^Reverently I say to fellow practicers who aspire for birth:
You should all deeply repent! Śākyamuni Tathagata is
truly our compassionate father and mother.
With a variety of compassionate means
he leads us to awaken the supreme shinjin.

 

^Hymns on the Samadhi of All Buddhas’ Presence

 

[ Prefatory Hymn ]

 

^In 1257, on the night of the ninth day of the second month,

during the hour of the tiger, I was told in a dream:

1

Entrust yourself to Amida’s Primal Vow.

Through the benefit of being grasped, never to be abandoned,

All who entrust themselves to the Primal Vow

Attain the supreme enlightenment.

 

Pure Land Hymns on the Right,
Semblance, and Last Dharma-Ages

BY GUTOKU SHINRAN

 

2

It is now more than two thousand years

Since the passing of Śākyamuni Tathagata.

The right and semblance ages have already closed;

So lament, disciples of later times!

3

Now, amid the five defilements in the last dharma-age,

Sentient beings are incapable of practice and realization;

Hence the teachings that Śākyamuni left behind

Have all passed into the naga’s palace.

4

During the right, semblance, and last ages,

Amida’s Primal Vow has spread.

At the end of the semblance and in this last dharma-age,

Good practices have all gone into the naga’s palace.

good practices: Śākyamuni’s teachings.

5

The Great Collection Sutra teaches

That we are now in the fifth period of five-hundred years;

Because people are resolute in conflict and dispute,

The pure dharma is concealed in dormancy.

l. 4: All roots of good are hidden within the naga’s palace.

6

When sentient beings’ life-span of tens of thousands of years,

Through a gradual decline of their karmic reward,

Decreased to twenty thousand years,

The age came to be called the “evil world of the five defilements.”

life-span of tens of thousands of years: The direct recompense of long life has gradually become short.

7

As the time of kalpa-defilement advances,

The bodies of sentient beings gradually grow smaller;

Their evil and wrongdoing amid the five defilements increase,

So that their minds are like poisonous snakes and evil dragons.

l. 3: Evil karma increases.

8

Ignorance and blind passions abound,

Pervading everywhere like innumerable particles of dust.

Desire and hatred arising out of conflict and accord

Are like high peaks and mountain ridges.

l. 3: greed, envy, jealousy, and contention increase.

l. 4: blind passions and evil increase, so that they are like high peaks and mountain ridges.

9

Sentient beings’ wrong views grow rampant,

Becoming like thickets and forests, bramble and thorns;

Filled with suspicion, they slander those who follow the nembutsu,

While the use of violence and the poison of anger spread widely.

ll. 1-2: blind passions and evil increase, becoming like thickets and forests, bramble and thorns.

10

With life-defilement, the untimely end occurs in a moment,

And both forms of recompense―oneself and one’s environment―perish.

Rejecting right and turning to wrong prevails,

So that people senselessly injure others.

life-defilement: The life of human beings shortens and becomes weak.

l. 2: The lives of human beings and their possessions collapse and disappear.

l. 4: People have only evil thoughts; this characterizes sentient beings of the world of the five defilements.

11

Without entrusting themselves to the Tathagata’s compassionate Vow,

No sentient beings of these times―the last dharma-age, and

The fifth five-hundred year period since Śākyamuni’s passing―

Will have a chance of parting from birth-and-death.

l. 3: Know that this period is the beginning of the last dharma-age.

12

The ninety-five nonbuddhist teachings defile the world;

The Buddha’s path alone is pure.

Only by going forth and reaching enlightenment can we benefit others

In this burning house; this is the natural working of the Vow.

ninety-five nonbuddhist teachings: Know that nonbuddhist paths are divided into numerous kinds, and that besides these there are also the sixty-two nonbuddhist views.

l. 2: Know that only the Buddha’s path is pure and excellent.

going forth and reaching enlightenment: becoming Buddha.

burning house: this Sahā world.

13

With the advent of the age of the five defilements

Both monks and laity have fallen into contention;

When they see persons who have entrusted themselves to the nembutsu,

Filled with suspicion, they slander and attack them.

age: the age and its beings.

14

Those who, it appears, will never attain enlightenment

All attack the practice of solely saying the Name.

The mark of destroying the teaching of sudden attainment

Is that for them, the vast sea of birth-and-death will have no end.

destroying: to slander, to destroy.

15

We may think that these times belong to the right dharma-age,

But in us―the lowest of foolish beings―

There is no mind that is pure, true, or real;

How could we awaken the aspiration for enlightenment?

these times: the age and its beings.

l. 2: foolish beings sinking in the depths of blind passions. We who are possessed of blind passions.

16

The aspiration for enlightenment through self-power taught in the Path of Sages

Is beyond our minds and words;

We foolish beings ever sinking in transmigration―

How could we awaken it?

ever sinking: constantly sinking in the great ocean of birth-and-death.

transmigration: wandering in the twenty-five forms of existence.

17

Under the guidance of Buddhas who appeared in this world,

Three times the sands of the Ganges in number,

We awakened the aspiration for supreme enlightenment,

But our self-power failed, and we continued to transmigrate.

the aspiration for supreme enlightenment: the mind that desires to bring all sentient beings to Buddhahood.

continued to transmigrate: Know that, with the aspiration for enlightenment of self-power, we have wandered thus in birth-and-death to this day.

18

With the advent of the semblance and last dharma-ages, and this world of the five defilements,

The teachings left by Śākyamuni entered into concealment.

Only the compassionate Vow of Amida becomes widely known,

And attainment of birth through the nembutsu spreads.

teachings left by Śākyamuni: Know that the teachings that were left by Śākyamuni have been distorted and lost, and have entered [into concealment].

19

Of the Vows embraced as supreme and all-surpassing,

Selected through five kalpas of profound thought,

The Vows of immeasurable light and life

Were made the foundation of the working of great compassion.

20

Concerning the aspiration for supreme enlightenment is the Pure Land path,

We are urged to realize the mind that seeks to attain Buddhahood;

The mind that seeks to attain Buddhahood

Is itself the mind that seeks to save all sentient beings.

aspiration for supreme enlightenment: the mind that desires to bring all sentient beings to Buddhahood.

l. 2: Other Power aspiration for enlightenment. In the Primal Vow, Amida encourages beings to aspire to be born in the Land of Bliss and attain Buddhahood.

mind that seeks to attain Buddhahood (l. 3): the mind deeply entrusting oneself to Amida’s compassionate Vow and aspiring to become Buddha is called “aspiration for enlightenment.”

mind that seeks to save all sentient beings: Know that this is the mind that desires to bring all sentient beings to Buddhahood.

21

The mind that seeks to save all sentient beings

Is directed to us through Amida’s Vow of wisdom.

Those who realize this true entrusting that is directed to us

Attain great, complete nirvana.

mind that seeks to save all sentient beings: Other Power aspiration for enlightenment; desire to bring all sentient beings to Buddhahood.

Amida’s Vow of wisdom: Amida Tathagata’s compassionate Vow.

true entrusting that is directed to us: entrusting ourselves without double-mindedness to the power of Amida’s Vow.

Attain great, complete nirvana: to attain the same enlightenment as Amida Tathagata.

22

Persons who enter Amida’s directing of virtue to beings

And realize the mind that seeks to attain Buddhahood

Completely abandon their self-power directing of merit,

Thus benefiting sentient beings boundlessly.

Amida’s directing of virtue: Amida’s giving us the Primal Vow.

23

When the waters of the mind entrusting to Other Power enter

The ocean waters of Amida’s Vow of wisdom,

Then in accord with the nature of the true and real fulfilled land,

Blind passions and enlightenment come to be of one taste.

l. 2: Amida’s Primal Vow of wisdom. This Primal Vow is likened to the great ocean.

waters of . . . entrusting: true and real shinjin is likened to water.

true and real fulfilled land: The Land of bliss is called the fulfilled land.

l. 4: Our minds and Buddha’s mind become one. When we are born in the Land of Happiness, evil and good become one taste. Blind passions and virtues become one.

24

All those who deeply entrust themselves

To the two aspects of Amida’s directing of virtue

Attain the stage equal to perfect enlightenment;

Hence, their mindfulness continues unceasingly.

two aspects of Amida’s directing of virtue: The directing of virtue of Amida Tathagata’s Primal Vow has two aspects―directing virtue for going forth and directing virtue for return.

stage equal to perfect enlightenment: the stage of the truly settled.

25

Persons who truly realize shinjin,

Which is directed to them through Amida’s Vow of wisdom,

Receive the benefit of being grasped, never to be abandoned;

Hence, they attain the stage equal to perfect enlightenment.

persons who truly realize shinjin: persons who realize true and real shinjin.

grasped, never to be abandoned: Amida Tathagata takes in and holds the persons of shinjin

l. 4: Know that they attain the stage of the truly settled.

26

Bodhisattva Maitreya must pass 5,670,000,000 years

Before attaining Buddhahood,

But the person who realizes true shinjin

Will attain enlightenment with the end of this life.

27

The person who attains the stage equal to perfect enlightenment

By the working of the Vow of birth through the nembutsu,

Being the same as Maitreya,

Will realize great, complete nirvana.

stage equal to perfect enlightenment: the stage of the truly settled. Maitreya is said to be in the stage equal to perfect enlightenment.

28

Having immediately entered the stage of the truly settled

On realizing true and real shinjin, a person will,

Being the same as Maitreya of the rank of succession

To Buddhahood, attain supreme enlightenment.

supreme enlightenment: great, complete nirvana.

29

Even the wise who lived during the semblance dharma-age

Put aside the various teachings of self-power

And entered the gate of the nembutsu,

For it is the teaching in accord with the times and with beings.

30

Persons who truly realize shinjin

As they utter Amida’s Name,

Being mindful of the Buddha always,

Wish to respond in gratitude to the great benevolence.

31

When sentient beings of this evil world of the five defilements

Entrust themselves to the selected Primal Vow,

Virtues indescribable, inexplicable, and inconceivable

Fill those practicers.

32

The Buddha of Unhindered Light declared:

“To benefit the sentient beings of the future,

I entrust the nembutsu of wisdom

To Bodhisattva Mahāsthāmaprāpta.”

33

Full of compassion for the sentient beings of this defiled world,

Mahāsthāmaprāpta encourages us to say the nembutsu;

He embraces the people of shinjin

And brings them into the Pure Land.

embrace: takes in and holds.

34

Through the compassion of Śākyamuni and Amida,

We have bee brought to realize the mind that seeks to attain Buddhahood.

It is by entering the wisdom of shinjin

That we become persons who respond in gratitude to the Buddhas’ benevolence.

l. 1: Know that we receive true shinjin through their guidance.

mind that seeks to attain Buddhahood: the mind that entrusts to [Amida’s] Vow to become Buddha; the aspiration for supreme enlightenment in the Pure Land path.

wisdom of shinjin: Know that since Amida’s Vow is wisdom, the emergence of the mind of entrusting oneself to it is the arising of wisdom.

35

It is by the power of Dharmākara’s Vow

That we realize the nembutsu that is wisdom;

Were it not for the wisdom of shinjin,

How could we attain nirvana?

nembutsu that is wisdom: This is said because one attains Buddhahood through Amida’s Vow.

attain nirvana: become true Buddha.

36

It is great torch in the long night of ignorance;

Do not sorrow that your eyes of wisdom are dark.

It is a ship on the vast ocean of birth-and-death;

Do not grieve that your obstructions of karmic evil are heavy.

great torch: Amida’s Primal Vow is likened to a torch.

37

The power of the Vow is without limit;

Thus, even our karmic evil, deep and heavy, is not oppressive.

The Buddha’s wisdom is without bounds;

Thus, even those of distracted minds and self-indulgence are not abandoned.

l. 1: The Buddha’s power is without limit.

l. 2: We should not think the obstructions of our karmic evil to be too deep and heavy.

l. 3: Know that the Buddha’s wisdom is vast and without limit.

l. 4: We should know that we will go to the Pure Land regardless of the distraction and evil of our minds.

38

When we reflect on the establishment of the Vow,

We find that the Tathagata, without abandoning sentient beings in pain and affliction,

Has taken the directing of virtue to them as foremost,

Thus fulfilling the mind of great compassion.

establishment of the Vow: Amida Tathagata’s establishing of the compassionate Vow.

l. 4: Know that Amida has attained the mind of great love and great compassion.

39

The saying of the Name arising from true and real shinjin

Is Amida’s directing of virtue to beings;

Therefore, it is called “not directing merit,”

And saying the nembutsu in self-power is rejected.

not directing merit: This expression means that we are to realize that it is not the practicer’s directing of merit. This matter is explained in Essentials for Attaining Birth.

40

When the waters―the minds, good and evil, of foolish beings―

Have entered the vast ocean

Of Amida’s Vow of wisdom, they are immediately

Transformed into the mind of great compassion.

l. 1: Good and evil minds are likened to [river] waters.

transformed: The mind of evil is transformed into good.

l. 4: Just as the various waters enter the ocean and immediately become seawater, so the waters of the minds, good and evil, all become the mind of great compassion.

41

“Among my disciples, who will give themselves to doing evil,

Wrong views and self-indulgence will flourish,

And in the last age they will destroy my teaching.”

Thus Śākyamuni foretells in the Lotus Face Sutra.

42

Sentient beings who slander the nembutsu

Fall into Avīci hell

And suffer great pain and affliction without respite

For eighty thousand kalpas; thus it is taught.

Avīci: “uninterrupted” hell.

43

Receiving the true cause of birth in the true fulfilled land

Through the words of the two honored ones,

We dwell in the stage of the truly settled;

Thus, we will unfailingly attain nirvana.

nirvana: great, complete nirvana.

44

Though the words of the witness and protection

Of the countless Buddhas throughout the ten quarters,

We should realize that the mind of self-power aspiring for supreme enlightenment

Is incapable of reaching fulfillment.

45

Realization of true and real shinjin

Is rare in the defiled world of the last dharma-age;

The witness of Buddhas countless as the sands of the Ganges

Reveals how difficult it is to attain.

46

If we had not encountered

Amida’s directing of virtue for going forth and returning,

Our transmigration in birth-and-death would have no end;

What could we do then, sinking in this sea of pain?

l. 2: the two aspects of Amida’s directing virtue.

47

When we entrust ourselves to the inconceivable Buddha-wisdom,

We dwell in the stage of the truly settled.

Those who are born transformed [in the Pure Land] are of superior wisdom,

And they realize the supreme enlightenment.

48

Entrusting ourselves to the inconceivable Buddha-wisdom

Is taught to be the cause of birth in the fulfilled land.

Realization of shinjin, which is the true cause,

Is among all difficulties even more difficult.

49

Casting off the pain of birth-and-death since the beginningless past,

We are certain of attaining supreme nirvana.

This is through Amida’s directing of virtue for going forth and returning;

Our gratitude for the Buddha’s benevolence is truly hard to fulfill.

50

Those born in the fulfilled land―practicers of shinjin―are few;

Those born in transformed lands―practicers of self-power―are many.

Since enlightenment cannot be attained through self-power,

We have been transmigrating for innumerable kalpas.

51

The directing of virtue embodies in Namu-amida-butsu

Is, in its benevolent working, vast and inconceivable;

Through the benefit of the directing of virtue for going forth,

We enter the directing of virtue for returning to this world.

52

Through great love, which is Amida’s directing of virtue for our going forth,

We attain great compassion, which is Amida’s directing of virtue for our return;

If not for the Buddha’s directing of virtue,

How could we realize enlightenment in the Pure Land?

53

Amida, Avalokiteśvara, and Mahāsthāmaprāpta

Ride on the ship of the great Vow;

Going out on the ocean of birth-and-death,

They call to beings and bring them on board.

54

Those who deeply entrust themselves

To Amida’s Vow of great compassion

Should all say Namu-amida-butsu constantly,

Whether they are walking or sleeping.

55

Those who follow the Path of Sages

All take the mind of self-power as essential;

On entering the inconceivable working of Other Power,

They truly realize that no working is true working.

56

Although we have the teachings of Śākyamuni,

There are no sentient beings who can practice them;

Hence, it is taught that in the last dharma-age,

Not a single person will attain enlightenment through them.

57

Eminent Pure Land teachers if India, China, and Japan!

Out of pity and compassion, embrace us,

And guiding us to realization of true and real shinjin,

Bring us to enter the stage of the truly settled.

l. 4: Please bring us to enter the stage of unfailing attainment of Buddhahood.

58

Those who realize shinjin, which is Other Power,

“Revere [the dharma] and greatly rejoice in it,

And therefore are my true companions.” Such is the praise

Of the World-honored one, the master of the teaching.

59

Such is the benevolence of Amida’s great compassion,

That we must strive to return it, even to the breaking of our bodies;

Such is the benevolence of the masters and true teachers,

That we must endeavor to repay it, even to our bones becoming dust.

 

Here ends the Hymns on
the Right, Semblance, and Last Dharma-ages

Fifty-eight hymns

 

[ Hymns on the Offense of Doubting
the Primal Vow
]

 

60

As a mark of not apprehending Buddha-wisdom,

People doubt the Tathagata’s various kinds of wisdom,

Believe in the recompense of good and evil, rely on their practice

Of the root of good, and hence remain in the borderland.

61

Doubting the inconceivable Buddha-wisdom,

People devote themselves to saying the nembutsu in self-power;

Hence they remain the borderland or the realm of indolence and pride,

Without responding in gratitude to the Buddha’s benevolence.

62

Practicers who believe in the recompense of good and evil

Doubt the inconceivable Buddha-wisdom,

And therefore remain in the city of doubt or the womb-palace;

Hence, they are separated from the three treasures.

63

Because of the offense of doubting the Buddha-wisdom,

They remain in the realm of indolence and pride or the borderland;

Because the offense of doubting is grave,

They pass long years and kalpas there; thus it is taught.

64

They are like the prince of the cakravartin king

Who, for offenses committed against the king,

Is placed in a prison,

Fettered in chains of gold.

prison: The person who says the nembutsu in self-power is likened to a prince who, for serious offenses, is put in prison.

chains of gold: Because he is a prince, chains of gold are used to fetter him.

65

People who say the Name in self-power

All fail to entrust themselves to the Tathagata’s Primal Vow;

Because the offense of doubting is grave,

They are chained in a prison of seven precious materials.

66

No less than people of shinjin,

Practicers of doubt who cling to self-power should

Awake to the benevolence of Amida’s great compassion

And endeavor in saying the nembutsu.

67

People who perform various good acts in self-power

All doubt the inconceivable Buddha-wisdom;

Hence, by the law of receiving the results of one’s acts,

They enter a prison made of the seven precious materials.

68

People who, doubting the inconceivable Buddha-wisdom,

Rely on their practice of the root of good and the root of virtue

Are born in the borderland or the realm of indolence and pride;

Hence, they fail to realize great love and great compassion.

69

Practicers who doubt the Primal Vow

Are born within lotus buds from which they cannot emerge,

Or are born in the borderland, or fall

Into the womb-palace; so Shan-tao admonishes.

70

Doubting Amida’s various kinds of wisdom,

They do not entrust themselves to the Buddha,

And yet they deeply believe in the recompense of good and evil,

And they diligently practice the root of good.

71

Those who have been born in the womb-palace

Because of their doubt of the Buddha-wisdom

Lack wisdom; to be destined for birth in the womb-palace

Is likened to being in prison.

72

They are born in a palace made of seven precious materials,

And there pass five hundred years;

Being unable to see or hear the three treasures,

They are wholly incapable of benefiting sentient beings.

73

For five hundred years they do not emerge

From the palace of seven precious materials or the borderland;

Having themselves committed offenses,

They suffer all forms of adversity.

adversity: destruction and danger.

74

Those who practice the root of good

While believing deeply in the recompense of good and evil

Are good people whose minds are possessed of doubt;

Hence, they remain in the provisional, transformed lands.

75

Because they have not entrusted themselves to Amida’s Primal Vow,

Even though born within lotuses while possessed of doubt,

Their blossoms do not open immediately;

This is likened to remaining in the womb.

76

Then Bodhisattva Maitreya

Said to the World-honored one,

“What is the cause and condition of

‘Womblike birth’ and ‘transformative birth’?”

77

The Tathagata said to Maitreya,

“Relying on their practice of the root of good,

With minds possessed of doubt, beings remain

In the borderland, or womblike birth.”

78

For the offense of doubting Buddha-wisdom,

They are chained fast

In a prison for five hundred years;

This is taught as womblike birth.

79

Sentient beings who, doubting the inconceivable Buddha-wisdom,

Believe in the recompense of good and evil,

Will inevitably be born in the womb-palace;

Thus, they are taught to be beings of womblike birth.

80

Because they take the mind of self-power as essential

And do not entrust themselves to inconceivable Buddha-wisdom,

They are born in the womb-palace and for five hundred years

Are separated from the compassion of the three treasures.

81

Those who, doubting the inconceivable Buddha-wisdom

But believing in the recompense of good and evil,

Aspire to attain the Pure Land by practicing the root of good

Are taught to be of “womblike birth.”

82

The fault of doubting Buddha-wisdom is grave.

Becoming fully aware of this,

You should, with deep repentance,

Entrust yourself to inconceivable Buddha-wisdom.

 

^The above twenty-three hymns were composed in order
to awaken people to the offense of doubting the Primal Vow
that embodies inconceivable Buddha[-wisdom].

 

Hymns in Praise of Prince Shōtoku

GUTOKU ZENSHIN

 

83

Coming to entrust ourselves to the Vow of inconceivable Buddha-wisdom

Through the kindness of Prince Shōtoku,

We have entered the stage of the truly settled

And are like Maitreya, the future Buddha.

84

Great Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, the world-savior,

Who appeared as Prince Shōtoku,

Is like a father, never leaving us,

And like a mother, always watching over us.

85

From the beginningless past down to the present,

Prince Shōtoku has compassionately

Watched over us, like a father,

And stayed close to us, like a mother.

86

Prince Shōtoku has compassionately

Urged and led us to enter

The Vow of inconceivable Buddha-wisdom,

So that we now dwell in the stage of the truly settled.

87

Let those who realize shinjin that is Other Power,

In order to repay the Buddha’s benevolence,

Spread the two aspects of Amida’s directing of virtue

Throughout all the ten quarters.

88

Prince Shōtoku, the world savior of great love,

Stays close to us, like a father,

Avalokiteśvara, the world savior of great compassion,

Stays close to us, like a mother.

89

As the mark of his compassionate care

From innumerable kalpas in the past down to the present,

We have now been brought to accord with the inconceivable Buddha-wisdom,

Going beyond good and evil, pure and defiled.

90

Prince Shōtoku was the master of the teaching in Japan;

Our immense debt of gratitude can hardly be repaid.

Take refuge in him single-heartedly

And never tire of reverently praising him!

91

Out of deep care for the beings of Japan,

Prince Shōtoku, appearing from his original state,

Widely proclaimed the Tathagata’s compassionate Vow;

Let us rejoice and reverently praise him!

92

Through innumerable lives and countless kalpas, down to the present,

Each of us has received his deep care.

Take refuge in him single-heartedly

And reverently praise him always!

93

Prince Shōtoku, in his compassionate care,

Protecting and sustaining us ceaselessly,

Urges and guides us to receive

Amida’s two aspects of directing virtue.

 

Here ends the Hymns in
Praise of Prince Shōtoku

Eleven hymns

 

Gutoku’s Hymns of Lament and Reflection

 

94

Although I take refuge in the true Pure Land way,

It is hard to have a true and sincere mind.

This self is false and insincere;

I completely lack a pure mind.

95

Each of us, in outward bearing,

Makes a show of being wise, good, and dedicated;

But so great are our greed, anger, perversity, and deceit,

That we are filled with all forms of malice and cunning.

96

Extremely difficult is it to put and end to our evil nature;

The mind is like a venomous snake or scorpion.

Our performance of good acts is also poisoned;

Hence, it is called false and empty practice.

97

Although I am without shame and self-reproach

And lack a mind of truth and sincerity,

Because the Name is directed by Amida,

Its virtues fill the ten quarters.

98

Lacking even small love and small compassion,

I cannot hope to benefit sentient beings.

Were it not for the ship of Amida’s Vow,

How could I cross the ocean of painful existence?

99

With minds full of malice and cunning, like snakes or scorpions,

We cannot accomplish good acts through self-power;

And unless we entrust ourselves to Amida’s directing of virtue,

We will end without knowing shame or self-reproach.

100

As a mark of increase in the five defilements,

All monks and laypeople of this age

Behave outwardly like followers of the Buddhist teaching,

But in their inner thoughts, believe in nonbuddhist paths.

101

How lamentable it is that monks and laypeople

Select “fortunate times” and “auspicious days,”

And paying homage to gods of the heavens and earth,

Engage in divination and rituals of worship.

102

Although “monk” and “teacher of dharma”

Were taught to be titles of respect,

Like “dharma” used by Devadatta for his fivefold wrong teaching,

They are now applied to the lowly.

103

Monks are no different, in their hearts, from nonbuddhists,

Brahmans, or followers of Nirgraṇṭha;

Always wearing the dharma-robes of the Tathagata,

They pay homage to all gods and spirits.

104

How lamentable it is that at present

All the monks and laypeople of Japan,

While following the Buddhist rules of conduct,

Venerate gods and spirits of the heavens and earth.

105

A mark of the evil of the five defilements

Is that the titles “monk” and “teacher of dharma”

Are used for serfs and servants

And have become derogatory terms.

106

Although monks are so in name only and keep no precepts,

Now in this defiled world of the last dharma-age

They are the equals of Śāriputra and Maudgalyāyana,

And we are urged to pay homage to and revere them.

107

Karmic evil is from the beginning without real form;

It is the result of delusional thought and invertedness.

Mind-nature is from the beginning pure,

But as for this world, there is no person of truth.

108

The sorrow of this evil world of the last dharma-age

Is that Buddhists of the southern capital and the northern peak

Call servants “palanquin-carrier monks” and “serving dharma-teachers”

To show deference to the high-ranking priests.

109

A monk of contempt for the Buddhist teaching

Is that “bhiksu” and “bhiksuni” are terms for serfs;

The titles “teacher of dharma” and “monk”

Are now used for servants.

 

^The above sixteen hymns are my reflections, expressing my grief and lamentation. It is saddening to see the behavior of the monks of the major temples and monastic complexes at present, whether high-ranking monks or “teachers of dharma.”

 

Composed by
SHAKU SHINRAN

 

[ Additional Hymns of Lament
on the Term Hotoke
]

 

110-111

The Tathagata of Zenkō-ji temple,

Taking pity on us,

Came to Naniwa Bay [in the form of a statue].

At that time Moriya, not knowing the word “Buddha,”

 

Applied the expression, “sick with fever”―hotoorike,

Insinuating that the Tathagata

Was causing an epidemic; Moriya’s followers

All used the term hotoorike.

112

To bring people to use this expression, “sick with fever,”

Moriya shortened it to hotoke.

Thus, all nonbuddhists of the time

Adopted this term for the Tathagata.

113

All Buddhists of the present,

Following Moriya’s usage,

Call the Tathagata hotoke, and on the basis of this,

Regard monks and dharma-teachers with contempt.

114

Because his wrong views had no bound,

The Minister Moriya of Yuge

Shortened the word to hotoke

In order to bring all the people to use it.

 

[ On Jinen Hōni ]

A writing by Shinran at age eighty-eight

 

[Concerning “realize” (gyaku-toku):]

^Gyaku means to realize in the causal stage, and toku means to realize on reaching the resultant stage.

[Concerning “Name” (myōgō):]

^Myō indicates the Name in the causal stage, and indicates the Name in the resultant stage.

^Concerning jinen [in the phrase jinen hōni]:

^Ji means “of itself”―not through the practicer’s calculation. It signifies being made so.

 ^Nen means “to be made so”―it is not through the practicer’s calculation; it is through the working of the Tathagata’s Vow.

^Concerning hōni:

Hōni signifies being made so through the working of the Tathagata’s Vow. It is the working of the Vow where there is no room for calculation on the part of the practicer. Know, therefore, that in Other Power, no working is true working.

 ^Jinen signifies being made so from the very begin­ning. Amida’s Vow is, from the very beginning, designed to bring each of us to entrust ourselves to it―saying “Namu-amida-butsu”―and to receive us into the Pure Land; none of this is through our calculation. Thus, there is no room for the practicer to be concerned about being good or bad. This is the meaning of jinen as I have been taught.

 ^As the essential purport of the Vow, [Amida] vowed to bring us all to become supreme Buddha. Supreme Buddha is formless, and because of being formless is called jinen. Buddha, when appearing with form, is ot called supreme nirvana. In order to make it known that supreme Buddha is formless, the name Amida Buddha is expressly used; so I have been taught. Amida Buddha fulfills the purpose of making us know the signification of jinen.

 ^After we have realized this, we should not be forever talking about jinen. If we continuously discuss jinen, that no working is true working will again become a problem of working. It is a matter of inconceivable Buddha-wisdom.

 

[ Concluding Hymns ]

 

115

While persons ignorant of even the characters for “good” and “evil”

All possess a sincere mind,

I make a display of knowing the words “good” and “evil”;

This is an expression of complete falsity.

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.