Saturday, May 06, 2006

Clyde Hoyu Whitworth

Coming from first being a bhikshu of a Chinese Pure Land - Ch'an tradition, then on to being a student of Shinran's Jodo Shinshu tradition, then finally settling into the middle path of Honen Shonin's Jodo Shu tradition as a priest once again, I have heard much about the concepts of Tariki and Jiriki from teachers and students of the three traditions. Certainly the most important concept I have gained from my 20 years of study as a Buddhist is that there is absolutely no way I will ever be entirely certain that it is by my own power that the Nembutsu is recited, or if it is recited due to the great compassion of the other power. So, as Honen Shonin suggested many times in his great scripture entitled the Senchakushu... "Just Do It!" ...and whether it comes from me, or through me, the Nembutsu is recited.

I know I am but a deeply deluded person, and have less than a clue about most things, so please take what I have written with a grain of salt. He also provided the following two extracts from Pure Land texts and two website links that contatin further relevant material.

"In China and Japan, many Buddhist masters and scholars understand that the nembutsu is to meditate deeply on Amida Buddha and the Pure Land. However, I do not understand the nembutsu in this way. Reciting the nembutsu does not come from studying and understanding its meaning. There is no other reason or cause by which we can utterly believe in attaining birth in the Pure Land than the nembutsu itself. Reciting the nembutsu and believing in birth in the Pure Land naturally gives rise to the three minds (sanjin) and the four modes of practice (shishu).

If I am withholding any deeper knowledge beyond simple recitation of the nembutsu, then may I lose sight of the compassion of Shakyamuni and Amida Buddha and slip through the embrace of Amida's original vow. Even if those who believe in the nembutsu deeply study all the teachings which Shakyamuni taught during his life, they should not put on any airs and should practice the nembutsu with the sincerity of those untrained followers ignorant of Buddhist doctrines.I hereby authorize this document with my handprint. The Jodo Shu way of the settled mind (anjin) is completely imparted here. I, Genku, have no other teaching than this. In order to prevent misinterpretation after my passing away, I make this final testament." January 23, the Second Year of Kenryaku (1212) - Honen Shonin (Ichimai-kishomon) If you depend on your own knowledge or "self power," it will prevent you from receiving Shakyamuni Buddha's guidance and Amida Buddha's compassion. Therefore, I devote myself entirely to the recitation of O-Nembutsu, believing that only by Amida Buddha's power will I be received into the Pure Land. (Senchakushu p.84)

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