Monday, September 20, 2010

Shinran's Shoshinge (Part 2)

Jodo Ron,
Compiled by the bodhisattva Vasubandhu in India,
Urges us to rely on
The Tathagata of Unhindered Light—Amida—
Through the Larger Pure Land Sutra
Which makes clear
The truth of Amida's eighteenth vow,
The vow which gives to each and every one of us
The mind of true entrusting, shinjin,
And the certain eventuality of our joining
The great company of bodhisattvas
In the treasure-ocean of Namu Amida Butsu.
At the very moment of our entrusting,
Says Vasubandhu,
We are able to see the truth
Of things-as-they-are,
Of suchness,
And instantaneously we become an avenue
For the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha.
This being so,
Though we can now burst free
From the thicket of our passions,
Having become this avenue of wisdom and compassion,
In this transformed state,
We freely plunge back
Into the garden of birth-and-death.

The cause resulting in all this
Is shinjin alone.
Such is the teaching of T'an Luan,
A bodhisattva in China,
Before whom the benevolent Buddhist Emperor Wu'Ti
Always bent his head.
Ta'n Luan had received Chinese translations
Of the Pure Land sutras and Vasubandhu's writings
From the sage Bodhiruci.
Turning to these teachings,
Ta'n Luan burned his Taoist texts
His own writings say that
When we ordinary foolish beings realize
The mind of true entrusting,
The mind of shinjin,
Though we still wander in samsara—
The world of birth-and-death,
At the same time we are shown Nirvana—
The world of the Buddha,
The world of things-as-they-are,
Of that which is real and true.

In this true and real wisdom of Amida's realm,
All we sentient beings,
Everything that exists,
Totally and equally,
Become as one.
The great teacher Tao Ch'o showed us the difficulty
Of the path of self-power practices.
He clarified that for we ordinary men and women
The way to Buddhahood
Is the Pure Land path of entrusting to
The wise and compassionate power of the Vow.
Even millions of self-power practices are useless!
Tao Ch'o urges the single practice of
Saying the Name,
Namu Amida Butsu,
From which arises the uncalculated directness,
The single focus,
And the constancy
Of the mind of true entrusting,
The mind of shinjin.
Tao Ch'o explains that this is the pure mind
Which is in total contrast to our mind of doubt.

At any time, in any age,
We who happen to encounter the drawing power
Of the Great Compassion of the Vow,
Though throughout our lives
We create nothing but evil,
Will reach the Pure Land
And the final state, enlightenment.
It is Shan Tao alone who teaches us
The Buddha's true meaning in disclosing that
For we who break the five precepts,
We who constantly pollute
Our streams of birth-and-death
As we come to hear the Vow,
Amida's light and Name manifest cause and condition
For our entry into its great wisdom-ocean.

This we nembutsu followers receive
Shinjin's diamond-like mind.
In the joy of this single moment,
When we encounter the wisdom of the Buddha
Exactly as did Queen Vaidehi,
We simultaneously receive shinjin's three benefits:
A joyful mind that totally entrusts in the Vow,
An awareness of the nature of the dharma,
And the issuance of Nirvana.

Genshin, on Mt. Hiei in Japan,
Widely explored the whole of Sakyamuni's teachings
And coming to those of the Pure Land,
Genshin recommended this path to all.
However, he makes clear to us a distinction
Between the shallowness of self-power nembutsu,
Which leads only to the borders of the Pure Land,
Leaving one at a way station,
With the depth of the true nembutsu
That assures is entry into the heart of Amida's realm.
True nembutsu can be uttered
By the lowest of the low.
Amida is always pursuing them, drawing them in.
Such a one am I! Genshin confesses.
Even though I am blinded
By the anguish of my passions,
Great Compassion is always,
Without interruption,
Illuminating me.

The great Buddhist teacher Honen
Out of compassion for all beings
Established the true way of nembutsu teaching in Japan.
He opened to ordinary persons everywhere
The gate of Amida's eighteenth Vow.
Our turbulent endless cycle of birth-and-death,
Going and returning,
Is due to our mind of doubt, says Honen.
But in the nembutsu,
When we receive the decisiveness
Of the mind of shinjin,
The mind of true entrusting,
Without fail—
We are assured of entering Nirvana's peaceful world.

Thus these bodhisattvas and great masters
Of India, China, and Japan
Have shown us the meaning of
The Larger Pure Land Sutra,
The meaning of the Name and the Vow
Which liberates innumerable beings:
Those of us who are the most defiled
And calculating,
Those of us who are hopeless.

Their teachings speak to us directly
So that now,
At his present moment,
And always, throughout our lives,
We who are priests,
We who are lay,
Being of one same mind together
In abandoning all superstitions,
Abandoning self power and petitionary practices,
Need believe only in this true nembutsu way.


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