Shoshinge, Part 17, Closing

So this is the end of the Shoshinge, the last few lines. For the past few weeks we have been exploring the Shoshinge and seeing what it has to say. Hopefully, after all the commentary myself and others have provided, you will get a good sense as to what the core of the Shoshinge is about, and at least know what it says before you chant it every day. I mentioned before that there are tens or even hundreds of thousands of people in the world who do chant the Shoshinge every day, morning and night, as part of the traditional Jodo Shinshu practice. However, the vast majority have never considered what it means or what it attempts to say. To chant the Shoshinge without knowing its true meaning is like carrying around a lucky charm and expecting it to bring you luck without fully understanding the nature of how things work in the universe.

117.    弘(ぐ) 經(きょう) 大(だい) 士(じ) 宗(しゅう) 師(し) 等(とう)
The bodhisattvas and masters of this school who spread the teaching of the Pure Land sutras
118.    拯(じょう) 濟(さい) 無(む) 邊(へん) 極(ごく) 濁(じょく) 惡(あく)
Have saved innumerable beings, totally defiled and evil.
119.    道(どう) 俗(ぞく) 時(じ) 衆(しゅ) 共(ぐ) 同(どう) 心(しん)
People of the present age, both priests and laymen, should with one accord
120.    唯(ゆい) 可(か) 信(しん) 斯(し) 高(こう) 僧(そう) 説(せつ)
Only accept in faith the teachings of those virtuous masters.

Explanation:

The meaning of these final lines is very succinct and obvious. It summarizes the whole of the Shoshinge in 4 lines.

The Bodhisattvas and masters of the pure land school (Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu, Shan-tao, etc.) have, over the course of their lives, saved countless numbers of beings and guided large numbers to the true teachings. Without them, Buddhism would not have advanced and so Shinran would have never encountered the true teachings without those ‘virtuous’ masters. In addition, Shinran states that we all should accept the teachings of the masters of Buddhism in faith, and with singleness of mind. To do so will guide us to salvation and allow us to progress on the white path.

So that is all there is to the Shoshinge. As you can see, these last four lines summarize the whole of the Shoshinge and state that we should not take the teachings of the masters of Buddhism lightly.

Speaking about our next topic of discussion, I have not yet thought of what to explore. We may explore Tannisho, or perhaps Buddhism in general.

I would also like to thank Hisao Inagaki (website here: http://www12.canvas.ne.jp/horai/) for making his Shoshinge commentary available so that everyone else could learn and study, as well as for (most importantly) making his translation available for everyone to see. If you would like more in-depth information on the Shoshinge, or Buddhism, that is probably the best place to turn.

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