Buddha Amitabha is not like the divine saviors and teachers that people usually worship. He does not require from us devotion, or obedience, or sacrifice. Rather, He embraces us just as we are, bringing us to His Pure Land, the enlightened realm that stands outside this burning house of birth-and-death (Sanskrit samsara). Just as a compassionate and caring mother does not demand that her child love her, but its call is the expression of her selfless love, so the nembutsu (Namo Amida Butsu, "I take refuge in the Awakened One of Infinite Light and Everlasting Life") that we recite is nothing other than the great love and great compassion of Amitabha. Having received the all-powerful working of this one Buddha, and realized birth in the Fulfilled Land through the Power of His Vow, we find there is nothing left for us to do other than praise His sacred Name. The more we reflect on its profound virtues, the more overcome with awe and gratitude we are. Tears may flow, and the nembutsu leaps naturally to our lips. This is the heart of the True Pure Land Way (Japanese Jodo Shinshu), which very few in this world perceive, let alone comprehend. It is the boundless joy which, in the words of Shakyamuni, "surpasses that of gods and human beings." Most importantly, it is the authentic, enduring happiness that can be realized by all who lay aside the myriad religious practices and entrust themselves to Buddha Amitabha alone with singleness of heart. This is the unshakeable faith (Japanese shinjin) transmitted by the Seven Masters, Shinran, and Rennyo. To accept and revere it is to attain the supreme benefit bestowed by the Buddha from the treasure-store of His enlightened wisdom.
April 15, 2014