“Letters” 5

We are so sinful and so wicked that we must needs fall into hell. It is certain absolutely, and the Power of His Vow can save us absolutely. These two absolute contradictions are the two phases of Pure Faith, and the pure faith gives us perfect peace and rejoicing. This Faith is ” Self-identity ” and the two phases are ” Absolute Contradiction “.

The philosophy of ” Self-identity of Absolute Contradiction ” was discovered by Dr Ikutaro Nishida, the greatest philosopher that Japan has ever produced, and it was transferred to Dr Daisetsu Suzuki. Dr. Nishida acquired his philosophy through Buddhist Scripture and the practice of Zen. This philosophy is profound to understand for us common people. This is philosophy and, at the same time, it is the actual mode of phenomena in the universe. The only ways through which we can experience this truth are: (a) in the meditation [practice] of Zen; and (b) the Pure Faith of Shin Buddhism. In this respect, Shin is similar to Zen. Is it not mysterious that ignorant people, who wicked and sinful, can experience this truth in their Pure Faith? It is the Wisdom of Amida.

The ” Self-Identity of Absolute Contradiction ” of Shin Buddhism is called ” The Two-fold Deep Mind ” or ” One Mind which has Two Phases “. The ” Two-fold Deep Mind ” is the ” Diamond Mind ” and that is Pure Faith. The people of pure faith have, equally, this ” One Mind ” (or ” Diamond Mind “; that is, the ” Two-fold Deep Mind “). In other religions, people have their own individual faith. As men are different, so is their faith. In Shin Buddhism it is not so. Though people may differ, their faith is one and the same, just as the greatest Zen masters have one and the same Enlightenment, though their faces are different. Truth is universal and necessary.

Birth-and-Death

In Japan, at the assembly (or congregation) of Buddhists, they chant together the following words: “Rarely are we were born as men; to hear Buddhism is also hard. If we should fail in saving ourselves in this life, the chance of being enlightened will never come. Now let us believe in the Three Gems – the Buddha, the Law and the Sangha. We take refuge in the Buddha and we will, together with all beings, having understood the Great Road, raise within ourselves the supreme mind. We take refuge in the Law and will, together with all beings, enter the store of Scriptures, acquire the Wisdom as boundless as the Ocean. We take refuge in the Sangha and we will, together with all beings, govern people and be unhindered in all things. The deep, supreme and mysterious teachings of the Buddhas cannot be heard even in a hundred thousand kotis of years; yet now we can hear and observe them; therefore, we will perfectly understand the Truth of His teachings. “

We utter these words because that problem of liberation from birth-and-death is the greatest in life. Religion that teaches the way by which we can be liberated from birth-and-death is the true religion. That is Buddhism. Dogen-Zenji says in his essay Birth-and-Death: “When we find Buddha in birth-and-death (the sinful lives or painful world of ours), there is no birth-and-death; When we find no Buddha in birth-and-death we shall never go astray into birth-and-death; If a man searches for Buddha besides birth-and-death, it is like a man who takes a north-bound car, wishing to go to the country in the south, or like a man who looks up at the southern sky, wishing to see the north star. Such a man wishes to become a Buddha but, in reality, he creates the cause of birth-and-death more and more: he is far away from liberation (because the discrimination between Buddha and birth-and-death is wrong: discrimination is the cause of birth-and-death); Indeed birth-and-death and Nirvana are one-and-the same: it is the Truth. Think of this and then you are on the way to realising Nirvana (or Enlightenment); In Buddhism, birth is nothing but the time of birth, so birth is called ” no-birth “, and ” Destruction ” (or Death) is called ” No Destruction “. “