Grasped by Amida, never to be abandoned

Saved by the inconceivable working of Amida’s Vow, I shall realise birth in the Pure Land: the moment you entrust yourself thus to the Vow, so that the mind set upon saying the nembutsu arises within you, you are immediately brought to share in the benefit of being grasped by Amida, never to be abandoned. (Tannisho, 1)

blog-20.05.16Think about it.  The moment people trust in Amida Buddha’s great Vow they are grasped by Amida, never to be abandoned. That is to say, when you accept the Name, Namo Amida Butsu, you are secure in the knowledge that you will become a Buddha, because that is what it is to ‘realise birth in the Pure Land’. Accepting the Name leads to a natural inclination to have a ‘mind set upon saying the nembutsu’.

The Sutra of Contemplation on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life speaks of the light of Amida Buddha

embracing and never abandoning those beings who are mindful of the Buddha.

Being embraced and never abandoned (sesshu fusha) by Amida Buddha in this way is also known as ‘the stage of the truly settled’ (joju no kurai).

The Sutra on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life (Larger Sutra) explains just what it is that people experience in the description that I quoted at the beginning of this post.  It says exactly the same thing as the Tannisho.

When sentient beings, upon hearing the Buddha’s name, realise an entrusting heart in joy with even a single thought of the Buddha … they shall attain birth in that land and dwell in the stage of non-retrogression. (Larger Sutra, 22)

This is so remarkable that it cannot possibly be something that one can create for oneself. For our attachment to ourselves and our opinions tends to oppose the working of Amida Buddha’s Vow — the Name –, making it hard for us hear and accept it.

Amida Buddha’s Name works spontaneously (jinen) by itself, so there is nothing to worry about. The ‘mind set upon saying the nembutsu’ is Amida Buddha’s mind, but we tend to think that we know best about everything. In a letter to a disciple, Shinran Shonin wrote,

If you realise that the wisdom of the Buddhas surpasses conceptual understanding, there should not, in addition, be any calculating.  You simply should not fall into doubts over different things that people say.  Simply give yourself up to Tathagata’s (Buddha’s) Vow; avoid calculating in any way. (Lamp of the Latter Ages, 10)

To ‘give yourself up to the Buddha’s Vow’ is to accept the Name as the way to become a Buddha.

Namo Amida Butsu