Shoshinge, Part 11

Today, I am going to talk about lines 61-72 of the Shoshinge, which relate to Vasubandhu.

61.    天(てん) 親(じん) 菩(ぼー) 薩(さー) 造(ぞう) 論(ろん) 説(せー)
The Bodhisattva Vasubandhu composed a discourse, in which he professed
62.    歸(きー) 命(みょう) 無(むー) 礙(げー) 光(こう) 如(にょー) 來(らーい)
That he took refuge in the Tathagata of Unhindered Light;
63.    依(えー) 修(しゅー) 多(たー) 羅(らー) 顯(けん) 眞(しん) 實(じーつ)
In accordance with the sutras he expounded the true merits,
64.    光(こう) 闡(せん) 横(おう) 超(ちょう) 大(だい) 誓(せい) 願(がーん)
And clarified that the Great Vow enables us to leap over Samsara crosswise.
65.    廣(こーう) 由(ゆ) 本(ほん) 願(がん) 力(りき) 廻(えー) 向(こーう)
He revealed One Mind in order to emancipate multitudes of beings
66.    爲(いー) 度(どー) 群(ぐん) 生(じょう) 彰(しょう) 一(いーつ) 心(しーん)
Through Amida’s transference of merits by the Power of his Primal Vow.
67.    歸(きー) 入(にゅう) 功(くー) 徳(どく) 大(だい) 寶(ほう) 海(かーい)
Upon entering the Great Treasure Ocean of Merits,
68.    必(ひつ) 獲(ぎゃく) 入(にゅう) 大(だい) 會(えー) 衆(しゅー) 數(しゅー)
We will unfailingly join the Great Assemblage.
69.    得(とく) 至(しー) 蓮(れん) 華(げー) 藏(ぞう) 世(せー) 界(かーい)
Upon reaching the World of Lotus store,
70.    即(そく) 證(しょう) 眞(しん) 如(にょー) 法(ほーっ) 性(しょう) 身(しーん)
We will realize True Suchness and attain Dharma- body.
71.    遊(ゆー) 煩(ぼん) 惱(のう) 林(りん) 現(げん) 神(じん) 通(ずう)
Then, playing in the forests of evil passions, we will display supernatural powers;
72.    入(にゅう) 生(しょう) 死(じー) 園(おん) 示(じー) 應(おー) 化(げー)
Entering Samsaric states, we will manifest accommodative and transformed bodies to save beings.

Explanation:

In these few lines of the Shoshinge, the contribution which Vasubandhu made to Buddhism is discussed in detail.

First of all, Vasubandhu was the second master of Buddhism that appeared in India after Nagarjuna. He used to belong to another religious tradition, the Abhidharma, and often criticized and attacked Mahayana teachings, however he later converted to Mahayana and wrote many commentaries on it. He subsequently expounded the teachings along with his brother.

His most important work and contribution to the Mahayana sect was a discourse on the Amida Sutra, in which he described the qualities of the pure land. There are many animated movies on the Amida Sutra, and I highly recommend that you watch at least one of them to get a sense of what the pure land is like visually, so that you can see what content is in the Amida Sutra. There are some videos on youtube if you conduct a Google search.

In addition, Vasubandhu was very adept at meditational practices, and could in fact visualize Amida and his pure land. All of this comes from his discourse and take on the Amida Sutra. This discourse, is what is being discussed in the above lines of the Shoshinge.

In part 1, Vasubandhu talks about aspects and qualities of the pure land such as “being filled with pure light” and that there are “flowers which rain from the sky brilliantly”. You can see all this in pretty much any movie on Sakyamuni Buddha and the Amida Sutra, and so I recommend taking a look at that. The second part talks about what qualities Amida Buddha has such as “being seated on his lotus throne” and “being worshiped by all beings”. The third part is about Bodhisattvas and their roles, which is to expound the teachings to lands which they do not exist.

So essentially, Vasubandhu urged us to take refuge in the Vow of Amida Buddha to rid ourselves of suffering. Like Nagarjuna, he also emphasized the “easy practice” for reaching the pure land. So in summary, the lines above mean that he clarified the teachings further and taught that Amida’s vow will lift us crosswise over Samsara. This means that the vow of Amida Buddha can lift us up to the 51st stage of enlightenment without having to go through eons and eons of difficult practices. Samsara is the realm in which we live in currently. “One mind” refers to true faith (other power faith) and receiving that from Amida Buddha. Remember, it is definitely not possible to achieve enlightenment by one’s own means. Finally, once we enter into the vow (and reach enlightenment) we will be endowed with the supreme dharma and then, we will come back as Bodhisattvas and expound the teachings to those who are suffering in Samsara.

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