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preot buddhist Jodo Shinshu presedinte Asociatia Buddhista Jodo Shinshu din Romania

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Amida-ji

Orthodox Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Teachings. Official website of Amidaji temple.

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01. Words before and after meals - Feb 14, 2020 9:02:00 AM
in the kitchen of Amidaji temple
I was asked to offer instructions on what to say before and after meals. This is the formula I use daily, and I advise you to do the same alone or with your family:
Before the meals:Amida Buddha, I (we) receive this food with gratitude. May it help me (us) on your Path for the benefit of all beings.
Namo Amida Bu
After the meal:
Amida Buddha, may all beings who contributed to this meal and those in whose name was offered be healthy in body and mind, always receive what is beneficial to them, have food, drink, clothes, and shelter, make indestructible connections with you, entrust to you, say your Name (Namo Amida Bu) and wish to be born in your Pure Land.
Namo Amida Bu



02. Comentario sobre el Sutra del Buda de Vida Infinita (edición gratuita) - Feb 12, 2020 6:17:00 AM
Portada de la versión inglesa
Traducido del inglés por:Juan Sebastián Hincapié Arana
En primer lugar, debe entenderse claramente que este no es un estudio académico, secular o histórico, sino un comentario religioso. Su objetivo es explicar en términos fáciles de entender el significado profundo del Sutra más grande[1] para que así las personas puedan recibir fe en el Buda Amida[2] y nacer en Su Tierra Pura después de la muerte. Yo, el autor de este comentario, acepto con fe el contenido del sutra y considero que describe eventos reales, un Buda real y existente llamado Amida y un lugar iluminado real llamado la Tierra Pura. El deseo de mi corazón es que los lectores lleguen a compartir la misma opinión para que surja la verdadera fe y aspiración en ellos. Hay muchas maneras de leer el Sutra más grande y existen varias capas de  interpretación, por eso se benefician diferentes tipos de practicantes: aquellos que optan por enfocarse en el Buda Amida pero aún se aferran a su poder propio como seguidores de los votos 19 y 20, así como los seguidores del Voto Primordial (el Voto 18) quienes son practicantes que confían exclusivamente en el poder del Buda Amida.

Sin embargo, debido a que el Jodo Shinshu es la escuela del Voto Primordial, este comentario y explicación está escrito desde la perspectiva del Voto Primordial y la total confianza en el Poder del Buda Amida.
Como soy un ser no-iluminado con muchas limitaciones, mi comentario no puede ser perfecto. Solo un Buda puede enseñar perfectamente su propia enseñanza. Sin embargo, debido a que ningún Buda ahora está aquí en forma humana, hice mi mejor esfuerzo, invocando la ayuda y las bendiciones de Amida, para explicárselo a mis compañeros de viaje en el Camino del Nembutsu. Lo hice especialmente porque hay muchos malentendidos con respecto al sutra entre los practicantes Jodo Shinshu y muchas personas encuentran obstáculos y supuestas contradicciones cuando lo leen sin una guía previa. Esta es la razón por la cual los miembros y seguidores del templo Amidaji deberían considerar este comentario como su guía para leer y estudiar el Sutra más grande.En mi comentario, usé principalmente la traducción al inglés del Rev. Hisao Inagaki[3] y, a veces, la del Centro Internacional Hongwanji.[4]Esta traducción incluye, además de mi comentario, una traducción del sutra más grande al español  (hecha por el mismo traductor del comentario) basada en las mencionadas versiones en inglés que he usado.
Estoy muy agradecido con mi amigo del Dharma,Juan Sebastián Hincapié Arana de Colombia por la traducción del texto al español.

Haga clic aquí para descargar la versión en pdf:

My google drive
My account on Academia.edu









[1]El Sutra del Buda de Vida Infinita impartido por el Buda Shakyamuni (el Sutra Sukhavativyuha en Sánscrito o el Bussetsu Muryōju Kyo en Japonés); a menudo se le llama Sutra más grande o Sutra mayor. Este sutra fue traducido al chino durante la dinastía Ts-ao-Wei (252 E.C.), por el Maestro del Tripitaka Samghavarman (Kosogai en Japón). Es el sutra más importante de la escuela Jodo Shinshu. Los otros dos sutras que usamos en nuestra escuela son:1) El Sutra sobre la visualización del Buda de la vida infinita (Sutra Amitayurdhyana en Sánscrito/Bussetsu Kanmuryoju Kyo en Japonés). A menudo se le llama Sutra de la contemplación. Este sutra fue traducido al chino durante la dinastía Liu-Sung (424-442 E.C.) por el Maestro Tripitaka Kalayasas (Kyoryoyasha)2) El  Sutra sobre el Buda Amitayus (Sutra Sukhavativyuha  en Sánscrito/Bussetsu Amida Kyo en Japonés); A menudo se llama Sutra más pequeño o Amidakyo. Este sutra fue traducido al chino durante la dinastía Yao-Ch’in (402 E.C.) por el maestro Tripitaka Kumarajiva (Kumaraju en Japonés).[2] Amida  es la forma de la pronunciación japonesa para Amitayus (El Buda de  Vida Infinita) y Amitabha (El Buda de Luz Infinita).[3] The Three Pure Land Sutras -A Study and Translation from the Chinese (Los Tres Sutras de la Tierra Pura un Estudio y traducción del Chino) por Hisao Inagaki  en colaboración con Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai y Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003[4] The Three Pure Land Sutras, volume II, The Sutra on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life (El Sutra sobre el Buda de Vida Infinita) Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, Japón, 2009. El Reverendo Hisao Inagaki fue también miembro del comité de traducción que hizo la edición Hongwanji. 
03. The prostitute of Muro, a disciple of Honen Shonin - Jan 27, 2020 6:44:00 AM

"When Honen arrived at the port of Muro on his way into exile on Shikoku in the spring of 1207, a small boat drew near carrying a woman of the night. She said to Honen, "I heard that this was your boat, and I have come to meet you. There are many ways of getting on in the world, but what terrible acts could have been committed in a former life of mine to bring me into such a miserable life as this? What can a woman who carries a load of karma like mine do to escape and be saved in the world to come?"
Honen compassionately replied, "Your guilt in living such a life is surely great and the penalties seem incalculable. If you can find another means of livelihood, give this up at once. But if you can’t, or if you are not yet ready to sacrifice your very life for the true way, begin just as you are and call on the sacred Name (Namo Amida Butsu). It is for just such deluded folk as you that Amida Buddha made that wonderfully comprehensive Primal Vow (hongan). So put your full trust in it without the smallest reservation. If you rely upon the Primal Vow and repeat the Nembutsu, your Ojo (birth in the Pure Land) is absolutely certain." Thus kindly taught, the woman began to weep out of joy. Later, Honen said of her, "She is a woman of strong faith. She is sure to attain Ojo."
A year later when he was returning to the capital after his exile, Honen called at this place again and inquired about her. He found out that from the time he had instructed her, she had retired to a village near the mountains and had been devoting herself to the practice of the Nembutsu. A short time after, as death drew near, it was with great composure that she safely accomplished her Ojo (birth in the Pure Land). On being told this, Honen said, "Yes, it is just as I had expected."
(source of the passage and image, http://jsri.jp/English/Main.html )
As we have seen, first Honen encourages her to change her ways. He does not tell her that being a prostitute is good, but on the contrary: "Your guilt in living such a life is surely great and the [karmic] penalties seem incalculable. If you can find another means of livelihood, give this up at once". Amida Dharma is not an encouragement to do evil or lead an immoral life (she actually practices one form of sexual misconduct), so everyone should try his/her best to change.
However, his intention is not to judge her, nor make her despair, but to lead her to salvation, so he immediately points to the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha who discriminates nobody and is especially addressed to the lowest of the low: "But if you can’t, or if you are not yet ready to sacrifice your very life for the true way, begin just as you are and call on the sacred Name. It is for just such deluded folk as you that Amida Buddha made that wonderfully comprehensive Primal Vow".
This is the beauty of our Path - we are not spoiled, nor told that we are great or that our ways are good when they aren't, but showed the consequences of our choices and offered the only escape available for people like us - Amida's Primal Vow: “entrust yourself to me, say my Name and wish to be born in my land”.
Namo Amida Bu

04. Kyo Amidabutsu (Shiro Amano) of Kawachi Province - Jan 26, 2020 11:53:00 AM

Public teaching by HonenAccording to Amidaji calendar, on January 26th we celebrate Kyo Amidabutsu (Shiro Amano), a disciple of Honen Shonin. Here are some discussions between him and Honen and the story of his conversion:
"In the province of Kawachi near present-day Osaka, there lived a man called Shiro Amano who was the leader of a gang of thieves. He passed most of his life murdering people and stealing their goods. But after he had grown old, he came under Honen's influence and gave himself over to spiritual life, taking the name of Kyo Amidabutsu. Sometime later he found Honen in the main hall of the temple and said to him, "I have no relatives in the city, so it’ll be hard for me to stay here much longer. I have a friend living in the province of Sagami near Kamakura, and I’m intending to go and ask him to let me stay with him. As I’m already an old man, it’ll be hard for me to come and see you again. Of course, I’m only an ignorant person, so even if I were told all the deepest teachings of the Dharma, it wouldn’t be of much use to me since I wouldn’t understand them. I’d like just one word from you about what I should do to make sure of Birth in the Pure Land, and that I’ll try to remember all my life."
Then Honen spoke as follows : "First of all, notice that there is nothing so extremely profound in the Nembutsu at all. The only thing to know is that everyone who calls upon the sacred Name is certain to be born into the Pure Land. No matter how educated a scholar may be, he has no right to assert that there are things in our school which really do not belong to it. Do not by a great effort of your mind try to make yourself think that there is something so very subtle in the teaching. As calling upon the sacred Name is such an easy practice, there are many who do it. But the reason why so few actually attain ojo (birth in the Pure Land) is that they are ignorant of this old well-known truth of the certainty of Birth to all who believe.”
My commentary: The words, “everyone who calls upon the sacred Name is certain to be born into the Pure Land “ and “certainty of Birth to all who believe” prove that Master Honen taught the Nembutsu of faith(Other Power Nembutsu) to Kyo Amidabutsu. This Nembutsu teaching is very simple, you just say the Name as an expression of faith in Amida Buddha and you will be born in His Pure Land after death. No sophisticated scholarship is needed.
Honen Shonin also said:
“Last month when you and I were here alone together, I got up in the middle of the night and was practicing the Nembutsu. Did you hear me?" Kyo Amidabutsu replied, "I thought I heard something like the sound of your voice during the night." Then Honen said, "This is the very Nembutsu that definitely brings Ojo (birth in the Pure Land). The Nembutsu of a hypocrite or of someone practicing it for show does not lead to the Pure Land. Someone who wants to make sure of it must not practice it for show but with a sincere heart. A person does not act for show in the presence of little children or animals but only in front of his friends and companions or the members of his household who are always with him. The ordinary person (bonbu) who lives among his friends is not without this egoistical heart. It doesn’t matter whether or not they are our intimates or strangers, nor whether or not they are high or low class - there is no greater enemy to our attainment of Ojo than our fellow beings. It is because of the presence of others that our vanity is awakened within our hearts, and so we fail to attain that Birth (Ojo) after death. And though that is so true, none of us can live absolutely alone. So how then is it possible to practice the Nembutsu with a sincere mind (shijoshin) and not with a mind which tries to do things that will please the eyes of others? Someone who is always living with other people and takes no time for quiet reflection is forever living a feigned life. Now if there’s no one to see or hear him and he still quietly rises from his bed in the middle of the night to practice the Nembutsu a hundred or a thousand times to his heart's content - this is the kind of Nembutsu which is not practiced for show but is in harmony with the mind of the Buddha and definitely leads to Birth in the Pure Land. As long as one practices it with a mind like this, it doesn’t matter whether or not it is done in the night time or in the morning, at noon or at twilight. We must always do it as if no one were listening.”
“Basically, what I mean by a mind that longs for certain Birth into the Pure Land and calls upon the sacred Name in all sincerity is like the mind of a thief[1]who wants to steal another's property. Deep down in his heart he means to steal, but as far as his outward appearance is concerned, he doesn’t show the slightest indication to others of his purpose by look or gesture. As others know absolutely nothing about the purpose to steal that is in his mind, we can say that the purpose is for himself alone, without any reference whatsoever to outward appearances. Such an undivided mind as this is necessary in the person who wants to make sure of Birth in the Pure Land. You must never for a moment allow yourself to forget what you are about by letting others know that you are calling upon the sacred Name – not even by the slightest facial expression even though you are in the middle of a crowd of people. At such a time, should anyone except Amida Buddha know about your practicing the Nembutsu? If only Amida Buddha knows, why have any doubts about Birth in the Pure Land?"
To this Kyo Amidabutsu replied, "I can now really see what the teaching about certain Birth in the Pure Land means, and I can fully understand it. If I hadn’t heard these words, I might have missed Birth in the Pure Land at last. But it seems to me from what you have said that it is wrong to tell the beads of the rosary or to move one's lips in prayer before others. Isn't that so?"
Then Honen said, "No, you are mistaken on this point. The most important thing is to continue the practice of the Nembutsu without ceasing. This is why it is said you must always continually keep your mind on this one thing. […]
There are the two kinds of people, the true and the false. With the false, it’s natural for them to fake a thing that is so small there isn’t the least need for it. But on the other hand, the true tell no lies even when it might be to their advantage and don’t think about their own personal gain. They are true to the core and never fake it even in the slightest degree. This is truly their inborn disposition. Now if such true-minded people desire Birth in the Pure Land and devote themselves to the Nembutsu, it doesn’t matter where they are or in whose presence they practice it. Since they never fake it at all, their calling upon the sacred Name is genuine and sincere, and is sure to lead to Birth in the Pure Land. So why should it be prohibited? Now take the case of a person who is false by nature and does a few things insincerely so as to look good in the eyes of others. Say that he comes in contact with a pious monk and has a believing heart awakened in him so that he develops a strong purpose to attain Birth in the Pure Land. If he makes up his mind to keep on repeating the sacred Name without ceasing, it doesn’t matter where he is or in the presence of what people. He will just go on repeating it with an undiverted mind and with all earnestness. This is a case of downright genuine Nembutsu, and such a person is sure of Birth into the Pure Land. There’s no need at all to forbid him to practice the Nembutsu before others if he does it in this way.” […]
Since a sincere heart (shijoshin) is so particularly hard to have awakened within person, that’s why I’ve spoken as I have so as to awaken it in you. This being the case, how could I not encourage you to keep up the practice of the Nembutsu even at ordinary times from day to day?”
My commentary:If one is a hypocrite and uses Nembutsu to impress others, he cannot be born in the Pure Land. On the contrary, for a genuine follower who says Nembutsu out of sincere faith and gratitude outward conditions do not matter, as even when he says it many times and in public places, he does it like he is alone with Amida (like being alone at night when no one sees him). Also, if he recites Nembutsu many times it is not because he is obsessed by numbers, but because he simply enjoys expressing his faith.
When Honen said:
“The most important thing is to continue the practice of the Nembutsu without ceasing. This is why it is said you must always continually keep your mind on this one thing”.
he did not mean that one must constantly say Nembutsu hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second to achieve birth in the Pure Land. No one can actually say Nembutsu second by second, and in the Primal Vow Amida himself showed that the number of recitations is not important, “saying my Name perhaps even ten times”. Master Honen also insisted in many parts of his writings that faith is more important than the number of recitations. Here is an example,
"If one deeply believes in this Vow of Amida Buddha and does not entertain any doubts  about birth in the Pure Land through Nembutsu, ten out of ten and one hundred out of one hundred people will achieve birth in the Pure Land through just a single utterance of Nembutsu. Conversely, one who doubts birth in the Pure Land through Nembutsu will not attain this Birth, even if this individual recites Nembutsu."[2]
Even if one says Nembutsu many times he will not be born in the Pure Land if that Nembutsu is not said on the basis of faith, while just one Nembutsu said as an expression of faith is effective in bringing about Birth. Thus, „without ceasing” in the words of Honen actually means that faith never disappears from the heart of the genuine practitioner, and so, even when one does not actually say the Name, because faith is always present, his mind is always with Amida – „always continually keep your mind on this one thing”. Also, „without ceasing” and „continually keep your mind on this one thing” means that you will never abandon the Nembutsu of faith during your life. It does not mean to say it second by second, but that you will never abandon it.
Master Honen insisted further that outward appearances are not important when saying the Nembutsu of faith:
“Kyo Amidabutsu questioned again, "When you practice the Nembutsu at night, as you were saying, should you always get up out of bed and do it? And should you always have your rosary and robes on?" To this Honen replied, "The Nembutsu may be practiced whether you are walking, standing, sitting or lying. So it can be left to everyone according to their circumstances to do it either reclining or sitting or in any way you choose. And as to holding the rosary or putting on robes, this also should be decided according to circumstances. The main point is not the outward manner at all but the fixing of the mind on the one thing - firmly determined to gain Ojo and with all seriousness calling upon the sacred Name. This is the all-important thing."
The main point when you say the Name of Amida is to have faith in Him and to sincerely wish to be born in His Pure Land.
Kyo Amidabutsu is overjoyed at the teachings he received from Master Honen and lives the rest of his days in the Nembutsu of faith:
At this Kyo Amidabutsu jumped for joy, putting his hands together in worship as he went away. The next day he went to the house of Honen’s disciple Shinku to say good-bye. He told him that Honen had instructed him yesterday about how he could be sure of Birth in the Pure Land, and now he had no more doubts about it. So with great joy in his heart, he departed and turned his face eastwards. After this, when Shinku met Honen, he asked him if this conversation had actually happened, and Honen said, "Yes, I heard he was an old robber, and I instructed him as I thought his case required. He seemed to thoroughly understand what I told him." So Kyo Amidabutsu went down to Sagami and lived there the rest of his life. When after a long illness, he was drawing near the end he told his friend he was sure of Birth in the Pure Land, and it was all due to his having believed what Honen had taught him. His last words were, "Go and tell Honen of my Birth in the Pure Land.” Without a single doubt and with his hands folded in prayer, he repeated the Nembutsu over some tens of times with a loud voice, and then passed away. So his friend went up to the capital and gave Honen a detailed account of his last days at which Honen remarked, "Well, no doubt he did understand. This is fine."
source of the quotations, http://jsri.jp/English/Main.html


[1] Honen gives the example of a thief because Kyo Amidabutsu (Shiro Amane) was himself a thief before he converted to Nembutsu. [2] Honen Shonin, Essentials for Birth in the Pure Land through Nembutsu, The Promise of Amida Buddha - Honen's Path to Bliss; English translation of the Genko edition of the works of Honen Shonin - Collected Teachings of Kurodani Shonin: The Japanese Anthology (Wago Toroku), translated by Joji Atone and Yoko Hayashi, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2011, p.361

05. Every 17th of each month - The Day of All Buddhas' Witness - Jan 17, 2020 1:30:00 AM
I bow my head at the feet of all Buddhas in the ten directions
May I never forget their compassionate guidance.
After being born in Sukhavati I will visit their Pure Lands
to bring offerings to them and worship them.
This Amida has promised in His 23rd and 24th Vow. 
On every 17 of each month we celebrate at Amidaji (click here for our Dharma calendar) The Day of all Buddhas' Witness.

On this day we are grateful to all Buddhas for guiding us to Amida. Also, we remember that all Buddhas praise Amida Buddha’s Name and encourage us to entrust to Him, say His Name and wish to go to His Pure Land. 
First we hear about this from Amida Buddha himself in his 17th Vow, in which He promised:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, innumerable Buddhas in the lands of the ten directions should not all praise and glorify my Name, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.” 
 ( I explained this 17th Vow here)
Then we hear it from the words of Shakyamuni Buddha and the Masters of our lineage. I will present below a few significant passages to reflect on this holy day, but first I wish to explain the image on the left. It is composed of photos that were found by me on various websites and put together to form this one bigger image of Amida Buddha surrounded by Avalokitesvara (center-right), Mahasthamaprapta (center-left), Shakyamuni (lower-left), Padmasambhava (lower-right), Green Tara (upper-left), White Tara (upper-right).
If you look closely, you will see that Green Tara, White Tara, Padmasambhava and Shakyamuni (all great Buddhas themselves) have an image of Amida Buddha (Amitabha) above their head, showing the connection between them and Amida.

Although, each Buddhas have their own Pure Land, and practices associated with them, corresponding to the various types of practitioners, their ultimate and final teaching, as well as the true reason for their coming to this world is to teach Amida Buddha's unconditional path of salvation:

"Looking into the essence of the teachings of the Buddhas, we find that the true and fundamental intent for which all the Tathagatas, past, present, and future, appear in this world, is solely to teach the inconceivable Vow of Amida". 
Shinran Shonin, Passages on the Pure Land Way 

„Because the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are discrete manifestations of Amida Tathagata, Amida is the original teacher and the original Buddha of the Buddhas of the ten directions. For this reason, when we take refuge in one Buddha, Amida, we take refuge in all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; hence the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are all encompassed within the one body of Amida.” 
Rennyo Shonin, Letters, Letter 3, fascicle 2

“Shakyamuni Tathagata appeared in this world
Solely to teach the oceanlike Primal Vow of Amida;
We, an ocean of beings in an evil age of five defilements,
Should entrust ourselves to the Tathagata’s words of truth”. 
Shinran Shonin, Shoshinge
"To the evil sentient beings of wrong views
In this evil age of the five defilement, in this evil world,
The Buddhas, countless as the sands of the Ganges,
Give the Name of Amida, urging them to entrust themselves to it". 
Shinran Shonin, Hymns of the Pure Land (Jodo Wasan)

"Being born in the Buddha-land of happiness
Is the path to ultimate attainment of Buddhahood;
All the Buddhas acclaim the Pure Land,
For birth there is the unsurpassed means." 
Shinran Shonin, Hymns of the Pure Land Masters (Koso Wasan)

"It is very rare that people of this corrupt world of the five defilements embrace the teaching of the one Buddha, Sakyamuni, alone, and for this reason all the Buddhas throughout the ten quarters, countless as the sands of the Ganges, have become witnesses to the attainment of Birth through the Nembutsu that embodies Amida's Primal Vow; this Master Shan-tao has written in his commentary. He explains that Sakyamuni, Amida, and the Buddhas of the ten quarters, all with the same mind, are no more apart from sentient beings of the Nembutsu than shadows from things." 
Shinran Shonin, Lamp for the Latter-Ages, letter 2

"In addition to the Vow of Amida Tathagata, we have Sakyamuni's admonition. Further, we have the witness of all the Buddhas, countless as the sands of the Ganges throughout the ten quarters." 
Shinran Shonin, Letters of the Tradition, Letter 4

"Sakyamuni and all the other Buddhas
Are truly our compassionate father and mother.
With various compassionate means they lead us to awaken
Supreme shinjin (faith in Amida) that is true and real." 
Shinran Shonin, Hymn of the Two Gateways of Entrance and Emergence

"The Light of Amida Buddha shines without exception over all the ten directions, and the innumerable Buddhas in the universe, in unison, praise the Name of Amida Buddha." 
Honen Shonin, Commentary on the Three Sutras of Pure Land Buddhism

"If one believes in the teaching of birth in the Pure Land through Nembutsu, one not only believes in the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha but also in the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni. Believing in the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni is then to believe in all Buddhas in the six directions. Believing in all Buddhas leads to faith in the Dharma in its entirety. Believing in the entire Dharma means to have faith in all of the Bodhisattvas. Accordingly, the belief in the teachings of birth in the Pure Land through Nembutsu is vast and all-encompassing." 
Honen Shonin, Commentary on the Three Sutras of Pure Land Buddhism

"One should have an unshakable faith in the passage from the Smaller Sutra that states that all Buddhas in the ten directions, as numerous as the grains of sand in the Ganges, testified and encouraged all sentient beings to attain birth in the Pure Land." 
Master Shan-tao quoted by Honen Shonin in An Outline of the Doctrine for Birth in the Pure Land
Please read more passages and detailed explanations of this very important teaching of Jodo Shinshu in the chapter The One Vehicle of the Primal Vow - the ultimate teaching of Shakyamuni and all Buddhas (click here to read, http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.com/2018/03/the-one-vehicle-of-primal-vow-ultimate.html) from my book The Meaning of Faith and Nembutsu in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism.
 Namo Amida Bu



06. Commentary on the Sutra on the Buddha of Infinite Life (Larger Sutra) - free online edition - Jan 9, 2020 12:22:00 AM

temporary cover until I find a professional
to make me a better onelast revised version uploaded on January 9, 2020 
First of all, it must be clearly understood that this is not an academic, secular or historical study, but a religious commentary. Its goal is to explain in easy to understand terms the deep meaning of the Larger Sutra[1]so that people can receive faith in Amida Buddha and be born in His Pure Land after death. I, the author of this commentary, accept in faith the contents of the sutra and consider that it describes real events, a real, existing Buddha called Amida[2]and a real Enlightened place called the Pure Land. My heart’s desire is that readers will come to share the same view so that true faith and aspiration arise in them.            There are many ways to read the Larger Sutra and various layers of interpretation, which is why different types of practitioners benefit from it - those who choose to focus on Amida Buddha but still cling to their self-power like followers of the 19th and 20th Vows, as well as followers of the Primal Vow (18th) who rely exclusively on Amida’s power.
However, because Jodo Shinshu is the school of the Primal Vow, this commentary and explanation is written from the perspective of the Primal Vow and the complete reliance on the Power of Amida Buddha.
As I am an unenlightened being with many limitations my commentary cannot be perfect. Only a Buddha is able to perfectly teach His own teaching. However, because no Buddha is now here in human form, I tried my best, while invoking Amida’s help and blessings, to explain it to my fellow travelers on the Nembutsu Path. I did this especially because there are a lot of misunderstandings regarding the sutra among Jodo Shinshu practitioners and many people find obstacles and so-called contradictions when reading it without prior guidance. This is why members and followers of Amidaji temple should look to this commentary as their guide in reading and studying the Larger Sutra.
In my commentary, I used mostly the English translation of Rev Hisao Inagaki[3]and sometimes the one by Hongwanji International Centre[4].
I am very grateful to my Dharma friend, Gansen John Welch from Australia for the proofreading of the English manuscript.
*
The free online edition (515 pages):According to one of my religious vows, I always provide a free online edition (pdf) of anything I write, so I invite you to download this book from the following links:
 1) My personal drive on google
 2) My account on Academia.edu
  If you have difficulties in downloading it, please write to me at [email protected], and I will send you a copy myself.
Please consider a donation to support me and my Dharma activities. Any little help is useful and very much needed. I hope that I will soon be able to provide a printed version with the funds I might be able to raise.


Namo Amida Bu
***

When I was working on this book I added a chapter each time I finished it, so you can still read them bellow. However, they are not proofread, so I recommend you to download the entire book from the links above.


Outline of the Sutra on the Buddha of Infinite Life  
. Thus I have heard - the time and place of the deliverance of the Larger Sutra - commentary on section 1

The qualities of Bodhisattvas in the audience - commentary on section 2

Shakyamuni Buddha's supreme appearance and the reason for His coming to this world - commentary on section 3

The story of Dharmakara becoming Amida Buddha - commentary on sections 4 to 10

The 48 Vows - commentary on section 7 

The twelve Lights of Amida Buddha - commentary on section 11   (part one)

To encounter or see Amida's Light - commentary on section 11 (part two)

The meaning of praising or glorifying Amida's Light - commentary on section 11 (part three) 

The lifespan of Amida Buddha and the enlightened beings in His Pure Land - commentary on section 12

The first teaching assembly of Amida Buddha - commentary on section 13th 

The Nirvanic features of the Pure Land and its inhabitants - commentary on sections 14-21 
(part 1)

The Nirvanic features of the Pure Land and its inhabitants - commentary on sections 14-21 
(part 2)

Assurance of attaining Nirvana in the Pure Land through faith and the praising of Amida's merits by all Buddhas - commentary on section 22 

The three grades of aspirants to birth in the Pure Land - commentary on sections 23 - 25

Visit of Bodhisattvas from other worlds to Sukhavati and prediction for attaining Buddhahood for them and all beings - commentary on sections 26-27  

Favorable conditions for accepting the Larger Sutra in faith - commentary on verses 21-30 from section 27

Listening to the Dharma in the presence of Amida and attaining perfect Enlightenment - commentary on section 29th

Virtues and activities of the Enlightened Bodhisattvas of the Pure Land - commentary on sections 28 and 30

The karmic situation of beings who have no aspiration for Enlightenment and Shakyamuni's encouragement to do good and wish to be born in the Pure Land ( sections 31 - 40, PART I)

The karmic situation of beings who have no aspiration for Enlightenment and Shakyamuni's encouragement to do good and wish to be born in the Pure Land (sections 31 - 40, PART II)

The testimony of Ananda and the audience gathered on  Vulture Peak to the existence of Amida Buddha and His Pure Land - commentary on sections 41 and 42 

The difference between those born in the Pure Land in embryonic form and those born by transformation - commentary on sections 43rd, 44th and 45th

Non-retrogressive Mahayana followers (bodhisattvas in aspiration) who will be born in the Pure Land of Amida - commentary on section 46

Faith as the cause of entering the stage of non-retrogression - commentary on section 47

Various benefits gained by the audience- commentary on section 48








[1] Sutra on the Buddha of Infinite Life delivered by Shakyamuni Buddha ( Larger Sukhavativyuha Sutra  in Skt./Bussetsu Muryōju Kyo in Jpn.); it is often called Larger Sutra. This sutra was translated into Chinese during the Ts’ao-Wei dynasty (252 C.E.), by Tripitaka Master Samghavarman (Kosogai in Jpn.) It’s the most important sutra of the Jodo Shinshu school. The other two sutras we use in our school are:1) Sutra on Visualisation of the Buddha of Infinite Life (Amitayurdhyana Sutra in Skt./Bussetsu Kanmuryoju Kyo in Jpn.). It is often called Contemplation Sutra. This sutra was translated into Chinese during the Liu-Sung dynasty (424-442 C.E.) by the Tripitaka Master Kalayasas (Kyoryoyasha)2) Sutra on the Amitayus Buddha (Smaller Sukhavativyuha Sutra in Skt./Bussetsu Amida Kyo in Jpn.); it is often called Smaller Sutra or Amidakyo. This sutra was translated  into Chinese during the Yao-Ch’in dynasty (402 C.E.), by the Tripitaka Master Kumarajiva (Kumaraju in Jpn).[2] Amida is the Japanese reading for Amitayus (Buddha of Infinite Life) and Amitabha (Buddha of Infinite Light).[3] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003[4] The Three Pure Land Sutras, volume II, The Sutra on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, Japan, 2009 Rev Hisao Inagaki was also member of the translation comitee who did the Hongwanji edition.






07. Where is Amida Buddha? (very short answer) - Dec 27, 2019 2:20:00 PM

Question: Where is Amida Buddha?
My answer:Amida Buddha is in three places at the same time:
1) in ultimate Dharmakaya beyond form,
2) in Sambhogakaya form in the Pure Land, and
3) in various, unlimited manifestations or Nirmanakayas which are spread everywhere in the ten directions.
Amida’s Dharmakaya has no beginning and no end, because it is uncreated, and always existing. This is the Buddha-nature which does not depend on causes and conditions. Amida’s Sambhogakaya or transcendental (recompensed) body which He has manifested in the Pure Land has a beginning, when Bodhisattva Dharmakaraattained Enlightenment and became Amida Buddha, and will have no end, as He promised in His 13th Vow.
The various Nirmanakayas (accommodated/transformed) bodies have a beginning when Amida in Sambhogakaya form decides to emanate them and an end if He decides to terminate them.
When we ourselves will attain Buddhahood in the Pure Land, we’ll have access to the ultimate reality beyond forms (Dharmakaya), we’ll dwell forever in transcendent form (Sambhogakaya) in Amida’s Pure Land, and in the same time, we’ll go in all the places of the universe in various bodies of accommodation or transformation (Nirmanakayas) to save all beings.

08. Audio version of my Commentary on the Sutra on the Buddha of Infinite Life - Dec 22, 2019 1:51:00 PM

The audio version of this book is a work in progress by my Dharma friend Gansen John Welch.
A new chapter is added to the playlist as soon as it is narrated. Please share it especially with those who have difficulty in reading.

You can download the whole book in pdf form here (click here).






09. Some statements on family, couples and women - Dec 22, 2019 10:05:00 AM
I state the following so that people in my Facebook list or readers of my website and books should know who I am as I have never been evasive in matters related to my convictions. If you find these convictions unbearable, you can delete me now from your contact list without any comment, as I do not want to hear any complaints later. There are many modern and progressive teachers out there in the Buddhist world where you can choose from.

When people ask me about family, couples or women related issues, they find that:

- I am pro natural family (man and woman). I only make marriage ceremonies at my temple for men and women as Shakyamuni himself gave teachings on how to live together to couples made of men and women, NOT otherwise, thus being NO scriptural basis for homosexual couples. Unlike some deluded BCA (Buddhist Churches of America) temples,  I do not make gay weddings because the temple is NOT a place to institutionalize abnormal behavior and sexual misconduct. Amida's indiscriminative salvation does not mean that all our actions are now good and deserve a promotion or must be institutionalized in the temple. We are saved because we are incapable not because our blind passions are pure actions. Just like alcoholics or drug addicts are welcomed at the temple but we do not make ceremonies in which we drink alcohol or take heroin, we also welcome people who in their private lives are homosexuals (as long as they keep this to their bedroom!) or have other types of blind passions, (who does not have blind passions!  who can say he/she is pure and without mistake!), but we also do NOT make ceremonies to promote sexual misconduct. In short, all people are welcomed if their sole purpose for coming to the temple is to listen to Amida Dharma and receive faith.

 - I am against so-called "free love", changing partners, or so-called "open relationships/marriages", etc. which is also against Shakyamuni's teaching on sexual misconduct. Thus, as you see,  not only homosexuality is sexual misconduct. Buddhism has very tough morals which is why we, driven by our greed and blind passions, can hardly follow them. However, this does not mean we should use Buddhism to justify them, but rather be grateful to Amida for saving such wretched beings as us.

- In my teaching related to family and couples, I point out (to those who ask me), specific roles for men and women according to what Shakyamuni explained in the Sigalovada sutra, the "Seven Kinds of Wives" discourse of Buddha to Sujata, and others. This does not mean I stop women from having a career if they want it. It is not my job to give career advice. If you read Sigalovada Sutra and The Seven Kinds of Wives without any influence given by nowadays worldly ideologies, you will know what I mean by different roles for men and women.

-   I am against abortion. Abortion is killing no matter the circumstances the child appeared in his mother's womb. Life, according to Buddha Dharma starts in the moment of conception. Making abortion leads all those involved (mother, father, doctor and all those who supported that abortion)  to rebirth in the lower realms,  mostly in hell. The only escape from such terrible karmic consequences is to rely on Amida Buddha and if you do not do that, at least repent thoroughly, save lives and advise other people to never resort to abortion. Also, faith in Amida will not prevent you from repenting,  saving lives or advising people against abortion. People of faith should also say when they are wrong and advise others to not do evil deeds.

- I am against that kind of modern feminism who denies natural differences between men and women, hate men, look down on housewives and mothers, and who take as fundamental the promotion of abortion and treat the child in the womb as some kind of meat without conscience. However, if women fight for equal pay, equal respect, against domestic or street violence, etc, I have no problem with that, and even support it, but unfortunately, feminism recently is a far broad ideological set of ideas than normal women's rights. The jokes you sometimes see me making on my Facebook page are related to the above evil feminism, not with normal women who want normal rights which should exist in a normal society.
Men and women actually complement each other with their differences and there are fields of activity where women are more skillful than men and men more skillful than women (of course, there are exceptions too, that we must recognize!), which is determined by biological, mental and even karmic factors. I think we should cherish those differences rather than enforce ideological uniformity or talk about who is superior and inferior.
More than this, men and women are both equally saved by Amida Buddha through His Primal Vow, and He even made the 35th Vow to especially emphasize that He will save women.


10. New Amidaji holiday - Winter Ohigan (December 20 - 26) - Dec 19, 2019 10:09:00 AM

Usually there are two Ohigan festivals ( literally meaning "to reach the other shore),  on spring and autumn ecquinox, but I decided to add another two for followers of Amidaji, in winter and summer solstice, so that people have more  opportunities for reflections and celebration.

This time of year is too much filled with worldly matters and celebrations dedicated to Christmas, so Nembutsu followers will benefit from having a Buddhist holiday of their own and give a Buddhist air to these days.

Winter Ohigan will last seven days, just like the other three, between December 20 to December 26. In this week you will have plenty of time to attend temple services and celebrate at home. During these days reflect on the changing nature of samsaric existence and wish even more to be born in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha. Decorate your house with images of the Pure Land, of Amida welcoming devotees, bring offerings of cakes, fruits and nonalchoholic drinks in the name of your family and your ancestors, encouraging them to entrust to Amida. Also be happy that because you have faith in Amida you will be able to guide them to faith even better once you reach the Pure Land yourself. Sooner or later, because one or two family members have faith, all one's friends and relatives (dead or alive) will reach the Pure Land and celebrate Ohigan together. The Ohigan in this world is just a shadow of the Ohigan that will follow in the Pure Land. This is why I establish "TOGETHER IN THE PURE LAND" as the slogan for all the four Ohigans celebrated by Amidaji friends and followers.

Question:
What if my friends or relatives invite me for Christmas party which falls during one of the days of Winter Ohigan?

My answer: If you have friends or relatives who celebrate Christmas and you wish to join them at meals do this with the thought that you are celebrating Winter Ohigan and be happy that one day, maybe  in this life or another life, due to yours and Amida guidance they too will embrace the same faith and will be born in the same Pure Land. 

Ohigan is also a period of joy which comes from the trust that Amida Buddha will never stop until He will bring all beings to His Pure Land. How extraordinary this is!

Question: Can I use a pine tree or branches of pine trees and other various winter specific decorations of this period?
My answer: If you use a pine tree decorate it with  images of Amida Buddha, of Shinran, Honen, the Pure Land, Avalokitesvara, Mahasthamaprapta, etc. Use any decoration you want but add Pure Land related images on it.

May you all have a Happy and Meaningful Winter Ohigan!
Together in the Pure Land!
Namo Amida Bu


11. An example of the false teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh - Dec 5, 2019 7:32:00 AM

This is a striking example of false teaching and false teacher. No matter how popular he is among many ignorants, I say this again - this is false teaching and he is a false teacher!

You cannot be a Christian and a Buddhist in the same time for the simple reason that Christianity (and any monotheistic religion) promotes faith in a creator and supreme god. This idea of a creator and supreme god is denied by Shakyamuni Buddha. Please read this article filled with quotes from the Baka Brahma sutra (and the articles reccomended at the end of it), There is no supreme creator god in the Buddha Dharma.

Somebody who accepts the idea of a supreme creator god who is also judge of the world, as Christians do (their god is both creator and judge), does not understand the law of karma. The idea of somebody who created  and rules everything is contrary to the Buddhist teachings on being, karma and rebirth. You cannot just practice Buddhism while folowing wrong views because if you do that you put yourself outside of Buddhist practice. Right views must always accompany right practice!

Buddhism also means to worship the Buddha. Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha himself encouraged Ananda to worship Amida Buddha in the Larger Sutra: " The Buddha said to Ananda, ‘Rise to your feet, rearrange your robes, put your palms together, and respectfully revere and worship Amitayus (Amida)." And Ananda did as instructed, "Ananda stood up, rearranged his robes, assumed the correct posture, faced westward, and, demonstrating his sincere reverence, joined his palms together, prostrated himself on the ground, and worshiped Amitayus."

Pure Land Buddhism and Jodo Shinshu in particular is a faith oriented type of Buddhism. Here we entrust to Amida Buddha, we say His Name in faith, we worship Him and we wish to be born in His Pure Land after death. Also, worshiping of Buddhas in general has always been considered a meritorious practice in many other forms of Buddhism. In His Primal Vow, Amida Buddha said "entrust to me, say my Name and wish to be born in my land". These are exclusive recquirements, not things that can be mixed with faith in other nonbuddhist divinities. So NO, you cannot be a Christian and follow the Primal Vow! Unfortunately, some think that Thich Nhat Hanh also teaches Pure Land! No he doesn't!

There are many things to say here. I do not deny Thich Nhat Hahn helped some people become more mindful or calm through his meditations, but if you want real Buddhist teaching and practice he is NOT the right place to go! By spreading such wrong views as the above he in fact, breaks his refuge vows. What he teaches is NOT Buddhism, but some kind of relaxation and feel good teachings.

The Three Refuges (the refuge vows) are, as the term implies, a „refuge” but also an engagement, a vow and comitment, that from now on we will forever take refuge in the Buddhas, the Dharma and Sangha. When we say „I take refuge in the Buddha” it means ONLY in the Buddha, when we say, „I take refuge in the Dharma” it means ONLY in the Dharma, and when we say, „I take refuge in the Sangha” it means ONLY in the Sangha. The three refuges are exclusive vows. One should stop any non-Buddhist religious activities after taking refuge in the Three Jewels. If one prays to other non-buddhist divine figures, engages in non-buddhist practices and has non-buddhist religious teachers from whom he receives teachings and instructions, that person breaks the Refuge vows and from then on he or she can no longer be considered a Buddhist. This is extremely important.

The Nirvana Sutra states (as quoted by Shinran in his KGSS, VI):
"If one has taken refuge in the Buddha, one must not further take refuge in various gods."

"Those who take refuge truly and wholeheartedly, freeing themselves from all delusional attachments and all concern with the propitious or unpropitious, must never take refuge in false spirits or non-Buddhist teachings.”
(Sutra of the Ten Wheels of Ksitigarbha, quoted by Shinran in Kyogyoshinsho, chapter VI)

“Good sons and good daughters of pure trust must never serve gods to the very end of their lives.”
(Sutra of the Vows of Medicine Master Buddha, quoted by Shinran in his Kyogyoshinsho, chapter VI)

So again, you cannot be a Buddhist practitioner and a Christian! Those who think they can are actually outside both Buddhism and Christianity. They fail both paths.



12. Подробное объяснениеИзначального Обета Амида-будды - Nov 28, 2019 9:29:00 AM


by Rev Josho Adrian Cirlea
translated from English by Evgheni Terehin

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE PDF 

Namo Amida Bu





13. Shinjin is not dettachment - Nov 18, 2019 6:41:00 PM
Shinjin is NOT detachment. Shinjin is simple faith in Amida Buddha. Because shinjin or simple faith is not detachment it co-exists with our blind passions, attachments and ignorance.

We know we are saved by Amida and we'll go to His Pure Land when we die - this is faith (shinjin); but we are afraid to die because of attachment to our bodies, and we also cannot have a perfect moral behavior because we have ignorance and blind passions.

If we had no blind passions, atachments and ignorance, then we'll be Buddhas and for Buddhas the salvation offered by Amida has no sense.

Amida Buddha's Primal Vow was made for unenlightened beings. While we are still in this samsaric world, itself the effect of our personal and collective karma, blind passions and ignorance, we cannot become perfect beings or Buddhas. Only after we are born after death in the enlightened environment of the Pure Land can we become Enlightened beings.

Please do not confuse faith (shinjin) with Enlightenment or any kind of sainthood.


14. Outline of the Sutra on the Buddha of Infinite Life (Larger Sutra) - Nov 6, 2019 2:54:00 PM

fragment from my commentary on the Larger Sutra      - this is a work in progress and under constant revision - 
The sutra starts with the place where it was delivered by Shakyamuni Buddha (Vulture Peak in Rajagrha) and a description of the audience ( section 1) with special emphasis on the qualities of the Enlightened Bodhisattvas who were present there like Maitreya, Manjushri, Samantabhadra, etc (section 2).
*
Before starting to teach this sutra Shakyamuni manifested a supreme appearance. When asked by Ananda about the reason for those wonderful manifestations, He explained that He was about to deliver the most important teaching of His life, the true reason for His coming to this world (section 3).
*
Then He tells the story of how many eons ago the monk Dharmakara awoke the aspiration for supreme Enlightenment in front of Buddha Lokesvararaja, made the 48 vows, practiced for many kalpas, attained perfect Enlightenment and became Amida Buddha. In that very moment His Pure Land came into existence and is always present to welcome those who wish to be born there. (sections 4-10)
*
The Light of Amida, which is praised by all Buddhas, has twelve special characteristics  and can be encountered through faith. Those who encounter this Light will no longer be obstructed by their defilements and they will be relieved to know that they are assured of birth in the Pure Land (section 11).
*
The life of Amida in Sambhogakaya form in His Pure Land is infinite and so it is the life of the enlightened beings dwelling there (section 12).
*
The first turning of the Wheel of Dharma, after Dharmakara became Amida Buddha was a cosmic event which was attended by an incalculable number of beings who were Enlightened or very close to Enlightenment (section 13).
*
Shakyamuni then describes the Nirvanic features of the Pure Land and its inhabitants in rich detail so that we may be convinced of its real existence and wish to be born there. Unlike here in samsara where everything is conducive to attachments and blind passions, the enlightened manifestations of the Pure Land naturally lead to Enlightenment (sections 14-21).
*
Those who have faith in Amida are assured that they will attain Nirvana in the Pure Land. Also, it is mentioned that all Buddhas praise the inconceivable and supreme virtues (merits) of Amida which are actually transferred to us when we entrust to Him, thus making us enter the stage of non-retrogression for the attainment of Nirvana in the Pure Land (section 22).
*
There are three grades of aspirants for birth in the Pure Land. Very advanced practitioners, even close to Enlightenment but not yet Enlightened, as well as we, the lowest of the low, can entrust to Amida Buddha and rely on His Power, thus being aware that their virtues are not superior to Amida or that our evil is not an obstacle for birth there. However, those who are attached to their so-called merits and virtues attain an inferior birth in the borderland of the Pure Land (sections 23-25).
*
Encouraged by the Buddhas who teach the Dharma in various worlds, all advanced Bodhisattvas in aspiration visit Sukhavati and are actually born there through faith, where they attain Buddhahood. Also Bodhisattvas who are already enlightened visit Amida just like a grateful student will always visit and pay respect to his Master no matter that now he became a master himself.
After the episode with the visit of Bodhisattvas, Shakyamuni continues with explaining the favorable conditions of meeting and accepting the teaching of the Larger Sutra in faith. Observance of the precepts in a former life leads to birth in human form or a realm where one can meet and hear the Larger Sutraand especially the message of the Primal Vow which is the essence of this sutra. Those who have met a Buddha or many Buddhas in the past and had devotion and respect towards them are open enough to accept in faith the teaching of the Larger Sutra and especially the Primal Vow. Because all Buddhas praise Amida’s method of salvation they are all guiding beings who are under their care and who worship them, towards faith in Amida. (sections 26-27)
*
The virtues and activities of the Enlightened Bodhisattvas of the Pure Land are described at length by Shakyamuni. They can, without actually leaving the Pure Land, manifest in various forms in all the realms of samsaric existence to guide beings toward birth in the Pure Land. Because they are enlightened they are not limited by anything in their compassionate activities. (sections 28-30)   
*
Once they reach the enlightened environment of the Pure Land the newborn see Amida, listen to His teaching and attain perfect Enlightenment. The perception of time is different here in the human plane of samsaric existence than "time" in the Pure Land. Thus, if here we need minutes or hours, days, months and years to do various activities, in the Pure Land many things can be done at the same time. So, in the very moment of birth in the Pure Land through the Gate of Faith (Gate of the Primal Vow) we automatically see Amida in all His glory, listen to His teaching in the seven jeweled lecture hall and attain perfect Enlightenment. (section 29)
*
To make us wish even more to escape samsara and be born in the Pure Land, Shakyamuni describes the karmic situation of beings who have no aspiration towards Enlightenment. Then He suggests that Amida Dharma is not an instrument to justify blind passions nor institutionalize them as normal behavior. Indeed, in its saving activity, Amida Buddha makes no distinction between virtuous and non-virtuous people. But making no distinction, out of Great Compassion, between them, it does not mean that He supports or encourages evil. No Buddha, including Amida and Shakyamuni, have ever supported evil actions, so we should not confuse being saved as we are with the idea that all our actions are now worthy and good or that we should not make any effort for a good behavior. Instead of praising or justifying our blind passions, we should be ashamed of them and grateful to Amida’s helping hand. As Shinran said, “don’t make a liking to poison because you have the antidote”, that is, try your best to abandon evil actions even if you are saved by Amida.
The teaching of Amida’s salvation contained in the Larger Sutra is transmitted by Shakyamuni to Maitreya who will protect it and teach it himself when He will assume the role of the next Buddha in our world system. (section 31-40)
*
Then Ananda asks the historical Buddha to see Amida, His Pure Land as well as the inhabitants living there, and so they are revealed to him and to all the audience gathered on that day on Vulture Peak. To emphasize the importance of this revelation Shakyamuni asks Ananda and Maitreya to confirm what they saw and Ananda does exactly that in the name of all those present. This is a crucial event in the Larger Sutra which was done in order to make us accept Amida as a real Enlightened Person and His Pure Land as a real, enlightened place where we should wish to be born after death.  (sections 41-42)
*
At the request of Maitreya, Shakyamuni explains the difference between the two types of beings born in the Pure Land, 1) those born in the embryonic state and 2) those born by transformation. The people in the first category (followers of the 19th and 20thvows) are those who, while focusing on Amida, still cling to their so-called merits and virtues or mix Nembutsu with various practices not mentioned in the Primal Vow, etc. They are to be born in the borderland of the Pure Land in an unenlightened state of mind and will spend some time there until they overcome their doubts and fully entrust to Amida. The people in the second category are practitioners who completely rely on the Power of Amida Buddha in accord with His Primal Vow (18th Vow). They are born in the “true fulfilled land of the Pure Land” or the “center” of the Pure Land where they automatically attain perfect Enlightenment and become capable to guide all beings in the ten directions. (sections 43-45)
*
There are many Mahayana followers (bodhisattvas in aspiration) on various levels of spiritual achievements or even without any personal virtue in all the places of the samsaric universe who are now in the stage of non-retrogression for birth in the Pure Land. Many such followers of true faith will also appear in the future. The cause of entering this stage is not any personal achievement, but faith in Amida Buddha and complete reliance on His Power.  
Shakyamuni’s urge to listen and accept the Larger Sutra in faith is overwhelming as He says that even if the whole universe is on fire we should pass through it to hear and entrust to this teaching. So great is the importance of the Larger Sutra that He promised to keep it in the world for one hundred years more after all the other sutras will disappear. Insisting that we must not have any doubts about the contents of this sutra, Shakyamuni mentions as proof for the authenticity of its teachings the fact that He enabled the audience to see Amida and His Pure Land. Thus, He wanted them to act as witness to future generations for the real existence of Amida and His Pure Land. In the process of receiving this sutra we must practice it in the way it was taught and not change it according to our likes or dislikes. (sections 46-47)
*
At the end of the sutra various benefits gained by the audience are described, among which, the most important is the entering into the stage of non-retrogression for birth in the Pure Land and subsequent attainment of Nirvana.
If the sutra starts with Shakyamuni’s supreme appearance, it also ends with extraordinary supernatural manifestations. Both manifestations at the beginning and end of the sutra show that this was indeed the most important discourse of Shakyamuni’s lifetime – the true reason for His coming to this world. (section 48)

 click here to go to the commentary of each section of the Larger Sutra 


15. The metal frame for the walls and roof of Amidado (Amida Hall) of Amidaji temple - Nov 3, 2019 5:17:00 PM
the metal frame of Amidado (finished)I finished the metal frame for the walls and roof of Amidado (Amida Hall). The worker said that a metal frame, although very expansive, is better than a wooden frame, and I listened to his advice.

So, I spent around 1200 euros in total for these metal bars and the worker pay. In the photos, you can see the result.
The next steps are to build the roof and the walls. There will be double wooden walls filled with glass wool insulation and covered with another thermal insulation on the outside. I also need to add
the metal frame of Amidado (finished)two windows and a big entrance door. Materials for the walls and worker pay are surely arround 1500 euros or more (sorry, last time I miscalculated again the costs for the walls). The materials and worker payment for the roof will be arround 750 euros. I will try to first build the roof and then the walls.

Please help if you can. Any little amount is useful and very much needed.

Click here if you wish to donate via PayPal


the metal frame of Amidado (finished)the metal frame of Amidado (finished)or on this link, http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.com/p/donation.html if you wish to use other methods. The names of donors and/or the names of those in whose name the donation is made (no matter the amount) will be included in the dedication list of my new book.

NAMO AMIDA BU 



16. A question on spirits - Oct 22, 2019 9:51:00 PM
Question:
"If I see or feel the presence of negative spirits arround me, how do I send them away? And what if they refuse to leave?"

My answer:
Why send them away? Just leave them alone. Let them stay and listen to your Nembutsu, let them hear your thoughts and words of faith. One day, they will become bored with a guy like you who minds his own business and constantly says Nembutsu, or even better, they might be influenced by your devotion and entrust to Amida themselves. In Jodo Shinshu we do not exorcize, nor fight with spirits, rather we convert them by our example. The urge of Shinran, "receive yourself faith and help others receive faith" applies to this, too.

It is good to be friendly towards the spirit world. Realize that spirits, ghosts and various types of nonhuman beings inhabit the same space with us. Your land is their land, too. Some are in the same place for hundreds or thousands of years, so they have the same right as you to be here. Who are you to tell them to go away? Let them be and focus on living a life of gratitude with as little damage as possible to other beings, and focus on Nembutsu.

All beings suffer, no matter they are humans or non-humans. Some spirits may like you, feel neutral towards you or may be inclined to hate you due to karma from the past. No problem! Let them hate you, while you just focus on Nembutsu. How much can somebody hate another person if that one does not respond to the hate and minds his own business!
Offer incense to Amida Buddha in the name of all beings, including the spirits of the place where you live, and make aspirations for them - "may they be healthy in body and mind, may they have all the necesities of life, may they create indestructible connections with Amida Buddha, entrust to Him, say His Name ( Namo Amida Bu) and wish to be born in His Pure Land". Also pray to Amida to help them, although He already tries His best to help. However, if you pray for them, they will feel your good intentions.

If you think this way, if you say Nembutsu and have devotion and faith, the invisible beings who happen to live there or just pass through, will know your thoughts and might be inspired to entrust to Amida and say Nembutsu themselves, and if not, they will finaly leave you alone as they see that you are no threat to them. In fact, they cannot harm you even if they try, because if you have faith (shinjin) you automatically benefit from the protection of Amida and all Buddhas.
So again, no matter what you see, hear, or feel arround you, just focus on Nembutsu and mind your own business.



17. The concrete platform of Amidado (Hall of Amida) of Amidaji temple - Oct 14, 2019 9:30:00 AM

the concrete platform for the Amidado
(Hall of Amidado) Finally, I was able to start working at the new Hondo of Amidaji which will be called Amidado (Hall of Amida).
Due to my lack of building knowledge, I falsely assumed that 80% of Amidado will be around 1000 euro. However, I was terribly wrong as I already spent 821 Euros only for the concrete platform, plus other various small related expenses!
The construction materials (71 sacks of cement, 5 cars with gravel, construction mesh, etc) were  2500 Romanian lei and the paid worker 1400 Romanian lei. Total amount spent: 3900 Romanian lei which is equivalent to 821 Euros. Amidaji courtyard. In the far left is the
present Hondo followed by the concrete
platform of the Amidado. In the far right
is the library.  
Now I am raising funds to continue the building process of the Amidado. I must, of course, raise the walls (there will be double wooden walls filled with glass wool insulation), build a roof, door, windows, thermal insulation on the outside walls, etc. All these will surely be at least 2000 Euros.Please help if you can. Any little amount is useful and very much appreciated.

CLICK HERE IF YOU WISH TO DONATE (PayPal):



working on the concrete platform of
Amidado (Hall of Amida)parts of the building materialsor to this link if you wish to use other methods,
http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.com/p/donation.html
The name of donors (no matter the amount offered) will be included in the dedication list of my new book.
Thank you very much for your kindness and generosity!
Namo Amida Bu





18. Sobre las "Cenizas Blancas" - Oct 12, 2019 7:58:00 PM


Traducido del inglés por:Juan Sebastián Hincapié Arana
Las "Cenizas Blancas" es una meditación sobre la impermanencia y la muerte y cuando la leo, la vinculo a las palabras finales de Shakyamuni antes entrar en el Parinirvana: "Todas las cosas son transitorias,  conscientemente esfuércense".En esta carta todo se reduce a la conciencia: ser o no ser consciente de tu propia muerte, de tu propia impermanencia.
Creo que las personas generalmente no son conscientes del hecho de que su vida está siempre yendo a la inevitabilidad de la muerte. Cuando una persona no toma conciencia desde lo profundo de su corazón de la impermanencia de la vida y la naturaleza cambiante de todo lo que lo rodea, esta persona no es  aún capaz de hacer uso de la religión para encontrar un verdadero significado en su vida. Le prestará toda su atención al mundo exterior y buscará su satisfacción allí.
Recuerdo que en el budismo temprano uno de los más practicados métodos de meditación era la meditación sobre la muerte. El discípulo se solía quedar en un cementerio y meditaba sobre un cadáver muerto viendo su estado de descomposición y se daba cuenta de que lo mismo le sucedería a su cuerpo también. Así el discípulo se hacía más y más capaz de tomar consciencia obre la realidad de la muerte, separarse de su cuerpo y abandonar la vida centrada en el ego. Meditar sobre la impermanencia y la muerte es,en mi opinión, la acción más auténtica, es dejar de mentirnos nosotros mismos. Hasta que no nos demos cuenta de nuestra propia muerte e impermanencia, nos pasamos el tiempo soñando, haciendo planes y pensando que tenemos todo el tiempo del mundo para hacer todo, y pensamos que la muerte se trata de una idea o un buen tema para la poesía.
Las personas de los tiempos modernos no se dan mucho tiempo parameditar sobre la verdadera naturaleza de la vida. Se comportan como si pudieran vivir por siempre. Recuerdo una comparación hecha por un sabio indio, que dijo que las personas ignorantes son iguales a los perros cuando miran a una persona muerta. Esto es porque cuando ves un perro que ve a otro perro muerto puedes notar que de alguna manera él mira el cadáver como si no se diera cuenta de lo que ha pasado. El perro solo inspecciona el cadáver y camina alrededor sin el más mínimo pensamiento de que la misma muerte  le ocurrirá alguna vez a él también.  Del mismo modo, la gente mira a una persona muerta como a algo que no puede pasarle a alguien más, algo así como una mala suerte.
Entienden la muerte solo a nivel de información pero no sienten la muerte en su realidad cruda e inevitable. Cuando una persona comienza a sentir y darse cuenta de la realidad de la muerte y la impermanencia de todas las cosas, se detiene de repente. Ese detenerse en el camino  puede darle a esa persona un verdadero significado a su vida. La conciencia de la muerte, la enfermedad y la vejez también fue lo que hizo que Siddhartha dejara su palacio real en busca de la Iluminación.
Hablando de mí, las palabras que a menudo me vienen a la mente de la enseñanza del Buda son ideas basadas ​​en la conciencia de la impermanencia. Las repito casi involuntariamente: "No tengo tiempo, la vida y la muerte son lo más importante" o "sigue el Camino como si este fuera el último día de tu vida". La ley de la impermanencia es lo que me hace un budista.
Un punto de inflexión en mi vida fue la muerte de tres personas: un amigo, seguido en sucesión por su padre en unos meses y mi abuela. En mi historia personal, este fue el período en que dejé las prácticas basadas en el poder propio y tomé refugio en el Voto Primordial de Amida.
Es muy difícil para mí describir con palabras lo que sentí en ese entonces. Es una sensación extraña e insoportable sentir tus manos y todo el cuerpo tan frágil como un fósforo.A veces el pensamiento de mi propia muerte me asusta, rara vez leo en paz esta carta de Rennyo. Hay algo impactante y pesado en las palabras esa carta; esa sensación solo puede ser aliviada al leer finalmente la última oración de la carta en donde el Maestro Rennyo habla sobre confiar en el Buda Amida y decir el Nembutsu: "Así que todos debemos tomar en serio rápidamente la cuestión de la mayor importancia, la cual es de la otra vida (vida después de la muerte) , confiemos profundamente en el Buda Amida y recitemos el Nembutsu ". En esta última oración está nuestra esperanza, sin esta última oración toda la carta sería un productor de depresión y tristeza para personas ignorantes como nosotros, llenas de pasiones ciegas.
Rennyo no dice como en el Sutra del corazón: "no hay muerte, no hay dolor, no hay principio ni secesión de dolor " Sino en cambio: "hay muerte, hay dolor, confía en el Buda Amida". De frente, ante  la conmoción de la muerte y la impermanencia que llega al corazón de toda persona común y corriente Rennyo no nos  habla de cosas sutiles, porque él no está dirigiéndose a  Budas o santos. Es por esto que yo, como la mayoría en la Escuela  Jodo Shinshu; no hago énfasis en que  podamos convertirnos en Budas, o la idea de que todos somos Budas en nuestra naturaleza real y que tan solo debemos despertar a esta verdad absoluta, sino que en cambio enfatizo la situación grave en la que nos encontramos lo que estamos aquí y ahora la cual s: Somos es seres ignorantes que no pueden superar por medio de su propio poder el problema de la vida y la muerte. A este tipo de seres, el Buda Amida dice: "Todo está bien, solo confía en mí". Esto es exactamente lo que necesitaba escuchar. El Voto Primordial de Amida contiene las palabras que busqué desesperadamente en todo el Budismo. No sé cómo sea para los demás, pero no creo que yo una sabia oración de un maestro zen pueda hacerme superar este problema. Para mí, el hecho de que ya tengo la naturaleza de Buda no me salva ni me da calor; no cambia nada, no me ayuda absolutamente en nada. Sigue siendo tan solo una hermosa frase.No puedo superar la perspectiva de mi propia muerte a través del desapego basado en el poder propio. Me encuentro con muchas personas que son muy impresionadas por frases sutiles que están mucho más allá del nivel ordinario de comprensión, tal vez esta es la razón por la cual el Zen tiene mucho éxito en Europa y EE. UU. por sus koans (1) los cuales dudo que mucha gente practique en su verdadero espíritu. Pero para mí, la única realidad es esta:? si muero mañana, ¿qué pasará conmigo? Mis virtudes son superficiales, por lo que mi próximo nacimiento es incierto si no confío en Amida
Esta es la única realidad para mí. Yo soy el hombre en Frente a los dos ríos de agua y fuego, estoy rodeado por todas partes de todo tipo de peligros, estoy asustado y avasallado todo lo que me está pasando, Amida me está llamando, ¿cómo puedo no contestar a su llamada?Namo Amida Butsu
*
Notas al pie:
1 Koan es una palabra o una frase de lenguaje sin sentido racional que no puede ser "resuelta" por el intelecto. Se utiliza como ejercicio para romper las limitaciones del pensamiento convencional y desarrollar la intuición, dando al practicante la oportunidad de alcanzar un conciencia más allá de la dualidad. Se utilizan como objetos de meditación en la Escuela Zen Rinzai. Sin embargo, muy a menudo estos koans son tratados por muchos como simples juegos intelectuales interesantes, perdiendo así su función original".
*
Carta del Maestro Rennyo aludida en el Artículo:
"Fascículo cincoCarta 16 Sobre  las cenizas blancas del Maestro Rennyo
Cuando consideramos profundamente la transitoriedad de este mundo, [nos damos cuenta que] nuestra vida es totalmente fugaz a: es como una ilusión de principio a fin. Y aún no hemos oído hablar de cualquiera que viva diez mil años. Toda una vida pasa rápidamente ¿ Puede acaso alguien vive ahora vivir y llegar a cien? ¿Moriré primero yo o mi vecino? ¿Será hoy o mañana? No  lo sabemos. Aquellos que dejamos atrás y los que van antes que nosotros son más numerosos que las gotas de rocío que descansan brevemente debajo de los árboles y en sus puntas de las hojas. Por lo tanto, podemos tener caras radiantes en la mañana pero en la tarde no será más que cenizas blancas. Con la llegada del viento de la impermanencia, ambos ojos son cerrados instantáneamente, y cuando una sola respiración se calma para siempre, la cara radiante se drena de toda vida y pierde su brillo vibrante. A pesar de que mi familia y parientes pueden reunirse y llorar con el corazón roto, todo esto es en vano. Como no hay nada más que hacer, [ la alguna vez forma familiar] se lleva a un campo periférico, y cuando ha  desaparecido con el humo de la medianoche, no quedan nada más que cenizas blancas.Esto es de hecho indescriptiblemente triste.
Y así, ya que la impermanencia de este mundo crea una condición de incertidumbre para jóvenes y viejos por igual, todos deberíamosInmediatamente tomar en serio lo más importante que es  el más allá (la vida después dela muerte) y, confiando profundamente en el Buda Amida, digamos entonces el Nembutsu…
Respetuosamente."


19. The qualities of Bodhisattvas in the audience – commentary on section 2 of the Larger Sutra - Oct 7, 2019 10:23:00 AM
Buddha Maitreyalast revised October 7, 2019
fragment from my commentary on the Larger Sutra - this is a work in progress and under constant revision -  

Many members of our school do not fully understand the term Bodhisattvain Mahayana. Also, when we read the 22nd Vow of Amida presented in section7 of this sutra, and which is generally accepted to mean that we return to this world as fully Enlightened Persons or Buddhas to save all beings, some of us are puzzled that in the respective vow there is no mentioning of the word "Buddha", but only "Bodhisattva". However, there is no contradiction between the two. The reason is that, in Mahayana, the term “Bodhisattva” does not only refer to a highly evolved person who is extremely close to Enlightenment (on one of the ten bodhisattva stages/bhumis[1]), but also to a Buddha who manifests as Bodhisattva or Bodhisattvas who already attained Enlightenment. There is clear evidence for this in many Mahayana sutras, esoteric tantras and also in the writings of various Buddhist masters[2]. So, according to Mahayana Buddhism, there are two types of bodhisattvas:
1. Bodhisattvas in aspiration who have made the vows of becoming Buddhas for themselves and all beings, but who are still on the path (still in training) and still unenlightened (not Buddhas yet). Anyone who made the four Bodhisattva vows[3]may call himself or herself a bodhisattva in aspiration. Some bodhisattvas may be very much advanced and on various higher levels, even  close to Enlightenment, but as long as they have not reached perfect Enlightement I also include them in this category.
2. Bodhisattvas who already attained Buddhahood but who do not remain secluded in their Enlightenment. These are in fact, ancient Buddhas who manifest as Bodhisattvas[4]. In this category we find Avalokitesvara[5], Mahasthamaprapta[6], Samantabhadra, Manjusri, Maitreya, and many others. While Avalokitesvara (Kannon in Jap) and Mahasthamaprapta (Seishi in Jap) are the two Bodhisattvas who accompany Amida Buddha, the other three, Samantabhadra[7], Manjusri[8]and Maitreya, were also assembled at the Vulture Peak when Shakyamuni preached the Larger Sutra:

“Mahayana bodhisattvas also accompanied the Buddha, including all those of this Auspicious Kalpa, such as the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra, the Bodhisattva Manjusri and the Bodhisattva Maitreya. There were also the sixteen lay bodhisattvas, such as Bhadrapala, as well as the Bodhisattva as well as Bodhisattva Profound Thought, Bodhisattva Wisdom of Faith, Bodhisattva Emptiness, Bodhisattva Bloom of Supernatural Power, Bodhisattva Hero of Light, Bodhisattva Superior Wisdom, Bodhisattva Banner of Wisdom, Bodhisattva Tranquil Ability,Bodhisattva Wisdom of Vows, Bodhisattva Sweet-smelling Elephant, Bodhisattva Hero of Treasures, Bodhisattva Dwelling in the Center, Bodhisattva Practice of Restraint, and Bodhisattva Emancipation.[9]
About them the sutra says:
“With such roots of virtue, all the Bodhisattvas in the assembly had reached theshore of Emancipation (Enlightenment/Buddhahood). They had acquired the Buddha's immeasurable merit and attained the sacred, pure and inconceivable wisdom. Innumerable Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas, such as these assembled there all at once.”[10]
As we clearly see in the above quote taken from the 1st and 2nd sections of the Larger Sutra, the three Bodhisattvas, Samantabhadra, Manjusri and Maitreya, the other sixteen lay Bodhisattvas and in fact,” all the Bodhisattvas in the assembly”, already attained Enlightenment - "had reached the shore of Emancipation".
The whole section two of this sutra describes the virtues of the Bodhisattvas in the audience. Thus, each one of them follows ad infinitum the same pattern as Siddharta Gautama who became Shakyamuni Buddha, that is, they are Buddhas who manifest as Bodhisattvas.  It is like the story of Shakyamuni Buddha repeats itself over and over again in all universes:
He first dwells for some time in the Tusita heaven[11]where Maitreya is now dwelling - "first dwelling in the Tusita Heaven, He proclaims the true Dharma", and then, “…having left the heavenly palace, He descends into His mother's womb. Soon after He is born from her right side, He takes seven steps. As He does so, an effulgence illuminates everywhere in the ten quarters and innumerable Buddha-lands shake in six ways. Then He utters these words, ‘I will become the most Honoured One in the world.’" [12]
After a childhood and youth filled with various achievements and pleasures He "encounters old age, sickness and death", and "He realizes the impermanence of the world". Then He "renounces His kingdom, wealth and throne, and goes into the mountains to practice the Way. After sending back the white horse that He has been riding, together with the jewelled crown and ornaments which He has been wearing, He takes off his magnificent clothes and puts on a Dharma robe. He cuts His hair and shaves His beard, sits upright under a tree and strives at ascetic practices for six years in accord with the traditional way".[13]
After realizing the futility of the ascetic practices He washes himself in the river, eats moderately and then He takes a sit under the Bodhi tree "with His legs crossed". Then "He emits a great flood of light to inform Mara of this. Mara and his army come to attack and tempt him, but He brings them under control with the power of wisdom and makes them all surrender. Then He attains the supreme Dharma and realizes the highest, perfect Enlightenment".[14]
After this attainment of Enlightenment, exactly like Shakyamuni in our present world, He goes on teaching the Dharma, thus guiding others to the attainment of freedom from birth and death:"[…] destroys wrong views, removes afflictions, flushes the gutters of desire, protects the Dharma-castle, opens the Dharma-gate, washes off the grime of the passions, and reveals the pure white Dharma. He unifies everything in the Buddha Dharma, and thus proclaims the right teaching".[15]
And at the end of His physical body, He "demonstrates that He passes into Nirvana"[16], or in other words, He puts on the show of disappearing into the non-comprehensible state of beyond form and non-form, but in reality, according to the Larger Sutra, He "endlessly brings sentient beings to emancipation"[17], which means that His activities in various manifestations continue in other places of the universe, where He starts again the same story. The sutra says:
"Just as a magician with his perfect skill can create at will various illusions, including images of man or woman, at will, so the Bodhisattva, having thoroughly learned all the methods of emancipation and attained serene awareness of reality, can freely teach and transform beings. He manifests himself everywhere in innumerable Buddha-lands, performing acts of compassion for sentient beings, tirelessly and with diligence".[18]Simply stated, let’s imagine that you, the reader of these lines, are a Buddha and I, Josho, am a stupid unenlightened person, which I am, of course :) You attained Enlightenment many kalpas ago, in the distant past, but because you have Compassion for Josho and other beings of this earth, you decided to manifest yourself here. If Josho is attached to his own personal power, then you need to show Josho that a person like himself can become a Buddha and in order to encourage him to start practicing you take the appearance of a person who is unenlightened and who passes through the same difficulties like him. So, you play this game for Josho because his mind cannot be convinced in another way. After “many struggles” you attain Enlightenment and thus prove to Josho that it’s possible for him too, to become enlightened. Josho is thus encouraged to start practicing, thinking that if you, his friend or teacher, struggled and attained it, then he can do this, too. Also, if Josho or others become deeply aware of their own limitations and incapacity to become a Buddha like you, in the present life, and because indeed most of the people from your time and especially after you leave your physical body, will be incapable to attain Enlightenment in their present life, you start teaching to them Amida’s method of salvation. Because you are a Buddha, your listeners will trust your various teachings and follow them. But what they and Josho do not know is that you were Enlightened from the very beginning of your life in their realm and that all your years spent among them were just a skilful mean for them and others to entrust to you and to your teaching.[19]You can find a similar explanation in the Lotus Sutra, too, where Shakyamuni described himself as a Buddha who actually attained Enlightenment many eons ago and who plays this game many times for the sake of unenlightened beings[20]. We should also remember that Shinran Shonin regarded Shakyamuni Buddha as a manifestation of Amida Buddha in human form (Nirmanakaya):
“Amida, who attained Buddhahood in the infinite past,
Full of compassion for foolish beings of the five defilements,
Took the form of Sakyamuni Buddha
And appeared in Gaya”[21]
So, these are the Mahayana Bodhisattvas who gathered to listen to the Larger Sutra together with “twelve thousand monks, all great sages who had already attained supernatural powers”. Certainly, such great beings who witnessed the teaching presented that day on the Vulture Peak have always been promoting and protecting its transmission to later generations.
Shakyamuni Buddha entrusting the
Larger Sutra to MaitreyaHowever, the special character who has been entrusted by Shakyamuni with the transmission of this sutra is Bodhisattva Maitreya as we will see at section 33. In accordance with my above explanations, there are two ways of speaking about Him. One is the usual, provisional way, in which He plays the role of the future Buddha of our age and successor to Shakyamuni, and the other is the true way, as a Buddha who assumes many other roles in the various worlds of the ten directions, beside the one He plays in our world.
The provisional way is well represented by Shinran who said that we, people who have faith in Amida, are in the same stage as Maitreya in the sense that we are also assured of becoming Buddhas in the next life with the difference that we don’t need to wait bilions of years like Maitreya and that we entered this stage through the Power of Amida. Of course, for us is also the first time we become Buddhas, as we are not yet Enlightened, so we are not playing any role until we are actually born in the Pure Land. This provisional way is also presented in various sutras when He is described without further explanations, as the successor to Shakyamuni. In this role He manifested in Tusita heaven[22]and will be born in human form in our universe and simulate the attainment of Enlightenment, just like the rest of the Bodhisattvas in the audience do in many other worlds.
The true way of speaking about Maitreya is represented by the following passage from The Question of Maitreya Sutra:
“Ananda, when the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Maitreya was formerly engaged in the conduct of a bodhisattva (when He was a bodhisattva in aspiration), because the vehicle is easy, the entry is easy, and the path is easy, He perfectly accomplished supreme, perfect Enlightenment. Ananda, when the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Maitreya was formerly engaged in the conduct of a bodhisattva he did not let go of his arms, legs, or marrow. He did not renounce and let go of his spouse, or his child, village, town, city, royal palace, or retinue. But Ananda, when the Bodhisattva Mahasttva Maitreya was formerly engaged in the conduct of a bodhisattva, because He fully embraced skilful means, through the easy vehicle, the easy entry, and the easy path, He accomplished supreme, perfect Enlightenment”.
When further asked by Ananda how Maitreya attained Enlightenment, Shakyamuni explained that unlike himself, who chose a hard way of various sacrifices, Maitreya followed a somewhat easier path of devotion towards all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, confessing His negative actions in front of them, rejoicing in other meritorious deeds, entreating the bodhisattvas in aspiration to attain Enlightenment and then benefit all beings, making aspirations to fulfil the six perfections, etc[23]. Also, in section 33 of the Larger Sutra, Shakyamuni said:
“Maitreya, you should know that you have, for innumerable kalpas, been perfecting the bodhisattva practices to save sentient beings. Incalculable indeed is the number of beings who under your guidance have attained the Way and reached Nirvana. From time immemorial, you and all the devas and humans in the ten directions and the four groups of followers have been floundering in the five realms of samsara, undergoing indescribable troubles and afflictions. Until you were born in this life, you, too, underwent endless cycles of birth and death.”[24]
The last sentence is the key of the fragment and should be read as follows – until He attained Enlightenment (“until you were born in this life”) and became a Buddha who manifests as a Bodhisattva, He too was subject to “endless cycles of birth and death”. This is extremely important as it shows that the “endless cycles of birth and death” are something of the past for Maitreya who is now ready to take the place of Shakyamuni in the role of teaching the Amida Dharma to future generations, doing what all Enlightened Bodhisattvas do as explained in section 2 of this sutra. The words“born in this life” means to become a Buddha free of birth and death, a permanent dweller in perfect Nirvana as only somebody who already attained Nirvana can guide others to reach Nirvana – “incalculable indeed is the number of beings who under your guidance have attained the Way and reached Nirvana”.
to be continued 


[1] The ten bhumis are the ten stages on the Mahayana bodhisattva's path to Buddhahood. The Avatamsaka Sutra refers to the following ten bhūmis: 1) the Very Joyous (Skt. pramuditā), 2) the Stainless (Skt. vimalā), 3) the Light-Maker (Skt. prabhākarī), 4) the Radiant Intellect (Skt. arciṣmatī), 5) the Difficult to Master (Skt. sudurjayā), 6)  the Manifest (Skt. abhimukhī), 7) the Gone Afar (Skt. dūraṃgamā), 8) the Immovable (Skt. acalā), 9) the Good Intelligence (Skt. sādhumatī), 10) the Cloud of Doctrine (Skt. dharmameghā). The Seeker's Glossary of Buddhism, Sutra Translation Committee of the United States and Canada. The Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation/Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc., Taipei, 2nd ed. pp.759-760 [2] For example, in the Ojoraisan, Master Shan-tao himself presented Avalokitesvara as already enlightened:
“Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, out of great compassion,Does not stay in the Bodhi (Enlightenment) which He has already realized.Enfolding all the five states of samsaric existence in His bodily light,He observes beings at six times of a day and responds to their needs with three kinds of act.The light of His body of response is the colour of purple gold;His majestic physical characteristics are limitlessly superb.Extending always a hundred kotis of illuminating hands,He embraces all who are karmically related to Him and takes them  to the home country of Amida”
(Shan-tao’s Liturgy for Birth – Ojoraisan, compiled by Master Shan-tao, annotated translation by Zuio Hisao Inagaki, edited by Doyi Tan, Singapore, 2009, p.90-91)
Certainly Master Shan-tao was well aware of the Mahayana view of great Bodhisattvas who already attained perfect Enlightenment, and became Buddhas. Also, in the Great Compassion Dharani Sutra (Maha Karuna Dharani Sutra), Avalokitesvara is again presented as an ancient Buddha who manifests as Bodhisattva:
“Then, Ananda asked the Buddha: "Bhagavan, what is the name of this Bodhisattva-Mahasattva, who is so good to teach us this Dharani?"
The Buddha said: "This Bodhisattva is called Avalokitesvara, the Unrestricted One, also called Nipping a Lariat, also called A Thousand Bright Eyes. Virtuous man, this Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva has unimaginable mighty and holy powers. Uncountable kalpas before, He had already been a Buddha named True Dharma Brightness Tathagata. Because of the power of His great compassionate vows, and in order to call upon all Bodhisattvas to comfort and please all living beings, He appears as a Bodhisattva. All of you, including the Bodhisattvas, Brahmas, Gods of the 33 heavens, dragons, and divinities, should show respect to Him, do not despise Him.”(English translation at this link, https://huntingtonarchive.org/resources/downloads/sutras/05bodhisattvaYana/Great%20Compassion%20Dharani%20Sutra.doc.pdf) [3] The four Bodhisattva vows are: 1. no matter how perfect a Buddha would be, I vow to become like Him, 2. no matter how profound the Dharma (the teaching) would be, I vow to fully understand it all, 3. no matter how numerous the passions would be, I vow to conquer them all, 4. no matter how numerous the beings would be, I vow to save them all.[4] When you read verses about great Bodhisattvas who postpone their own attainment of Enlightenment until all beings enter Nirvana, you should know it refers to the profound truth that their Enlightenment has no trace of ego, and that the Nirvana they already attained is not a personal Nirvana (they did not attain it for themselves), but a continuous awareness of the suffering of others and a constant effort to save them.  It means they will not disappear or remain hidden in Nirvana until all beings also attain Nirvana.  How else can it be, when a Buddha has Infinite Wisdom and Infinite Compassion? It is something natural for a Buddha to immediately return to Samsara, in many forms, to help all unenlightened beings, while retaining His Nirvanic state of mind as without it He cannot actually save anybody because no one can lead others to a place (Nirvana) that oneself has not attained it. The aspiration of the Bodhisattva Path is to become a Buddha for all beings, so once a Bodhisattva actually becomes a Buddha, He will continue to manifest in Samsara, taking up various forms, from the highest to the lowest, and going to all the worlds and universes to turn the wheel of Dharma. Thus, He plays again and again the skilful game of a beginner who leaves family, starts practicing, and finally attains Enlightenment, doing all these in order to encourage beings in various worlds to practice the Dharma themselves. [5] See footnote 4 of this chapter. [6] Mahasthamaprapta too, the other companion of Amida, is also an Enlightened Bodhisattva, as He presented himself in Suranghama Sutra, when Shakyamuni asked all the Bodhisattvas in the audience to explain the methods they used for attaining Enlightenment:
"The Dharma Prince Mahastamaprapta (Great Strength), together with fifty-two fellow Bodhisattvas, arose from their seats, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha:

'I remember when, as many eons ago as there are sand grains in the Ganges River, a Buddha called Limitless Light appeared in the world. During that same eon, there were twelve successive Tathagatas, the last of whom was called Light Surpassing the Sun and the Moon Buddha. Those Buddhas taught me the Buddha-Mindfulness Samadhi:
Suppose there are two people, one of whom always remembers the other, while the other has entirely forgotten about the first one. Even if these two people were to meet or see each other, it would be the same as not meeting or seeing each other. On the other hand, if two people develop intense memories for one another, then in life after life, they will be together like an object and its shadow, and they will never be separated. The Tathagatas of the ten directions are tenderly mindful of living beings just like a mother remembering her son. But if the son runs away, of what use is the mother's concern? However, if the son remembers his mother in the same way that the mother remembers her son, then in life after life mother and son will never be far apart. If living beings remember the Buddha and are mindful of the Buddha, they will certainly see the Buddha now and in the future. Being close to the Buddha, even without the aid of expedients, their hearts will open of themselves. That is like a person who, once perfumed by incense, carries the fragrance on his body. That is called the adornment of fragrance and light.
On the causal ground (when a bodhisattva in aspiration/not yet enlightened[6]), I used mindfulness of the Buddha (focus on Amida Buddha/saying of His Name in faith). Now in this world I gather in all those who are mindful of the Buddha (Amida Buddha), and I bring them to the Pure Land.(English translation: http://www.fodian.net/world/shurangama.html#rememberBuddha)[7] Samantabhadra appears in some tantras of Vajrayana (Esoteric) Buddhism as the name of the awakened Buddha nature, being depicted sky-blue in color and naked meaning that He is beyond any concept. In the ninth chapter of the Tantra of the Great Perfection That Shows the Penetrating Wisdom of Samantabhadra, He says about himself:
“I, Samantabhadra, recognized from the beginning the nature of the ground - free from cause and condition [...]My emanations are unceasing. I manifest inconceivable billions according to the needs of beings to be trained. [...] All beings of the three realms and I, the primordial Buddha, share the same basic nature. This nature for them, however, becomes the ground of confusion and they engage in the six pointless actions like delusions in a dream. I am the primordial Buddha who tames the six types of beings through my emanations.”(English translation: https://www.bodhicittasangha.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Prayer-of-Samantabhadra.pdf)
To recognize “from the beginning the nature of the ground” means to have always dwell in the ultimate Buddha nature, no matter what forms He may manifest for the sake of unenlightened beings. In the context of our Pure Land teaching we should read the words “the primordial Buddha” in the sense that this Buddha nature in which Samantabhadra dwells has no beginning and no end. When we attain Buddhahood, we’ll also dwell in the primordial Buddha-nature and in the same time manifest everywhere “according to the needs of beings to be trained”. [8] In the Surangama Samadhi Sutra, Manjushri is presented as an ancient Buddha who attained Buddhahood in the past, but who continues to re-manifest as a Bodhisattva:
“’At that time the elder Mahakasyapa addressed the Buddha, "World-Honored One, I suggest that Dharma Prince Manjusri has already been a Buddha in a past life. He has himself sat in the seat of Enlightenment and turned the Wheel of the Dharma, and He has manifested entry into Parinirvana to sentient beings.’ The Buddha said, ‘Thus it is, thus it is.It is as you have spoken, Kasyapa. Long in the distant past, an immeasurable and innumerable [number of] inconceivable immeasurable eons ago, there was a Buddha who was called Paragon of the Dragons [as well as by the ten titles] Tathagata, He Who Should Receive Offerings, Of Correct and Universal Understanding, Sufficient in Wise Practice, Well-Gone, He Who Understands the World, the Unsurpassed One, He Who Disciplines Humans, Teacher of Humans and Gods, and WorldHonored Buddha. A thousand Buddha lands south of this world, there was a country called Universal Equivalence, which had neither mountains nor rivers, neither stones nor rocks, and neither hills nor dales. The land there was as flat as the palm of one's hand, and on it grew a soft grass, like that in Kalinga. When Paragon of the Dragons Buddha attained unsurpassable and perfect Enlightenment and first turned the Wheel of the Dharma in that world, He created an assembly of seven billion Bodhisattvas through His teaching. Eight billion people became Arhats, and ninety-six thousand people resided as Pratyekabuddhas [lit., resided within the dharmas of the causes and conditions of Pratyekabuddhas]. Afterward, there were also an immeasurable number of Sravaka monks.Kasyapa, the life span of Paragon of the Dragons Buddha was four million four hundred thousand years, during which time He saved humans and gods and then entered into Nirvana. His physical relics were divided and distributed around the world, and there were erected thirty-six hundred-million stupas, at which sentient beings made offerings to Him. After that Buddha died, the Dharma remained for ten thousand years. When Paragon of the Dragons Buddha was about to enter Nirvana, He conferred a prediction [of future Enlightenment] on Brilliance of Wisdom Bodhisattva, saying, 'After I am gone, this Brilliance of Wisdom Bodhisattva will achieve unsurpassable and perfect Enlightenment. He will again be called Brilliance of Wisdom [Buddha].' Kasyapa, could that Paragon of the Dragons Buddha of the world Universal Equivalence be anyone else? You must have no doubt! Why? It was none other than Manjusri, the Dharma prince.”(Surangama Samadhi Sutra, translated into Chinese by Kumarajiva, English translation by John McRae, BDK English Tripitaka 25-II, 25-III, Numata Center for Translation and Research, Berkeley, California, 1998, p.79-80)[9] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.3[10] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.7[11] All those who become great Buddhas spend their prior life in the Tusita Heaven.[12] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.4[13] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.4[14] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.4-5[15] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.5[16] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.5[17] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.5[18] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.5-6[19] When you read verses about great Bodhisattvas who postpone their own attainment of Enlightenment until all beings enter Nirvana, those refer to the profound truth that their Enlightenment has no trace of ego, and that the Nirvana they attained is not a personal Nirvana (they did not attain it for themselves), but a continuous awareness of the suffering of others and a constant effort to save them.   How else can it be, when a Buddha has Infinite Wisdom and Infinite Compassion? It is something natural for a Buddha to immediately return to Samsara, in many forms, to help all unenlightened beings, while retaining His Nirvanic state of mind. The aspiration of the Bodhisattva Path is to become a Buddha for all beings, so once a Bodhisattva actually becomes a Buddha, He will continue to manifest in Samsara, taking up various forms, from the highest to the lowest, and going to all the worlds and universes to turn the wheel of Dharma. Thus, He plays again and again the skilful game of a beginner who leaves family, starts practicing, and finally attains Enlightenment, doing all these in order to encourage beings in various worlds to practice the Dharma themselves.  We who entrust to Amida Buddha will also become such active Buddhas who manifest as Bodhisattvas after we are born in His Pure Land, after death. This is what Amida promised in His 22nd Vow, and this is the meaning of the term "bodhisattva" from that vow. [20] “The devas, humans, and asuras in all the worlds all think that the present Buddha, Śhakyamuni, left the palace of the Sakyas, sat on the terrace of Enlightenment not far from the city of Gaya, and attained highest, complete Enlightenment. However, O sons of a virtuous family, immeasurable, limitless, hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis of nayutas of kalpas have passed since I actually attained Buddhahood. […]Since then I have constantly been residing in the Saha world, teaching the Dharma and inspiring sentient beings. I have also been leading and benefiting sentient beings in incalculable hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis of nayutas of other worlds.”The Lotus Sutra, chapter 16  (Taishō Volume 9, Number 262), translated from the Chinese of Kumarajiva by Tsugunari Kubo and Akira Yuyama, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research,  2007, p223-224 [21] Hymns of the Pure Land - The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.349 In Shinran’s day, Gaya – the place where Shakyamuni attained Enlightenment – was sometimes confused with Kapilavastu, his birthplace (note of the translator).[22] Each universe has its own Tusita heaven and other heavens of the gods, as well as human realms, demigods, animals, pretas and hells. Maitreya is now residing in the Tusita heaven of our Saha universe. [23] “Then the venerable Ananda asked, ‘Blessed One, what were the skillful means to which the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Maitreya adhered, thus accomplishing supreme, perfect Enlightenment?’The Blessed One replied, ‘Ananda, when formerly the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Maitreya engaged in the conduct of a bodhisattva (when He was a bodhisattva in aspiration), He would drape His shawl over one shoulder, set His right knee on the ground, and put the palms of His hands together three times during the day and three times during the night. Making all the Buddhas visible, He would then speak to them in these words:“ ‘Homage to all the Buddhas! Homage to the bodhisattvas, those sages with the divine eye, and to the Sravakas, too.Homage to the mind of Enlightenment which reverses all negative rebirths, shows the path to higher rebirths, and leads beings to the state without aging or death.Whatever negative actions I have done under the influence of mind, here in the presence of the Buddhas I confess them.Whatever accumulation of merit I have produced through the three kinds of action, may it be the seed of my omniscience and inexhaustible Enlightenment.Whatever offerings to the Buddhas arise in all realms throughout the ten directions, the Buddhas know and rejoice in them, and at that I myself rejoice.I confess all negative actions. I rejoice in all meritorious acts. I pay homage to all the Buddhas. May I attain supreme awareness! I exhort the bodhisattvas of all ten directions who abide on the ten bodhisattva levels to attain supreme Enlightenment.May they become truly Enlightened Buddhas, overcoming negative influences of every kind, and then, to benefit living beings, may they turn the wheel of the Dharma.Through the sound of the great Dharma drum, may they bring the suffering of sentient beings to an end. For unimaginable millions of eons,may they teach the Dharma and continue to remain in this world.I beg you, best of all humans, look upon those who are trapped in the swamp of desire, and tightly bound by the cords of craving, fettered in every kind of bond.Buddhas, do not belittle those whose minds are defiled, but with loving intent toward all sentient beings, save them from the sea of existence.May I train in the footsteps of the perfect Buddhas- those present now, those of the past, and those of the future, and may I engage in the conduct of the bodhisattvas.May I complete the six perfections and liberate beings of the six realms. May I realize the six supernormal powers and reach supreme Enlightenment.Unproduced and non-arising, without self-nature or location, neither mental cognition, nor substance - may I realize the teaching of emptiness.Just like the Buddha, the great sage, may I realize the teaching of non-self: a sentient being does not exist, nor does a living being, nor does an individual, or a person.May I not dwell on there being anything substantial, a belief in a self, or what I take to be mine, but in order to make all sentient beings happy, may I give everything away without miserliness.Since material objects do not really exist, may my wealth be spontaneously accomplished. Since all material objects decay, may I complete the perfection of generosity.Possessing conduct that is flawless, conduct that is perfect, and conduct that is without arrogance, may I complete the perfection of moral conduct.Like the elements of earth, water, fire, and wind, not dwelling on anything, with patience and free of anger, may I complete the perfection of patience.Through assiduous application of diligence, may I have constant enthusiasm without laziness, and with strength of body and mind, may I complete the perfection of diligence.Through magic-like meditative concentration, meditative concentration of bravery, and vajra-like meditative concentration, may I complete the perfection of meditation.Actualizing the three gates to liberation, the sameness of the three times, and the threefold knowledge, may I complete the perfection of wisdom.May I be praised by all the Buddhas, and blaze with light and splendor; through the diligence of a bodhisattva,may my intention be fulfilled.
Thus engaging in such conduct, may I, who am known as Maitreya, complete the six perfections and dwell on the ten bodhisattva levels.’‘Ananda, those are the skillful means through which the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Maitreya, by adhering to them, through the easy vehicle, the easy entry, and the easy path, perfectly accomplished supreme, perfect, and complete Enlightenment.’”The Question of Maitreya Sutra, (Skr. Ārya­maitreya­paripṛcchā­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra, Tib.’phags pa byams pas zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo), translated from Tibetan by Karen Liljenberg under the patronaje and supervision of 84,000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, http://read.84000.co/translation/UT22084-044-005.html[24] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.52

20. The 48 vows of Amida Buddha – commentary on section 7 of the Larger Sutra - Oct 4, 2019 9:01:00 AM

the cover of the first edition of
 my book on the 48 Vows- this is the revised explanation of the 48th Vows of Amida Buddha which will be used in my commentary on the Larger Sutra (click here to go the whole commentary) -
At the moment Dharmakara became Amida Buddha, His 48 vows and His Pure Land became real and effective methods for the salvation of sentient beings. For a better understanding, I arranged them in four categories. The highlighted numbers represent a vow that has been revised. Click on it to read the revised explanations. 

1. Vows about Amida Buddha and His Pure Land (vows 12, 13, 31, 32)
2. Vows related to the salvation of all sentient beings     (vows 11, 17, 18,  19, 20, 22, 33, 35)
 3.   Vows explaining the characteristics, the capacities and activities of beings who attained Enlightenment in the Pure Land after being born there. These beings are sometimes called humans and devas in my land, shravakas in my land or bodhisattvas in my land.(vows 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15,16,21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 38, 39, 40, 46)
Vows related to bodhisattvas in other lands (not yet born in the Pure Land                          (vows 34, 36, 37, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 47, 48)
When explaining these vows I will sometime mention the passages in the sutra that, according to Shinran, prove they were brought to fulfillment after Dharmakara attained Buddhahood and became Amida Buddha.



21. Vows related with bodhisattvas in other lands (not yet born in the Pure Land) - Oct 1, 2019 12:21:00 PM


Revised on October 1st, 2019 for my commentary on the Larger Sutra
The following vows refer mainly to highly advanced bodhisattvas in aspiration from various worlds who entrust to Amida Buddha and say His Name in faith, wishing to be born in His Land.  They are already on one of the ten bodhisattva stages (bhumis) and very close to Enlightenment, but still not enlightened. Because they entrust to Amida and are in accord with His Primal Vow - in their case, hearing the Name of Amida means to hear and entrust, to hear with faith and to say Amida’s Name in faith, they will too be born in His Pure Land by transformation (“true fulfilled land/”center” of the Pure Land) where they will attain perfect Enlightenment[1]. The difference between them and us is that they are already very advanced on the Buddhist path and very close to Enlightenment while we are the lowest of the low in terms of spiritual evolution and the similarity is that we both entrust to Amida and dwell in the stage of non-retrogression for entering the Pure Land and attainment of Enlightenment there. However, because their spiritual capacities are already extremely high in comparison with ours and their senses very much purified, when they entrust to Amida and say His Name in faith they automatically receive more benefits than us, ordinary people. These benefits are explained in this category of vows.
I begin with the 34th Vow which does not specifically mention the word “bodhisattvasin the lands of the other directions”, but is clearly referring to them: 
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten directions, who have heard my Name, should not gain the bodhisattva's insight into the non-arising of all dharmas and should not acquire various profound dharanis, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[2](the 34th Vow)
Sentient beings who are already highly advanced bodhisattvas in aspiration, by hearing the Name of Amida (entrust to Amida and say His Name in faith), attain “insight into the non-arising of all dharmas” even before entering the Pure Land.  
When the word “dharma” is used with small “d” it refers to all existence and phenomena in general. So, a superior bodhisattva who is not yet in the Pure Land, but hears and accepts the Name of Amida, suddenly realizes fundamental truths about the phenomenal existence. The “insight into the non-arising of all dharmas” is the spiritual awakening in which one recognizes that from the perspective of ultimate reality, nothing really arises or perishes. 
The Dharanis are powerful mystic phrases. To “acquire various profound dharanis” means to know them by heart and to benefit automatically from their power just by saying Amida’s Name in faith. Why is that? Because the Name of Amida which is praised by all Buddhas is the most powerful and contains the infinite merits of all practices and sacred formulas. Thus, by saying Amida’s Name in faith one automatically receives the merits (virtues) of all practices and sacred formulas. Master  Ch’ing-wen, quoted by Shinran in his Kyogyoshinsho, said:                          " The Name of Amida’s Buddhahood is most distinguished as the embodiment of the perfectvirtues of myriad practices."[3]
Honen Shonin also said:
"All of the merits of the teachings, the meditative practices on the phenomenal aspect of reality and the noumenal principle, the unmatched power acquired through meditation and wisdom, the wisdom of inner realization, and the merit of external activities, as well as all of the virtues and undefiled Enlightenment of Tathagata Amida, Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, Bodhisattva Mahasthamaprapta, Bodhisattva Samanthabhadra, Bodhisattva Manjusri, Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, Nagarjuna, and the Bodhisattvas and Sravakas of the Pure Land are encompassed in the three characters of the Name of Amida (A MI DA). This being so, would there be any Dharma not included in the teaching for birth in the Pure Land?"[4]
We too, the lowest of the low who say the Name, also receive the infinite merits of Amida’s Name which contain all practices and sacred formulas, however, because we are not highly advanced on the spiritual path like Bodhisattvas on the ten stages, we cannot come to know all about them from this very life.
Also in the 48thVow, all the three insights related with the dharmas or phenomenal existence is mentioned:   “If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the lands of the other directions who hear my Name should not instantly gain the first, second and third insights into the nature of dharmas and firmly abide in the truths realized by all the Buddhas, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[5]
The three insights are explained by Shakyamuni in section 15 of this sutra as also being attained by beings already born in the Pure Land who see the Bodhi tree: “first insight into reality through hearing the sacred sounds; second, insight into reality by being in accord with it; and third, insight into the non-arising of all dharmas (as explained at 34thVow). These benefits are all bestowed by the majestic power of Amitayus (Amida), the Power of His Original (Primal) Vow, His perfectly fulfilled Vow, His clear and manifest Vow, His firm Vow, and His accomplished Vow”[6]
So, the truths about the nature of all phenomena (dharmas), which are “the truths realized by all the Buddhas” also become clear to the bodhisattvas on the ten stages who say Amida’s Name in faith and are in accord with His Primal Vow. As we, the lowest of the low, cannot understand such truths outside the Pure Land, we realize them upon being born there, while these highly advanced bodhisattvas realize them even before birth in the Pure Land. However, the cause of these benefits is the same for them and for us – the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha:
“these benefits are all bestowed by the majestic power of Amitayus, the Power of His Original (Primal) Vow, His perfectly fulfilled Vow, His clear and manifest Vow, His firm Vow, and His accomplished Vow”.
The attainment of the stage from which they cannot retrogress is especially mentioned in the 47th Vow:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the lands of the other direction who hear my Name should not instantly reach the Stage of Non-retrogression, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[7]
Here reference is made to bodhisattvas in aspiration without mentioning their spiritual capacities, so it refers to both ordinary people without any special qualities who wish to attain Buddhahood, as well as to practitioners more advanced on the Buddhist Path. Both categories have one thing in common – they hear Amida’s Name and say it in faith while aspiring to be born in His Pure Land, thus entering “instantly” in the stage of non-retrogression for birth in the Pure Land and attainment of Enlightenment there. This vow actually supports and confirms the first part of the 11th Vow. Faith or hearing the Primal Vow and the Name in faith is also confirmed by sections 46 and 47 of this sutra in which Shakyamuni speaks about non-retrogressive bodhisattvas in aspiration who will be born in the Pure Land through saying the Name of Amida in faith (hearing the Name).
Highly advanced Bodhisattvas who hear and accept Amida’s Name in faith also attain the Samadhi of “universal equality” (samantānugata), in which they can see the innumerable Buddhas, even before being born in the Pure Land and becoming Buddhas themselves. This is promised in the 45th Vow:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the lands of the other directions who hear my Name should not all attain the samadhi called 'universal equality' and, while dwelling therein, should not always be able to see all the immeasurable and inconceivable Tathagatas until those bodhisattvas, too, become Buddhas, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[8]
They also attain the Samadhi called ‘pure liberation’, as promised in the 42nd Vow:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the lands of the other directions who hear my Name should not all attain the samadhi called 'pure liberation' and, while dwelling therein, without losing concentration, should not be able to make offerings in one instant to immeasurable and inconceivable Buddhas, World-Honored Ones, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[9]
This Samadhi is related with the capacity to see in vision innumerable Buddhas, thus being able to make offerings to all of them in the same time.
The 37thVow states:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in the immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten directions who, having heard my Name, prostrate themselves on the ground to revere and worship me, rejoice in faith, and perform bodhisattva practices, should not be respected by all devas and people of the world, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[10]
In this case, hearing the Name is related with “rejoice in faith”. Such advanced bodhisattvas who may have the bodies of humans and devas, deserve the respect of all beings first and foremost because they say Amida’s Name in faith. Thus, even people who do not “perform bodhisattva practices”, but have a simple faith in Amida also deserve the respect of all devas and people of the world. This is also mentioned in the Contemplation Sutra where Shakyamuni compared them with lotus flowers even if they may be ordinary people:
“You should know that all who are mindful of that Buddha are like white lotus flowers among humankind; Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara and Bodhisattva Mahasthamaprapta become their good friends. They will sit in the seat of Enlightenment (after reaching the Pure Land) and be born into the family of the Buddhas”.[11]
It is important to understand that they are thus called because they say the Nembutsu of faith, and not because they perform bodhisattva practices, that is, not because they have high spiritual and moral capacities. So, the main point of this vow is not “bodhisattva practices”, but hearing the Name or saying the Name in faith which can be done by both ordinary people as well as highly advanced bodhisattvas in aspirations.
Shinran said: "'Hear the Name': is to hear the Name that embodies the Primal Vow. ‘Hear’ means to hear the Primal Vow and be free of doubt. Further, it indicates shinjin (faith)".[12]So, shinjin (faith) is something that both highly advanced bodhisattvas and ordinary people can equally receive. Some people of shinjin are already on the ten bodhisattva stages, being capable of profound moral and compassionate behaviour and with little traces of ego left, while others don’t have such high realizations. But both, if they have true faith, deserve the respect of all devas and all beings. Thus, we can say that the 37th vow can be placed in this category of bodhisattvas in other lands but in the same time it goes beyond it, referring in essence to all beings who entrust to Amida.
The promise that they will receive the infinite merits of Amida (“acquire stores of merits”), beside the merits they’ve already accumulated due to their dedication on the bodhisattva path is  contained in the 44th Vow, where it is also said that the joy of faith (“rejoice so greatly as to dance”) fills the hearts of such superior beings:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the lands of the other directions who hear my Name should not rejoice so greatly as to dance and perform the bodhisattva practices and should not acquire stores of merit, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[13]
In the 41stVow it is promised that such bodhisattvas who accept Amida’s Name in faith will never have imperfect bodies until they become Buddhas in the Pure Land:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the lands of the other directions who hear my Name should, at any time before becoming Buddhas, have impaired, inferior or incomplete sense organs, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”
It is important to understand that the superior bodhisattvas in aspiration mentioned above, even those on one of the ten bodhisattva stages, are no longer attached to their self power after receiving faith in Amida, but rely exclusively and completely on Him, saying His Name in faith, for their birth in the Pure Land. However, having fewer traces of ego than us they are capable of genuine moral behaviour, are more compassionate towards others and have various supernatural capacities like those mentioned in the above Vows. These spiritual achievements do not make them think they deserve more than others to be born in the Pure Land as they realize that birth there in the true fulfilled land of the Pure Land (“center” of the Pure Land) is due only to Amida’s Power.
However, there are two vows related with highly advanced bodhisattvas in aspiration who still cling to their personal power and do not actually wish to be born in the Pure Land at the moment, but who do receive some great benefits for their respectful attitude towards Amida’s Name. For example, in the 36th Vow it is promised that after their present life ends, such bodhisattvas will always be able to perform sacred practices until they attain Buddhahood. 
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten directions, who have heard my Name, should not, after the end of their lives, always perform sacred practices until they reach Buddhahood, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[14]
The expression “until they reach Buddhahood” is a proof that these bodhisattvas are spiritually advanced but they are not Buddhas yet. Also, as I said above, they do not wish to be born after death in the Pure Land, so in their case, to hear Amida’s Name is not accompanied by exclusive faith in Amida, exclusive saying of the Name and exclusive wish to be born in His Pure Land, but is only a respectful hearing of Amida’s enlightened activities. This respectful hearing is in itself a karmic cause which makes them never retrogress from their spiritual pursuit. They are bodhisattvas who hold Amida in high esteem, but are not in accord with His Primal Vow, being still attached to their merits and self-power, also doing other practices not related with Amida, so their hearing of Amida’s Name is not leading them to birth in His Pure Land, but only give them the benefit of never abandoning their spiritual practices, which they will follow “until they reach Buddhahood”.
Such bodhisattvas will always be born in noble families, that is, families of devout Buddhists, as “noble” means first and foremost to have the noble aspiration to attain Buddhahood for oneself and others, where they will have the proper conditions for going on with their Buddhist practices, as promised in the 43rdVow:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the lands of the other directions who hear my Name should not be reborn into noble families after their death, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[15]




[1] This was also the case of Avalokitesvara and Mahasthamaprapta about whom Shakyamuni said that“they had both performed bodhisattva practices in this world and, at the end of their lives, were born by transformation in that Buddha land” “(section 28). “At the end of their lives” means the end of their life as unenlightened beings, but not the end of their activities to enlighten sentient beings. On the contrary, after attaining Enlightenment in the Pure Land, bodhisattvas of superior capacities will be able to help all beings better than before. [2] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.18[3] Kyogyoshinsho (chapter II)– On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 51[4] Honen Shonin, Commentary on the Three Sutras of Pure Land Buddhism, The Promise of Amida Buddha - Honen's Path to Bliss; English translation of the Genko edition of the works of Honen Shonin - Collected Teachings of Kurodani Shonin: The Japanese Anthology (Wago Toroku), translated by Joji Atone and Yoko Hayashi, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2011, p.83[5] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.20[6] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.28-29[7] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.20[8] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.19-20[9] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.19[10] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.18[11] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.100[12] Shinran Shonin, Notes on Once-calling and Many-calling, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.474[13] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.19[14] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.18[15] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.19

22. Vows explaining the characteristics, the capacities and activities of beings who attained Enlightenment in the Pure Land after being born there - Sep 28, 2019 2:40:00 PM

Revised on September 27th, 2019 for my commentary on the Larger Sutra. 
 As I previously explained, beings born in the Pure Land are sometimes called “humans and devas (gods) in my land “, which doesn’t mean that in the Pure Land there are the six unenlightened realms of existence, namely the hells, hungry spirits, animals, humans, demigods (asuras) and gods. Shakyamuni himself explained in section 17 of this sutra that when the expression “humans and devas” in the Pure Land appears in this sacred discourse it is only in relation with the states of existence prior to their birth in the Pure Land:
“They are all of one form, without any differences, but are called 'heavenly beings' (devas) and 'humans' simply by analogy with the states of existence in other worlds. They are of noble and majestic countenance, unequaled in all the worlds, and their appearance is superb, unmatched by any being, heavenly or human. They are all endowed with bodies of Naturalness, Emptiness, and Infinity."[1]
To have the body of Naturalness, Emptiness and Infinity means that these people born in the Pure Land of Amida through the gate of the Primal Vow actually attained Buddhahood or supreme Enlightenment (Nirvana), as promised in the second part of the 11thVow.
That the Pure Land is an enlightened realm outside birth and death is also shown in the 1stVow of Amida Buddha:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, there should be in my land a hell, a realm of hungry spirits or a realm of animals, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[2]
The passages showing the fulfillment of the 1st Vow are mentioned in section 10:
“In that land there is no hell; neither are there realms of hungry ghosts or animals nor other adverse conditions.”[3]
and section 16:“Not even the names of the three realms of suffering are heard there, but only Nirvanic sounds of bliss. For this reason that land is called ‘Peace and Bliss’”.[4]

In the following vows the characteristics of beings born in the Pure Land are thoroughly explained:
The 2ndVow:“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should after death fall again into the three evil realms, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[5]
There is no retrogression, no falling again in the realms of samsara for those born after death in the Pure Land of Amida. They are forever safe and forever outside birth and death. The three evil realms (hells, hungry spirits and animals) are especially emphasized in this vow because people are normally very much afraid of being born there. So, they are encouraged to take refuge in Amida and wish to be born in His land in order to escape the danger of repeating the bad experiences of samsara.
The passage showing the fulfillment of the 2nd vow is in section 28:
“Those bodhisattvas will not be subject to rebirth in evil realms before they become Buddhas”.[6]
The 3rdVow:“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not all be the color of pure gold, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[7]  This is in close connection with the 4th Vow:“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not all be of one appearance, and should there be any difference in beauty, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[8]
Unenlightened beings in samsara have various forms and shapes, color and beauty. They differ greatly from one another and this is due to the different types of karma they inherit from past lives. But once they are born in the Pure Land and become Buddhas they are liberated from the shackles of karma and go beyond form, color and any differences. This is what is meant by “all be of one appearance”. To be of the color of pure gold means to have transcendent bodies of the qualities of Enlightenment.
Also, the 21stVow is another proof that those born in the Pure Land attained Buddhahood:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not all be endowed with the thirty-two physical characteristics of a Great Man, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[9]
A “Great Man” is an Enlightened Person, a Buddha. Whenever they manifest in the samsaric universes to do various Dharma activities like Shakyamuni, their bodies of Accommodation or Transformation (Nirmanakayas) will always have the thirty-two physical characteristics[10].
The passage showing the fulfillment of the 21st vow is in section 28:
“Ananda, the sentient beings born there all fully posses the thirty-two physical characteristics of a Great Man as well as perfect wisdom, with which they penetrate deeply into the nature of all dharmas (phenomena) [11]and reach their subtle essence. Their supernatural powers know no obstruction and their physical senses are sharp and clear”.[12]
The 5thVow:“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not remember all their former lives, not knowing at least the events that occurred during the previous hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of kalpas, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[13]
This is one of the main characteristics of someone who attained freedom from birth and death, thus becoming a Buddha, that he is able to know his previous lives when he was still unenlightened. Other qualities will be presented in the following vows. Again, the numerical expression “hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of kalpas” stands for infinite, so I will not explain it again with each vow.
The passage showing the fulfillment of the 5th Vow is in section 28 of the sutra:
“They can freely exercise supernatural powers and always remember their previous lives”.[14]
The 6thVow:“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not possess the divine eye of seeing at least a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddha-lands, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[15]
To see everything as we wish, and especially to see our former relatives and places they are born in the six realms and the forms they take in their new lives will be very useful in helping them.
This, together with the faculty of knowing the thoughts of all living beings, which is promised in the 8th Vow, will make us be aware of the mental states they have and know how to deal with them:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not possess the faculty of knowing the thoughts of others, at least those of all sentient beings living in a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddha-lands, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[16]
Traveling anywhere in an instant according to one’s wishes means we can always be together with any being we want to help, as promised in the 9th Vow:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not possess the supernatural power of travelling anywhere in one instant, even beyond a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddha-lands, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[17]
Also, because we are able to travel anywhere we can go even to other Buddha Lands, hear the teachings of Buddhas dwelling there and pay homage to them. But even without leaving the Pure Land we can hear with the “divine ear” the teachings of all Buddhas as promised in the 7th Vow:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not possess the divine ear of hearing  the teachings of at least a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddhas and should not remember all of them, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[18]

We will not only hear but also remember everything we heard from their teachings which is wonderful when we think that in the state we are now we can hardly remember even small things, not to mention the most important teachings.
Also, in the 10thVow it is said:“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should give rise to thoughts of self-attachment, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[19]
To be free of self-attachment is to go beyond limited visions of “I and others”, to perceive all beings with equanimity and non-discrimination. This is the same with having understood the emptiness of all phenomena. In section 30 of the sutra it is said:
“Whether going or coming, proceeding or remaining, their hearts are unattached, their acts are in accordance with their will and are unrestricted, and they have no thought of discrimination. In them there is no idea of self or others, no idea of compensation or dispute. With the heart of great Compassion to benefit all living beings and with tenderness and self-control, they bear no enmity or grudge against anyone[…]They are like the great earth, because they have no discriminative thoughts, such as pure or impure, beautiful or ugly. […] They are like the sky, because they have no attachments. […] They are like a flock of playful birds, because they do not store things. [….] They are like the vas sky, because their great Compassion reaches everywhere without discrimination. They have destroyed envy by not being jealous of the superiority of others. […] Thus they become lamps to the world and fields of supreme merit; they always become teachers and harbor no thought of discrimination, aversion or attachment”.[20]
As it is promised in the 16th Vow, no wrongdoing can be found in the beings born in the Pure Land:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should even hear of any wrongdoing, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[21]
This Vow does not imply that those born there do not know that suffering exists in samsara or that they don’t do anything to stop it, but in themselves, as Enlightened beings, no wrongdoing, blindness or suffering can be found. They can help others because they are forever free from all internal and external obstacles.
Because they have no attachments, no ignorance and no blind passions, perfect happiness is the natural condition of those born in the Pure Land, as it is promised in the 39th Vow:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not enjoy happiness and pleasure comparable to those of a monk who has exhausted all the passions, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[22]
Even the dressing garments that are promised (in the 38th Vow) to cover the transcendental bodies of the Enlightened persons in the Pure Land are not worldly clothes, but religious and Dharmic adornments, themselves a manifestation of pure karmic merits:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not obtain clothing, as soon as such a desire arises in their minds, and if the fine robes as prescribed and praised by the Buddhas should not be spontaneously provided for them to wear, and if these clothes should need sewing, bleaching, dyeing or washing, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[23](the 38th Vow)
However, no matter what words, names and other means accessible to us we use to describe the inhabitants of the Pure Land and the manifestations associated with them, we cannot really succeed in understanding them at the level we are now as unenlightened beings, because, as the 27th Vow says, they are beyond description and are situated beyond our experience and even beyond the experience of gods.
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings should be able, even with the divine eye, to distinguish by name and calculate by number all the myriads of manifestations provided for the humans and devas in my land, which will be glorious and resplendent and have exquisite details beyond description, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[24](the 27th Vow)
Next, the 15thVow explains another very important point:“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should have limited life-spans, except when they wish to shorten them in accordance with their original vows, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment”.[25]
The passage showing the fulfillment of the 15th Vow is in section 12 of this sutra:
“So it is with the lifespan of sravakas, bodhisattvas, heavenly beings, and human beings in His Land. It is not to be encompassed by any means of reckoning or by any metaphorical expression”.[26]
Those born in the Pure Land are beyond death, so their Sambhogakaya (transcendent) bodies have unlimited life span. However, they can send many of their transformation bodies (nirmanakayas) who have a beginning and an end when they wish to terminate them, for various missions in the samsaric worlds. So, the expression “shorten their lives” is actually referring to the fact that they are not in the Pure Land for fun, but constantly work for the salvation of beings everywhere. Because they are enlightened, they can be in three places in the same time: 1) in Dharmakaya beyond form (Buddha-nature), 2) in the Pure Land in Sambhogakaya form and 3) in various places of samsara through multiple Nirmanakayas (transformantion/accommodation bodies) to benefit all beings.
The expression “in accordance with their original vows” also appears in the 22nd Vow: “those who wish to teach and guide sentient beings in accordance with their original vows”. This is a very important aspect that must be taken into consideration when discussing the state of beings born in the Pure Land through the gate of the Primal Vow. As I already explained in the chapter dedicated to the 22nd Vow, the “original vows” are in fact, the four main Bodhisattva vows and the vows of Samantabhadra – the guideline of an endless career of saving others after attaining Buddhahood in the Pure Land. This proves that the terms “humans and devas in my land” and “bodhisattvas in my land” are referring to the same type of beings – all those who are born in the Pure Land through the gate of the Primal Vow (the gate of simple faith in Amida) and who, after attaining Buddhahood there, return to samsara as Enlightened Bodhisattvas to save all beings.
There is also another term which describes those born in the Pure Land through the gate of the Primal Vow – “sravakas in my land” and it appears in the 14thVow:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, the number of the sravakas in my land could be known, even if all the beings and pratiekabuddhas[27]living in this universe of a thousand million worlds should count them during a hundred thousand kalpas, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment”. [28]
Usually “sravaka” is used in the Hinayana sense of a person who seeks to realize Nirvana for himself alone, but in this vow as well as in other parts of this sutra, it preserves its original meaning of “disciple” and “hearer”. So, it is promised that all beings born in the Pure Land are the personal disciples (sravaka) of Amida Buddha. Their number is infinite because they come to be born in the Pure Land from all the corners of the universe and will continue to do so in the infinite future. So again, there is no difference between “humans and devas in my land”, “bodhisattvas in my land” and “sravakas in my land”. These words refer to the same thing – us after we are born in the Pure Land through the Primal Vow and attain Enlightenment there.
The passages showing the fulfilment of the 14thVow are located in sections 12 and 13:
“Again, the number of sravakas and Bodhisattvas living there is incalculable.”[29]
“The number of Sravakas at the first teaching assembly of that Buddha was incalculable; so was the number of Bodhisattvas. Even if an immeasurable and countless number of humans multiplied by millions of koṭis should all become like Mahamaudgalyayana and together reckon their number during innumerable nayutas of kalpas, or even until they attain Nirvana, they still could not know that number. Let us suppose that there is a great ocean, infinitely deep and wide, and that one takes a drop of water out of it with a one-hundredth part of a split hair. How would you compare that drop of water with the rest of the ocean?”[30]
*
In my next explanations I will concentrate on the vows which mention the words “bodhisattvas in my land”. These vows are also an elaboration of various aspects already promised in the 22nd Vow. Thus, in the 23rdVow and the 24th, it is promised again, that beings who attain Buddhahood in the Pure Land of Amida, and will forever manifest themselves as Bodhisattvas, can go everywhere in the ten direction of the universe to make offerings to all Buddhas, praise them and worship them, out of gratitude for having been guided by them when they were unenlightened, as all Buddhas work to help beings to entrust to Amida and be born in His Pure Land.[31]:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in my land who would make offerings to Buddhas through my divine power, should not be able to reach immeasurable and innumerable kotis of nayutas of Buddha-lands in as short a time as it takes to eat a meal, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[32](23rd Vow)
The passage showing the fulfillment of the 23rd Vow is in section 28:
“By the Buddha’s power, Bodhisattvas of that land go to innumerable worlds of the ten directions, in as short a time as it takes to eat a meal, in order to pay homage and make offerings to the Buddhas and World Honored Ones.”[33]
The 24thVow promises:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in my land should not be able, as they wish, to perform meritorious acts of worshipping the Buddhas with the offerings of their choice, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.[34]
The passage showing the fulfillment of the 24th Vow is also in the section 28:
“If those Bodhisattvas so wish, countless and innumerable offerings, such as flowers, incense, music, silken canopies, and banners, spontaneously appear before them as soon as they are imagined. They are, accordingly, offered to the assemblies of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Sravakas[35]”.[36]
This is because the Enlightened Bodhisattvas of the Pure Land can see, clearly like looking into a mirror, all the Buddha lands of the ten directions, as promised in the 40th Vow:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas in my land who wish to see the immeasurable glorious Buddha-lands of the ten directions, should not be able to view all of them reflected in the jeweled trees, just as one sees one's face reflected in a clear mirror, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[37]
In the 25thVow, 29th,  and the 30thVow, it is promised that the Enlightened Bodhisattvas of the Pure Land will have unsurpassed and unlimited wisdom for instructing beings everywhere in accordance with their capacities:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in my land should not be able to expound the Dharma with the all-knowing wisdom, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[38] (25th Vow)
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in my land should not acquire eloquence and wisdom in upholding sutras and reciting and expounding them, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[39] (29th Vow)
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, the wisdom and eloquence of bodhisattvas in my land should be limited, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.“[40](30th Vow)
The passage showing the fulfilment of the 30thVow is in section 30 of this sutra:
“Although they observe with the eye of equality that the three worlds are empty and non-existent, they strive to learn the Buddha Dharma and acquire varied eloquence to rid living beings of affliction caused by the evil passions”.[41]
This aspect is also contained in the 22nd Vow where it is said that those born in the Pure Land will “enlighten uncountable sentient beings as numerous as the sands of the River Ganges, and establish them in the highest, perfect Enlightenment”.
They can also hear and learn spontaneously any type of teaching they wish, as promised in the 46th Vow:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in my land should not be able to hear spontaneously whatever teachings they may wish, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[42]
These Enlightened Bodhisattvas, that means us after being born in the Pure Land of Amida, are able to engage in saving and guiding sentient beings because they have manifestations (“bodies”) like the Vajra-god Narayana:Vajrapani
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, there should be any bodhisattva in my land not endowed with the body of the Vajra-god Narayana, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[43](26th Vow)
Vajra-god[44]Narayana is, in fact, Vajrapani (from Sanskrit vajra, "thunderbolt" or "diamond" and pani, lit. "in the hand")[45], one of the most important Enlightened Bodhisattvas of Mahayana pantheon and often associated with Esoteric Buddhism. He is the protector of Buddha Dharma, and represents the Power of all Buddhas. In Pure Land Buddhism we associate Him with Bodhisattva Mahasthamaprapta, one of the two companions of Amida Buddha.  They actually represent two aspects of the same Enlightened Being - Mahasthamaprapta is the peaceful form and Vajrapani is the fierce form. Just as Samantabhadra Bodhisattva (mentioned in the 22nd Vow) represents the endless saving activity of all Buddhas, Vajrapani as the fierce aspect of Mahasthamaprapta, represents the immense and all-surpassing Power of the Buddhas[46]. How wonderful it is that after we are born in the Pure Land we will be exactly like these two great Enlightened Bodhisattvas! Just like Samantabhadra we will always be active in samsara, and like Vajrapani we will be all-powerful!
And because Vajrapani is a protector of the Dharma, we too, will forever protect it and destroy wrong understandings. In the esoteric Buddhist iconography, Vajrapani is often depicted as a wrathful warrior[47] with His outstretched right hand brandishing a vajra and His left hand holding a lasso to bind demons. In some depictions, He wears a skull crown with His hair standing on end while in others He wears a five-pointed Bodhisattva crown to depict the power of the five major Buddhas (Vairocana, Akyobhya, Amida, Ratnasambhava, Amogasiddhi) and He has a third eye.
At the end of this chapter, I wish to explain the special case of the 28th Vow in which there is a strange usage of the term „bodhisattvas in my land” who have “little store of merit”:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in my land, even those with little store of merit, should not be able to see the Bodhi-tree which has immeasurable light in countless colors and is four million li in height, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[48]
This Vow refers to the previous states of existence of actual Enlightened Bodhisattvas from the Pure Land, when they were unenlightened bodhisattvas in aspiration, living in other realms. Although they were bodhisattvas of little personal merit, that is, not so much advanced on the Path, upon birth in the Pure Land and their attainment of Buddhahood, they also became able to see the Bodhi-tree of Amida Buddha. “Little store of merit” refers to their previous existence and “bodhisattvas in my land” refer to their actual state of Enlightened Bodhisattvas in the Pure Land.
The passage showing the fulfilment of this vow is in section 15:
“The Bodhi tree of Buddha Amitayus is four million li in height and five thousand yojanas in circumference at its base. Its branches spread two hundred thousand li in each of the four directions. It is a natural cluster of all kinds of precious stones and is adorned with the kings of jewels, namely, moonbright maṇi-gems and ocean-supporting wheel gems. Everywhere between its twigs hang jeweled ornaments with a thousand million different colors intermingling in various ways, and their innumerable beams shine with the utmost brilliance. The Bodhi tree itself is covered with nets of rare, excellent gems, and on it appear all kinds of ornaments in accordance with one’s wishes.”[49]




[1] The Three Pure Land Sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.31Shinran himself made reference to that passage in the Larger Sutra, in his work Passages on the Pure Land Way [REALIZATION]:“Further the sutra states:The words "human beings" and "devas" are used simply in accordance with the usage elsewhere. Their countenances are dignified and wonderful, surpassing things of this world. Their features, subtle and delicate, are not those of human beings or devas; all receive the body of naturalness  or of emptiness, the body of boundlessness.”[2] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.14[3]The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.24[4] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.30[5] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.14[6] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.42[7] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.14[8] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.14 [9] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.16[10] The 32 marks of physical excellence of a Buddha. They are: 1) protuberance on the head, 2) hair of the head is blue-black and curling from left to right, 3) even and broad forehead, 4) white tuft of hair between the eyebrows, 5) blue eyes, 6) forty teeth, 7) even and orderly teeth, 8) teeth close together, 9) white teeth, 10) ability of tasting any food as the best, 11) jaw like a lion’s, 12) long and thin tongue, 13) voice like Brahma’s, 14) well-framed shoulders, 15) seven prominent parts (i.e both hands, both feet, both shoulders, and the back), 16) both shoulders well filled out, 17) fine, golden skin, 18) arms reaching the knees when standing upright, 19) majestic upper part of the body like a lion’s, 20) body like a Nyagrodha tree in circumference, 21) a hair growing from each pore, 22) hair growing upwards and its point bending towards the right, 23) male organ hidden in the foreskin, 24) well-rounded thighs, 25) unprotuberant ankle-bone, 26) soft and tender hands and feet, 27) hands and feet with webs between fingers and toes, 28) long fingers, 29) soles bearing the mark of a thousand-spoked wheel, 30) both feet standing firm, 31) long and broad heels, and 32) calves like the shanks of the king of black antelopes. The Three Pure Land Sutras, A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Nagata Bunshodo, Kyoto, 1995, p. 418-419[11] When dharma appear with small “d” it refers to phenomena. When it appears with capital “D” it refers to the teaching of the Buddha.[12] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.41-42[13] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.14[14] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.42[15] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.14[16] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.15[17] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.15[18] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.14[19] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.15[20] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.43-45[21] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.15[22] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.19[23] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.18-19[24] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.17[25] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.15[26] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.26[27]Pratyekabuddha (“solitary Enlightened One”): A Hinayana (lower /small vehicle) sage, the Pratyekabuddha attains freedom from birth and death without the guidance of a teacher. He also does not teach others. It is considered bellow the Buddha of Mahayana. [28] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.15[29] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.26[30] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.26[31] In the 22nd Vow it is also promised that Bodhisattvas in the Pure Land will “make offerings to Buddha Tathagatas, throughout the ten directions”. [32] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.17[33] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.42[34] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.17[35] They are offered to Buddhas ruling those lands and to their Enlightened Asembly of Bodhisattvas and Sravakas (disciples). [36] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.42[37] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.19[38] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.17[39] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.17[40] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.17[41] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.44[42] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.20[43] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.17 [44] Here the word „god” is not used in the sense of a limited being who is karmically related to the realm of the gods, although sometimes Vajrapani can appear in the form of a guardian god. [45] In Japan, Vajrapani is known as Kongojin ("Diamond-hand) which manifests as two pair of muscular guardian deities of the Buddha Dharma often depicted at the entrance of Buddhist temples. Their names are Misshaku Kongo and Naraen Kongo. "Naraen" is the equivalent of Narayana from Sanskrit. [46] Also Avalokitesvara represents the great compassion of the Buddhas, Manjushri their wisdom, and Tara their miraculous deeds. [47] In Japan, Vajrapani is known as Kongojin (“Diamond-hand”).


[48] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.17[49] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.28

23. Returning from the Pure Land - explanation of the 22nd Vow of Amida Buddha - Sep 27, 2019 11:52:00 AM

Section from the Larger Amida Sutra Mandala. Samantabhadra is seen near
 the Shakyamuni Buddha on his white elephant.Maitreya and Manjushri are 
also depicted in the right and left of the Buddha.Revised on September 27th, 2019 for my commentary on the Larger Sutra. 
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the Buddha-lands of other directions who come and are born in  my land[1]should not ultimately and unfailingly reach the Stage of Becoming a Buddha after One More Life, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. Excepted are those who wish to teach and guide sentient beings in accordance with their original vows. For they wear the armour of great vows, accumulate merits, deliver all beings from birth and death, visit Buddha-lands to perform the bodhisattva practices, make offerings to Buddha Tathagatas, throughout the ten directions, enlighten uncountable sentient beings as numerous as the sands of the River Ganges, and establish them in the highest, perfect Enlightenment. Such bodhisattvas transcend the course of practice of the ordinary bodhisattva stages and actually cultivate the virtues of Samantabhadra”.[2]the 22nd Vow
The passage showing the fulfillment of the 22nd  Vow is in section 28 of this sutra:
“The Buddha said to Ananda, ‘All the Bodhisattvas in the land of Amitayus will ultimately attain the stage of becoming a Buddha after one more life. Excepted are those who have made original vows for the sake of sentient beings, resolving to cultivate the merit of realizing their great vows to save all sentient beings.’”[3]
The meaning of this great vow is that those who entered the Pure Land through the gate of Faith (Gate of the Primal Vow) and who immediately attained Buddhahood upon birth there (11thVow) will return as Enlightened Bodhisattvas (Buddhas who manifest as Bodhisattvas) to lead all beings to Enlightenment by continually playing in various universes the same role Shakyamuni had and Maitreya will have in our universe and/or by using other methods in accordance with the general bodhisattva vows and their specific vows and wishes. “Excepted” here means that some may chose to help beings to attain Enlightenment in other ways than playing the role of becoming a Buddha or that they actually apply multiple ways in the same time. For example, one may play the role of Shakyamuni in one universe and manifest as something else in another universe without even moving from the Pure Land. Multiple roles, methods and manifestations can be used to help others by those who are born in the Pure Land through the Gate of Faith (Gate of the Primal Vow), but all are in accordance with the “original vows” and “great vows” of the Bodhisattva Path. Also, while doing this activity of delivering beings from birth and death, they also visit Buddhas throughout the ten directions to assist them or make offerings to them in gratitude for having been guided by them when they were unenlightened, as all Buddhas work to help beings to entrust to Amida and be born in His Pure Land.
It is extremely important to know that attaining Buddhahood in the Pure Land means to automatically realize the Three Buddha Bodies (aspects). So, when we become perfectly enlightened Buddhas there we’ll have access to the ultimate reality beyond forms (Dharmakaya/Buddha nature), we’ll dwell forever in transcendent form (Sambhogakaya) in Amida’s Pure Land, and in the same time we’ll go in all the places of the universe in various Bodies of Accomodation or Transformation (Nirmanakayas) to save all beings, make offerings to or assist another Buddha in His Dharma work, or to take upon ourselves the role of a Buddha and turn the Wheel of Dharma in another universe or universes.
A key element in understanding this vow is the 2nd section of the sutra where I already explained the enlightened qualities of the Bodhisattvas in the audience (Maitreya, Majushri, Samantabhadra and others) when Shakyamuni delivered this sutra  and how they are working to save and guide sentient beings, so please study my comments on that section very carefully. As we read there, those Bodhisattvas are already Enlightened („all the Bodhisattvas in the assembly had reach the shore of Emancipation”), but continuously play the role of pretending to start on the Path, dwell in Tusita heaven like Shakyamuni and Maitreya, then descend into their mother womb, are born, take seven steps, leave palace, attain Enlightenment, teach various Dharma gates, then die and enter Parinirvana, only to start this again in another world ad infinitum while they never actually leave the Enlightened state, nor the world where they made Dharma activities. 
So, again, the “Stage of Becoming a Buddha after One More Life”, promised in the 22nd Vow, represents the capacity of those who attain Buddhahood in the Pure Land to endlessly manifest themselves in various places in the universe and become active Buddhas there for the sake of sentient beings. When we are born in the Pure Land we automatically gain the capacity to always playing the role of becoming Buddhas and teaching the Dharma like Shakyamuni himself.Shinran Shonin explained this in his Hymns of the Pure Land:
“Those who reach the Pure Land of happinessReturn to this evil world of the five defilements,Where, like the Buddha Shakyamuni,They benefit sentient beings without limit.”[4]
It’s a logical conclusion that only someone who already became a Buddha can play this role of always becoming a Buddha. Clearly, one who is only a bodhisattva in aspiration cannot do all these saving activities, and so, the 22nd Vow describes only what those who become Buddhas in the Pure Land will do. As Buddhas from the Pure Land, we will manifest ourselves as Bodhisattvas, that is, as Buddhas who do not remain secluded in their own Enlightenment, but continually take any role and form to help all beings.
Shakyamuni explains in section 2:
“Each of these Bodhisattvas, following the virtues of the Mahasattva Samantabhadra, is endowed with the immeasurable practices and vows of the Bodhisattva Path, and firmly dwells in all the meritorious deeds”.[5]
Also, the 22nd Vows says:
“Such Bodhisattvas transcend the course of practice of the ordinary bodhisattva stages and actually cultivate the virtues of Samantabhadra.”
So, the 22nd Vow clearly mentions that Bodhisattvas of the Pure Land are NOT ordinary bodhisattvas or bodhisattvas in aspiration and NOT even the highest bodhisattvas on the ten stages (bhumis), but Enlightened Bodhisattvas, that is, Buddhas who manifest as Bodhisattvas like Samantabhadra and others in the audience.
Now let’s take a look at the vows of the Bodhisattva Path. In Mahayana there are two main lists.
I.                   The four main Bodhisattva vows:
1. No matter how perfect a Buddha would be, I vow to become like Him.2. No matter how profound the Dharma (the teaching) would be, I vow to fully understand it all.3. No matter how numerous the passions would be, I vow to conquer them all.4. No matter how numerous the beings would be, I vow to save them all.
and
II.                The ten vows or pledges of Samantabhadra:
1. To pay homage and respect to all Buddhas. 2. To praise all the Buddhas. 3. To make abundant offerings. (i.e. give generously) 4. To repent misdeeds and evil karmas. 5. To rejoice in others' merits and virtues. 6. To request the Buddhas to continue teaching. 7. To request the Buddhas to remain in the world.       8. To follow the teachings of the Buddhas at all times. 9. To accommodate and benefit all living beings. 10. To transfer all merits and virtues to benefit all beings.
All these fourteen vows represent the aspiration to become a Buddha for the benefit of oneself and all beings. They also show how an Enlightened person will act in His endless career of helping sentient beings. It is very important to understand that these are exactly the “original vows” or the “great vows” mentioned in the 22ndVow.
The term “original” does not mean a personal vow which is somehow separated from the vows mentioned before, but a vow in accordance with the authentic Bodhi mind (the aspiration to attain Buddhahood for all beings). So, no matter you now aspire to go to the Pure Land to especially save your mother or your friend from this present life, after you are born in the Pure Land you will spontaneously feel that all beings are as important as your friends or your mom, and you will naturally feel the urge to include them all into your salvation activities.
Those who will be born in the Pure Land, yourself included, and who naturally “wish to teach and guide sentient beings in accordance with their original vows”, thus wearing “the armor of great vows”, will do their saving activities by traveling to all places in the universe and will use skillful means in accordance with the particularities of each being to be saved. This traveling shows that birth in the Pure Land is not a final destination but a permanent return in various forms to help all beings. This is why Shinran Shonin called the 22nd vow, “the vow of directing virtue for our return to this world”. In his Kyogyoshinshohe quoted Vasubandhu, our 1st Indian Patriarch:
“With great compassion, one observes all sentient beings in pain and affliction, and assuming various transformed bodies to guide them, enters the gardens of birth-and-death and the forests of blind passions; freely sporting there with transcendent powers, one attains the state of teaching and guiding. This is brought about by the directing of virtue through the power of the Primal Vow”.[6]
He then quoted from T’an-luan:
"Directing virtue for return to this world" means that after being born in that land, and gaining the power of compassionate means, one returns and enters the thick forests of birth-and-death, teaches and guides all sentient beings, and brings all to enter the Buddha-way together.”[7]
So, exactly like the great Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas described in section 2 of the Larger Sutra, and as Amida promised in His 22nd vow, we’ll act like Samantabhadra who is himself an Enlightened Bodhisattva or a Buddha manifesting himself as Bodhisattva. As Shinran himself explained:
"Thus, when one has boarded the ship of the Vow of Great Compassion (when one entrusts to Amida in accordance with His 18thVow) and sailed out on the vast ocean of light, the winds of perfect virtue blow softly and the waves of evil are transformed (one receives Amida’s transference of merits). The darkness of ignorance is immediately broken through, and quickly (at the moment of death) reaching the Land of Immeasurable Light, one realizes great Nirvana (11thVow) and acts in accord with the virtue of Samantabhadra (22nd Vow). Let this be known."[8]
 “We sentient beings, if we attain the Land of Bliss, will awaken great love and great compassion, and going throughout the ten quarters, will benefit sentient beings. The supreme, perfect compassion of Buddhas is referred to by the name of the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra”.[9]
The last sentence, “the supreme, perfect compassion of Buddhas is referred to by the name of the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra”, clearly shows that Samantabhadra attained and represents Buddhahood and that we, after attaining the same Buddhahood in the Pure Land, will manifest ourselves like Him.
Exactly like Samantabhadra and in accordance with the four main Bodhisattva vows, we will always pay homage to all Buddhas (the 1st pledge of Samantabhadra), praise them ( 2nd pledge), make offerings without any trace of ego (3rd pledge), ask all Buddhas to continue manifesting in the world (7th pledge) and teach the Dharma (6th pledge), which is something that ourselves will always do as we benefit beings according to their conditions (the 9th pledge). We will always be in accord with the teachings of the Buddhas, especially the Primal Vow which is what all Buddhas teach, and encourage others to be in accord with it (8th pledge), guide beings everywhere to lead a moral life according to the Buddhist precepts (4th pledge), rejoice in their good deeds and devotion towards the Dharma (5th  pledge), help them to receive Amida’s transference of merits (the 10th pledge), that is, guiding them to entrust to Amida, which will actually be our main goal in doing all our enlightened activities.




[1] “…who come and are born in my land” is the Hongwanji translation  - The Three Pure Land Sutras, volume II, The Sutra on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, Japan, 2009, p.23, while the Inagaki edition reads “who visit my land”, The Three Pure Land sutras, A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Nagata Bunshodo, Kyoto, 1995, p. 244. I used the Inagaki’s version with the exception of the above words. [2] The Three Pure Land sutras, A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Nagata Bunshodo, Kyoto, 1995, p. 244 [3] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.41[4] Shinran Shonin, Hymns of the Pure Land, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.329 [5] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.3-4[6] The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.158[7] The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.159[8] The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.56[9] Shinran Shonin, note to his 17 verse of the Hymns of the Pure Land, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.329

24. Vows made for those who still cling to their own power - explanation of the 19th Vow and 20th Vows of Amida Buddha - Sep 22, 2019 8:32:00 PM

Click here to return to the list of the 
48 vows of Amida Buddha
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the lands of the ten directions, who awaken aspiration for Enlightenment, do various meritorious deeds and sincerely desire to be born in my land, should not, at their death, see me appear before them surrounded by a multitude of sages, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[1]  (19thVow)
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the lands of the ten directions who, having heard my Name, concentrate their thoughts on my land, plant roots of virtue, and sincerely transfer their merits towards my land with a desire to be born there, should not eventually fulfil their aspiration, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[2] (20th Vow)
Generally speaking, Buddhist practices taught by Shakyamuni can be classified into two groups:
1.      meditative practices 2.      non-meditative practices
Meditative practices include various types of meditation and visualization that we can find in all schools of Buddhism from Theravada to Mahayana and Esoteric Vajrayana[3]. Non-meditative practices include chanting sutras, observing precepts, abstaining from evil, doing various good acts, etc.
These meditative and non-meditative practices are said to generate merit or positive karmic energy (they are both considered meritorious deeds) that help the practitioner attain higher rebirths or spiritual states. These merits can also be transferred or directed toward various goals, including one’s future Enlightenment.  
However, Shinran said that as long as we are not enlightened and our minds are darkened by ignorance, we cannot create genuine or pure merit:
“With minds full of malice and cunning, like snakes or scorpions,
We cannot accomplish good acts through self-power;
And unless we entrust ourselves to Amida’s directing of virtue (merit),
We will end without knowing shame or self-reproach”.[4]
This is especially true in the period of the last Dharma age (Mappo)[5]in which we now live. Only the Buddhas, and of course, Amida Buddha, can have true merit. Shinran considered merit transference from the practitioner toward Enlightenment as being futile, and he said that the true merit (virtue) transference actually takes place from Amida Buddha to the devotee who has faith in Him. Thus, we should give up any thought of generating or accumulating merit and instead rely exclusively on Amida Buddha’s Power of salvation. This exclusive reliance was presented in the 18th Vow (Primal Vow) as I have explained previously. In the Primal Vow, there is no mention of merit or things that the practitioner should add to the power of Amida, just wish to be born in the Pure Land, have faith and say the Name.   
However, the situation is that not all practitioners are able to give up entirely the attachment to their personal power in reaching birth in the Pure Land. They simply cannot rely exclusively on Amida but think there is still something they need to add to His Power so that they will deserve to be born in the Pure Land. Thus, they remain attached to the idea of merit (virtue) accumulation even if they also partially rely on Amida. This kind of faith mixed with reliance on their own merit and personal power is not in accord with the 18thVow, but still, Amida does not abandon such people. Especially for those who are not capable to rely exclusively on Him, but still wish to be born in His Pure Land, He created the 19th and 20th Vows.  Followers of these two vows will be born in the borderland of the Pure Land in embryonic form, as I will explain in more detail when I reach sections 43 to 45 of this sutra.
What does Amida say in the 19th Vow? That those who aspire to Enlightenment, do various meritorious deeds in order to be born in the Pure Land will see Amida Buddha at their death surrounded by many sages, welcoming them in the Pure Land. The various meritorious deeds mean they continue to practice many kinds of meditative and non-meditative practices. For example, whenever they do a visualization or contemplation of Amida in accord with the Contemplation Sutra or even when they do other meditation techniques when they observe precepts, do a good deed like saving a life, abstaining from meat, etc., they think this will help them to be born in Amida’s Pure Land. Thus, they embrace the idea of transferring the merit of these practices (meditative or non-meditative) toward their future birth there.
Usually followers of various schools do meditation practices or observe precepts, etc., in order to become a Buddha in this life, but practitioners of the 19thVow change the goal and direction of these meditative and non-meditative practices towards becoming a Buddha in the Pure Land of Amida. This is the difference between them and other Buddhists and this difference makes them enter Amida’s influence and guidance.
Why is the welcoming of Amida mentioned for this type of practitioners? Because they are obsessed with having the right attitude of mind in order to make themselves worthy of birth in the Pure Land. And as they do not rely completely on Amida’s power, and think that their own self-power has an important role in bringing birth in the Pure Land, they must indeed have a good state of mind when they die in order to be born there. Thus, their last moments are very important and the coming of Amida with a multitude of sages will help them enter the Pure Land. However, if they do not practice seriously and constantly and if they die without having a state of devotion and concentration on Amida, they cannot have the vision of Him coming to welcome them, and so their birth will not be certain.
The passage showing the fulfillment of the 19th Vow is the one referring to the middle grade of aspirants for birth in the Pure Land as explained at sections 23-25 [4b] and also the sections 43 – 45 related with birth in the embryonic form.
The followers of the 20th Vow make another important step further into the Light of Amida Buddha. They do not stop at meditative and non-meditative practices, but among all practices they chose only one, which is to say the Name of Amida.   
The expression “hearing my Name” from the 20th Vow means to become aware of the Name of Amida and to say it both in mind and with one’s mouth. It does not mean hearing with faith or saying it as an expression of complete faith in Amida’s power, as in the case of followers of the Primal Vow.The concentration of thoughts on the land of Amida and the desire to be born there is done this time through recitation of the Name. In the Smaller Amida Sutra (Amida-kyo) the recitation of the Name of Amida is called the root of all virtues because among all Buddhist practices recommended by Shakyamuni, the recitation of the Name is supreme. So, to “plant roots of virtue” mentioned in the 20th Vow means to recite exclusively the Name of Amida, i.e. to choose among all practices only this practice.
Like followers of the 19th Vow, those of the 20th Vow are also not free of doubts and do not rely exclusively on Amida’s Power (Other Power/Tariki) to be born in the Pure Land, but consider this Name recitation to be their own virtue and a practice that depends on their own capacities to be done correctly (self-power nembutsu/jiriki nembutsu). So they transfer the merits they think they accumulated through a good recitation toward birth in Amida’s Pure Land. They are still dependent on their own power and their faith in Amida is not absolute.
The passages showing the fulfillment of the 20th Vow are contained in the sections 43 – 45 of this sutra which refers to birth in the embryonic form.  
What we see from reading these two vows, the 19th and the 20th, is that people following them are also born in the Pure Land of Amida and escape once and for all from samsara or birth and death. Amida especially finishes these two vows with the promise that the practitioners fulfilling the requirements contained in them will definitely be born in His Pure Land.  However, their birth is in an embryonic state in the borderland of the Pure Land. Unlike followers of the 18thVow (Primal Vow), those born through the 19th and 20thvows do not immediately attain Buddhahood, but spend some time in the border land (also called the castle of doubt, the womb palace, etc)until they overcome their doubts.
Many people go through these three vows of salvation (19th, 20th and 18th ) consciously or unconsciously in their Buddhist practice. Many of us had a time when we practiced other Buddhist methods to become a Buddha in this life after we abandoned various religious paths or didn’t have any religion at all. Then, we heard about Amida’s Pure Land and we stopped aspiring to attain Enlightenment in this life but wanted to be born there. Still, doubting that birth in the Pure Land is so easy, we felt we need to do something in order to deserve it, so we continued to follow various practices based on self-power. Then, we heard that Nembutsu is the greatest practice among all Buddhist practices, the root of all virtues, and we start reciting it, but still, we felt this is too easy, so again attachment to our own power kept us prisoners of doubts.  And finally, after listening again and again to the teaching, contemplating our true capacities and the Compassion of Amida, we realized He is like a parent who wishes to save His children quickly from the danger of fire and death, without waiting until they become perfect. So, for the first time we truly heard the 18th Vow in which no special virtue or capacity was mentioned in order to be born in the Pure Land, and we received faith. Then, the Nembutsu we continued to recite was no longer the Nembutsu based on self-power (jiriki nembutsu), but the Nembutsu of faith and gratitude (Other Power Nembutsu/Tariki Nembutsu). With this Nembutsu of faith and gratitude, we’ll enter directly into the presence of Amida, the Master of the Pure Land, where we too will become Buddhas and forever join His work of saving sentient beings. Shinran Shonin said,
“The depth of the Buddha’s benevolence is such that even with birth in the realm of indolence and pride, the borderland, the city of doubt or the womb-palace, which is brought about only through the compassion revealed in Amida’s Nineteenth and Twentieth Vows, we meet with a happiness that surpasses understanding. Thus the depth of the Buddha’s benevolence is without bound. But how much more should we realize the benevolence of the Buddha with birth into the true and real fulfilled land (“center” of the Pure Land) and attainment of the Enlightenment of the supreme Nirvana.”[6] 
*
Question: Why did Shinran say that we should not wait for Amida’s coming at the moment of death? Will Amida not come for people of shinjin?
Answer:The person who has faith in the Primal Vow does not wait for the final moment of death to have a good state of mind in which to say Nembutsu and be welcomed by Amida Buddha, but receives faith during his present life and, as a consequence of this, he immediately enters the stage of those assured of birth in the Pure Land after death (the definitely assured state/the stage of the truly settled, etc). The Nembutsu one says during one’s whole life is thus the expression of faith and gratitude, and not the self power nembutsu. Shinran explained:
" The idea of Amida’s coming at the moment of death is for those who seek to gain birth in the Pure Land by doing various practices, for they are practicers of self-power. The moment of death is of central concern to such people, for they have not yet attained true shinjin. [...]The practicer of true shinjin (faith), however, abides in the stage of the truly settled, for he or she has already been grasped, never to be abandoned. There is no need to wait in anticipation for the moment of death, no need to rely on Amida's coming. At the time shinjin becomes settled, Birth [in the Pure Land] too becomes settled; there is no need for the deathbed rites that prepare one for Amida's coming."[7]
He also explained that “those who await Amida's coming at the end of life have yet to realize shinjin and so are filled with anxiety, anticipating the moment of death."[8]
People who say Nembutsu in self power  are obsessed with having a good attitude of mind when they die, just like followers of the 19th Vow who do various meditative and non-meditative practices, and think that they can use the Name of Amida like a tool to purify their negative karma so that they deserve more to be born in the Pure Land. Contrary to this, people of faith (followers of the Primal Vow), are relaxed as they know that Nembutsu actually works due to Amida’s Power and so their saying of the Name is just an expression of complete trust in Him. Shinran Shonin said:
“To believe that each time you say the Name your karmic evil is eradicated is nothing but to strive to attain Birth by eliminating your karmic evil through your own efforts. In that case, you can attain Birth only by being diligent in the Nembutsu to the very point of death, for every single thought you have throughout the course of you life is a fetter binding you to birth-and-death. But since our karmic recompense restricts us, we may, meeting with various unforeseen accidents or being tormented by the pain of sickness, reach the end of our lives without dwelling in right-mindedness; in such circumstances, saying the Name is difficult. How then is the karmic evil committed in that final interval to be eradicated? If it is not eliminated, is not Birth unattainable?
If we entrust ourselves to Amida's Vow that grasps and never abandons us (the Primal Vow), then even though unforeseen circumstances, we commit an evil act and die without saying the Nembutsu at the very end, we will immediately realize birth in the Pure Land. Moreover, even if we do say the Name at the point of death, it will be nothing other than our expression of gratitude for Amida's benevolence, entrusting ourselves to the Buddha more and more as the very time of Enlightenment draws near[9].
He also said:

The desire to eradicate one's karmic evil through saying the Name arises from the heart of self-power; it is the basic intent of people who pray to be in a state of right-mindedness when their lives end. It therefore reveals an absence of shinjin that is Other Power.”[10]
When Shinran said that we should not wait for Amida's coming at the moment of death, he did not mean that we are not actually received by Amida in His Pure Land when we die or that He might not send one of His manifestations to us in our final hours before death! Of course Amida can do that if He wants! What Shinran meant is that we should not think that the moment of death is more important than our daily lives, and we should not attach a false significance to it, fearing that if we do not have a good state of mind or concentration in those final moments, then we will not go to the Pure Land. The truth is that no matter we are or we are not in a concentrated or good state of mind when we die, no matter if we say the Nembutsu or die without saying it because of unforeseen circumstances, we will be welcomed by Amida Buddha in His Pure Land if we already entrusted ourselves to Him and said His Name in faith during our lifetime.
 Thus, our birth in the Pure Land does not depend on our saying the Nembutsu often or seldom, or if we say it in the special moment of death, but on the faith we have in the Power of Amida Buddha, which is what makes the Nembutsu effective and our birth there attainable. As Shinran Shonin said,
"I, for my own part, attach no significance to the condition, good or bad, of persons in their final moments. People in whom shinjin is determined do not doubt, and so abide among the truly settled. For this reason their end also - even for those ignorant and foolish and lacking in wisdom - is a happy one.”[11]


[1] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.16[2] The Three Pure Land sutras, translated into English by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, revised second edition, BDK English Tripitaka12-II, II, IV, Numata Center for Buddhist translation and Research, 2003, p.16[3] For example, Shingon Shu in Japan and Tibetan Buddhism. [4] Shinran Shonin, Hymns of the Dharma Ages, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.422
[4b] Shinran Shonin indicated the sections 23-25 of the Larger Sutra as the place where we find the fulfillment of the 19thVow, but when I deeply contemplate on the three grades of aspirants described there I realize that only the middle grade actually refers to practitioners who still cling to their self-power and are to be born in the border-land through the Gate of the 19th Vow. The higher level and lower level have elements which clearly indicate birth in the true fulfilled land of the Pure Land, like for example, the mention of “birth by transformation” of those in the high level which cannot happen in the borderland where there is only “embryonic birth”, and the mentioning of joyful acceptance and faith without doubts, etc, by those in the lower level which again cannot exist in beings who are about to be born in the border-land of the Pure Land.[5] The last of Three Dharma Ages. Generally speaking, the doctrine of the Three Dharma Ages refers to the gradual decline of the capacities of beings to practice the Dharma and attain realization through it. The first period of 500 years after the physical death of the Buddha (parinirvana) is called the right Dharma age.
It is an age characterized by correct understanding and practice of the Dharma in all its aspects (meditation, wisdom and precepts) with often attainment of emancipation. The second Dharma age is called the semblance Dharma age, which lasted 1000 years after the previous one. It is characterized by gradual decadence in the determination by which practitioners, both monks and lay, practice the Way. Self indulgence slowly takes place and fills the minds and hearts of the followers. The breaking of precepts becomes more and more common among monks and nuns and “only a few attain the fruit of Enlightenment”. The third and last Dharma age lasts for 10.000 years after the second age. In it “only the verbal teaching remains”, while nobody is capable of observing the precepts and of truly practicing meditation or other Buddhist methods based on self power. Shinran said we are now living in this last Dharma age in which only the Pure Land teaching remains the only path to liberation. Read the articles “Thre Three Dharma Ages” and “Jodo Shinshu – the only effective path in this last Dharma Age” from my book, Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Teachings. [6] Shinran Shonin, Lamp for the Latter Ages, letter 2, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.527[7] Shinran Shonin, Lamp for the Latter-Ages, letter 1, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.523[8] Shinran Shonin, Notes on the Inscriptions on Sacred Scrolls, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.505-507[9] Honen Shonin also said: “Our daily Nembutsu and Nembutsu at the time of death are no different at all. When we are visited by death, our daily Nembutsu becomes Nembutsu at death; if our life is prolonged, Nembutsu at death becomes Nembutsu of daily life."Honen Shonin, Essential Discourse on Birth in the Pure Land through Nembutsu, The Promise of Amida Buddha - Honen's Path to Bliss; English translation of the Genko edition of the works of Honen Shonin - Collected Teachings of Kurodani Shonin: The Japanese Anthology (Wago Toroku), translated by Joji Atone and Yoko Hayashi, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2011, p.125[10] Shinran Shonin, Tannisho, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.673[11] Shinran Shonin, Lamp for the Latter Ages, letter 6, The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.531

25. Helping animals make a connection with Amida Buddha - Sep 15, 2019 11:24:00 AM
Here it looks like Codita is bowing his
head in front of Amida imageNo human being arrived today for the service, so I recited Nembutsu with one of the dogs of Amidaji - Codita.
Even if animals may not understand human language is beneficial for them to hear the sacred Name and see holy images of Amida. This plants a seed in their mental stream and will help them make a karmic connection which Amida Buddha and His Dharma, which one day, perhaps in a better rebirth, will result in becoming open to His Primal Vow. This is why I encourage you to say Nembutsu in the presence of animals, make them see Amida images and even put statues with Amida on the crown of their head.

When I caress my dog I say Nembutsu.
In time, if you do that, your pet may
associate your gentle gestures with Nembutsu
which again will leave a deep impression
on their mindstreamSomebody commented on my Facebook page where I also posted these photos:
“There are many animal cases who can join a service and get reborn into Pure Land”.
To this I answered:He may look cute but in reality, he is
the fiercest dog I have here, so I keep him
away when I have visitors. His role is to
defend the temple, especially
during the night 
Normally, a being must understand the Amida Dharma, entrust to Amida and say His Name in faith in order to be born in the Pure Land. But the truth is that life is mysterious and there are texts who speak of some animals being more evolved than others, some even retaining memories of previous lives, which means they can really entrust to Amida. However, these are not everyday cases, and so, even if animals are just animals, they can still benefit from hearing Amida's Name or seeing His holy images.

At this link (click here) you can find instructions on how you can help them (or any being) after death and while in bardo (the intermediary state between death and next life). 



At the end of the service, we both had a big laugh
 at the dreamlike nature of samsaric existence.