Shinran and His Work, by Arthur Lloyd, , at sacred-texts.com
Summary of the Questions and Answers in Shinshu Hyakuwa.
§ 52. Amida, it is said, has two qualities (toku) whereby He saves us—Mercy and Wisdom. We, sentient Beings, travail in pain (kumon shite orimasu), being fast bound in a kind of slavery to sin and evil, and from this we cannot free ourselves, because the fetters have been fastened on us by the Karma of an immemorial past. And Karma has relations not only with the past. It affects our present condition, it brings with it an endless chain of re-birth, life, and death, which stretches away into the boundless future. From this bondage Amida delivers us. He looses the bonds of sin and evil by the Might accruing to Him from His Great Vow, with His Light He illuminates our minds, giving us supernatural and glorious Wisdom, of His Mercy he places us in a position equal to His own, practically giving us power to become 'sons of God.' For the above reasons the Shinshuist speaks of his Salvation as the Salvation of Amida.
§ 53. Of the "Might accruing to Amida from His Great Vow" we have already spoken when dealing with the Story of Hōzō Biku. That
[paragraph continues] Might is enshrined in the Sacred Name, handed down to us by the living voice (Koe) of a great company of devout believers, inciting us to a Mind of Belief and Trust, and filling us with supernatural grace in consequence of the efficacy of the prayers which we ourselves recite after we have laid hold of salvation.
§ 54. Sin is an abstract thing (mukei), in the sense that it has so many forms and shapes that it is impossible to lay hands on any one thing and say that this is the Original Form of Sin. Its effect is, as stated above, to enchain us with fetters of habits, easily formed but almost impossible of rupture, and involving us in much pain and distress of mind. But the moment we put our trust in Amida, the fetters are snapped, peace of mind ensues, we are at peace, because we have entered into the Heart of Buddha, and being at peace, our actions become quiet and peaceable, and the liability to consequent misery is removed.
§ 55. The process by which this result is attained is the putting into operation of Amida's Mercy and Wisdom, and is embodied in the Name and Person of Namu Amida Butsu. We must suppose that in the Mind of the Everlasting Buddha there must have been from everlasting a plan of Salvation for men, originating in his Everlasting Compassion. But Salvation is not complete unless the Faith of those saved be subsequently nourished and illuminated by the Divine Truth and Life. This is given to us
by the manifest and manifold operation of the Boundless Wisdom of the Nyorai.
§ 56. Is devoted to the exposition of the meaning of the Myōgō, or Sacred Name of Namu-Amida-Butsu.
§ 57. Both Shinran and Rennyo insisted on the supreme importance of Faith. "If a man," says the latter, "does not know the importance of Faith, treat him as an outsider. Whoever knows what Faith is, and understands it (from practical experience) treat him as belonging to the Shinshu."
§ 58. Faith comes by hearing. Whenever a man hears the Gospel (iware) of Amida, the knowledge will come to him that he is deeply involved in sin and evil, and that it is impossible for hire, try as he will, to save himself from the sin in and around him. That is one side of the 'Gospel message'. Simultaneously, however, with this 'conviction of sin' comes the firm conviction that Amida does save us, and that His Vow remains sure. Then, in a moment, doubt disappears and we find ourselves rejoicing in the Merciful Heart of Amida.
§ 59. What feelings are ours when we have thus learned to believe (Mida Butsu wo shinzuru Kokoromochi)? Before conversion, our lives have been spent in the midst of evil, and our minds have been dragged down to the low level of our surroundings. The Voice of the Preacher, telling us of Amida Butsu, acts as a Sursum Corda. It tells of our Father, of his gracious invitation, of the arrival of the lifeboat.
[paragraph continues] Then our heart utters the Nembutsu, but not as a prayer. It is an act of Thanksgiving for the spiritual mercies we have received. We are filled with shinjin kwanki, "joy in believing."
§ 60. The object with which we put our trust in the Power of Amida's Saving Vow is that we may be turned from darkness to light, and receive the fruits of Saving Knowledge (bukkwa). It is our only chance.
§ 61. Faith is given to us: it is not of ourselves. It is the believer's own mind that believes; but that which fixes the mind in belief is the having understood (tettei suru) the Great Merciful Heart wherewith Amida saves us. The faith which turns with repentance (kijun sure) to the commands of Amida is not faith in one's self (jiriki). It is distinctly faith in Another (tariki).
§ 62. It is true that the word shinjin, may be translated as "believing heart," and also as "straight heart." But the tariki Faith must
not be understood to teach that a man is to turn even with an honest and true heart to Amida and ask to be delivered or rescued from this or that evil. To wrestle in prayer of this kind (neji-kakarite) is a jiriki form of devotion. It may bring deliverance from the particular evil or misfortune, but it does not bring that feeling of rest and peace (dai-kwairaku-shin) which is known as anshin or ando. The tariki believer knows that Amida saves him, that He invites him, that He will provide, and knowing this, he comes in perfect trust, and leaves everything in Amida's hands.
§ 63. It may be asked, Is not this 'coming in perfect trust' a form of jiriki? Not so. (It is a case of 'turn thou us, O Lord, and so shall we be turned.') Amida turns us to Himself, fills, us with His grace, and bestows faith upon us.
§ 69. Where then does Karma operate? "It is a case of ta-in-ji-kwa, 'others have laboured and ye have entered into their labours,' which is not the law of Karma." This objection is sometimes heard.
It is true that Faith is a gift which comes from Amida, given without our efforts. But it is our work to receive and accept it (just as it is the "work of God to believe on Him whom He hath sent"). Karma has three constituent parts, known as in—the primary cause—e.g. the seed, en—the secondary cause; e.g. the Sun and rain, and gwa the fruit. Amida's gift is in, our acceptance is en, our Salvation is gwa.
§ 65. The faith which we thus receive and accept
comprises all the spiritual Power which was acquired and stored up by Hōzō Biku in the performance of the labours necessary for the fulfilment of the Great Vow which He undertook for man. Among the Powers thus acquired by Hōzō we must include the power to smite sin and evil, and the power to draw men to Himself into the paths of righteousness.
§ 66. Of this power we are assured by Faith, the Symbol of the Sacred Name being the quasi-sacramental pledge to assure us thereof. Faith is the stamping of Amida Himself upon the heart of the believer.
§ 67. Some may think that it is necessary first to cleanse the heart from all defilement, and then to receive the inestimable gift. that is not so. The depraved heart (mōshin) of the sinner cannot cleanse itself by its own efforts. If it were possible for it to do so, there would be no room for the exercise of Mercy. It is a comforting fact that Saving Faith can be received by the sinner whilst yet in his sin. This fact throws the greatness of Amida's compassion into more striking prominence.
§ 68. But, when a sinful man turns to the light, one of the first results must be the filling of his mind with abhorrence of his own sins. Can a man, whose mind is troubled about these things, enter that Heart of Buddha to which access is gained by the tariki faith? Certainly not. Mere contrition or troubling about the soul, or constant introspection cannot save. All that is required is Conversion, the turning
of the heart to Amida, (kijun suru). The rest will come in due and natural course.
§ 69. We must beware lest we presume to say of any living man that, because he has received this lively Faith, therefore he has attained to the perfection of Buddhahood. All we can say is, that the perfect seed has been planted, that the sowing is complete. 'His seed remaineth in him,' but it needs the sun and rain to bring its fruit to perfection.
§ 70. And, similarly, we must be on our guard against those titles of honour which men give at times to those who are supposed to have made progress in holiness. These titles, intended as honours, should serve for our humiliation. For what have we that we have not received? All the Virtues implied by these honorific titles have been bestowed on us by Him, who is the Divine Mercy. Still, as Genkū, says,
I have the less hesitation about offering this somewhat sketchy analysis to my readers since I have learned that a more careful translation of the whole Catechism is being prepared by a missionary friend in Tokyo.