Shinran’s Dreams: The Dream Revelation in Shinaga, Part 2

Read Part 1 HERE

“You have ten years left to live”: For the nineteenyear- old Shinran, this was surely the most sobering part of the dream revelation at Shinaga. “When your life ends, you will enter a realm of purity”: this prediction must have been incomprehensible. “Therefore, trust deeply in the true bodhisattva,” but which one was true, and where was he? Young Shinran’s deepening consternation is easy to imagine. But in time, all these mysteries would be resolved.

Shinran later explained that when one is saved by Amida one dies, and is simultaneously born into a world of radiance. In Gutokusho (Gutoku’s Notes) he wrote about it this way:

Close Translation

Revelation of the Primal Vow means the end of life in the former-moment. Gaining immediate salvation means immediate birth in the latter-moment.

Amplified Translation

When the truth of Amida’s Vow is revealed, one’s long life of illusion ends, simultaneously, one is born into the realm of light, where it is clear that one will be born into the Pure Land.

Shinran was twenty-nine when the truth of Amida’s Vow was revealed to him, exactly ten years after the dream revelation at Shinaga.

How genuine, the true words of Amida that embrace us and never forsake us, the truth that is absolute and peerless! ― Preface, Teaching, Practice, Faith, Enlightenment

Thus the prediction that he would die in ten years referred to his self-power mind of illusion. The words “you will swiftly enter a realm of purity” referred to Amida’s salvation, which occurs in a fraction of an instant. This was a prediction that Shinran would gain absolute happiness. The true bodhisattva in whom he was encouraged to “trust deeply, trust with all your heart,” was the priest Honen. This, too, was surely revealed to Shinran.

Nine years after the dream revelation at Shinaga, when Shinran was twenty-eight, early in the twelfth month of the year 1200 he confined himself in Daijo-in, a subtemple of the temple Mudoji south of Mt. Hiei, to wrestle with the looming issue of his afterlife. At two in the morning on the twenty-eighth day of the month, the last day he would spend in secluded prayer, Nyoirin Kannon Bodhisattva appeared to him in a dream with a second dream revelation:

“Excellent, excellent. Your desire is soon to be fulfilled. Excellent, excellent. My desire too will be satisfied.”

In other words, “The grave issue of your afterlife will soon be resolved. My role will come to an end.” This is known as the dream revelation at Daijo-in. For Shinran, who would turn twenty-nine at the new year according to Japanese custom, Amida’s salvation into absolute happiness lay at hand. Since leading all beings in the universe into the absolute, peerless happiness of Amida’s salvation is the sole task with which all buddhas and bodhisattvas are entrusted, Nyoirin Kannon Bodhisattva must have appeared in Shinran’s dream to transmit his joy at the accomplishment of his mission.

(Petals of Shinran, Cherry Volume chapter 17) Translated by Juliet Carpenter

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #57 | 2015, Shinran’s Dreams: The Dream Revelation in Shinaga, Part 2

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