Buddhist Psalms, by S. Yamabe and L. Adams Beck, , at sacred-texts.com
OF THE THREE PERIODS
235. Two thousand years and yet more are departed since the day when our Lord entered into Nirvana. Ended are the two glorious periods—the orthodox and the representative. Lament, O ye disciples, who in this closing age would follow after the Lord.
236. The teachings of our Lord have entered into the Dragon Palace, for in this closing age they are too high for men. Men are impotent to follow after their practice or to attain unto them.
237. Throughout the three periods hath the
[paragraph continues] Divine Promise of the Buddha of Infinite Light prospered and grown. But in this period of the closing age all righteous deeds are hidden within the Dragon Palace.
238. In a certain Sutra are we thus instructed, since the age that now is a part of the fifth in this closing age wherein men are fast bound in warfare, all righteous deeds have disappeared from the world.
239. Since the ancient days the life of men, whose age counted as 80,000 years, hath declined and lessened. And when they could live but 20,000 years, they were men living in an evil world, and with the five signs of degeneration upon them.
240. And since time itself hath decayed, the bodily frame of man hath waxed smaller and feebler, and they are as furious serpents or as wicked dragons, for the decay of time worketh within them.
241. The illusion that is bred of ignorance increaseth, and is driven over the world like dust. Hatred great and unbreakable as the high mountains is in the stead of love.
242. The perversity of man is as strong and piercing as the thorn of the jungle. With eyes of suspicion and venomous anger do they accuse
and persecute them who believe upon the Holy Name.
243. It is a mark of the degeneration of time that man's life is brief and death cometh upon him early and with iron hands breaketh up his body and that which surrounds him wherein he dwelleth. And they who leaving justice turn to wickedness do destroy one another by their evil deeds.
244. No hope is there that the men now living in these last days shall escape the fetters of birth and death if they refuse the merciful promise of the Blessed One.
245. Of heretics in the faith are there ninety sorts that defile the world and only the teaching of the Enlightened One cleanseth it. By him alone that attaineth unto wisdom shall true joy to man be fulfilled according to nature and in peace.
246. In these last times of decay the priests, together with the people, do evil unto him that trusteth in the doctrine of the Holy name.
247. Whoso attaineth not unto wisdom is eager to harm that man who, with single heart, accepted the exalted promise. There is no end to the infinity of the ocean of birth and death for
those men who raven to destroy the doctrine that is mighty to save them if they would have it so.
248. Though the days of our present time are those that are called orthodox, we, in whom ignorance is fulfilled, have not within us the heart that is pure and true. How, then, can we of our own help attain unto the deeds that shall gain the wisdom that is made perfect.
249. The strong heart that is able to attain unto wisdom by self-help is beyond human knowledge and speech. How is it possible that men full of ignorance, fettered unto birth and death, should possess such a heart.
250. Though we were masters of the strong will of self-effort, even should we have seen face to face the Buddhas, myriad as the sands of Ganges—they who in this world were manifested the one after the other, yet were we drifted on the torrent of birth and death, in self-effort were no rescue for us.
251. In these sinful days that are called the representative and last times all the teachings of the Lord Buddha, the Sakiya-Muni have vanished away, but the Divine Promise of the Buddha of Infinite Light, shining greatly over the world,
prosperously leads mankind unto the Eternal Kingdom.
252. After choice that is peerless and beyond the world's understanding, after five Kalpas of musing, the Blessed One builded up the Divine Promise of the Light and Life Infinite. And this is the Essence of His Mercy showed upon us.
253. The noble mind that shall attain unto wisdom in the doctrine of the Pure Land is the mind that fain would become Buddha, and it is named: "The mind that shall save men who suffer."
254. The mind that shall save men is that mind given by the high promise of the Blessed One. Whoso attaineth unto the faith He giveth shall be lord of the great Nirvana.
255. Whoso attaineth unto the mind that would fain become Buddha, having sought refuge in the gift of the Blessed One, hath no term in his own gift of welfare to mankind, having for ever laid down all self-righteousness.
256. According to the all-seeing promise of the Blessed One when the water of the faith He giveth entereth the soul, illusion passeth straightway into wisdom through the virtue of that true land of the Divine Promise.
257. That man who trusteth in the two gifts granted by the Buddha of Infinite Light, is raised up into the sphere of the Lesser Enlightenment, and thence hath he the heart that dwelleth always on the perfection of the Blessed One.
258. He that attaineth unto the faith that is true gift of the promise of wisdom from the Blessed One, cometh unto the sphere of the Lesser Enlightenment, for he is embraced in the arms of the spiritual light that is of the Father Eternal.
259. Fifty-six thousand and seventy years shall pass before the Bodhisattva that is Maitreya shall attain unto the Perfected Wisdom. But whoso embraceth the true faith shall at this very time be lord of the great Enlightenment.
260. He that hath ascended unto the height of the Lesser Enlightenment, accepting the Divine Promise of the Holy Name, shall enter into the Great Nirvana, being made equal unto the Bodhisattva Maitreya.
261. He that receiveth the true Faith, and is one with them that return no more to birth and death, shall receive the Perfected Wisdom, even as that Bodhisattva Maitreya that is called, "He that shall come."
262. And the wise in the age which is called
[paragraph continues] Representative, having utterly renounced all the doctrine of self-dependence, have entered in at the gate of the Holy Name. For this is the way chosen for that Age.
263. He who reciteth the Holy Name, having attained unto the true faith, shall unceasingly adore the Eternal Father, that he may make a return unto Him for His Grace.
264. Inexplicable and unutterable merit shall be given unto him who, living in this sinful world, believeth the Divine Promise that proceedeth from His will.
265. For the true welfare of men that shall be the Buddha of the Great Light hath given the holy name of Wisdom unto the Bodhisattva of Wisdom.
266. And with great compassion for mankind in this evil world the Bodhisattva of Wisdom persuadeth them to believe upon the Holy Name, and sweetly welcometh the believer that he may lead him into the Land of Purity.
267. By the mercy of our Lord and of the Blessed One we are able to attain unto the heart that desireth Buddhahood. At that time alone, when we enter into the wisdom of the faith, shall we be ourselves like unto them that
would return good unto the Buddha for His Grace.
268. It is by the strength of the Divine Promise that we can reach unto the holy name of Wisdom. Without the wisdom of the faith, how is it possible that we should attain unto the Nirvana?
269. The Divine Light shineth over the Deep Night of ignorance, therefore sorrow not that the wisdom of your eyes is darkened. The holy Ark is at hand that voyageth over the great ocean of birth and death ; therefore fear not because your sin is heavy.
270. Great as is the night of the Divine Promise of our Salvation, so light is the heaviest of our sins. Immeasurable is the wisdom of our Father, and therefore they that are strong, as also they that weary, shall never be forgotten.
271. Our Father hath perfected His mercy by uttering the Divine Promise that giveth all His merit unto man, that He might save them that are fast bound unto birth and death.
272. Yea, the recitation of His Holy Name is given of the Blessed One. Therefore we must not offer this unto Him for the acquirement of merit. For this will He most surely disdain.
273. Yea, verily, when the water of the mind of
man floweth into the great Ocean of the Divine Promise of the Perfect Wisdom it is changed and becometh the mind of infinite compassion.
274. And the Lord saith, speaking through a certain Sutra:
"My disciples that shall be, they that are sinners because of the lost way and love of evil things, it is they that shall destroy my holy doctrine."
275. Whoso blasphemeth the doctrine of the Holy Name shall suffer without ceasing, for he shall fall into the depth of the Hell of Avichi for eighty thousands of Kalpas.
276. He to whom is given the true entrance into the True and Promised Land, by the grace of our Lord and of the Blessed One, shall be one with those men who return no more unto birth and death, and after this transitory life attain unto the Great Peace.
277. Well may we understand from the teaching of the myriad Buddhas in the Ten Regions—they that protect mankind—that the strong mind that seeketh enlightenment by self-effort is vain and impotent.
278. The Buddhas in the Ten Regions, innumerable as the sands of Ganges, bear witness that very
few are there of men in this sinful world and decaying time that attain unto the true faith.
279. If we accept not the two divine gifts, the gift of entering the Promised Kingdom, and the gift of return into this evil world, then shall the wheel of birth and death turn with us for ever. And how shall we endure to sink into the sea of suffering?
280. Whoso believeth the marvellous wisdom of that Blessed One, shall be joined unto them that return no more unto birth and death. And when, possessed of excelling knowledge, such a man is born into Paradise, soon shall he attain unto the Perfected Wisdom.
281. It is the sole way unto the Promised Land that man should believe the wisdom that is beyond human knowledge, of the Enlightened One. Yet it is of all hard things hardest to attain unto the Faith, the true way that leadeth to Paradise.
282. Casting aside the sorrow of birth and death, that sorrow which is timeless in its beginning, I hope now solely for the Great Nirvana. There is no end to my thankfulness for the two mighty gifts of our Eternal Father.
283. Few are the believers that shall be born into the Land that is promised, but many are
they that shall be born into the Temporal Paradise. Because the hope that we shall see Light by our own strength is vain, having no foundation, we have therefore drifted on the ocean of birth and death for many myriads of Kalpas.
284. Because in the gift of the Holy Name is a grace great and wonderful, if man attain unto the gift of departing, that of itself shall guide him unto the gift of returning.
285. Through the great mercy of the gift of departing shall we attain unto the compassion of the gift of returning. If it were not the free gift of the Blessed One, how should we attain unto wisdom in the Land of Purity.
286. The Buddha of the Infinite Light, together with the Bodhisattvas of Compassion and Wisdom, having taken the Ark of the Divine Promise, that is voyaging on the ocean of birth and death, have gathered and saved mankind therewith.
287. Whoso in heart and soul believeth the Divine Promise of the Buddha of Infinite Light must diligently recite the Holy Name both sleeping and waking.
288. Those men in the hierarchy of Sages that have trusted unto self-effort for the means of attaining wisdom, on entering into the heritage
of the Divine Promise believe in it as in the reason that transcendeth all reason.
289. Though the teachings of the Lord stand for ever, yet unto none is it possible to follow them in exactness, and therefore is there none that may attain unto supreme enlightenment in these last days of the falling away.
290. In India, in China, and the land of Japan, may the many teachers of the doctrine of the Land of Purity, with compassion and tender acceptance, persuade mankind to strive unto the true faith that they may be joined unto those that return no more unto birth and death.
291. Even as His friends the Lord commendeth those men that, having attained unto the true faith taught of the Blessed One unto us, dwell within the joy of holiness.
292. It is very meet that our souls rejoice exceedingly in the grace of the great compassion of the Buddha. Yea, even to the extinction of the body. And for the gracious giving of our spiritual teachers we must in like manner rejoice, yea, though our very bones be broken.