Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Elements of genuine faith: 4) The twofold profound conviction (nishu jinshin)

           - click to return to the main list of the elements of genuine faith in Amida Buddha - 

Faith in Amida Buddha means a twofold profound conviction:

1) to know that we are people of deep karmic limitations, incapable to attain Buddhahood through our own power;
2) to know that only Amida Buddha can save us through His Vow Power (Other Power), without asking anything from us

“Deep mind is deep entrusting faith. It has two aspects. First, to believe deeply and unwaveringly that we are actually ordinary beings of karmic evil subject to birth and death, ever sinking and ever transmigrating in samsara since innumerable kalpas ago without a chance to escape from it. Second, to believe deeply and unwaveringly that the Forty-eight Vows of Amida Buddha enfold sentient beings, enabling them to board His Vow-Power and attain Birth.”[1]

"There are two aspects concerning this mind of trust: the first is to believe oneself to be a foolish being of defiled karma, subject to birth-and-death, from incalculable kalpas past constantly sinking and constantly turning, without any condition that could lead to liberation. The second is to believe deeply and decisively that, since one does not doubt that Amida's Forty-eight Vows grasp sentient beings, one rides on the power of that Vow and will without fail attain Birth.."[2]
                               
"To be free of self-power, having entrusted oneself to the Other Power of the Primal Vow - this is faith alone. [...] Faith alone also means that nothing is placed equal with this shinjin of Other Power, for it is the working of the universal Primal Vow."[3]

A follower of the Primal Vow abandons any idea that he can transfer some personal merits towards birth in the Pure Land, or Enlightenment, and relies entirely on Amida Buddha's transference of merit. He knows that any so called personal merits are delusional and only Amida Buddha's merits are true and effective for his salvation.

"Whether with regard to the cause or to its fruition, there is nothing whatever that has not been fulfilled through Amida Tathagata’s directing of virtue to beings out of the pure Vow-mind. Because the cause is pure, the fruit is also pure. Reflect on this". [4]

The words "because the cause is pure, the fruit is also pure" reffers to the fact that the cause of our attainment of birth in the Pure Land is Amida Buddha. Because we are carried by the karmic Power of Amida we can reach His Pure Land. If the Pure Land was the effect of our own karma, then we could naturaly go there whenever we wish, but because it is Amida’s Enlightened realm, we can reach it only through Amida’s Power.

This is why we should give up to the idea of „deserving” to be born. Our so called "good karma" has nothing in common with the Pure Land. It is extremely important to understand that the bridge to the Pure Land comes from the Pure Land, and it is Amida’s creation/manifestation. We simply cannot create something in our samsaric and unenlightened mind that can bring us to the Pure Land of Enlightenment. So, let us relax and let Amida do His saving work on us, carrying us there when we die.

"The True Land of Bliss is extremely easy to go to, because one can attain birth there through the Vow-Power."[5]

"It is stated in the Hymns in Praise of Amida Buddha (Tsan a mi t’o fo chieh) [composed by Master T’an-luan]:

'All beings, having heard Amida’s virtuous Name,
Attain joyful faith, rejoice in what they hear,
And call His Name even once. The person of sincerity, Amida,
Endows merit to them. All who aspire for Birth attain Birth.
Hence, I prostrate myself to worship Him and aspire to be
born there.'"[6]

“If not for the Buddha’s directing of virtue,
How could we realize Enlightenment in the Pure Land?”[7]

Honen Shonin warns us against thinking that birth in the Pure Land is possible through our own efforts and personal merits:

"If you think that birth in the Pure Land is possible through your own efforts, you will become consumed with conceit that you are wise. When you possess this heart of conceit, you will not be in accord with the Primal Vow, and you will lose the protection of Amida Buddha as well as that of other Buddhas. You are ultimately haunted by malevolent spirits. I here repeat - be vigilant indeed against conceit."[8]










[1] Master Shan-tao, as quoted by Shinran Shonin in chapter III of his Kyogyoshinsho, Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 90-91
[2] Master Seikaku, Essentials of Faith Alone, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.692
[3] Shinran Shonin, Notes on the Essentials of Faith Alone, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p. 451
[4] Shinran Shonin, Passages on the Pure Land Way, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.300-301
[5] Shinran Shonin, Kyogyoshinsho, VI, Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 257
[6] Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 88
[7] Shinran Shonin, Hymns of the Dharma- Ages (Koso Wasan), The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p. 411
[8] Honen Shonin, Instruction in the Seven Articles, The Promise of Amida Buddha - Honen's Path to Bliss; English translation of the Genko edition of the works of Honen Shonin - Collected Teachings of Kurodani Shonin: The Japanese Anthology (Wago Toroku), translated by Joji Atone and Yoko Hayashi, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2011, p.141


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