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)
Translation by Henry Adams from the Sutra on Wisdom and Folly (Xiangujing), Fascile 6, Chapter 30 (賢愚經卷第六 T0202_.04.0397a24)
Thus I have heard. At one time the Buddha was dwelling at Jetavana in the country of Sravasti.
At that time, many people lived inside the walled city of Shravasti. There were few lavatories, so most people went outside the city to urinate and defecate.
There were also wealthy people of high status, who did not venture outside the city walls. They would use containers for toilets and hire people to take them outside the city.
There was one man named Nītha who was extremely poor and destitute. He had nowhere to go and earned a meager living taking out the toilet pots.
At that time, the World-Honored One came to know of his situation and resolved to liberate him. He instructed Ananda that they would go into the walled city with the intention of bringing Nītha out and saving him. When they arrive a short distance from the city, they happened upon Nītha carrying a clay pot filled to the brim with filth on his way out to dispose of it. Continue reading “Nītha the Scavenger”
(“Kotori no ie” by Akamatsu Gessen, illustrated by Tateno Yasunosuke, in Bukkyo Dōwa Zenshū, Vol. 8, p. 139-147, Translation by Henry Adams)
Long ago in the Latter Han Dynasty, there was a family named Yang who lived in the Chinese capital. They had one son named Bao. This story takes place when Bao was nine years old.
Bao’s father worked for a government official of low rank, but he was a dedicated and hard-working man. Bao’s mother was a quiet and deeply caring woman. While she did not make a particularly strong impression at first, even a passing conversation with her would give a genuine sense of her true kindness.
Bao’s mother was kind to little birds. She did not keep them as pets, but they would be naturally drawn to her, because she always set scraps of food outside the kitchen for them to eat. Continue reading “The Home of Little Birds”
“Do not resent my being sent into exile, for I am approaching eighty years of age. Even if we were living together as teacher and students in the capital, my departure from this saha world is drawing near. Even if we are separated by mountains and oceans, do not doubt that we will meet again in the Pure Land. Though we may reject this world, our human existence carries on. Though we may cling to life, our death will come. Why insist upon being in a certain place?
“What’s more, while I have spent all these years sharing the Nembutsu teaching here in the capital, it has been my heartfelt wish to go into the outlying regions and share the teachings with the farmers who work the fields. However, a time had not come when I was able to fulfill that wish. That I am now able to pursue this long-held wish is thanks to the great benevolence of the emperor. Continue reading “Hōnen Shōnin’s parting words to his students on the occasion of his being sent into exile”
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, or compassion conditioned by an appreciation of the Dharma. The second way is to understand the Four Universal Vows as they arise from true reality. This is unconditioned compassion. Continue reading “The Four Universal Bodhisattva Vows”
Voices of the Nembutsu Echoing in America, No. 5
From Hongwanji Journal, No. 3366, Thursday, February 20, 2020
(Translation by H. Adams)
Michael Ishikawa (age 57) is a third generation Japanese American. Apart from the two days a week when he receives dialysis treatments, he begins each morning by chanting Shoshinge at the obutsudan Buddha shrine in his home in San Mateo, California. On Sundays, he also attends services at the San Mateo Buddhist Temple.
He says, “Shoshinge is the most important chanting practice for me. I find the opening lines ‘I take refuge in the Tathagata of Immeasurable Life! / I entrust myself to the Buddha of Inconceivable Light!’ to be deeply meaningful. To me, these words contain Shinran Shonin’s feeling of gratitude toward Amida Tathagata. I deeply appreciate the heart of Shinran Shonin who expresses his gratitude to Amida Tathagata at the start of the Shoshinge.”
Born to Christian parents, Mr. Ishikawa was baptized as a young child. He attended church until the age of sixteen but did not feel at home with the Christian teachings. Continue reading “Living as a Buddhist in a Christian Society”