Until We Reach the Point of Ichinen Where Doubt towards Amida’s Vow Is Dispelled
At the grand opening of the Yamagata-Shounai Center on May 8th, Takamori-sensei explained the meaning of two Buddhist phrases: “The onset of faith” and “How genuine, the true words of Amida that embrace us and never forsake us.” These two phrases are posted in the altar room at the Center. Let’s learn what Takamori-sensei taught us from the letters of Shinran followers who attended the grand opening.
What Buddhism teaches is condensed within the words “Shin-Gyo”
Akie Yanagisawa, Ishikawa prefecture
Sakyamuni Buddha taught the Complete Sutras solely to clarify the Vow of Amida. To listen to Buddhism is, therefore, to listen to the Vow of Amida Buddha. Amida’s Vow refers to the promise that was made by Amida Buddha. I learned that Amida, unlike other buddhas, has made promises with all people. They are known as ‘the Vows that are aimed at all sentient beings.’ These are three Vows: the18th, 19th and the 20th. Among them, the true Vow is the 18th Vow alone. The 19th and 20th Vows are the expedient Vows.
Amida promised in his true Vow, the18th, that he would save us into Shin-Gyo (faith and joy). I learned that Sakyamuni Buddha taught Buddhism in order to clarify the meaning of Shin-Gyo. I could understand that Buddhism can be compressed into the two Chinese characters Shin-Gyo.
‘Faith & Joy’ means ‘darkness is eliminated and the aspiration is fulfilled”
Fujiki Noda, Osaka prefecture
I’ve heard that ‘Faith & Joy’ is a promise made by Amida Buddha to show his true mind in the 18th Vow. In his promise, ‘Faith’ means ‘darkness is eliminated’, and ‘Joy’ means ‘the aspiration is fulfilled.” At the very moment when our dark mind is eliminated, we are saved by Amida Buddha as he promised in his 18th Vow. This is when “the aspiration is fulfilled.” Furthermore, the instantaneous moment, or Ichinen (the smallest possible unit of time), when our dark mind or mind that doubts Amida Buddha’s Vow is completely eliminated is called ‘the unfolding of Faith and Joy’ or ‘the determining moment of elimination of all doubts.’ We were born for a reason. The reason is nothing other than listening to Amida Buddha’s Vow in order to be bestowed eternal happiness. In order for this eternal happiness to be bestowed upon me, I must seek out every possible opportunity to do chomon (listen to Buddhism), and actually go to Chomon centers where Buddhism is taught accurately. I am so glad that I was able to come to Shounai chomon center to listen to such an important lecture, and I feel that I have taken one step forward.
Listen to the teaching of Buddhism till your darkness of no light is eliminated.
Masanori Fujita, Aichi prefecture
‘Faith and Joy’ means ‘darkness is eliminated & the aspiration is fulfilled.’ It refers to the promise of Amida Buddha to break through our darkness of mind in order to endow us with absolute happiness. Since it is the mind of darkness that is eliminated, such darkness is eliminated in a split second. This darkness refers to the mind that doubts Amida Buddha’s 18th Vow. This doubting mind causes us to wonder, “Is it really true that an evil person like me can receive absolute happiness?” When the aforementioned doubt is annihilated, that is the onset of ‘Faith.’
Master Shinran expresses this instantaneous moment in the quote “How genuine, the true words of Amida that embrace us and never forsake us.” To experience this true faith is the reason why we live. We have never experienced true faith since the beginning of our extremely long history consisting of thousands of millions of lives. Our chant book The Hymn of True Faith teaches us that receiving ‘Faith and Joy’ is the most difficult thing amongst all difficult things. Till that very moment, I will listen to Buddhism seriously.
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #30 | 2013, Towards Amida’s Salvation
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