To be in perfect accord with the Primal Vow

In answer to your question about the nembutsu: it is completely mistaken to look down upon people who believe in birth through the nembutsu, saying that they are destined for birth in the border-land. For Amida vowed to take into the land of bliss those who say the Name, and thus to entrust oneself deeply and say the Name is to be in perfect accord with the Primal Vow.(Lamp for Latter Ages, 12; CWS, p. 539)

As for me, I simply accept and entrust myself to what my revered teacher told me, “Just say the nembutsu and be saved by Amida”; nothing else is involved. (A Record in Lament of Divergences, 2; CWS. P. 663)

The striking buds and flowers of the ilyarrie tree (Eucalyptus erythrocorys), which is native to West Australia but adorns many suburban streets in Adelaide where it thrives. These flowers appear in autumn (about now).

Here are two instances of the unhindered working of the Primal Vow to save all sentient beings and bring them to birth in the Pure Land. The key and consistent feature in all this is, as Shinran says, “to entrust oneself deeply and say the Name is to be in perfect accord with the Primal Vow.”

Yet, how often is this simple, unequivocal and uncomplicated proposition somehow made complicated and demanding? There is much written about Jodo Shinshu and sometimes quite sophisticated language and ideas are brought into the discussion, but I cannot see how there can be any difficulty in just entrusting oneself and saying the Name, Namo Amida Butsu.

It was obviously necessary for Shinran Shonin to make these straightforward clarifications because, within the early Shin Buddhist community, there was much discussion about the relationship between “self-power” and “Other Power”. Yet, Shinran makes it clear–for example, in second part of The True Teaching, Practice and Realisation–that saying the Name is the working of Other Power.

These passages (which Shinran has quoted) reveal that saying the Name breaks through all the ignorance of sentient beings and fulfills all their aspirations. (The True Teaching, Practice and Realisation, II; CWS, p. 17)

All we need to do is to entrust ourselves to its working.

All Buddhist practice is completed and received by us in the Name. Entrusting ourselves to it, we leave it to work by itself to bring about our birth in the Pure Land and the attainment of Buddhahood.

In both of these passages there are only two essential elements: entrusting and Namo Amida Butsu. Those who entrust themselves to Amida Buddha, naturally think of him. Thinking of him you spontaneously say the Name.

Though a person may have entrusting heart, if he or she does not say the Name it is of no avail. And conversely, even though a person fervently says the Name, if that person’s entrusting heart is shallow he cannot attain birth. Thus it is the person who deeply entrusts himself to birth through the nembutsu and undertakes to say the Name who is certain to be born in the fulfilled land. (Lamp for Latter Ages, 12; CWS, p. 539)