I have never planned or intended to become a monk in Japan. But after 6 years of marriage to my husband, I have found how grateful I am to have come to Japan for I was able to encounter the benevolence of Amida Buddha. Almost all my travels inside japan was a journey of my heart and through the conceivable working of the compassionate Buddha I found myself to have been grasped, never to be abandoned. I don`t have any gratefullness in my heart, yet the compassionate Buddha called me, makes me utter the great name. Amida Buddha made me happy...
Here was my first speech in Hiroshima Bukkyou Gakkouin:
A Letter on 1257 October 10
The Garland Sutra states, “He who attains shinjin and joy is equal to Tathagathas”. This means that a person who rejoices in shinjin is equal to all Tathagathas.
Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Today is a Culture Day and it is a rest day and yet you have come to receive to the teachings of Buddhism, and from the bottom of my heart, I am grateful. This is the time of the latter days. NAMUAMIDA BUTSU.
A few months before I got married I received from my husband a letter of Shinran Shonin dated October 10、1257. As I read this letter, I found it wonderful. There in this letter, other than Sakyamuni, there exist other Buddhas. There is also Amida who is the cause of my shinjin. There are other Buddhas who praise Amida, but they praise not only Amida you and me.
When I read this letter, ”Ah, I want to hear a monk`s sermon,” I thought. I want to hear the sermon of a monk only once, I thought. So I wrote an introduction letter of myself to my teacher Houjin Okamoto. I did not know a time would come but by inconveivable chance this year, almost every day listen his speech. Let us now read the letter of Shinran Shonin that I received.
A Letter on 1257 October 10
1257, 10th month 10th day
What you inquire about in your letter is a passage from a sutra which states: “He who attains shinjin and joy is equal to Tathagathas”. This is from the Garland Sutra and means that a person who rejoices in shinjin is equal to all Tathagathas. This is also indicated in Sakyamuni’s statement about those who realize shinjin and greatly rejoice:”The person who sees and reveres and attains great joy – he is my true companion.” Further, Amida’s 17th Vow declares that he will not enter into perfect enlightement if those who say the Name are not praised by all the countless Buddha’s throughout the worlds in the ten quarters.
The passage on the fullfillment of the Vow states: “Such people are praised by all the Buddhas and rejoice.”
You should have no doubts whatever concerning this matter. Here I have recorded the passages on being equal to Tathagathas.
The letter was written in October 10、1257 by Shinran Shonin for me, you, and everyone else. This time, Shinran Shonin was nearing his age and the contents of his letters bear maturity in his religious awakening. He had written this letter for Shinbutsu Onbou but it is also for the men and women of latter days. From here together we look closely at the contents of the letter. What does the letter contain?
1.0 Shinran Shonin concludes that a person of shinjin is the same as Maitreya Bodhisattva. Maitreya Bodhisattva, now dwelling in Tushita Heaven, is destined to be the next Buddha in this world. This is Shinran Shonin`s profound experience in becoming infused with the Power of Amida which awakened Shinran to his deepest false self .
2.0 The settling of true shinjin is the working of Sakyamuni and Amida.
3.0 Since true shinjin is awakened through the working of the two honored ones, it is when one is grasped that the settling of shinjin occurs.
4.0 Since he dwells in the stage of non retrogression, he is said to be in the stage of the truly settled. Thereafter he abides in the stage of the truly settled until he is born into the Buddha Land. Though not yet a Buddha for he must live out the course of his life, when it is exhausted, he will be born without fail into the Pureland, in the same sense as Maitreya Buddha.
5.0 When we receive the heart of Amida, we rejoice and we are placed on a level as Tathagatha. In the 17th Vow:”If, when I attain Buddhahood, the countless Buddhas throughout the worlds in the ten quarters do not all say my name in praise, may I not attain the supreme enlightenment”, it is said that the Buddhas of the 10 quarters praise the Name but Shinran Shonin interprets it as”If those who say the Name are not praised...”. Thus the moment when we attain shinjin and rejoice, the Buddhas also praise us.
Shinran equates the person of shinjin as equal to Tathagatha based on the Garland Sutra. In his Hymns on the Pureland we find the following:“The person of shinjin is taught to equal to Tathagathas. Great Shinjin is Buddha Nature, Buddha Nature is Tathagatha.
Buddha nature is the reality of Buddhahood awaiting to be fully realized, made possible by shinjin. The source of shinjin is Amida Buddha`s wisdom and compassion.
6.0 When we receive the heart of Amida, we rejoice and Sakyamuni and other Buddhas rejoice and consider us their companion.
What is the significance of the above? In this latter days, in our time it is difficult to cultivate our spiritual needs. We worry a lot about money, relationship, family, fame,etc. However, Amida has provided us salvation that is very easy to do for foolish beings. He provided us the great practice of the Nembutsu. With the the practice of Nembutsu, in this lifetime, we receive Amida’s shinjin. Receiving shinjin given by Amida, we are not bothered much by money, relationship, family, etc. as we consider our temporal needs as impermanent. Even our life is transient. By entrusting ourselves to the power of the Vow, we become grasped by Amida and enter the stage of the truly settled until we are born into the Pureland. We do not need to know a lot about the teachings of Buddhism. All we need to attain is shinjin.
Shinjin has two meanings.One is our deep entrusting to the great compassion of Amida. It is an awakening of our false(bombu) self and full of blind passions and only have to entrust ourselve to Name of Amida. Second, shinjin is a realization of the working of Amida in us. It is a realization that when we entrust ourselves to the great wisdom and compassion of Amida, we have been grasped, never to be abandoned and we have nothing else to go but straightforward to enlightement.
Lastly, teachers, fellow classmates, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for giving me the chance to hear the teachings of Buddha. It is difficult to hear the teachings of Buddha yet I have been given a chance to listen. Together, we say, ”Namuamida Butsu” in praise.