- What motivates you to study the Buddha’s teachings?
- How have the goals that you are working to achieve in your life shifted as a result of hearing the Dharma and the Nembutsu?
- How has your way of working changed as a result of your encounter with the Nembutsu?
Opening verse of the Tale of the Heike (Heike Monogatari)
The great bell of the Gion Temple reverberates into every human heart to wake us to the fact that all is impermanent and fleeting. The withered flowers of the sala trees by Shakyamuni’s deathbed remind us that even those flourishing with wealth and power will soon pass away. The life of fame and pride is as ephemeral as a springtime dream. The courageous and aggressive person too will vanish like a swirl of dust in the wind.
(Translated and quoted in Danger on Peaks by Gary Snyder, p. 97)
Shinran’s Hymns on the Dharma-Ages, Number 116
I am such that I do not know right and wrong
And cannot distinguish false and true;
I lack even small love and small compassion,
And yet, for fame and profit, enjoy teaching others.
From Shinran’s True, Teaching, Practice, and Realization (Kyōgyōshinshō)
Those gathered in the dharma-hall today!
You have all passed in birth-and-death for kalpas countless as the sands of the Ganges.
Considering then this human existence – hard is it to obtain;
It is like the blossoming of the udumbara.
Truly we have come now to hear the Pure Land teaching so rare to encounter;
Truly we have encountered the opening of the dharma-gate of the nembutsu.
How joyous I am, my heart and mind being rooted in the Buddha-ground of the universal Vow, and my thoughts and feelings flowing within the dharma-ocean, which is beyond comprehension! I am deeply aware of the Tathagata’s immense compassion, and I sincerely revere the benevolent care behind the master’ teaching activity. My joy grows even fuller, my gratitude and indebtedness ever more compelling. Therefore, I have selected [passages expressing] the core of the Pure Land way and gathered here its essentials. Mindful solely of the profundity of the Buddha’s benevolence, I pay no heed to the derision of others. May those who see and hear this work be brought – either through the cause of reverently embracing the teaching or through the condition of [others’] doubt and slander of it – to manifest shinjin within the power of the Vow and reveal the incomparable fruit of enlightenment in the land of peace.