Shinran and His Work, by Arthur Lloyd, , at sacred-texts.com
In the last paragraph of Shinshu Hyakuwa its author asks why it is that, in spite of the great and attractive mercies of Amida, Faith should be so rare and so feeble in this land of Japan.
He finds the answer, partly, in the material tendencies of the present day, and in the fact that the struggle for existence is now so severe that men find less and less time to spare for purposes of religion. The answer is a true one as far as it goes. There is a great deal of materialism in the world, and undoubtedly the love of many, as well as their faith, has waxed cold. But a busy man is not of necessity a materialist, and a Faith which can be focussed as it were, in a burning-glass, would seem to be just the faith for the busy merchant.
Another partial answer he finds in the comparative absence of good karma in the present day. There has been much evil in the past, hence, in the present, there are but few whose karma fits them to hear and receive the Gospel of Amida. Shinshuism is not the only form of Faith which is suffering from an evil karma in the present produced by sloth and indifference (to say the least of it) in the past. In the case of the Shinshu, I would also suggest that that unfortunate paragraph about uso and kakehiki must have something to do with the low estate
in the present, and may have more to do, if lest uncorrected, with Shinshu decadence in the future.
There are three things, says the author, that even a Buddha cannot do.
When once the first step of a firm resolve to obtain Salvation has been taken, he cannot stop or change the process of Salvation which has thus begun. That is one thing that limits his power: he cannot run counter to himself.
Nor can he save a man against his will. He may plant the seed in the soil, but if the man neglect to water and fertilize it, the seed will produce nothing.
And he cannot exhaust the world of Sentient Beings. For, supposing all men now living to be saved, and to come no more into this world of condemnation, fruitful Nature would still teem with fresh generations springing out of her exhaustless womb. The world will always have in it a majority of unsaved persons. *
We have, therefore, says. our author, nothing to do but to wait for the swinging of the pendulum which shall once more make religion a matter of prime interest in Japan, at the present moment so frankly materialistic.
In the mean time, it will be a distinct gain if it should come to be realized that East and West have more in common than a few years ago we of Europe ever dreamed of, even in our wildest moments. It
will be a real strength to humanity and to the feeling of brotherhood amongst men, when we can say that, though the terms in which our Faith is expressed are different, and though the courses of our spiritual training have hitherto lain far apart from one another, yet, underlying it all, there has been an almost identical Faith in the One Father and the One Saviour, and that the Law (of Buddha) is the School-master which is leading Japan and China to Christ. *
152:* The three things that are impossible are this expressed:
2. Mu-en no shūjō wo dosuru koto atawadzu.
3. Shūjōkai wo tsukusu koto atawadzu.
153:* I leave to the Appendix the discussion of what I may call the sources of Shinshu Theology.