The radiant light, unhindered and inconceivable, eradicates suffering and brings realization of joy; the excellent Name, perfectly embodying all practices, eliminates obstacles and dispels doubt. This is the teaching and practice for our latter age; devote yourself solely to it. It is eye and limb in this defiled world; do not fail to endeavor in it. Accepting and living the supreme, universal Vow, then, abandon the defiled and aspire for the pure. Reverently embracing the Tathagata's teaching, respond in gratitude to his benevolence and be thankful for his compassion.

~ Shinran Shonin, Passages on the Pure Land Way

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Difficulty of Shinjin

The way to the Pure Land is not difficult in the ordinary sense, but it does demand our full attention. Each of us should make the Buddha-Dharma our first priority in life, following Rennyo Shonin's instructions. This requires a willingness to forego mundane pursuits in favor of religious ones, and implies an attitude of humility when reading or reciting the sutras, the hymns, or attending temple services. It means reflecting deeply on our limited capacities, and rejecting false spiritual philosophies that would make light of our karmic burden.
Most importantly, it means to rely exclusively on the words of the Buddha and the Pure Land masters, without letting ourselves be distracted by other notions and ideas, including our own. We should recognize that the key to our emancipation, the attainment of true faith, is unrelated to whatever views we may hold regarding worldly matters, however commendable these may otherwise be. Cultivating a sense of reverent awe when listening to the Dharma, while discarding mistaken views, is an essential function of authentic hearing (chomon).
Surely, it is extremely difficult to acknowledge one's insufficiency to the task of liberation from samsara; herein lies the singular difficulty of shinjin. In the case of serious illness, the patient must rely on the doctor's knowledge and insight. In the same way, only by entrusting oneself wholeheartedly to Amida's Original Vow is it possible to resolve the issue of birth-and-death once and for all. For the true disciple of Shakyamuni, nothing less will suffice.
Namo Amida Butsu _/\_

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