Namu Amida Butsu

This work is especially dedicated to Zuiken Saizo Inagaki, who sheds light on the pristine and original teachings of Jodo Shinshu (Shin Buddhism) for many people, including myself. I regard him as my soul teacher and I am very much influenced by his words and thoughts, which are deeply imbued with the Wisdom of Compassion of Amida Buddha. I read most of his writings available in Chinese language and I wish to share some of his golden words in this blog in English. Rev. George Gatenby and Mr. Gabriel Schlaefer have been kindly and untiringly assisting me to edit the translated essays so that they are readable and true to the intent of Sensei. May all partake of the wisdom of Shinshu teaching and be overpowered by the light of Amida Buddha.

Namu Amida Butsu!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The hand-held nenju does not fall owing to the power of the hand


A member of the Buddhist Church of Santa Barbara holds a nenju
(Photo credited to the owner of the blog at http://tedmills.com//) 
All of you are holding nenju, right? If this nenju is let go of, it falls, right? 
“The hand-held nenju does not fall owing to the power of the hand.” 
Because the nenju is “held (in the hand)”, the same way we are grasped or held by Amida Buddha “embraced and not forsaken” stopping me from falling, this falling good-for-nothing can only be safe from falling. That’s how it happens! However, this nenju (bombu) insists on “having to acquire shinjin for birth!” Nenju (bombu) apparently do not have limbs but think of holding on to Amida firmly for birth. As these good-for-nothing (nenju) take out their limbs, they head to hell! 
“The hand-held nenju does not fall owing to the power of the hand!” 
Therefore, we can “attain birth in the Pure Land” whether or not we hear the Dharma, do good work (charity), say the Nembutsu, as the nenju’s nature (weight) of falling does not change! “This me who is falling,” “cannot fall because I am relying on Amida’s Primal Vow-power that holds me firmly!” “Try to fall and see if you will. You won’t, will you?” “I can’t fall!” when “I have been defeated by your power." You have just mounted the Primal Vow-power; this means that shinjin is determined. 

If it is just the nenju alone, it will fall! Even though it will fall, it’s firmly held by Amida Buddha “embraced and not forsaken” and when asked to “try to fall and see if you will,” however, you are unable to fall anymore. Unable to fall, no matter if you like it or not, you have no way to get away from being born there. Because Amida Buddha's power is so immense, you have been defeated by Him at last; isn’t this shinjin? During the struggling period, you have no shinjin.  When being held by Amida, you won’t be worrying unnecessarily “Would I not fall? Would I not fall?” Similarly, when being held by Amida, you won’t be saying “have to acquire shinjin for birth.” This is not acceptable.

Zuiken 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

At any time we are completely naked before the Parent of compassion

“Apart from the Buddha saving me, ask no shinjin of your own.” Therefore, you don’t have to forcefully boast, “I have entrusted myself.” Hence, “I have heard it,” ”I have entrusted myself,” such minds of “entrusting” and “hearing” should leave no residual trace. This is what is meant by “at any time we are completely naked before the Parent of compassion.”

“The mind that hears,
Remembers
Are both carried away by Amida Buddha.
Completely naked, completely naked we are,
At any time
Before the Parent of compassion.”

In this way, we are able to be born in the Pure Land, aren’t we?

“For the Buddha-dharma, no matter how much that we hear 
Always we are babes before hearing.”

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Don't bring out human wisdom!

Without having Buddha's wisdom, you won't be going to the realm of wisdom of Buddha. What do you use to enter the realm of wisdom of Buddha? The Pure Land is the realm of wisdom of Amida Buddha! Also, it is the realm of compassion of Amida Buddha! You may think of going to the realm of wisdom of Buddha, but you won't without humbly accepting the Buddha's wisdom. This must be pondered well, otherwise self-power will emerge imperceptibly.

Speaking of shinjin, it's accepting humbly the Buddha's wisdom! Human wisdom does not work. Human wisdom is in any case termed "calculation"! It puts you in self-power and doubt! Don't bring out* human wisdom!

"I hear that..," "I assume that..," "I think that...," "because I say the Nembutsu I can be born there," "because I feel joyful I can be born there," these are human wisdom and human thinking! Such thoughts are useless, and you mustn't do without discarding all of them.


Zuiken (An extract from "Talk on the Hymns of the Pure Land Masters."

Note: *Don't bring out means not to exert, not to make a show of. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Not trusting in people while thinking of humbly accepting shinjin is a mistake!

 “I trust in Shinran Shonin, and therefore trust in the Infinite Life Sutra” 
  --- Hirokku Eishun sensei (岗英俊师) 

The Name of the Primal Vow propounded by the Infinite Life Sutra is not something that bombu can possibly trust in. Touching the Infinite Life Sutra, it is simply the Name of the Primal Vow! “Relying on the Name of the Primal Vow, just by this single honorable power we are taken to be born in the Pure Land,” while discarding everything else! Eishun Sensei said bombu would not be able to trust in the Infinite Life Sutra, which he referred to as the Name of the Primal Vow, but “(he) trusts in Shinran Shonin, and therefore trusts in the Infinite Life.” Please keep these words in mind. 

Not trusting in people while thinking of humbly accepting shinjin is a mistake! It does not matter how much great Dharma teaching you have listened to, books you have read, difficult words you have remembered -- these have nothing to do with shinjin! Without trusting in people, it is impossible to humbly accept shinjin.

Zuiken
(An extract from Talk on Hymns of the Pure Land Masters)

Shinran Shonin

Saturday, March 25, 2017

When fish are hauled out of water

A student called Two-Three-Four could not answer a question from his teacher in school. Fellow traveler Hirata shared with the student the Buddha-Dharma. 

Two-Three-Four was moved and wrote the answer for the question as follows: 
When fish are hauled out of water, they will die no matter how you treat them. Fish will only survive in water.” 

 “We rely on the Buddha to live.” How many people out there are aware of this themselves? The wisdom of Namo is the master of the six syllables. The six syllables are the Buddha; relying on the Buddha we humans are shone upon and protected. Such an object (person to be saved) is only savable with the one-thought moment of Amida Buddha. Ahh, how embarrassed I am, how embarrassed I am!” 

“Namo” is Sanskrit, which is translated as “take refuge” in China and “the saving Buddha” in Japan. Just hear the salvation of Amida Buddha. 

The moment when we are informed “Ah! (I see..) ’ is “Namo.”

by Hirata Ariwa (平田有和)

Note: Madam Hirata was a myokonin of Zuiken's time. She benefited a lot from Zuiken's dharma teaching and owed him great respect. Her speeches, thoughts and poems were collected into Zuiken's book titled The Ship of Vows of Great Compassion. 

Seeking shinjin within while turning your back on Amida Buddha

Seeking shinjin within while turning your back on Amida Buddha, and not beholding the Buddha; such shinjin is not acceptable! 

Speaking of shinjin, just seeking it within is not acceptable! 

Speaking of shinjin, it concerns us accepting it humbly; and speaking of accepting it, you seek it within, keep looking inwardly: Do I have shinjin? Have I not accepted it? To investigate like that is the proof of your not having accepted shinjin.

Zuiken 
(an extract from Talk on Hymns of the Pure Land Masters)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

This very special great Vow (betchi no gugan)

Concerning shinjin, what can we do about it? 

What on earth can you do about it? Your (true) features when born, the same old you just like before hearing the Dharma! Doesn’t it mean that I won’t be able to attain birth? Yes, it does. You won’t make it (birth)! As you (this good-for-nothing) won’t make it, it only requires the Tathagata to fasten the lock of the Vow-power around your waist and pull you along. The Pure Land is not devised for unordinary people.
  
Isn’t it like gold ingots falling from heaven (a windfall)?

Indeed. If you cannot listen to or are deaf to this very special great Vow (betchi no gugan 別異の弘願), you won’t be able to enter the White Path of the Primal Vow. It is the 18th Vow that surpasses the ordinary causes and effects of our world! It is sukuzen (good karma from previous lifetimes)! Even so, you are still invited to try listening with astonishment.

Zuiken (an extract)