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.

The first represents what is considered normal in various times, containing limited explanations of the world and almost no interest in the meaning of human existence or in something which is beyond the present life. The immediate utilitarianism is fundamental in the non-Dharmic vision of the world.
On the other hand, the Dharmic vision perceives the world and personal life through the perspective of the Buddhist teaching (Dharma) where everything is explained in terms of the preciousness of human birth, impermanence, the law of karma, and the suffering inherent in all the samsaric realms of existence (the Four Profound Thoughts). Also, what is truly important is defined in a different way than immediate utility, and the attainment of Freedom from samsara for us and all beings is considered to be supreme.

To aspire to become a Buddha is fundamental but this aspiration remains just an unfulfilled desire like many others if our personal capacities cannot lead us to this goal. It is not necessary to become a saint or some kind of special kind of person in order to have the aspiration to become a Buddha, but to be successful in attaining Buddhahood we'll need efforts and qualities infinitely greater than our ordinary capacities.

Samsaric or unenlightened beings are like seeds dropped in an infertile soil. Although the potentiality of any seed is to become a tree, if you place it in a poor soil, devoid of any good nutrients, and in the  presence of various bad weeds, the seed will not grow.
Just like the seed, the potentiality of any being is to become a Buddha (this is what is meant by all beings have Buddha-nature), but because we live in this samsaric world, itself the effect and echo of our own evil karma, we cannot grow and transform ourselves into Buddhas. This is exactly why we need to let Amida take us to His Pure Land. That Land is the best soil for seeds like us to quickly develop their natural potential and become Buddhas. Unlike the various Samsaric planes of existence, the Pure Land is the soil (realm) of Enlightenment, the perfect garden manifested by Amida Buddha where everything is conducive to Enlightenment. So, we should all simply entrust to Him and wish to be planted/reborn there, where by receiving all the necesary nutrients and not being  obstructed by any bad weeds, we’ll naturally transform ourselves into Trees of Enlightenment:  

."When a person has entered completely into the Pure Land of happiness, he or she immediately realizes the supreme Nirvana; he realizes the supreme Enlightenment. Although the terms differ, they both mean to realize the Enlightenment of the Buddha who is Dharma-body (ultimate Dharmakaya)."[1]

"It is stated in the Larger Sutra on Amida:
'Strive to escape from samsara. When you are born in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha the five evil realms will be instantly destroyed and those realms will naturally cease to be[2]. You will progress unhindered in your pursuit of the Way.' [...]

The Larger Sutra states:

'Then you will surely enter the Buddha’s Enlightenment
And everywhere deliver beings from the river of birth and
death.'

It is also stated:

'You will surely become World-honored Ones
And deliver all beings from birth, old age, and death.'

The Master of Kuang-ming Temple says:

'I say to all practitioners: Abhor birth and death, the fate of ordinary beings, and do not cling to it; aspire for Amida’s Pure Land, do not think lightly of it. If you abhor the Saha world you will forever part from it; if you aspire for the Pure Land you will eternally dwell in it. If you part from the Saha world the causes of the six realms will cease to be and the resultant states of transmigration will spontaneously perish. If the causes and the results cease to be, the forms and names of samsaric states will be immediately annihilated'."[3]

As we have seen from the above, we should know that we go to the Pure Land of Amida Buddha in order to become Buddhas ourselves, so we must not confuse the Pure Land with some kind of heavenly realm where we enjoy riches and sensual pleasures.
Shinran Shonin said:

"Shinjin that is the inconceivable working of the power of the Vow
Is none other than the mind aspiring for great Enlightenment".[4]

"The true entrusting heart is adamantine faith. Adamantine faith is the aspiration for Buddhahood. The aspiration for Buddhahood is the desire to save sentient beings. The desire to save sentient beings is the desire to embrace sentient beings and bring them to the Pure Land of Peace and Bliss. This desire is the great Bodhi-mind. This mind is the great compassion, for it arises from the wisdom of Infinite Light[5]".[6]

The Awakening of the Bodhi Mind – the aspiration to attain perfect Enlightenment or Budhahood for saving oneself and all beings, is impossible to be fulfilled by self power, as Shinran said:

„The aspiration for Enlightenment through self-power taught in the Path of Sages
Is beyond our minds and words;

We foolish beings ever sinking in transmigration -
How could we awaken it?

Under the guidance of Buddhas who appeared in this world,
Three times the sands of the Ganges in number,
We awakened the aspiration for supreme Enlightenment,
But our self-power failed, and we continued to transmigrate.”[7]

However, this Mind is fulfilled in the Awakening of Faith (shinjin) in the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha. Master Shan-tao said: “Awake your Bodhi Mind to Amida’s Compasion”, that is, aspire to your and other beings Liberation by relying on the Compasion of Amida (His Primal Vow).

So, the Awakening of the Bodhi Mind, the obligatory condition in Mahayana of attaining the supreme Enlightenment, appears in Jodo Shinshu in the form of faith (shinjin).

Shinran Shonin said in the Hymns on Patriarchs:

“Faith is One Mind
One Mind is the Diamond-like Mind;
The Diamond-like Mind is the Bodhi-Mind;
This mind is given us by the Other-Power.”


The One Mind (Faith) represents the cause of Enlightenment. Since this is the Bodhi-
Mind, it means to aspire to the attainment of Buddhahood for oneself and others:

"To take refuge, with the mind that is single,
In the Buddha of Unhindered Light filling the ten quarters (Amida)
is, in the words of Vasubandhu, author of the Treatise,
The mind that aspires to attain Buddhahood.

The mind that aspires to attain Buddhahood
Is the mind to save all sentient beings;
The mind to save all sentient beings
Is true and real shinjin, which is Amida's benefiting of others."[8]

"True and real shinjin is the aspiration for Buddhahood. The aspiration for Buddhahood is the aspiration to save all beings. The aspiration to save all beings is the mind that grasps sentient beings and brings them to birth in the Pure Land of happiness".[9]




[1] Shinran Shonin, Lamp for the Latter Ages, Letter 21, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p. 555.
[2] For the person who attains perfect Enlightenment, it is like Samsara does not exist, because he no longer has any ignorance, atachements or sufferings.
[3] Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, P 124-125
[4] The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.354
[5] Please check the chapter "Faith and Nembutsu does not belong to us".
[6] Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 122
[7] Shinran Shonin, Hymns of the Dharma Ages (Shozomatsu Wasan), The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.402
[8]  Shinran Shonin, Hymns on the Patriachs , The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.365
[9] Shinran Shonin, Passages on the Pure Land Way, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.314

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