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Gobunsho - The Epistles
Fascicle Two

Fascicle Two, Letter 1

ON SARAE NO SHO
(Chapter on Dredging the Channel Of Faith)

It is said that for the most part, the wives of the temple personnel here as well as others have attained Faith during the past seven-day period of the memorial services to Shinran Shonin. This is a most happy situation and nothing could be more gratifying. However, they will lose this Faith is left unattended. I have heard it said, Constantly dredge out the Channel of Faith and let the water of Amidas Dharma flow freely.
With respect to this, though women have been abandoned as unsavable beings by the various Buddhas of the Ten Directions in the Three Worlds of past, present, and future, Amida Tathagata alone will graciously deliver them. This is explained by the belief that no matter whether a woman claims to have obtained Faith or the True-Heart, their sense of doubt is too deep-rooted to fully accept the 18th Vow, and they are never quite able to discard completely the aspects of superstitious avoidances and taboos. Of particular note is that when women are engaged in occupations and the problems of livelihood, and become involved in the raising of children and grandchildren, they only revel the passions and desires of their present lives. This condition occurs in spite of their realisation of the transient nature of the realms of human beings (bounded by the old and young alike) being impermanent that is, so obviously, right before their eyes. The usual lot of women is to not concern themselves, even to the extent of a droplet of dew, even at that very moment when they are about to sink into the Three Rapids and the Eight Adversity-Deprivations, but live in vain night and day. To lamely say that is shameful is somehow inadequate.
Thus, by placing complete reliance with a singleness of heart and mind on the compassionate Vow of Amida exclusively, discarding all intentions of the following other ways of practice, and also not seeking refuge in the gods and deities and other Buddhas throughout the Universe, by believing that the Primal Vow was made by Amida Tathagata expressly for shameful women as yourselves, and by believing that Buddhas Wisdom is truly incomprehensible, you should have the heart to thoroughly place complete reliance in Tathagata, believing that you are hopeless, sinful beings. You should believe that the heart to place Faith in Amida and the earnest wish to do so arise from the expedient accommodation of Amida Tathagata. In other words, those who understand this relationship between Amida Tathagata and human beings are those that have received the Faith of Other-Power. This status is called variously, residing within the ranks of the Truly-Assured, state of arriving to Enlightenment in the next rebirth, or one who is equivalent to Miroku Bodhisattva. Also, it is called, one who has had the awakening of Faith and whose rebirth is now absolutely determined.
After the comprehension of the foregoing in the manner above, believe hat the recitation of the Nenbutsu is for the purpose of expressing our gratitude out of happiness for Amida Tathagatas having determined the easy manner of our rebirth.

With reverence, I remain

PS. With regard to this matter, I would like to have, first, a strict adherence to the manner of conduct that has been established in our sect. This is to say if one understands with deep concern the conditions of Faith as just explained, retain this understanding deep in your hearts and do not display its results in your behaviour to the people of other schools. Further, do not discuss the features of this Faith with them. You must not be too disrespectful to any of the other deities just because you do not believe in them. The Shonin has said these people who understand the aspects of Faith and whose deportment is beyond reproach as written above are the devotees who well understand Faith. You should abide just in the Dharma deep in your hearts.

With reverence, I remain

PS. I have written this on the 8th day, 12th month, 5th year of Bunmei (1473); and I am sending it to the wives of the temple personnel who live on Mount Yoshizaki. If there are any further questions, I invite you to ask me again.

With reverence, I remain

I write this to leave as a marker, for those of generations to come,
May the words herein be reminders, of Amida Tathagatas great, great Dharma.



Fascicle Two, Letter 2

SHUTTACHI NO SHO
(Chapter on the Point of Departure)

In the Founding Shonins Teachings, prime importance has been established in what is called Faith. In explaining the purpose of this Faith, I would say that it is the point of departure for us shamefully unenlightened beings who are without virtue and who are forever committing evils to arrive at Amidas Pure Land with ease. Without receiving this Faith, one cannot be reborn in the Land of Bliss, but will be destined to fall and reside in the depths of the 8ht Fiery Hell.
To explain how one acquires this Faith, I would say that those who place complete reliance in only Amida Tathagata, who disregard all other virtues and practices, who discard the feeling for petitionary prayers to the various guardian gods, deities and Bodhisattvas, and who abandon the erroneous thoughts of self-power, will be encompassed, without fail, by Amida in His Universal Light; and if they believe in Amida without any doubt and with that singleness of heart and mind, they will never be forsaken. Upon receiving Faith in this manner, you should believe that the Nenbutsu (recited at all times, awake or asleep) is the Nenbutsu to express our feeling of gratitude to Amida for our deliverance. Those who especially understand this in this manner, are those who truly have received the True Doctrine of Faith in our sect. If there are those who claim that there is Faith other than this, you can be certain that is a very grave mistake. Nothing of what they claim may be acceptable in the least.

With reverence, I remain

PS. The meaning of what I have just written in this letter is the True Doctrine of Faith as taught by Shinran Shonin of our school. Those who understand this thoroughly must take deliberate concern and not discuss the aspects of Faith with people of other sects. All you have to do is simply not rely on any of the other Buddhas, Bodhisattvas or deities. It is necessary to consider this very important. Truly, you must think that all the many deities are included within the Benevolence of Amida Buddha. Without exception, you should not slander the various other teachings. Those who understand and follow what I have just written are those who respect the points in the manner of conduct as has been established by our sect. Therefore, the Shonin has said, Even when we are called cattle-stealers, your personal conduct must not be similar to those who teach the after-life as, perhaps, done by a virtuous man, or one who teaches the Dharma. In particular, understand the reasons for this well and recite the Nenbutsu of gratitude.

With reverence, I remain

I have written this on the night, 12th day, 12th month, 5th year of Bunmei (1473).


Fascicle Two, Letter 3

SHINMEI SANKAJO NO SHO
(Chapter on the Guardian Deities and the Three Articles)

Although what has been done already cannot be undone now, there has been differences in the attitudes of those who teach-guide in the Teachings that were taught by the Founding Shonin of our sect. Hereafter, the resident priests of this temple (to begin with), other priests who study our masters, the many, many followers of the Faith who gather here, and many of the Faith who are followers in name only must first understand the essence of each of the following three articles. Then decisions on the handling of the related matters will be made accordingly.
1. Do not slander any of the doctrines of the other religious sects.
2. Do not disparage any of the guardian deities, Buddhas or Bodhisattvas.
3. Receive Faith and realise rebirth in the Land of Recompense.
This temple should be closed to those who do not stand by the aims of these three articles. Also, it should be closed to those who do not place the essence of these aims deep within their hearts and who do not hold them as guiding principles in their lives.
I left Kyoto in the 5th month of 1471 and in the 7th month of that year occupied a shack of bundled grass reeds and twigs, windswept and lashed by the waves of the sea. In actuality, there is no significance to my reasons for having lived here in these mountains for the past four years other than to bring these three articles to the people of this Hokuriku District who have yet to obtain that Faith of our sect. Likewise, I hope to have them accept that Faith which is not at variance with the true meaning of Faith. For this reason, I have endured life there to this very day.
Therefore, if you believe in the reasons for my residence here, you will have understood truly the original purpose of my stay here during the past months and years.
1. By Shinmei is meant that Amida Tathagata (lamenting that sentient beings did not have Faith with respect to the Dharma and were about to fall into Hell in vain) appeared temporarily as a deity in order to deliver them somehow. As an expedient and to utilise the results of even the slightest of related past conditions for the purpose of urging man to finally enter within the fold of the Dharma, He appeared as a kami. Therefore, if the sentient beings of this present era (by placing reliance on Amida) obtain Faith and through the Nenbutsu become destined for rebirth in the Land of Bliss, each of the deities will realise this rather as his own true mind and shall rejoice and watch over these devotees of the Nenbutsu. Thus, even though one does not particularly rely upon them with whole-hearted trust, there is meaning in the reverence these people have for the deities.
2. It is not proper for those of this school to slander the other teachings and sects. In the final analysis, since they all originate from the sermons during the lifetime of Sakyamuni Buddha, by devoting oneself to His Teachings it will bear fruit in some level of Enlightenment. However, since lay people (like us of this Closing Third Era) cannot attain to the standards of the teachings of self-power of the various other sects, we simply do not rely or believe in what they teach.
3. When one refers to the various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, they are separate manifestations of the One Amida Tathagata and relative to the Buddhas of the Ten Quarters, Amida Buddha is the Master-Teacher and the abiding root of all Buddhas. When we place reliance on the One Amida Buddha, in effect we are placing reliance on all the various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Because of this, all the various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, without exception, are included within the One Great Body of Amida.
4. The absolute Faith of the Other-Power of Amida Tathagata, as taught by our Founder Shinran Shonin, means that the discarding of all sundry practices and placing reliance on Amida with a singleness of mind and heart (with departure from self-power) is the basis of Faith in the Primal Vow. The former Good Teachers of the Way had heard and repeatedly passes along to us that while believing that Amida Tathagatas True Faith is a grant from the Other-Power of Buddhas Incomprehensible Wisdom, know that the moment of entering within the ranks of those whose rebirth have been determined is the very instant one places complete reliance on Amida. If at that simultaneous moment life does not end but continues from that instant forward, the frequent recitation of the Nenbutsu should come by itself in all naturalness. Because of this, we are to understand that the frequent recitation of the Sacred Name (from the very moment of the assurance of having entered within the ranks of those whose rebirth has been determined in our everyday life) is an expression of gratitude for the Grace of Buddha. Therefore, the essence of the Teachings of this school from the Founding Shonin down to through the honoured teachers have come after him is only that this Faith, alone, is the best of ways. Those who do not understand this belong to some other sect. To those who comprehend, it becomes the significant mark that designates the devotee of Shinshu. Furthermore, in your social conduct never present the air that you are a devotee of the Nenbutsu of our school to the people of the other sects.
These points that I have just written should be considered the correct and true principles guiding the behaviour of the followers who have received Faith of Shinshu.

With reverence, I remain

I have written this on the 11th day, 1st month, 6th year of Bunmei (1474: Kinoe-Uma)


Fascicle Two, Letter 4

OSETSU GO-AKUSHU NO SHO
(Chapter on the Crosswise Severance to the Five Evil Realms)

Amida Tathagatas incomparable Primal Vow is so called because it is the unsurpassed Vow promulgated for the sake of common mortals of this defiled world of the Closing Third Era such as we that forever commit evils and who are born without virtue. However, it is not clear to me how to accept this Vow and in what manner one should believe in Amida and be reborn in the Pure Land. Please explain this in detail.
In answer, I reply:
To those sentient beings of this Closing Third Era (regardless of how deeply engrossed in evil they may be) who place reliance in Amida Tathagata, He vowed to deliver them through His Great Compassion. Even though they do not place faith equally in each of the many Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, He will emit His Great Light and encompass them within this Light, never to cast them away. This thought is preached in the Sutra as, His Light shines throughout the worlds of the Ten Quarters; sentient beings of the Nenbutsu are encompassed in His Light and not forsaken. Therefore, whereas the causal conditions would lead us inevitably on the path of the evil worlds of the Five and Six Realms, this inevitability is blocked through the inconceivable power of the Primal Vow of Amida Tathagata. This thought is preached again in the Sutra as, The causes leading to the Five Evil Worlds are severed crosswise; the gate to the Evil Realms are spontaneously blocked.
For this reason, when we believe in Tathagatas Primal Vow and have no doubts, not even for a moment and no matter how convinced we may be that we are destined to fall into Hell; we are embraced in the all-encompassing Light of Amida Tathagata and we will not fall into Hell through out own efforts, but are to be reborn in the Land of Bliss.
Thus, since we are recipients (day and night, morning and evening) of Tathagatas Great Mercy (that is countless as raindrops and higher than mountains and for which we feel a great sense of gratitude), just keep the Sacred Name on your lips at all times and recite the Nenbutsu for the purpose of expressing this gratitude for the Grace of Amida Buddha.
In other words, this is what is meant when w say, the state of having obtained True Faith.

With reverence, I remain

Night, 15th day, 2nd month, 6th year of Bunmei (1474)

Recalling the past when Sakyamuni Buddha entered Nirvana, and rubbing these eyes that have dimmed with age, I have jut finished dipping this brush while seated in the flickering light.

Sixty years of age, personal seal (affixed)


Fascicle 2, Letter 5

JUZU NO SHO
(Chapter on the Juzu)

After a careful and extended observation of the customs and conventions followed by the priests of the Nenbutsu Path of this temple during the past three or four years, I truly see nothing which would indicate that they have received that Faith of the Other-Power. I say this because none of them even carry a strand of juzu. What they have shown by their conduct is a gross breach of etiquette towards Amida Buddha. Shinran Shonin is never known to have said to throw away the juzu when observing the gassho.
However, even without carrying the juzu, the singular cause for rebirth in the Pure Land exists solely in the Faith of the Other-Power. Regarding this, there is no problem. Thus, there is nothing amiss in priests wearing the kesa and carrying a strand of juzu on their person. Relative to this, when a person received True Faith, this condition is evidenced without fail in his speech and in his personal conduct. Judging from what I have seen here, particularly during the past three or four years, it would be most exceptional for any of the priests to have completely received True Faith.
I conclude this because they do not realise the sacredness of the Primal Vow of Amida Tathagata (having been so established, especially) as the most suitable way for them and themselves alone; and because their constant arrogance filled with this conceit, it appears to me that they have only gone through the motions of listening during discussions pertaining to Faith. Where such priests are concerned, I think that their status for rebirth into the Land of Bliss is in jeopardy. It goes without saying that such priests cannot preach the True Dharma to the fellow lay-followers of the Faith. With the confirmed conceit harboured as mentioned above, they shall never be able to realise the rebirth into the Land of Recompense that is to come. Oh, what a woefully painful situation this is! They must seriously view this with a totally tranquil mind.
Mans life is dependent upon breathing where the out-going breath must await the in-coming breath. Enshrine the Dharma in your hearts and obtain Faith with deliberate concern and without laxity.

With reverence, I remain

16th day, 2nd month, 6th year of Bunmei (1474)

Early this morning I dipped my brush and wrote this letter on the spur of the moment.


Fascicle Two, Letter 6

OKITE NO SHO
(Chapter on the Manner of Conduct)

If we have listened seriously to the meaning of the Faith of Other-Power of our school and have received Faith, we must place the essence of this Faith deep within our hearts and not expound it to others not of our sect. Furthermore, wherever we may be, in the alley-ways, avenues, in our village, and elsewhere, we must not openly boast of the virtues of our Faith without discretion as to those who may be present. Also, do not be disobedient to the district and local officials of government saying, I have attained True Faith, but accept more and more of our civic responsibilities.
We must not insult the various deities and Bodhisattvas of the other schools as they are all embraced within the six characters, Na-Mu-A-Mi-Da and Butsu.
In particular, while actively abiding by the laws of society outwardly and holding fast to the Faith of the Other-Power inwardly, we must live out lives based on the common mores.
It must be understood that all the foregoing are points concerning the manner of conduct as established by our Jodo Shinshu Sect.

With reverence, I remain

I have written this on the 17th day, 2nd month, 6th year of Bunmei (1474)


Fascicle Two, Letter 7

I O MUNIN NO SHO
(Chapter on the Ease of Rebirth, but the Scarcity of those Reborn)

When I contemplate on the subject with deep tranquillity of mind, I realise that receiving of life in the human world is truly dependent on the power of merits resulting from observing the Five Precepts. This birth into human life is indeed a great rarity. However, life in the world of man is only a momentary one while eternal life is the happy end product of rebirth in the life to come. One may presently bask in the glory of success and the heights of honour and acclaim. But because there is a natural law that states, those in their prime shall decline; meeting forespells of parting, such successes and honours cannot be sustained for any length of time. It could be for only a duration of fifty or one hundred years. All the more we are taught that whether one be old or young the time of his demise is uncertain and human life is indeed unreliable. All sentient beings of this Closing Third Era must attain Faith in the Other-Power and desire rebirth in the Pure Land.
To attain this Faith, no special needs exist for intellect or genius, wealth or poverty, or virtuous do-gooders, male or female. The prime objective is only to abandon all other practices and to place reliance on the True Way. Placing reliance on the True Way means the simple placement of reliance on Amida Tathagata with a singleness of heart. Sentient beings who place reliance in this manner are enveloped without fail in Amidas Infinite Light and are never to be discarded. Ah Faith, simple in receiving and imposing no stringent requirements is that singular Faith which assures rebirth in the Pure Land at the very instant of its arousal. Thus, the two characters An and Jin (Anjin) may be read peaceful-heart (e.g. Faith). All should realise birth in the Land of Bliss without even the slightest difficulty through that Faith which places complete reliance on Tathagata with a singleness of heart.
Oh, the ease of receiving Faith! Oh, the ease of reaching the Pure Land!
On this subject, the Larger Sutra teaches that, The ease of rebirth but the scarcity of those reborn exists. The meaning of this passage is that although it is a simple matter to be reborn in the Pure Land through complete reliance on Amida, exceedingly few receive Faith, and there are very, very few who are reborn in the Pure Land in this easy manner.
After understanding the above, the Sacred Name that is pronounced from morning until night ought to be only for the purpose of expressing gratitude for the Great Compassion and the Universal Vow.
Reaffirming the Dharma over and over again in your hearts and by understanding well the meaning of the ease of receiving Faith, you should gain the certainty of rebirth that is to occur in the Land of Compensation without fail in that most important life to come.

With reverence, I remain

I have written this on the 3rd day, 3rd month, 6th year of Bunmei (1474).
Fascicle Two, Letter 8

HONSHI HONBUTSU NO SHO
(Chapter on the Prime-Source and Teacher of All Buddhas)

The men of evil that commit the Ten Major Evils and the Five Cardinal Sins, and women inherent of the Five Obstacles and the Three Reliances who are forgotten and cast aside, by the Buddhas of the past, present and future and also by the Buddhas of the Universe, are the common unenlightened individuals like you and me. However, Amida Tathagata that we mention here (being the prime-source and Teacher of the various Buddhas of the Three Worlds and of the Ten Directions) is the eternal Buddha who attained perfect Enlightenment long ago in time immemorial. This is the Buddha that established the Great Unobstructable Vow, I, alone, shall deliver them. Them meaning the unenlightened beings who are for eternity will be without any virtues and the females who are inherent of the Five Obstacles and the Three Reliances that have been abandoned by the various other Buddhas. Amida established the inimitable Universal Vow whereby He would deliver all sentient beings without discrimination; and after the complete establishment of the Vows, He has since become Amida Buddha.
The unenlightened beings of this Degenerate Third Era, do not have two or three paths that will lead them to final enlightenment. They have only one path! This is the path of sole and complete reliance upon this Tathagata! Therefore, those who understand well the Faith of the Other-Power as taught by Shinran Shonin will all, ten for ten, be reborn in the Pure Land without fail.
Thus, to the question: If I should desire to receive this Faith and be reborn in Amidas Land of Recompense, how should I direct my heart and how should I believe this that is called Faith? I respectfully request an answer to this.
In answer, I reply:
The meaning of Faith in the Other-Power as taught by Shinran Shonin of our school is nothing other than this: A person will be embraced, without fail, within the bright Universal Light of Amida Tathagata when he (realising how shameful an evil being he truly is) places single-hearted reliance on Amida Tathagata; discards all other practices; arrives into the state of discarding self-power; and receives the arousal (of the feeling) to rely exclusively upon the Other-Power. What I have just said describes accurately the details of our receiving the True Assurance of rebirth.
What one should believe is that he will enter the ranks of those whose rebirth is decided at that simultaneous instant of his arousal of Faith with the single-hearted reliance in Amida. The Sacred Name (wherever and whenever is repeated) is the Nenbutsu to express gratitude for the Grace of Amida Tathagata for the easy manner and the assurance of our rebirth in the life to come.
Such a person is said to be one who has received Faith of our sect.

With reverence, I remain

Middle of the 3rd month, 6th year of Bunmei (1474)


Fascicle Two, Letter 9

CHUSHIN TEIJO NO SHO
(Chapter on the Loyal Man and the Faithful Woman)

Our sect has classified the various practices and the countless virtuous acts as impure practices to be looked upon with antipathy and aversion where the placement of reliance on Amida Tathagata is concerned. The basic reason for this is the Great Vow of Amida Tathagata in which He vowed that He will deliver (without regard to the depths of their evilness) any and all beings who place single-hearted reliance upon Him. Single-hearted reliance means the condition of not placing any other Buddhas next to Amida Buddha for consideration. In society there is a principle to serve only one master at any one time. Thus, there is a non-Buddhist saying that goes, A loyal man hold allegiance to only one master! A good woman is faithful to only one husband in her lifetime.
Amida Tathagata is the prime-Buddha and the Teacher of all the other Buddhas of the Three Worlds. How can these various subordinate Buddhas help but rejoice when we place our complete trust in the Buddha who is their Teacher also. You should believe this without any reservations.
Inasmuch as the sphere of practice called Namu Amida Butsu completely encompasses all the various deities (including the various Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and the countless virtues and innumerable practices), what sense of inadequateness does one feel in his heart that he should seek the merits of accomplishment of various practices or the accumulation of countless virtues? The sacred Name of Namu Amida Butsu already incorporates the total body of the countless virtues and the innumerable practices, and, as such, is completely trustworthy.
Accordingly, how does one place reliance and faith in this Amida Tathagata and be reborn in the Land of Bliss? It is nothing more than firm belief that we are shameful beings, harbouring deep and burdensome evils of the worst degree, whose abode could be no place else but in Hell, and that Amida Tathagata graciously established His Vows that He alone would deliver us beings. With this firm belief and if conditions are ripe for one to receive Faith which is instantaneous with the total reliance on Amida, a culmination of related past conditions shall occur and we become recipients of the Faith of the Other-Power through the wisdom of Amida Tathagata. Thus, the mergence into one of the heart of Amida Buddha and the heart of the enlightened person is pointed out singularly, and such a person is called a follower who has received Faith.
Following this reception of Faith, one should believe and express deeply the sense of gratitude owed to Amida for His Great Compassionate Universal Vow; this is done through the repeated recitation of the Nenbutsu while awake or asleep, in the most natural manner and without any affections.

With reverence, I remain

I have written this on the 17th day, 3rd month, 6th year of Bunmei (1474)


Fascicle Two, Letter 10

BUSSHIN BONSHIN ITTAI NO SHO
(Chapter on the Union of Buddha and the Heart of the Unenlightened Beings)

The essence of the Doctrine as taught by Shinran Shonin of our school is the placement of initial importance on the Faith of the Other-Power. It is clearly seen (both in the Sutras and the Commentaries by the Patriarchs of our sect) that the most important rebirth into the Land of Bliss (that is to come) becomes truly doubtful unless a person is thoroughly expresses this Faith of the Other-Power. Therefore, relative to the desire of being reborn in the True Land of Recompense upon understanding of what is meant by Faith of the Other-Power, I wish to inquire what attitude should I hold deep in my heart and what type of person must I be to be reborn in this Land of Bliss? Not knowing the essentials, I humbly ask to be taught so that I may receive this steadfast Faith through careful listening.
In answer, I reply:
By Faith of the Other-Power, as taught by our sect, means to simply place reliance on Amida Tathagata with a singleness of heart without the necessity to be gravely concerned over the depths of ones own evil nature. It means to firmly believe that it is through the inconceivable power of the Vow that evil men encumbered with the Ten Major Evils and the Five Cardinal Sins, and even people inherent of the Five Obstacles and the Three Reliances will all receive deliverance. If, at the very instant of the awakening of Faith, there is not even a speck of doubt in the Primal Vow, Tathagata graciously recognises this awakening and simultaneously equates the evil-laden heart of the faithful and His own Pure Heart as one and the same. This is what is meant by the union into one of the Heart of Buddha and the heart of the unenlightened being.
Accordingly, such a person is embraced within the Bright Universal Light of Amida Tathagata and is to exist throughout the balance of his life within this Light of Amida. Then, when ones life comes to its end, he is immediately reborn in the True Land of Recompense. Therefore, (pertaining to the point of how best to express the sense of gratitude felt for this sacred and blessed Great Compassion of Amida) one simply should recite the Nenbutsu day and night to express this sense of gratitude to Amida Tathagata. The essence of the foregoing is the doctrine of the awakening of Faith and the acquisition in everyday life of the cause for rebirth into the Pure Land as taught by our sect.
Thus, no great effort is needed to place total reliance on Amida. Simple as it is to receive the Faith of the Other-Power, it is simpler yet to become a Buddha and be reborn in the Land of Bliss. Oh, the sacredness of the Primal Vow of Buddha! Oh, the sacredness of the Faith of the Other-Power! There is not even the slightest doubt where our next rebirth is concerned!
However, there are several points of caution pertaining to ones conduct in day-to-day life while living within this framework of Faith. Firstly, relative to the various guardian deities and Buddhas, they are all expedients to persuade sentient beings to receive this very same Faith of the Other-Power and towards this purpose they have appeared as the varied and many deities and Buddhas. Therefore, inasmuch as the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas all originate and stem from the one great aspect of the body of Amida Tathagata, all of them become included, simultaneously, with our complete reliance on Namu Amida Butsu. Thus, we should always regard all the many Buddhas and Bodhisattvas with respect.
Further, there is another important point that should be kept in mind. One should never assume an attitude of unconcern or disrespect towards government officials of the local and district areas with that idea that you are beyond the mundane world because you are an individual that has received the Faith of the Other-Power and worship the Dharma. You should despatch all your civic responsibilities with whole-hearted willingness!
Those who understand well the foregoing are cited especially as those with the exemplary conduct of the followers of the Nenbutsu who have received Faith and with to be reborn in the Pure Land. In other words, these are the people who place a high value on the Dharma and the laws of the land and who guard both well.

With reverence, I remain.

I have written this on the 13th day, 5th month, 6th year of Bunmei (1474).


Fascicle Two, Letter 11

GOJU GI NO SHO
(Chapter on the Five Conditional States)

In recent years, the meaning of the Teachings of Shinran Shonin of our sect has been taught in varied and diverse manners from district to district. Truly, in our sect this is a very deplorable situation. Whereas, we place the prime principle of deliverance of all unenlightened, passion-ensnared beings through the Faith of the Other-Power in the forefront, there are those who completely ignore the structure of this Faith and who do not participate in any form of instructional discussions on this subject. In the words of their exhortative activities they say: That which is called Faith in actuality is the not-forgetting of the unalterable determination of our rebirth by Amida Tathagata at the very instant He had taken the Great Enlightenment ten kalpas ago.
In their premise there is absolutely nothing relative to the placement of complete reliance in Amida and the receipt of Faith in the Other-Power. In this situation, no matter how well one knows that our rebirth was assured from that moment ten kalpas ago when Amida entered the Great Enlightenment, if we do not know well the basis of our rebirth through the Faith of the Other-Power, we shall never be reborn in the Land of Bliss.
Another point of variance is this. Some say, Even though there may be a wish to place reliance on Amida Buddha, if one does not receive instructions from a Good Teacher of the Dharma, it becomes a meaningless wish. Thus, where we are concerned, we should seek only the assistance of a Good Teacher of the Dharma.
Also, the indication here is of a person who has not obtained correctly that Faith particular to our sect. After all, the abilities of a Good Teacher of the Dharma are directed solely to encourage others that they should place single-hearted reliance on Amida.
Pertaining to the conditions existent towards the realisation of rebirth, I shall establish the Five Conditional Steps here:
1. The culmination of related past conditions and circumstances leading one to the Dharma.
2. A Good Teacher of the Dharma.
3. The Light of Amida Buddha.
4. Faith Shinjin.
5. Amidas Name
It appears to me that without the presence of all the conditions in these five steps, one will never obtain rebirth.
Therefore, a Good Teacher of the Dharma is a bearer of the message, Place your reliance on Amida Tathagata! If conditions materialise where there is a culmination of related past conditions and circumstances without the meeting of a Good Teacher of the Dharma, rebirth will not be realised.
However, you must also believe that to completely ignore Amida Buddha, the core of our reliance, and to place prime emphasis only on a Good Teacher of the Dharma, is a very, very grave mistake!

With reverence, I remain

20th day, 5th month, 6th year of Bunmei (1474)






Fascicle Two, Letter 12

NINGEN GOJUNEN NO SHO
(Chapter on the 50 years in the Life of a Man)

When we reflect upon the span of 50 years in the life of man, we find that they amount to one day and one night in the heavenly realm called the Realm of the Four Deva Kings. Then again, 50 years in this realm of the Four Deva Kings amount to one day and one night in the upper region of the Hell of Repetition of extreme suffering.
Therefore, it is not a most truly deplorable situation when people are not concerned one bit about obtaining the Faith of the Other-Power but live from day to day in empty senselessness. They should be deeply concerned about the sufferings to be endured when one finally falls into Hell, or the highest Bliss one experiences when born in the Pure Land. Is this not the case, also, when people seek every opportunity during the day to cuddle a pillow and nap rather than to read even one scroll of the book of Teachings or to discourse the Dharma and preach to followers? This should be considered seriously in deep quiet contemplation.
The reason for the above is that if those priests who have not been observing their ecclesiastic rules and who have not been adhering to their duties, thoroughly desire from this day and this moment to obtain Faith and be reborn in the True Land of Bliss; it becomes a point of merit for such individuals. Furthermore, this action should be understood to be consistent with the principle of guiding other to the Dharma through self-application.

With reverence, I remain

It being so extremely hot, I have left the writing of the above solely to the will of the brush, and it has just finished the letter.

Written on the 2nd day, middle of the 6th month, 6th year of Bunmei (1474).


Fascicle Two, Letter 13

WAGA SHU MEIBO NO SHO
(Chapter on the Reputation of our Sect)

The conscientious observance (of the manner of conduct as established by this sect) means the adherence to the basic motive of maintaining inconspicuity in our relationships with those of the other sects and with people of the general public by avoiding bold open attitudes and speech on behalf of our sect. Recently, among the followers of the Nenbutsu of our sect, certain individuals have intentionally expounded the basic principles of our sect blatantly in public and have vocally belittled and degraded the teachings of the other sects in the belief that by doing so they were enhancing the status of our sect. This is a most inexcusable thing! It is in great divergence, particularly to the principle as established by our Shinran Shonin. Shinran Shonin stated long ago, Although we may be called cattle-stealers, we should not show ourselves as followers of the Jodo Shinshu Sect. We should thoroughly understand what the Shonin meant and control our conduct with great diligence.
Another point the conditions of gender, deep spiritual wisdom, extensive knowledge, or high or low position do not exist for a person who wished to thoroughly understand the meaning of Faith as taught in our school. One needs to only to arrive at the realisation that at best he is a very sorry being full of evil (at best) and understand that the only Buddha that will deliver him is Amida Tathagata. With this understanding, should that singular feeling arise from within a persons heart (to simply cling with all this strength to the sleeve of this Amida Tathagata and seek deliverance of Him in the life to come), Amida Tathagata will be deeply joyed and will emit 84,000 rays of Great Light from His person and envelop this person in this Light. The essence of this meaning is clearly taught in the Sutra as, His Light penetrates throughout the worlds of the Ten Directions. His Light, forever, envelopes sentient beings who place total reliance on Amida, never, ever to forsake them.
Therefore, there is no doubt whatever that he will become a Buddha. Oh, that most wonderful Primal Vow that transcends the world! Oh, thanks to the rays of Wisdom and Compassion of Amida Tathagata! Without exposure to the causal effect of this Great Light, there would not be even the remote possibility of a cure from that frightful sickness of ignorance and delusion that has been ours since time immemorial.
Yet, because of this culmination of related past conditions effected by this Great Light, we receive in this present instant what is called the Faith of Other-Power. However, it becomes clear to us that this Faith is given to us by Amida Tathagata! It is not a faith that is developed by the follower himself. Furthermore, it becomes unmistakingly clear to us what is meant by the Great Faith of the Other-Power of Amida Tathagata.
Accordingly, all of us undeserving individuals who once receive this Faith of the Other-Power should reflect deeply upon the extent of appreciation and debt of gratitude we owe to Amida Tathagata and should always repeat the Sacred Name for the purpose of expressing our gratitude for the Grace of Amida Buddha.

With reverence, I remain

I have written this on the 3rd day, 7th month, 6th year of Bunmei (1474).


Fascicle Two, Letter 14

HIJI BOMON NO SHO
(Chapter on the Secret Teaching)

The doctrine known as the Secret Teaching in the District of Echizen is positively not a Buddhist Dharma. It is a deplorable teaching outside the Dharma. Since those who believe in this teaching establish karma that would sink them into the deepest depths of the Eternal Hells, it is a very stupid thing to follow. One must be extremely careful not to follow those who fully adhere to this secret doctrine and who, being so completely sold on it, would push this doctrine onto others through the use of flattery and deception.
Disassociate yourselves from those who spread this secret doctrine as quickly as possible. With a deep feeling of contrition for having been swayed into support of this doctrine, one should hasten to relate ones exposure and experiences to others.
Those who wish to be reborn in the Land of Bliss (following a thorough comprehension of the essential substance of what is preached by our sect) should first understand explicitly the Faith of Other-Power. To explain the importance of the Faith of the Other-Power, it is the provision by which the pitiful unenlightened beings like ourselves can be easily reborn in the Pure Land. To describe the state of this Faith of Other-Power, it is that very instant when one places complete single-hearted reliance on Amida Tathagata for the enlightenment in the life to come; Amida will emanate His Enveloping Light and embrace him throughout the period of his life left here on earth. In other words, Faith in the Other-Power is the condition of complete determination of our rebirth to come. Thus, the substance of reciting the Nenbutsu is the state of receiving Faith of the Other-Power. We should believe that this Faith is the state through which this Namu Amida Butsu is revealed.
Just because of this Faith of the Other-Power mentioned above, there is not the slightest doubt that we shall be reborn with cause into the Land of Bliss.
Oh, this most wonderful Primal Vow of the Other-Power of Amida Tathagata! If one wishes to know the manner in which we should express this feeling of deep thankfulness and the debt of gratitude owed to Amida, simply and constantly recite Namu Amida Butsu, whether asleep or awake, to express that immeasurable thankfulness.
Thus, to describe the essence of the recitation of Namu Amida Butsu, understand that it is the joyous expression of the heart as it awakens to the gratitude owed and the sacredness of the deliverance assured us through the Grace of Amida Tathagata.

With reverence, I remain

5th day, 7th month, 6th year of Bunmei (1474)


Fascicle Two, Letter 15

KUHON CHORAKUJI NO SHO
(Chapter on the Kuhon and Chorakuji Temples)

Here in Japan the Jodo Sect has established many branch schools. Besides a few like the Seizan, Chinzei, Kuhon and Chorakuji branches, they are divided into numerous other branches. Although Honen Shonin preached but a single doctrine, now many divergent forms of his basic teachings exist. These divergences have occurred because many people from the various schools of practice and austerities who did not truly grasp the Teachings of the Master Honen came to the Shonin (Honen) to learn the Doctrines of the Jodo School. They were reluctant to discard the essence of their former doctrines, but conversely, attempted to incorporate aspects of their former doctrines into the Teachings of the Jodo Sect itself. In spite of this situation, we should not censure them particularly. What is important is that we only nurture Faith of our sect deep in our hearts so that we may receive this Faith unshakeably for ourselves and to teach and lead others toward the same goal.
In describing the features of this Faith of our sect, first there is a realisation from deep introspection that we are unworthy individuals with the Ten Major Evils, the Five Cardinal Sins, the Five Obstacles, and the Three Reliances. Secondly, following this realisation, one should understand that the primary objective of Amida Tathagatas inconceivable power of the Primal Vow is to deliver such shameful beings; and that Amida shall envelop, without fail, all who believe firmly in this without a trace of doubt. In other words, this describes the essence of the heart that has received the True-Faith of the Other-Power.
There is nothing required especially to receive this Faith (just described) with complete reliance. Oh, the easily understandable Faith of the Other-Power! Oh, the easily practicable Nenbutsu! There is nothing more that this to the receipt of this Faith.
Thus, the clear and thorough understanding of the six characters of Na-Mu-A-Mi-Da and Butsu is the total aspect of the Faith of the Other-Power. Then, what is the meaning of Namu Amida Butsu? The first two characters Na and Mu mean the deep reliance placed on Amida for rebirth in the Land of Bliss. The four remaining characters A-Mi-Da and Butsu mean the clear essence of discarding the heart of the unenlightened man and receiving Buddhas enlightened heart! Amida observes with deep compassion those sentient beings who place reliance upon Him. Even though we have been encumbered with frightful evils (since great kalpas of time without beginning), all aspects of the evils of ignorance and delusion that had been ours from time immemorial are removed immediately when we become illuminated by the causal conditions of Amidas Great Light. In that simultaneous instant we come to reside within the ranks of those whose rebirth is truly assured. For this reason, in the Name of Amida Tathagata is implied the wondrous process of one discarding this unenlightened body and realising Oneness with Amida Tathagata. Thus, this is the reason that the three-character A-Mi-Da is referentially read, Envelop Within (Osame), Save (Tasuke), and Deliver (Suku U).
After one has received this Determined-Faith in the manner just described and truly realising the sense of gratitude owed to the graciousness of Amida Tathagata, simply recite the Sacred Name. This becomes an expression of thankfulness of the debt of gratitude owed to Amida Tathagata.

With reverence, I remain

PS. I have written this on the 9th day, 7th month, 6th year of Bunmei (1474).

End of Fascicle Two

The above translations of the Gobunsho are from the Buddhist Churches of America Seiten, published in 1978.