Notes on the Nembutsu
Reflections on the wasan of Shinran

Shozomatsu Wasan 82

The fault of doubting Buddha-wisdom is grave.
Becoming fully aware of this,
You should, with deep repentance,
Entrust yourself to inconceivable Buddha-wisdom.

Farewell to Doubt

If we insist that the Buddha's compassion is conditional, then we strive to make ourselves worthy of it. Just how can this self-important attitude make us deserving of Amida Buddha's compassion? In listening to the dharma of Amida Buddha, we eventually discover that self-power is an illusion.

Once you simply realize that the Vow surpasses conceptual understanding and with singleness of heart realize that the Name surpasses conceptual understanding and pronounce it, why should you labor in your own calculation? It seems to me that with all your attempts to understand by reasoning and by learning you have fallen into confusion. It is completely in error. Once you have simply come to realize that Vow and Name surpass conceptual understanding, you should not calculate in this way or that. There must be nothing of your calculation in the act that leads to birth.

Respectfully,

You must simply entrust yourself to Tathagata.1

There really is now nothing more to be said. My longing is that all people, everywhere may find the way of nembutsu for themselves and know this unsurpassed truth as Shinran did. Yet, it just is not possible to convince others of it. The Buddha Shakyamuni, so reluctant at first after his enlightenment, to teach the dharma, knew that too.

Most difficult of all difficulties is to hear this sutra, have faith in it with joy and hold fast to it. Nothing is more difficult than this.2


1. Shinran, CWS, p. 536

2. The Larger Sutra (Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, 2009)

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