Severing Crosswise the Five Evil Courses

From The Letters of Rennyo Shonin (Gobunsho) Fascicle 2, Letter 4

Question: I understand that the reason why we speak of the all-surpassing Primal Vow of Amida Tathagata is that it is the supreme Vow made for foolish beings like us in the latter age of the five defilements, who commit evil and do not do any good act.

But we have no clear understanding as to in what state of mind we should be and how we should entrust ourselves to Amida in order to attain birth in the Pure Land. Please teach us about this in detail.

Answer: Out of great love and great compassion the Buddha vowed to save us, the beings of the present latter age, however deep our karmic evils may be, who wholly entrust ourselves to Amida Tathagata, taking refuge only in Amida Buddha single-mindedly and unwaveringly, without regard to other Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Since Amida sends forth great light and enfolds us in it, the [Contemplation] Sutra states: “The light shines everywhere throughout the worlds of the ten quarters, embracing and not forsaking sentient beings of the nembutsu.”

As the result, Amida Tathagata, exercising the inconceivable Vow-Power, blocks the path to the five or six evil courses to which we are destined.

The [Larger] Sutra says to the same effect, “One cuts off crosswise the five evil courses and the evil courses close naturally.”

When we entrust ourselves to the Tathagata’s Vow without a single thought of doubt, even though we feel we are to fall into hell, we will be taken in the embracing light of Amida Tathagata, for we are now destined to the land of bliss, despite worries about falling into hell.

It follows then that, since we receive, day and night, morning and evening, the Tathagata’s benevolence of great compassion, which is like the vast sky and lofty mountains, we cannot help but recite the nembutsu out of gratitude for the Buddha’s benevolence, continuously saying “Namo Amida Butsu.”

This is how it is to have attained the true entrusting heart.

Humbly and respectfully.

On the night of the 15th day of the 2nd month, 6th year of Bunmei [1474], reflecting on the bygone days when the Great Sage, the World-honored One, passed into Nirvana. I have written this with a brush under a lamp-stand while rubbing my eyes which are weakened by age.

At the age of 60