Shoshinge, Part 14

93.    善(ぜん) 導(どう) 獨(どく) 明(みょう) 佛(ぶっ) 正(しょう) 意(い)
Shan- tao alone clarified the true intent of the Buddha Sakyamuni.
94.    矜(こう) 哀(あい) 定(じょう) 散(さん) 与(よ) 逆(ぎゃく) 惡(あく)
Out of compassion for those who practice meditative or non-meditative good as well as those who commit the five gravest offenses and the ten transgressions,
95.    光(こう) 明(みょう) 名(みょう) 号(ごう) 顕(けん) 因(いん) 縁(ねん)
He clarified that the Light and the Name are the cause and condition for birth in the Pure Land.
96.    開(かい) 入(にゅう) 本(ほん) 願(がん) 大(だい) 智(ち) 海(かい)
When aspirants are led into the Sea of Great Wisdom of the Primal Vow,
97.    行(ぎょう) 者(じゃ) 正(しょう) 受(じゅ) 金(こん) 剛(ごう) 心(しん)
They are endowed with Faith, indestructible as diamond;
98.    慶(きょう) 喜(き) 一(いち) 念(ねん) 相(そう) 應(おう) 後(ご)
After attaining a single thought of Joy of oneness with Amida,
99.    与(よ) 韋(い) 提(だい) 等(とう) 獲(ぎゃく) 三(さん) 忍(にん)
They obtain the three insights, as did Vaidehi,
100.    即(そく) 證(しょう) 法(ほっ) 性(しょう) 之(し) 常(じょう) 樂(らく)
And will realize the Eternal Bliss of Dharma-nature.

Explanation:

Shan-tao was born in the present day Anhui Province. He entered into priesthood, like all the other masters of Buddhism, at a very young age and studied the Lotus Sutra, which was the acceptable practice at the time. When he was young, he saw many paintings of the Pure Land, and so this awakened deep aspiration within him to be born there. He himself also did many meditations (following the Contemplation Sutra) and did many paintings of the Pure Land himself. He developed his own system of practice based on previous Buddhist Masters T’an-luan and Tao-ch’o. His system, like theirs, also focused on the Nembutsu (or the name, Namu Amida Butsu) and was later spread to Japan.

What is the Nembutsu though? How does one ‘practice’ it? and is it as simple as saying the Name, Namu Amida Butsu? Well, this is exactly the point of debate of these few lines of the Shoshinge. Shan-tao was the one who clarified the true intention of Sakyamuni Buddha in saying the Nembutsu is the best practice.

First of all, in terms of Buddhism (and other religions which have differing viewpoints about Buddhism), there are many misunderstandings. Originally, people thought that in Buddhism, the best practice was to just recite the name of Amida Buddha and then that person would be born in the Pure Land. There are many variations of this conjecture, and they even go so far as to quote the 18th vow, and misinterpret it to mean “saying the name of Amida Buddha 10 times will guarantee birth in paradise”. Such is not the case, however, and many have failed to understand this point about Buddhism.

What is actually meant by Sakyamuni Buddha’s original words in the Contemplation Sutra is recitation of Amida’s Name with singleness of mind. In other words, from one who has attained true faith. Not just anyone who recites the Nembutsu off the street. However, it is said that reciting the Nembutsu with one’s self power is an act that will lead one to the pure land eventually. And, I use the term eventually very loosely here to mean sometime in the future. This could mean later on in your present life, or even in fact in another life down the road. After all, Karma is king, and once the seed of Amida is planted, it grows deep roots until it eventually becomes the biggest tree in the forest.

However, one thing remains the consensus among all scholars: doing meditation, acts or practice based on self-power will ultimately yield merits, however, these will never lead you to enlightenment or the pure land. In order to achieve enlightenment and birth in the pure land, you have to ultimately abandon self power and rely on other power faith. In other words, its good to chant sutras, go to temples, do meditation and so on, however, these are not the practices that are the cause of birth in Pure Land of Amida.

So, once people are led by the primal vow and enter into other power faith which guarantees salvation while still alive, they will attain three insights. What are these insights? and of what nature are they?

Vaidehi, as discussed in the lines above, is the queen as seen in the Osha Castle Tragedy. There is a movie you can see in English about this tale, actually lots of movies, but I will explain very briefly about the background of this story and what the insights are.

The story comes from the Contemplation Sutra, in which Sakyamuni Buddha describes the tale of a king and queen of a kingdom, and their evil son. The king, Bimbisara, and the queen, Vaidehi, long to have an heir to the throne, but unfortunately are not able to conceive. So, they go to the fortune teller to find out the reason why this is, and he says that there is an old ascetic on the mountain who is destined to be reborn as their son, and that because he is still alive, they are unable to conceive just yet. They then ask the fortune teller when he will pass on so they could get an heir to the throne, and he replies “5 years”. This is too long for them to wait, so they both decide to go up to the mountain and kill the old ascetic so that they can have their son now. They go ahead and do that, but queen Vaidehi has guilty feelings, and has second thoughts about having done the whole thing, so they plan to kill it as soon as it exits the womb, and drop the baby on a bed full of swords. Sure enough, they do that, however, their plan fails miserably and the baby survives with only a small pinky missing. From then on, they decide to raise it with love so that he wont grow up with hatred for their parents.

But, despite their best efforts, they were not able to achieve that. Their son, Ajase (or Ajatashatru in Sanskrit terms) ended up growing up with pure hatred and always committing bad deeds and pranks. He hangs out with this other guy named Daibadatta (Devadatta in Sanskrit) who also turns out to be plotting against Sakyamuni Buddha, his cousin, and learns the truth about how his pinky became cut off. After that, Ajase, having all the power as prince, imprisons the King and starves him. The king would ultimately die, and after that, Vaidehi became imprisoned the same way. All the while she blamed everyone for what was happening to her. She even blamed Sakyamuni Buddha for her suffering – everyone, except herself. However, the true reality was that she caused all of this. If not for her actions, they would not have killed the old ascetic, and their son would not have been conceived with hatred for his parents.

Failing to realize her ways immediately, she calls upon Sakyamuni Buddha to save her, and so Sakyamuni interrupts his teaching of the all-important Lotus Sutra to come to Vaidehi’s aid. Focusing on expounding the teachings of the Meditation Sutra, Sakyamuni goes one by one and asks if Vaidehi could do the meditations within it. However, every time she tries, she cannot, and harbors anger and hatred. Finally at long lasts she realizes the error of her ways and realizes what she has been doing and her true nature. It was at that moment that she became the first one ever on this Earth Planet to be saved by Amida Buddha.

So basically, there goes the story of Queen Vaidehi, and how she became saved by Amida Buddha. It was after that moment that she even forgave Ajase for all the evil he had committed, and as the story goes, he too also became a follower of Sakyamuni Buddha.

Advertisements

6 Responses

  1. […] See original here:  Shoshinge, Part 14 « Notes on Jodo Shinshu Pure Land Buddhism […]

  2. […] See the original post: Shoshinge, Part 14 « Notes on Jodo Shinshu Pure Land Buddhism […]

  3. […] See more here: Shoshinge, Part 14 « Notes on Jodo Shinshu Pure Land Buddhism […]

  4. […] See the rest here:  Shoshinge, Part 14 « Notes on Jodo Shinshu Pure Land Buddhism […]

  5. […] posted here: Shoshinge, Part 14 « Notes on Jodo Shinshu Pure Land Buddhism デジフォトミニアルバムKDPDK15 | Canon SpeedliteWoods Bagot Unveils Towering […]

  6. […] Shoshinge, Part 14 « Notes on Jodo Shinshu Pure Land Buddhism […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: