Letters of Zuiken – No.19
Shinran talks about ‘The Naturalness of the Vow-Power’ or ‘The Inconceivable Great Vow’ and so on. Indeed, salvation is nothing but the activity of His ‘Wisdom and Compassion’ which is manifested in the Vow-Power and embodied in the Sacred Name, however irrational, illogical and unreasonable it may seem. Flowers remain flowers as ever; the moon is the same moon that has been shining since countless ages ago. All the things in Nature are beautiful when seen without selfishness. But alas! They become twisted and perverted, different from what they really are when seen through the coloured glasses of human selfishness and self-loving ill conceptions. Therefore, in reality, the things we perceive are the objects of our avarice and hatred. In conclusion, we bombu (common, defiled and unenlightened beings) who cannot – by any means – cast away our coloured glasses, are doomed to transmigrate from evil world to evil world, experiencing pain after pain. In this illusory world, there is one Truth, the only one, that stands aloof from all illusions. That is Bhutathata (Shinnyo; The One; Mind-itself; Things-as-they-are; Buddha of Law; Buddha Amitabha, Nirvana; Enlightenment; Transcendental Wisdom). These are the words of the Tathagata (Buddha), the Most Enlightened, and His gracious Vow, unique and inconceivable. The Teachings of Buddha are beyond comprehension, but true. They are too profound and too abstruse for bombu to understand: they are, indeed, the treasure-store of His Wisdom of miraculous power.
If a man has attained the deepest Samadhi (meditation) like the Buddha Shakyamuni, he will assuredly acknowledge that the Buddha’s teachings and the absolute Truth that he experienced in the deepest Samadhi are one and the same. Most Zen Buddhists today are apt to despise the Buddha’s words together with Shin Buddhism. They are wrong; they are most certainly mistaken. They do not realise that the Scriptures are the Buddha’s very body. Some of them think that they are already enlightened and they dare to claim that mountains, rivers and trees are all Buddha. Now this is true but let me ask them: ‘Are you really liberated from love and hatred? Have you not a wife and children? Do you not wish for wealth and reputation?’ Do they claim to be Buddhas? If they should reply ‘No’, then they are also bombu like us common people. What, then, can they do with their evil karma?
Amida’s Vow is inconceivable; it has never been heard – in either the past or present – in the other religions of the world or even in the teachings of other Buddhas. His virtues are unparalleled. We can be liberated from the pains of birth-and-death by hearing His Vow-Power. Who are they that hear the Vow-Power of Transcendental Wisdom? Do they hear by their own power? Do they believe by their own power? We have power neither to hear nor believe yet we have, fortunately, heard and believed. We rejoice in encountering His Wonderful Vow. Such great Faith is nothing but his merciful gift. Even in the mud of avarice, anger and selfish passions, the flower of Faith, which believes in Birth in the Pure Land, can bloom. That is the grace of His virtuous, incomprehensible Wisdom.
Incessantly, we hear his dear Voice (Call). The voice of Mercy and Wisdom! Do away with unprofitable conceptions; be freed from wrong discrimination. Only by virtue of His Call can we be saved; even we who are ignorant and sinful can be enlightened in the Pure Land. Obeying our Father’s Call, we return to His Home! To think of that, we are filled with joy and our feet are light. Though our bodies are soiled with passions, our hearts dwell in the Pure Land. Let the tempest of disagreement rise and rage! The tempests of affliction do not endure for long. They rage only while we are alive in this world. Come, the ‘Seven Sufferings’ come, the ‘Eight Pains’, if they should necessarily come! We are protected by Namu Amida Butsu. His Vow-Power is so strong that it makes me give up the belief in self-power and, at the same time, I have been liberated from the fear of falling into hell. Throwing away ‘good and evil’ at once, I was made a fool at last.