This autumn’s moon

I am deeply aware of the Tathagata’s immense compassion, and I sincerely revere the benevolent care behind the masters’ teaching activity. My joy grows ever fuller, my gratitude and indebtedness ever more compelling. (The True Teaching, Practice, and Realisation [Kyo Gyo Shin Sho] VI, 118; CWS, p. 291)

This week, the moon has been breathtakingly beautiful. It was full on the autumn equinox, which was Thursday 21 March in Australia. The moon’s brilliance in the clear late-summer sky outshone all of the other stars, its light swept over the trees and houses, and was so bright that you could read a book in its light alone. It was hard to give one’s attention to any other object in the sky. It was hard to think that anything in the world could compare with it.

Such is the heart of beings who know Amida Buddha’s Vow as the very foundation of their lives. Such is the heart of Shinran Shonin as he draws towards the end of his sublime collection of sacred teachings in the Pure Land way, The True Teaching, Practice, and Realisation. It is not just Shinran Shonin, not just famous myokonin, great saints and Dharma teachers, writers, singers of the songs of the nembutsu – but anyone at all: any person of nembutsu who has eyes for no other teacher and no other light than Amida Tathagata.

It is this wonderful heart, which sings only the name of Amida Buddha, and knows no other light of wisdom, that we know in the way that Shan-tao describes, when he writes:

Third, the person who continues in the nembutsu is a truly rare person; there is nothing that compares with such a one. For this reason, the white lotus is used as an analogy. The white lotus is called ‘the excellent flower among people,’ or ‘the rare flower,’ or ‘the best among the best,’ or ‘the wondrous excellent flower.’ What has traditionally been called the ‘blossom bearing the white tortoise’ is none other than this flower. The person of the nembutsu is the excellent person among people, the wondrous, excellent person, the best among the best, the rare person, the very finest person. (CWS, p. 121)

Of course, such a person has worldly worries of many kinds. We all have responsibilities to others: that is the nature of being human. And we have responsibilities to ourselves. In both cases: to find food, shelter, clothing, look after our health. People of nembutsu have often been farmers, or have to make their living in other ways, as business people, or leaders, or soldiers, or teachers, or carers, or priests. Whatever it is that people have to do in their lives you will find nembutsu people engaged in such things, too.

But in spite of all, they are sustained and guided and led by the wonderful compassionate heart of Amida Buddha.

Namo Amida Butsu