Shoshinge, Part 8

This part will be the last part of part 1 of the Shoshinge. Part 2 is really about the exposition on the works of the seven masters of Buddhism, and we will go into more detail on what that is about later on.

The last time, we talked about the true nature of human beings, and what that means in terms of being in the light of Amida Buddha’s vow. A person who has never encountered the teachings, and a person who has and is on the white path is ultimately different, yet the same. Both types of people can never rid themselves completely of their worldly passions, however, the person who is on the white path pursues Buddhism knowing this, and thus, his passions do not consume him and prevent him from pursuing the path.

Now, lets talk about lines 41-44:

41.    彌(みー) 陀(だー) 佛(ぶつ) 本(ほん) 願(がん) 念(ねん) 佛(ぶー)
The Nembutsu promised in the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha
42.    邪(じゃー) 見(けん) 驕(きょう) 慢(まん) 惡(あく) 衆(しゅー) 生(じょーう)
Is difficult for evil people who have wrong views and are arrogant
43.    信(しん) 樂(ぎょう) 受(じゅー) 持(じ) 甚(じん) 以(にー) 難(なーん)
To receive and retain with Joyful Faith;
44.    難(なん) 中(ちゅう) 之(しー) 難(なん) 無(むー) 過(かー) 斯(しー)
Of all difficulties nothing is more difficult than that.

Explanation:

Human beings are difficult and are filled with wrong and deluded views. Because of this, it is difficult to receive even a single word of the true teachings of Amida’s vow.

Let’s face it, everything you have ever done and everything you ever will believe lies in the system of our present understanding of moral conduct. This view, the world’s common view, is deluded and totally different from that of Buddhism.

First of all, lets talk about laws. People who consider themselves law-abiding citizens and perform good deeds within our moral understanding consider themselves good. If you continue to live within that logic, then there are two sides to every coin and so ethics in our understanding also has two sides. There is no correct side in that case because both sides are flawed in some manner, and it is by that logic that Buddhism calls all our views false and inverted.

Take for example a normal sales transaction. There are two parties, one is the buyer and the other is the seller. In the seller’s mind, he must make money to support his family, and that includes doing anything in his power to make a sale. On the other hand, in the buyer’s mind, he is looking for a product or service and goes to the salesman looking for a good service and good deal. The salesman believes that he is actually helping the buyer, but in reality he is actually helping himself, and the buyer is not paying because he likes the salesman or wants to support his family, but he also wants something in return. No matter how you think of this kind of transaction, someone always must get something in return or else they would never come to the table. That is the general rule of everything we do in the normal, moral sense. There has to be a benefit to us or else we would not do it in the first place.

This kind of thinking is exactly what causes the problems in the first place. Another example is that in terms of our society, only physical or verbal actions count as a crime. I personally have never heard of anyone getting arrested for their thoughts alone! In Buddhism, the mind is of utmost importance and deeds committed by the mind are equally considered as evil as having done it in person.

So, either way, our normal views based on laws and ethics are flawed, and there are always two sides no matter what example you take. However, in Buddhism, there are only right views, right speech, right action, right conduct. There are no false views. Everything else is considered a false view.

For this reason, it is very difficult for us to accept the true teachings of Buddhism, because we are fixated on our ego, on our society and status, on our self. That is the message of these lines, in essence, and overall in Buddhism. Once we encounter other-power faith, the gateway opens and in an instant, all our wrong views turn to right, all evil turns into good, and we are blessed with ultimate happiness. Everything at that moment which was us confiding in our delusory views disappear and the light comes in.

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3 Responses

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  3. […] Original post: Shoshinge, Part 8 « Notes on Jodo Shinshu Pure Land Buddhism […]

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