"Shinjin (faith) is hearing the Vow of the Tathagata and being free of doubt".[1]

"'Entrusting' is to be free of doubt, believing deeply and without any double-mindedness that the Tathagata's Primal Vow is true and real."[2]

"Hearing the inconceivable selected Primal Vow and the holy Name of supreme wisdom without a single doubt is called true and real shinjin; it is also called the diamondlike mind".[3]

"'Entrusting' is to be free of doubt, believing deeply and without any double-mindedness that the Tathagata's Primal Vow is true and real."[4]

"The Great Sage Sakyamuni teaches
That Amida's land is easy to reach,
And calls the sentient being who doubts the Pure Land path
A person lacking eyes, or lacking ears"
.[5]

Monday, February 19, 2018

Elements of genuine faith: 6)To accept that birth in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha takes place after death

             - click to return to the main list of the elements of genuine faith in Amida Buddha - 

Birth in the Pure Land through the Gate of the Primal Vow means the attainment of Buddhahood and acquiring the special transcendental qualities of the Enlightened Ones, which cannot be found in our present samsaric minds and bodies[1].
                     
Shakyamuni Buddha said:

“However hard you may practice in this life, it can only be for a short while. In the life to come you will be born in the land of Amitayus (Amida) and enjoy endless bliss there. Being forever in accord with the Way, you will no longer be subject to birth and death and be free of the afflictions caused by greed, anger and ignorance.”[2]

Honen Shonin said:

“When they lay aside their present lives, they will enter into the dwelling of the Buddhas, the Pure Land”.[3]

Shinran Shonin said:

"At the end of your life you will enter the family of the Buddhas, that is, the Pure Land".[4]

"At the moment our karmic bonds to this saha world run out and helplessly we die, we shall go to that land."[5]

“We read in the commentary of the Master of Kuang-ming Temple:
‘[…]We should sincerely devote ourselves to this teaching until the end of our life and, after abandoning our defiled bodies, realize the eternal bliss of Dharma-nature.’”[6]

„Those who have been born first [in the Pure Land] guide those who come later, and those who are born later join those who were born before. This is so that the boundless ocean of birth and death be exhausted”.[7]

“When ordinary beings reach the Western Land,
Their karmic evils, countless as particles, from long past
kalpas will perish.
Endowed with the six supernatural powers, they attain
unrestricted freedom in action;
Forever freed of old age and sickness, they are liberated from impermanence.”[8]









[1] Please reffer to the chapter "A collection of passages on the true meaning of birth in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha", from my book against wrong views - The True Teaching on Amida Buddha and His Pure Land, Dharma Lion Publications, Craiova, 2015, p.113
[2] Shakyamuni Buddha, The Larger Sutra, The Three Pure Land Sutras, translated by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Berkeley, California, 2003, p. 53
[3] Honen’s Senchakushu – Passages on the Selection of the Nembutsu in the Original Vow (Senchaku Hongan Nembutsu Shu), translated and edited by Senchakushu English Translation Project, Kuroda Institute, University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu and Sogo Bukkyo Kenkujo, Taisho University, Tokyo, p.121
[4] Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 132.
[5] Shinran Shonin, Tannisho, chapter 9, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p. 666.
[6] Shinran Shonin, Kyogyoshinsho, chapter IV, Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 175.
[7] Shinran Shonin, Kyogyoshinsho, chapter VI, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.291
[8] The hymns by Fa-chao, based on the Sutra in Praise of the Pure Land (Sukhavativyuha), quoted by Shinran in his Kyogyoshinsho, chapter II,   Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, Idem, p. 41-41.