Light in darkness

‘When I reflect deeply on it, by the very fact that I do not rejoice at what should fill me with such joy that I dance in the air and dance on the earth, I realise all the more that my birth is completely settled. What suppresses the heart that should rejoice and keeps one from rejoicing is the action of blind passions. Nevertheless, the Buddha, knowing this beforehand, called us “foolish beings possessed of blind passions”; thus, becoming aware that the compassionate Vow of Other Power is indeed for the sake of ourselves, who are such beings, we find it all the more trustworthy.’ (Shinran Shonin, A Record in Lament of Divergences, CWS, p. 665)

Winter in the Australian Alps – Koscuiszko National Park

Amida Buddha’s light of wisdom brings foolish beings to aspire to ‘learn wisdom and attain supreme enlightenment. It brings them to realise the the mind by which one entrusts oneself to the nembutsu.’ (CWS, p. 656)

There are manifold layers of deep understanding and joy associated with finally and irrevocably entrusting oneself to the nembutsu – or to put it in another way ‘entrusting oneself to the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha.’ Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow is, in our experience, Namo Amida Butsu. To know that we have entered the path of the definitely settled–that we are on the way to becoming a Buddha–is indescribably wonderful. That is why people who know this can want to ‘dance in the air and dance on the earth.’

But the experience of shinjin includes not only an acute awareness of the power of Amida Buddha’s Vow, but also knowing who we really are: foolish beings of karmic evil caught in birth-and-death, ever sinking and ever wandering in transmigration from innumerable kalpas in the past, with never a condition that would lead to emancipation. (CWS, p. 85; et. al.)

Here, in the southern part of Australia away from the eastern seaboard, it is bright and sunny for most of the year. There are passing storms in winter and spring, and–in damper places–summer thunder and rain from time to time. While the heat is oppressive in places, the weather is cheerful most of the time, enticing one outdoors. But, then, in late May and June the days shorten and night draws in, until it often also becomes rainy, continuously cloudy and quite depressing.

Isn’t the interchange of light and darkness a natural thing? So it is for our hearts as well. Sometimes sadness or disappointment can overwhelm us. The Name in the Vow exists for us and because of who we are. It moves to embrace and deliver us, even without the assistance of our emotional and intellectual effort–exactly as we are.

… thus, becoming aware that the compassionate Vow of Other Power is indeed for the sake of ourselves, who are such beings, we find it all the more trustworthy

Namo Amida Butsu!

[The Primal Vow] is a great torch in the long night of ignorance;
Do not sorrow that your eyes of wisdom are dark.
It is a ship on the vast ocean of birth-and-death;
Do not grieve that your obstructions of karmic evil are heavy.

The power of the Vow is without limit;
Thus, even our karmic evil, deep and heavy, is not oppressive.
The Buddha’s wisdom is without bounds;
Thus, even those of distracted minds and self-indulgence are not abandoned. (CWS, p. 407-8)