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

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Notes on Reading KYOGYOSHINSHO #163

Notes on Reading Kyōgyōshinshō #163


When you hear the Buddha-Dharma, you should make a question by yourself and hear with this question [in mind]. The questions are:

1. Are you born through the nembutsu, or are you born through shinjin?
2. Are you born through shinjin, or are you born through the Vow-power?
3. Are you born through the Vow-power, or are you born through the Name?
4. Does Amida Nyorai save you, or are you saved by the virtue-power of the Name?
5. When you call [the nembutsu], is birth settled, or is birth settled when you believe?
6. What is the meaning of “as it is”?

First, if you do not ask the above six questions while thinking and thinking, listening and listening, it will be impossible to reach the point at which shinjin is determined.

The answers should be discovered by yourself, but if you try to answer these six questions, it will take a lifetime. They are likely not to be understood even if it takes a lifetime. Fellow travelers, not understanding them, ignore them just like that and do not make them a problem. Because they do not make them a problem, decades afterward, shinjin becomes unclear. Because they do not get serious, the problem does not emerge. Even if the problem emerges, they do not try to solve it. This is a common fault of the average fellow traveler. Many Buddhist books as well as magazines were published in the past eight decades, but I have never seen a document that solved the six questions that appear above. It is important to ask the six questions above tens of times or hundreds of times, and to resolve them.


Are you born through the nembutsu, or are you born through shinjin?

The answer is, “Shinjin is the true cause, reciting the Name is in gratitude.”

It is said that birth is attained through shinjin, but what kind of shinjin?

(a) Do you believe in the virtue-power of the Name, or (b) do you believe that those who call the nembutsu will be saved?

It is belief in the virtue-power of the Name. “Original Vow” and “Name” are nondual.

(1) Birth through reciting the Name is (2) birth through the Name. Birth through the Name is (3) birth through shinjin (shinjin is the true cause). This is not understood.

The true spirit of “birth through the nembutsu” is “birth through shinjin.” No matter how many times you say the nembutsu, without shinjin you cannot be born in the Pure Land. Now, what do you believe in? The following are to be believed:

1. The preciousness of the Buddha;
2. oneself as an extremely sinful, ignorant ordinary person lacking capacity;
3. the excellence of the virtuous masters;
4. the dreadfulness of impermanence and cause and effect;
5. I am born by the Original Vow-power

“Original Vow-power” is “the power of the Original Vow.” Moreover, it is “the power of the Original Vow and the Name.”

“Original Vow-power” is “the power of Buddha.” If we speak of “the power of Buddha,” this is “the power of great Compassion,” “the power of great Wisdom,” and “the power of the great Vow.” Through “the power of Buddha,” the person who cannot go [to the Pure Land] is made to go. It is a mistake for fellow travelers to think of going [to the Pure Land] by grasping at shinjin or saying the nembutsu while forgetting the power of Buddha. Through “taking in and saving all beings throughout the ten quarters with Light and Name” (the Original Vow), we are saved by “Light and Name.” This is “the power of the Original Vow”; this is “Other-power.” However, although fellow travelers talk about “Other-power,” by grasping at “shinjin” and [thinking] “I’ve received shinjin, so I can go [to the Pure Land],” they have already asserted “self-power.” “Receiving shinjin” is like the sun shining. Because the sun shines, you can read the newspaper even without electric lights. Also, it is like being taken by the hand although one is blind.

Night is dark; the way can’t be seen at that time
Amida Nyorai takes my hand
How great is the power of the Original Vow! (Zuiken)