We Were Born into This World to Hear and Believe Amida’s Vow from Its Origin to Its Outcome
Amida Buddha, the master of all buddhas across time and space, crystallized the treasure of the universe into the Name, Namu Amida Butsu. Why did he create the Name? Master Shinran taught how this came about, and Master Rennyo relayed his teachings in simple terms.
All people are exceedingly evil, abandoned by the countless buddhas of the universe as beings “devoid of a mind that believes or contemplates, without a chance of salvation.” The supreme buddha, Amida, alone rose up and created a sublime Vow to save us all: “I cannot abandon them, all the more so as they are exceedingly evil. I will save them.”
Determined to realize his Vow, he toiled for a mind-bendingly long time and so created that which has the power to save even exceedingly evil beings abandoned by all other buddhas: the Name, Namu Amida Butsu. Having completed his preparations, Amida was thus in full readiness to save all people unconditionally by bestowing upon them the great virtue of the Name. Concerning this matter, Master Rennyo wrote the following:
Evildoers who commit the ten evils and the five grave offenses … are excluded from the compassionate vows of all buddhas of the ten directions and the three worlds: we ourselves are the foolish beings thus helplessly abandoned. Only Amida Buddha, as the original teacher and the original buddha among the buddhas of the three worlds and the ten directions … made the all-surpassing Vow: "I alone will save all sentient beings equally." … Having made this supreme Vow, he long ago became Amida Buddha.
(The Letters, Fascicle 2, Letter 8)
In order to save all sentient beings (every person), Amida Buddha carried out ascetic practices for unimaginable aeons and so perfected the six-character Name, Namu Amida Butsu, so that we could receive the colorless, formless, and infinitely vast virtue of the universe in its entirety.
Therefore, within the six characters of Namu Amida Butsu lies the profoundly mysterious power to embrace and save even the most evil of beings into absolute happiness.
Master Rennyo taught that because Namu Amida Butsu is written with a mere six Chinese characters, no one would think it holds amazing power. Just as gold coins are wasted on cats, and pearls on swines, human beings simply lack the wisdom to know the true value of Namu Amida Butsu (the Name). In truth, the six characters of Namu Amida Butsu contain the power to grant supreme happiness to even the most evil of people - a power that is unnamable, inexplicable, and inconceivable, a power that Sakyamuni Buddha himself could not explain exhaustively in his lifetime.
Here are close translations of their words:
Namu Amida Butsu consists of only six Chinese characters, so it seems unlikely to possess any great virtue. Yet the virtue that lies within this six-character Name is supreme and limitlessly profound.
(The Letters, Fascicle 5, Letter 13)
If I were to expound [the value of the Name] in full detail, I would not be able to teach it to the end even in a thousand million kalpas.
(The Larger Sutra of Infinite Life, Final Volume)
To someone who believes science can explain everything, and who sets out to determine a thing's value by analyzing it, this might sound cockeyed.
But nineteenth-century British scientist Michael Faraday once told his students, “Chemical analysis of a mother’s tears would reveal they contain no more than water and a trace of salt. But it is important to know that within those tears is a deep love that chemistry cannot analyze.”
Edward Jenner (1749-1823) is famous for having saved mankind from smallpox. His first love was natural history, and he devoted himself to the study of birds. On learning about the centuries-old scourge of smallpox, he formed a great desire to end the suffering caused by the dread disease.
First of all, he confirmed that people who had once been infected with smallpox and recovered never came down with the illness again. Then, encouraged by the great surgeon John Hunter to pursue his dream, he conducted a series of thorough investigations and experiments, even famously carrying out preliminary tests on his own child.
He also took pus from the hands of a milkmaid infected with cowpox and deposited it in scratches on the arms of an eight-yearold.
Once Jenner had assembled rock-hard evidence of the efficacy of the treatment, he published his findings?and stirred up a storm of criticism. Some of his opponents claimed that people inoculated with cowpox would grow horns. Yet Jenner was undeterred, and he spared no effort in his endeavors.
The result: in 1979, the World Health Organization declared smallpox officially eradicated from the planet.
Jenner’s compassionate desire to end the suffering caused by smallpox gave rise to vaccination, which spared tens of millions of lives in the nineteenth century alone.
(To be Continued...)
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #52 | 2015, Takamori-sensei's Message for 2015 (Part 1)
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