Shoshinge, Part 15

101.    源(げん) 信(しん) 廣(こう) 開(かい) 一(いち) 代(だい) 教(きょう)
Genshin widely expounded the Buddha’s lifetime teachings;
102.    偏(へん) 歸(き) 安(あん) 養(にょう) 勸(かん) 一(いっ) 切(さい)
While he devoutly sought refuge in the Land of Peace and Provision, he urged all to follow him.
103.    專(せん) 雜(ぞう) 執(しゅう) 心(しん) 判(はん) 浅(せん) 深(じん)
He distinguished between deep faith in practicing the Nembutsu exclusively and shallow faith in doing miscellaneous acts of merits,
104.    報(ほう) 化(け) 二(に) 土(ど) 正(しょう) 辨(べん) 立(りゅう)
And so clarified the different states of attainment: birth in the Land of Recompense and birth in the Transformed Land.
105.    極(ごく) 重(じゅう) 惡(あく) 人(にん) 唯(ゆい) 稱(しょう) 佛(ぶつ)
Those with extremely heavy evil karma should only recite Amida’s Name.
106.    我(が) 亦(やく) 在(ざい) 彼(ひ) 攝(せっ) 取(しゅ) 中(ちゅう)
Although I, too, am in his embracing Light,
107.    煩(ぼん) 惱(のう) 障(しょう) 眼(げん) 雖(すい) 不(ふ) 見(けん)
My evil passions hinder me from perceiving it,
108.    大(だい) 悲(ひ) 無(む) 倦(けん) 常(じょう) 照(しょう) 我(が)
But his Light of Great Compassion never ceases to shine on me untiringly.

Explanation:

These few lines are discussing what impact Genshin, the 6th master of Buddhism from Japan, had on Pure Land Buddhism.

Genshin was a Tendai monk born in Yamato in Nara prefecture and ended up at Mt. Hiei (where Shinran also first studied the teachings) after his father had died when he was very young. While there, he studied under Ryogen who was the first master of the Tendai Sect. When he was 15, he gave a fine lecture at the imperial court and received many presents from all around. However, when he tried to send the presents to his mother, she returned them and admonished his desire for worldly fame. Thus, realizing the nature of what he did, he took refuge on the mountain permanently in order to seek salvation more seriously.

Genshin’s works had always been a staple in Pure Land Buddhism, and enjoyed popularity both in China and Japan. In addition, he was not only a fine scholar and teacher of Pure Land Buddhism, but an excellent artist and painter. He produced many fine paintings to go along with his writings on the Pure Land. Some of his most famous paintings depicted, in reality, what hell was like and were designed to bring the visual nature of the scriptures to the people, and awaken their aspiration to be born in the pure land and seek the teachings.

His last 7 days before his death were spent contemplating Amida Buddha, and thereby neither eating nor drinking anything. Before dying, he washed both his body and mouth, and chanted Namu Amida Butsu, and fell asleep never to awaken again.

So what is Shinran Shonin talking about in the above lines? Now that we know who Genshin is, let us examine the lines above to find out what he did.

First of all, there is talk about practicing the Nembutsu (or, reciting Namu Amida Butsu) both in “Shallow” faith and “Deep” faith. This is more of the same things we talked about before where one would recite the Name of Amida Buddha as a means of simply going to the pure land, and would do so out of their own selfish desires, and the other reason being for true admiration and gratitude towards Amida Buddha in all sincerity. This is what is meant by Shallow and Deep faith.

Secondly, Genshin clarified two states of attainment: Birth in the Land of Recompense, and Birth in the Transformed Land. What is the land of Recompense? This Land is the true pure land. This is the land that we all can be born in when we achieve other power faith and are ultimately saved by the vow of Amida Buddha. The Transformed Land, is a kind of purgatory. It is a land between Samsara and the true pure land – sort of on the border region. Trust me, you do not want to be born there!

Anyway, Genshin also clarified that practice of the Nembutsu with determined faith and persistence will be the cause of birth in the true pure land, however, practices that are empty, have no basis, and essentially, are pretty random at best, will only lead one to the Transformed Land.

In his various writings, Genshin seems to recommend a lot of practices for going to the pure land, and leans more towards meditation. However, if one lacks concentration or motivation to do that, then Genshin recommended that the best possible practice we can do, as beings with infinite defiled and evil karma, is to recite the Name of Amida Buddha with best intentions and singleness of faith and mind. This is the only way we will be able to break free from the realm of Samsara (infinite cycles of birth and death) and achieve rebirth in paradise.

1. )源(げん )信(しん )廣(こう )開(かい )一(いち )代(だい )教(きょう
Genshin widely expounded the Buddha’s lifetime teachings;

2. )偏(へん )歸(き )安(あん )養(にょう )勸(かん )一(いっ )切(さい
While he devoutly sought refuge in the Land of Peace and Provision, he urged all to follow him.

3. )專(せん )雜(ぞう )執(しゅう )心(しん )判(はん )浅(せん )深(じん
He distinguished between deep faith in practicing the Nembutsu exclusively and shallow faith in doing miscellaneous acts of merits,

4. )報(ほう )化(け )二(に )土(ど )正(しょう )辨(べん )立(りゅう
And so clarified the different states of attainment: birth in the Land of Recompense and birth in the Transformed Land.

5. )極(ごく )重(じゅう )惡(あく )人(にん )唯(ゆい )稱(しょう )佛(ぶつ
Those with extremely heavy evil karma should only recite Amida’s Name.

6. )我(が )亦(やく )在(ざい )彼(ひ )攝(せっ )取(しゅ )中(ちゅう
Although I, too, am in his embracing Light,

7. )煩(ぼん )惱(のう )障(しょう )眼(げん )雖(すい )不(ふ )見(けん
My evil passions hinder me from perceiving it,

8. )大(だい )悲(ひ )無(む )倦(けん )常(じょう )照(しょう )我(が
But his Light of Great Comnpassion never ceases to shine on me untiringly.

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7 Responses

  1. […] Read the original here:  Shoshinge, Part 15 « Notes on Jodo Shinshu Pure Land Buddhism […]

  2. […] See the rest here: Shoshinge, Part 15 « Notes on Jodo Shinshu Pure Land Buddhism […]

  3. […] Read more: Shoshinge, Part 15 « Notes on Jodo Shinshu Pure Land Buddhism […]

  4. […] See original here:  Shoshinge, Part 15 « Notes on Jodo Shinshu Pure Land Buddhism […]

  5. […] Read the rest here:  Shoshinge, Part 15 « Notes on Jodo Shinshu Pure Land Buddhism […]

  6. […] Continued here: Shoshinge, Part 15 « Notes on Jodo Shinshu Pure Land Buddhism […]

  7. […] Original post: Shoshinge, Part 15 « Notes on Jodo Shinshu Pure Land Buddhism […]

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