The One and Only Message of Master Shinran

Master Rennyo stated that Master Shinran taught ‘faith’ alone throughout his life. Every religion tells you to “just believe,” but all of such faith means believing in something with one’s own mind. That faith, of course, comes from the human mind. No one knows any other kind of faith, and no-one can imagine it either.

However, the ‘faith’ that Master Shinran solely taught is completely different from faith in a general sense. Master Rennyo taught the difference between them as follows: “Shinjin, or ‘Faith’, means ‘the true mind.’” He declared that the ‘faith’ that Master Shinran taught is ‘the mind of truth.’ Master Shinran proclaimed in Tannisho, “In this world as fleeting and unstable as a burning house, inhabited by human beings beset by worldly passions, all is idleness and foolishness, utterly devoid of truth. Only the nembutsu is true.”

Just as he said, every human being is nothing but a mass of blind passions: desire, anger, envy. The human heart contains not an ounce of truth. That is why the ‘faith’ that Master Shinran taught is not the deluded mind of human beings, but the ‘mind of Amida Buddha’. When you attain that ‘mind of Amida Buddha’, it becomes your ‘faith’. Master Kakunyo clarified it as follows:

“Shinjin, or ‘Faith’, is ‘the true mind’. The true mind refers not to the mind of human beings, but solely to the mind of the Buddha. When the mind of Amida Buddha is granted, it is called Shinjin, or ‘Faith’.” —Saiyosho

Why can we receive the invisible Buddha-mind? It is because of this: through untold aeons of deep deliberation and a mind-bendingly long time of discipline, Amida Buddha brought about the Myogo, or the Name, ‘Namu Amida Butsu’, thereby crystallizing the invisible Buddha- mind in a visible form that we can perceive.

Even though he has brought about the Myogo, or the Name, unless we attain it, we will not be saved. Master Shinran taught faith alone throughout his life. That means that the one thing he urged us to do was attain Myogo, or attain faith. Master Shinran proclaimed in the introduction to his masterwork, Teaching, Practice, Faith, Enlightenment, that the Myogo, which was created in accordance with the Vow, is a “great ship that carries us across the sea that is difficult to cross.” Myogo, or the Name, is likened by him to a “great ship that carries us across the sea of life’s suffering to the Pure Land cheerfully.”

The ‘faith’ that Master Shinran exclusively taught is our having boarded this ship of Amida’s great compassion. “There is a ship of Amida’s great compassion, so board it quickly!” This was the sole message preached by Master Shinran throughout his nine decades of life.

All sentient beings, who are drowning in the painful sea, are unaware of the existence of the great ship. They rely on the logs of money and possessions or status and honor that are floating nearby them and they are betrayed by those logs again and again, so they continue to be tormented by suffering.

The great mission for us Shinran followers is precisely to make the rock-solid existence of the ship of Amida’s great compassion known to all quickly. That is our reason for living.

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #37 | 2014, The One and Only Message of Master Shinran

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