Circling among the houses of the birth-and-death cycle Is caused by one thing alone: the doubting mind. (Shoshinge, or Hymn of True Faith)
“Just as the wheels of a car turn endlessly, we are unable to escape from continuous suffering.
The one and only reason for this is the doubting mind.”
We have been lost since the beginningless past, we are suffering now, and we will keep suffering in the future. Master Shinran declared that the sole cause of this is the ‘doubting mind’.
In this modern age, characterised by material abundance and extended lifespans, suffering has only taken on a different shape than before, and people commit suicide one after another. This is because people do not know the root cause of suffering. This ‘doubting mind’, which stains our lives with suffering, is the mind that doubts in Amida Buddha’s Vow.
Amida Buddha pledged to “save any kind of a person into absolute happiness without fail,” and in the introduction to Teaching, Practice, Faith, Enlightenment, Master Shinran proclaimed this promise to be “the true words that embrace us and never forsake us” – sesshu fusha no shingon in Japanese.
The first character in sesshu (??), which is setsu (?), signifies the fact that Amida Buddha chases a person that is running away from him, corners them, and saves them. Not a single person out of all sentient beings (all people) would meekly approach Amida Buddha and ask him to save them. Since they do not understand Amida’s great compassion, the exceedingly evil sentient beings of the universe unconsciously turn away from him and flee. Amida Buddha promised in his Vow to run after them to whatever ends and save and embrace them into absolute happiness that will never leave them. As the words of his promise are true, Master Shinran called them sesshu fusha no shingon – “the true words that embrace us and never forsake us.”
Master Shinran was himself saved into absolute happiness and had his doubting mind dispelled just as was promised, leading him to cry out, “How genuine, the true words of Amida that embrace us and never forsake us!” He was rejoicing that Amida’s Primal Vow was true, that it was not a lie. Once the doubting mind is gone, we are made to know that Amida’s words “any kind of a person” referred to “me, who is a mass of worldly passions like desire, anger, jealousy and envy, and who is deeply stained with evil and was abandoned by all the Buddhas of the universe. It was me!” In this way, our true image is made clear to us. It is because we, the vilest and most depraved of wrongdoers, are saved into unsurpassed happiness and our doubt in the Vow is eradicated that it is revealed to us that Amida’s pledge to save us into absolute happiness without fail was indeed true.
Upon being saved, our doubts in two things are banished: doubt in one’s true self, and doubt in the Vow of Amida. This is called nishu jinshin, or the ‘twofold revelation’. Jinshin (??), the word rendered here as “revelation,” is written with characters meaning ‘deep’ (?) and ‘belief’ (?), and yet it does not mean ‘deep belief’. Revelation means the receiving of knowledge beyond all shadow of doubt.
That which shows that one’s Shinjin or ‘Faith’, which is the one thing that Master Shinran spent his lifetime teaching about, is ‘other-power Faith’ or ‘true Faith,’ which is none other than the ‘twofold revelation’. Whether one’s Faith is other-power Faith or self-power Faith, or true Faith or fake Faith, is judged by whether or not one’s doubt in both one’s true self and in the Vow of Amida has been banished. We are living in order to have our doubting minds eradicated by the power of Amida and to attain absolute happiness. Politics and economics, science and medicine, ethics, morals, and sports: these all exist so that our doubting minds may be dispelled. As the only way we can reach that point is through listening to Buddhism, Master Shinran urged us to listen intently with the words, “Listen and believe without hesitation or delay.”
Now is the time to go and listen to Buddhist sermons, which are rare to come across even in many lifetimes, and repay our vast debt of gratitude. “Even if I should throw away the same number of my own lifetimes as there are grains of sand in the River Ganges, it would not be enough to give recompense for being able to hear even one word of the true teachings.”
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #38 | 2014, Until the Doubting Mind Is Banished
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