Shoshinge, Part 2

Picking up where we left off last time, we found in the part 1 discussion that Shinran Shonin not only expressed his deep adoration for Amida Buddha in the first two lines of the Shoshinge, but also explained the truth about who Dharmakara was and how he arrived at his 48 vows which he realized and eventually became the Buddha of Infinite Light known as Amida Buddha. The real story of this is told in the Larger Sutra, and summarized in these few lines by Shinran Shonin.

Today, I would like to forward our discussion to the next few lines, which are about the true nature of Amida Buddha and his ever infinite light:

11. 普(ふ) 放(ほう) 無(むー) 量(りょう) 無(むー) 邊(へん) 光(こーう)

Amida sends forth universally the immeasurable and boundless Light,

12. 無(むー) 礙(げー) 無(むー) 對(たい) 光(こう) 炎(えん) 王(のーう)

The unimpeded, incomparable and majestically flaming Light,

13. 清(しょう) 淨(じょう) 歡(かん) 喜(ぎー) 智(ちー) 慧(えー) 光(こーう)

The pure Light, the Light of Joy, the Light of wisdom,

14. 不(ふー) 斷(だん) 難(なん) 思(しー) 無(むー) 稱(しょう) 光(こう)

The unceasing, inconceivable and ineffable Light,

15. 超(ちょう) 日(にち) 月(がーつ) 光(こう) 照(しょう) 塵(じん) 刹(せー)

And the Light outshining the sun and the moon; with these Lights he illumines the immeasurable worlds.

16. 一(いーつ) 切(さい) 群(ぐん) 生(じょう) 蒙(むー) 光(こう) 照(しょう)

All sentient beings are shone upon by his Light.

Explanation:

We started discussing last time about how Dharmakara became a Buddha, achieved his vows and then became the Buddha known as Amida. Amida (or Amitabha in Sanskrit) means literally, infinite light. Technically speaking, in the Larger Sutra, it states that Dharmakara attained Buddhahood approximately 10 kalpas ago, and the reason by which he had attained Buddhahood is because of endless practice of the Six Paramitas for many, many kalpas. Believe me, thats a lot of Kalpas!

What are the Six Paramitas though? If you are new to Buddhism, you probably wouldn’t know, but I will write an article about that as this is going off course from our main objective today. Just know that the Six Paramitas are Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Perseverance, Concentration and Wisdom. Due to perfection and sustained practice of these six values, he has attained Buddhahood.

Going back to the Shoshinge, the reason why Amida Buddha is called Amida is because of his infinite light, and so this light is seen as the most highest light in the universe. Other Buddhas praise Amida for his immeasurable light which extends throughout the 10 directions. However, sentient beings are unaware of this light because again, they are filled with blind passions. Once you attain ‘Other Power’ faith, however, it is possible to see and embrace this light.

Well, what is ‘Other Power’ faith then? Simply put, this is faith granted to us by Amida Buddha. It differs from ‘Self Power’ faith in that self power faith is using our own power to achieve enlightenment, however other power is granted to us. This means that no matter how many times you pray or perform worship, it doesn’t mean you will be granted special preference above someone else. You can never achieve enlightenment with man-made effort alone. Enlightenment and faith is a gift bestowed upon to you by Amida Buddha. This is other power faith. I will write about this more in-depth in another article, but for now the above should suffice. There have been entire books dedicated to the topic of self power and other power, and so it is not easy to explain in a sentence or two.

So in summary, these few lines talk about the quality of Amida Buddha’s light and how it extends vastly to every corner of the universe. This is why he is called Amida Buddha, the Buddha of Infinite Light. However, us regular folk cannot even begin to comprehend the immeasurable power of this light unless we attain enlightenment and are granted other power faith by Amida Buddha.

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4 Responses

  1. […] Original post: Shoshinge, Part 2 « Notes on Jodo Shinshu Pure Land Buddhism […]

  2. […] Excerpt from: Shoshinge, Part 2 « Notes on Jodo Shinshu Pure Land Buddhism […]

  3. […] See the original post: Shoshinge, Part 2 « Notes on Jodo Shinshu Pure Land Buddhism […]

  4. 1 Moon Above…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

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