Shinran Shonin writes about what it means to be a true disciple of the Buddha in the third section of the Kyo Gyo Shin Sho. What makes one a true disciple of the Buddha is the certain realisation of nirvana. To teach the way out of samsara and to realise nirvana is the purpose common to all Buddhas. Because it results in nirvana, the diamondlike heart and mind that is shinjin fulfills the vocation of all Buddhas.
This what Shinran wrote:
‘In the term true disciple of Buddha, true contrasts with false and provisional. Disciple indicates a disciple of Sakyamuni and the other Buddhas. This expression refers to the practicer who has realized the diamondlike heart and mind. Through this shinjin and practice, one will without fail transcend and realize great nirvana; hence, one is called true disciple of Buddha.’ (CWS, p. 117)
While the ‘shinjin and practice’ is of Amida Buddha, the disciple is of Shakyamuni Buddha and the other Buddhas. According to the Chinese Dharma master Shan-tao, the true disciple of the Buddha is one who knows the ‘deeply entrusting mind’ (jinshin):
‘Deep mind is the deeply entrusting mind. There are two aspects. One is to believe deeply and decidedly that you are a foolish being of karmic evil caught in birth-and-death, ever sinking and ever wandering in transmigration from innumerable kalpas in the past, with never a condition that would lead to emancipation. The second is to believe deeply and decidedly that Amida Buddha’s Forty-eight Vows grasp sentient beings, and that allowing yourself to be carried by the power of the Vow without any doubt or apprehension, you will attain birth.’ (CWS, p. 85)
The two aspects of deeply entrusting mind are inseparable features of one deep mind. Of these the first is a stunning awareness, indeed, belief, of our failure to realise the ‘teaching of all Buddhas’, which is:
‘Do not commit evil; perform a multitude of good acts;
Purify your own mind: this is the teaching of the Buddhas.’ (BD, p. 39)
The sutras serve to amplify nothing more than this basic teaching.
So the ‘deep mind’ is one of sorrow and of joy. Simultaneously, you know that you have fallen infinitely short of the expectations of the Buddhas; yet, you are their true disciples entirely by virtue of the Vow of Amida Buddha.
Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow affords a privilege that is wonderful beyond expression.
Namo Amida Butsu.