Hymns of Faith

Translated by Hisao Inagaki

I am a weak pole hardly capable of supporting my own self;
Namuamidabutsu – the strong central pillar!

CUT YOUR EARS OFF!

The bombu is a creature full of calculations.
It is natural that bombu should calculate.
The bombu is bound to do so.
The bombu is bombu, from top to bottom, to the bones and marrow.
The bombu cannot possibly attain pure faith.
Sad, but how true this is!
I warn you: no point in trying to become a Buddha with the faith and practice of a bombu.
Such a bombu is saved by Amida’s Sincere Heart.

What is useful for your Birth?
It is Amida’s Sincere Call alone.
Cut your ears off as useless,
Then you will hear the Voice from Amida’s Heart.
Can you hear this?
No! A bombu still cannot hear this.
The Buddha’s Mind hears the Voice from the Buddha’s Mind.

Namu Amida Butsu hears Namu Amida Butsu.

Arousing eighty-four thousand evil passions every minute,
My mind is unceasingly torn by love and hate;
Though I may not commit so much evil to others by bodily acts,
I don’t know how much evil I am committing in the mind.
Ignorant of the grave karmic evils each of us is committing,
We believe we are innocent — unaware of the hellish karma
we are actually creating every moment.Don’t you see that you are destined to hell?
No use hearing the Dharma if you don’t understand this.
Once you become aware of the destination your karma is leading to,
You can appreciate the wonderful Dharma and be grateful to Amida.

What is left within you after hearing the Dharma?
Only thoughts, ideas and words!
What is the use of them in the mind of a bombu?
Do you think they will lead you to Buddhahood?
Through the Power – the Great, Inconceivable Power
which transcends the bombu’s reasonings and thoughts –
The bombu is assured of becoming a Buddha just as he is.
This Power is also known as: the Inconceivable Wisdom of the Buddha,
the Inconceivable Vow and the Inconceivable Name.
Complete transformation takes place in the bombu
Due to Amida’s Sincere Great Compassion,
Pure Vow-Mind and Great Enlightenment which embodies Inconceivable Merit.
It is due to the Vow-Power promising unfailing salvation of all sentient beings.

The Tathagata’s whole body, his entire merit, his Great Wisdom and Great Compassion –
They are all contained in the Original Universal Vow,
And condensed into his Call: “Come straight to me!”

It is said in the Jodo Wasan:

Due to the Vow promising our unfailing attainment of birth,
Time for awakening Pure, Joyful Faith being ripe,
We come to rejoice even once (in Amida’s salvation);
Then our birth is definitely assured.

‘Awaken the Sincere Heart, Joyful Faith and the Desire for Birth!’
Thus exhorting all beings in the ten directions,
Amida proclaimed the Inconceivable Vow
To show the cause of birth in the True Land of Recompense.

Hold these hymns close to your heart,
And ponder on the import of the Eighteenth Vow!
The Forty-eight Vows are Amida’s Call;
The Sincere, Joyful Faith and the Desire for Birth
Are none other than his Call.
His Call, indeed, is Namu amida butsu.

For ninety years what have you heard?
What have you learnt?
Nothing but the Vow and the Name.
Called by my Parent, I return to our Home.

Do you want shinjin?
It is in Amida’s Call, in the Power of the Primal Vow.
His Call becomes your shinjin.

Shinjin is hard to attain, for the waves of calculation
have been raging in your mind since the beginningless past.
Even if you hear the Other-Power teaching, you understand it
with the mind of self-power.
Clean up your mind and wash away all you have heard!
What you have heard and learnt is of no avail.
Your knowledge and memory cannot be relied on;
What is truly reliable is the inconceivable Power of Amida’s Vow
and his Call – Namu amida butsu.

What should I do?
Nothing but wondering
how inconceivable the Primal Vow is
that saves wretched bombu like us!

CALCULATIONS

You are bound by your own calculations;
You are deceived by your own thoughts.
Deep awareness of your real self —
It is to realize that however you may calculate,
you will never be able to become a Buddha;
But for the Power of the Buddha,
bombu remains bombu forever with no chance of escaping from birth-and-death.

Calculations come from ignorance and pride;
Carried by a false belief that you can do something good,
You have been following paths of self- effort,
whether in morality or in religious pursuit.
Even after you have become aware of your own misjudgements,
you still calculate, because there is nothing else you can do,
until your eyes are opened to Amida’s Grand Scheme.

Amida has prepared everything for you;
His Vows, his Name and his Pure Land —
They are all meant for you.
Leave everything to Amida without the slightest doubt,
Like a baby nestling in the mother’s arms,
Then you become free of all worries and anxieties.
You are still a bombu but have no calculations any longer.

In the Path of Sages there are eighty-four thousand teachings.
The bombu may be able to study some of them,
But is unable to practise even one.
The bombu is beneath those teachings of the Buddha,
And is in bondage to the passions, unable to escape forever;
So the bombu is called a fool and a boor (doro-bombu).

Why are you not able to practise a single teaching?
Because of the three evil passions: greed, anger and stupidity.
The three passions sound few, but they contain
as many minor passions as eighty-four thousand.
The eighty-four thousand teachings are provided
to deal with the eighty-four thousand passions.
Unable to destroy even one passion,
the bombu cannot escape being a clod.

Amida’s Law of Salvation
is above those eighty-four thousand teachings.
Its transcendent character is described by Shinran as:

“the absolute transcendent and universal Single Path of
Deliverance based on the Primal Vow.”

This is the Path by which Amida comes to us;
By the same Path we go to the Pure Land.
This is the Path of the Priimal Vow,
the absolute Path of Namu Amida Butsu!

The Path is right in front of you;
It has been there since a long time ago,
But unaware of this, you have taken other paths,
Which have brought you nowhere.
The Path is calling you,

“Come straight to me!” “Just say Namu Amida Butsu!”

The moment you hear this voice,
Your salvation has been accomplished.
When you say the Nembutsu,
Within it you find Amida’s Great Compassion.

Amida’s Heart and my heart made into one Heart
Namu Amida Butsu.

In the Nembutsu you hear Amida’s Call;
Through the Nembutsu Amida’s Call becomes your shinjin.
Your saying of the Nembutsu manifests Amida’s working;
The Nembutsu is a living voice of the Buddha.
To hear it is to accept;
What do you accept?
Amida’s Wisdom, Compassion, Virtue —
all that belongs to him and all that he is!

Don’t think that the Nembutsu is simply a symbolic six-character Name;
For in it are contained all the merits and virtues of the ultimate truth.
The bombu can accept what is given by Amida;
Through the Name – Namu Amida Butsu –
Amida’s merits are made ours;
The Name finds its natural expression
as the Nembutsu on our lips and as shinjin in our minds.

It is not you who hear the Buddha-dharma;
It is not the Buddha-dharma that is heard;
Only the Call of Amida sounds throughout the universe —
Namu Amida Butsu.

This is the natural working of the Buddha-dharma;
This is the natural working of the Vow-Power.

How inconceivable it is
that the bombu can be saved as he is!
Namu Amida Butsu turns the bombu into Buddha;
How inconceivable!

We are shrimps unable to jump out of the pail;
Amida’s Primal Vow grasps us and brings us to safety.

AMIDA’S CALL

All human thoughts and acts are products of delusion;
Delusion arises from differentiating views;
To seek a way of salvation with relative views is a fallacy.
If you wish to be born in the Realm of Purity
and Supramundane Good,
The Way is found in Amida’s Call – the Primall Vow.
It is to receive Amida’s Great Compassion.
Amida’s Call is Namu Amida Butsu.

The Call is the Way;
the Way is the Call.
Namu Amida Butsu, Namu Amida Butsu.

NONDUALITY

Amida has appeared from the Realm of Nonduality;
Born from the True Thusness as a Bodhisattva,
He made Vows and performed meritorious deeds;
After aeons of endeavours, his Vows were fulfilled
And thus he became Amida Buddha –
Whose Buddhahood transcends time and space.
His Vows provided the way of salvation for us –
The wonderful Vows that the world had never known.
The Forty-eight Vows converge on the single point –
the Nembutsu.
All his Vows are thus contained in the Eighteenth –
the Vow of the Nembutsu.
Birth is assured not by the merit of our repeating the Nembutsu,
But by Amida’s Power working upon us through the Nembutsu.
Amida’s spiritual power, karmic power, and power of merit and virtue
Are all contained in the Name.
When the Name reaches us and is received in our hearts,
It becomes Namu Amida Butsu.

By fulfilling the Vows Amida became a Buddha,
But his actual presence is not known
until we hear the Name
And receive it as Namu Amida Butsu.
Amida becomes Namu Amida Butsu;
We become Namu Amida Butsu.
How wonderful
that the wretched bombu can become
Namu Amida Butsu!

Namu Amida Butsu is the actualization of the truth of Nonduality.
As we say Namu Amida Butsu, we hear Amida’s Call,
“Come straight to me!”
Where do we go?
Nowhere.
Just as you are,
Amida grasps you and puts you into Namu Amida Butsu.

HOW INCONCEIVABLE!

Whatever the bombu thinks –
all is fallacy.
However hard the bombu works –
all is erroneous.
The bombu’s understanding leads nowhere.
Birth is beyond the concept of the bombu.
If you wish to be Born,
give up your calculations.
But can you?
The very attempt to give them up
is another calculation.
How do you cut the endless chain of calculations?
There is no way out.

Don’t you hear the voice from beyond?
“Come straight to me with singleness of heart.
I will be with you! Don’t be afraid!”

Amid the blind passions and the maze of calculations,
A path is there for you to follow.
It comes from the unknown beyond.
Although unable to see who it is,
You can hear the reassuring voice.
To respond to his Call is to trust him.
His Call is the Name;
The Name is the Path;
To follow the Path is to live up to the Nembutsu.
Namu Amida Butsu is the Unimpeded Single Path.
How inconceivable!
Namu Amida Butsu, Namu Amida Butsu.

Buddha-dharma

When we hear the Buddha-dharma,
we realize how valuable it is.
We wonder at the depth of the truth revealed by the Buddha.
It is the truth difficult to encounter even in myriads of lives.
The more we learn about the Buddha-dharma
the more we wish to know.
For what?
For the sake of the Buddha-dharma.

Buddhists should study the Buddha-dharma
and nothing else;
It gives us the eye to see and the ear to hear,
The brain to think and the life to live!

Don’t study the Buddha-dharma
for your own sake,
nor for others’ sake.
Don’t use it for secular purposes,
even for the peace of the world.
So vast is the Buddha-dharma
that you cannot hold it to use for petty purposes.
The Buddha-dharma has itself a grand objective
of delivering all beings from delusion and sufferings;
We can only learn to give ourselves up to it
and allow it to use us.

Though we are wretched, useless bombu,
Amida can use us.
How?
By grasping and putting us into Namu Amida Butsu.