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An Exceptional Sense of Gratitude (Part 2)

September 19, 2018

 

Amida's Gifts of Radiant Joy and Vigor to Overcome Any Difficulties

 

(Read Part 1 HERE)

 

The benevolence of Amida Buddha and those who have taught me about his Vow can never be fully repaid even if I were to grind my body to dust and smash my bones to bits. I’m receiving the immeasurable grace of Amida. How can I repay it? I owe a debt of gratitude to the teachers who have taught me about Amida’s Vow. How can I repay it? These questions weighed ceaselessly on his mind. At the age of thirty-one he broke with Buddhist monastic tradition by beginning to eat fish and by taking a wife. Even though he was called a depraved monk, a devil, a madman for that, he did so deliberately to clarify Amida’s Vow, which is the one and only path through which everyone will be saved just the way they are. 

 

When he was thirty-four and studying under Master Honen, Master Shinran engaged in three fierce debates with fellow disciples that resulted in his isolation; what he had hoped to do was to correct people’s misunderstandings about Amida’s Vow. After five years of harsh exile, Master Shinran moved east to the Kanto area. While he was preaching doorto- door, he was denied shelter in a snowstorm by a man named Hino zaemon, who initially had nothing but contempt for Buddhism. Master Shinran calmly slept in the snow with a stone as his pillow, and eventually lead Hinozaemon to the truth. 

 

 One day Bennen appeared before Master Shinran in broad daylight with drawn sword. Yet the Master knelt before him and treated Bennen as a friend and equal. Then he preached Amida’s Vow. He did so at the risk of his life, in an effort to repay the great compassion of Amida Buddha. Master Shinran told Bennen, “What I teach is not of my own making. All I do is believe in Amida’s Vow and share it with others. Why would I claim disciples of my own? We who listen and believe in the Vow are all friends and brothers. Bennen, please heed the Vow as soon as possible.” 

 

After turning sixty, Master Shinran returned to his native Kyoto. Then the redoubled waves of the sea that is difficult to cross attacked him at the age of eighty-four. His own son Zenran desecrated the true teachings. Realizing this, Master Shinran sent him letters of admonishment, one after another. 

 

But Zenran did not stop his evil ways. Finally, Master Shinran was forced to make the agonized decision to sever all ties with him. He realized that he could not be the cause of many people going to hell out of misguided parental affection. Therefore, Master Shinran disowned his son. 

 

He did this to protect Amida’s Vow. Being gentle or stern, without any self-interest, it all stemmed from the single mind of Ondokusan, Song of Amida’s Grace and Virtue. 

 

Master Shinran was only concerned with how to repay the benevolence of Amida Buddha and the debt of gratitude owed to his teachers. Therefore, even if he had to become a target of slander and abuse by doing that, it didn’t matter to him. 

 

Master Shinran finally made the passage to the Pure Land seven hundred and fifty years ago. He lived up to the age of ninety. On his deathbed Master Shinran made this statement: 


My life at an end, I go to the Pure Land. But like the waves off Wakanoura Bay that endlessly come and go, I will return. When one person is happy, know that there are two. When two are happy, know that there are three. One will be me, Shinran. (Last Words) 

 

 My life is coming to an end. I will return to the Pure Land once. But like the restless waves, I will come back immediately. When you are alone, know that there are two. When there are two of you, know that there are three. Whenever you are happy or sad, you are never alone. I am always by your side. 

 

Had it not been for Master Shinran, we could not listen to Buddhism today. Master Shinran’s 750th Commemorative Event is an assembly of Shinran followers in an expression of unlimited gratitude to Master Shinran. 

 

Thanks to Master Shinran’s virtue and effort, now, with the passing of 750 years We have been able to listen to his supreme teaching. 

 

Following the teaching of Master Shinran let us proceed on the one and only supreme path of truth.

 

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #10 | 2011, An Exceptional Sense of Gratitude (Part 2)

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                      The Buddhist Village Times #10

 

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