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Adrian Cirlea

preot buddhist Jodo Shinshu presedinte Asociatia Buddhista Jodo Shinshu din Romania

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Amida-ji

Orthodox Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Teachings. Official website of Amidaji temple.

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01. An example of the false teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh - Dec 5, 2019 7:32:00 AM

This is a striking example of false teaching and false teacher. No matter how popular he is among many ignorants, I say this again - this is false teaching and he is a false teacher!

You cannot be a Christian and a Buddhist in the same time for the simple reason that Christianity (and any monotheistic religion) promotes faith in a creator and supreme god. This idea of a creator and supreme god is denied by Shakyamuni Buddha. Please read this article filled with quotes from the Baka Brahma sutra (and the articles reccomended at the end of it), There is no supreme creator god in the Buddha Dharma.

Somebody who accepts the idea of a supreme creator god who is also judge of the world, as Christians do (their god is both creator and judge), does not understand the law of karma. The idea of somebody who created  and rules everything is contrary to the Buddhist teachings on being, karma and rebirth. You cannot just practice Buddhism while folowing wrong views because if you do that you put yourself outside of Buddhist practice. Right views must always accompany right practice!

Buddhism also means to worship the Buddha. Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha himself encouraged Ananda to worship Amida Buddha in the Larger Sutra: " The Buddha said to Ananda, ‘Rise to your feet, rearrange your robes, put your palms together, and respectfully revere and worship Amitayus (Amida)." And Ananda did as instructed, "Ananda stood up, rearranged his robes, assumed the correct posture, faced westward, and, demonstrating his sincere reverence, joined his palms together, prostrated himself on the ground, and worshiped Amitayus."

Pure Land Buddhism and Jodo Shinshu in particular is a faith oriented type of Buddhism. Here we entrust to Amida Buddha, we say His Name in faith, we worship Him and we wish to be born in His Pure Land after death. Also, worshiping of Buddhas in general has always been considered a meritorious practice in many other forms of Buddhism. In His Primal Vow, Amida Buddha said "entrust to me, say my Name and wish to be born in my land". These are exclusive recquirements, not things that can be mixed with faith in other nonbuddhist divinities. So NO, you cannot be a Christian and follow the Primal Vow! Unfortunately, some think that Thich Nhat Hanh also teaches Pure Land! No he doesn't!

There are many things to say here. I do not deny Thich Nhat Hahn helped some people become more mindful or calm through his meditations, but if you want real Buddhist teaching and practice he is NOT the right place to go! By spreading such wrong views as the above he in fact, breaks his refuge vows. What he teaches is NOT Buddhism, but some kind of relaxation and feel good teachings.

The Three Refuges (the refuge vows) are, as the term implies, a „refuge” but also an engagement, a vow and comitment, that from now on we will forever take refuge in the Buddhas, the Dharma and Sangha. When we say „I take refuge in the Buddha” it means ONLY in the Buddha, when we say, „I take refuge in the Dharma” it means ONLY in the Dharma, and when we say, „I take refuge in the Sangha” it means ONLY in the Sangha. The three refuges are exclusive vows. One should stop any non-Buddhist religious activities after taking refuge in the Three Jewels. If one prays to other non-buddhist divine figures, engages in non-buddhist practices and has non-buddhist religious teachers from whom he receives teachings and instructions, that person breaks the Refuge vows and from then on he or she can no longer be considered a Buddhist. This is extremely important.

The Nirvana Sutra states (as quoted by Shinran in his KGSS, VI):
"If one has taken refuge in the Buddha, one must not further take refuge in various gods."

"Those who take refuge truly and wholeheartedly, freeing themselves from all delusional attachments and all concern with the propitious or unpropitious, must never take refuge in false spirits or non-Buddhist teachings.”
(Sutra of the Ten Wheels of Ksitigarbha, quoted by Shinran in Kyogyoshinsho, chapter VI)

“Good sons and good daughters of pure trust must never serve gods to the very end of their lives.”
(Sutra of the Vows of Medicine Master Buddha, quoted by Shinran in his Kyogyoshinsho, chapter VI)

So again, you cannot be a Buddhist practitioner and a Christian! Those who think they can are actually outside both Buddhism and Christianity. They fail both paths.



02. Подробное объяснениеИзначального Обета Амида-будды - Nov 28, 2019 9:29:00 AM


by Rev Josho Adrian Cirlea
translated from English by Evgheni Terehin

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE PDF 

Namo Amida Bu





03. Shinjin is not dettachment - Nov 18, 2019 6:41:00 PM
Shinjin is NOT detachment. Shinjin is simple faith in Amida Buddha. Because shinjin or simple faith is not detachment it co-exists with our blind passions, attachments and ignorance.

We know we are saved by Amida and we'll go to His Pure Land when we die - this is faith (shinjin); but we are afraid to die because of attachment to our bodies, and we also cannot have a perfect moral behavior because we have ignorance and blind passions.

If we had no blind passions, atachments and ignorance, then we'll be Buddhas and for Buddhas the salvation offered by Amida has no sense.

Amida Buddha's Primal Vow was made for unenlightened beings. While we are still in this samsaric world, itself the effect of our personal and collective karma, blind passions and ignorance, we cannot become perfect beings or Buddhas. Only after we are born after death in the enlightened environment of the Pure Land can we become Enlightened beings.

Please do not confuse faith (shinjin) with Enlightenment or any kind of sainthood.


04. Outline of the Sutra on the Buddha of Infinite Life (Larger Sutra) - Nov 6, 2019 2:54:00 PM

fragment from my commentary on the Larger Sutra      - this is a work in progress and under constant revision - 
The sutra starts with the place where it was delivered by Shakyamuni Buddha (Vulture Peak in Rajagrha) and a description of the audience ( section 1) with special emphasis on the qualities of the Enlightened Bodhisattvas who were present there like Maitreya, Manjushri, Samantabhadra, etc (section 2).
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Before starting to teach this sutra Shakyamuni manifested a supreme appearance. When asked by Ananda about the reason for those wonderful manifestations, He explained that He was about to deliver the most important teaching of His life, the true reason for His coming to this world (section 3).
*
Then He tells the story of how many eons ago the monk Dharmakara awoke the aspiration for supreme Enlightenment in front of Buddha Lokesvararaja, made the 48 vows, practiced for many kalpas, attained perfect Enlightenment and became Amida Buddha. In that very moment His Pure Land came into existence and is always present to welcome those who wish to be born there. (sections 4-10)
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The Light of Amida, which is praised by all Buddhas, has twelve special characteristics  and can be encountered through faith. Those who encounter this Light will no longer be obstructed by their defilements and they will be relieved to know that they are assured of birth in the Pure Land (section 11).
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The life of Amida in Sambhogakaya form in His Pure Land is infinite and so it is the life of the enlightened beings dwelling there (section 12).
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The first turning of the Wheel of Dharma, after Dharmakara became Amida Buddha was a cosmic event which was attended by an incalculable number of beings who were Enlightened or very close to Enlightenment (section 13).
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Shakyamuni then describes the Nirvanic features of the Pure Land and its inhabitants in rich detail so that we may be convinced of its real existence and wish to be born there. Unlike here in samsara where everything is conducive to attachments and blind passions, the enlightened manifestations of the Pure Land naturally lead to Enlightenment (sections 14-21).
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Those who have faith in Amida are assured that they will attain Nirvana in the Pure Land. Also, it is mentioned that all Buddhas praise the inconceivable and supreme virtues (merits) of Amida which are actually transferred to us when we entrust to Him, thus making us enter the stage of non-retrogression for the attainment of Nirvana in the Pure Land (section 22).
*
There are three grades of aspirants for birth in the Pure Land. Very advanced practitioners, even close to Enlightenment but not yet Enlightened, as well as we, the lowest of the low, can entrust to Amida Buddha and rely on His Power, thus being aware that their virtues are not superior to Amida or that our evil is not an obstacle for birth there. However, those who are attached to their so-called merits and virtues attain an inferior birth in the borderland of the Pure Land (sections 23-25).
*
Encouraged by the Buddhas who teach the Dharma in various worlds, all advanced Bodhisattvas in aspiration visit Sukhavati and are actually born there through faith, where they attain Buddhahood. Also Bodhisattvas who are already enlightened visit Amida just like a grateful student will always visit and pay respect to his Master no matter that now he became a master himself.
After the episode with the visit of Bodhisattvas, Shakyamuni continues with explaining the favorable conditions of meeting and accepting the teaching of the Larger Sutra in faith. Observance of the precepts in a former life leads to birth in human form or a realm where one can meet and hear the Larger Sutraand especially the message of the Primal Vow which is the essence of this sutra. Those who have met a Buddha or many Buddhas in the past and had devotion and respect towards them are open enough to accept in faith the teaching of the Larger Sutra and especially the Primal Vow. Because all Buddhas praise Amida’s method of salvation they are all guiding beings who are under their care and who worship them, towards faith in Amida. (sections 26-27)
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The virtues and activities of the Enlightened Bodhisattvas of the Pure Land are described at length by Shakyamuni. They can, without actually leaving the Pure Land, manifest in various forms in all the realms of samsaric existence to guide beings toward birth in the Pure Land. Because they are enlightened they are not limited by anything in their compassionate activities. (sections 28-30)   
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Once they reach the enlightened environment of the Pure Land the newborn see Amida, listen to His teaching and attain perfect Enlightenment. The perception of time is different here in the human plane of samsaric existence than "time" in the Pure Land. Thus, if here we need minutes or hours, days, months and years to do various activities, in the Pure Land many things can be done at the same time. So, in the very moment of birth in the Pure Land through the Gate of Faith (Gate of the Primal Vow) we automatically see Amida in all His glory, listen to His teaching in the seven jeweled lecture hall and attain perfect Enlightenment. (section 29)
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To make us wish even more to escape samsara and be born in the Pure Land, Shakyamuni describes the karmic situation of beings who have no aspiration towards Enlightenment. Then He suggests that Amida Dharma is not an instrument to justify blind passions nor institutionalize them as normal behavior. Indeed, in its saving activity, Amida Buddha makes no distinction between virtuous and non-virtuous people. But making no distinction, out of Great Compassion, between them, it does not mean that He supports or encourages evil. No Buddha, including Amida and Shakyamuni, have ever supported evil actions, so we should not confuse being saved as we are with the idea that all our actions are now worthy and good or that we should not make any effort for a good behavior. Instead of praising or justifying our blind passions, we should be ashamed of them and grateful to Amida’s helping hand. As Shinran said, “don’t make a liking to poison because you have the antidote”, that is, try your best to abandon evil actions even if you are saved by Amida.
The teaching of Amida’s salvation contained in the Larger Sutra is transmitted by Shakyamuni to Maitreya who will protect it and teach it himself when He will assume the role of the next Buddha in our world system. (section 31-40)
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Then Ananda asks the historical Buddha to see Amida, His Pure Land as well as the inhabitants living there, and so they are revealed to him and to all the audience gathered on that day on Vulture Peak. To emphasize the importance of this revelation Shakyamuni asks Ananda and Maitreya to confirm what they saw and Ananda does exactly that in the name of all those present. This is a crucial event in the Larger Sutra which was done in order to make us accept Amida as a real Enlightened Person and His Pure Land as a real, enlightened place where we should wish to be born after death.  (sections 41-42)
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At the request of Maitreya, Shakyamuni explains the difference between the two types of beings born in the Pure Land, 1) those born in the embryonic state and 2) those born by transformation. The people in the first category (followers of the 19th and 20thvows) are those who, while focusing on Amida, still cling to their so-called merits and virtues or mix Nembutsu with various practices not mentioned in the Primal Vow, etc. They are to be born in the borderland of the Pure Land in an unenlightened state of mind and will spend some time there until they overcome their doubts and fully entrust to Amida. The people in the second category are practitioners who completely rely on the Power of Amida Buddha in accord with His Primal Vow (18th Vow). They are born in the “true fulfilled land of the Pure Land” or the “center” of the Pure Land where they automatically attain perfect Enlightenment and become capable to guide all beings in the ten directions. (sections 43-45)
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There are many Mahayana followers (bodhisattvas in aspiration) on various levels of spiritual achievements or even without any personal virtue in all the places of the samsaric universe who are now in the stage of non-retrogression for birth in the Pure Land. Many such followers of true faith will also appear in the future. The cause of entering this stage is not any personal achievement, but faith in Amida Buddha and complete reliance on His Power.  
Shakyamuni’s urge to listen and accept the Larger Sutra in faith is overwhelming as He says that even if the whole universe is on fire we should pass through it to hear and entrust to this teaching. So great is the importance of the Larger Sutra that He promised to keep it in the world for one hundred years more after all the other sutras will disappear. Insisting that we must not have any doubts about the contents of this sutra, Shakyamuni mentions as proof for the authenticity of its teachings the fact that He enabled the audience to see Amida and His Pure Land. Thus, He wanted them to act as witness to future generations for the real existence of Amida and His Pure Land. In the process of receiving this sutra we must practice it in the way it was taught and not change it according to our likes or dislikes. (sections 46-47)
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At the end of the sutra various benefits gained by the audience are described, among which, the most important is the entering into the stage of non-retrogression for birth in the Pure Land and subsequent attainment of Nirvana.
If the sutra starts with Shakyamuni’s supreme appearance, it also ends with extraordinary supernatural manifestations. Both manifestations at the beginning and end of the sutra show that this was indeed the most important discourse of Shakyamuni’s lifetime – the true reason for His coming to this world. (section 48)

 click here to go to the commentary of each section of the Larger Sutra 


05. The metal frame for the walls and roof of Amidado (Amida Hall) of Amidaji temple - Nov 3, 2019 5:17:00 PM
the metal frame of Amidado (finished)I finished the metal frame for the walls and roof of Amidado (Amida Hall). The worker said that a metal frame, although very expansive, is better than a wooden frame, and I listened to his advice.

So, I spent around 1200 euros in total for these metal bars and the worker pay. In the photos, you can see the result.
The next steps are to build the roof and the walls. There will be double wooden walls filled with glass wool insulation and covered with another thermal insulation on the outside. I also need to add
the metal frame of Amidado (finished)two windows and a big entrance door. Materials for the walls and worker pay are surely arround 1500 euros or more (sorry, last time I miscalculated again the costs for the walls). The materials and worker payment for the roof will be arround 750 euros. I will try to first build the roof and then the walls.

Please help if you can. Any little amount is useful and very much needed.

Click here if you wish to donate via PayPal


the metal frame of Amidado (finished)the metal frame of Amidado (finished)or on this link, http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.com/p/donation.html if you wish to use other methods. The names of donors and/or the names of those in whose name the donation is made (no matter the amount) will be included in the dedication list of my new book.

NAMO AMIDA BU 



06. A question on spirits - Oct 22, 2019 9:51:00 PM
Question:
"If I see or feel the presence of negative spirits arround me, how do I send them away? And what if they refuse to leave?"

My answer:
Why send them away? Just leave them alone. Let them stay and listen to your Nembutsu, let them hear your thoughts and words of faith. One day, they will become bored with a guy like you who minds his own business and constantly says Nembutsu, or even better, they might be influenced by your devotion and entrust to Amida themselves. In Jodo Shinshu we do not exorcize, nor fight with spirits, rather we convert them by our example. The urge of Shinran, "receive yourself faith and help others receive faith" applies to this, too.

It is good to be friendly towards the spirit world. Realize that spirits, ghosts and various types of nonhuman beings inhabit the same space with us. Your land is their land, too. Some are in the same place for hundreds or thousands of years, so they have the same right as you to be here. Who are you to tell them to go away? Let them be and focus on living a life of gratitude with as little damage as possible to other beings, and focus on Nembutsu.

All beings suffer, no matter they are humans or non-humans. Some spirits may like you, feel neutral towards you or may be inclined to hate you due to karma from the past. No problem! Let them hate you, while you just focus on Nembutsu. How much can somebody hate another person if that one does not respond to the hate and minds his own business!
Offer incense to Amida Buddha in the name of all beings, including the spirits of the place where you live, and make aspirations for them - "may they be healthy in body and mind, may they have all the necesities of life, may they create indestructible connections with Amida Buddha, entrust to Him, say His Name ( Namo Amida Bu) and wish to be born in His Pure Land". Also pray to Amida to help them, although He already tries His best to help. However, if you pray for them, they will feel your good intentions.

If you think this way, if you say Nembutsu and have devotion and faith, the invisible beings who happen to live there or just pass through, will know your thoughts and might be inspired to entrust to Amida and say Nembutsu themselves, and if not, they will finaly leave you alone as they see that you are no threat to them. In fact, they cannot harm you even if they try, because if you have faith (shinjin) you automatically benefit from the protection of Amida and all Buddhas.
So again, no matter what you see, hear, or feel arround you, just focus on Nembutsu and mind your own business.



07. The concrete platform of Amidado (Hall of Amida) of Amidaji temple - Oct 14, 2019 9:30:00 AM

the concrete platform for the Amidado
(Hall of Amidado) Finally, I was able to start working at the new Hondo of Amidaji which will be called Amidado (Hall of Amida).
Due to my lack of building knowledge, I falsely assumed that 80% of Amidado will be around 1000 euro. However, I was terribly wrong as I already spent 821 Euros only for the concrete platform, plus other various small related expenses!
The construction materials (71 sacks of cement, 5 cars with gravel, construction mesh, etc) were  2500 Romanian lei and the paid worker 1400 Romanian lei. Total amount spent: 3900 Romanian lei which is equivalent to 821 Euros. Amidaji courtyard. In the far left is the
present Hondo followed by the concrete
platform of the Amidado. In the far right
is the library.  
Now I am raising funds to continue the building process of the Amidado. I must, of course, raise the walls (there will be double wooden walls filled with glass wool insulation), build a roof, door, windows, thermal insulation on the outside walls, etc. All these will surely be at least 2000 Euros.Please help if you can. Any little amount is useful and very much appreciated.

CLICK HERE IF YOU WISH TO DONATE (PayPal):



working on the concrete platform of
Amidado (Hall of Amida)parts of the building materialsor to this link if you wish to use other methods,
http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.com/p/donation.html
The name of donors (no matter the amount offered) will be included in the dedication list of my new book.
Thank you very much for your kindness and generosity!
Namo Amida Bu





08. Sobre las "Cenizas Blancas" - Oct 12, 2019 7:58:00 PM


Traducido del inglés por:Juan Sebastián Hincapié Arana
Las "Cenizas Blancas" es una meditación sobre la impermanencia y la muerte y cuando la leo, la vinculo a las palabras finales de Shakyamuni antes entrar en el Parinirvana: "Todas las cosas son transitorias,  conscientemente esfuércense".En esta carta todo se reduce a la conciencia: ser o no ser consciente de tu propia muerte, de tu propia impermanencia.
Creo que las personas generalmente no son conscientes del hecho de que su vida está siempre yendo a la inevitabilidad de la muerte. Cuando una persona no toma conciencia desde lo profundo de su corazón de la impermanencia de la vida y la naturaleza cambiante de todo lo que lo rodea, esta persona no es  aún capaz de hacer uso de la religión para encontrar un verdadero significado en su vida. Le prestará toda su atención al mundo exterior y buscará su satisfacción allí.
Recuerdo que en el budismo temprano uno de los más practicados métodos de meditación era la meditación sobre la muerte. El discípulo se solía quedar en un cementerio y meditaba sobre un cadáver muerto viendo su estado de descomposición y se daba cuenta de que lo mismo le sucedería a su cuerpo también. Así el discípulo se hacía más y más capaz de tomar consciencia obre la realidad de la muerte, separarse de su cuerpo y abandonar la vida centrada en el ego. Meditar sobre la impermanencia y la muerte es,en mi opinión, la acción más auténtica, es dejar de mentirnos nosotros mismos. Hasta que no nos demos cuenta de nuestra propia muerte e impermanencia, nos pasamos el tiempo soñando, haciendo planes y pensando que tenemos todo el tiempo del mundo para hacer todo, y pensamos que la muerte se trata de una idea o un buen tema para la poesía.
Las personas de los tiempos modernos no se dan mucho tiempo parameditar sobre la verdadera naturaleza de la vida. Se comportan como si pudieran vivir por siempre. Recuerdo una comparación hecha por un sabio indio, que dijo que las personas ignorantes son iguales a los perros cuando miran a una persona muerta. Esto es porque cuando ves un perro que ve a otro perro muerto puedes notar que de alguna manera él mira el cadáver como si no se diera cuenta de lo que ha pasado. El perro solo inspecciona el cadáver y camina alrededor sin el más mínimo pensamiento de que la misma muerte  le ocurrirá alguna vez a él también.  Del mismo modo, la gente mira a una persona muerta como a algo que no puede pasarle a alguien más, algo así como una mala suerte.
Entienden la muerte solo a nivel de información pero no sienten la muerte en su realidad cruda e inevitable. Cuando una persona comienza a sentir y darse cuenta de la realidad de la muerte y la impermanencia de todas las cosas, se detiene de repente. Ese detenerse en el camino  puede darle a esa persona un verdadero significado a su vida. La conciencia de la muerte, la enfermedad y la vejez también fue lo que hizo que Siddhartha dejara su palacio real en busca de la Iluminación.
Hablando de mí, las palabras que a menudo me vienen a la mente de la enseñanza del Buda son ideas basadas ​​en la conciencia de la impermanencia. Las repito casi involuntariamente: "No tengo tiempo, la vida y la muerte son lo más importante" o "sigue el Camino como si este fuera el último día de tu vida". La ley de la impermanencia es lo que me hace un budista.
Un punto de inflexión en mi vida fue la muerte de tres personas: un amigo, seguido en sucesión por su padre en unos meses y mi abuela. En mi historia personal, este fue el período en que dejé las prácticas basadas en el poder propio y tomé refugio en el Voto Primordial de Amida.
Es muy difícil para mí describir con palabras lo que sentí en ese entonces. Es una sensación extraña e insoportable sentir tus manos y todo el cuerpo tan frágil como un fósforo.A veces el pensamiento de mi propia muerte me asusta, rara vez leo en paz esta carta de Rennyo. Hay algo impactante y pesado en las palabras esa carta; esa sensación solo puede ser aliviada al leer finalmente la última oración de la carta en donde el Maestro Rennyo habla sobre confiar en el Buda Amida y decir el Nembutsu: "Así que todos debemos tomar en serio rápidamente la cuestión de la mayor importancia, la cual es de la otra vida (vida después de la muerte) , confiemos profundamente en el Buda Amida y recitemos el Nembutsu ". En esta última oración está nuestra esperanza, sin esta última oración toda la carta sería un productor de depresión y tristeza para personas ignorantes como nosotros, llenas de pasiones ciegas.
Rennyo no dice como en el Sutra del corazón: "no hay muerte, no hay dolor, no hay principio ni secesión de dolor " Sino en cambio: "hay muerte, hay dolor, confía en el Buda Amida". De frente, ante  la conmoción de la muerte y la impermanencia que llega al corazón de toda persona común y corriente Rennyo no nos  habla de cosas sutiles, porque él no está dirigiéndose a  Budas o santos. Es por esto que yo, como la mayoría en la Escuela  Jodo Shinshu; no hago énfasis en que  podamos convertirnos en Budas, o la idea de que todos somos Budas en nuestra naturaleza real y que tan solo debemos despertar a esta verdad absoluta, sino que en cambio enfatizo la situación grave en la que nos encontramos lo que estamos aquí y ahora la cual s: Somos es seres ignorantes que no pueden superar por medio de su propio poder el problema de la vida y la muerte. A este tipo de seres, el Buda Amida dice: "Todo está bien, solo confía en mí". Esto es exactamente lo que necesitaba escuchar. El Voto Primordial de Amida contiene las palabras que busqué desesperadamente en todo el Budismo. No sé cómo sea para los demás, pero no creo que yo una sabia oración de un maestro zen pueda hacerme superar este problema. Para mí, el hecho de que ya tengo la naturaleza de Buda no me salva ni me da calor; no cambia nada, no me ayuda absolutamente en nada. Sigue siendo tan solo una hermosa frase.No puedo superar la perspectiva de mi propia muerte a través del desapego basado en el poder propio. Me encuentro con muchas personas que son muy impresionadas por frases sutiles que están mucho más allá del nivel ordinario de comprensión, tal vez esta es la razón por la cual el Zen tiene mucho éxito en Europa y EE. UU. por sus koans (1) los cuales dudo que mucha gente practique en su verdadero espíritu. Pero para mí, la única realidad es esta:? si muero mañana, ¿qué pasará conmigo? Mis virtudes son superficiales, por lo que mi próximo nacimiento es incierto si no confío en Amida
Esta es la única realidad para mí. Yo soy el hombre en Frente a los dos ríos de agua y fuego, estoy rodeado por todas partes de todo tipo de peligros, estoy asustado y avasallado todo lo que me está pasando, Amida me está llamando, ¿cómo puedo no contestar a su llamada?Namo Amida Butsu
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Notas al pie:
1 Koan es una palabra o una frase de lenguaje sin sentido racional que no puede ser "resuelta" por el intelecto. Se utiliza como ejercicio para romper las limitaciones del pensamiento convencional y desarrollar la intuición, dando al practicante la oportunidad de alcanzar un conciencia más allá de la dualidad. Se utilizan como objetos de meditación en la Escuela Zen Rinzai. Sin embargo, muy a menudo estos koans son tratados por muchos como simples juegos intelectuales interesantes, perdiendo así su función original".
*
Carta del Maestro Rennyo aludida en el Artículo:
"Fascículo cincoCarta 16 Sobre  las cenizas blancas del Maestro Rennyo
Cuando consideramos profundamente la transitoriedad de este mundo, [nos damos cuenta que] nuestra vida es totalmente fugaz a: es como una ilusión de principio a fin. Y aún no hemos oído hablar de cualquiera que viva diez mil años. Toda una vida pasa rápidamente ¿ Puede acaso alguien vive ahora vivir y llegar a cien? ¿Moriré primero yo o mi vecino? ¿Será hoy o mañana? No  lo sabemos. Aquellos que dejamos atrás y los que van antes que nosotros son más numerosos que las gotas de rocío que descansan brevemente debajo de los árboles y en sus puntas de las hojas. Por lo tanto, podemos tener caras radiantes en la mañana pero en la tarde no será más que cenizas blancas. Con la llegada del viento de la impermanencia, ambos ojos son cerrados instantáneamente, y cuando una sola respiración se calma para siempre, la cara radiante se drena de toda vida y pierde su brillo vibrante. A pesar de que mi familia y parientes pueden reunirse y llorar con el corazón roto, todo esto es en vano. Como no hay nada más que hacer, [ la alguna vez forma familiar] se lleva a un campo periférico, y cuando ha  desaparecido con el humo de la medianoche, no quedan nada más que cenizas blancas.Esto es de hecho indescriptiblemente triste.
Y así, ya que la impermanencia de este mundo crea una condición de incertidumbre para jóvenes y viejos por igual, todos deberíamosInmediatamente tomar en serio lo más importante que es  el más allá (la vida después dela muerte) y, confiando profundamente en el Buda Amida, digamos entonces el Nembutsu…
Respetuosamente."


09. The qualities of Bodhisattvas in the audience – commentary on section 2 of the Larger Sutra - Oct 7, 2019 10:23:00 AM
Buddha Maitreyalast revised October 7, 2019
fragment from my commentary on the Larger Sutra - this is a work in progress and under constant revision -  

Many members of our school do not fully understand the term Bodhisattvain Mahayana. Also, when we read the 22nd Vow of Amida presented in section7 of this sutra, and which is generally accepted to mean that we return to this world as fully Enlightened Persons or Buddhas to save all beings, some of us are puzzled that in the respective vow there is no mentioning of the word "Buddha", but only "Bodhisattva". However, there is no contradiction between the two. The reason is that, in Mahayana, the term “Bodhisattva” does not only refer to a highly evolved person who is extremely close to Enlightenment (on one of the ten bodhisattva stages/bhumis[1]), but also to a Buddha who manifests as Bodhisattva or Bodhisattvas who already attained Enlightenment. There is clear evidence for this in many Mahayana sutras, esoteric tantras and also in the writings of various Buddhist masters[2]. So, according to Mahayana Buddhism, there are two types of bodhisattvas:
1. Bodhisattvas in aspiration who have made the vows of becoming Buddhas for themselves and all beings, but who are still on the path (still in training) and still unenlightened (not Buddhas yet). Anyone who made the four Bodhisattva vows[3]may call himself or herself a bodhisattva in aspiration. Some bodhisattvas may be very much advanced and on various higher levels, even  close to Enlightenment, but as long as they have not reached perfect Enlightement I also include them in this category.
2. Bodhisattvas who already attained Buddhahood but who do not remain secluded in their Enlightenment. These are in fact, ancient Buddhas who manifest as Bodhisattvas[4]. In this category we find Avalokitesvara[5], Mahasthamaprapta[6], Samantabhadra, Manjusri, Maitreya, and many others. While Avalokitesvara (Kannon in Jap) and Mahasthamaprapta (Seishi in Jap) are the two Bodhisattvas who accompany Amida Buddha, the other three, Samantabhadra[7], Manjusri[8]and Maitreya, were also assembled at the Vulture Peak when Shakyamuni preached the Larger Sutra:

“Mahayana bodhisattvas also accompanied the Buddha, including all those of this Auspicious Kalpa, such as the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra, the Bodhisattva Manjusri and the Bodhisattva Maitreya. There were also the sixteen lay bodhisattvas, such as Bhadrapala, as well as the Bodhisattva as well as Bodhisattva Profound Thought, Bodhisattva Wisdom of Faith, Bodhisattva Emptiness, Bodhisattva Bloom of Supernatural Power, Bodhisattva Hero of Light, Bodhisattva Superior Wisdom, Bodhisattva Banner of Wisdom, Bodhisattva Tranquil Ability,Bodhisattva Wisdom of Vows, Bodhisattva Sweet-smelling Elephant, Bodhisattva Hero of Treasures, Bodhisattva Dwelling in the Center, Bodhisattva Practice of Restraint, and Bodhisattva Emancipation.[9]
About them the sutra says:
“With such roots of virtue, all the Bodhisattvas in the assembly had reached theshore of Emancipation (Enlightenment/Buddhahood). They had acquired the Buddha's immeasurable merit and attained the sacred, pure and inconceivable wisdom. Innumerable Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas, such as these assembled there all at once.”[10]
As we clearly see in the above quote taken from the 1st and 2nd sections of the Larger Sutra, the three Bodhisattvas, Samantabhadra, Manjusri and Maitreya, the other sixteen lay Bodhisattvas and in fact,” all the Bodhisattvas in the assembly”, already attained Enlightenment - "had reached the shore of Emancipation".
The whole section two of this sutra describes the virtues of the Bodhisattvas in the audience. Thus, each one of them follows ad infinitum the same pattern as Siddharta Gautama who became Shakyamuni Buddha, that is, they are Buddhas who manifest as Bodhisattvas.  It is like the story of Shakyamuni Buddha repeats itself over and over again in all universes:
He first dwells for some time in the Tusita heaven[11]where Maitreya is now dwelling - "first dwelling in the Tusita Heaven, He proclaims the true Dharma", and then, “…having left the heavenly palace, He descends into His mother's womb. Soon after He is born from her right side, He takes seven steps. As He does so, an effulgence illuminates everywhere in the ten quarters and innumerable Buddha-lands shake in six ways. Then He utters these words, ‘I will become the most Honoured One in the world.’" [12]
After a childhood and youth filled with various achievements and pleasures He "encounters old age, sickness and death", and "He realizes the impermanence of the world". Then He "renounces His kingdom, wealth and throne, and goes into the mountains to practice the Way. After sending back the white horse that He has been riding, together with the jewelled crown and ornaments which He has been wearing, He takes off his magnificent clothes and puts on a Dharma robe. He cuts His hair and shaves His beard, sits upright under a tree and strives at ascetic practices for six years in accord with the traditional way".[13]
After realizing the futility of the ascetic practices He washes himself in the river, eats moderately and then He takes a sit under the Bodhi tree "with His legs crossed". Then "He emits a great flood of light to inform Mara of this. Mara and his army come to attack and tempt him, but He brings them under control with the power of wisdom and makes them all surrender. Then He attains the supreme Dharma and realizes the highest, perfect Enlightenment".[14]
After this attainment of Enlightenment, exactly like Shakyamuni in our present world, He goes on teaching the Dharma, thus guiding others to the attainment of freedom from birth and death:"[…] destroys wrong views, removes afflictions, flushes the gutters of desire, protects the Dharma-castle, opens the Dharma-gate, washes off the grime of the passions, and reveals the pure white Dharma. He unifies everything in the Buddha Dharma, and thus proclaims the right teaching".[15]
And at the end of His physical body, He "demonstrates that He passes into Nirvana"[16], or in other words, He puts on the show of disappearing into the non-comprehensible state of beyond form and non-form, but in reality, according to the Larger Sutra, He "endlessly brings sentient beings to emancipation"[17], which means that His activities in various manifestations continue in other places of the universe, where He starts again the same story. The sutra says:
"Just as a magician with his perfect skill can create at will various illusions, including images of man or woman, at will, so the Bodhisattva, having thoroughly learned all the methods of emancipation and attained serene awareness of reality, can freely teach and transform beings. He manifests himself everywhere in innumerable Buddha-lands, performing acts of compassion for sentient beings, tirelessly and with diligence".[18]Simply stated, let’s imagine that you, the reader of these lines, are a Buddha and I, Josho, am a stupid unenlightened person, which I am, of course :) You attained Enlightenment many kalpas ago, in the distant past, but because you have Compassion for Josho and other beings of this earth, you decided to manifest yourself here. If Josho is attached to his own personal power, then you need to show Josho that a person like himself can become a Buddha and in order to encourage him to start practicing you take the appearance of a person who is unenlightened and who passes through the same difficulties like him. So, you play this game for Josho because his mind cannot be convinced in another way. After “many struggles” you attain Enlightenment and thus prove to Josho that it’s possible for him too, to become enlightened. Josho is thus encouraged to start practicing, thinking that if you, his friend or teacher, struggled and attained it, then he can do this, too. Also, if Josho or others become deeply aware of their own limitations and incapacity to become a Buddha like you, in the present life, and because indeed most of the people from your time and especially after you leave your physical body, will be incapable to attain Enlightenment in their present life, you start teaching to them Amida’s method of salvation. Because you are a Buddha, your listeners will trust your various teachings and follow them. But what they and Josho do not know is that you were Enlightened from the very beginning of your life in their realm and that all your years spent among them were just a skilful mean for them and others to entrust to you and to your teaching.[19]You can find a similar explanation in the Lotus Sutra, too, where Shakyamuni described himself as a Buddha who actually attained Enlightenment many eons ago and who plays this game many times for the sake of unenlightened beings[20]. We should also remember that Shinran Shonin regarded Shakyamuni Buddha as a manifestation of Amida Buddha in human form (Nirmanakaya):
“Amida, who attained Buddhahood in the infinite past,
Full of compassion for foolish beings of the five defilements,
Took the form of Sakyamuni Buddha
And appeared in Gaya”[21]
So, these are the Mahayana Bodhisattvas who gathered to listen to the Larger Sutra together with “twelve thousand monks, all great sages who had already attained supernatural powers”. Certainly, such great beings who witnessed the teaching presented that day on the Vulture Peak have always been promoting and protecting its transmission to later generations.
Shakyamuni Buddha entrusting the
Larger Sutra to MaitreyaHowever, the special character who has been entrusted by Shakyamuni with the transmission of this sutra is Bodhisattva Maitreya as we will see at section 33. In accordance with my above explanations, there are two ways of speaking about Him. One is the usual, provisional way, in which He plays the role of the future Buddha of our age and successor to Shakyamuni, and the other is the true way, as a Buddha who assumes many other roles in the various worlds of the ten directions, beside the one He plays in our world.
The provisional way is well represented by Shinran who said that we, people who have faith in Amida, are in the same stage as Maitreya in the sense that we are also assured of becoming Buddhas in the next life with the difference that we don’t need to wait bilions of years like Maitreya and that we entered this stage through the Power of Amida. Of course, for us is also the first time we become Buddhas, as we are not yet Enlightened, so we are not playing any role until we are actually born in the Pure Land. This provisional way is also presented in various sutras when He is described without further explanations, as the successor to Shakyamuni. In this role He manifested in Tusita heaven[22]and will be born in human form in our universe and simulate the attainment of Enlightenment, just like the rest of the Bodhisattvas in the audience do in many other worlds.
The true way of speaking about Maitreya is represented by the following passage from The Question of Maitreya Sutra:
“Ananda, when the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Maitreya was formerly engaged in the conduct of a bodhisattva (when He was a bodhisattva in aspiration), because the vehicle is easy, the entry is easy, and the path is easy, He perfectly accomplished supreme, perfect Enlightenment. Ananda, when the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Maitreya was formerly engaged in the conduct of a bodhisattva he did not let go of his arms, legs, or marrow. He did not renounce and let go of his spouse, or his child, village, town, city, royal palace, or retinue. But Ananda, when the Bodhisattva Mahasttva Maitreya was formerly engaged in the conduct of a bodhisattva, because He fully embraced skilful means, through the easy vehicle, the easy entry, and the easy path, He accomplished supreme, perfect Enlightenment”.
When further asked by Ananda how Maitreya attained Enlightenment, Shakyamuni explained that unlike himself, who chose a hard way of various sacrifices, Maitreya followed a somewhat easier path of devotion towards all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, confessing His negative actions in front of them, rejoicing in other meritorious deeds, entreating the bodhisattvas in aspiration to attain Enlightenment and then benefit all beings, making aspirations to fulfil the six perfections, etc[23]. Also, in section 33 of the Larger Sutra, Shakyamuni said:
“Maitreya, you should know that you have, for innumerable kalpas, been perfecting the bodhisattva practices to save sentient beings. Incalculable indeed is the number of beings who under your guidance have attained the Way and reached Nirvana. From time immemorial, you and all the devas and humans in the ten directions and the four groups of followers have been floundering in the five realms of samsara, undergoing indescribable troubles and afflictions. Until you were born in this life, you, too, underwent endless cycles of birth and death.”[24]
The last sentence is the key of the fragment and should be read as follows – until He attained Enlightenment (“until you were born in this life”) and became a Buddha who manifests as a Bodhisattva, He too was subject to “endless cycles of birth and death”. This is extremely important as it shows that the “endless cycles of birth and death” are something of the past for Maitreya who is now ready to take the place of Shakyamuni in the role of teaching the Amida Dharma to future generations, doing what all Enlightened Bodhisattvas do as explained in section 2 of this sutra. The words“born in this life” means to become a Buddha free of birth and death, a permanent dweller in perfect Nirvana as only somebody who already attained Nirvana can guide others to reach Nirvana – “incalculable indeed is the number of beings who under your guidance have attained the Way and reached Nirvana”.
to be continued 


[1] The ten bhumis are the ten stages on the Mahayana bodhisattva's path to Buddhahood. The Avatamsaka Sutra refers to the following ten bhūmis: 1) the Very Joyous (Skt. pramuditā), 2) the Stainless (Skt. vimalā), 3) the Light-Maker (Skt. prabhākarī), 4) the Radiant Intellect (Skt. arciṣmatī), 5) the Difficult to Master (Skt. sudurjayā), 6)  the Manifest (Skt. abhimukhī), 7) the Gone Afar (Skt. dūraṃgamā), 8) the Immovable (Skt. acalā), 9) the Good Intelligence (Skt. sādhumatī), 10) the Cloud of Doctrine (Skt. dharmameghā). The Seeker's Glossary of Buddhism, Sutra Translation Committee of the United States and Canada. The Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation/Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc., Taipei, 2nd ed. pp.759-760 [2] For example, in the Ojoraisan, Master Shan-tao himself presented Avalokitesvara as already enlightened:
“Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, out of great compassion,Does not stay in the Bodhi (Enlightenment) which He has already realized.Enfolding all the five states of samsaric existence in His bodily light,He observes beings at six times of a day and responds to their needs with three kinds of act.The light of His body of response is the colour of purple gold;His majestic physical characteristics are limitlessly superb.Extending always a hundred kotis of illuminating hands,He embraces all who are karmically related to Him and takes them  to the home country of Amida”
(Shan-tao’s Liturgy for Birth – Ojoraisan, compiled by Master Shan-tao, annotated translation by Zuio Hisao Inagaki, edited by Doyi Tan, Singapore, 2009, p.90-91)
Certainly Master Shan-tao was well aware of the Mahayana view of great Bodhisattvas who already attained perfect Enlightenment, and became Buddhas. Also, in the Great Compassion Dharani Sutra (Maha Karuna Dharani Sutra), Avalokitesvara is again presented as an ancient Buddha who manifests as Bodhisattva:
“Then, Ananda asked the Buddha: "Bhagavan, what is the name of this Bodhisattva-Mahasattva, who is so good to teach us this Dharani?"
The Buddha said: "This Bodhisattva is called Avalokitesvara, the Unrestricted One, also called Nipping a Lariat, also called A Thousand Bright Eyes. Virtuous man, this Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva has unimaginable mighty and holy powers. Uncountable kalpas before, He had already been a Buddha named True Dharma Brightness Tathagata. Because of the power of His great compassionate vows, and in order to call upon all Bodhisattvas to comfort and please all living beings, He appears as a Bodhisattva. All of you, including the Bodhisattvas, Brahmas, Gods of the 33 heavens, dragons, and divinities, should show respect to Him, do not despise Him.”(English translation at this link, https://huntingtonarchive.org/resources/downloads/sutras/05bodhisattvaYana/Great%20Compassion%20Dharani%20Sutra.doc.pdf) [3] The four Bodhisattva vows are: 1. no matter how perfect a Buddha would be, I vow to become like Him, 2. no matter how profound the Dharma (the teaching) would be, I vow to fully understand it all, 3. no matter how numerous the passions would be, I vow to conquer them all, 4. no matter how numerous the beings would be, I vow to save them all.[4] When you read verses about great Bodhisattvas who postpone their own attainment of Enlightenment until all beings enter Nirvana, you should know it refers to the profound truth that their Enlightenment has no trace of ego, and that the Nirvana they already attained is not a personal Nirvana (they did not attain it for themselves), but a continuous awareness of the suffering of others and a constant effort to save them.  It means they will not disappear or remain hidden in Nirvana until all beings also attain Nirvana.  How else can it be, when a Buddha has Infinite Wisdom and Infinite Compassion? It is something natural for a Buddha to immediately return to Samsara, in many forms, to help all unenlightened beings, while retaining His Nirvanic state of mind as without it He cannot actually save anybody because no one can lead others to a place (Nirvana) that oneself has not attained it. The aspiration of the Bodhisattva Path is to become a Buddha for all beings, so once a Bodhisattva actually becomes a Buddha, He will continue to manifest in Samsara, taking up various forms, from the highest to the lowest, and going to all the worlds and universes to turn the wheel of Dharma. Thus, He plays again and again the skilful game of a beginner who leaves family, starts practicing, and finally attains Enlightenment, doing all these in order to encourage beings in various worlds to practice the Dharma themselves. [5] See footnote 4 of this chapter. [6] Mahasthamaprapta too, the other companion of Amida, is also an Enlightened Bodhisattva, as He presented himself in Suranghama Sutra, when Shakyamuni asked all the Bodhisattvas in the audience to explain the methods they used for attaining Enlightenment:
"The Dharma Prince Mahastamaprapta (Great Strength), together with fifty-two fellow Bodhisattvas, arose from their seats, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha:

'I remember when, as many eons ago as there are sand grains in the Ganges River, a Buddha called Limitless Light appeared in the world. During that same eon, there were twelve successive Tathagatas, the last of whom was called Light Surpassing the Sun and the Moon Buddha. Those Buddhas taught me the Buddha-Mindfulness Samadhi:
Suppose there are two people, one of whom always remembers the other, while the other has entirely forgotten about the first one. Even if these two people were to meet or see each other, it would be the same as not meeting or seeing each other. On the other hand, if two people develop intense memories for one another, then in life after life, they will be together like an object and its shadow, and they will never be separated. The Tathagatas of the ten directions are tenderly mindful of living beings just like a mother remembering her son. But if the son runs away, of what use is the mother's concern? However, if the son remembers his mother in the same way that the mother remembers her son, then in life after life mother and son will never be far apart. If living beings remember the Buddha and are mindful of the Buddha, they will certainly see the Buddha now and in the future. Being close to the Buddha, even without the aid of expedients, their hearts will open of themselves. That is like a person who, once perfumed by incense, carries the fragrance on his body. That is called the adornment of fragrance and light.
On the causal ground (when a bodhisattva in aspiration/not yet enlightened[6]), I used mindfulness of the Buddha (focus on Amida Buddha/saying of His Name in faith). Now in this world I gather in all those who are mindful of the Buddha (Amida Buddha), and I bring them to the Pure Land.(English translation: http://www.fodian.net/world/shurangama.html#rememberBuddha)[7] Samantabhadra appears in some tantras of Vajrayana (Esoteric) Buddhism as the name of the awakened Buddha nature, being depicted sky-blue in color and naked meaning that He is beyond any concept. In the ninth chapter of the Tantra of the Great Perfection That Shows the Penetrating Wisdom of Samantabhadra, He says about himself:
“I, Samantabhadra, recognized from the beginning the nature of the ground - free from cause and condition [...]My emanations are unceasing. I manifest inconceivable billions according to the needs of beings to be trained. [...] All beings of the three realms and I, the primordial Buddha, share the same basic nature. This nature for them, however, becomes the ground of confusion and they engage in the six pointless actions like delusions in a dream. I am the primordial Buddha who tames the six types of beings through my emanations.”(English translation: https://www.bodhicittasangha.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Prayer-of-Samantabhadra.pdf)
To recognize “from the beginning the nature of the ground” means to have always dwell in the ultimate Buddha nature, no matter what forms He may manifest for the sake of unenlightened beings. In the context of our Pure Land teaching we should read the words “the primordial Buddha” in the sense that this Buddha nature in which Samantabhadra dwells has no beginning and no end. When we attain Buddhahood, we’ll also dwell in the primordial Buddha-nature and in the same time manifest everywhere “according to the needs of beings to be trained”. [8] In the Surangama Samadhi Sutra, Manjushri is presented as an ancient Buddha who attained Buddhahood in the past, but who continues to re-manifest as a Bodhisattva:
“’At that time the elder Mahakasyapa addressed the Buddha, "World-Honored One, I suggest that Dharma Prince Manjusri has already been a Buddha in a past life. He has himself sat in the seat of Enlightenment and turned the Wheel of the Dharma, and He has manifested entry into Parinirvana to sentient beings.’ The Buddha said, ‘Thus it is, thus it is.It is as you have spoken, Kasyapa. Long in the distant past, an immeasurable and innumerable [number of] inconceivable immeasurable eons ago, there was a Buddha who was called Paragon of the Dragons [as well as by the ten titles] Tathagata, He Who Should Receive Offerings, Of Correct and Universal Understanding, Sufficient in Wise Practice, Well-Gone, He Who Understands the World, the Unsurpassed One, He Who Disciplines Humans, Teacher of Humans and Gods, and WorldHonored Buddha. A thousand Buddha lands south of this world, there was a country called Universal Equivalence, which had neither mountains nor rivers, neither stones nor rocks, and neither hills nor dales. The land there was as flat as the palm of one's hand, and on it grew a soft grass, like that in Kalinga. When Paragon of the Dragons Buddha attained unsurpassable and perfect Enlightenment and first turned the Wheel of the Dharma in that world, He created an assembly of seven billion Bodhisattvas through His teaching. Eight billion people became Arhats, and ninety-six thousand people resided as Pratyekabuddhas [lit., resided within the dharmas of the causes and conditions of Pratyekabuddhas]. Afterward, there were also an immeasurable number of Sravaka monks.Kasyapa, the life span of Paragon of the Dragons Buddha was four million four hundred thousand years, during which time He saved humans and gods and then entered into Nirvana. His physical relics were divided and distributed around the world, and there were erected thirty-six hundred-million stupas, at which sentient beings made offerings to Him. After that Buddha died, the Dharma remained for ten thousand years. When Paragon of the Dragons Buddha was about to enter Nirvana, He conferred a prediction [of future Enlightenment] on Brilliance of Wisdom Bodhisattva, saying, 'After I am gone, this Brilliance of Wisdom Bodhisattva will achieve unsurpassable and perfect Enlightenment. He will again be called Brilliance of Wisdom [Buddha].' Kasyapa, could that Paragon of the Dragons Buddha of the world Universal Equivalence be anyone else? You must have no doubt! Why? It was none other than Manjusri, the Dharma prince.”(Surangama Samadhi Sutra, translated into Chinese by Kumarajiva, English translation by John McRae, BDK English Tripitaka 25-II, 25-III, Numata Center for Translation and Research, Berkeley, California, 1998, p.79-80)[9] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.3[10] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.7[11] All those who become great Buddhas spend their prior life in the Tusita Heaven.[12] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.4[13] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.4[14] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.4-5[15] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.5[16] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.5[17] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.5[18] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.5-6[19] When you read verses about great Bodhisattvas who postpone their own attainment of Enlightenment until all beings enter Nirvana, those refer to the profound truth that their Enlightenment has no trace of ego, and that the Nirvana they attained is not a personal Nirvana (they did not attain it for themselves), but a continuous awareness of the suffering of others and a constant effort to save them.   How else can it be, when a Buddha has Infinite Wisdom and Infinite Compassion? It is something natural for a Buddha to immediately return to Samsara, in many forms, to help all unenlightened beings, while retaining His Nirvanic state of mind. The aspiration of the Bodhisattva Path is to become a Buddha for all beings, so once a Bodhisattva actually becomes a Buddha, He will continue to manifest in Samsara, taking up various forms, from the highest to the lowest, and going to all the worlds and universes to turn the wheel of Dharma. Thus, He plays again and again the skilful game of a beginner who leaves family, starts practicing, and finally attains Enlightenment, doing all these in order to encourage beings in various worlds to practice the Dharma themselves.  We who entrust to Amida Buddha will also become such active Buddhas who manifest as Bodhisattvas after we are born in His Pure Land, after death. This is what Amida promised in His 22nd Vow, and this is the meaning of the term "bodhisattva" from that vow. [20] “The devas, humans, and asuras in all the worlds all think that the present Buddha, Śhakyamuni, left the palace of the Sakyas, sat on the terrace of Enlightenment not far from the city of Gaya, and attained highest, complete Enlightenment. However, O sons of a virtuous family, immeasurable, limitless, hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis of nayutas of kalpas have passed since I actually attained Buddhahood. […]Since then I have constantly been residing in the Saha world, teaching the Dharma and inspiring sentient beings. I have also been leading and benefiting sentient beings in incalculable hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis of nayutas of other worlds.”The Lotus Sutra, chapter 16  (Taishō Volume 9, Number 262), translated from the Chinese of Kumarajiva by Tsugunari Kubo and Akira Yuyama, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research,  2007, p223-224 [21] Hymns of the Pure Land - The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.349 In Shinran’s day, Gaya – the place where Shakyamuni attained Enlightenment – was sometimes confused with Kapilavastu, his birthplace (note of the translator).[22] Each universe has its own Tusita heaven and other heavens of the gods, as well as human realms, demigods, animals, pretas and hells. Maitreya is now residing in the Tusita heaven of our Saha universe. [23] “Then the venerable Ananda asked, ‘Blessed One, what were the skillful means to which the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Maitreya adhered, thus accomplishing supreme, perfect Enlightenment?’The Blessed One replied, ‘Ananda, when formerly the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Maitreya engaged in the conduct of a bodhisattva (when He was a bodhisattva in aspiration), He would drape His shawl over one shoulder, set His right knee on the ground, and put the palms of His hands together three times during the day and three times during the night. Making all the Buddhas visible, He would then speak to them in these words:“ ‘Homage to all the Buddhas! Homage to the bodhisattvas, those sages with the divine eye, and to the Sravakas, too.Homage to the mind of Enlightenment which reverses all negative rebirths, shows the path to higher rebirths, and leads beings to the state without aging or death.Whatever negative actions I have done under the influence of mind, here in the presence of the Buddhas I confess them.Whatever accumulation of merit I have produced through the three kinds of action, may it be the seed of my omniscience and inexhaustible Enlightenment.Whatever offerings to the Buddhas arise in all realms throughout the ten directions, the Buddhas know and rejoice in them, and at that I myself rejoice.I confess all negative actions. I rejoice in all meritorious acts. I pay homage to all the Buddhas. May I attain supreme awareness! I exhort the bodhisattvas of all ten directions who abide on the ten bodhisattva levels to attain supreme Enlightenment.May they become truly Enlightened Buddhas, overcoming negative influences of every kind, and then, to benefit living beings, may they turn the wheel of the Dharma.Through the sound of the great Dharma drum, may they bring the suffering of sentient beings to an end. For unimaginable millions of eons,may they teach the Dharma and continue to remain in this world.I beg you, best of all humans, look upon those who are trapped in the swamp of desire, and tightly bound by the cords of craving, fettered in every kind of bond.Buddhas, do not belittle those whose minds are defiled, but with loving intent toward all sentient beings, save them from the sea of existence.May I train in the footsteps of the perfect Buddhas- those present now, those of the past, and those of the future, and may I engage in the conduct of the bodhisattvas.May I complete the six perfections and liberate beings of the six realms. May I realize the six supernormal powers and reach supreme Enlightenment.Unproduced and non-arising, without self-nature or location, neither mental cognition, nor substance - may I realize the teaching of emptiness.Just like the Buddha, the great sage, may I realize the teaching of non-self: a sentient being does not exist, nor does a living being, nor does an individual, or a person.May I not dwell on there being anything substantial, a belief in a self, or what I take to be mine, but in order to make all sentient beings happy, may I give everything away without miserliness.Since material objects do not really exist, may my wealth be spontaneously accomplished. Since all material objects decay, may I complete the perfection of generosity.Possessing conduct that is flawless, conduct that is perfect, and conduct that is without arrogance, may I complete the perfection of moral conduct.Like the elements of earth, water, fire, and wind, not dwelling on anything, with patience and free of anger, may I complete the perfection of patience.Through assiduous application of diligence, may I have constant enthusiasm without laziness, and with strength of body and mind, may I complete the perfection of diligence.Through magic-like meditative concentration, meditative concentration of bravery, and vajra-like meditative concentration, may I complete the perfection of meditation.Actualizing the three gates to liberation, the sameness of the three times, and the threefold knowledge, may I complete the perfection of wisdom.May I be praised by all the Buddhas, and blaze with light and splendor; through the diligence of a bodhisattva,may my intention be fulfilled.
Thus engaging in such conduct, may I, who am known as Maitreya, complete the six perfections and dwell on the ten bodhisattva levels.’‘Ananda, those are the skillful means through which the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Maitreya, by adhering to them, through the easy vehicle, the easy entry, and the easy path, perfectly accomplished supreme, perfect, and complete Enlightenment.’”The Question of Maitreya Sutra, (Skr. Ārya­maitreya­paripṛcchā­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra, Tib.’phags pa byams pas zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo), translated from Tibetan by Karen Liljenberg under the patronaje and supervision of 84,000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, http://read.84000.co/translation/UT22084-044-005.html[24] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.52

10. The 48 vows of Amida Buddha – commentary on section 7 of the Larger Sutra - Oct 4, 2019 9:01:00 AM

the cover of the first edition of
 my book on the 48 Vows- this is the revised explanation of the 48th Vows of Amida Buddha which will be used in my commentary on the Larger Sutra (click here to go the whole commentary) -
At the moment Dharmakara became Amida Buddha, His 48 vows and His Pure Land became real and effective methods for the salvation of sentient beings. For a better understanding, I arranged them in four categories. The highlighted numbers represent a vow that has been revised. Click on it to read the revised explanations. 

1. Vows about Amida Buddha and His Pure Land (vows 12, 13, 31, 32)
2. Vows related to the salvation of all sentient beings     (vows 11, 17, 18,  19, 20, 22, 33, 35)
 3.   Vows explaining the characteristics, the capacities and activities of beings who attained Enlightenment in the Pure Land after being born there. These beings are sometimes called humans and devas in my land, shravakas in my land or bodhisattvas in my land.(vows 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15,16,21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 38, 39, 40, 46)
Vows related to bodhisattvas in other lands (not yet born in the Pure Land                          (vows 34, 36, 37, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 47, 48)
When explaining these vows I will sometime mention the passages in the sutra that, according to Shinran, prove they were brought to fulfillment after Dharmakara attained Buddhahood and became Amida Buddha.



11. Vows related with bodhisattvas in other lands (not yet born in the Pure Land) - Oct 1, 2019 12:21:00 PM


Revised on October 1st, 2019 for my commentary on the Larger Sutra
The following vows refer mainly to highly advanced bodhisattvas in aspiration from various worlds who entrust to Amida Buddha and say His Name in faith, wishing to be born in His Land.  They are already on one of the ten bodhisattva stages (bhumis) and very close to Enlightenment, but still not enlightened. Because they entrust to Amida and are in accord with His Primal Vow - in their case, hearing the Name of Amida means to hear and entrust, to hear with faith and to say Amida’s Name in faith, they will too be born in His Pure Land by transformation (“true fulfilled land/”center” of the Pure Land) where they will attain perfect Enlightenment[1]. The difference between them and us is that they are already very advanced on the Buddhist path and very close to Enlightenment while we are the lowest of the low in terms of spiritual evolution and the similarity is that we both entrust to Amida and dwell in the stage of non-retrogression for entering the Pure Land and attainment of Enlightenment there. However, because their spiritual capacities are already extremely high in comparison with ours and their senses very much purified, when they entrust to Amida and say His Name in faith they automatically receive more benefits than us, ordinary people. These benefits are explained in this category of vows.
I begin with the 34th Vow which does not specifically mention the word “bodhisattvasin the lands of the other directions”, but is clearly referring to them: 
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten directions, who have heard my Name, should not gain the bodhisattva's insight into the non-arising of all dharmas and should not acquire various profound dharanis, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[2](the 34th Vow)
Sentient beings who are already highly advanced bodhisattvas in aspiration, by hearing the Name of Amida (entrust to Amida and say His Name in faith), attain “insight into the non-arising of all dharmas” even before entering the Pure Land.  
When the word “dharma” is used with small “d” it refers to all existence and phenomena in general. So, a superior bodhisattva who is not yet in the Pure Land, but hears and accepts the Name of Amida, suddenly realizes fundamental truths about the phenomenal existence. The “insight into the non-arising of all dharmas” is the spiritual awakening in which one recognizes that from the perspective of ultimate reality, nothing really arises or perishes. 
The Dharanis are powerful mystic phrases. To “acquire various profound dharanis” means to know them by heart and to benefit automatically from their power just by saying Amida’s Name in faith. Why is that? Because the Name of Amida which is praised by all Buddhas is the most powerful and contains the infinite merits of all practices and sacred formulas. Thus, by saying Amida’s Name in faith one automatically receives the merits (virtues) of all practices and sacred formulas. Master  Ch’ing-wen, quoted by Shinran in his Kyogyoshinsho, said:                          " The Name of Amida’s Buddhahood is most distinguished as the embodiment of the perfectvirtues of myriad practices."[3]
Honen Shonin also said:
"All of the merits of the teachings, the meditative practices on the phenomenal aspect of reality and the noumenal principle, the unmatched power acquired through meditation and wisdom, the wisdom of inner realization, and the merit of external activities, as well as all of the virtues and undefiled Enlightenment of Tathagata Amida, Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, Bodhisattva Mahasthamaprapta, Bodhisattva Samanthabhadra, Bodhisattva Manjusri, Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, Nagarjuna, and the Bodhisattvas and Sravakas of the Pure Land are encompassed in the three characters of the Name of Amida (A MI DA). This being so, would there be any Dharma not included in the teaching for birth in the Pure Land?"[4]
We too, the lowest of the low who say the Name, also receive the infinite merits of Amida’s Name which contain all practices and sacred formulas, however, because we are not highly advanced on the spiritual path like Bodhisattvas on the ten stages, we cannot come to know all about them from this very life.
Also in the 48thVow, all the three insights related with the dharmas or phenomenal existence is mentioned:   “If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the lands of the other directions who hear my Name should not instantly gain the first, second and third insights into the nature of dharmas and firmly abide in the truths realized by all the Buddhas, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[5]
The three insights are explained by Shakyamuni in section 15 of this sutra as also being attained by beings already born in the Pure Land who see the Bodhi tree: “first insight into reality through hearing the sacred sounds; second, insight into reality by being in accord with it; and third, insight into the non-arising of all dharmas (as explained at 34thVow). These benefits are all bestowed by the majestic power of Amitayus (Amida), the Power of His Original (Primal) Vow, His perfectly fulfilled Vow, His clear and manifest Vow, His firm Vow, and His accomplished Vow”[6]
So, the truths about the nature of all phenomena (dharmas), which are “the truths realized by all the Buddhas” also become clear to the bodhisattvas on the ten stages who say Amida’s Name in faith and are in accord with His Primal Vow. As we, the lowest of the low, cannot understand such truths outside the Pure Land, we realize them upon being born there, while these highly advanced bodhisattvas realize them even before birth in the Pure Land. However, the cause of these benefits is the same for them and for us – the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha:
“these benefits are all bestowed by the majestic power of Amitayus, the Power of His Original (Primal) Vow, His perfectly fulfilled Vow, His clear and manifest Vow, His firm Vow, and His accomplished Vow”.
The attainment of the stage from which they cannot retrogress is especially mentioned in the 47th Vow:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the lands of the other direction who hear my Name should not instantly reach the Stage of Non-retrogression, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[7]
Here reference is made to bodhisattvas in aspiration without mentioning their spiritual capacities, so it refers to both ordinary people without any special qualities who wish to attain Buddhahood, as well as to practitioners more advanced on the Buddhist Path. Both categories have one thing in common – they hear Amida’s Name and say it in faith while aspiring to be born in His Pure Land, thus entering “instantly” in the stage of non-retrogression for birth in the Pure Land and attainment of Enlightenment there. This vow actually supports and confirms the first part of the 11th Vow. Faith or hearing the Primal Vow and the Name in faith is also confirmed by sections 46 and 47 of this sutra in which Shakyamuni speaks about non-retrogressive bodhisattvas in aspiration who will be born in the Pure Land through saying the Name of Amida in faith (hearing the Name).
Highly advanced Bodhisattvas who hear and accept Amida’s Name in faith also attain the Samadhi of “universal equality” (samantānugata), in which they can see the innumerable Buddhas, even before being born in the Pure Land and becoming Buddhas themselves. This is promised in the 45th Vow:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the lands of the other directions who hear my Name should not all attain the samadhi called 'universal equality' and, while dwelling therein, should not always be able to see all the immeasurable and inconceivable Tathagatas until those bodhisattvas, too, become Buddhas, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[8]
They also attain the Samadhi called ‘pure liberation’, as promised in the 42nd Vow:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the lands of the other directions who hear my Name should not all attain the samadhi called 'pure liberation' and, while dwelling therein, without losing concentration, should not be able to make offerings in one instant to immeasurable and inconceivable Buddhas, World-Honored Ones, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[9]
This Samadhi is related with the capacity to see in vision innumerable Buddhas, thus being able to make offerings to all of them in the same time.
The 37thVow states:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in the immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten directions who, having heard my Name, prostrate themselves on the ground to revere and worship me, rejoice in faith, and perform bodhisattva practices, should not be respected by all devas and people of the world, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[10]
In this case, hearing the Name is related with “rejoice in faith”. Such advanced bodhisattvas who may have the bodies of humans and devas, deserve the respect of all beings first and foremost because they say Amida’s Name in faith. Thus, even people who do not “perform bodhisattva practices”, but have a simple faith in Amida also deserve the respect of all devas and people of the world. This is also mentioned in the Contemplation Sutra where Shakyamuni compared them with lotus flowers even if they may be ordinary people:
“You should know that all who are mindful of that Buddha are like white lotus flowers among humankind; Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara and Bodhisattva Mahasthamaprapta become their good friends. They will sit in the seat of Enlightenment (after reaching the Pure Land) and be born into the family of the Buddhas”.[11]
It is important to understand that they are thus called because they say the Nembutsu of faith, and not because they perform bodhisattva practices, that is, not because they have high spiritual and moral capacities. So, the main point of this vow is not “bodhisattva practices”, but hearing the Name or saying the Name in faith which can be done by both ordinary people as well as highly advanced bodhisattvas in aspirations.
Shinran said: "'Hear the Name': is to hear the Name that embodies the Primal Vow. ‘Hear’ means to hear the Primal Vow and be free of doubt. Further, it indicates shinjin (faith)".[12]So, shinjin (faith) is something that both highly advanced bodhisattvas and ordinary people can equally receive. Some people of shinjin are already on the ten bodhisattva stages, being capable of profound moral and compassionate behaviour and with little traces of ego left, while others don’t have such high realizations. But both, if they have true faith, deserve the respect of all devas and all beings. Thus, we can say that the 37th vow can be placed in this category of bodhisattvas in other lands but in the same time it goes beyond it, referring in essence to all beings who entrust to Amida.
The promise that they will receive the infinite merits of Amida (“acquire stores of merits”), beside the merits they’ve already accumulated due to their dedication on the bodhisattva path is  contained in the 44th Vow, where it is also said that the joy of faith (“rejoice so greatly as to dance”) fills the hearts of such superior beings:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the lands of the other directions who hear my Name should not rejoice so greatly as to dance and perform the bodhisattva practices and should not acquire stores of merit, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[13]
In the 41stVow it is promised that such bodhisattvas who accept Amida’s Name in faith will never have imperfect bodies until they become Buddhas in the Pure Land:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the lands of the other directions who hear my Name should, at any time before becoming Buddhas, have impaired, inferior or incomplete sense organs, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”
It is important to understand that the superior bodhisattvas in aspiration mentioned above, even those on one of the ten bodhisattva stages, are no longer attached to their self power after receiving faith in Amida, but rely exclusively and completely on Him, saying His Name in faith, for their birth in the Pure Land. However, having fewer traces of ego than us they are capable of genuine moral behaviour, are more compassionate towards others and have various supernatural capacities like those mentioned in the above Vows. These spiritual achievements do not make them think they deserve more than others to be born in the Pure Land as they realize that birth there in the true fulfilled land of the Pure Land (“center” of the Pure Land) is due only to Amida’s Power.
However, there are two vows related with highly advanced bodhisattvas in aspiration who still cling to their personal power and do not actually wish to be born in the Pure Land at the moment, but who do receive some great benefits for their respectful attitude towards Amida’s Name. For example, in the 36th Vow it is promised that after their present life ends, such bodhisattvas will always be able to perform sacred practices until they attain Buddhahood. 
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten directions, who have heard my Name, should not, after the end of their lives, always perform sacred practices until they reach Buddhahood, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[14]
The expression “until they reach Buddhahood” is a proof that these bodhisattvas are spiritually advanced but they are not Buddhas yet. Also, as I said above, they do not wish to be born after death in the Pure Land, so in their case, to hear Amida’s Name is not accompanied by exclusive faith in Amida, exclusive saying of the Name and exclusive wish to be born in His Pure Land, but is only a respectful hearing of Amida’s enlightened activities. This respectful hearing is in itself a karmic cause which makes them never retrogress from their spiritual pursuit. They are bodhisattvas who hold Amida in high esteem, but are not in accord with His Primal Vow, being still attached to their merits and self-power, also doing other practices not related with Amida, so their hearing of Amida’s Name is not leading them to birth in His Pure Land, but only give them the benefit of never abandoning their spiritual practices, which they will follow “until they reach Buddhahood”.
Such bodhisattvas will always be born in noble families, that is, families of devout Buddhists, as “noble” means first and foremost to have the noble aspiration to attain Buddhahood for oneself and others, where they will have the proper conditions for going on with their Buddhist practices, as promised in the 43rdVow:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the lands of the other directions who hear my Name should not be reborn into noble families after their death, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[15]




[1] This was also the case of Avalokitesvara and Mahasthamaprapta about whom Shakyamuni said that“they had both performed bodhisattva practices in this world and, at the end of their lives, were born by transformation in that Buddha land” “(section 28). “At the end of their lives” means the end of their life as unenlightened beings, but not the end of their activities to enlighten sentient beings. On the contrary, after attaining Enlightenment in the Pure Land, bodhisattvas of superior capacities will be able to help all beings better than before. [2] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.18[3] Kyogyoshinsho (chapter II)– On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 51[4] Honen Shonin, Commentary on the Three Sutras of Pure Land Buddhism, The Promise of Amida Buddha - Honen's Path to Bliss; English translation of the Genko edition of the works of Honen Shonin - Collected Teachings of Kurodani Shonin: The Japanese Anthology (Wago Toroku), translated by Joji Atone and Yoko Hayashi, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2011, p.83[5] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.20[6] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.28-29[7] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.20[8] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.19-20[9] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.19[10] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.18[11] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.100[12] Shinran Shonin, Notes on Once-calling and Many-calling, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.474[13] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.19[14] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.18[15] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.19

12. Vows explaining the characteristics, the capacities and activities of beings who attained Enlightenment in the Pure Land after being born there - Sep 28, 2019 2:40:00 PM

Revised on September 27th, 2019 for my commentary on the Larger Sutra. 
 As I previously explained, beings born in the Pure Land are sometimes called “humans and devas (gods) in my land “, which doesn’t mean that in the Pure Land there are the six unenlightened realms of existence, namely the hells, hungry spirits, animals, humans, demigods (asuras) and gods. Shakyamuni himself explained in section 17 of this sutra that when the expression “humans and devas” in the Pure Land appears in this sacred discourse it is only in relation with the states of existence prior to their birth in the Pure Land:
“They are all of one form, without any differences, but are called 'heavenly beings' (devas) and 'humans' simply by analogy with the states of existence in other worlds. They are of noble and majestic countenance, unequaled in all the worlds, and their appearance is superb, unmatched by any being, heavenly or human. They are all endowed with bodies of Naturalness, Emptiness, and Infinity."[1]
To have the body of Naturalness, Emptiness and Infinity means that these people born in the Pure Land of Amida through the gate of the Primal Vow actually attained Buddhahood or supreme Enlightenment (Nirvana), as promised in the second part of the 11thVow.
That the Pure Land is an enlightened realm outside birth and death is also shown in the 1stVow of Amida Buddha:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, there should be in my land a hell, a realm of hungry spirits or a realm of animals, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[2]
The passages showing the fulfillment of the 1st Vow are mentioned in section 10:
“In that land there is no hell; neither are there realms of hungry ghosts or animals nor other adverse conditions.”[3]
and section 16:“Not even the names of the three realms of suffering are heard there, but only Nirvanic sounds of bliss. For this reason that land is called ‘Peace and Bliss’”.[4]

In the following vows the characteristics of beings born in the Pure Land are thoroughly explained:
The 2ndVow:“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should after death fall again into the three evil realms, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[5]
There is no retrogression, no falling again in the realms of samsara for those born after death in the Pure Land of Amida. They are forever safe and forever outside birth and death. The three evil realms (hells, hungry spirits and animals) are especially emphasized in this vow because people are normally very much afraid of being born there. So, they are encouraged to take refuge in Amida and wish to be born in His land in order to escape the danger of repeating the bad experiences of samsara.
The passage showing the fulfillment of the 2nd vow is in section 28:
“Those bodhisattvas will not be subject to rebirth in evil realms before they become Buddhas”.[6]
The 3rdVow:“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not all be the color of pure gold, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[7]  This is in close connection with the 4th Vow:“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not all be of one appearance, and should there be any difference in beauty, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[8]
Unenlightened beings in samsara have various forms and shapes, color and beauty. They differ greatly from one another and this is due to the different types of karma they inherit from past lives. But once they are born in the Pure Land and become Buddhas they are liberated from the shackles of karma and go beyond form, color and any differences. This is what is meant by “all be of one appearance”. To be of the color of pure gold means to have transcendent bodies of the qualities of Enlightenment.
Also, the 21stVow is another proof that those born in the Pure Land attained Buddhahood:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not all be endowed with the thirty-two physical characteristics of a Great Man, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[9]
A “Great Man” is an Enlightened Person, a Buddha. Whenever they manifest in the samsaric universes to do various Dharma activities like Shakyamuni, their bodies of Accommodation or Transformation (Nirmanakayas) will always have the thirty-two physical characteristics[10].
The passage showing the fulfillment of the 21st vow is in section 28:
“Ananda, the sentient beings born there all fully posses the thirty-two physical characteristics of a Great Man as well as perfect wisdom, with which they penetrate deeply into the nature of all dharmas (phenomena) [11]and reach their subtle essence. Their supernatural powers know no obstruction and their physical senses are sharp and clear”.[12]
The 5thVow:“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not remember all their former lives, not knowing at least the events that occurred during the previous hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of kalpas, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[13]
This is one of the main characteristics of someone who attained freedom from birth and death, thus becoming a Buddha, that he is able to know his previous lives when he was still unenlightened. Other qualities will be presented in the following vows. Again, the numerical expression “hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of kalpas” stands for infinite, so I will not explain it again with each vow.
The passage showing the fulfillment of the 5th Vow is in section 28 of the sutra:
“They can freely exercise supernatural powers and always remember their previous lives”.[14]
The 6thVow:“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not possess the divine eye of seeing at least a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddha-lands, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[15]
To see everything as we wish, and especially to see our former relatives and places they are born in the six realms and the forms they take in their new lives will be very useful in helping them.
This, together with the faculty of knowing the thoughts of all living beings, which is promised in the 8th Vow, will make us be aware of the mental states they have and know how to deal with them:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not possess the faculty of knowing the thoughts of others, at least those of all sentient beings living in a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddha-lands, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[16]
Traveling anywhere in an instant according to one’s wishes means we can always be together with any being we want to help, as promised in the 9th Vow:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not possess the supernatural power of travelling anywhere in one instant, even beyond a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddha-lands, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[17]
Also, because we are able to travel anywhere we can go even to other Buddha Lands, hear the teachings of Buddhas dwelling there and pay homage to them. But even without leaving the Pure Land we can hear with the “divine ear” the teachings of all Buddhas as promised in the 7th Vow:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not possess the divine ear of hearing  the teachings of at least a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddhas and should not remember all of them, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[18]

We will not only hear but also remember everything we heard from their teachings which is wonderful when we think that in the state we are now we can hardly remember even small things, not to mention the most important teachings.
Also, in the 10thVow it is said:“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should give rise to thoughts of self-attachment, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[19]
To be free of self-attachment is to go beyond limited visions of “I and others”, to perceive all beings with equanimity and non-discrimination. This is the same with having understood the emptiness of all phenomena. In section 30 of the sutra it is said:
“Whether going or coming, proceeding or remaining, their hearts are unattached, their acts are in accordance with their will and are unrestricted, and they have no thought of discrimination. In them there is no idea of self or others, no idea of compensation or dispute. With the heart of great Compassion to benefit all living beings and with tenderness and self-control, they bear no enmity or grudge against anyone[…]They are like the great earth, because they have no discriminative thoughts, such as pure or impure, beautiful or ugly. […] They are like the sky, because they have no attachments. […] They are like a flock of playful birds, because they do not store things. [….] They are like the vas sky, because their great Compassion reaches everywhere without discrimination. They have destroyed envy by not being jealous of the superiority of others. […] Thus they become lamps to the world and fields of supreme merit; they always become teachers and harbor no thought of discrimination, aversion or attachment”.[20]
As it is promised in the 16th Vow, no wrongdoing can be found in the beings born in the Pure Land:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should even hear of any wrongdoing, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[21]
This Vow does not imply that those born there do not know that suffering exists in samsara or that they don’t do anything to stop it, but in themselves, as Enlightened beings, no wrongdoing, blindness or suffering can be found. They can help others because they are forever free from all internal and external obstacles.
Because they have no attachments, no ignorance and no blind passions, perfect happiness is the natural condition of those born in the Pure Land, as it is promised in the 39th Vow:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not enjoy happiness and pleasure comparable to those of a monk who has exhausted all the passions, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[22]
Even the dressing garments that are promised (in the 38th Vow) to cover the transcendental bodies of the Enlightened persons in the Pure Land are not worldly clothes, but religious and Dharmic adornments, themselves a manifestation of pure karmic merits:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not obtain clothing, as soon as such a desire arises in their minds, and if the fine robes as prescribed and praised by the Buddhas should not be spontaneously provided for them to wear, and if these clothes should need sewing, bleaching, dyeing or washing, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[23](the 38th Vow)
However, no matter what words, names and other means accessible to us we use to describe the inhabitants of the Pure Land and the manifestations associated with them, we cannot really succeed in understanding them at the level we are now as unenlightened beings, because, as the 27th Vow says, they are beyond description and are situated beyond our experience and even beyond the experience of gods.
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings should be able, even with the divine eye, to distinguish by name and calculate by number all the myriads of manifestations provided for the humans and devas in my land, which will be glorious and resplendent and have exquisite details beyond description, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[24](the 27th Vow)
Next, the 15thVow explains another very important point:“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should have limited life-spans, except when they wish to shorten them in accordance with their original vows, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment”.[25]
The passage showing the fulfillment of the 15th Vow is in section 12 of this sutra:
“So it is with the lifespan of sravakas, bodhisattvas, heavenly beings, and human beings in His Land. It is not to be encompassed by any means of reckoning or by any metaphorical expression”.[26]
Those born in the Pure Land are beyond death, so their Sambhogakaya (transcendent) bodies have unlimited life span. However, they can send many of their transformation bodies (nirmanakayas) who have a beginning and an end when they wish to terminate them, for various missions in the samsaric worlds. So, the expression “shorten their lives” is actually referring to the fact that they are not in the Pure Land for fun, but constantly work for the salvation of beings everywhere. Because they are enlightened, they can be in three places in the same time: 1) in Dharmakaya beyond form (Buddha-nature), 2) in the Pure Land in Sambhogakaya form and 3) in various places of samsara through multiple Nirmanakayas (transformantion/accommodation bodies) to benefit all beings.
The expression “in accordance with their original vows” also appears in the 22nd Vow: “those who wish to teach and guide sentient beings in accordance with their original vows”. This is a very important aspect that must be taken into consideration when discussing the state of beings born in the Pure Land through the gate of the Primal Vow. As I already explained in the chapter dedicated to the 22nd Vow, the “original vows” are in fact, the four main Bodhisattva vows and the vows of Samantabhadra – the guideline of an endless career of saving others after attaining Buddhahood in the Pure Land. This proves that the terms “humans and devas in my land” and “bodhisattvas in my land” are referring to the same type of beings – all those who are born in the Pure Land through the gate of the Primal Vow (the gate of simple faith in Amida) and who, after attaining Buddhahood there, return to samsara as Enlightened Bodhisattvas to save all beings.
There is also another term which describes those born in the Pure Land through the gate of the Primal Vow – “sravakas in my land” and it appears in the 14thVow:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, the number of the sravakas in my land could be known, even if all the beings and pratiekabuddhas[27]living in this universe of a thousand million worlds should count them during a hundred thousand kalpas, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment”. [28]
Usually “sravaka” is used in the Hinayana sense of a person who seeks to realize Nirvana for himself alone, but in this vow as well as in other parts of this sutra, it preserves its original meaning of “disciple” and “hearer”. So, it is promised that all beings born in the Pure Land are the personal disciples (sravaka) of Amida Buddha. Their number is infinite because they come to be born in the Pure Land from all the corners of the universe and will continue to do so in the infinite future. So again, there is no difference between “humans and devas in my land”, “bodhisattvas in my land” and “sravakas in my land”. These words refer to the same thing – us after we are born in the Pure Land through the Primal Vow and attain Enlightenment there.
The passages showing the fulfilment of the 14thVow are located in sections 12 and 13:
“Again, the number of sravakas and Bodhisattvas living there is incalculable.”[29]
“The number of Sravakas at the first teaching assembly of that Buddha was incalculable; so was the number of Bodhisattvas. Even if an immeasurable and countless number of humans multiplied by millions of koṭis should all become like Mahamaudgalyayana and together reckon their number during innumerable nayutas of kalpas, or even until they attain Nirvana, they still could not know that number. Let us suppose that there is a great ocean, infinitely deep and wide, and that one takes a drop of water out of it with a one-hundredth part of a split hair. How would you compare that drop of water with the rest of the ocean?”[30]
*
In my next explanations I will concentrate on the vows which mention the words “bodhisattvas in my land”. These vows are also an elaboration of various aspects already promised in the 22nd Vow. Thus, in the 23rdVow and the 24th, it is promised again, that beings who attain Buddhahood in the Pure Land of Amida, and will forever manifest themselves as Bodhisattvas, can go everywhere in the ten direction of the universe to make offerings to all Buddhas, praise them and worship them, out of gratitude for having been guided by them when they were unenlightened, as all Buddhas work to help beings to entrust to Amida and be born in His Pure Land.[31]:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in my land who would make offerings to Buddhas through my divine power, should not be able to reach immeasurable and innumerable kotis of nayutas of Buddha-lands in as short a time as it takes to eat a meal, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[32](23rd Vow)
The passage showing the fulfillment of the 23rd Vow is in section 28:
“By the Buddha’s power, Bodhisattvas of that land go to innumerable worlds of the ten directions, in as short a time as it takes to eat a meal, in order to pay homage and make offerings to the Buddhas and World Honored Ones.”[33]
The 24thVow promises:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in my land should not be able, as they wish, to perform meritorious acts of worshipping the Buddhas with the offerings of their choice, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.[34]
The passage showing the fulfillment of the 24th Vow is also in the section 28:
“If those Bodhisattvas so wish, countless and innumerable offerings, such as flowers, incense, music, silken canopies, and banners, spontaneously appear before them as soon as they are imagined. They are, accordingly, offered to the assemblies of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Sravakas[35]”.[36]
This is because the Enlightened Bodhisattvas of the Pure Land can see, clearly like looking into a mirror, all the Buddha lands of the ten directions, as promised in the 40th Vow:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas in my land who wish to see the immeasurable glorious Buddha-lands of the ten directions, should not be able to view all of them reflected in the jeweled trees, just as one sees one's face reflected in a clear mirror, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[37]
In the 25thVow, 29th,  and the 30thVow, it is promised that the Enlightened Bodhisattvas of the Pure Land will have unsurpassed and unlimited wisdom for instructing beings everywhere in accordance with their capacities:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in my land should not be able to expound the Dharma with the all-knowing wisdom, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[38] (25th Vow)
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in my land should not acquire eloquence and wisdom in upholding sutras and reciting and expounding them, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[39] (29th Vow)
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, the wisdom and eloquence of bodhisattvas in my land should be limited, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.“[40](30th Vow)
The passage showing the fulfilment of the 30thVow is in section 30 of this sutra:
“Although they observe with the eye of equality that the three worlds are empty and non-existent, they strive to learn the Buddha Dharma and acquire varied eloquence to rid living beings of affliction caused by the evil passions”.[41]
This aspect is also contained in the 22nd Vow where it is said that those born in the Pure Land will “enlighten uncountable sentient beings as numerous as the sands of the River Ganges, and establish them in the highest, perfect Enlightenment”.
They can also hear and learn spontaneously any type of teaching they wish, as promised in the 46th Vow:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in my land should not be able to hear spontaneously whatever teachings they may wish, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[42]
These Enlightened Bodhisattvas, that means us after being born in the Pure Land of Amida, are able to engage in saving and guiding sentient beings because they have manifestations (“bodies”) like the Vajra-god Narayana:Vajrapani
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, there should be any bodhisattva in my land not endowed with the body of the Vajra-god Narayana, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[43](26th Vow)
Vajra-god[44]Narayana is, in fact, Vajrapani (from Sanskrit vajra, "thunderbolt" or "diamond" and pani, lit. "in the hand")[45], one of the most important Enlightened Bodhisattvas of Mahayana pantheon and often associated with Esoteric Buddhism. He is the protector of Buddha Dharma, and represents the Power of all Buddhas. In Pure Land Buddhism we associate Him with Bodhisattva Mahasthamaprapta, one of the two companions of Amida Buddha.  They actually represent two aspects of the same Enlightened Being - Mahasthamaprapta is the peaceful form and Vajrapani is the fierce form. Just as Samantabhadra Bodhisattva (mentioned in the 22nd Vow) represents the endless saving activity of all Buddhas, Vajrapani as the fierce aspect of Mahasthamaprapta, represents the immense and all-surpassing Power of the Buddhas[46]. How wonderful it is that after we are born in the Pure Land we will be exactly like these two great Enlightened Bodhisattvas! Just like Samantabhadra we will always be active in samsara, and like Vajrapani we will be all-powerful!
And because Vajrapani is a protector of the Dharma, we too, will forever protect it and destroy wrong understandings. In the esoteric Buddhist iconography, Vajrapani is often depicted as a wrathful warrior[47] with His outstretched right hand brandishing a vajra and His left hand holding a lasso to bind demons. In some depictions, He wears a skull crown with His hair standing on end while in others He wears a five-pointed Bodhisattva crown to depict the power of the five major Buddhas (Vairocana, Akyobhya, Amida, Ratnasambhava, Amogasiddhi) and He has a third eye.
At the end of this chapter, I wish to explain the special case of the 28th Vow in which there is a strange usage of the term „bodhisattvas in my land” who have “little store of merit”:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in my land, even those with little store of merit, should not be able to see the Bodhi-tree which has immeasurable light in countless colors and is four million li in height, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[48]
This Vow refers to the previous states of existence of actual Enlightened Bodhisattvas from the Pure Land, when they were unenlightened bodhisattvas in aspiration, living in other realms. Although they were bodhisattvas of little personal merit, that is, not so much advanced on the Path, upon birth in the Pure Land and their attainment of Buddhahood, they also became able to see the Bodhi-tree of Amida Buddha. “Little store of merit” refers to their previous existence and “bodhisattvas in my land” refer to their actual state of Enlightened Bodhisattvas in the Pure Land.
The passage showing the fulfilment of this vow is in section 15:
“The Bodhi tree of Buddha Amitayus is four million li in height and five thousand yojanas in circumference at its base. Its branches spread two hundred thousand li in each of the four directions. It is a natural cluster of all kinds of precious stones and is adorned with the kings of jewels, namely, moonbright maṇi-gems and ocean-supporting wheel gems. Everywhere between its twigs hang jeweled ornaments with a thousand million different colors intermingling in various ways, and their innumerable beams shine with the utmost brilliance. The Bodhi tree itself is covered with nets of rare, excellent gems, and on it appear all kinds of ornaments in accordance with one’s wishes.”[49]




[1] The Three Pure Land Sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.31Shinran himself made reference to that passage in the Larger Sutra, in his work Passages on the Pure Land Way [REALIZATION]:“Further the sutra states:The words "human beings" and "devas" are used simply in accordance with the usage elsewhere. Their countenances are dignified and wonderful, surpassing things of this world. Their features, subtle and delicate, are not those of human beings or devas; all receive the body of naturalness  or of emptiness, the body of boundlessness.”[2] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.14[3]The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.24[4] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.30[5] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.14[6] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.42[7] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.14[8] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.14 [9] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.16[10] The 32 marks of physical excellence of a Buddha. They are: 1) protuberance on the head, 2) hair of the head is blue-black and curling from left to right, 3) even and broad forehead, 4) white tuft of hair between the eyebrows, 5) blue eyes, 6) forty teeth, 7) even and orderly teeth, 8) teeth close together, 9) white teeth, 10) ability of tasting any food as the best, 11) jaw like a lion’s, 12) long and thin tongue, 13) voice like Brahma’s, 14) well-framed shoulders, 15) seven prominent parts (i.e both hands, both feet, both shoulders, and the back), 16) both shoulders well filled out, 17) fine, golden skin, 18) arms reaching the knees when standing upright, 19) majestic upper part of the body like a lion’s, 20) body like a Nyagrodha tree in circumference, 21) a hair growing from each pore, 22) hair growing upwards and its point bending towards the right, 23) male organ hidden in the foreskin, 24) well-rounded thighs, 25) unprotuberant ankle-bone, 26) soft and tender hands and feet, 27) hands and feet with webs between fingers and toes, 28) long fingers, 29) soles bearing the mark of a thousand-spoked wheel, 30) both feet standing firm, 31) long and broad heels, and 32) calves like the shanks of the king of black antelopes. The Three Pure Land Sutras, A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Nagata Bunshodo, Kyoto, 1995, p. 418-419[11] When dharma appear with small “d” it refers to phenomena. When it appears with capital “D” it refers to the teaching of the Buddha.[12] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.41-42[13] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.14[14] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.42[15] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.14[16] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.15[17] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.15[18] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.14[19] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.15[20] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.43-45[21] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.15[22] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.19[23] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.18-19[24] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.17[25] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.15[26] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.26[27]Pratyekabuddha (“solitary Enlightened One”): A Hinayana (lower /small vehicle) sage, the Pratyekabuddha attains freedom from birth and death without the guidance of a teacher. He also does not teach others. It is considered bellow the Buddha of Mahayana. [28] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.15[29] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.26[30] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.26[31] In the 22nd Vow it is also promised that Bodhisattvas in the Pure Land will “make offerings to Buddha Tathagatas, throughout the ten directions”. [32] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.17[33] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.42[34] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.17[35] They are offered to Buddhas ruling those lands and to their Enlightened Asembly of Bodhisattvas and Sravakas (disciples). [36] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.42[37] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.19[38] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.17[39] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.17[40] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.17[41] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.44[42] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.20[43] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.17 [44] Here the word „god” is not used in the sense of a limited being who is karmically related to the realm of the gods, although sometimes Vajrapani can appear in the form of a guardian god. [45] In Japan, Vajrapani is known as Kongojin ("Diamond-hand) which manifests as two pair of muscular guardian deities of the Buddha Dharma often depicted at the entrance of Buddhist temples. Their names are Misshaku Kongo and Naraen Kongo. "Naraen" is the equivalent of Narayana from Sanskrit. [46] Also Avalokitesvara represents the great compassion of the Buddhas, Manjushri their wisdom, and Tara their miraculous deeds. [47] In Japan, Vajrapani is known as Kongojin (“Diamond-hand”).


[48] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.17[49] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.28

13. Returning from the Pure Land - explanation of the 22nd Vow of Amida Buddha - Sep 27, 2019 11:52:00 AM

Section from the Larger Amida Sutra Mandala. Samantabhadra is seen near
 the Shakyamuni Buddha on his white elephant.Maitreya and Manjushri are 
also depicted in the right and left of the Buddha.Revised on September 27th, 2019 for my commentary on the Larger Sutra. 
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the Buddha-lands of other directions who come and are born in  my land[1]should not ultimately and unfailingly reach the Stage of Becoming a Buddha after One More Life, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. Excepted are those who wish to teach and guide sentient beings in accordance with their original vows. For they wear the armour of great vows, accumulate merits, deliver all beings from birth and death, visit Buddha-lands to perform the bodhisattva practices, make offerings to Buddha Tathagatas, throughout the ten directions, enlighten uncountable sentient beings as numerous as the sands of the River Ganges, and establish them in the highest, perfect Enlightenment. Such bodhisattvas transcend the course of practice of the ordinary bodhisattva stages and actually cultivate the virtues of Samantabhadra”.[2]the 22nd Vow
The passage showing the fulfillment of the 22nd  Vow is in section 28 of this sutra:
“The Buddha said to Ananda, ‘All the Bodhisattvas in the land of Amitayus will ultimately attain the stage of becoming a Buddha after one more life. Excepted are those who have made original vows for the sake of sentient beings, resolving to cultivate the merit of realizing their great vows to save all sentient beings.’”[3]
The meaning of this great vow is that those who entered the Pure Land through the gate of Faith (Gate of the Primal Vow) and who immediately attained Buddhahood upon birth there (11thVow) will return as Enlightened Bodhisattvas (Buddhas who manifest as Bodhisattvas) to lead all beings to Enlightenment by continually playing in various universes the same role Shakyamuni had and Maitreya will have in our universe and/or by using other methods in accordance with the general bodhisattva vows and their specific vows and wishes. “Excepted” here means that some may chose to help beings to attain Enlightenment in other ways than playing the role of becoming a Buddha or that they actually apply multiple ways in the same time. For example, one may play the role of Shakyamuni in one universe and manifest as something else in another universe without even moving from the Pure Land. Multiple roles, methods and manifestations can be used to help others by those who are born in the Pure Land through the Gate of Faith (Gate of the Primal Vow), but all are in accordance with the “original vows” and “great vows” of the Bodhisattva Path. Also, while doing this activity of delivering beings from birth and death, they also visit Buddhas throughout the ten directions to assist them or make offerings to them in gratitude for having been guided by them when they were unenlightened, as all Buddhas work to help beings to entrust to Amida and be born in His Pure Land.
It is extremely important to know that attaining Buddhahood in the Pure Land means to automatically realize the Three Buddha Bodies (aspects). So, when we become perfectly enlightened Buddhas there we’ll have access to the ultimate reality beyond forms (Dharmakaya/Buddha nature), we’ll dwell forever in transcendent form (Sambhogakaya) in Amida’s Pure Land, and in the same time we’ll go in all the places of the universe in various Bodies of Accomodation or Transformation (Nirmanakayas) to save all beings, make offerings to or assist another Buddha in His Dharma work, or to take upon ourselves the role of a Buddha and turn the Wheel of Dharma in another universe or universes.
A key element in understanding this vow is the 2nd section of the sutra where I already explained the enlightened qualities of the Bodhisattvas in the audience (Maitreya, Majushri, Samantabhadra and others) when Shakyamuni delivered this sutra  and how they are working to save and guide sentient beings, so please study my comments on that section very carefully. As we read there, those Bodhisattvas are already Enlightened („all the Bodhisattvas in the assembly had reach the shore of Emancipation”), but continuously play the role of pretending to start on the Path, dwell in Tusita heaven like Shakyamuni and Maitreya, then descend into their mother womb, are born, take seven steps, leave palace, attain Enlightenment, teach various Dharma gates, then die and enter Parinirvana, only to start this again in another world ad infinitum while they never actually leave the Enlightened state, nor the world where they made Dharma activities. 
So, again, the “Stage of Becoming a Buddha after One More Life”, promised in the 22nd Vow, represents the capacity of those who attain Buddhahood in the Pure Land to endlessly manifest themselves in various places in the universe and become active Buddhas there for the sake of sentient beings. When we are born in the Pure Land we automatically gain the capacity to always playing the role of becoming Buddhas and teaching the Dharma like Shakyamuni himself.Shinran Shonin explained this in his Hymns of the Pure Land:
“Those who reach the Pure Land of happinessReturn to this evil world of the five defilements,Where, like the Buddha Shakyamuni,They benefit sentient beings without limit.”[4]
It’s a logical conclusion that only someone who already became a Buddha can play this role of always becoming a Buddha. Clearly, one who is only a bodhisattva in aspiration cannot do all these saving activities, and so, the 22nd Vow describes only what those who become Buddhas in the Pure Land will do. As Buddhas from the Pure Land, we will manifest ourselves as Bodhisattvas, that is, as Buddhas who do not remain secluded in their own Enlightenment, but continually take any role and form to help all beings.
Shakyamuni explains in section 2:
“Each of these Bodhisattvas, following the virtues of the Mahasattva Samantabhadra, is endowed with the immeasurable practices and vows of the Bodhisattva Path, and firmly dwells in all the meritorious deeds”.[5]
Also, the 22nd Vows says:
“Such Bodhisattvas transcend the course of practice of the ordinary bodhisattva stages and actually cultivate the virtues of Samantabhadra.”
So, the 22nd Vow clearly mentions that Bodhisattvas of the Pure Land are NOT ordinary bodhisattvas or bodhisattvas in aspiration and NOT even the highest bodhisattvas on the ten stages (bhumis), but Enlightened Bodhisattvas, that is, Buddhas who manifest as Bodhisattvas like Samantabhadra and others in the audience.
Now let’s take a look at the vows of the Bodhisattva Path. In Mahayana there are two main lists.
I.                   The four main Bodhisattva vows:
1. No matter how perfect a Buddha would be, I vow to become like Him.2. No matter how profound the Dharma (the teaching) would be, I vow to fully understand it all.3. No matter how numerous the passions would be, I vow to conquer them all.4. No matter how numerous the beings would be, I vow to save them all.
and
II.                The ten vows or pledges of Samantabhadra:
1. To pay homage and respect to all Buddhas. 2. To praise all the Buddhas. 3. To make abundant offerings. (i.e. give generously) 4. To repent misdeeds and evil karmas. 5. To rejoice in others' merits and virtues. 6. To request the Buddhas to continue teaching. 7. To request the Buddhas to remain in the world.       8. To follow the teachings of the Buddhas at all times. 9. To accommodate and benefit all living beings. 10. To transfer all merits and virtues to benefit all beings.
All these fourteen vows represent the aspiration to become a Buddha for the benefit of oneself and all beings. They also show how an Enlightened person will act in His endless career of helping sentient beings. It is very important to understand that these are exactly the “original vows” or the “great vows” mentioned in the 22ndVow.
The term “original” does not mean a personal vow which is somehow separated from the vows mentioned before, but a vow in accordance with the authentic Bodhi mind (the aspiration to attain Buddhahood for all beings). So, no matter you now aspire to go to the Pure Land to especially save your mother or your friend from this present life, after you are born in the Pure Land you will spontaneously feel that all beings are as important as your friends or your mom, and you will naturally feel the urge to include them all into your salvation activities.
Those who will be born in the Pure Land, yourself included, and who naturally “wish to teach and guide sentient beings in accordance with their original vows”, thus wearing “the armor of great vows”, will do their saving activities by traveling to all places in the universe and will use skillful means in accordance with the particularities of each being to be saved. This traveling shows that birth in the Pure Land is not a final destination but a permanent return in various forms to help all beings. This is why Shinran Shonin called the 22nd vow, “the vow of directing virtue for our return to this world”. In his Kyogyoshinshohe quoted Vasubandhu, our 1st Indian Patriarch:
“With great compassion, one observes all sentient beings in pain and affliction, and assuming various transformed bodies to guide them, enters the gardens of birth-and-death and the forests of blind passions; freely sporting there with transcendent powers, one attains the state of teaching and guiding. This is brought about by the directing of virtue through the power of the Primal Vow”.[6]
He then quoted from T’an-luan:
"Directing virtue for return to this world" means that after being born in that land, and gaining the power of compassionate means, one returns and enters the thick forests of birth-and-death, teaches and guides all sentient beings, and brings all to enter the Buddha-way together.”[7]
So, exactly like the great Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas described in section 2 of the Larger Sutra, and as Amida promised in His 22nd vow, we’ll act like Samantabhadra who is himself an Enlightened Bodhisattva or a Buddha manifesting himself as Bodhisattva. As Shinran himself explained:
"Thus, when one has boarded the ship of the Vow of Great Compassion (when one entrusts to Amida in accordance with His 18thVow) and sailed out on the vast ocean of light, the winds of perfect virtue blow softly and the waves of evil are transformed (one receives Amida’s transference of merits). The darkness of ignorance is immediately broken through, and quickly (at the moment of death) reaching the Land of Immeasurable Light, one realizes great Nirvana (11thVow) and acts in accord with the virtue of Samantabhadra (22nd Vow). Let this be known."[8]
 “We sentient beings, if we attain the Land of Bliss, will awaken great love and great compassion, and going throughout the ten quarters, will benefit sentient beings. The supreme, perfect compassion of Buddhas is referred to by the name of the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra”.[9]
The last sentence, “the supreme, perfect compassion of Buddhas is referred to by the name of the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra”, clearly shows that Samantabhadra attained and represents Buddhahood and that we, after attaining the same Buddhahood in the Pure Land, will manifest ourselves like Him.
Exactly like Samantabhadra and in accordance with the four main Bodhisattva vows, we will always pay homage to all Buddhas (the 1st pledge of Samantabhadra), praise them ( 2nd pledge), make offerings without any trace of ego (3rd pledge), ask all Buddhas to continue manifesting in the world (7th pledge) and teach the Dharma (6th pledge), which is something that ourselves will always do as we benefit beings according to their conditions (the 9th pledge). We will always be in accord with the teachings of the Buddhas, especially the Primal Vow which is what all Buddhas teach, and encourage others to be in accord with it (8th pledge), guide beings everywhere to lead a moral life according to the Buddhist precepts (4th pledge), rejoice in their good deeds and devotion towards the Dharma (5th  pledge), help them to receive Amida’s transference of merits (the 10th pledge), that is, guiding them to entrust to Amida, which will actually be our main goal in doing all our enlightened activities.




[1] “…who come and are born in my land” is the Hongwanji translation  - The Three Pure Land Sutras, volume II, The Sutra on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, Japan, 2009, p.23, while the Inagaki edition reads “who visit my land”, The Three Pure Land sutras, A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Nagata Bunshodo, Kyoto, 1995, p. 244. I used the Inagaki’s version with the exception of the above words. [2] The Three Pure Land sutras, A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Nagata Bunshodo, Kyoto, 1995, p. 244 [3] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.41[4] Shinran Shonin, Hymns of the Pure Land, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.329 [5] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.3-4[6] The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.158[7] The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.159[8] The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.56[9] Shinran Shonin, note to his 17 verse of the Hymns of the Pure Land, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.329

14. Vows made for those who still cling to their own power - explanation of the 19th Vow and 20th Vows of Amida Buddha - Sep 22, 2019 8:32:00 PM

Click here to return to the list of the 
48 vows of Amida Buddha
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the lands of the ten directions, who awaken aspiration for Enlightenment, do various meritorious deeds and sincerely desire to be born in my land, should not, at their death, see me appear before them surrounded by a multitude of sages, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[1]  (19thVow)
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the lands of the ten directions who, having heard my Name, concentrate their thoughts on my land, plant roots of virtue, and sincerely transfer their merits towards my land with a desire to be born there, should not eventually fulfil their aspiration, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[2] (20th Vow)
Generally speaking, Buddhist practices taught by Shakyamuni can be classified into two groups:
1.      meditative practices 2.      non-meditative practices
Meditative practices include various types of meditation and visualization that we can find in all schools of Buddhism from Theravada to Mahayana and Esoteric Vajrayana[3]. Non-meditative practices include chanting sutras, observing precepts, abstaining from evil, doing various good acts, etc.
These meditative and non-meditative practices are said to generate merit or positive karmic energy (they are both considered meritorious deeds) that help the practitioner attain higher rebirths or spiritual states. These merits can also be transferred or directed toward various goals, including one’s future Enlightenment.  
However, Shinran said that as long as we are not enlightened and our minds are darkened by ignorance, we cannot create genuine or pure merit:
“With minds full of malice and cunning, like snakes or scorpions,
We cannot accomplish good acts through self-power;
And unless we entrust ourselves to Amida’s directing of virtue (merit),
We will end without knowing shame or self-reproach”.[4]
This is especially true in the period of the last Dharma age (Mappo)[5]in which we now live. Only the Buddhas, and of course, Amida Buddha, can have true merit. Shinran considered merit transference from the practitioner toward Enlightenment as being futile, and he said that the true merit (virtue) transference actually takes place from Amida Buddha to the devotee who has faith in Him. Thus, we should give up any thought of generating or accumulating merit and instead rely exclusively on Amida Buddha’s Power of salvation. This exclusive reliance was presented in the 18th Vow (Primal Vow) as I have explained previously. In the Primal Vow, there is no mention of merit or things that the practitioner should add to the power of Amida, just wish to be born in the Pure Land, have faith and say the Name.   
However, the situation is that not all practitioners are able to give up entirely the attachment to their personal power in reaching birth in the Pure Land. They simply cannot rely exclusively on Amida but think there is still something they need to add to His Power so that they will deserve to be born in the Pure Land. Thus, they remain attached to the idea of merit (virtue) accumulation even if they also partially rely on Amida. This kind of faith mixed with reliance on their own merit and personal power is not in accord with the 18thVow, but still, Amida does not abandon such people. Especially for those who are not capable to rely exclusively on Him, but still wish to be born in His Pure Land, He created the 19th and 20th Vows.  Followers of these two vows will be born in the borderland of the Pure Land in embryonic form, as I will explain in more detail when I reach sections 43 to 45 of this sutra.
What does Amida say in the 19th Vow? That those who aspire to Enlightenment, do various meritorious deeds in order to be born in the Pure Land will see Amida Buddha at their death surrounded by many sages, welcoming them in the Pure Land. The various meritorious deeds mean they continue to practice many kinds of meditative and non-meditative practices. For example, whenever they do a visualization or contemplation of Amida in accord with the Contemplation Sutra or even when they do other meditation techniques when they observe precepts, do a good deed like saving a life, abstaining from meat, etc., they think this will help them to be born in Amida’s Pure Land. Thus, they embrace the idea of transferring the merit of these practices (meditative or non-meditative) toward their future birth there.
Usually followers of various schools do meditation practices or observe precepts, etc., in order to become a Buddha in this life, but practitioners of the 19thVow change the goal and direction of these meditative and non-meditative practices towards becoming a Buddha in the Pure Land of Amida. This is the difference between them and other Buddhists and this difference makes them enter Amida’s influence and guidance.
Why is the welcoming of Amida mentioned for this type of practitioners? Because they are obsessed with having the right attitude of mind in order to make themselves worthy of birth in the Pure Land. And as they do not rely completely on Amida’s power, and think that their own self-power has an important role in bringing birth in the Pure Land, they must indeed have a good state of mind when they die in order to be born there. Thus, their last moments are very important and the coming of Amida with a multitude of sages will help them enter the Pure Land. However, if they do not practice seriously and constantly and if they die without having a state of devotion and concentration on Amida, they cannot have the vision of Him coming to welcome them, and so their birth will not be certain.
The passage showing the fulfillment of the 19th Vow is the one referring to the middle grade of aspirants for birth in the Pure Land as explained at sections 23-25 [4b] and also the sections 43 – 45 related with birth in the embryonic form.
The followers of the 20th Vow make another important step further into the Light of Amida Buddha. They do not stop at meditative and non-meditative practices, but among all practices they chose only one, which is to say the Name of Amida.   
The expression “hearing my Name” from the 20th Vow means to become aware of the Name of Amida and to say it both in mind and with one’s mouth. It does not mean hearing with faith or saying it as an expression of complete faith in Amida’s power, as in the case of followers of the Primal Vow.The concentration of thoughts on the land of Amida and the desire to be born there is done this time through recitation of the Name. In the Smaller Amida Sutra (Amida-kyo) the recitation of the Name of Amida is called the root of all virtues because among all Buddhist practices recommended by Shakyamuni, the recitation of the Name is supreme. So, to “plant roots of virtue” mentioned in the 20th Vow means to recite exclusively the Name of Amida, i.e. to choose among all practices only this practice.
Like followers of the 19th Vow, those of the 20th Vow are also not free of doubts and do not rely exclusively on Amida’s Power (Other Power/Tariki) to be born in the Pure Land, but consider this Name recitation to be their own virtue and a practice that depends on their own capacities to be done correctly (self-power nembutsu/jiriki nembutsu). So they transfer the merits they think they accumulated through a good recitation toward birth in Amida’s Pure Land. They are still dependent on their own power and their faith in Amida is not absolute.
The passages showing the fulfillment of the 20th Vow are contained in the sections 43 – 45 of this sutra which refers to birth in the embryonic form.  
What we see from reading these two vows, the 19th and the 20th, is that people following them are also born in the Pure Land of Amida and escape once and for all from samsara or birth and death. Amida especially finishes these two vows with the promise that the practitioners fulfilling the requirements contained in them will definitely be born in His Pure Land.  However, their birth is in an embryonic state in the borderland of the Pure Land. Unlike followers of the 18thVow (Primal Vow), those born through the 19th and 20thvows do not immediately attain Buddhahood, but spend some time in the border land (also called the castle of doubt, the womb palace, etc)until they overcome their doubts.
Many people go through these three vows of salvation (19th, 20th and 18th ) consciously or unconsciously in their Buddhist practice. Many of us had a time when we practiced other Buddhist methods to become a Buddha in this life after we abandoned various religious paths or didn’t have any religion at all. Then, we heard about Amida’s Pure Land and we stopped aspiring to attain Enlightenment in this life but wanted to be born there. Still, doubting that birth in the Pure Land is so easy, we felt we need to do something in order to deserve it, so we continued to follow various practices based on self-power. Then, we heard that Nembutsu is the greatest practice among all Buddhist practices, the root of all virtues, and we start reciting it, but still, we felt this is too easy, so again attachment to our own power kept us prisoners of doubts.  And finally, after listening again and again to the teaching, contemplating our true capacities and the Compassion of Amida, we realized He is like a parent who wishes to save His children quickly from the danger of fire and death, without waiting until they become perfect. So, for the first time we truly heard the 18th Vow in which no special virtue or capacity was mentioned in order to be born in the Pure Land, and we received faith. Then, the Nembutsu we continued to recite was no longer the Nembutsu based on self-power (jiriki nembutsu), but the Nembutsu of faith and gratitude (Other Power Nembutsu/Tariki Nembutsu). With this Nembutsu of faith and gratitude, we’ll enter directly into the presence of Amida, the Master of the Pure Land, where we too will become Buddhas and forever join His work of saving sentient beings. Shinran Shonin said,
“The depth of the Buddha’s benevolence is such that even with birth in the realm of indolence and pride, the borderland, the city of doubt or the womb-palace, which is brought about only through the compassion revealed in Amida’s Nineteenth and Twentieth Vows, we meet with a happiness that surpasses understanding. Thus the depth of the Buddha’s benevolence is without bound. But how much more should we realize the benevolence of the Buddha with birth into the true and real fulfilled land (“center” of the Pure Land) and attainment of the Enlightenment of the supreme Nirvana.”[6] 
*
Question: Why did Shinran say that we should not wait for Amida’s coming at the moment of death? Will Amida not come for people of shinjin?
Answer:The person who has faith in the Primal Vow does not wait for the final moment of death to have a good state of mind in which to say Nembutsu and be welcomed by Amida Buddha, but receives faith during his present life and, as a consequence of this, he immediately enters the stage of those assured of birth in the Pure Land after death (the definitely assured state/the stage of the truly settled, etc). The Nembutsu one says during one’s whole life is thus the expression of faith and gratitude, and not the self power nembutsu. Shinran explained:
" The idea of Amida’s coming at the moment of death is for those who seek to gain birth in the Pure Land by doing various practices, for they are practicers of self-power. The moment of death is of central concern to such people, for they have not yet attained true shinjin. [...]The practicer of true shinjin (faith), however, abides in the stage of the truly settled, for he or she has already been grasped, never to be abandoned. There is no need to wait in anticipation for the moment of death, no need to rely on Amida's coming. At the time shinjin becomes settled, Birth [in the Pure Land] too becomes settled; there is no need for the deathbed rites that prepare one for Amida's coming."[7]
He also explained that “those who await Amida's coming at the end of life have yet to realize shinjin and so are filled with anxiety, anticipating the moment of death."[8]
People who say Nembutsu in self power  are obsessed with having a good attitude of mind when they die, just like followers of the 19th Vow who do various meditative and non-meditative practices, and think that they can use the Name of Amida like a tool to purify their negative karma so that they deserve more to be born in the Pure Land. Contrary to this, people of faith (followers of the Primal Vow), are relaxed as they know that Nembutsu actually works due to Amida’s Power and so their saying of the Name is just an expression of complete trust in Him. Shinran Shonin said:
“To believe that each time you say the Name your karmic evil is eradicated is nothing but to strive to attain Birth by eliminating your karmic evil through your own efforts. In that case, you can attain Birth only by being diligent in the Nembutsu to the very point of death, for every single thought you have throughout the course of you life is a fetter binding you to birth-and-death. But since our karmic recompense restricts us, we may, meeting with various unforeseen accidents or being tormented by the pain of sickness, reach the end of our lives without dwelling in right-mindedness; in such circumstances, saying the Name is difficult. How then is the karmic evil committed in that final interval to be eradicated? If it is not eliminated, is not Birth unattainable?
If we entrust ourselves to Amida's Vow that grasps and never abandons us (the Primal Vow), then even though unforeseen circumstances, we commit an evil act and die without saying the Nembutsu at the very end, we will immediately realize birth in the Pure Land. Moreover, even if we do say the Name at the point of death, it will be nothing other than our expression of gratitude for Amida's benevolence, entrusting ourselves to the Buddha more and more as the very time of Enlightenment draws near[9].
He also said:

The desire to eradicate one's karmic evil through saying the Name arises from the heart of self-power; it is the basic intent of people who pray to be in a state of right-mindedness when their lives end. It therefore reveals an absence of shinjin that is Other Power.”[10]
When Shinran said that we should not wait for Amida's coming at the moment of death, he did not mean that we are not actually received by Amida in His Pure Land when we die or that He might not send one of His manifestations to us in our final hours before death! Of course Amida can do that if He wants! What Shinran meant is that we should not think that the moment of death is more important than our daily lives, and we should not attach a false significance to it, fearing that if we do not have a good state of mind or concentration in those final moments, then we will not go to the Pure Land. The truth is that no matter we are or we are not in a concentrated or good state of mind when we die, no matter if we say the Nembutsu or die without saying it because of unforeseen circumstances, we will be welcomed by Amida Buddha in His Pure Land if we already entrusted ourselves to Him and said His Name in faith during our lifetime.
 Thus, our birth in the Pure Land does not depend on our saying the Nembutsu often or seldom, or if we say it in the special moment of death, but on the faith we have in the Power of Amida Buddha, which is what makes the Nembutsu effective and our birth there attainable. As Shinran Shonin said,
"I, for my own part, attach no significance to the condition, good or bad, of persons in their final moments. People in whom shinjin is determined do not doubt, and so abide among the truly settled. For this reason their end also - even for those ignorant and foolish and lacking in wisdom - is a happy one.”[11]


[1] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.16[2] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.16[3] For example, Shingon Shu in Japan and Tibetan Buddhism. [4] Shinran Shonin, Hymns of the Dharma Ages, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.422
[4b] Shinran Shonin indicated the sections 23-25 of the Larger Sutra as the place where we find the fulfillment of the 19thVow, but when I deeply contemplate on the three grades of aspirants described there I realize that only the middle grade actually refers to practitioners who still cling to their self-power and are to be born in the border-land through the Gate of the 19th Vow. The higher level and lower level have elements which clearly indicate birth in the true fulfilled land of the Pure Land, like for example, the mention of “birth by transformation” of those in the high level which cannot happen in the borderland where there is only “embryonic birth”, and the mentioning of joyful acceptance and faith without doubts, etc, by those in the lower level which again cannot exist in beings who are about to be born in the border-land of the Pure Land.[5] The last of Three Dharma Ages. Generally speaking, the doctrine of the Three Dharma Ages refers to the gradual decline of the capacities of beings to practice the Dharma and attain realization through it. The first period of 500 years after the physical death of the Buddha (parinirvana) is called the right Dharma age.
It is an age characterized by correct understanding and practice of the Dharma in all its aspects (meditation, wisdom and precepts) with often attainment of emancipation. The second Dharma age is called the semblance Dharma age, which lasted 1000 years after the previous one. It is characterized by gradual decadence in the determination by which practitioners, both monks and lay, practice the Way. Self indulgence slowly takes place and fills the minds and hearts of the followers. The breaking of precepts becomes more and more common among monks and nuns and “only a few attain the fruit of Enlightenment”. The third and last Dharma age lasts for 10.000 years after the second age. In it “only the verbal teaching remains”, while nobody is capable of observing the precepts and of truly practicing meditation or other Buddhist methods based on self power. Shinran said we are now living in this last Dharma age in which only the Pure Land teaching remains the only path to liberation. Read the articles “Thre Three Dharma Ages” and “Jodo Shinshu – the only effective path in this last Dharma Age” from my book, Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Teachings. [6] Shinran Shonin, Lamp for the Latter Ages, letter 2, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.527[7] Shinran Shonin, Lamp for the Latter-Ages, letter 1, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.523[8] Shinran Shonin, Notes on the Inscriptions on Sacred Scrolls, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.505-507[9] Honen Shonin also said: “Our daily Nembutsu and Nembutsu at the time of death are no different at all. When we are visited by death, our daily Nembutsu becomes Nembutsu at death; if our life is prolonged, Nembutsu at death becomes Nembutsu of daily life."Honen Shonin, Essential Discourse on Birth in the Pure Land through Nembutsu, The Promise of Amida Buddha - Honen's Path to Bliss; English translation of the Genko edition of the works of Honen Shonin - Collected Teachings of Kurodani Shonin: The Japanese Anthology (Wago Toroku), translated by Joji Atone and Yoko Hayashi, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2011, p.125[10] Shinran Shonin, Tannisho, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.673[11] Shinran Shonin, Lamp for the Latter Ages, letter 6, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.531

15. Helping animals make a connection with Amida Buddha - Sep 15, 2019 11:24:00 AM
Here it looks like Codita is bowing his
head in front of Amida imageNo human being arrived today for the service, so I recited Nembutsu with one of the dogs of Amidaji - Codita.
Even if animals may not understand human language is beneficial for them to hear the sacred Name and see holy images of Amida. This plants a seed in their mental stream and will help them make a karmic connection which Amida Buddha and His Dharma, which one day, perhaps in a better rebirth, will result in becoming open to His Primal Vow. This is why I encourage you to say Nembutsu in the presence of animals, make them see Amida images and even put statues with Amida on the crown of their head.

When I caress my dog I say Nembutsu.
In time, if you do that, your pet may
associate your gentle gestures with Nembutsu
which again will leave a deep impression
on their mindstreamSomebody commented on my Facebook page where I also posted these photos:
“There are many animal cases who can join a service and get reborn into Pure Land”.
To this I answered:He may look cute but in reality, he is
the fiercest dog I have here, so I keep him
away when I have visitors. His role is to
defend the temple, especially
during the night 
Normally, a being must understand the Amida Dharma, entrust to Amida and say His Name in faith in order to be born in the Pure Land. But the truth is that life is mysterious and there are texts who speak of some animals being more evolved than others, some even retaining memories of previous lives, which means they can really entrust to Amida. However, these are not everyday cases, and so, even if animals are just animals, they can still benefit from hearing Amida's Name or seeing His holy images.

At this link (click here) you can find instructions on how you can help them (or any being) after death and while in bardo (the intermediary state between death and next life). 



At the end of the service, we both had a big laugh
 at the dreamlike nature of samsaric existence.



16. Biography of Shinran Shonin (audio version) - Sep 12, 2019 9:05:00 AM
This is the official biography of Shinran Shonin as accepted by Nishi Hongwanji branch of Jodo Shinshu, and also by our temple, Amidaji. The reason I say so is that this biography is recited aloud on every Hoonko week (Shinran’s Memorial) at Nishi Hongwanji mother temple between January 9th to January 16th. 
The title of the biography is “An Illustrated Biography of Shinran, Honganji's Shonin (Honganji Shonin Shinran Denne)” and was compiled by Kakunyo, the 3rd Monshu of Hongwanji temple.
The narrator of this biography is Gansen John Welch, a member, and teacher in Amidaji temple sangha. The edition he uses was translated by Rev Zuio Hisao Inagaki and can be accessed at this link, http://web.mit.edu/stclair/www/horai/denne-index.htm Please click there if you wish to read the whole text together with an introduction, images, and notes.

17. Commentary on the Sutra on the Buddha of Infinite Life (Larger Sutra) - Sep 10, 2019 11:22:00 PM

This manuscript is under editing and English proofreading 
LAST UPDATE November 6, 2019 
First of all, it must be clearly understood that this is not an academical, secular or historical study, but a religious commentary. Its goal is to explain in easy to understand terms the deep meaning of the Larger Sutra[1]so that people can receive faith in Amida Buddha and be born in His Pure Land after death. I, the author of this commentary, accept in faith the contents of the sutra and consider that it describes real events, a real, existing Buddha called Amida[2]and a real Enlightened place called the Pure Land. My heart desire is that readers will come to share the same view so that true faith and aspiration arise in them.
 There are many ways to read the Larger Sutra and various layers of interpretation, which is why different types of practitioners benefit from it. However, because Jodo Shinshu is the school of the Primal Vow, this commentary and explanation is done through the perspective of the Primal Vow and the complete reliance on the Power of Amida Buddha.
In my commentary I used mostly the English translation  of Rev Hisao Inagaki[3] and sometimes the one by Hongwanji International Center[4].
Members and followers of Amidaji temple should look to this commentary as their guide in reading and studying the Larger Sutra.
Outline of the Sutra on the Buddha of Infinite Life  
. Thus I have heard - the time and place of the deliverance of the Larger Sutra - commentary on section 1

The qualities of Bodhisattvas in the audience - commentary on section 2

Shakyamuni Buddha's supreme appearance and the reason for His coming to this world - commentary on section 3

The story of Dharmakara becoming Amida Buddha - commentary on sections 4 to 10

The 48 Vows - commentary on section 7 

The twelve Lights of Amida Buddha - commentary on section 11   (part one)

To encounter or see Amida's Light - commentary on section 11 (part two)

The meaning of praising or glorifying Amida's Light - commentary on section 11 (part three) 

The lifespan of Amida Buddha and the enlightened beings in His Pure Land - commentary on section 12

The first teaching assembly of Amida Buddha - commentary on section 13th 

The Nirvanic features of the Pure Land and its inhabitants - commentary on sections 14-21 
(part 1)

The Nirvanic features of the Pure Land and its inhabitants - commentary on sections 14-21 
(part 2)

Assurance of attaining Nirvana in the Pure Land through faith and the praising of Amida's merits by all Buddhas - commentary on section 22 

The three grades of aspirants to birth in the Pure Land - commentary on sections 23 - 25

Visit of Bodhisattvas from other worlds to Sukhavati and prediction for attaining Buddhahood for them and all beings - commentary on sections 26-27  

Favorable conditions for accepting the Larger Sutra in faith - commentary on verses 21-30 from section 27

Listening to the Dharma in the presence of Amida and attaining perfect Enlightenment - commentary on section 29th

Virtues and activities of the Enlightened Bodhisattvas of the Pure Land - commentary on sections 28 and 30

The karmic situation of beings who have no aspiration for Enlightenment and Shakyamuni's encouragement to do good and wish to be born in the Pure Land ( sections 31 - 40, PART I)

The karmic situation of beings who have no aspiration for Enlightenment and Shakyamuni's encouragement to do good and wish to be born in the Pure Land (sections 31 - 40, PART II)

The testimony of Ananda and the audience gathered on  Vulture Peak to the existence of Amida Buddha and His Pure Land - commentary on sections 41 and 42 

The difference between those born in the Pure Land in embryonic form and those born by transformation - commentary on sections 43rd, 44th and 45th

Non-retrogressive Mahayana followers (bodhisattvas in aspiration) who will be born in the Pure Land of Amida - commentary on section 46

Faith as the cause of entering the stage of non-retrogression - commentary on section 47

Various benefits gained by the audience- commentary on section 48





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Namo Amida Bu




[1] Sutra on the Buddha of Infinite Life delivered by Shakyamuni Buddha ( Larger Sukhavativyuha Sutra  in Skt./Bussetsu Muryōju Kyo in Jpn.); it is often called Larger Sutra. This sutra was translated into Chinese during the Ts’ao-Wei dynasty (252 C.E.), by Tripitaka Master Samghavarman (Kosogai in Jpn.) It’s the most important sutra of the Jodo Shinshu school. The other two sutras we use in our school are:1) Sutra on Visualisation of the Buddha of Infinite Life (Amitayurdhyana Sutra in Skt./Bussetsu Kanmuryoju Kyo in Jpn.). It is often called Contemplation Sutra. This sutra was translated into Chinese during the Liu-Sung dynasty (424-442 C.E.) by the Tripitaka Master Kalayasas (Kyoryoyasha)2) Sutra on the Amitayus Buddha (Smaller Sukhavativyuha Sutra in Skt./Bussetsu Amida Kyo in Jpn.); it is often called Smaller Sutra or Amidakyo. This sutra was translated  into Chinese during the Yao-Ch’in dynasty (402 C.E.), by the Tripitaka Master Kumarajiva (Kumaraju in Jpn).[2] Amida is the Japanese reading for Amitayus (Buddha of Infinite Life) and Amitabha (Buddha of Infinite Light).[3] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003[4] The Three Pure Land Sutras, volume II, The Sutra on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, Japan, 2009 Rev Hisao Inagaki was also member of the translation comitee who did the Hongwanji edition.






18. The karmic situation of beings who have no aspiration for Enlightenment and Shakyamuni’s encouragement to do good in daily life and wish to be born in the Pure Land – commentary on sections 31 - 40 (PART II) of the Larger Sutra - Sep 10, 2019 2:05:00 PM
                               fragment from my commentary on the Larger Sutra
- this is a work in progress and under constant revision - 
click here to return to the table of contents

     2) Shakyamuni’s encouragements to do good in daily life and aspire for birth in the Pure Land for the attainment of Enlightenment
To counter the karmic effects of the evil acts described previously one has two options: to do good and/or to aspire to be born in the Pure Land. Even without having the aspiration for birth in the Pure Land, people can still do good and change their karmic situation for the better. Also, the aspiration for birth in the Pure Land and the non-discriminative salvation offered by Amida does not mean one should not try to have a good behavior towards others. As long as one is clearly aware that his/her salvation depends entirely on the Power of Amida Buddha and abandons any idea of transferring his pitiful merits towards birth in the Pure Land, his efforts to lead a decent life and do as much good as possible is not in contradiction with the Primal Vow. Thus, to try to lead a moral life and aspire for birth in the Pure Land can be followed in the same time by those who have faith in Amida.
To do evil and wander here and there for egoistic goals and personal satisfaction is simply useless as it does not lead to any long lasting happiness. Shakyamuni Buddha said:
“‘Why do they not abandon all worldly involvements and strive, while they are strong and healthy, to pursue good and diligently seek deliverance from samsara? If they do they will be able to attain infinite life. Why do they not seek the Way? What is there in this world that should be longed for? What pleasure is there that ought to be sought after?”[1]
“The Buddha said to Bodhisattva Maitreya and to devas and humans, ‘I have told you the truth about people of the world. Such being their mode of life, they are unable to enter the Way. Therefore, you should think deeply and try to avoid various evil acts; choose the good and diligently practice it. A life of addiction to desires or a life of pomp and vainglory cannot last long. All must pass; there is nothing you can really enjoy. Since you have encountered a Buddha in this world you should assiduously practice the Way”.[2]
“‘It is time for all to seek deliverance from the pains of birth, sickness, old age, and death. Outflows of depravity and defilement are everywhere, and there is nothing in which you can find true joy. You should resolutely do worthy deeds with propriety, strive to do more good, control and purify yourselves, wash away the mental defilements, be sincere in word and deed, and allow no contradiction between what you think and what you do”.[3]
Doing good even in an imperfect way, and trying to abandon evil thoughts, words and deeds, helps one to come closer to the true meaning of life which is to seek liberation from the samsaric existence, and be born in a form where it is easier to follow the various gates of the Way of the Buddha. A life focused on attachments and desires without any genuine aspiration for Enlightenment will make one “unable to enter the Way” both in this life and in the next as he will be reborn in the lower realms where there is almost impossible to listen and practice the Dharma. The “infinite life” of Nirvana cannot be attained without first being born in a place where the Dharma is present, and without making efforts to listen deeply to it and practice it. And nobody can live in a place where he can have access to genuine Dharma without having previously done some good acts to deserve to be born a human being, as the human realm is the most beneficial place for hearing and following any type of Dharma gate. Even if now they do not rely exclusively on Amida through the faith and Nembutsu of the Primal Vow, Buddhist disciples who do good deeds and accumulate good karma can advance through better and better conditions in the samsaric existence until finally reach a point where they become more open to Amida, entrust to Him and attain Nirvana in His Pure Land. This is why Shakyamuni, although He devoted the Larger Sutra to explaining Amida’s unconditional salvation, still encourages those without faith and not ready yet to entrust to Amida, to try their best to lead a moral life. This is how we should read the passages in sections 31 to 40 where He mentions personal power efforts to purify themselves and advance to Nirvana. However, as I said previously, the encouragement to do good and lead a moral life is not addressed only to those incapable to entrust completely to Amida, but also to those who are stable in faith.
It is extremely important to understand that Amida Dharma is not an instrument to justify blind passions nor institutionalize them as normal behaviour. Indeed, in its saving activity, Amida Buddha makes no distinction between virtuous and non-virtuous people. But making no distinction, out of Great Compassion, between them, it does not mean that He supports or encourages evil. No Buddha, including Amida and Shakyamuni, have ever supported evil actions. Please do not confuse being saved as you are with the idea that all your actions are now worthy and good or that you should not make any effort for a good behaviour. Instead of praising or justifying your blind passions, be ashamed of them and grateful to Amida’s helping hand. As Shinran said, “don’t make a liking to poison because you have the antidote”, that is, try your best to abandon evil actions even if you are saved by Amida
We, disciples of Amida and Shakyamuni do not deny nor discourage anybody to try to observe precepts. We are not against precepts; we do not say that followers of our school should not try to observe precepts or to lead a moral life:
“You should not follow the urges of the passions, break the precepts, or fall behind others in the practice of the Way”.[4]
What we say is that we should not think that trying to observe precepts creates personal merits or adds something to the salvation of Amida. We are born in the Pure Land and become Buddhas only due to Amida’s Power, not to our own efforts in observing precepts or in doing such and such practices.
Thus, as a voluntary choice, and not a requirement for birth in the Pure Land, try your best to live a moral life, which can include not to hurt anybody directly or indirectly, don’t steal, don’t engage in sexual misconduct, don’t lie, don’t drink intoxicants, don’t eat meat, etc., but never relate this to your attainment of Buddhahood which comes only through Amida Buddha’s  Power. Your success or lack of success in voluntarily observing precepts has no connection with your Enlightenment, so be relaxed in this matter. This is the difference between Amida Dharma (Jodo Shinshu) and other Dharma Gates.
What a Jodo Shinshu follower does is to delete once and for all the words “personal merit” or “personal virtue” from his Buddhist vocabulary. These concepts may have some significance in other schools but in Jodo Shinshu they have no significance at all.
Neither Shinran Shonin nor any patriarch of our school ever said, “kill, steal, lie, cheat on your wife, etc.”, but rather they intended to say: “even if you don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat on your wife, etc., it doesn’t mean that you are a good person capable of attaining Buddhahood by yourself.” This should be very well understood.
Really, who in his right mind can state that a person of faith should not try to follow these simple instructions of Shakyamuni:
“People of the world, parents and children, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, and other family members and kinsmen, should respect and love each other, refraining from hatred and envy. They should share things with others, not be greedy and miserly, always speak friendly words with a pleasing smile, and not hurt each other.”[5]
Or that rulers should not act in accordance with these guidelines:
“Rulers should abide by morality, reign with beneficence, and decree that everyone should maintain proper conduct, revere the sages, respect people of virtue, be benevolent and kind to others, and take care not to disregard the Buddha’s teachings and admonitions”.[6]
Also even if it is said in the sacred texts that in the last age of the Dharma precepts no longer exist, this doesn’t mean that we should kill and steal as we like. The expression, “there are no precepts” means that people living in the last age of the Dharma are no longer capable of using precepts in order to advance to Enlightenment. Thus, precepts are as good as non-existent for the ultimate goal of Buddhist practice. I repeat, precepts are as good as non-existent for the ultimate goal of Buddhist practice which means the attainment of Buddhahood.
But still we can read in the sutras, including the Larger Sutra, about the precepts so we can’t say they have been deleted from our written or collective memory. This is why the Buddha said: “If you have doubts and are not clear about my teaching, ask me, the Buddha, about anything and I shall explain it to you”[7]. Even if Shakyamuni is not with us anymore in visible form, we still have His teachings on various topics, including the precepts, as He himself said,“the wisdom disclosed in the scriptures provides for all ways of life. It keeps essential principles together and clearly reveals the truth”[8],
so to ask Him is to read these sacred writings and see how the Buddhas want us to behave, think and talk.
Thus, we should try to guide our lives by them as much as we can, but doing so no longer constitutes merit or a means to advance on the path to Enlightenment, as in our case, only Amida’s power leads us there. This is because our capacities to truly observe the precepts both in letter and spirit are as little as non-existent.
A good deed done here in the difficult samsaric environment is more than a good deed in the land of Amida, as the inhabitants of the Pure Land do good naturally, being already enlightened,
“If you strictly observe the precepts of abstinence with upright thought and mindfulness even for a day and a night, the merit acquired will surpass that of practicing good in the land of Amitāyus for a hundred years. The reason is that in that Buddha land of effortless spontaneity all the inhabitants do good without committing even a hair’s breadth of evil.”[9]
In other worlds too, beings already enjoy better karmic conditions and so few do evil, and most of them are naturally inclined to be virtuous, so to do good even for a short while in our world produces more good karma than in their worlds,
“ If in this world you do good for ten days and nights, the merit acquired will surpass that of practicing good in the Buddha lands of other directions for a thousand years. The reason is that in the Buddha lands of other directions many practice good and very few commit evil. These are lands where everything is naturally provided as a result of one’s merit and virtue (accumulated in previous lives), and so no evil is done. But in this world much evil is committed and few are provided for naturally; people must work hard to get what they want. Since they intend to deceive each other, their minds are troubled, their bodies are exhausted, and they drink bitterness and eat hardship. In this way, they are too much preoccupied with their toil to have time for rest.”[10]
Also, when a Buddha is present in human form, the conditions in which people live automatically improve due to His enlightened influence and blessings, so it’s a lot easier to practice in those conditions,
“Wherever the Buddha comes to stay, there is no state, town, or village that is not blessed by his virtues. The whole country reposes in peace and harmony. The sun and moon shine with pure brilliance; wind arises and rain falls at the right time. There is no calamity or epidemic, and so the country becomes wealthy and its people enjoy peace. Soldiers and weapons becomeuseless; and people esteem virtue, practice benevolence, and diligently cultivate courteous modesty.”[11]
However, who is actually capable of constantly practicing virtue and strictly following precepts, in this decadent age, so far from Shakyamuni’s time? Jodo Shinshu states that the minds and environment of beings living in this age distant from the physical presence of Shakyamuni are so much perverted that they cannot advance to Buddhahood by themselves using various methods of self-improving until one day purity, perfect wisdom and perfect compassion is achieved. Shakyamuni himself ended His discourse (sections 31 to 41) on the karmic situation of beings who have no aspiration for Enlightenment and His encouragement to do good, by acknowledging that although His presence in this world enabled everyone to easily follow a virtuous life, abandon evil and attain Nirvana, the spiritual capacities of beings will gradually diminish after He leaves His physical body:
“My concern for you, devas and humans, is greater than the care of parents for their children. I have become a Buddha in this world, destroyed the five evils, removed the five sufferings, and extinguished the five burnings. I have countered evil with good, eradicated the suffering of birth and death, and enabled people to acquire the five virtues and attain the peace of unconditioned Nirvana. But after I have departed from this world, my teaching will gradually decline and people will fall prey to flattery and deceit and commit various evils again, resulting in the recurrence of the five sufferings and the five burnings. As time goes on, their sufferings will intensify.”[12]
It’s infinitely easy to have right conduct and attain Buddhahood in a single lifetime when you are in the physical presence and powerful sphere of influence of Shakyamuni himself and another to live 2500 years since He left His human body. This is why we, disciples of Amida Dharma, following the example of  Shakyamuni in the above passage, no longer believe in the spiritual capacities of unenlightened beings. This is also why we do not link precepts with attaining Buddhahood. Everything unenlightened beings do in the three ways of action[13] is poisoned by ignorance and egoism, so they can’t be called pure or good actions useful for attaining perfect Nirvana. Attachment to our so-called goodness is just another illusion among the many that we inherit from the distant past.
That being said, I ask those who read this sutra and entrust to Amida to please don’t misunderstand the teaching of our school:
-         Amida Dharma is not an encouragement to immorality, irresponsibility or laziness.-         Followers of this Dharma Gate may try their best to lead a life based on non-harming Buddhist principles explained in the precepts.-         Amida Dharma states that Enlightenment comes through Amida Buddha and is not gained by the actions of unenlightened beings-         Amida Dharma believes that only Buddhas have true merits that can be shared with others.
In short, do your best in your everyday life to live according to the precepts but rely only on Amida for the attainment of Buddhahood. Also, if you fail in perfectly observing the precepts, and I am certain that you will fail, don’t ever feel that you are excluded from Amida’s salvation. Don’t transform your trying to observe precepts into an obstacle, blocking the non-discriminative Compassion of Amida Buddha. This is why “Bodhisattva Maitreya, with his palms together, said, ‘O Buddha, how appropriate your admonition is! People of the world are just as you have described. O Tathagata, you take pity on and care for us without discrimination and seek to deliver us all from suffering. Having accepted the Buddha’s repeated exhortations, I will be careful not to disobey them.”[14]
“You take pity on and care for us without discrimination” shows that in the end, the main message of Shakyamuni’s Larger Sutra is that we are all accepted by Amida just as we are, and our success or lack of any success in observing the precepts does not make us fall from Amida’s embrace, if we fully entrust to Him and say His Name in faith.
Being born in the Pure Land of Amida will finally help us reach total purity and freedom from samsaric realms. Only there we “will dwell in effortless spontaneity and attain Nirvana”.[15]
“Anyone who sincerely desires birth in the Land of Peace and Bliss is able to attain purity of wisdom and supremacy in virtue.“[16]“The Buddha said to Bodhisattva Maitreya and to devas and humans, ‘The virtue and wisdom of Sravakas and Bodhisattvas in the land of Amitayus are indescribable. That land is sublime, blissful, serene, and pure”.[17]
All disciples of Amida (Sravaka) who are also Enlightened Bodhisattvas have infinite wisdom and virtues which are beyond understanding, and the Pure Land itself has the purity, serenity and bliss of Enlightenment. Unlike here in samsara, where everything is conducive to more attachement and delusion, in the Pure Land everything is conducive to Nirvana.
“Why do you not diligently practice good, reflect on the naturalness of the Way, and realize that it is above all discrimination and is boundlessly pervasive?”[18]
Strive your best to do good, but also realize that the Way to the Pure Land does not discriminate between good and evil, as all who have faith in Amida are equally embraced and naturally led to Enlightenment.
 “You should each make a great effort to attain it. Strive to escape from samsara and be born in the Land of Peace and Provision. Then, the causes of the five evil realms having been destroyed, they will naturally cease to be and so you will progress unhindered in your pursuit of the Way.”[19]
The first sentence is similar with the following passage from section 47:
“Even if a great fire were to fill the universe of a thousand million worlds, you should pass through it to hear this sutra, to arouse joyful faith, to uphold and chant it, and to practice in accordance with its teachings”.[20]
Both mean to take the matter of afterlife very seriously and make the effort to listen deeply to Amida Dharma so that you can understand the content of the teaching with the rational mind and receive faith in your heart.
 “The Pure Land is easy to reach but very few actually go there. It rejects no one but naturally and unfailingly attracts beings. Why do you not abandon worldly matters and strive to enter the Way? If you do, you will obtain an infinitely long life and one of limitless bliss.”[21]
The Pure Land is easy to reach for those who have exclusive faith in Amida, exclusively say His Name and wish to be born in His Pure Land, but is hard for those who cling partially or totally on their personal power and especially impossible for those who are focused on worldly matters and have no aspiration for Enlightenment. The infinite long life that is attained in the Pure Land refers to going beyond death and rebirth, but also to the attainment of the Three Buddha Bodies (aspects) – 1) ultimate Dharmakaya beyond form, which has no beginning and no end, always existing but never recognized until the attainment of Buddhahood, 2) Sambhogakaya body in the Pure Land with a beginning in the moment of Enlightenment and without end, from which various 3) Nirmanakaya manifestations are sent in all corners of the samsaric universe. These Nirmanakaya manifestations will last as long as you wish, as Shakyamuni said:  “If you wish your life to be as long as a kalpa, a hundred kalpas, or ten million koṭis of kalpas, it will be just as you please.”[22]
“Seek your own liberation and then turn to saving others; straightforwardly aspire to be born in the Pure Land and accumulate roots of virtue”.[23]
Entrust yourself to Amida and help others do the same. Reach the Pure Land of Amida, attain Enlightenment there and come back in various forms to help others. Aspire to be born in the Pure Land by entrusting to Amida and receiving His infinite merits and virtue (“roots of virtue”).
“However hard you may practice in this life, it can only be for a short while. In the life to come you will be born in the land of Amitayus and enjoy endless bliss there. Being forever in accord with the Way, you will no longer be subject to birth and death and be free of the afflictions caused by greed, anger, and ignorance”.[24]
In this unenlightened realm, itself the effect of our individual and collective karma, everything is conducive to more attachments and delusions, so practice is not constant and not powerful enough to lead one to Liberation, while in the Pure Land everything is conducive to Enlightenment. Here in samsara we can always retrogress and our so-called spiritual realizations are subject to impermanence, but in the Pure Land we are forever free from death, rebirth and all kinds of blind passions and delusion. “ You should each diligently seek to realize your aspiration. Do not entertain any doubt or give up your endeavors, lest as a result of that fault you should be born into the seven-jeweled palace in the border region of the Pure Land and be subject to various disadvantages for five hundred years.”[25]
Do not cling to your own power or your so called “spiritual realizations” and instead rely completely on Amida’s Power so that you can bypass the border land and be born directly in the center of the Pure Land (the fulfilled land of the Pure Land) where you can immediately attain perfect Enlightenment.
Shakyamuni Buddha entrusting the sutra to Maitreya“Maitreya said to the Buddha, ‘Having received your considerate admonition, we will diligently practice the Way and follow your teaching. We will not allow any doubt to arise.’”[26]
Maitreya thus positioned himself as a protector and transmitter of the Way of Faith in Amida to future generations. He appears many times in the sutra and receives with joy the teaching presented here. Shakyamuni himself reveals that Maitreya is not an ordinary person but an Enlightened Bodhisattva[27]who for ages has worked for the salvation of all beings.
“Maitreya, you should know that you have, for innumerable kalpas, been perfecting the bodhisattva practices to save sentient beings. Incalculable indeed is the number of beings who under your guidance have attained the Way and reached Nirvana[28]. From time immemorial, you and all the devas and humans in the ten directions and the four groups of followers have been floundering in the five realms of samsara, undergoing indescribable troubles and afflictions. Until you were born in this life, you, too, underwent endless cycles of birth and death. Now you have encountered a Buddha, listened to His expositions of the Dharma, and been able to learn about Amitayus. What pleasure and joy this is for you and me to share! I share the joy with you.”[29]
Maitreya too, had a time when he was floundering in “the five realms of samsara, undergoing indescribable troubles and afflictions”. Until he “was born in this life” – until He attained Enlightenment and became an Enlightened Bodhisattva or Buddha who manifests as a Bodhisattva, He too was subject to “endless cycles of birth and death”. This is an extremely important passage which show that the “endless cycles of birth and death” are something of the past for Maitreya. This also supports the idea that He is now free from samsara and will one day take the place of Shakyamuni in the role of teaching the Amida Dharma to future generations. Shakyamuni actually transmits this sutra to Maitreya for protection and future preservation:
“Now you have encountered a Buddha, listened to his expositions of the Dharma, and been able to learn about Amitayus. What pleasure and joy this is for you and me to share! I share the joy with you. What pleasure and joy this is for you and me to share! I share the joy with you.”
This means, I chose you (“you have encountered a Buddha”) for the transmission of this Dharma about Amida – “what pleasure and joy this is for you and me to share! I share the joy with you”.
Maitreya asked all the questions in the sutra for our sake and He always received with devotion what Shakyamuni taught, including the way He described the karmic situations of unenlightened beings,
“Bodhisattva Maitreya prostrated himself on the ground and said, ‘Your majestic glory, O Buddha, is awe-inspiring, and your exposition is most pleasing to me. Having heard your teaching I feel deeply that people of the world are just as you have described”[30] , that is, without any true capacity to liberate themselves from samsara through their own efforts.
“Your compassionate revelation of the Great Way has opened our eyes and ears, awakening us to liberation. Those who have heard your teachings are all filled with joy. Devas, humans, andlesser beings, including even those that crawl, have all been blessed by your compassionate guidance and have thereby attained deliverance from suffering and affliction”.[31]
Shakyamuni’s revelation of the Way to the Pure Land in this sutra, opened up the eyes of beings to their true limited capacities and the non-discriminative Compassion of Amida Buddha. All devas (gods), humans and any other being who accept this teaching in faith enter the stage of non-retrogression for  birth in the Pure  Land and attainment of Nirvana.
“‘The Buddha’s admonition is indeed profound and appropriate, and His wisdom clearly surveys things in the eight directions, above and below, penetrating all in the past, present, and future. Our liberation in the present life is entirely due to the Buddha’s perseverance and painstaking efforts in His former lives when He was seeking the Way. His benevolence covers the whole world and the extent of His merit is majestic and glorious. His light penetrates to the utmost ends of space and guides people to Nirvana. He reveals the sutras, destroys wrong views, and subdues demons. Thus His influence extends boundlessly in the ten directions. The Buddha is the King of the Dharma; His virtue surpasses that of all the sages. He is the teacher of all devas and humans and enables them to enter the Way according to their wishes. Having been able to meet you, O Buddha, and also to hear the Name of Amitayus (Amida), we have all attained joy and illumination.”[32]
In His role of teaching Amida Dharma, Shakyamuni’s benevolence for us cannot be described in words and cannot be repaid no matter what we do through our own powers. We came to hear this profound teaching because of His great efforts for many lifetimes and His apparition in human form as a Buddha. “Our liberation in the present life” which actually means our entering the stage of non-retrogression for the attainment of Enlightenment in the Pure Land is due to the Compassionate work of Amida and Shakyamuni. His revelation of Amida Dharma is universal and spreads to all the worlds in the ten directions. We are all illuminated by this teaching and made capable to attain the freedom of Nirvana.   
“The Buddha said to Maitreya, ‘What you say is true. Those who adore and revere a Buddha attain great merit”.[33]
In this very sutra Shakyamuni said (section 27) that those who have met Buddhas in their past lives and treated them with respect and devotion can easily accept His teaching about Amida. Also, to have faith, adore and revere Amida will make us good vessels for His transference of  infinite merits and virtues which become the fuel for reaching the Pure Land.
 “Buddhas very rarely appear in the world. Having become a Buddha in this life, I have taught the Dharma, expounded teachings of the Way, cleared people’s doubts, eradicated the causes of lust and desire, and blocked the source of all evils. Visiting various places in the three worlds, I encounter no obstructions. The wisdom disclosed in the scriptures provides for all ways of life. It keeps essential principles together and clearly reveals the truth.”[34]
Shakyamuni expounded many Dharma Gates and practices suited for all kinds of beings, and for many situations that exist in life, but His most important teaching which can be followed by anybody no matter their spiritual capacities is Amida Dharma.
“ I have explained the reality of the five realms, thereby freeing those who have not yet attained deliverance and distinguishing between the paths of samsara and Nirvana”.[35]
Unlike those false teachers of modern times who misguide people by denying life after death and rebirth in various states of samsaric existence, calling them metaphors and symbols, Shakyamuni clearly described them as real places for unenlightened beings from which He urged us to escape through faith in Amida. He showed the karmic consequences of a life lived under delusion and blind passions and the bliss and freedom of Nirvana that we’ll attain in the Pure Land.
to be continued


[1] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.49[2] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.51[3] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.53[4] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.51[5] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.48[6] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.63[7] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.51[8] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.52[9] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.63[10] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.53[11] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.64[12] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.64[13] By thought, action and words.[14] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.64[15] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.53[16] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.51[17] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.46[18] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.46[19] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.46-47[20] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.69-70[21] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.47[22] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.53[23] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.53[24] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.53[25] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.53[26] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.53[27] See my explanations of the Enlightened Bodhisattvas in the audience at section 1.[28]Maitreya can help others enter Nirvana because He himself has attained it. Now he acts as a Bodhisattva and will take the place of Shakyamuni as the next great Buddha of our era.  [29] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.52[30] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.51[31] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.51[32] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.51-52[33] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.52[34] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.52[35] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.52

19. The karmic situation of beings who have no aspiration for Enlightenment and Shakyamuni’s encouragement to do good in daily life and wish to be born in the Pure Land – commentary on sections 31 - 40 (PART I) of the Larger Sutra - Sep 8, 2019 4:05:00 PM
         fragment from my commentary on the Larger Sutra- this is a work in progress and under constant revision - 
click here to return to the table of contents
I divide this chapter into the following sections:
1. The karmic situation of beings who have no aspiration towards Enlightenment2.  Shakyamuni’s encouragements to do good in daily life and to aspire for birth in the Pure Land for the attainment of Enlightenment
 1.     The karmic situation of beings who have no aspiration towards Enlightenment
Shakyamuni Buddha described various kinds of evil deeds and their karmic consequences like for example, the three evil acts and their retribution, and the five kinds of evils and their effects – the five sufferings and the five burnings. I will present each one of them bellow in Shakyamuni’s own words and offer my comments only when necessary, as they are very easy to understand. My advice is to transform the reading into a contemplation of the sad situation of those without the aspiration towards Enlightenment and who, because they have no faith in Amida, have no chance of escaping samsara.
 a)      The three evil acts and their retribution
The many evil deeds explained at section 31 can be divided into three categories: 1) delusionand ignorance of what is truly important, like the need for liberation, the law of karma, death and rebirth, 2) greed and attachments, 3) anger and hate.
 “People of the world, being weak in virtue, engage in strife over matters that are not urgent.”[1]People of the world are those without any aspiration towards Enlightenment and whose sole preoccupations regard only this world and this life. They are worldly people because they busy themselves with useless things and do not feel the urgency of solving “the matter of the greatest importance of the afterlife” as Master Rennyo called it. According to the teaching of the Buddha, anything that is not related with escaping samsara and attaining Enlightenment is not truly important and not urgent. The Buddha continued:
 “In the midst of abject wickedness and extreme afflictions they painstakingly toil for their living. Whether noble or corrupt, rich or poor, young or old, male or female, all people worry about wealth and property. In this there is no difference between rich and poor; both have their anxieties. Groaning in dejection and sorrow, they pile up thoughts of anguish or, driven by inner urges, they run wildly in all directions and thus have no time for peace and rest.
‘For example, if they own fields they are concerned about them. If they have houses they worry about them. They are also anxious about their six domestic animals, such as cows and horses, about their male and female servants, money, wealth, clothes, food, and furnishings. With deepening troubles they sigh repeatedly, and anxiety increasingly torments and terrifies them.Sudden misfortune may befall them: all their possessions may be destroyed by fire, swept away by floods, plundered by robbers, or seized by adversaries or creditors. Then gnawing grief afflicts them and incessantly troubles their hearts. Anger seizes their minds, keeps them in constant agitation, increasingly tightens its grip, hardens their hearts, and never leaves them.
‘When their lives end in such agonizing conditions, they must leave everyone and everything behind. Even nobles and wealthy people have these worries. With much anxiety and fear, they endure such tribulations. Breaking out in cold sweats or fevers, they suffer unremitting pain.
‘The poor and the underprivileged are constantly destitute. If, for example, they have no fields, they are unhappy and want them. If they have no houses, they are unhappy and want them. If they have none of the six domestic animals, such as cows and horses, or if they have no male or female servants, or lack money, wealth, clothes, food, or furnishings, they are unhappy and want those as well. If they possess some of these things, others may be lacking. If they have this, they do not have that, and so they wish to possess all. But even if by some chance they come to possess everything, it will soon be destroyed or lost. Then, dejected and sorrowful, they may strive to obtain such things again but it may be impossible. Brooding over this is to no avail.Exhausted in mind and body, they become restless in all their activities and anxieties follow on their heels. Such are the troubles they must endure. Breaking out in cold sweats or fevers, they suffer unremitting pain. Such conditions may result in the sudden end of their lives or an early death. Since they have not done any good in particular, nor followed the Way, nor acted virtuously, when they die they will depart alone to an inferior world. Although they are destined to different states of existence, none of them understands the law of karma that sends them there.[...]
‘If one disagrees with others and grows angry, however small one’s grudge and enmity may be in this life, these will increase in the life to come until they grow into a mass of hostility. For if people are engaged in tormenting and harming each other in this life, such conflict may not immediately end in mutual destruction. But persistent bitterness and raging fury are impressed upon the mind, and thus naturally leave indelible marks on consciousness, so that those involved will be reborn at about the same time to take revenge on each other.
‘Further, in the midst of worldly desires and attachments one comes and goes alone, is born alone, and dies alone. After death, one goes to a painful or pleasant state of existence. Each receives his karmic consequences, and no one else can take his place. In accordance with different acts of good and evil, people are destined to realms of bliss or suffering. Unalterablybound by their karma, they depart for those realms all alone. Having reached the other world, they cannot see each other. The law of good and evil naturally pursues them, and wherever they may be reborn distance and darkness always separate them. Since their paths of karma are different, it is impossible to tell the time of their reunion and it is difficult to meet again. Canthey ever see each other once more? [...]
‘Thus people of the world do not believe in pursuing good and receiving its reward or in practicing the Way and attaining Enlightenment; neither do they believe in transmigration (rebirth and life after death) and retribution for evil acts or reward for good ones (the law of karma), such as obtaining merit by helping others. Believing that these do not exist, they totally reject such a view.
‘Further, by so doing, they cling to their own views more tenaciously. Later generations learn from previous ones to act likewise. Fathers, perpetuating their wrong views, pass them on to their children. Since parents and grandparents from the beginning did not do good deeds, were ignorant of the Way, committed foolish acts, and were benighted, insensitive, and callous, their descendants are now unable to realize the truth of birth and death and the law of karma. There is no one to tell them about this. Nobody seeks to know the cause of fortune and misfortune, happiness and misery, although these states result from such acts.
‘The reality of birth and death is such that the sorrow of parting is mutually felt by all generations. A father cries over the deaths of his children; children cry over the death of their father. Brothers, sisters, husbands, and wives mourn each other’s deaths. According to the basic law of impermanence, whether death will occur in order of seniority or in the reverse order is unpredictable. All things must pass. Nothing stays forever. Few believe this, even if someone teaches and exhorts them. And so the stream of birth and death continues everlastingly.‘Because they are stupid and callous, such people do not accept the teachings of the Buddha; they lack forethought and only wish to satisfy their own desires. They are deluded by their passionate attachments, unaware of the Way, misguided and trapped by anger and enmity, and intent on gaining wealth and gratifying their carnal desires like wolves. And so, unable to follow the Way, they are again subject to suffering in evil realms in an endless cycle of birth and death. How miserable and pitiable this is!
‘In the same family, when one of the parents, children, brothers, sisters, or the husband or wife dies, those surviving mourn over the loss and their attachment to the deceased persists. Deep sorrow fills their hearts and, grief stricken, they mournfully think of the departed. Days pass and years go by, but their distress goes on. Even if someone teaches them the Way, their minds are not awakened. Brooding over fond memories of the dead, they cannot rid themselves of  attachment. Being ignorant, inert, and illusion-bound, they are unable to think deeply, keep their self-composure, practice the Way with diligence, or dissociate themselves from worldly matters. As they wander here and there they come to their end and die before entering on the Way.Then what can be done for them?
‘Because they are spiritually defiled, deeply troubled, and confused, people indulge their passions. Hence, many are ignorant of the Way and few realize it. Everyone is restlessly busy, having nothing on which to rely. Whether moral or corrupt, of high or low rank, rich or poor, noble or base, all are preoccupied with their own work. They entertain venomous thoughts, creating a widespread and dismal atmosphere of malevolence. Subversive activities are planned, contrary to the universal law and the wishes of the people.
‘Injustice and vice inevitably follow and are allowed to run their course unchecked until evil karma accumulates to the limit. Before they expect their lives to end people meet sudden death and fall into evil realms, where they will suffer excruciating torments for many lives. They will not be able to escape for many thousands of koṭis of kalpas. How indescribably painful!How pitiable this is!”[2]
b)      The five kinds of evils and their effects – the five sufferings and the five burnings
These are described by Shakyamuni Buddha as follows:
“The Buddha continued. ‘What are the five evils? What are the five sufferings? What are the five burnings? [...]
The Buddha said, ‘The first evil is this. Devas, humans, and lesser beings, including even those that crawl, are bent on doing evil. There is no being that is not. The strong subdue the weak; all inflict serious injuries [upon] and kill each other; all devour their prey. Not knowing how to do good, they commit evil and commit outrageous and unruly deeds. Later, they receiveretribution; it is natural that they should be destined to evil realms. Demigods keep records of offenders’ acts and make sure that they are punished. That is why some are poor and destitute, corrupt, beggarly, lonely, deaf, dumb, blind, stupid, wicked, physically handicapped, deranged, or subnormal. But others are honorable, noble, wealthy, intelligent, or clever. This is the resultof good and meritorious acts of benevolence and the performance of their duties to their parents in former lives.
‘In this world prisons are set up by the law, and those who are unafraid of them and commit offenses are sent there for punishment. However desperately they may wish to escape, it is impossible to do so. Such is retribution in this world, but in lives to come, punishment is longer and more severe for such evildoers. The suffering of transmigration through dark and dismalrealms is comparable to the severest and most painful punishment ever enforced by law.
‘Thus, through the natural working of karma, they undergo immeasurable sufferings in the three evil realms.”[3]
I must to add some explanations here so that there will be no misunderstanding. In the Buddhist teaching there is no judge or punisher for our evil deeds, as karma is the natural law of cause and effect, so we’ll necessary reap what we sow. Everything we are and everything we endure is the result of our own thoughts (karma of thinking), say (karma of speech) and do (karma of body and action). The mention of “demigods who keep records of offenders’ acts and make sure that they are punished” from the above passage does not exclude the law of karma. Rather, because the demigods are more powerful than humans and can see the human realm, being usually  aggressive, fierce and strict, if they converted to Buddhism and/or are trying to follow a strict discipline themselves, they might have the tendency to be overzealous and can easily become angered when they see human beings doing evil deeds. Thus, they meticulously record the evil acts and try to put the evil doers in situations and conditions where the effects of evil karma be easily manifested, so that those people endure the consequences of their own actions.  Thus, they do not replace the karma, as the passage clearly states that “through the natural working of karma, they undergo immeasurable sufferings in the three evil realms”. The law of karma is natural and self existing and it does not need a demigod or even a god to make it effective. It’s like you cry out loud and the echo comes back to you. The echo will simply come back to you naturally, sooner or later. But what a demigod can do is to create the conditions that the sound you emitted come back to you faster. You will necessarily receive the effects of your own actions, but some demigods who are overzealous and very strict with discipline can create the conditions that will make your evil karma manifest sooner than you would expect. This is how we should interpret the intervention of the demigods that is often mentioned in the passages quoted in this chapter.Now let’s read further:
 “In successive transmigrations they are reborn into different states and forms; their lifespans are sometimes long and sometimes short. Their transient selves, vital energy, and consciousness transmigrate through the natural working of karma. Although each individual is reborn alone, those bound by common karma come to be born together and take revenge upon each other. So this condition persists endlessly, and until the effect of their evil karma is exhausted there is no possibility of avoiding their enemies. Floundering in samsara, they have no chance of escape or of attaining liberation. The pain that they must undergo is indescribable.Since this law naturally obtains everywhere between heaven and earth, even if good or evil acts do not immediately bring about reward or retribution they will certainly result in them sooner or later. This I call the first great evil, the first suffering, and the first burning. Those afflictions are such that they are comparable to a huge fire burning people alive”.[4]
This sentence is extremely important in Shakyamuni’s explanations of karma: even if good or evil acts do not immediately bring about reward or retribution they will certainly result in them sooner or later”.
People often ask themselves why some persons who live an immoral life or without carring about others, have no problem and nothing bad occurs to them. Visakha, one of the disciples of Buddha, speaks about such people in the following story:
“When a certain monk was standing at the door for alms, my father-in-law was eating sweet milk rice-porridge, ignoring him. Thinking to myself that my father-in-law, without performing any good deed in this life, is only consuming the merits of past deeds, I told the monk: ‘Pass on Venerable Sir, my father-in-law is eating stale fare.” (Thus Have I Heard – Buddhist Parables and Stories)
We often meet with people who indulge in consuming “stale fare”; they are those persons whose karma have manifested in a positive way since childhood – rich parents, material advantages, health, etc. – but who are doing nothing else than consuming these fruits which comes from the merits accumulated in other life.  However, when the influence of past merits will come to an end, if they are not supplemented with other good and compassionate deeds but with egoism and wickedness, their fall will become inevitable. In the Dhammapadait is also said:
”The evil deed does not give fruits immediatelly, like the milk which does not curdles as soon as it is milked; it follows the foolish man like the fire which smoulder under the ashes.”
The consequences of evil karma will surely manifest even if not imediately and even if for the moment, we still experience some good conditions, themselves the result of a good karma from the past. Thus, we should not mistakenly think that the law of cause and effect does not exist just because an evil deed does not have immediate retribution.
Shakyamuni Buddha continues:
“ ‘The second evil is that people of this world - parents, children, brothers and sisters, family members, husbands and wives - all lack moral principles, break laws, conduct themselves arrogantly, commit licentious and unruly acts, pursue their own pleasures, enjoy themselves as they will, and deceive each other. What they think contradicts what they say; they speak without sincerity, flatter others with deceitful intention, fawn upon others with artful words, envy the reputation of sages, abuse the virtuous, and entrap people by dishonest means.
‘Masters are unwise in appointing retainers, who, exploiting the situation, seek every opportunity for trickery and deceit. Rulers, being unrighteous, are deceived by ministers and foolishly remove loyal and faithful subjects. This is contrary to the will of heaven.”[5]
Here “the will of heaven” means the natural law of morality, the Bodhisattva precepts, how Buddhas would like beings to think, talk and behave, etc.
“Ministers betray their rulers; children deceive their parents; brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, kinsmen, and friends deceive each other. They harbor greed, anger, and ignorance and, desiring many possessions, seek their own advantage. All people are the same at heart, whether they are people of high and honorable positions or of lower and despised classes. They bring their homes and themselves to ruin and recklessly destroy their kindred. Although there are family members, friends, villagers, townspeople, ignorant and vulgar groups working together, all seek to gain their own profit, thereby incurring the anger and enmity of others. When people grow rich, they become miserly and uncharitable. Greedily attached to their wealth, they toil with mind and body to retain it. When their end comes, they find nothing on which to rely. Ultimately they are born and depart alone, with nobody to accompany them. Bliss or misery resulting from good or evil acts follow them in their future lives. Thus they are reborn in pleasant or painful states. Even if they later feel regret, what good will that do?
‘People of the world, being dark-hearted and lacking insight, hate and abuse good people and show them no respect. They are attached to wrongdoing and wilfully commit unlawful acts. They always covet the wealth of others and harbour intentions of stealing. After spending and squandering what they have robbed from others, they seek to regain it. Because of their own hidden motives and dishonesty, they slyly study the reactions shown on the faces of others. Since they are unable to think far ahead, when things go wrong they become despondent with chagrin.
‘In this world there are prisons established by law where offenders are sent to receive punishment according to their offenses. In their previous lives they neither believed in the Way nor cultivated roots of virtue. In this life, too, if they commit evil, demigods know and keep records of their acts; so when they die, they fall into evil realms. Thus, because of the natural working of karma, there are the three evil realms[6]and innumerable sufferings through which evildoers must pass, life after life, for many kalpas, with no end in sight. It is indeed difficult for them to attain release. The pain they must undergo is indescribable. This is called the second great evil, the second suffering, and the second burning. The afflictions are such that they arecomparable to a huge fire burning people alive’. [...]
The Buddha continued, ‘The third evil is this. People of the world live together, inhabiting this realm between heaven and earth, with a limited life-span. On the one hand, among the higher levels there are wise, rich, honourable, noble, and wealthy people. On the other hand, among the lower levels there are people who are poor, debased, crude, and foolish. Besides, there are evildoers who always harbor vicious thoughts and think only of self-gratification; they are full of worries and sunk in lust and attachment; they are restless in their daily lives, greedy and miserly, and desirous of what they have no right to possess. They gloat over fair-skinned women, behave licentiously and commit obscene acts with them, hate their own wives, and secretly frequent brothels[7]. Consequently, after squandering all their resources they begin to break the law. They form bands, start riots, engage in fighting, unlawfully attack and kill people, and plunder property.
‘Some have evil designs on the possessions of others. Without working at their own occupations, they acquire things through theft. Driven by desire, they commit further offenses. Feverishly agitated, they intimidate and rob people to support their own wives and children with the goods thus acquired. Obeying only the dictates of their passions, they become addicted to wanton pleasures. They also disregard seniority in kinship, causing sorrow and anguish to other family members and relatives; furthermore, they take no account of the laws of the state.
‘But such evils are known to others and also to demons. The sun and moon recognize them, and demigods keep records of their doings”[8].
The idea here is that there are no deeds which can be done in anonymity. Even the most hidden actions are known to various superior beings, and some may be enraged by evil behavior, especially if they are focused on doing good deeds.
“Thus, because of the natural workings of karma, there are three evil realms and innumerable sufferings through which evildoers must pass, life after life, for many kalpas, with no end in sight. It is indeed difficult for them to gain release. The pain they must undergo is indescribable. This is called the third great evil, the third suffering, and the third burning. The afflictions are such that they are comparable to a huge fire burning people alive’.
The Buddha continued, ‘The fourth evil is this. People of the world do not think of doing good. They incite each other to commit various kinds of evil - uttering harsh and abusive words, telling lies, and engaging in idle talk. They slander others and cause contention. They hate and envy good people and ruin the wise, while they rejoice in watching this behind the scenes. They are neglectful of their parents, make light of their teachers and elders, fail to win the trust of their friends, and lack sincerity. Holding themselves in high esteem, they think that they are virtuous but act waywardly in an overbearing manner and despise others. Unaware of their own evil, they never feel ashamed of themselves. Boastful of their physical strength, they demand respect and fear from others. Taking no heed of heaven, earth, demigods, or the sun and moon, they disdain to do any good. So they are difficult to train and convert. Holding themselves in high esteem, they demand their own way. Arrogant and afraid of nothing, they always assume a haughty attitude. But demigods keep records of their evils. Perhaps there was some meritorious act in their former lives, and they can count on the effect of that small amount of good. But, sincethey commit evil again in this life, their store of merit is soon exhausted; good divinities forsake them, leaving them alone with no one on whom to depend”[9].
Some gods, demigods, or various other non-human beings may become worldly (unenlightened) protectors of Buddhist practitioners, but can abandon them if they forgot the Dharma or their behaviour disgusts those divinities.
 “When their lives end, all their evil recoils upon them and forces them, through the natural working of karma, to descend to the evil realms. Again, as the exact records of their deeds in the hands of the demigods dictate, their karmic transgressions and offenses condemn them to hellish realms. Retribution for evil comes about naturally and nothing can stop it. They must go into the red-hot cauldrons, where their bodies are melted down with the utmost torment and anguish. Even if at that time they repent of their evil deeds, what good will that do? The way of heaven takes its inevitable course without mistake”[10].
Here “the way of heaven” means the natural working of karma, the universal principle that whatever one does, good or evil, it will come back to him “without mistake”.
“‘Thus, because of the natural working of karma, there are the three evil realms and innumerable kinds of suffering through which evildoers must pass, life after life, for many kalpas, with no end in sight. It is indeed difficult for them to gain release, and the pain they must undergo is indescribable. This is called the fourth great evil, the fourth suffering, and the fourth burning. The afflictions are such that they are comparable to a huge fire burning people alive.’
“The Buddha continued, ‘The fifth evil is this. People of the world are indecisive and slothful, reluctant to do good, lacking in self-discipline, and they do not work hard at their occupations; so their families and dependents are left to suffer from hunger and cold. When reproached by their parents, they retort angrily with scornful looks. In such conflicts they are far from peaceful; they can be as violent and frenzied as when enemies confront each other; as a result, parents wish that they had no children.
‘In dealing with others, they are licentious and wayward, causing trouble and annoyance to many. Even when they are morally obliged to others, they neglect their duties and have no intention of repaying their indebtedness. Destitute and driven to the most desperate ends, they have no way of regaining their wealth. Although eager to obtain much profit and appropriatethe riches of others, they waste their money on wanton pleasures. As this becomes a habit, they grow accustomed to acquiring property illegally and to spending their ill-gained profits on personal luxuries; indulging in wine and sumptuous food, they eat and drink to excess. Profligate and contentious as they are, they engage in foolish quarrels. Unable to understand others, they forcibly impose their will upon them.
‘When they come upon people who are good, they hate and abuse them. Lacking morality and decorum, they do not reflect on their conduct, and so are presumptuous and insistent, refusing to take the advice and admonitions of others. They are unconcerned if their kinsmen, from the closest to the sixth blood relative, have no means of livelihood. They disregard their parents’ benevolence and do not fulfil obligations to their teachers and friends. They think only of doing evil; their mouths continuously speak malice; and with their bodies, they are forever committing evil. In their whole lives they do not do even one good deed.
‘Furthermore, they do not believe in the ancient sages, nor the Buddhist teachings, nor the path of practice leading to liberation. Neither do they believe that after death one is reborn into another state of existence, that good deeds bring about good rewards, or that evil acts bring about evil consequences. They plot to murder an Arhat[11]or to cause disruption in the sangha; they even think of killing their parents, brothers, sisters, or other relatives. For this reason, even their kinsmen, from the closest to the sixth blood relative, hate them so much as to wish them dead.
‘Such people of the world are all of the same mind. They are foolish and ignorant, lacking the wisdom to know whence they have come into life or whither they are going after death. Neither humane toward others nor obedient to their elders, they rebel against the whole world. Nevertheless, they expect good fortune and seek long lives, only to meet death in the end. Evenif someone compassionately admonishes them, trying to lead them to thoughts of good, and teaches them that there are naturally good and evil realms of samsara, they will not believe him. However hard one may try to persuade them, it is useless. Their minds are closed, and they refuse to listen to others or understand their teachings. When their lives are about to end, fear and revulsion arise in turn. Not having previously done any good, they are filled with remorse when they come to their end. But what good will that do then?
‘Between heaven and earth, the five realms[12]are clearly distinguishable. They are vast and deep, extending boundlessly. In return for good or evil deeds, happiness or misery ensues. The result of one’s karma must be borne by oneself alone, and no one else can take one’s place. This is natural law. Misfortune follows evil deeds as their retribution, which is impossible to avoid. Good people do good deeds, and so enjoy pleasure after pleasure and proceed from light to greater light. Evildoers commit crimes, and so suffer pain after pain and wander from darkness to deeper darkness. No one, except the Buddha, knows this completely[13]. Even though someone admonishes and teaches them, very few believe; and so the cycles of birth and death never cease and the evil paths continue endlessly. The karmic consequences for such worldly people cannot be described in detail.
‘Thus, because of the natural working of karma, there are innumerable kinds of suffering in the three evil realms through which wicked beings must pass, life after life, for many kalpas, with no end in sight. It is indeed difficult for them to gain release, and the pain they must undergo is indescribable. This is called the fifth great evil, the fifth suffering, and the fifth burning. The afflictions are such that they are comparable to a huge fire burning people alive.’
“ The Buddha said to Maitreya, ‘I shall explain further. Such are the afflictions of the five evils in this world. The five sufferings and the five burnings continue to arise from them. People commit nothing but evil and fail to cultivate roots of virtue, and so it is natural that they all go to evil realms. Even in this life they suffer from incurable illnesses. Longing for death, they cannot die; craving for life, they cannot live. Thus they are an example to others of what the retribution for evil acts is like. After death, driven by their karma, they fall into the three evil realms, where they suffer countless tortures and are themselves consigned to the flames.
‘After a long time they are reborn again in this world, only to foment hatred against each other. At first hatred is slight but finally develops into a major evil. All this is because of their greedy attachment to wealth and sensuous pleasures and of their refusal to share with others. Further, wayward thoughts arise from the desires born of stupidity. Their bondage to evil passions will never be severed. In the pursuit of selfish gain, there is no chance for them to reflect on their evils and turn to good. When wealthy and prosperous, they are happy and do not learn to be modest and virtuous. Consequently, their pomp and power are short-lived; when these are exhausted, they must undergo further afflictions. Their sufferings are bound to increase in time to come.
‘The law of karma operates like a net stretched everywhere; in its meshes it inevitably catches all offenders. The net woven of large and small ropes covers the whole world, from top to bottom, and those caught in it feel utterly helpless and tremble in fear. This net has been in existence from of old[14]. How painful and heart-rending!’”[15]

to be continued
2.  Shakyamuni’s encouragements to do good in daily life and to aspire for birth in the Pure Land for the attainment of Enlightenment

[1] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.47[2] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.47-51[3]The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.54 [4] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.54 – 55.[5] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.55[6] The realms of hell, pretas (hungry spirits) and animals. [7] Nowadays the spiritual decadence is so great that many people do not even hide when going to brothels as prostitution is considered legal in various countries and prostitutes are called “sex workers”, thus giving the impression that selling one’s body for sex can be just another job among the many. [8] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.56-58[9] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.58-59[10] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.59[11] “Worthy One”. In Hinayana it represents the One who eradicated all blind passions and attained freedom from birth and death, but did not attain perfect compassion, nor the capacity to save all sentient beings. In Mahayana is the second of the ten epithets of a great Buddha. [12] The five realms are the hells, hungry ghosts (pretas), animals, humans and the heavenly realms of asuras (demigods) and gods. Usually, in many descriptions, the term six realms are used, with those of demigods (asuras) and gods taken separately. [13] Only the Buddha knows the many detailed ramifications of karma.[14] It has no beginning. The law of karma is uncreated and it exists by itself. [15] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.59-62

20. Condiciones para ser aceptado como estudiante en el templo Amidaji - Sep 6, 2019 6:24:00 AM
Rev Josho Adrian Cirlea, templo AmidajiTraducido del inglés por:                       Juan Sebastián Hincapié Arana
                                                             Lo siguiente también aplica para las personas que preguntan ocasionalmente por enseñanzas mías, o para  quienes visitan Amidaji, sin participar en una relación prolongada entre profesor-alumno.
Ya lo he explicado muchas veces, pero creo que es mejor decirlo nuevamente en más detalle, para que las personas que deseen recibir orientación de mí sepan que esperar. Así que, primero, lean esto, y luego decidan si desean continuar o no.
Creo en la disciplina cuando se trata de enseñar y escuchar el Dharma de Amida.El principal problema de la sangha internacional Jodo Shinshu es el caos doctrinal y el hecho de que todos pueden decir y enseñar lo que quieran y  por ende cada opinión, no importa cuán falsa sea es aceptada  bajo la estúpida idea de “ser políticamente correcto”. Esto es libertad muy mal entendida, o más bien es una libertad sin responsabilidad, la cual lleva a la proliferación de tantos puntos de vista erróneos.Este, resalto bien, NO es el camino de Amidaji, y este NO es mi estilo de enseñanza.
Así que por favor contáctame o ven a Amidaji solo si estás en una dsposición mental de aprendizaje y si quieres recibir una orientación de parte mía. No me contactes para expresar  puntos de vista y opiniones personales sobre varios asuntos budistas o mundanos porque NO estoy interesado en eso.Estoy aquí para ayudar a aquellos que piensan que necesitan mi ayuda. Y Punto.Aquellos que piensan que saben más o no están de acuerdo con mi estilo de enseñanza están invitados a encontrar a alguien más. El sitio web del Templo Amidaji, este sitio web o las diferentes páginas que uso para promover el Dharma de Amida NO son foros, y las publicaciones, artículos e instrucciones que ofrezco NO son una invitación al debate, sino que son una invitación a escuchar profundamente.
Puedo hablar por muchas horas, ofrecer muchos días, semanas, mese e incluso años de orientación a aquellos que están dispuestos a aprender, y muchas personas pueden de hecho dar testimonio de mi dedicación y de la cálida bienvenida que les doy al recibirlos en Amidaji.Pueden contactarme a cualquier hora por correo electrónico, chat u otro medio si tienen preguntas y verán que respondo rápidamente. Tengo paciencia con los estudiantes serios que tienen dificultades  para entender y aprender; no pido tarifas ni impuestos por orientación a quienes vienen a Amidaji a aprender/estudiar. Mis libros y todo los  textosque uso en mi templo están disponibles para ser descargados gratuitamente. También tengo disponible la biblioteca del Templo para estudiar y tomar  libros prestados. Jamás le niego nada a aquellos que sinceramente desean aprender la Enseñanza Jodo Shinshu ortodoxa (El Dharma de Amida) y están dispuestos a aprender con seriedad.
Sin embargo, expulso inmediatamente a cualquiera que no sea lo suficientemente serio y que no está realmente dispuesto a aprender el Dharma de Amida. No tengo tiempo para perder con  mentes cerradas; con aquellos que  intentan lucirse con su inteligencia y que creen que saben más que los demás e insisten en contarme sus opiniones cuando nunca les he pedido que lo hagan. Tampoco pierdo el tiempo con aquellos que son flojos y que no leen o no estudian lo que les dije que leyeran y estudiaran; ni con gente descortés o indisciplinada y tampoco con aquellos que están buscando debates y que  distorsionan el Dharma de Amida con sus propias opiniones; ni con las personas que mezclan el Dharma de Amida con otros caminos desde dentro o fuera de la Enseñanza del Buda, etc.
Está bien si la gente viene a mí y a Amidaji con malentendidos y errores, porque el mundo de hoy en día está lleno de puntos de vista equivocados y falsos maestros, y muchos son llevados a la confusión, pero si después de explicar todo a fondo sobre lo que es verdadero y falso, y  una persona insiste en sus puntos de vista equivocados, entonces se le pedirá que se marche y encuentre otro Maestro y otro templo. Refunfuñar o quejarse ante esto no será tomado en cuenta, ya que todos están advertidos desde el principio sobre quién soy yo y en que consiste el Templo Amidaji. Además, mensajes y cartas que contengan  reacciones frustradas no se leerán, porque el tiempo es precioso no vale la pena desperdiciarlo en discusiones interminables e inútiles.
El estilo y el camino de Amidaji es el de  una dedicación total a los seguidores serios y apersonas con una mentalidad sincera de aprendizaje y  tolerancia cero para los defensores de puntos de vista erróneos, prácticas y religiones mixtas, gente perezosa y todos aquellos que no siguen las instrucciones ofrecidas tan generosamente en este templo.
Espero que esta breve publicación se entienda claramente como lo pretendí. Que sea esta una advertencia compasiva para aquellos que son deshonestos o que simplemente no puede acomodarse a la enseñanza y al estilo ortodoxo de Amidaji, y que sea esta también una bienvenida compasiva y un aliento para los buscadores honestos que toman el asunto de la muerte y la vida después de la muerte en serio y que se encuentran dispuestos a aprender cómo escapar de la muerte (el ciclo de nacimiento y muerte del Samsara) a través del Método de salvación de Amida
Namo Amida Bu.Reverendo Josho Adrian Cirlea/ Templo Amidaji.

21. Various benefits gained by the audience – commentary on section 48 of the Larger Sutra - Sep 1, 2019 10:33:00 AM
Shakyamuni Buddha entrusting
 the sutra to Maitreya, the future Buddhafragment from my commentary on the Larger Sutra- this is a work in progress and under constant revision -  click here to return to the table of contents 
            Although the intention of Shakyamuni when delivering this sutra was to help the audience and us, people of future generations, to entrust completely to Amida, say His Name in faith and aspire to be born in His Pure Land, that is, to come in accord with the Primal Vow, only a part of those present actually did that and entered the stage of non-retrogression. However, because they were in the presence of Shakyamuni Buddha’s field of influence and had various degrees of devotion towards Him, and because they all “without exception, rejoiced at the Buddha’s discourse”[1] they did acquire some important benefits for their later spiritual development :
“When the World-honored One had finished His presentation of this sutra, aspiration for highest Enlightenment was awakened in innumerable sentient beings. Twelve thousand nayutas of human beings attained the pure Dharma eye; twenty-two koṭis of devas and humans attained the stage of non-returner; eight hundred thousand bhikṣus realized the wisdom of destroying defilements; forty koṭis of bodhisattvas attained the stage of non-retrogression;and all, adorned with the virtue of the universal vows, will ultimately attain perfect Enlightenment.”[2]
As we see in the above, some awakened the aspiration for highest Enlightenment, but did not entered the stage of non-retrogression, others attained the pure Dharma eye which means insight into the Four Noble Truths that is attained in the stage of stream – winner[3]or the stage in which various wrong views are abandoned. Others attained the stage of non-returner which means they will no longer be reborn in the world of desire[4]and some also realized the wisdom of destroying defilements. And most important, some of the practitioners in the audience who awakened aspiration for the highest Enlightenment and who entrusted completely to Amida Buddha for its attainment, did enter the stage of non-retrogression – “forty koṭis of bodhisattvas attained the stage of non-retrogression”. I am convinced that Ananda too, who clearly perceived the intention of Shakyamuni even before He started to preach this sutra, and who provoked Him to show Amida and His Pure Land to the audience was among the bodhisattvas in aspiration who entered the stage of non-retrogression through faith in Amida. Also the great Bodhisattva Maitreya who is the successor of Shakyamuni and who will appear as the next Buddha after billions of years into the future to turn again the wheel of Dharma, accepted this sutra in faith. He too will teach about Amida and His Pure Land, just as Shakyamuni did. The fact that Shayamuni spoke many times with Maitreya in this sutra, shows that He actually transmitted it to Him for future propagation when He will succeed Him as the next great Buddha of our world system. 
However, even those who did not entrust completely to Amida at that time, at least they made a strong karmic connection with Him and sooner or later, they will too, reach a point in the future when they will abandon the clinging to their own power, and attain faith. This is the meaning of, “all, adorned with the virtue of the universal vows, will ultimately attain perfect Enlightenment”[5]. Ultimately, they will come to entrust to Amida’s universal vows, enter the stage of non-retrogression, be born in the Pure Land and attain perfect Enlightenment there. None who has been exposed to Amida even once will escape Him, and sooner or later he/she will reach His Pure Land. Even to see Amida’s image or a painting of His Pure Land and to have the smallest attitude of respect towards Him or His Dharma, creates a karmic connection and plants a seed into one’s mental continuum which one day will grow into a tree of faith.
The sutra starts with Shakyamuni’s supreme appearance,
“At that time all the senses of the World-honored One radiated joy, His entire body appeared serene and glorious, and His august countenance looked most majestic.”[6]
 and ends with extraordinary supernatural manifestations:
“At that time the entire universe of a thousand million worlds quaked in six ways, and a great light illuminated all the lands in the ten directions. A hundred thousand kinds of music played spontaneously, and innumerable marvellous flowers fell in profusion from the sky.”[7]
Both manifestations at the beginning and end of the sutra show that this was indeed the most important discourse of Shakyamuni’s lifetime – the true reason for His coming to this world. All the samsaric universe with all the worlds in the ten directions quacked and was illuminated by the great Light of Amida so as to show that this is indeed, the universal method to save all beings without discrimination. The music which played spontaneously in many ways and the innumerable marvelous flowers that fell from the sky represent the approval of all Buddhas, including Amida, in all their three bodies (ultimate Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and multiple Nirmanakayas) of this supreme teaching – the One Vehicle of the Primal Vow[8], the teaching that all Buddhas teach.


[1] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.71[2] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.70 – 71.[3]According to the glossary in The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.135. [4] The world of desire is composed of hells, hungry spirits (pretas), animals, humans, demigods (asuras) and a few celestial realms inhabited by gods. Above it there are the gods in the realm of form and realm of non-form where these non-returners are born. [5] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.71.[6] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.7[7] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.71. [8] Read the chapter “The One Vehicle of the Primal Vow – the ultimate teaching of Shakyamuni and all Buddhas” from my book The Meaning of Faith and Nembutsu in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, 2019, free online editon, http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.com/2018/07/new-book-meaning-of-faith-and-nembutsu.html

22. Faith as the cause of entering the stage of non-retrogression - commentary on the section 47 of the Larger Sutra - Aug 31, 2019 6:13:00 PM
fragment from my commentary on the Larger Sutra- this is a work in progress and under constant revision -  click here to return to the table of contents 
 If in the section 46 Shakyamuni explained that there are many Mahayana followers (bodhisattvas in aspiration) in various worlds who are in the stage of non-retrogression[1]for being born in the Pure Land and attaining Enlightenment there, in section 47 He presents the causes of entering this stage:
“The Buddha said to Maitreya, ‘If there are people who hear the Name of that Buddha, rejoice so greatly as to dance, and think of Him even once, then you should know that they have gained great benefit by receiving unsurpassed virtue. For this reason, Maitreya, even if a great fire were to fill the universe of a thousand million worlds, you should pass through it to hear this sutra, to arouse joyful faith, to uphold and chant it, and to practice in accordance with its teachings. This is because there are many bodhisattvas who wish to hear this teaching but are still unable to do so. If there are sentient beings who have heard it, they will attain the stage of non-retrogression for realizing the highest Enlightenment. This is why you should singleheartedly accept in faith, uphold, and chant this sutra, and practice in accordance with its teachings.’”[2]
Before commenting on the above passage we must bear in mind that in this sutra Shakyamuni presents just one of the two paths of entering the stage of non-retrogression, that is, through faith in Amida. The Larger Sutra is, so to speak, the sutra of the Easy Path of entering the stage of non-retrogression for those who make the Mahayana aspiration to attain Buddhahood for themselves and all beings (bodhisattvas in aspirations).
Arya Nagarjuna also explained the difference between the two ways of entering this stage:
“There are two paths by which bodhisattvas reach the stage of non-retrogression: the Path of Difficult practice is a way of trying to reach the stage of non-retrogression in the period of the five defilements when no Buddha dwells in the world. It is difficult to follow this path. [...] The Path of Difficult Practice is, therefore, like an overland journey painstakingly made on foot.The Path of Easy Practice is followed by aspiring to be born in the Pure Land through faith in Amida Buddha and attaining birth in His Pure Land by the power of His Vows. [...] The Path of Easy practice is, therefore, like a pleasant journey on water.”[3]
 As we have seen in the first passage of section 47 and in the quote from Nagarjuna, it is faith in Amida and not personal achievements, that is the cause of entering the stage of non-retrogression on the Path of Easy Practice.
“If there are people who hear the Name of that Buddha, rejoice so greatly as to dance, and think of Him even once, then you should know that they have gained great benefit by receiving unsurpassed virtue.”
To hear the Name is not an ordinary hearing without any consequences, but a hearing with faith. Shinran Shonin explained this in many of his writings,
"Hearing the inconceivable selected Primal Vow and the holy Name of supreme wisdom without a single doubt is called true and real shinjin (faith); it is also called the diamondlike mind. When sentient beings realize this shinjin, they attain the equal of perfect Enlightenment and will ultimately attain the supreme Enlightenment, being of the same stage as Maitreya[4], the future Buddha. That is, they become established in the stage of the truly settled. Hence shinjin is like a diamond, never breaking, or degenerating, or becoming fragmented; thus, we speak of "diamondlike shinjin".[5]
"'Hear the Name': is to hear the Name that embodies the Primal Vow. "Hear" means to hear the Primal Vow and be free of doubt. Further, it indicates shinjin (faith)".[6]
"Shinjin (faith) is hearing the Vow of the Tathagata and being free of doubt".[7]
"'Entrusting' is to be free of doubt, believing deeply and without any double-mindedness that the Tathagata's Primal Vow is true and real."[8]
To hear about the message of Amida’s Primal Vow were saying of His Name in faith is mentioned  (“if you entrust yourself to me, say my  Name and wish to be born in my land, you will indeed be born there”) and to trust in His promise, means to have faith in Him or hear His Name in faith. To “think on Him even once” is equal with saying His Name even once and is referring to Amida’s assurance that there is no set number of times one must say Nembutsu or think to Him.
“Rejoice so greatly as to dance” does not actually mean that a person of faith always jumps in the air and feels great happiness in every minute of his everyday life, but that he knows the burden of attaining perfect Enlightenment and freedom from birth and death has been taken off his shoulders by Amida. Anybody who carries a great burden is happy when that is taken away from him, so you can be happy or feel relief when you first entrust to Amida Buddha, if attaining Buddhahood or final liberation from birth and death is the most important matter for you. However, this doesn’t mean that from hour to hour, minute to minute, second to second, you will think about Amida or feel a continuous joy as to jump in the air. Our lives are in such a way that we can always be overwhelmed by daily problems and worries. The joy of faith is not worldly happiness but rather a spiritual relief of knowing that no matter what happens into your life, you are assured of birth in the Pure Land and that this is your last life as a samsaric being. As Shinran said:
„'Joy' (kangi): means to rejoice beforehand at being assured of attaining what one shall attain.”[9]
Rennyo also said:
“When faith is settled we rejoice, knowing that birth in the Pure Land is assured.”[10]
Even if our every day sorrows, difficulties and attachments cover the sky of faith, we know deep inside that we are assured of Amida’s salvation and that the suffering of samsara will not last long for us anymore. As Shinran said:
„The clouds and mists of greed, desire, anger, and enmityContinually cover the sky of true faith;Yet, just as the sunlight is obstructed by clouds or mists,Below them it is light and there is no darkness.”[11]
The light behind the clouds is knowing and being glad that our time in the samsaric prison will soon be over.
Also to “hear the Name” is equal with to “hear this sutra” as both are done on the basis of “joyful faith” or the faith mind who knows that this is one’s last life as a prisoner in samsara. “This sutra” is Shakyamuni’s teaching on Amida Buddha as expressed in the Larger Sutra. His urge to listen and accept this teaching and sutra in faith is overwhelming:
“Even if a great fire were to fill the universe of a thousand million worlds, you should pass through it to hear this sutra, to arouse joyful faith, to uphold and chant it, and to practice in accordance with its teachings”.[12]
Those who hear this sutra and the Name of Amida, that is, if they entrust to Shakyamuni’s teaching on Amida Buddha and come to be in accord with His Primal Vow which is the essence of the sutra, thus saying Amida’s Name in faith even once, will “gain great benefit by receiving unsurpassed virtue”.
The “great benefit” is entering the stage of non-retrogression for the attainment of Nirvana or perfect Enlightenment in the Pure Land. The “unsurpassed virtue”is Amida’s transference of merits[13]to them which actually makes possible their entering into this stage in the present life and birth into the Pure Land after death.  Shinran also said:
"Those who, hearing Amida Buddha's Name,
Rejoice in it with reverence and praise,
Receive its treasure of virtues;
The great benefit acquired with one utterance is supreme".[14]
“When sentient beings of this evil world
of the five defilements[15]
Entrust themselves to the selected Primal Vow,
Virtues indescribable, inexplicable, and inconceivable
Fill those practitioners."[16]
Right after urging us to “hear this sutra, to arouse joyful faith, to uphold and chant it, and to practice in accordance with its teachings”, Shakyamuni mentions that there are Mahayana followers (bodhisattvas in aspiration) who are unable to have this faith or to hear it with faith:
“There are many bodhisattvas who wish to hear this teaching but are still unable to do so.”
However, those who have faith in His teaching about Amida Buddha as expressed in the Larger Sutra (who hear the teaching with faith) are assured of entering the stage of non-retrogression for the attainment of the highest, perfect Enlightenment in the Pure Land:
“ If there are sentient beings who have heard it, they will attain the stage of non-retrogression for realizing the highest Enlightenment. This is why you should singleheartedly accept in faith, uphold, and chant this sutra, and practice in accordance with its teachings.”
Insisting further on the importance of not having any doubt about the contents of this sutra, Shakyamuni said:
“The Buddha further said, ‘I have expounded this teaching for the sake of sentient beings and enabled you to see Amitayus (Amida) and all in His land. Strive to do what you should. After I have passed into Nirvana, do not allow doubt to arise.”[17]
The first sentence shows the universal goal of this sutra, which is to help “sentient beings” everywhere and in any circumstance, without any discrimination regarding their personal capacities, to attain freedom from birth and death. In order to do this, He enabled the audience on Vulture Peak where the sutra was taught, to see Amida and His Pure Land. Why did He do that? Because He wanted them to act as witness to future generations for the real existence of Amida and His Pure Land. If Amida and His Pure Land were just symbols and metaphors for more subtle teachings, He would not make this effort of showing them to the audience. However, this vision or revelation of Amida and His Pure Land plays a crucial role in the teaching of this sutra, together with the story of Dharmakara becoming Amida, the detailed description of the enlightened qualities of the Land and its inhabitants, etc. Nothing is by chance in the Larger Sutra and all its elements have the intention of helping us to accept in faith the salvation offered by Amida in His Primal Vow. Because Amida is real, we can have faith in Him and say His Name. Because His Pure Land is also real and filled with so many enlightened manifestations, we can aspire to be born there after death.
So great is the importance of Amida Dharma and the Larger Sutra, that Shakyamuni promised to keep it in the world even after all the other sutras would disappear:
“In the future, the Buddhist scriptures and teachings will perish. But, out of pity and compassion, I will especially preserve this sutra and maintain it in the world for a hundred years more. Those beings who encounter it will attain deliverance in accord with their aspirations[18]”.[19]
Shinran commented on this,
"In the future, the sutras will all disappear;
The Larger Sutra alone is designed to remain a hundred years thereafter.
How can one vacillate in doubt over the great Vow expounded in this sutra?
Simply entrust yourself to Shakyamuni’s true words!"[20]
How can one dare to say this sutra does not contain the true teaching on Amida Buddha, when Shakyamuni himself said that even if the universe is on fire, we should by all means, accept it in faith, and that He will keep it in the world even more than other sutras? When all the Masters of our lineage accepted it, how can we do otherwise?  However, Shakyamuni foresaw the inner difficulties of accepting this sutra:
“The Buddha said to Maitreya, ‘It is difficult to encounter and behold a Tathagata (Buddha) when He is in this world. Difficult to access, difficult to hear are the Buddhas’s teachings and scriptures. It is also difficult to hear the excellent teachings for bodhisattvas, the paramitas[21]. Difficult too is it to meet a good teacher, to hear the Dharma, and perform the practices. But most difficult of all difficulties is to hear this sutra, have faith in it with joy, and hold fast to it. Nothing is more difficult than this.”[22]
To be born in human form is difficult, to meet a Buddha in flesh and bones is difficult, to come in contact with Shakyamuni’s teachings even in our age is also difficult as there are many places on this planet where there are no Buddhist temples or if they exist, many are corrupted by wrong views. To understand and practice the moral teachings of the Mahayana (the six paramitas, the bodhisattva precepts, etc) as well as the various Dharma gates of self-power is also difficult, and to meet true teachers of any lineage is rare in our world filled with charlatans. But most difficult is to hear and entrust to the teaching of the Larger Sutra (Amida Dharma), have faith in Amida without clinging to one’s so-called power, say exclusively His Name and wish to be born in His Pure Land.
The Pure Land is easy to go because it is attainable through Amida’s Power, but few actually go there as most of the Buddhist followers cling to their own power. Shakyamuni himself said in section 31 of this sutra that “the Pure Land is easy to reach, but very few actually go there”. Commenting on this, Master Rennyo also said,
“The Pure Land – how easily we go there! Hence the Larger Sutra teaches: ‘Going is easy, and yet no one is born there’. This passage means that when we realize the settled mind (faith) and rely steadfastly on Amida, it is easy to go to the Pure Land; but because those who receive faith are rare, although it is easy to go to the Pure Land, very few are born there.”[23]   Shinran Shonin said:
"The Great Sage Sakyamuni teaches
That Amida's land is easy to reach,
And calls the sentient being who doubts the Pure Land path
A person lacking eyes, or lacking ears".[24]
Master Shan-tao said:
"To be able to hear the rare DharmaIs among the most difficult.To accept it in faith and teach others to believe in itIs the difficulty among all the difficulties."[25]
It is extremely important to understand that Amida Dharma is what Shakyamuni expounded and taught. This is why He said at the end of the Larger Sutra: “thus have I formed my Dharma, thus have I expounded my Dharma, thus have I taught my Dharma”[26]. It means, “Dear disciples, do not let yourself drawn into confusion! This is the Dharma you should accept in the exact way I myself formed it and expounded it”. This is also evident from the next sentence: “you must receive it and practice it by the method prescribed”[27].
Attention, dear readers – Shakyamuni said we must receive it and practice it in the way it was taught. Not to change it like we are some kind of owners of the Dharma or enlightened beings ourselves. So please, do not approach the Amida Dharma with a possessive mind, but with the humbleness of receiving the most precious medicine.
to be continued 


[1] This is also called the stage of the truly settled, the stage of definite assurance, the group of the rightly established stage, the stage equal to perfect Enlightenment, the stage equal with Maitreya, etc.[2] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.69-70[3] This passage was quoted by Master T’an-luan from Nagarjuna’s Discourse on the Ten Stages in Ojoronchu – T’an-luan’s Commentary on Vasubandhu’s Discourse on the Pure Land, translated by Hisao inagaki, Nagata Bunshodo, Kyoto, 1998, p. 121. [4] This is related to the provisional way of reffering to Maitreya (see chapter 2), as somebody who will surely become a Buddha. Ordinary people who have faith in Amida are in the same stage as Maitreya in the sense that we are also assured of becoming Buddhas in the next life with the difference that we don’t need to wait bilions of years like Him and that we entered this stage through the Power of Amida. [5] Shinran Shonin, Notes on the Essentials of Faith Alone,The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.454-455[6] Shinran Shonin, Notes on Once-calling and Many-calling, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.474[7] Shinran Shonin, Notes on Once-calling and Many-calling, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.474 [8] Shinran Shonin, Notes on the Inscriptions on Sacred Scrolls, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.493[9] Shinran Shonin, Notes on Once-calling and Many-calling, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.474[10] Rennyo Shonin Ofumi: Letters of Rennyo, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Berkeley, California, 1996, p.64[11] Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, chapter II,  translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 76-77[12] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.69-70 [13] In the practices based on personal power the practitioner “earns” virtues which he transfers for his own Enlightenment. But in the case of  Other Power (Pure Land) way, the transference of merits takes place from Amida Buddha to those who entrust to Him. This transference of merit (eko) carries the follower to the Pure Land where he attains Nirvana or perfect Enlightenment.
The merit transference from Amida to the practitioner has two aspects: 1) the merit transference of going forth (Oso-Eko) and2) the merit transference of returning to this world (Genso-Eko) .The first refers to the fact that through Amida's transference of merit we go to His Pure Land where we become Buddhas, while the second one means that after we become Buddhas in the Pure Land by sharing the same Enlightenment as Amida, we return to the various samsaric realms and universes, to save all beings.[14] Shinran Shonin, Hymns of the Pure Land (Jodo Wasan),  The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.332[15] The five defilements are the five marks of decay of the world we live in: 1) the defilement of views, when incorrect, perverse thoughts and ideas are predominant, 2) the defilement of passions, when all kinds of transgressions are exalted, 3) the defilement of human condition, when people are usually dissatisfied and unhappy, 4) the defilement of life-span, when the human life-span as a whole decreases – according to the sutras, when it is less or close to one hundred years, 5) the defilement of the world-age, when war and natural disasters are rife.[16]Shinran Shonin, Hymns of the Dharma Ages,  The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.406[17] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.70 [18] “In accord with their aspirations” - according with the Mahayana aspiration to become a Buddha for oneself and all beings. [19] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.70[20] Shinran Shonin, Shoshinge, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.306[21] The six paramitas (perfections) that a bodhisattvas in aspiration who relies on his own power is expected to develop are: 1.charity/generosity (dana) 2. discipline and proper behaviour (sila) 3.  perseverance (ksanti) 4. diligence 5. meditation (dhyana) and 6. higher wisdom (prajna).[22] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.70[23] Slightly changed passage from Rennyo Shonin Ofumi: Letters of Rennyo, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Berkeley, California, 1996, p.42[24] Shinran Shonin, Hymns of the Pure Land (Jodo Wasan), The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.350[25] Master Shan-tao quoted by Shinran in Kyogyoshinsho, III, Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 129[26] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.70 [27] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.70

23. The three types of prostrations - Amidaji style (video) - Aug 25, 2019 3:53:00 PM


Click here for the explanations in SpanishClick here for the explanations in Romanian
There are three types of prostrations presented at Amidaji temple:
1)      Half body prostration from sitting2)      Half body prostration from standing3)      Full body prostration from standing
1)      Half body prostration from sittingWe place our hands in gassho on the crown of our head, at the forehead, at the throat level, and at the level of the heart. Then we bow with our head touching the ground and our palms facing upwards. We slightly raise our palms and we keep them there for a few seconds. We do this three times and at the end we bow with our hands in gassho from sitting.

2)      Half body prostration from standingWe place our hands in gassho on the crown of our head, at the forehead, at the throat level, and at the level of the heart. Then we crouch and we bow with our head touching the ground and our palms facing upwards. We slightly raise our palms and we keep them there for a few seconds. We do this three times and at the end we bow with our hands in gassho from standing position.
3)      Full body prostration from standingWe place our hands in gassho on the crown of our head, at the forehead, at the throat level, and at the level of the heart. Then we lie down with all body touching the ground. We raise our palms on the crown of our heads and we keep them there for a few seconds. We do this three times and at the end we bow with our hands in gassho from standing position.
All the time we do these prostrations we continually say Nembutsu, especially when we touch the crown of our head, the forehead, the throat, the heart, when we raise our palms facing upwards in the first two prostrations, and when we finish any type of prostration with the final bow.
The significance of the gestures:All three types of prostrations are addressed to Amida Buddha. Placing our hands in gassho on the crown of our head means that we consider Amida Buddha  and Amida Dharma above ourselves, and above everything, that He is the most important (Enlightened) Person in our religious life, and that we rely exclusively on Him. To put Amida Buddha there, on the highest part of our body is the highest gesture of respect. Then, when we place our hands in gassho at the level of our forehead we mean we worship Amida Buddha with our mind, at the throat level – we worship Him with our voice, at the heart level – we worship Him with our heart and when we prostrate fully or partially – we worship Him with our body and entire being.Raising the hands with palms facing upwards is like lifting the Buddha's feet above our head, which is another profound gesture of worship and respect.
Of course, these three types of prostrations are not mandatory as simple faith and Nembutsu are enough. However, I post them here just in case you would like to use them at home in your daily devotions. Sometimes we use them at the temple, too.




24. The Nembutsu liturgy of Amidaji temple (final version) - Aug 24, 2019 2:59:00 PM
click aici pentru versiunea  in romana

click here for the Spanish version

last update and revised 26th August 2019




Although we also have other services, I  decided this will be the main liturgy at Amidaji temple. Unlike other services that you can see in various temples, this one is easier to follow, especially because all parts (including the Three Invitations) are recited, not chanted. 

What makes this service unique is also that it contains various types of recitations of the Name of Amida Buddha taken from the Larger Sutra (like the recitation of the Twelve Lights of Amida), as well as the Ten Character Name and Nine Character Name which were also recited by Shinran Shonin himself from time to time. 


Nembutsu liturgy during night time 
Translations of each phrase to be recited are added so that you can always know what you recite. 

The reason we use this Sino-Japanese transliteration is that people of various countries and languages have a common liturgy when we meet and worship together in the same temple. Thus, be sure we'll do this service when you visit me at Amidaji! Any temple or dojo related with Amidaji that will be open in the future will also have this liturgy. 

Of course, this type of service is NOT an obligation for people to do at home, as the follower can simply say Nembutsu in the form of Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amitabha, Namo  Amituofo, Namo Adida Phat, etc, without anything else. 


click here to download the version in pdf

●●
doshi: BU JO MI DA NYO RAI NIU DO JO
we respectfully call upon Amida Buddha to enter this place of practice[1]
doon: SAN GE RAKU
as we joyfully scatter flowers of welcome


doshi: BU JO SHA KA NYO RAI NIU DO JO
we respectfully call upon Shakyamuni Buddha to enter this place of practice
doon: SAN GE RAKU
as we joyfully scatter flowers of welcome

doshi: BU JO JIP-PO NYO RAI NIU DO JOwe respectfully call upon all Buddhas from the ten directionsdoon: SAN GE RAKU  as we joyfully scatter flowers of welcome●
doshi: NAMO KIE BU, NAMO KIE HO, NAMO KIE SO [2]I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dharma, I take refuge in the Sanghadoon: NAMO KIE BU. NAMO KIE HO. NAMO KIE SOdoon: NAMO KIE BU. NAMO KIE HO. NAMO KIE SOdoon: NAMO KIE BU. NAMO KIE HO. NAMO KIE SO●
doshi: KI MYO JIN JI PO MU GE KO NYO RAI[3] ◙ I take refuge in/Homage to the Tathagata of Unhindered Light Pervading the Ten Quartersdoon: KI MYO JIN JI PO MU GE KO NYO RAI  ◙doon: KI MYO JIN JI PO MU GE KO NYO RAI  ◙doon: KI MYO JIN JI PO MU GE KO NYO RAI  ◙ ●
doshi: NA MO FU KA SHI GI KO NYO RAI [4]◙I take refuge in/Homage to the Tathagata of Inconceivable Light doon: NA MO FU KA SHI GI KO NYO RAI ◙doon: NA MO FU KA SHI GI KO NYO RAI ◙doon: NA MO FU KA SHI GI KO NYO RAI ◙●

doshi: NA MO A MI DA BU[5]◙I take refuge in/Homage to Amida Buddhadoon: NA MO A MI DA BU, NA MO A MI DA BU, NA MO A MI DA BU, NA MO A MI DA BU, NA MO A MI DA BU, NA MO A MI DA BU, NA MO A MI DA BU …………◙●
doshi: NA MO I take refuge in (homage to)
doon: MU RYO KO BU Buddha of Infinite LightMU HEN KO BU Buddha of Boundless LightMU GE KO BU Buddha of Unhindered Light MU TAI KO BU Buddha of Incomparable LightEN NO KO BU Buddha Lord of Blazing LightSHO JO KO BU Buddha of Pure LightKAN GI KO BU Buddha of the Light of JoyCHI E KO BU Buddha of the Light of WisdomFU DAN KO BU Buddha of Uninterrupted LightNAN JI KO BU Buddha of Inconceivable LightMU SHO KO BU Buddha of Inexpressible LightCHO NICHI GAK KO BUBuddha of the Light Outshining the Sun and Moon[6]●(repeat three times)

doshi: NA MO A MI DA BU ◙I take refuge in/Homage to Amida Buddhadoon: NA MO A MI DA BU, NA MO A MI DA BU, NA MO A MI DA BU, NA MO A MI DA BU, NA MO A MI DA BU, NA MO A MI DA BU, NA MO A MI DA BU …………◙[7]●
doshi: GA-N NI SHI KU DO KU[8]May the merits of the [Primal] Vow [of Amida]doon: BYO – U DO – U SE IS – SA – I be received equally by all beings DO – U HO – TSU BO DA – I SHI – N May all develop bodhicitta[9],O – U JO – U A – A – A – A – N RAK – KOKUAnd may they be born in the Land of Peace and Bliss                                                                      ●● ●     Explanations
Only the words in caps and bold are to be recited.”Doshi” (leader) – this word indicates that part is recited by the person who leads the recitation”Doon” means all those present recite together. If only one person makes the service, then he/she recites all lines. ● – one bell strike●● – two bell strikes●● ● – three bell strikes◙ - drum (the use of a drum is optional)
You can strike the bell from time to time, during the six character Name recitation, to change the rhythm (slower-faster-slower, etc) or simply to keep everyone alert.





[1] Sambujo – the Three Invitations are addressed to Amida, Shakyamuni and all Buddhas in the ten directions. The place of practice (dojo) where we invite these Honored guests, can be a temple, one’s own house or any place where people meet to say Nembutsu and listen to Amida Dharma. [2] Sankie – The Three Refuges (in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha). [3] KI MYO JIN JI PO MU GE KO NYO RAI: The Name of Amida Buddha with ten characters.[4] NA MO FU KA SHI GI KO NYO RAI: The Name of Amida Buddha with nine characters. [5] NA MO A MI DA BU: The Name of Amida Buddha with six characters. You can prolong the recitation of this Name as much as you like. [6] Recitation of the Twelve Lights of Amida Buddha as they appear in the Larger Sutra:“The Buddha of Infinite Life (Amida) is called by the following names: the Buddha of Infinite (Immeasurable) Light, the Buddha of Boundless Light, the Buddha of Unhindered Light, the Buddha of Incomparable ( Unequaled) Light, the Buddha of Light that is Lord of Blazing Light, the Buddha of Pure Light, the Buddha of the Light of Joy, the Buddha of the Light of Wisdom, the Buddha of Uninterrupted Light, the Buddha of  Inconceivable Light, the Buddha of Inexpressible Light, and the Buddha of  Light Surpassing the Sun and Moon”. [7] If you decide to make a longer Nembutsu service, you can now recite again the Twelve Lights of Amida and then continue with more recitations of the six character Name (Namo Amida Bu). You can repeat the Ten Lights recitations followed by Namo Amida Bu as many times as you like. [8] This part is called Eko or merit transference. In the practices based on personal power the practitioner “earns” virtues which he transfers for his own Enlightenment. But in the case of  Other Power (Pure Land) way, the transference of merits takes place from Amida Buddha to those who entrust to Him. This transference of merit (eko) carries the follower to the Pure Land where he attains Nirvana or perfect Enlightenment. Shinran Shonin says in a hymn:
“When sentient beings of this evil world
of the five defilements
Entrust themselves to the selected Primal Vow,
Virtues indescribable, inexplicable, and inconceivable
Fill those practitioners."

The merit transference from Amida to the practitioner has two aspects:  1) the merit transference of going forth (Oso-Eko) and 2) the merit transference of returning to this world (Genso-Eko).The first refers to the fact that through Amida's transference of merit we go to His Pure Land where we become Buddhas, while the second one means that after we become Buddhas in the Pure Land by sharing the same Enlightenment as Amida, we return to the various samsaric realms and universes, to save all beings.[9] Bodhicita or Bodhi Mind is the aspiration to attain Budhahood for oneself and all beings. This is fulfilled in the Awakening of Faith (shinjin) in the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha. Master Shan-tao said: “Awake your Bodhi Mind to Amida’s Compasion”, that is, aspire to your and other beings Liberation by relying on the Compasion of Amida (His Primal Vow). So, the Awakening of the Bodhi Mind, the obligatory condition in Mahayana for attaining the supreme Enlightenment, appears in Jodo Shinshu in the form of the entrusting heart (shinjin). Shinran Shonin said, “The mind aspiring to become Buddha
Is the mind seeking to save sentient beings;
The mind that seeks to save sentient beings
Is True Faith endowed by Amida’s Compassion.”
(Hymns on the Patriachs, 18)


25. Tipos de Postraciones en el Templo Amidaji (vídeo) - Aug 23, 2019 7:04:00 PM



Traducido del inglés por:
Juan Sebastián Hincapié Arana
Hay tres tipos de postraciones presentadas en el Templo Amidaji:
1)      Media postración del cuerpo comenzando sentado2)      Media Postración del cuerpo comenzando parado3)      Postración completa del cuerpo comenzado de pie.

1)    Media postración del cuerpo comenzando sentadoColocamos nuestras manos en gassho sobre la coronilla de nuestra cabeza, luego sobre la frente,a continuación al nivel de la garganta y finalmente al nivel del corazón. Luego nos inclinamos en reverencia con nuestra cabeza tocando el suelo y nuestras palmas de frente hacia arriba. Alzamos ligeramente nuestras palmas y las mantenemos arriba por unos pocos segundos. Hacemos esto tres veces y al final nos inclinamos en reverencia estando sentados.
2)      Media Postración del cuerpo comenzando paradoEstando de pie colocamos nuestras manos en gassho sobre la coronilla de nuestra cabeza, luego sobre la frente, a continuación  al nivel de la garganta y finalmente al nivel del corazón. Luego nos agachamos y nos inclinamos en reverencia con nuestra cabeza tocando el suelo y con nuestras palmas de frente hacia arriba. Ligeramente alzamos nuestras manos y las mantenemos arriba por unos pocos segundos. Hacemos esto tres veces y al final nos inclinamos en reverencia con nuestras manos en gassho desde la posición de pie.
3)      Postración completa del cuerpo comenzado de pieEstando de pie colocamos nuestras manos en gassho sobre la coronilla de nuestra cabeza, luego sobre la frente, a continuación  al nivel de la garganta y finalmente al nivel del corazón. Luego nos recostamos con el cuerpo de frente tocando el suelo. Alzamos nuestras palmas sobre la coronilla de nuestras cabezas y las mantenemos allí por unos cuantos segundos. Hacemos esto tres veces y al final nos inclinamos en reverencia con nuestras manos en gassho estando en la posición de pie.
Todo el tiempo mientras hacemos estas postraciones recitamos el Nembutsu continuamente, especialmente cuando tocamos nuestra coronilla, frente, garganta y corazón (con las manos en gassho), y también cuando alzamos nuestras palmas hacia arriba en las primeras dos postraciones, y cuando terminamos cualquier tipo de postración con la reverencia final.
El significado de los gestos:Todas las tres variedades de postraciones están dirigidas al Buda Amida.Al colocar nuestras manos en gassho sobre la coronilla de nuestra cabeza significa que consideramos al Buda Amida como superior a nosotros, y por encima de todo, que Él es la persona (Iluminada) más importante en nuestra vida religiosa,  y que confiamos exclusivamente en Él. Al poner al Buda Amida allí, en la parte más alta de nuestro cuerpo es el más alto gesto de respeto.Luego, cuando colocamos nuestras manos en gassho al nivel de nuestra frente significa que adoramos al Buda Amida con nuestra mente; al nivel de la garganta- lo adoramos con nuestra voz, al nivel del corazón- Lo adoramos con nuestro corazón, y cuando nos postramos total o parcialmente- lo adoramos con nuestro cuerpo y con todo nuestro ser.Al alzar nuestras manos de cara hacia arriba as como alzar los pies del Buda encima de nuestra cabeza, lo cual as otro profundo gesto de adoración y respeto.
Por supuesto, estos tres tipos de postraciones no son obligatorias, ya que la simple Fe y el Nembutsu son suficientes. No obstante, las publico aquí en caso de que quisieran usarlas en casa en sus devociones diarias. A veces las usamos en el Templo también.