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 7, 2016

True Faith Not the Result of Human Calculations

     From the beginning,
     Our trust that is placed in Amida
     Is the mind
     That does not arise from within.
          --Rennyo Shonin

True faith (shinjin) is not what we "get" in return for services rendered, whether saying the nembutsu, believing in the Buddha, or studying Buddhist doctrine. All such activities have their limits in self-power, and are in the final analysis calculative actions (hakarai) if they do not come naturally from the influence of Other-Power.

Rather, true faith is itself the heart that trusts to the utmost; it is Amida's own pure Bodhi-mind, and is consequently free from any shadow of doubt. As for where this faith is to be found, it is nowhere but the Name, which embodies the virtue directed to us for our going forth (to the Pure Land).

When confronted with the issue of how we can avail ourselves of this virtue-power, the answer is simply, "By hearing the Name." What do we hear? We hear the commanding call of the Tathagata's Vow: "Come to me just as you are!"

Since the compassionate Parent grasps me by the hand, I am born in the Pure Land just as I am. Because the "true and real Light" is presently shining throughout the ten quarters, my life-and-death problem is totally resolved. To realize this is to discover the unity of Savior and saved in Namo Amida Butsu.

Following such a realization, the feeling of "indebtedness to the Nembutsu" (ho-on nembutsu) will naturally arise.


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