Unlocking Tannisho, Part 21

Some people say that the amount of offerings made to the Buddha Dharma will determine the size, great or small, that we will become as buddhas.

First of all, is it possible to determine the size of a buddha, whether great or small? Even though the size of Buddha in the Pure Land is described in the sutra, it is the manifestation of dharmakaya-as- compassion, appearing for the sake of human beings. When one attains supreme enlightenment and realizes dharmakaya-as-it-is, how can size be discussed, since such shapes as long or short, square or round, do not exist; and color is also transcended, whether it be blue, yellow, red, white, or black?

Some say that they see the transformed Buddha when uttering the nembutsu. Could they have based their view on such statements as the following and applied it here, “In loud utterance one sees a huge Buddha and in quiet utterance one sees a small Buddha”?

Furthermore, although offerings can be part of the practice of selfless giving, no matter how many valuables we present to the Buddha or give to our teachers, the act is meaningless if true entrusting is absent. If one is made to give the self up to Other Power and true entrusting is complete, even though one does not present even a single sheet of paper or even half a coin to the Buddha Dharma, he or she is in accord with the intention of the Primal Vow.

Are people intimidating their fellow practicers, using the teaching as a pretext, to fulfill their own selfish needs?


This chapter marks the end of our Tannisho study as it is chapter 18.

What this chapter is about is clarifying the misunderstanding that after we die, and reach Buddhist enlightenment, or Buddhahood; the size of the Buddha which we become depends on the donations or offerings which we have given to the Buddhas in this lifetime.

First of all, there is no such thing as the “size” of a Buddha and there is no way to determine what size a Buddha is according to this chapter. How ridiculous of an assertion is this? Big, small, tall or short, it really does not matter what the size of a Buddha is or how he looks like. The reason Amida Buddha exists is for the compassion of human beings, and for our sake, he grants us salvation into his pure land. How can we, as foolish beings, question what size of a Buddha we are to become after death? Such a claim has self power written all over it and does not have any backing, basis or claim in the teachings of Buddhism.

Second of all, this chapter says something about the motivation behind the act of giving. Our Buddhist teachers and masters guide us to the white path. Anything which we present to them or to the Buddhas must be done in accordance with true faith and other power. Therefore, the act of giving must be based solely on this. How can we expect to “bribe” our way into Buddhahood? It just does not happen. He who gives solely for the purpose of attaining salvation will see his efforts fail just as a rock will never float on water. Even one who does not give anything can still be in accordance with the primal vow of Amida Buddha.

Once upon a time, I have attended lectures of the Shinrankai. I was told many times that those who do not know and understand true Buddhism must refrain from spreading the dharma and concentrate their efforts on intense study until the time comes when they are able to teach the dharma. Such practice is to avoid spreading misunderstanding about the teachings of Buddhism and about the teachings of the dharma. However, I was also told that until that time comes, those who do not know the true Buddhism and are still learning must donate money to those who do know the true Buddhism so that they can spread the dharma for us (ie. the organization). This practice is very shallow and haunting to say the least.

In the Sutra of Infinite Life (which will most likely be our next topic of exploration here), Sakyamuni Buddha says that the most important thing is to spread the dharma and that it is his hope that the teachings of Buddhism will not be forgotten. We, as humans, are foolish beings at best and continually slander Buddhism and the teachings even though we do not realize it. The reason is because this is the age of the five defilements, or the period after the death of Sakyamuni, and so the only way we can come to know the teachings is by second hand accounts and records. Our understanding of Buddhism is therefore limited by those who have preceded us and translated the original teachings from their Indian language. We should therefore, encourage everyone to spread the dharma so that they can further their Buddhist studies and move towards the light.


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