In reflecting upon my foolish thoughts and thinking of the past and present, I deeply regret that there are views deviating from the true entrusting which was taught orally by our late master, and I fear that doubts and confusion may arise among the followers who come after us. Unless we rely upon a good teacher with whom, fortunately, our karmic destinies are bound, how can we possibly enter the true gate of effortless practice? Do not violate the fundamentals of Other Power by imposing upon it your own interpretations.
Thus have I committed to writing some words of the late Shinran, which still ring clearly in my ears. My sole purpose is to dispel the clouds of doubt in the minds of the practitioners with the same aspiration.
When the thought of saying the nembutsu emerges decisively from within, having entrusted ourselves to the inconceivable power of Amida's vow which saves us, enabling us to be born in the Pure Land, in that very moment we receive the ultimate benefit of being grasped never to be abandoned.
Amida's Primal Vow does not discriminate between the young and old, good and evil; true entrusting alone is essential. The reason is that the Vow is directed to the being burdened with the weight of karmic evil and burning with the flames of blind passion.
Thus, in entrusting ourselves to the Primal Vow, no other form of good is necessary, for there is no good that surpasses the nembutsu. And evil need not be feared, for there is no evil, which can obstruct the working of Amida's Primal Vow.
I believe that the reason you have come here, crossing over more than ten provinces at the risk of your lives, is solely to ascertain the path that leads to birth in the Pure Land. But if you suspect that I know ways other than the nembutsu to attain birth, or that I am versed in the scriptures connected with it, you are greatly mistaken. If that is the case, there are many eminent scholars in the monasteries of Nara and Mt. Hiei, so you should go see them and ask them in detail about the way to attain birth in the Pure Land.
As for myself, Shinran, I simply receive the words of my dear teacher, Honen, "Just say the nembutsu and be saved by Amida," and entrust myself to the Primal Vow. Besides this, there is nothing else.
I really do not know whether the nembutsu may be the cause for my birth in the Pure Land, or the act that shall condemn me to hell. But I have nothing to regret, even if my teacher should have deceived me, and, saying the nembutsu, fall into hell. The reason is that if I were capable of realizing Buddhahood by other religious practices and yet fell into hell for saying the nembutsu, I might have dire regrets for having been deceived. But since I am absolutely incapable of any religious practice, hell is my only home.
If Amida's Primal Vow is true, Sakyamuni's teaching cannot be false. If the Buddha's teaching is true, Shan-tao's commentaries cannot be false. If Shan-tao's commentaries are true, how can Honen's words be empty? If Honen's words are true, what I, Shinran, say cannot be meaningless. In essence, such is the true entrusting of this foolish one. Now, whether you accept the nembutsu, entrusting yourself to it, or reject it, that is your own decision.
Even a good person attains birth in the Pure Land, how much more so the evil person.
But the peoples of the world constantly say, even the evil person attains birth, how much more so the good person. Although this appears to be sound at first glance, it goes against the intention of the Primal Vow of Other Power. The reason is that since the person of self-power, being conscious of doing good, lacks the thought of entrusting himself completely to Other Power, he is not the focus of the Primal Vow of Amida. But when he turns over self-power and entrusts himself to Other Power, he attains birth in the land of True Fulfillment.
The Primal Vow was established out of deep compassion for us who cannot become freed from the bondage of birth and-death through any religious practice, due to the abundance of blind passion. Since its basic intention is to effect the enlightenment of such an evil one, the evil person who entrusts himself to Other Power is truly the one who attains birth in the Pure Land. Thus, even the good person attains birth, how much more so the evil person!
There is a difference in compassion between the Path of Sages and the Path of Pure Land. The compassion in the Path of Sages is expressed through pity, sympathy, and care for all beings, but truly rare is it that one can help another as completely as one desires.
The compassion in the Path of Pure Land is to quickly attain Buddhahood, saying the nembutsu, and with the true heart of compassion and love, save all beings as we desire.
In this life no matter how much pity and sympathy we may feel for others, it is impossible to help another as we truly wish; thus our compassion is inconsistent and limited. Only the saying of nembutsu manifests the complete and never ending compassion that is true, real, and sincere.
I, Shinran, have never even once uttered the nembutsu for the sake of my father and mother. The reason is that all beings have been fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, in the timeless process of birth-and-death. When I attain Buddhahood in the next birth, each and everyone will be saved.
If it were a good accomplished by my own powers, then I could transfer the accumulated merits of nembutsu to save my father and mother. But since this is not the case, when we become free from self-power and quickly attain the enlightenment of the Pure Land, we will save those bound closest to us through transcendental powers, no matter how deeply they are immersed in karmic suffering of the six realms of existence and the four modes of birth.
It is utterly unthinkable that among the followers of single-hearted nembutsu practice there are arguments about "my disciples" and "other's disciples."
As for myself, Shinran, I do not have a single disciple. If I could make others say the nembutsu through my own devices, they would be my disciples. But how arrogant to claim as disciples those who live the nembutsu through the sole working of Amida's compassion.
If the karmic condition is to come together, we shall be together; if the karmic condition is to be separated, we shall be separated. How absurd that some people assert that if one goes against his own teacher and says the nembutsu under another, he cannot attain birth in the Pure Land. Are they saying that they will take back the true entrusting which is a gift from Amida as if it belonged to them? Impossible that such a thing should happen.
When we live according to the reality of "made to be come so by itself," we shall know gratitude to the Buddha, as well as to our teachers.
In the person of nembutsu opens up the great path of unobstructed freedom. The reason is that the gods of heaven and earth bow before the practitioner of true entrusting, and those of the world of demons and rival paths cannot obstruct his way. The consequences of karmic evil cannot bear fruit, nor does any form of good equal his. Thus, it is called the great path of unobstructed freedom.
The saying of nembutsu is neither a religious practice nor a good act. Since it is practiced without my calculation, it is "non-practice." Since it is also not a good created by my calculation, it is "non-good." Since it is nothing but Other Power, completely separated from self-power, it is neither a religious practice nor a good act on the part of the practitioner.
"Although I say the nembutsu, I rarely experience joyful happiness nor do I have the desire to immediately go to the Pure Land. What should be done about this? ," I asked. Then he responded, "I, Shinran, have been having the same question also, and now you, Yui-en, have the same thought."
"When I carefully consider the matter, my birth in the Pure Land is settled without doubt for the very reason that I do not rejoice at that which should have me bursting with joy. It is the working of blind passion, which suppresses the heart that would rejoice and prevents its fullest expression. All this the Buddha already knew and called us foolish beings filled with blind passion; thus, when we realize that the compassionate Vow of Other Power is for beings like ourselves, the Vow becomes even more reliable and dependable."
"The working of blind passion also causes us not to want to go to the Pure Land and makes us feel uneasy worrying about death when we become even slightly ill. Impossible it seems to leave this old house of agitation where we have wandered aimlessly since the beginning of time, nor can we long for the Pure Land of peace which we have yet to know. This is due to blind passion so truly powerful and overwhelming. But no matter how reluctant we may be, when our life in this world comes to an end, beyond our control, than for the first time we go to the land of Fulfillment. Those who do not want to go immediately are the special concern of true compassion. For this very reason the Vow of true compassion is completely dependable, and our birth in the Pure Land is absolutely certain. "
"If our hearts were filled with joyful happiness and we desired to go swiftly to the Pure Land, we might be misled and suspect that perhaps we are free of blind passion "
The master Shinran said, in the nembutsu no self-working is true working; it is beyond description, explanation, and conceivability.
While the master was still living, those who journeyed together with great difficulty to the distant capital with the same aspiration, and who, united in true entrusting, set their hearts on the coming land of Fulfillment, all listened at the same time to his real thoughts. But now I hear that among the countless people young and old, who say the nembutsu, following after them, there are some who frequently express erroneous views never taught by the master. Such groundless views call for discussion, which follows.
In meeting unlettered people who say the nembutsu some people bother them with such questions as, "Do you say the nembutsu by entrusting yourself to the inconceivable power of the Vow or to the inconceivable power of the Name?" They fail to clarify the two forms of inconceivable powers and their significance. Thus, they confuse the minds of the people. We must turn our attention to this matter and carefully consider the connection between the two.
By virtue of the inconceivable power of the Vow, Amida Buddha devised the Name easy to uphold and pronounce and, thereby, promised to take in all who say the Name. Thus, when we entrust ourselves to the inconceivable power of Amida's compassionate vow which saves us to deliver us from birth-and death, and when we realize that the saying of nembutsu occurs because of the Tathagata's working, since our own calculation is not involved, we are in accord with the Primal Vow and will be born in the land of True Fulfillment.
When we entrust ourselves to the inconceivable power of the Primal Vow as the heart of the matter, then the inconceivable power of the Name is also naturally found together with it. The inconceivable powers of the Vow and of the Name are therefore one, and not the slightest difference between the two exists.
Next, he who inserts his own calculations into the consideration of good and evil, believing that the former helps and the latter hinders birth in the Pure Land, fails to entrust himself to the inconceivable power of the Vow. Rather, he strives in his own efforts to achieve birth; he claims the nembutsu, which he utters as his own practice. Such a person also fails to entrust himself to the inconceivable power of the Name.
However, even though he fails to entrust himself, he will be born in the borderland, the realm of indolence, the castle of doubt, or the palace of womb to be born eventually in the land of Fulfillment by virtue of the Vow which vowed that unless all beings are saved, Amida will not have attained Buddhahood. All this is due to the inconceivable power of the Name. Since this is due to none other than the inconceivable power of the Vow, the Vow and the Name are one and the same.
Some people say that those who do not read and study the sutras and commentaries cannot be certain of birth in the Pure Land. This view is hardly worthy of serious consideration.
All the sutras that reveal the essentials of the truth of Other Power simply state by saying the nembutsu, entrusting oneself to the Primal Vow, one attains Buddhahood. What further knowledge is required for birth in the Pure Land? Truly, those who are still confused about this should by all means study hard and realize the purpose of the Primal Vow. If the true meaning of the sacred texts is not clearly understood, even though one reads and studies the sutras and commentaries, it is a great pity.
Since the Name is devised to be easily said by the unlettered who cannot even grasp the basic meaning of the sutras and commentaries, such utterance is called effortless practice. Learning is a requirement in the Path of Sages; thus, it is called difficult practice. There are some who mistakenly pursue knowledge for the sake of fame and profit; their birth in the next life is doubtful, so reads an attesting passage.
Today, the people of single-hearted nembutsu and those of the Path of Sages fall into dispute, claiming that one school is superior and the other inferior. Thus, enemies of dharma appear, and slandering of dharma occurs. But is this not slandering and destroying one's own dharma?
Even if all the schools together proclaim, "The nembutsu is for those who are foolish; its teaching is shallow and base," do not object. Instead, simply reply, "We are taught that foolish people of inferior capacity like ourselves, unlettered and ignorant, will be saved by entrusting ourselves to Amida. As we accept this and entrust ourselves, it is the supreme dharma for us, regardless of how base it may seem to people of superior capacity. No matter how superb other teachings may be, if they are beyond our realization and mastery, we cannot uphold them. Since it is the basic intention of the Buddhas that we shall all together go beyond birth-and-death, you should not hinder us." In this way, if we have no rancor, who would want to hurt us? Furthermore, an attesting passage states, "Where there are arguments, various kinds of blind passion are awakened; the wise should avoid them."
The late master also said, "The Buddha predicted that there will be people who shall entrust themselves to this dharma and people who shall slander it. I have already entrusted myself to the dharma, and there are those who slander it- by this we know that the Buddha's words are true. In fact, we should realize that our birth is even more firmly settled. If, contrary to this, no one denounced the nembutsu, we might wonder why there are no slanderers, even though there are believers. But this, of course, does not mean that the teaching should necessarily become the object of slander. The Buddha taught this because he knew that both those who entrust them selves and those who slander would exist. His teaching was designed to dispel any doubts that might arise in us."
Is knowledge meant to be no more than a means of defending against criticism and for engaging in arguments and debates? If one truly studies, he will come to see more clearly the intention of the Buddha. Realizing the boundlessness of true compassion, such a student will teach those who are unsure of being born in the Pure Land because of their nature of the Primal Vow does not discriminate between the good and evil, the pure and impure. Only then will learning be meaningful.
People who insist that knowledge is essential frighten those who live the nembutsu in accord with the Primal Vow. Such pedagogues are demons obstructing the dharma and hated enemies of the Buddha. They not only lack the truer entrusting of Other Power, but they wrongly mislead others. They should stand in fear lest they go against the teaching of our late master. And they should be filled with remorse for going against Amida's Primal Vow.
Some people say that those who do not fear committing evil because of the inconceivable power of Amida's Vow are guilty of taking pride in the Primal Vow and, therefore, will not attain birth. This betrays doubt in the Primal Vow and shows a lack of understanding of good and evil resulting from past karma.
Good thoughts arise in our minds due to the effect of past good, and we are made to think and do evil due to the working of karmic evil. The late master said, "We should know that even as trifling a thing as the speck of dust on the tip of a rabbit's hair or a sheep's fleece is the product of the evil of past karma." At another time he asked me, "Would you accept anything I say, Yui-en?"
"Of course, I will," I replied.
"Are you sure that you won't disobey me?" he repeated, and when I again agreed, he continued, "Go, then, and kill a thousand people and your birth in the Pure Land is settled."
"Even though that is your order," I protested, "and even with all that is in me, I cannot kill even a single person."
"Then why did you just say that you would not disobey what I, Shinran, said?" And then he went on, "By this we know that if we could act according to our thoughts, we could kill a thousand people for the sake of birth in the Pure Land- if so required. We do not kill, not because our thoughts are good but because we do not have the karma to kill even a single person. Yet, even though we do not want to injure anyone, we may be led to kill a hundred or a thousand people."
The gist of this statement is that when we think good thoughts, we think we are good; and when we think evil thoughts, we think we are evil, not realizing fully that it is the inconceivable power of the Vow that makes our salvation possible.
Once there was a man who fell into wrong views proclaiming that he would purposefully do evil as a way for attaining birth, since the Vow is directed to those who commit evil. Thus saying, he performed many evils. When Shinran heard about this, he admonished in a letter, "Do not take poison just because there is an antidote." He made this point to correct such wrong attachments, but not at all to say that evil is an obstacle to attaining birth.
Shinran, furthermore, said, "If upholding the precepts and the disciplines are required for entrusting ourselves to the Primal Vow, how could we ever hope to go beyond birth-and death? It is only by encountering the Primal Vow that such hopeless beings as ourselves become full of pride and haughty. And yet evil can never be committed, unless it is within us."
Again, he said, "People who make a living by casting nets or fishing in the seas and rivers, those who sustain themselves by hunting beasts and catching birds in the moors and mountains, and people who pass their lives by trading and cultivating the fields are all alike." In the words of Shinran, "Under the influence of our karmic past we human beings will do anything."
And yet, in recent years people put on the guise of striving on the nembutsu path. They claim that only the good people should say the nembutsu. Or they post restrictions in the gathering places, proclaiming that those who commit certain acts are prohibited from entering. Are these not the sort of people who show outwardly how wise, virtuous, and diligent they are, while inwardly cherishing vanity and falsehood?
Karmic evil committed because of taking pride in the Vow is also an effect of past karma. Thus, leave everything good and evil to the working of karma and single-heartedly entrust yourself to the Primal Vow. Such is the way of Other Power. In Essentials of Faith Alone it is said, "To what extent does one know the power of Amida's compassion when he believes that salvation is impossible because of his karmic evil?" For the very reason that we are guilty of taking pride in the Primal Vow, the true entrusting of Other Power is settled.
We can be free of taking pride in the Primal Vow only after having extinguished karmic evil and blind passion. But if blind passion is extinguished, one is a Buddha; and for a Buddha the Vow realized through five kalpas of profound thought would be of no use.
Since the people who censure others for taking pride in the Primal Vow themselves are filled with blind passion and impurities, are they also not guilty of taking pride in the Primal Vow? If so, what is the evil that takes pride in the Primal Vow, and what is the evil that does not take pride in the Primal Vow? Indeed, all this debate is immature and shallow.
Some people say that one should believe that heavy evils of eight billion kalpas can be extinguished in the single utterance of nembutsu. This view refers to an evil person, guilty of ten vices and five transgressions, who has never said the nembutsu in his lifetime but who for the first time on his deathbed is told by a good teacher that if he says the nembutsu once, he shall extinguish the evils of eight billion kalpas, and if he says the nembutsu ten times, he shall extinguish the evils of eighty billion kalpas and thus attain birth. Is the single utterance or ten utterances meant to show the relative weights of ten vices and five transgressions? If so, this has to do with the utility of nembutsu in extinguishing evil. This is far from our under standing. The reason is that in the awakening of one thought moment, having been illuminated by Amida's light, we are endowed with the diamond-like entrusting, and, thus, we are already included in the stage of the truly settled. When our life comes to an end, all the blind passions and evil hindrances are immediately transformed into the realization of the "wisdom of non-origination."
Realizing that without this compassionate vow, wretched and evil beings such as ourselves can never go beyond birth and-death, we should know that all the nembutsu said through out our lifetimes simply express gratitude for the benevolence and the virtues of Tathagata's compassion.
To believe that each saying of nembutsu extinguishes evil is to aspire to birth by eliminating evil through one's own efforts. If so, since every thought that we think throughout our life binds us to birth-and-death, we must say the nembutsu, continuously and consistently, until the final moment, for the sake of attaining birth. But karmic consequences being decisive, we may end our life by encountering unforeseen accidents, or be tormented by illness, without ever attaining right mindfulness. Saying the nembutsu in such a state would be, indeed, most difficult. How are we to extinguish evil during such a time? If evil does not disappear then is attaining birth impossible?
When we entrust ourselves to the Vow that grasps us never to abandon, we shall quickly attain birth- regardless of whether we commit evils for incomprehensible reasons, and even end our lives without saying the nembutsu. And when we spontaneously say the nembutsu, our trust in Amida becomes stronger and our gratitude to Tathagata deepens as we approach the moment of supreme enlightenment. To desire to extinguish evil is the thought of self-power, the basic intent of those who hope to achieve right-mindfulness at the moment of death. This shows the lack of true entrusting to Other Power.
Some people say that enlightenment is already attained in this very body filled with blind passion. This is completely out of the question.
The doctrine of attaining Buddhahood in this very body is the essential teaching of Shingon Esoterism and the ultimate attainment of the three esoteric practices. And the purification of the six sense organs is the teaching of the One Vehicle Lotus Sutra and the result attained through the four blissful practices. These are all difficult practices performed by those of superior religious capacity, the enlightenment realized through perfecting meditation. In contrast, the enlightenment that unfolds in the next birth is the essence of the Pure Land teaching of Other Power; it is the way of true entrusting which is settled. This is also the effortless practice to be undertaken by those of inferior religious capacity, the dharma in which the discrimination between good and evil is non-existent.
Since it is extremely difficult to sunder blind passion and evil hindrances in this life, the virtuous monks who practice Shingon and Tendai disciplines also pray for enlightenment in the birth to come. How much more so for people like our selves! Although the observance of precepts and wisdom are lacking, when we have crossed the painful ocean of birth-and death on the vessel of Amida's Vow and have reached the shore of the land of Fulfillment, the dark clouds of blind passion immediately vanish and the moon of enlightenment of Dharma as-it-is appears instantaneously. Having become one with Unhindered Light that illuminates the ten quarters, we bring benefits to all beings. This is true enlightenment.
Do those who believe that they attain enlightenment in this very body reveal themselves, as did Sakyamuni, in various manifestations of enlightenment, do they possess the thirty-two features and eighty characteristics of an enlightened being, and do they benefit all beings by expounding the Dharma? This is what constitutes enlightenment in this life. In a poem Shinran writes:
When the entrusting of diamond-like firmness
Is settled, at that very moment
Amida's light grasps us and protects us
And we go beyond birth-and-death forever.
This means that when true entrusting is settled, Amida grasps us never to abandon, and we no longer transmigrate in the six realms of existence. Thus, we go beyond birth-and death forever.
When we realize this, how can we confuse it with the enlightenment in this life? How sad to have such a misunderstanding! As the late master taught, "In the true teaching of Pure Land I have been taught that in this life we entrust ourselves to the Primal Vow and in that land attain supreme enlightenment."
Some people say that if a practitioner of true entrusting should unexpectedly become angry, act wantonly, or argue with fellow practitioners, they should by all means undertake the turning-of-mind. Does this mean that we must sunder evil and practice good?
In the person of single-hearted nembutsu the turning-of mind occurs only once. The turning-of-mind refers to the transformation of heart of those ignorant of the true teaching of the Primal Vow of Other Power who, being granted Amida's true wisdom and realizing the impossibility of attaining birth with everyday mind, abandons the old mind and entrusts himself to the Primal Vow.
If we had to undertake the turning-of-mind day and night about every deed in order to attain birth, since our lives may come to an end between the moment the exhaled breath is inhaled, we may die before the turning-of-mind or cultivating tenderness and forbearance. Then the Vow that grasps us never to abandon would have been meaningless.
Even though some say that they entrust themselves to the power of the Vow, actually they feel that only the good are saved, no matter how great the inconceivable power of the Vow that saves the evil doer. To that extent they doubt the power of the Vow, lack the thought of entrusting to Other Power, and will be born in the borderland. How lamentable this is!
Once true entrusting is settled, we realize that since our birth is due to the working of Amida, it is not due to our calculation. Even though we do evil, we should even more think of the power of the Vow. Then the thought of tenderness and forbearance will become manifest by virtue of "made to become so by itself"
In all matters regarding birth it is not necessary to contrive or design but always to remember and become enthralled with the deep and profound compassion of Amida. Then we shall be able to say the nembutsu, "made to become so by itself." When I do not contrive, it is called "made to become so by itself." This is none other than Other Power. And yet to my regret I hear that people speak knowingly about "being made so by itself" as though it was something special. How deplorable this is!
Some people say that those born in the borderland will eventually fall into hell. In what attesting passage is this found?
That those who claim to be scholars assert this is truly deplorable. How do they read the sutras, commentaries, and teachings? I was taught that people who lack true entrusting because they doubt the Primal Vow are born in the border land where they atone for the evil karma of doubt and ultimately gain enlightenment in the land of Fulfillment.
Since true entrusting is very rare, many people are led to the temporary land. And yet to contend that they are ultimately hopeless is to accuse the Buddha of falsehood.
Some people say that the amount of offerings made to the Buddha dharma will determine the size that we will become as Buddhas.
First of all, is it possible to determine the size of Buddha, whether great or small? Even though the size of Buddha in the Pure Land is described in a sutra, it is the manifestation of the Dharmakaya-as-compassion. When one attains enlightenment of Dharma-as-it-is, how can size be a factor, since such shapes as long or short, square or round, do not exist, and it transcends color, whether blue, yellow, red, white, or black?
Some say that they see the transformed Buddha in uttering nembutsu. Could they have based their view on such statements as "In loud utterance one sees a big Buddha, and in quiet utterance one sees a small Buddha" and applied it here?
Furthermore, although offerings can be part of the practice of selfless giving, no matter how many valuables we give to the Buddha or present to our teachers, the deed is meaningless if true entrusting is lacking. If one gives himself up to Other Power and true entrusting is deep, even though one does not give even a single sheet of paper or half a coin to the Buddha dharma, he is in accord with the will of the Vow.
Do people intimidate their fellow practitioners, using the dharma as a pretext, to fulfill their own selfish desires?
I feel that the preceding views all arise as the result of differences regarding true entrusting. According to the late master Shinran, it was likewise at the time of his teacher Honen among whose disciples were only a few people who truly entrusted themselves to Amida. Once this caused Shinran to enter into an argument with his fellow disciples. When he said, "Shinran's entrusting and Honen's entrusting are identical," Seikan, Nenbutsu, and others strongly refuted it, saying, "How can you say that our master's entrusting and your entrusting are identical!" To this Shinran replied, "Our master's wisdom and learning are truly profound and to claim that ours are identical is preposterous. But as far as the true entrusting which leads to birth is concerned, there is no difference at all. They are one and the same."
Still they continued pressing Shinran, challenging him by saying, "How can that possibly be!" Finally they decided to settle the dispute once and for all, so they related the details to their master Honen. When this was presented to him, Honen said, "The entrusting of Honen is a gift granted by the Tathagata, and the entrusting of Shinran is also a gift from the Tathagata. Thus, they are the same. People who entrust differently will probably not go to the same Pure Land as I."
Such was the case in earlier times, and it seems that among the followers of single-hearted nembutsu today there are some who do not share the same entrusting as that of Shinran. Although what I have said may be very repetitious, I have put all this down in writing.
Since my life like a dew drop still hangs on this body which is like withered grass, I am able to hear the doubts of my fellow practitioners and am able to tell them what I have learned from my master. But I fear and lament that after my eyes close chaos may arise because of divergent views.
When you are confused by people who advocate such views as the above, you should carefully read the scriptures approved and used by our late master. Generally among scriptures you will find a mixture of teachings which are true and real and which are accommodating and tentative. The master's basic idea was to abandon the teachings accommodating the needs of the people and chose the real, to reject the tentatively presented and select the true. Be very careful to discern such distinctions in the scriptures. I have listed a few passages that attest to true entrusting and have included them into this tract for easy reference.
The master constantly said, "When I ponder on the compassionate vow of Amida, established through five kalpas of profound thought, it was for myself, Shinran, alone. Because I am a being burdened so heavily with karma, I feel even more deeply grateful to the Primal Vow which is decisively made to save me."
As I now reflect upon these words, it is no different from the maxim of Shan-tao: "Truly know that this self is a foolish being of karmic evil, repeating birth-and-death since beginningless eons ago, forever drowning and wandering without ever knowing the path of liberation."
How grateful I am that Shinran expressed this in his own person to make us deeply realize that we do not know the depth of karmic evil and that we do not know the height of Tathagata's benevolence, all of which cause us to live in utter confusion.
In reality, all of us, including myself, talk only about what is good and evil without realizing the Tathagata's benevolence. According to the master, he said, "I do not know what the two, good and evil really mean. I could say that I know what good is, if I knew good as thoroughly and completely as the Tathagata; and I could say I know what evil is, if I knew evil as thoroughly and completely as the Tathagata. But in this foolish being filled with blind passion, living in this impermanent world of burning house, all things are empty and vain; therefore, untrue. Only the nembutsu is true, real, and sincere."
Among the lies we speak to each other, one is truly to be lamented. That is, when people, in saying the nembutsu, talk about true entrusting among themselves or try to explain it to others, they even ascribe words to Shinran never spoken by him in order to silence people or stop further inquiry. How deplorable and regrettable! You should carefully understand this and reflect upon it.
Although the above are by no means my own words, they may sound a little odd, for I am not too well versed in the contents of the sutras and commentaries, and I have yet to clearly perceive the depth of the teaching. But I have tried to recall some fragments, perhaps one one-hundredth, of what the late Shinran taught and have put them down in writing. How sad it is if those who are fortunate enough to say the nembutsu are not immediately born in the land of Fulfillment but must reside in the borderland.
In tears I have dipped my brush in ink and have written this in the hope that conflicting views of true entrusting will not be found among fellow practitioners gathered in a single room. Thus, this is called Tannisho: Lamenting the Deviations. It should not be shown to outsiders.
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