Monday, December 9, 2013

Two questions on "faith and nembutsu are not our creation"

"Since Amida makes you trust Him
And responds to your trust,
Your trusting heart does not arise
From within yourself."
Rennyo Shonin 

A few days ago I posted the above verses on my Facebook page. Soon a reader asked me two questions and I answered as best I could. I thought it might be useful to share the discussion with you: 

 Question: "This idea is remarkably similar to the doctrine of election in Calvinist Protestantism, & raises the same questions, namely, "Why doesn't Amida make everyone trust him?" & "Where does our choice enter into the process?".

Answer: I think it is not at all similar. Amida does not elect those to be saved. Like the sun who sends his rays everywhere, Amida is calling all beings to entrust to Him, just some people close their windows while others keep them open. But even if you open your window, the rays of light belong to the sun, not to you. It is the same with faith. Rennyo also said: "There is no heart far from Amida, but a covered bowl of water cannot reflect the moon." I explain this matter here ("Faith and nembutsu are not our creation") and also here ("Question: discrimination in the saving activity of Amida?")

 Question: "Then Amida N. doesn't make me trust him, he sends us all a message suggesting that we ought to, & those who do not respond have either failed to check their inboxes or can't make sense of the message. Is that it?"

Answer: It is not just a message to be listened with the logical mind. Shinjin/faith is not the product of human logic or the human mind. This is why it is called "diamond like faith" - it does not come from this or that line of arguments and it cannot be destroyed by this or that line of arguments. It is "diamond like" because it's source is Amida.

It is because of Amida that one entrusts to Amida. The echo of Amida's Call in one's heart (shinjin/faith) is due to the power of the One who calls (Amida).
Just some people become open to this Call while others, don't. Your openness depends on how karmicaly matured you are in relation with this Call, this is why Rennyo Shonin emphasized the action of listening again and again to the Amida Dharma until we finally become open. Then, when we are open or karmicaly mature enough, we entrust. But this apparition of faith comes from Amida, just like the light which occurs in the room after we opened the window comes from the rays of light sent by the sun. The light which occurs in the room of our hearts (shinjin/faith), after we opened the window, it comes from the rays sent by Amida.
Opening the window does not create light (faith/shinjin). Light is not the product of the window nor the creation of the one who opens the window. Light comes only from the sun.

The truth that in fact, shinjin comes from Amida, even if it is us who listen to the Dharma about Amida is beyond our capacity to understand it with our limited and unenlightened minds. We are taught it is so, and we accept it, but we also experience this if we really entrust to Amida. Since I myself entrusted to Amida I always feel, even if I cannot understand it logically, that nothing related with my birth in the Pure Land really belongs to me, nor was the product of my efforts. For me it is simply so, everything comes from Amida, including shinjin and nembutsu. 

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