On Drowsiness

From The Letters of Rennyo Shonin (Gobunsho) Fascicle 1, Letter 6

I don’t know why, but recently (this summer), I have been particularly subject to drowsiness, and when I consider why I should be [so] lethargic, I feel without a doubt that the moment of death leading to birth [in the Pure Land] may be close at hand. This thought makes me sad, and I feel in particular the sorrow of parting. And yet, to this very day I have prepared myself with no lack of care, thinking that the time of birth might be imminent. All I continually long for in regard to this, day and night, is that, after [my death], there will be no regression in those among the visitors to this temple whose faith is decisively settled. As things now stand, there should be no difficulties if I die, but each of you is particularly lax in your thinking in regard to birth. As long as you live, you should be as I have described. I am altogether dissatisfied with what each of you has understood. In this life, even tomorrow is uncertain, and no matter what we say, nothing is to any avail when life ends. If our doubts are not clearly dispelled during this life, we will surely [be filled with] regret. I hope that you will bear this in mind.

Respectfully.

This is entrusted to those [assembled] on the other side of the sliding doors. In the years to come, please take it out and read it.

Written on the twenty-fifth day of the fourth month, Bunmei 5 (1473).

Nirvana Day 涅槃会 (February 11)

Nirvana Day is our observance of Sakyamuni Buddha’s departure from this world and entrance into the lasting tranquility of parinirvana. It is also a precious opportunity to reflect the truth that the impermanence of human life applies to all those who are born into this world.

2024年2月11日の9時30分から涅槃会をお勤めします。涅槃会は釈迦牟尼仏陀がこの世で最後の息を吸い入滅寂静を遂げられたことを記念する法要です。.

Schedule
8:30 a.m. Shoshinge Gyofu Chanting (click here for chanting text)
9:00 a.m. Sangha Social Hour
9:30 a.m. Nirvana Day Service
10:30 a.m. Japanese Language Dharma Talk 日本語法話 (Hondo)
10:30 a.m. Dharma Discussion (Social Hall)

From The Letters of Rennyo Shonin (Gobunsho) Fascicle 3, Letter 4

How true it is that impermanence is difficult to escape for all, from the Great Sage, the World-honored One, at the highest level, to Devadatta, who committed evil acts and grave offenses, at the lowest.

Moreover, to receive life as a human being is indeed rare and difficult, and even more so is it the opportunity to encounter the Buddha Dharma, the way of emancipation from birth-and-death through practices of self-power is difficult to follow at the present time in the latter days. Therefore, our lives would be spent in vain unless we encountered the Primal Vow of Amida Tathagata.

To join us for this hybrid service via Zoom, CLICK HERE to sign up for “Live Broadcast of Services”.

Namo Amida Butsu All Day Long (February 4)

This Sunday, Rev. Adams will share appreciations for Yazaemon, a marvelous person (myōkōnin) who found such joy in the Buddha’s wisdom that nothing could stop him from reciting the Name of Amida Buddha.

From The Letters of Rennyo Shonin (Gobunsho) Fascicle 1, Letter 15

. . . we must bear in mind that the Name we say walking, standing, sitting, and lying down is simply an expression of gratitude for Amida Tathāgata’s benevolence in saving us.

Schedule
8:30 a.m. Shoshinge Sofu Chanting
9:00 a.m. Sangha Social Hour
9:30 a.m. Dharma Service
10:30 a.m. Shotsuki Hoyo Monthly Memorial Service (Hondo)
10:30 a.m. Dharma Discussion (Dharma Room)

To join us for this hybrid service via Zoom, CLICK HERE to sign up for “Live Broadcast of Services”.

All the Sacred Scriptures

From The Letters of Rennyo Shonin (Gobunsho) Fascicle 5, Letter 9

The essential point of the settled mind in our tradition lies simply in the meaning of the six-character Name, “Na-mo-a-mi-da-butsu” (literally, paying homage to Amida Buddha).

This means that when we pay homage - “namo” - to Amida Buddha, we are immediately saved by the Buddha. So the two-character word, “na-mo,” means to take refuge.

“To take refuge” means that we, sentient beings, setting aside various practices, entrust ourselves unwaveringly to Amida Buddha for our emancipation in the afterlife Accordingly, Amida Tathagata, knowing this fully, saves all of us, without exception.

Thereupon, since Amida Buddha saves the sentient beings who entrust themselves - “namo” - to the Buddha, the six-character Name, “Na-mo-a-mi-da-butsu,” manifests how we, sentient beings, are all saved without discrimination.

For this reason, when we speak of attaining the entrusting heart of Other Power, we find that it is exactly what the six-character Name, “Na-mo-a-mi-da-butsu,” means. We should, therefore, realize that all the sacred scriptures indeed are solely meant to make us entrust ourselves to the six-character Name, “Na-mo-a-mi-da-butsu.”

Humbly and respectfully.

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.”

Continue reading “Severing Crosswise the Five Evil Courses”

Listen Carefully to the Dharma (January 21)

At the recent Ho’onko Service, our guest speaker introduced us to to the three principles for “How to listen to to a Dharma message.”

• I listen as if I am listening for the first time.
• I listen as if the message is for myself alone.
• I listen as if this is the last chance to listen to the Dharma.

This Sunday, Rev. Adams will share his appreciation for how these principles can guide us in a variety of everyday situations.

From The Letters of Rennyo Shonin (Gobunsho) Fascicle 3, Letter 5:

Now, listen carefully, with the ears of one aspiring to emancipation and with your heads lowered in reverence. You may realize the thought of faith and joy.

Schedule
8:30 a.m. Shoshinge Sofu Chanting (click here for chanting text)
9:00 a.m. Sangha Social Hour
9:30 a.m. Dharma Service
10:30 a.m. Dharma Discussion (Dharma Room)

To join us for this hybrid service via Zoom, CLICK HERE to sign up for “Live Broadcast of Services”.

All Women

From The Letters of Rennyo Shonin (Gobunsho) Fascicle 5, Letter 17

All women, if you seriously care about the afterlife and turn to the Buddha Dharma with sincere devotion, you should just entrust yourselves deeply to Amida Tathagata and, casting aside various practices, single-heartedly rely on Amida with the firm assurance of your emancipation in the afterlife. Then you will be unfailingly born in the land of bliss. There should never be any doubt about this.

After having attained this understanding, you should simply say “Namo Amida Butsu, Namo Amida Butsu, …” whether awake or asleep, with gratitude and appreciation, accepting deep in your mind Amida Tathagata’s readiness to save you. You will then be called nembutsu practicers who have attained the entrusting heart.

Humbly and respectfully.

Continue reading “All Women”

Holding Fast to Amida’s Sleeves (January 7)

As we enter the New Year, we may find ourselves seeking a truth that we can rely upon to guide us through the coming months. Rennyo Shonin assures us that single-minded entrusting in Amida Buddha can carry all of us across the the ocean of difficulty to the awakened realm of peace and bliss.

From The Letters of Rennyo Shonin (Gobunsho) Fascicle 5, Letter 12:

Those who wish to know in detail the essentials of the settled mind in our tradition do not necessarily require wisdom and learning. While aware of their deep karmic evil and helplessness, they should realize that Amida Tathagata is the only Buddha capable of saving such beings; putting aside all calculations, they should single-mindedly entrust themselves to the Buddha for their emancipation in the afterlife, as if holding fast to Amida’s sleeves. Then, Amida Tathagata will greatly rejoice and send forth from his body eighty-four thousand magnificent rays of light, embracing those beings in this light.

Schedule
8:30 a.m. Shoshinge Sofu Chanting (click here for chanting text)
9:00 a.m. Mindfulness Meditation
9:30 a.m. Dharma Service
10:30 a.m. Dharma Discussion (Dharma Room)

To join us for this hybrid service via Zoom, CLICK HERE to sign up for “Live Broadcast of Services”.

Women Remaining in Lay Life

From The Letters of Rennyo Shonin (Gobunsho) Fascicle 5, Letter 3

Women who remain in lay life should realize and never entertain the slightest doubt that those who, without any calculation, deeply rely on Amida Buddha single-mindedly and unwaveringly, entrusting themselves to the Buddha for their emancipation in the afterlife, will all be saved.

This is the intent of the Primal Vow of Other Power, the vow of Amida Tathagata.

Beyond this, whenever they feel joy and gratitude for their emancipation in the afterlife, they should simply say “Namo Amida Butsu, …”

Humbly and respectfully.

Continue reading “Women Remaining in Lay Life”

Hunting and Fishing

From The Letters of Rennyo Shonin (Gobunsho) Fascicle 1, Letter 3

The important point of the settled mind in our tradition does not lie particularly in refraining from evil thoughts or keeping delusory thoughts and attachments from arising.

We may just carry on trading, working as servants, hunting or fishing. If we deeply realize that the Primal Vow of Amida Tathagata promises to save such worthless people like us, who are absorbed, morning and evening, inn our daily engagements, deluded under the influence of our evil karma, and if we single-heartedly entrust ourselves to Amida Buddha’s compassionate Vow without any doubt, while having firm assurance of our emancipation - since such a single thought of entrusting is sincere, we will certainly be saved by the Tathagata.

Beyond this, in what state of mind should we say the nembutsu? We should say the nembutsu as long as we live, acknowledging our deep indebtedness to the benevolence of Amida who saves us by settling our birth through the endowment of the power of entrusting which we thus receive.

Such people are called practicers with the entrusting heart who have attained the settled mind of our tradition.

Humbly and respectfully.

18th day of the 12th month, 3rd year of Bunmei [1471]