Amida Buddha has been "beckoning" us for kalpas and kalpas, but we don't hear the Vow because of our "doubt" - a major fetter. That's why we're stuck here in samsara with all our karmic evil.
Hymns of the Dharma-Ages
Pure Land Hymns on the Right, Semblance, and Last Dharma-Ages
It is now more than two thousand years
Since the passing of Sakyamuni Tathagata.
The right and semblance ages have already closed;
So lament, disciples of later times!
Now, amid the five defilements in the last dharma-age,
Sentient beings are incapable of practice and realization;
Hence the teachings that Sakyamuni left behind
Have all passed into the naga's palace.
During the right, semblance, and last ages,
Amida's Primal Vow has spread.
At the end of the semblance and in this last dharma-age,
Good practices have all gone into the naga's palace.
Good practices: Sakyamuni's teachings.
The Great Collection Sutra teaches
That we are now in the fifth period of five-hundred years;
Because people are resolute in conflict and dispute,
The pure dharma is concealed in dormancy.
l.4: all roots of good are hidden within the naga's palace.
When sentient beings' life-span of tens of thousands of years,
Through a gradual decline of their karmic reward,
Decreased to twenty thousand years,
The age came to be called the "evil world of the five defilements."
Life-span of tens of thousands of years: the direct recompense of long life has gradually become short.
As the time of kalpa-defilements advances,
The bodies of sentient beings gradually grow smaller;
Their evil and wrongdoing amid the five defilements increase,
So that their minds are like poisonous snakes and evil dragons.
l.3: evil karma increases
Ignorance and blind passions abound,
Pervading everywhere like innumerable particles of dust.
Desire and hatred arising out of conflict and accord
Are like high peaks and mountain ridges.
l.3: greed, envy, jealousy, and contention increase.
l.4: blind passions and evil increase, so that they are like high peaks and mountain ridges.
Sentient beings' wrong views grow rampant,
Becoming like thickets and forests, bramble and thorns;
Filled with suspicion, they slander those who follow the nembutsu,
While the use of violence and the poison of anger spread widely.
ll.1-2: blind passions and evil increase, becoming like thickets and forests, bramble and thorns.
With life-defilement, the untimely end occurs in a moment,
And both forms of recompense - oneself and one's environment - perish.
Rejecting right and turning to wrong prevails,
So that people senselessly injure others.
Life-defilement: the life of human beings shortens and becomes weak.
l.2: the lives of human beings and their possessions collapse and disappear.
l.4: people have only evil thoughts; this characterizes sentient beings of the world of five defilements.
Without entrusting themselves to the Tathagata's compassionate Vow,
No sentient beings of these times - the last dharma-age, and
The fifth five-hundred year period since Sakyamuni's passing -
Will have a chance of parting from birth-and-death.
l.3: know that this period is the beginning of the last dharma-age.
The ninety-five nonbuddhist teachings defile the world;
The Buddha's path alone is pure.
Only by going forth and reaching enlightenment can we benefit others
In this burning house; this is the natural working of the Vow.
Ninety-five nonbuddhist teachings: know that nonbuddhist paths are divided into numerous kinds, and that besides these there are also the sixty-two nonbuddhist views.
l.2: know that only the Buddha's path is pure and excellent.
Going forth and reaching enlightenment: becoming Buddha.
Burning house: this Saha world.
With the advent of the age of the five defilements
Both monks and laity have fallen into contention;
When they see persons who have entrusted themselves to the nembutsu,
Filled with suspicion, they slander and attack them.
Age: the age and its beings.
Those who, it appears, will never attain enlightenment
All attack the practice of solely saying the Name.
The mark of destroying the teaching of sudden attainment
Is that for them, the vast sea of birth-and-death will have no end.
Destroying: to slander, to destroy.
We may think that these times belong to the right dharma-age,
But in us - the lowest of foolish beings -
There is no mind that is pure, true, or real;
How could we awaken the aspiration for enlightenment?
These times: the age and its beings.
l.2: foolish beings sinking in the depths of blind passions. We who are possessed of blind passions.
The aspiration for enlightenment through self-power taught in the Path of Sages
Is beyond our minds and words;
We foolish beings ever sinking in transmigration -
How could we awaken it?
Ever sinking: constantly sinking in the great ocean of birth-and-death.
Transmigration: wandering in the twenty-five forms of existence.
Under the guidance of Buddhas who appeared in this world,
Three times the sands of the Ganges in number,
We awakened the aspiration for supreme enlightenment,
But our self-power failed, and we continued to transmigrate.
The aspiration for supreme enlightenment: the mind that desires to bring all sentient beings to Buddhahood.
Continued to transmigrate: know that, with the aspiration for enlightenment of self-power, we have wandered thus in birth-and-death to this day.
With the advent of the semblance and last dharma-ages, and this world of the five defilements,
The teachings left by Sakyamuni entered into concealment.
Only the compassionate Vow of Amida becomes widely known,
And attainment of birth through the nembutsu spreads.
Teachings left by Sakyamuni: know that the teachings that were left by Sakyamuni have been distorted and lost, and have entered [into concealment].
Of the Vows embraced as supreme and all-surpassing,
Selected through five kalpas of profound thought,
The Vows of immeasurable light and life
Were made the foundation of the working of great compassion.
Concerning the aspiration for supreme enlightenment in the Pure Land path,
We are urged to realize the mind that seeks to attain Buddhahood;
The mind that seeks to attain Buddhahood
Is itself the mind that seeks to save all sentient beings.
Aspiration for supreme enlightenment: the mind that desires to bring all sentient beings to Buddhahood.
l.2: Other Power aspiration for enlightenment. In the Primal Vow, Amida encourages beings to aspire to be born in the Land of Bliss and attain Buddhahood.
Mind that seeks to attain Buddhahood (l.3): the mind deeply entrusting oneself to Amida's compassionate Vow and aspiring to become Buddha is called "aspiration for enlightenment."
Mind that seeks to save all sentient beings: know that this is the mind that desires to bring all sentient beings to Buddhahood.
The mind that seeks to save all sentient beings
Is directed to us through Amida's Vow of wisdom.
Those who realize this true entrusting that is directed to us
Attain great, complete nirvana.
Mind that seeks to save all sentient beings: Other Power aspiration for enlightenment; desire to bring all sentient beings to Buddhahood.
Amida's Vow of wisdom: Amida Tathagata's compassionate Vow.
True entrusting that is directed to us: entrusting ourselves without double-mindedness to the power of Amida's Vow.
Attain great, complete nirvana: to attain the same enlightenment as Amida Tathagata.
Persons who enter Amida's directing of virtue to beings
And realize the mind that seeks to attain Buddhahood
Completely abandon their self-power directing of merit,
Thus benefiting sentient beings boundlessly.
Amida's directing of virtue: Amida's giving us the Primal Vow.
When the waters of the mind entrusting to Other Power enter
The ocean waters of Amida's Vow of wisdom,
Then in accord with the nature of the true and real fulfilled land,
Blind passions and enlightenment come to be of one taste.
l.2: Amida's Primal Vow is wisdom. This Primal Vow is likened to the great ocean.
Waters of...entrusting: true and real shinjin is likened to water.
True and fulfilled land: the Land of Bliss is called the fulfilled land.
l.4: our minds and Buddha's mind become one. When we are born in the Land of Happiness, evil and good become one taste. Blind passions and virtues become one.
All those who deeply entrust themselves
To the two aspects of Amida's directing of virtue
Attain the stage equal to perfect enlightenment;
Hence, their mindfulness continues unceasingly.
Two aspects of Amida's directing of virtue: the directing of virtue of Amida Tathagata's Primal Vow has two aspects - directing virtue for going forth and directing virtue for return.
Stage equal to perfect enlightenment: the stage of the truly settled.
Persons who truly realize shinjin,
Which is directed to them through Amida's Vow of wisdom,
Receive the benefit of being grasped, never to be abandoned;
Hence they attain the stage equal to perfect enlightenment.
Persons who truly realize shinjin: persons who realize true and real shinjin.
Grasped, never to be abandoned: Amida Tathagata takes in and holds the persons of shinjin.
l.4: know that they attain the stage of the truly settled.
Bodhisattva Maitreya must pass 5,670,000,000 years
Before attaining Buddhahood,
But the person who realizes true shinjin
Will attain enlightenment with the end of this life.
The person who attains the stage equal to perfect enlightenment
By the working of the Vow of birth through the nembutsu,
Being the same as Maitreya,
Will realize great, complete nirvana.
Stage equal to perfect enlightenment: the stage of the truly settled. Maitreya is said to be in the stage equal to perfect enlightenment.