- updated and revised on Oct 26th 2016 -
2) a good spiritual teacher
3) Amida’s light
4) the entrusting heart (shinjin)
5) the saying of Amida Buddha's Name (nembutsu)
The good spiritual teacher can also be a book written by somebody who had true faith and was loyal to the true teaching on Amida Buddha, or a sacred text. Thus, the good spiritual teacher might be someone who already went to the Pure Land but whose words and instructions help you to become open to Amida Buddha and entrust yourself to Him. In my case, I can say that I found answers to all my questions after reading A Standard of Shinshu Faith and other booklets by Ryosetsu Fujiwara, as well as various sacred texts in our tradition, like Tannisho, Shinran's Letters, Rennyo's Letters and the Pure Land sutras themselves. Thus, I cannot say that I had a living teacher or mentor.
Amida’s Light is a permanent presence upon beings everywhere, opened or not opened to it. Through His Light Amida tries permanently to influence beings and make them accept His salvation contained in the Primal Vow. It is like an immense magnet attracting all beings to Him. Some become opened to it sooner while others will do so in the future, but Amida will continue sending it until all samsaric realms become empty and all beings attain Buddhahood.
The “entrusting heart” and “saying of the Name” are the manifestations of Amida’s Light in the heart of the practitioner, and cannot exist independently of Amida’s Light. Only because of Amida’s working and His wish to save us are we able to entrust in Amida and say the nembutsu.