‘How joyous I am, my heart and mind being rooted in the Buddha-ground of the universal Vow, and my thoughts and feelings flowing within the dharma-ocean, which is beyond comprehension! I am deeply aware of the Tathagata’s immense compassion, and I sincerely revere the benevolent care behind the master’s teaching activity.
‘My joy grows even fuller, my gratitude and indebtedness ever more compelling. Therefore, I have selected [passages expressing] the core of the Pure Land way and gathered here its essentials. Mindful solely of the profundity of the Buddha’s benevolence, I pay no heed to the derision of others. May those who see and hear this work be brought – either through the cause of reverently embracing the teaching or through the condition of [others’] doubt and slander of it – to manifest shinjin within the power of the Vow and reveal the incomparable fruit of enlightenment in the land of peace.’ (Shinran Shonin, Kyo Gyo Shin Sho VI:b ; CWS, p. 291)
These immortal words of Shinran are most encouraging to those of us who have stepped onto the white path between the rivers of water and fire (CWS, p. 89 – 91). This is the journey of nembutsu with shinjin, in the embrace of the Compassionate Vow of Amida Buddha.
It is quite clear that, with unshakeable certainty, Shinran knew the true nature of his destiny. Doubt, slander, or ridicule, could not suppress his joy.
Remember that, by the time he wrote those words, Shinran had already experienced one of the most difficult life histories that anyone could imagine. Until his death at ninety, the power of Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow enabled him to transcend humiliation, exile, poverty, the weighty responsibility of raising a large family, and of teaching his fellow human beings the way to Enlightenment.
Shinran endured deprivation, isolation, threats to his life from jealous rivals, and just about anything else the world of birth-and-death, the world of impermanence, suffering and soullessness, can demand of a sentient being! In spite of the immense challenges that he faced until his parinirvana in 1263, the decisive moment, which he describes here, never failed him:
‘I, Gutoku Shinran, disciple of Sakyamuni, discarded sundry practices and took refuge in the Primal Vow in 1201.’ (CWS, p. 290)
Namo Amida Butsu