Wednesday, September 16, 2015

2) Passages who show that birth in the Pure Land takes place after death and it means the attainment of Nirvana (Enlightenment/Buddhahood)


“However hard you may practice in this life, it can only be for a short while. In the life to come you will be born in the land of Amitayus (Amida) and enjoy endless bliss there. Being forever in accord with the Way, you will no longer be subject to birth and death and be free of the afflictions caused by greed, anger and ignorance.”[1]
Shakyamuni Buddha, The Larger Sutra

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“If sentient beings in the three realms of suffering see His (Amida’s) light they will all be relieved and freed from affliction. At the end of their lives, they all reach liberation.”[2]
The Larger Sutra as quoted by Shinran Shonin in his Kyogyoshinsho, chapter V

Here to “see the Light” means to receive faith in Amida Buddha.

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“If at the end of life one obtains birth into this country (the Pure Land) then one has boundless virtues. I, therefore, do nothing but offer my life to Amida and desire to enter the Pure Land.”[3]
Bodhisattva Nagarjuna as quoted by Master Genshin in his Ojoyoshu


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“Sentient beings who practice the nembutsu are embraced by Amida Buddha and never abandoned; at the end of their lives they will certainly be born in the Pure Land.”[4]
Master Tao-ch’o as quoted by Honen Shonin in his Senchakushu

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“If sentient beings in the three realms of suffering see His Light, they will all be relieved and freed from affliction. At the end of their lives, they all reach emancipation”. [5]
Master Shan-tao, Ojoraisan

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“Generally speaking, the nembutsu practitioner is extolled with the five epithets and is blessed with the close protection of the two Honored Ones (Avalokitesvara and Mahasthamaprapta). These are the present benefits. The future benefit is that the practitioner will be born in the Pure Land and will eventually become a Buddha”.[6]
Honen Shonin, Senchakushu

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“Generally speaking, the nembutsu practitioner is extolled with the five epithets and is blessed with the close protection of the two Honored Ones (Avalokitesvara and Mahasthamaprapta). These are the present benefits. The future benefit is that the practitioner will be born in the Pure Land and will eventually become a Buddha”.[7]
Honen Shonin, Senchakushu

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“We read in the commentary of the Master of Kuang-ming Temple:
‘[…]We should sincerely devote ourselves to this teaching until the end of our life and, after abandoning our defiled bodies, realize the eternal bliss of Dharma-nature[8].’”[9]
Shinran Shonin, Kyogyoshinsho, chapter IV

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"Whether one is left behind or goes before, it is surely a sorrowful thing to be parted by death. But the one who first attains Nirvana vows without fail to save those who where close to him first and leads those with whom he has been karmically bound, his relatives, and his friends."[10]
Shinran Shonin, Lamp for the Latter Ages, Letter 14

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"As for me, Shinran, I have never said the nembutsu even once for the repose of my departed father and mother. For all sentient beings, without exception, have been our parents and brothers and sisters in the course of countless lives in the many states of existence. On attaining Buddhahood after this present life, we can save every one of them."[11]
Shinran Shonin, Tannisho, chapter 5

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"By virtue of being shone upon by Amida’s light, we receive diamond like shinjin when the one thought-moment of entrusting arises within us; hence, already in that instant Amida takes us into the stage of the truly settled, and when our lives end, all our blind passions and obstructions of evil being transformed, we are brought to realize insight into the non-origination of all existence".[12]
Shinran Shonin, Tannisho, chapter 14

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"If we entrust ourselves to Amida’s Vow that grasps and never abandons us, then even though unforeseen circumstances, we commit an evil act and die without saying the nembutsu at the very end, we will immediately realize birth in the Pure Land.
Moreover, even if we do say the Name at the point of death, it will be nothing other than our expression of gratitude for Amida’s benevolence, entrusting ourselves to the Buddha more and more as the very time of Enlightenment draws near."[13]
Shinran Shonin, Tannisho, chapter 14

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"Do those who speak of realizing Enlightenment while in this bodily existence manifest various accommodated bodies, possess the Buddha’s thirty-two features and eighty marks, and preach the Dharma to benefit beings like Shakyamuni? It is this that is meant by realizing Enlightenment in this life.

It is stated in a hymn:

When the time comes
For shinjin, indestructible as diamond, to become settled,
Amida grasps and protects us with compassion and light,
So that we may part forever from birth-and-death.

This means that at the moment shinjin becomes settled, we are grasped, never to be abandoned, and therefore we will not transmigrate further in the six courses. Only then do we part forever from birth-and-death. Should such awareness be confusedly termed “attaining Enlightenment”? It is regrettable that such misunderstanding should arise.
The late Master said, according to the true essence of the Pure Land way, one entrusts oneself to the Primal Vow in this life and realizes Enlightenment in the Pure Land; this is the teaching I received."[14]
Shinran Shonin, Tannisho, chapter 15

Birth in the Pure Land and Enlightenment are attained only after death. Shinjin or entrusting to Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow, which is received in this life and makes us enter in the stage of those assured of birth in the Pure Land, must not be confused with the actual attainment of birth in the Pure Land. Hence, the true teaching is, “one entrusts oneself to the Primal Vow in this life and realizes Enlightenment in the Pure Land.







[1] The Three Pure Land Sutras, translated by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Berkeley, California, 2003, p. 53
[2] Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 198.
[3] Genshin’s Ojoyoshu – Collected Essays on Birth into the Pure Land, translated from Japanese by A.K. ReischauerThe Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, second series, volume VII, 1930, free online edition at http://www.amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.ro/2014/03/genshins-ojoyoshu-free-english-edition.html#more
[4] Honen’s Senchakushu – Passages on the Selection of the Nembutsu in the Original Vow (Senchaku Hongan Nembutsu Shu), translated and edited by Senchakushu English Translation Project, Kuroda Institute, University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu and Sogo Bukkyo Kenkujo, Taisho University, Tokyo, p.124
[5] Shan-tao’s Liturgy for Birth – Ojoraisan, compiled by Master Shan-tao, annotated translation by Zuio Hisao Inagaki, edited by Doyi Tan, Singapore, 2009, p.46
[6] Honen’s Senchakushu – Passages on the Selection of the Nembutsu in the Original Vow (Senchaku Hongan Nembutsu Shu), translated and edited by Senchakushu English Translation Project, Kuroda Institute, University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu and Sogo Bukkyo Kenkujo, Taisho University, Tokyo, p.124
[7] Ibid.
[8] Samsaric or unenlightened beings are like seeds dropped in an infertile soil. Although the potentiality of any seed is to become a tree, if you place it in a poor soil, devoid of any good nutrients, and in the  presence of various bad weeds, the seed will not grow.

Just like the seed, the potentiality of any being is to become a Buddha (this is what is meant by all beings have Buddha-nature), but because we live in this samsaric world, itself the effect and echo of our own evil karma, we cannot grow and transform ourselves into Buddhas.

This is exactly why we need to let Amida take us to His Pure Land. That Land is the best soil for seeds like us to quickly develop their natural potential and become Buddhas. Unlike the various Samsaric planes of existence, the Pure Land is the soil (realm) of Enlightenment, the perfect garden manifested by Amida Buddha where everything is conducive to Enlightenment. So, we should all simply entrust to Him and wish to be planted/reborn there, where by receiving all the necesary nutrients and not being  obstructed by any bad weeds, we’ll naturally transform ourselves into Trees of Enlightenment.  
[9] Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 175.
[10] The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p. 545.
[11] Idem, p. 664.
[12] Idem, p. 673.
[13] Idem, p. 673-674.
[14] Idem, p. 675.


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