Construction at Ozaka

From The Letters of Rennyo Shonin (Gobunsho) Fasicle 4, Letter 15

The place called Ozaka in the Ikutama area, Higashinari district, Settsu province, must have had some connection with me from the distant past. After it took my fancy by chance in the latter part of autumn in the fifth year of Meio, I had a temple of sorts built here. Now three years have passed. I feel that I have some close karmic relationship with this place from the past.

In regard to this, the fundamental reason for living in this place is not to spend a relaxed life here or enjoy a life of luxury and glory or a life of seclusion appreciating flowers, birds, breezes and the moon. My sincere hope is only to see an increase in number of the practicers who have attained the entrusting heart and of those who recite the nembutsu - all for the sake of attaining the supreme enlightenment. It could happen that some people in the secular world harbor prejudice and come to me with difficult problems. In such a case, I would give up my attachment to this place and immediately withdraw.

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The End of Life for a Heavenly Being

From Genshin’s Essentials for Attaining Birth

In the Heaven of the Thirty-Three the pleasures are limitless, but at end of a heavenly being’s life, the following five signs of declining health appear.  First, the crown of flowers that adorns her head suddenly withers.  Second, dirt and dust cling to her heavenly robes.   Third, her armpits start sweating.  Fourth, her vision fades in both eyes.  Fifth, she no longer feels comfortable in the place she has always been.  

When these signs appear, her entourage of heavenly ladies all discard her like a weed and go far away leaving her behind.  She lies in the forest crying bitterly and laments, “These heavenly ladies have always been at my side.  How could they suddenly discard me like a weed?  Now there is nothing I can rely on and no-one I can depend on.  Who will save me?”

. . . Though she calls out in this way, no-one tries to help her.  The Sutra on the Six Paramitas teaches that this suffering is even worse than birth in a hell realm.

(Taisho Tripitaka, Vol. 84, p. 39, translated by Henry Adams)

Sanbutsuge (Verses in Praise of the Buddha)

From the Sutra on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life (Larger Sutra)

Your radiant countenance is majestic,

And your dignity is boundless.

Radiant splendor such as yours

Has no equal.

Even the blazing light of

The sun, moon, and *mani-jewels

Is completely hidden and obscured,

And looks like a mass of black ink-sticks.

The countenance of the Tathagata

Is unequaled in the world;

The great voice of the Perfectly Enlightened One

Resounds throughout the ten quarters.

Your observance of precepts, learning, diligence,

Meditation, and wisdom ― 

The magnificence of these virtues is peerless,

Excellent and unsurpassed.

Deeply and clearly mindful

Of the ocean of the Dharma of all Buddhas,

You know its depth and breadth,

And reach its farthest end.

Ignorance, greed, and anger

Are completely absent in the World-honored One;

You are a lion, the most courageous of all humans,

Having immeasurable majestic virtues.

Your meritorious accomplishment is vast,

And your wisdom is deep and supreme;

The majestic glory of your light

Shakes the great thousand worlds.

I vow to become a Buddha,

Equal to you, the most honored King of the Dharma,

And to bring sentient beings from birth-and-death

To the final attainment of emancipation.

My practice of giving, self-discipline,

Observance of precepts, forbearance, diligence,

And also meditation and wisdom

Shall be unsurpassed.

I resolve that, when I become a Buddha,

I will fulfill this vow in every possible way,

And to all beings who live in fear

I will give great peace.

Even though there are Buddhas

As many as a thousand million kotis,

Or countless great sages

As many as the sands of the Ganges,

I will make offerings

To all these Buddhas;

Nothing surpasses my determination

To seek the Way steadfastly and untiringly.

Even though there are Buddha-worlds

As many as the sands of the Ganges,

And also innumerable lands

Beyond calculation,

My light shall illumine

All of these lands;

I will make such efforts

That my divine power may be boundless.

When I become a Buddha,

My land shall be the most exquisite;

People there shall be unrivaled and excellent

And my seat of enlightenment shall be beyond compare.

My land shall be like nirvana,

Being supreme and unequaled.

Out of compassion and pity,

I will bring all to emancipation.

Those who come from the ten quarters

Shall rejoice with pure hearts;

Once they reach my land,

They shall dwell in peace and happiness.

May you, the Buddha, be my witness

And attest to the truthfulness of my resolution.

I have thus made my aspiration;

I will endeavor to fulfill it.

The World-honored Ones in the ten quarters

Have unimpeded wisdom;

May these honored ones

Always know my intentions.

Even if I should be subjected to

All kinds of suffering and torment,

Continuing my practice undeterred,

I would endure it and never have any regrets.”

The Meaning of 108

The number 108 has great significance in Buddhism. There are multiple commentaries the meaning of 108. The following are two common explanations.

Nagarjuna’s explanation of the significance of the number 108 from his Commentary on the Perfection of Great Wisdom:

Human beings have 6 senses 六受:

1) sight 眼→色

2) sound 耳→声

3) smell 鼻→香

4) taste 舌→味

5) touch 身→触

6) thought 意→法

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Into the name flow all of Amida’s uncountable virtues

. . . into the name flow all of Amida’s uncountable virtues.  That is to say, in the name are contained all the merits and virtues of Amida’s inner enlightenment, such as the four kinds of wisdom, the three bodies, the ten powers, and the four kinds of fearlessness. Also contained in it are all the merits and virtues of his outward activities, such as the major and minor bodily characteristics, the emanation of light, the preaching of the Dharma, and the benefitting of sentient beings.

(Honen’s Senchakushu published by the Kuroda Institute, page. 76)

The Four Universal Bodhisattva Vows

Living beings are limitless, I vow to liberate them all.

Blind passions are limitless, I vow to sever them all.

Dharma gates are inexhaustible, I vow to know them all.

Unsurpassed is awakening, I vow to realize it.

Commentary from Genshin’s Ojoyoshu, Section on the Correct Practice of the Nembutsu

To begin with, the manifestation of practice is generally called the mind that vows to become a Buddha.  It is also referred to as the mind that seeks the highest awakening while transforming living beings below.  The manifestation of practice is also expressed as the Four Universal Vows.

These vows can be understood in two ways.  The first way is to understand the Four Universal Vows as they arise from life situations.  This is compassion conditioned by a feeling of sympathy for living beings[1], or compassion conditioned by an appreciation of the Dharma[2].  The second way is to understand the Four Universal Vows as they arise from true reality.  This is unconditioned compassion[3].

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A Passage on Right Views from Shinran’s True Teaching, Practice, and Realization

Chapter on Transformed Buddha-Bodies and Lands, Section 88

Chapter Eight, “Evil Spirits” Attainment of Reverent Trust,” part one, of the Great Collection “Moon-Matrix” Sutra, fascicle five, states:

[The Buddha said,] “All beings! If you keep your distance from wrong views, you will gain ten kinds of virtue. What are these ten? First, with your mind pliant and good, you will have companions who are wise and virtuous. Second, believing in the recompense of actions, leading even to death, you will not commit any evil acts. Third, venerating the three treasures, you will not trust in gods. Fourth, adopting right views, you will not decide propitious or unpropitious times according to the season, day or month. Fifth, always being born in realms of human beings or devas, you will never fall into the evil courses. Sixth, attaining a mind of clarity in wisdom and goodness, you will be praised by others. Seventh, abandoning secular involvements, you will always pursue the holy path. Eighth, parting from views of annihilation and eternality, you will believe in the law of causation. Ninth, you will always meet and be with people of right faith, right practice, and right aspiration. Tenth, you will be born into the good courses of existence.

“You will direct the roots of good acquired from casting off wrong views toward attainment of supreme, perfect enlightenment. People who do so quickly fulfill the six paramitas and will attain perfect enlightenment in a Buddha-land of goodness and purity. Having achieved enlightenment, they will adorn sentient beings with their virtues, wisdom, and all their roots of good in their own Buddha-land. Being born in those lands, people do not put trust in gods; leaving behind their fear of the evil course, they will be born into good courses on ending their lives there.”

Commentary on the Buddha’s Parinirvana

Cited in Shinran’s True Teaching, Practice, and Realization (Kyogyoshinsho), “Chapter on Transform Buddha-bodies and Lands”

Section 71

The Commentary on the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra states, explaining the four reliances:

When Sakyamuni was about to enter nirvana, he said to the bhiksus, “From this day on, rely on dharma, not on people who teach it. Rely on the meaning, not on the words. Rely on wisdom, not on the working of the mind. Rely on the sutras that fully express the meaning, not on those that do not.

“As to relying on dharma, dharma refers to the twelve divisions of scripture. Follow this dharma, not people who teach it.

“With regard to relying on the meaning, meaning itself is beyond debate of such matters as, like against dislike, evil against virtue, falsity against truth. Hence, words may indeed have meaning, but the meaning is not the words. Consider, for example, a person instructing us by pointing to the moon with his finger. [To take words to be the meaning] is like looking at the finger and not at the moon. The person would say, ‘I am pointing to the moon with my finger in order to show it to you. Why do you look at my finger and not the moon?’ Similarly, words are the finger pointing to the meaning; they are not the meaning itself. Hence, do not rely upon words.

“As to relying on wisdom, wisdom is able to distinguish and measure good and evil. The working of mind always seeks pleasure, and does not reach the essential. Hence it is said, ‘Do not rely on mind.’

“As to relying on the sutras that fully express the meaning, among all the sages, the Buddha is foremost. Among all the various scriptures, the Buddha-dharma is foremost. Among all human beings, the assemblage of bhiksus is foremost.”

The Buddha regarded the sentient beings of an age in which there is no Buddha as possessed of deep karmic evil. They are people who have not cultivated the roots of good that would enable them to see a Buddha.

Mental Health Resources

Free Access to Sleep and Meditation Apps

(May be available in other counties, medical insurance groups as well)

Kaiser — (note, it initially provides it is only available to Kaiser Washington patients but if you continue to register and log into your Kaiser account you should still be able to download app.)

San Mateo County Residents —

Los Angeles County Residents —

From The Larger Sutra on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life, Part II, Section, 31

31 The Buddha said to Bodhisattva Maitreya, the devas, humans, and others, “The virtue and wisdom of sravakas and bodhisattvas in the Land of the Buddha of Immeasurable Life are beyond verbal expression. Thus, that land is exquisite, blissful, and pure. Why do you not strive to practice the good, be mindful of the spontaneous working of the Way, and realize that all beings in that land attain without discrimination the boundless virtue of enlightenment? Each of you should be diligent and make every effort to seek it for yourself.

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