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

Monday, March 28, 2016

Birth is the Achievement of Amida

Birth in the Pure Land—the world of True Enlightenment—is altogether the achievement of Amida Tathagata. You cannot attain birth in the Pure Land merely by thinking that you will be born there, as your foolish and unenlightened thoughts do not constitute the cause of birth. Only through the working of the living Buddha Amida, and by the power of his Primal Vow, can you be born in the Land of Peace and Bliss. Through "hearing the Name," the great compassionate Vow-Mind of Amida fills our hearts and becomes great shinjin, the True Faith. And it is this "shinjitsu shinjin" (true and real entrusting mind) alone that is the cause of birth. The realization involved in this "taking refuge" is twofold: "There is nowhere for me to go but hell, yet Amida Buddha exists to save just such a miserable being as that. Ah, so grateful! Nanmandabutsu, nanmandabutsu!" The Nembutsu that consequently emerges is the ho-on nembutsu spoken in absolute gratitude to Tathagata's benevolence. It is the true Other-Power Nembutsu that is devoid of calculation and self-power. Gassho