What is The Hymn of True Faith?
The heart and mind behind the lines “Kimyo muryoju nyorai, namu fukashigi ko”
The Hymn of True Faith, which begins with the lines, “Kimyo muryoju nyorai, namu fukashigi ko,” contains everything Master Shinran taught throughout his ninety years of life. Therefore, it is considered to be an important text. Although it is truly wonderful that many people in Japan are familiar with The Hymn of True Faith, if they recite it without understanding it, that would be a pity. Therefore, it is also important to know the meaning of the Hymn. The Hymn of True Faith contains Master Shinran’s heartfelt cry for all people even in years to come to obtain true happiness.
Its Japanese name, ‘Shoshinge’, is written with three Chinese characters: ‘sho’, ‘shin’, and ‘ge’. ‘Sho’ means ‘true’, ‘shin’ means ‘faith’, and ‘ge’ means ‘verse’ or ‘hymn’. Therefore, ‘Shoshinge’ means ‘The Hymn of True Faith’. The Hymn of True Faith conveys to us the existence of absolute happiness, which does not collapse even in the face of death, as well as true faith, which enables one to become completely certain to be born into the Pure Land of Amida Buddha whenever one should die.
The Hymn starts with the lines “Kimyo muryoju nyorai, namu fukashigi ko.” Both “muryoju nyorai” and “fukashigi ko” refer to different names of Amida Buddha, who is the master of all the buddhas in the universe. In this part, Master Shinran cries out in joy that “I, Shinran, have been saved into absolute happiness by Amida Buddha’s Vow.” In other words, he declares that he has just been saved.
But why does he say the same thing twice? This is because the boundless delight he had obtained made him unable to help but repeat himself in this way. In the first part of the Hymn, Master Shinran expresses deep gratitude for the grace of Amida’s great compassion. He then demonstrates his gratitude to Shakyamuni Buddha and the Seven Patriarchs in order.
So how can we be saved by Amida Buddha while we are still alive just like Master Shinran was? In Hymn of True Faith, Master Shinran provides the unequivocal answer to this question: we must take the singular path of listening to Buddhism, meaning we listen to the Vow of Amida Buddha alone.
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #61 | 2016, What is The Hymn of True Faith?
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