Unlocking Tannisho, Part 7

IV

There is a difference in compassion between the Path of Sages and the Path of Pure Land. The compassion in the Path of Sages is expressed through pity, sympathy, and care for all beings, but rare is it that one can help another as completely as one desires.

The difference between the path of the sages and the path of the pure land are as follows. The path of the sages is a way to enlightenment that involves intense religious practice and devotion. The path of the pure land is the path of the Nembutsu. It is by attaining true faith that one achieves enlightenment, and this is also called “the easy practice” by Vasubandhu and other previous masters of Buddhism.

Shinran says here that in the path of the sages, compassion is expressed through pity, sympathy, and care for all beings. However, it is impossible to help everyone as we would like to. This means that the path of the sages is indeed a difficult path by which to attain true faith and enlightenment.

The compassion in the Path of Pure Land is to quickly attain Buddhahood, saying the nembutsu, and with the true heart of compassion and love save all beings completely as we desire.

Here, Shinran talks about the path of the pure land. This is more of the same explanation we have encountered above. Those who wish to achieve enlightenment through the path of the pure land do so via the Nembutsu. Once the mind intent on saying the Nembutsu arises within you, it is at that moment that other power faith sets in and true faith is bestowed upon you.

Shinran further says that it is through this vehicle that it is possible for all beings to experience the same level of compassion, unlike in the path of the sages. In other words, it is via the Nembutsu that all beings can be saved in this lifetime, however, such is not the case with the path of the sages.

In this life no matter how much pity and sympathy we may feel for others, it is impossible to help another as we truly wish; thus our compassion is inconsistent and limited. Only the saying of nembutsu manifests the complete and never ending compassion which is true, real, and sincere.

Shinran confirms again here and summarizes the points above. No matter what we do and how we feel, it is impossible to help others as we truly want because our own compassion is very limited in itself. However, it is through the Nembutsu, through other power faith that we can receive the benefit of Amida Buddha’s unlimited compassion which is as boundless and endless as the universe. It is the only thing which is true and sincere in this world.

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