Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby duckfiasco » Wed May 21, 2014 11:01 pm

Often, doubt or hard situations sap our gratitude. To help these suffering minds, which we all have sometimes, I invite you to share your writings or those of others that speak to your experience, especially to help remind us of Amida's compassion, and the inconceivable generosity of Other-Power.

First, a poem by Hisako Nakamura, who lost both her hands and feet at the age of three. She grew up in poverty and could only earn a living in a sideshow exhibition.
Hisako Nakamura wrote:After a moment of irritability, I reflect.
And prostrate myself before the Buddha.
What should I do about my selfish desires?
I can only leave it in the hands of the Buddha.

The white chrysanthemums I offer the Buddha
Its pure odor remains as I chant the morning sutra.
The cheapest of rice gruel (that I am)
That allows me to live.

The worship that brings such happiness,
the karma that the mother bears,
And the karma that she forces her daughters to bear
Are all borne by the Buddha
(So I must do my part by living to the fullest today.)

Sixty years without hands or feet
Only because the Buddha's
Compassionate hands and feet
Have taken the place of mine.


Cathy Song wrote:Every morning I come to Shoshinge.
Every morning it is the same.

Between my mind and the mind of compassion,
Amida Buddha's wisdom and light,
the hymn flutters like a veil.
All is settled.
All is well.

I am the recipient of all that is settled,
of all that is well.
I long to enter the veil,
I give up my voice,
coarse, thick phlegm stone of sleep,
to meet the infinite
bountifulness with breath
moments of faith.

Every morning it is the same.
All is settled.
All is well.
I long to enter the veil.

I open my mouth, a cave
blackened with the smoke of desire.
I open my throat to lift
stone from breath and push
what falls firm
in the heavy tide of night.

My sorrowing heart staggers into sunlight
drunk with complaints,
easily distracted,
burdened and unsettled.
It waits.

Sing, practice, surrender!
All is assured
but my heart, blindfolded, attaches
disappointments, pins grievances
upon the veil like a child
spinning in circles, left
holding the donkey's tail.

I fling my worries upon the veil,
a tangled web of fetters.
Cluttered heart!
So disorderly and rude!

Every morning I come to Shoshinge.
Every morning it is the same.


Ternavski, translated from the original Esperanto wrote:To whom would you bring your grievance?
Even now, you have a boat,
even now, small fires have been lit for you on a distant island.
But you were afraid
(really, we must be honest with ourselves sometimes)
you were scared to leave the shore in such a boat.

But he wasn't afraid,
and in his small boat, he reached the island
that you've dreamed of your entire life.

And now,
when he describes to you
the trees that are there,
the birds that are there,
the flowers that are there --
you listen closely
with interest
and regret.


Zenshin 善心 wrote:i don't say the nembutsu for my birth in the Pure Land
that was already accomplished by Dharmakara Bodhisattva aeons ago

i say the nembutsu because some people infuriate me
i say the nembutsu because i lose my temper about petty shit
i say the nembutsu because i use people
i say the nembutsu because i hurt the ones i love

(and love discriminately)

i say the nembutsu because i cling to what does not last
i say the nembutsu because i always want more of what i do not have
i say the nembutsu because i am ignorant
i say the nembutsu because i believe it is me saying the nembutsu

i say the nembutsu because i lie to others and myself
i say the nembutsu because i pretend to be humble
i say the nembutsu because i am arrogant
i say the nembutsu because i am full of pride

i say the nembutsu because i am not a bridge
i say the nembutsu because i am not a raft
i say the nembutsu because i am not Santideva
i say the nembutsu because i am not a bodhisattva

i say the nembutsu because i am human all too human
with all the frak up contradictions, inadequacies and blind passions which ensue
and because i am loved and held in spite of myself

i say the nembutsu

namandabu
namandabu
namandabu


I also offer some of my own poetry. I hope others aren't too shy to share their writings as well, to point to this marvelous Other-Power and encourage others.
Erik Olson wrote:trees superbly high
clouds even higher

---

in my smallness, the greed always wins
still Amida turns back and calls me by name
waitingly,
waitingly

---

How vast, I can't say a single word that doesn't come from Your lips,
my skin is made of clouds, my bones of ocean waters.
Every good thing is cast wide over me, but my eyes are so small.

I do not have rights to one iota of dust,
yet in my hands I want to heal this suffering mass.

My doubt and death sparkle like water in bright sunlight.
Somehow, even my small eyes can see that.

I understand not one bit of it,
but such a display,
how wonderful! how wonderful!

---
that old forest path
closed off on both ends

there was a cat in there
mud flesh on stick bones
until he was just mud and sticks

i saw him every single time

and one day
he was wild green briars
and the forest path
was closed off on both ends
Namu Amida Butsu
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby duckfiasco » Thu May 22, 2014 3:03 am

I'll put this here also, and see what others may contribute :cheers:

I say an empty nembutsu. Then I remember without Shinran, I would not be saying it. Shinran says the nembutsu with my lips. Then without my parents, without my friends, without this room to sit in… the whole city says the nembutsu with my lips, and the entire past of the world resonates in my throat. Clouds floating by shine as Amida, my arms are adorned with the Pure Land. There is nothing not crowned many times over with the generosity of beings, my mothers, the Inconceivable Amida. Indeed, the entirety of the world and my life have conspired to bring this very nembutsu to me. As it flies through the air, even the walls have faith. This gratitude, too, is the gift of Amida.

But who is this Amida? This saying, this Other-Power rattling my window, pulling my mind here and there, this small creature of bone and blood who lives in the morning and dies before the day is done. Who can understand a single thing? Why should such a scatter-brained, confused one as me speak the gratitude of every Buddha and every lowly demon? How can it be? How can it be?
Namu Amida Butsu
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby PorkChop » Thu May 22, 2014 3:41 am

This thread needs more Saichi.... :mrgreen:

Saichi wrote:What is Saichi's understanding of the "Namu-amida-butsu"?
Yes, I am an adopted child of "Namu-amida-butsu."
How do you understand a life of gratitude?
As to being grateful, sometimes I remember it, sometimes I do not.
Really, a wretched man I am!

....

"O Saichi, do, you recite the Nembutsu only when you think of it?
What do you do when you do not think of it?"
"Yes, [well,] when I do not think of it, there is
The 'Namu-amida-butsu' [just the same]--
The oneness of ki and hō;
Even my thinking of [the Nembutsu] rises out of it.
How thankful I am for the favor!"
"Namu-amida-butsu, Namu-amida-butsu!"

...

Hōnen Shōnin [is said to have recited the Nembutsu] sixty thousand times [a day];
With Saichi it is only now and then.
Sixty-thousand-times and now-and-then--
They are one thing.
How grateful I am for the favor!
"Namu-amida-butsu!"

...

"O Nyorai-san, do you take me--this wretched one such as I am?
Surely because of the presence of such wretched ones as you,
Oya-sama's mercy is needed--
The Name is just meant for you, O Saichi,
And it is yours."
"That is so, I am really grateful,
I am grateful for the favor--
Namu-amida-butsu!"

...

All the miraculous merits accumulated by Amida
Throughout his disciplinary life of innumerable eons
Are filling up this body called Saichi.
Merits are no other than the six syllables "Na-mu-a-mi-da-buts(u)."

...

The "Namu-amida-butsu" is inexhaustible,
However much one recites it, it is inexhaustible;
Saichi's heart is inexhaustible;
Oya's heart is inexhaustible.
Oya's heart and Saichi's heart,
Ki and hō, are of one body which is the "Namu-amida-butsu."
However much this is recited, it is inexhaustible.

...

To Saichi such as he is, something wonderful has happened--
That heart of his has turned into Buddhahood!
What an extraordinary event this!
What things beyond imagination are in store within the
"Namu-amida-butsu"!

...

The "Namu-amida-butsu"
Is like the sun-god,
Is like the world,
Is like the great earth,
Is like the ocean!
Whatever Saichi's heart may be,
He is enveloped in the emptiness of space,
And the emptiness of space is enveloped in "Namu-amida-butsu"!
O my friends, be pleased to hear the "Namu-amida-butsu"--
"Namu-amida-butsu" that will free you from Jigoku [hell].

...

The Nembutsu is like vastness of space,
The vastness of space is illumined by Oya-sama's Nembutsu.
My heart is illumined by Oya-sama.
"Namu-amida-butsu!"

...

For what reason it is I do not know,
But the fact is the "Namu-amida-butsu" has come upon me.

...

How wretched! What shall I do?
[But] wretchedness is the "Namu-amida-butsu"--
"Namu-amida-butsu, Namu-amida-butsu!"

...

I, bound for death,
Am now made into the immortal "Namu-amida-butsu."

...

Life's ending means not-dying;
Not-dying is life's ending;
Life's ending is to become "Namu-amida-butsu."

...

Death has been snatched away from me,
And in its place the "Namu-amida-butsu."

...

Saichi's heart destined for death when his end comes,
Is now made an immortal heart,
Is made into the "Namu-amida-butsu."

...

To die--nothing is better than death;
One feels so relieved!
Nothing exceeds this feeling of relief.
"Namu-amida-butsu, Namu-amida-butsu!"

...

"O Saichi, let me have what your understanding is."
"Yes, yes, I will:
How miserable, how miserable!
Namu-amida-butsu, Namu-amida-butsu!"
"Is that all, O Saichi?
It will never do."
"Yes, yes, it will do, it will do.
According to Saichi's understanding,
Ki and hō are one:
The 'Namu-amida-butsu' is no other than he himself.
This is indeed Saichi's understanding:
He has flowers in both hands,
Taken away in one way and given as gift in another way."

...

I am happy!
The root of sinfulness is cut off;
Though still functioning, it is the same as non-existent.
How happy I am!
Born of happiness is the "Namu-amida-butsu."

...

"O Saichi, won't you tell us about Tariki?"
"Yes, but there is neither Tariki nor Jiriki,
What is, is the graceful acceptance only."

...

Where are Saichi's evil desires gone?
They are still here:
I hate, I love, I crave--
How wretched, how wretched I am!


note: Ki = Jiriki ("self-power") = the Namu = the supplicating individual = the sinner = Saichi. The Hō = Amida = Buddha = Enlightenment = Tariki ("other-power") = Reality = the Dharma = Oya-sama = Tathāgata.
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby duckfiasco » Thu May 22, 2014 11:32 pm

Beautiful, PorkChop. I've discovered so much with your help.

This saved my bacon earlier. Doubt is a hell of a drug.
Honen wrote:Q. If I recite nembutsu with all my heart, will nembutsu alone help me to achieve birth in the Pure Land, even though I have a distracted heart and am lacking in any sort of practice?

A. It is the nature of common mortals to experience distractions, which are impossible for them to control. But if you earnestly recite nembutsu, Amida Buddha will cleanse your negative karma and make you achieve birth in the Pure Land. Even grave offenses more serious than illusory thoughts will be eradicated by nembutsu.
Namu Amida Butsu
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby PorkChop » Fri May 23, 2014 3:30 am

Honen wrote:How should we spend this life? We should spend our life so that we can recite the nembutsu. If something hinders our practice of the nembutsu, it should be abandoned and stopped....... Clothing, food and shelter, these three are the auxiliary acts of the nembutsu, that is to say that anything which can enable a secure life is an auxiliary act of the nembutsu. People who do not recite the nembutsu and love and care about their bodies will surely fall into the three evil realms after death. Yet why should people who recite the nembutsu not care about their bodies which will be born in the Pure Land? You should care for yourself as much as possible. If you think such acts are not auxiliary acts of the nembutsu and become attached to them, they will become the karma for falling into the three evil realms. If you care for yourself in order to recite the nembutsu and attain birth in the Pure Land, such a secure life will become an auxiliary act of the nembutsu. Everything is like this.(SHZ. 462-463)


Shinran wrote:" 慶ばしいかな、 心を弘誓の仏地に樹て、 念を難思の法海に流す。 深く如来の矜哀を知りて、 まことに師教の恩厚を仰ぐ。 慶喜いよいよ至り、 至孝いよいよ重し。"   
親鸞聖人 教行信証 化身土文類 *6 後序

"How joyous I am, my heart and mind being rooted in the Buddha-ground of the universal Vow, and my thoughts and feelings flowing within the dharma-ocean, which is beyond comprehension! I am deeply aware of the Tathagata’s immense compassion, and I sincerely revere the benevolent care behind the master’s teaching activity. My joy grows ever fuller, my gratitude and indebtedness ever more compelling. "
KYOGYOSHINSHO Shinran-Shonin

" まことによろこばしいことである。 心を本願の大地にうちたて、 思いを不可思議の大海に流す。 深く如来の慈悲のおこころを知り、 まことに師の厚いご恩を仰ぐ。 よろこびの思いはいよいよ増し、 敬いの思いはますます深まっていく。"     
親鸞聖人 教行信証 化身土文類 *6 後序 現代語版

(First is Kamakura era Japanese, third is modern colloquial Japanese)
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby Osho » Mon Jun 16, 2014 11:19 pm

:good:
More about Mindfulness here
http://bemindful.co.uk/

" A Zen master's life is one continuous mistake."
(Dogen).
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby duckfiasco » Wed Jun 18, 2014 8:27 pm

The patience of Amida is astounding.
I fight tooth and nail not to accept even a single grain of wellbeing, freely given.
I do not go dancing through the gate Amida holds open.
I want to learn the hard way, again and again.
Amazingly, Amida does not begrudge a single one of us.

In fact, for we who insist on being left behind,
for we who just can't wait to dive into the nearest hell realm,
Amida turns back.
He turned back millennia before even our parents were born.

What is this nembutsu?
Even in a mouth full of scheming and hateful words...
Even in a mind boiling with self-interest and fear...
Even in one who would rather die than do a single good thing...
Namu Amida Butsu,
Namu Amida Butsu,
Namu Amida Butsu.
Namu Amida Butsu
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby Simon E. » Wed Jun 18, 2014 8:32 pm

If a non Pure Land student may comment ?

Thank you...

:namaste:
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby duckfiasco » Wed Jun 18, 2014 8:40 pm

No need to ask permission, Simon, not that I'm in a position to give or deny it :cheers:
Namu Amida Butsu
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby duckfiasco » Wed Jun 18, 2014 9:00 pm

A very famous passage by Shinran.
Although I take refuge in the true Pure Land way,
It is hard to have a true and sincere mind.
This self is false and insincere;
I completely lack a pure mind.

Each of us, in outward bearing,
Makes a show of being wise, good, and dedicated;
But so great are our greed, anger, perversity, and deceit,
That we are filled with all forms of malice and cunning.

Extremely difficult is it to put an end to our evil nature;
The mind is like a venomous snake or scorpion.
Our performance of good acts is also poisoned;
Hence, it is called false and empty practice.

Although I am without shame and self-reproach
And lack a mind of truth and sincerity,
Because the Name is directed by Amida,
Its virtues fill the ten quarters.

Lacking even small love and small compassion,
I cannot hope to benefit sentient beings.
Were it not for the ship of Amida's Vow,
How could I cross the ocean of painful existence?

With minds full of malice and cunning, like snakes and scorpions,
We cannot accomplish good acts through self-power;
And unless we entrust ourselves to Amida's directing of virtue,
We will end without knowing shame or self-reproach.
Namu Amida Butsu
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby duckfiasco » Sat Jun 21, 2014 12:29 am

Pure Land is immensely encouraging. Let's not get the wrong idea about humility :) It's not about cultivating self-hatred or obsessing about "some pile of shit we are".

Other-Power is like a sunbeam that brings the warm compassion of all the Buddhas and countless beings to every place, no matter how far away we've gone, or how far underground we may feel. It illuminates the beautiful and the ugly.
We can only honestly assess our motivations and skillfulness in the light of such compassionate wisdom, we who are so used to praising ourselves and thinking all good comes from us and all bad comes from somewhere else.

Other-Power is beyond terms. The Pure Land has many countries. Amida reaches across a thousand years and a thousand thoughts with the same ease that we open our hand. Recognizing our smallness does not mean we insult or despise a single thing, for nothing is truly ours to reject or to cling to.

Through the single crack of even one nembutsu, we perceive the vast, brilliant sun. Deserving or undeserving, good or evil, skilled meditator or struggling dummy, there's no discrimination. We are swept up in Other-Power regardless.

Here's some more encouragement :cheers:
You don't have to understand complex ideas.
You don't have to have a heart of gold or conduct that always makes everyone happy.
You don't have to pine for states of calm or deep concentration.

In the depths of confusion, not knowing where to turn,
in the depths of inadequacy, doubting our abilities,
in the depths of greed or grief, burning alive with illusions,
a single "Namu Amida Butsu" is not said by this bewildered being,
a second "Namu Amida Butsu" is not said by this confused ghost,
a third "Namu Amida Butsu" is not said by this modern being with no time to be happy.
Who is saying the nembutsu?

Our own thoughts don't obey our commands.
We cannot manufacture this voice, or the harmonics that ring in the room.
Unknowable distant beings pour forth their benevolence across time and space.
They assemble in the room, pressing in close on all sides.
The nembutsu is heard again and again.
Where is it coming from?
Namu Amida Butsu
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby steveb1 » Sun Jun 22, 2014 12:37 am

duckfiasco wrote:The patience of Amida is astounding.
I fight tooth and nail not to accept even a single grain of wellbeing, freely given.
I do not go dancing through the gate Amida holds open.
I want to learn the hard way, again and again.
Amazingly, Amida does not begrudge a single one of us.

In fact, for we who insist on being left behind,
for we who just can't wait to dive into the nearest hell realm,
Amida turns back.
He turned back millennia before even our parents were born.

What is this nembutsu?
Even in a mouth full of scheming and hateful words...
Even in a mind boiling with self-interest and fear...
Even in one who would rather die than do a single good thing...
Namu Amida Butsu,
Namu Amida Butsu,
Namu Amida Butsu.


Hey, Duck - is this beautiful poem one of your own creation? If so, congrats - it is lovely!
:)
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby duckfiasco » Sun Jun 22, 2014 6:54 am

Thank you, steveb1!

Losing one's bearings and feeling discouragement about practice is difficult.
Please everyone, share whatever your inspiration is, or even just a few encouraging words! :cheers:
We all need it sometimes.
Namu Amida Butsu
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby steveb1 » Sun Jun 22, 2014 7:12 am

duckfiasco wrote:Thank you, steveb1!

Losing one's bearings and feeling discouragement about practice is difficult.
Please everyone, share whatever your inspiration is, or even just a few encouraging words! :cheers:
We all need it sometimes.


You are very welcome. You encapsulate Shin's essence in a way that mere prose often does not!

:)
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby Osho » Sun Jun 22, 2014 3:33 pm

Cultivating Nembutsu overcomes despondency.
It is so easy to do and actually works.
:smile:
More about Mindfulness here
http://bemindful.co.uk/

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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby Dan74 » Sun Jun 22, 2014 3:48 pm

Great to have a thread like this, Folks! Thank you. :bow: :bow: :bow:

I have chanted from time to time and found solace in it as well. Prostrations too. I do them with kids quite often - not compulsory for them of course, but they like to join in.

As far as inspiration, two practices have sustained me in slow-burning cultivation perhaps more than others. One is the awareness of the breath throughout the day as taught by Thich Nhat Hanh. The other is recalling the line from the Dhammapada "To all things, mind is the forerunner." And for release from delusion and the old karma these three little koans (I write them as I remember them):

1. Master: Where are you going to go? Student: I don't know. Master: Not knowing is the most intimate.
2. Student: What are we to do when the heat comes, what are we to do when the cold comes?
Master: When the heat comes, let the heat kill you. When the cold comes, let the cold kill you.
3. Student: What are we to do when the six thieves are laying siege to the house? Master: They are members of your own family.

_/|\_
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby duckfiasco » Mon Jun 30, 2014 7:36 pm

We stubborn beings
who forget kindness
whose best effort is often so small,
we are soaked through with the nembutsu
and merely complain we are wet.

He does not wait for us to be good.
He cannot wait. Neither can we, honestly.

As we are, wandering the tall grasses of our confusion,
even such a one in this place
cannot help but be dew-laden
cannot help but feel a chill to the bone
by him who is the morning
by him who is the dew.

He hears the bloom of our discontent
in the smallest seed we sow.
And on he calls even so,
on he calls even so.
Namu Amida Butsu
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby steveb1 » Mon Jun 30, 2014 8:46 pm

Duck, thank you for sharing that beautiful poem. You have a way with words, and your Shinjin shines brightly.
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby PorkChop » Wed Jul 02, 2014 4:04 pm

Shinran 'Jodo Wasan' * 10 wrote:The light of compassion illumines us from afar,
Those beings it reaches, it is taught,
Attain the joy of dharma,
So take refuge in Amida, the great consolation.

慈光はるかにかぶらしめ ひかりのいたるところには
法喜をうとぞのべたまふ 大安慰を帰命せよ
      ・・・・ 親鸞上人 "浄土和讃" *10
 

Honen's poem in 'The Promise of Amida Buddha' wrote:There is no place
where the moonlight fails to grace,
but it only abides in
and purifies the
hearts of those who gaze
upon its face.


Patriarch Ou-i from Mind Seal of the Buddhas wrote: The Buddha-mind and the minds of sentient beings are reflections of each other, just as the lights of many lamps both individually reach everywhere and seem to merge into one. Inner truth as a whole forms phenomena, and phenomena as a whole are merged with inner truth. Our entire true nature gives rise to genuine religious practice, and genuine religious practice in its entirety lies within our true nature. This is something we should constantly ponder deeply.


Patriarch Ou-i from Mind Seal of the Buddhas wrote: Depending on where the karmic affinities of sentient beings lie, the Buddhas extend the virtue of their benevolence, and stimulate the development of those sentient beings with all kinds of teachings. They can enable sentient beings to experience joy in the teaching and have faith in it, they can spark the development of the seeds of goodness from past lives, they can make it hard for the barriers of delusion to screen the sentient beings off from the truth, and they can enable sentient beings to bring forth their self-nature.

Fundamentally all the Buddhas manifest their teaching activities from within the Dharmakaya. They solidify sentient beings' affinity with the truth and strengthen their seeds of enlightenment. Whether within the world or beyond it, the deeds of the Buddhas are all inconceivable. They energize teaching vehicles and expound them to vast audiences. They plunge into the ocean of suffering where sentient beings dwell, and use their compassion to enable them to harmonize with the still light. Thus do the Buddhas exemplify the myriad virtues and epitomize the highest spiritual powers.

We must understand [the fundamental Buddhist principle] that the seeds of enlightenment arise within the causal nexus. The causal nexus is the universe as a whole. [With enlightened perception], when the Buddhas are mindful of one, they are mindful of all, and when one is born, all are born: there is one scent, one flower, one sound, one form. When the Buddhas accept our repentance and give us guarantees of enlightenment, when they rub our heads and reach down their hands to us, they create a universal fusion of all the worlds of the past, present, and future in the ten directions.

Therefore, this element that will accelerate us toward enlightenment, this method of reciting the Buddha-name, arises from within the causal nexus, and our Pure Land practice is precisely an instance of what [(para.) a student asking a question referred to as] "taking the universe as a whole as the focal point" [(para.) ie. "meditating on emptiness"].

...

The compassion of the Buddhas is inconceivable, and the merits of their names are also inconceivable. Therefore, once you hear a Buddha-name, no matter whether you are mindful or not, or whether you believe in it or not, it always becomes the seed of an affinity with the truth. Moreover, when the Buddhas bring salvation to sentient beings, they do not sort out friends and enemies: they go on working tirelessly for universal salvation. If you hear the Buddha-name, Buddha is bound to protect you. How can there be any doubts about this?

Even those who have just heard the Buddha-name once share in the essential true nature of phenomena; hearing the Buddha-name means they have a basis to work from, and have found what will be the cause of their enlightenment in the long run, which they will never lose.
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby steveb1 » Wed Jul 02, 2014 5:51 pm

The very "inconceivability" of the "Grace" that is working for us is one of its most liberating features. Thanks for the great post.
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