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This blog is devoted to the propagation of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, a 750-year-old Buddhist tradition.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Pure Land Quote of the Week

"The Shonin said, 'When a single thought of Faith is awakened in us, our birth in the Pure Land is definitely settled. It is left up to Amida Tathagata whether or not he saves us after destroying our karmic evil. It is useless for us to discuss matters concerning our karmic evil. What concerns us is that Amida saves those who entrust themselves to him."

The Shonin in this quote is Rennyo Shonin (1415-1499), the second most influential person in Jodo Shinshu history aside from Shinran Shonin, who was his direct ancestor. He is often referred to as the "Second Founder" because of his great organizational and preaching abilities, which made the True Pure Land School a distinct religious and also a social and political power in medieval Japan. His 500th memorial service held in 1998 in Kyoto, Japan, was attended by thousands of Shin Buddhists from all over the world.

In this quote, we are reminded of the importance of shinjin, or entrusting to Amida Buddha, as primary among all Dharma matters. Although the ancient idea of karma is important in Buddhist doctrine, we should not excessively worry about it. Our karmic debt is like credit card debt - although we may "try" to make merit and acquire good karma, we could never truly be certain whether we have alleviated our karma, and of course we go on making more! It is easy to fall into depression and disillusion when considering this. Therefore, it is more reasonable to rely on Amida's Vow.

This quote comes from a collection of Rennyo Shonin's words, recorded by later Shinshu members, the Goichidaiki-kikigaki . There are two translations available in English: the most recent one (2008) is by Zuio Hisao Inagaki-sensei published by Dharma Lion Publications, and an earlier translation by Kosho Yamamoto, published by The Karinbunko Press in 1968 (out-of-print).

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