This month we enter into the section of Shoshinge that is based on the teachings of the Seven Masters who transmitted the Pure Land teaching westward across Asia over the course of two millennia.
The masters of India in the west, who explained the teaching in treatises, And the eminent monks of China and Japan, Clarified the Great Sage’s true intent in appearing in the world, And revealed that Amida’s Primal Vow accords with the nature of beings.
Alexander O’Neill is a PhD Candidate at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on Mahāyāna Buddhism. He does research on Mahāyāna sūtra literature and the Newar Buddhism of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. His recent publications have focused on the worship of sūtras in manuscript form, both in India and in Nepal. He came to Japan to perform research on Sanskrit ritual manual manuscripts at Taisho University, under the supervision of Ryugen Tanemura, as part of the Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai Canada fellowship. Due to the pandemic he continues to collaborate with local scholars by Zoom, and currently lives in Kamakura.
We welcome you to join us via Zoom Meeting from the comfort and safety of your own home on Wednesday, September 1 for this Dharma session.
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The nembutsu is the easy path to awakening because its liberating power does not come from our own efforts. In this month’s gathering we will explore the challenges of entrusting our lives to Amida Buddha’s compassionate Vow.
For evil sentient beings of wrong views and arrogance, The nembutsu that embodies Amida’s Primal Vow Is hard to accept in shinjin; This most difficult of difficulties, nothing surpasses.
In this session we reflect upon the Dharma truth expressed in the lotus, a symbol of pure awakening that blossoms, not in pristine clear water, but from the messy muck of everyday life.
All foolish beings, whether good or evil, When they hear and entrust to Amida’s universal Vow, Are praised by the Buddha as people of vast and excellent understanding; Such a person is called a pure white lotus.
This session will delve into the meaning expressed the following metaphor of the sun that shines through clouds and mists, and how the Buddha’s wisdom illuminates our lives even in times of difficulty and confusion.
The light of compassion that grasps us illumines and protects us always; The darkness of our ignorance is already broken through; Still the clouds and mists of greed and desire, anger and hatred, Cover as always the sky of true and real shinjin.
But though light of the sun is veiled by clouds and mists, Beneath the clouds and mists there is brightness, not dark. When one realizes shinjin, seeing and revering and attaining great joy, One immediately leaps crosswise, closing off the five evil courses.
This month we consider the following verse which illuminates the the profound transformation that occurs with the arising of the one thought-moment of joy.
When the one thought-moment of joy arises, Nirvana is attained without severing blind passions; When ignorant and wise, even grave offenders and slanders of the dharma, all alike turn and enter shinjin, They are like waters that, on entering the ocean, become one in taste with it.
This month as we celebrate Sakyamuni Buddha’s Birthday, the following verse from the Shoshinge expresses our appreciation for the meaning of his appearance in this world:
Sakyamuni Tathagata appeared in this world Solely to teach the ocean-like Primal Vow of Amida; We, an ocean of beings in an evil age of five defilements, Should entrust ourselves to the Tathagata’s words of truth.
This month we reflect upon the following verse as it relates to our journey to the Other Shore of enlightenment:
The Name embodying the Primal Vow is the act of true settlement, The Vow of entrusting with sincere mind is the cause of birth; We realize the equal of enlightenment and supreme nirvana Through the fulfillment of the Vow of attaining nirvana without fail.