Against the view that the Pure Land Sutras are not Shakyamuni’s teaching, but a later invention

by Rev. Josho Adrian Cirlea

Common sense dictates that the time when a Buddhist sutra was put into written form was not automatically the time of its creation. During Shakyamuni Buddha’s life and later, upon his physical death, his discourses (sutras) were transmitted orally and sometimes by his closest disciples through special states of mind called samadhi for hundreds of years before they were put into written form. The Pali Canon was, in fact, preserved in the artificial language of Pali (which neither the Buddha nor anyone else ever spoke) while the Mahayana sutras were initially preserved in Sanskrit (a language which Shakyamuni, a highly educated person, may have spoken).

Some make the claim that the Pali Canon of the Theravada school is the oldest and thus the most reliable collection of sutras. Positing that all the discourses or sutras originated from Shakyamuni, then the fact that some were put into written form earlier than the others is not proof of their exclusive authenticity or superior content. The Mahayana and Pure Land sutras did exist and were transmitted in the same timeframe with the sutras of the Pali Canon.  

We understand that some monks recognized only the Pali Canon as valid because they were supposedly the first of the Buddha’s discourses to be written down, while others considered the Mahayana and Pure Land sutras as being genuine as well. Each group put into written form their own basket (pitaka) of recognized sutras, some earlier and some later. But no one can prove by documentary evidence that his school’s basket of sutras were actually preached by Shakyamuni while the others’ were not.

By the same token, no one can prove that Shakyamuni did not impart some sutras only to a group of special disciples which were open and more prepared to receive them than others and who, in turn, transmitted such sutras to their own chosen disciples in an uninterrupted succession, until one day they decided it was time to give them a written form.

No one can check and investigate the Buddha’s mind or the minds of his closest disciples and their actions by means of documentary evidence. If we read about the Buddhist councils who first compiled orally the discourses of the Buddha, soon after his physical death, we see that the monks who attended such councils could all recite by heart dozens of those discourses and that all were accomplished Masters. Other sutras, the Mahayana and Pure Land sutras, were transmitted by samadhi and were not written down until some time after the Pali Canon.

Also, we know from the first passages of the Sutra on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life (Larger Sutra), that among the assembly gathered on the Vulture Peak, where Shakyamuni delivered it, there were “twelve thousand monks […] all great sages who had already attained supernatural powers.” This aspect is extremely important because it is an indication about who the monks were who heard that sutra and later transmitted it to further generations. They were monks who HAD “attained supernatural powers,” and it follows that these monks used their mind power to accurately transmit this sutra by samadhi to further generations.

Among these monks we read the names of Venerable Mahakasyapa, Venerable Sariputra, Venerable Mahamaudgalyayana and Ananda. “All of these were Elders”, says the sutra. But monks with supernatural powers were not the only listeners. Great transcendental Bodhisattvas like Samantabhadra, Manjusri and Maitreya, the future Buddha, were present too, and they all rejoiced at hearing the Amida Dharma, which can only mean they had faith in it and later helped in its promotion. More than this, Shinran presents the testimony of his own Master, Honen Shonin (Genku), who revealed to him that in a previous life he was present too, on Vulture Peak, when the Larger Sutra was preached:

“Genku himself said,
‘Formerly, I was among the assembly on Vulture Peak;
I practiced austerities with other sravakas
And guided beings to the Buddhist path.”

This stands as proof for us, Shakyamuni’s disciples of modern times, that the event described in the Larger Sutra is a real one. As we know, Shinran never regarded Honen as an ordinary person, but rather as a returner from the Pure Land , thus Shinran took Honen’s revelation very seriously. We should have no reason for doing otherwise.

It is questioinable as to why many modern scholars believe they can judge with their limited minds and methods who all those great beings on the Vulture Peak and their further work of spreading this sutra were. Nobody today can probe the minds of Shakyamuni or his closest disciples who dedicated themselves to the proper transmission of the Pure Land sutras, or to anyone else until the Pure Land sutras were finally put into written form .

More than this, we clearly see that the transcendent Power of Shakyamuni Buddha lies within the transmission of the Larger Sutra to the future generations, even after all other sutras would have been disappeared:

“In the future, the Buddhist scriptures and teachings will perish. But, out of pity and compassion, I will especially preserve this sutra and maintain it in the world for a hundred years more. Those beings who encounter it will attain deliverance.”

Here, the words “I will especially preserve this sutra” are extremely important, because Shakyamuni himself vowed to help its transmission and to never let it disappear. Such a promise is beyond the capacity of unenlightened people to comprehend, but nevertheless it IS a true promise upon which we can depend, because it was made by a fully Enlightened Buddha.

The truth is that we, Buddhist disciples of these times, far removed from the physical presence of  Shakyamuni, have only two choices: we CAN either accept in faith the Pure Land sutras as being genuine, as did all the Patriarchs and Masters of our school including Shinran, or we can discard them.

Shakyamuni himself said at the end of the Larger Sutra on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life (the Larger Sutra): “Most difficult of all difficulties is to hear this sutra and accept it in faith. Nothing is more difficult than this.”

As we clearly see from Shinran’s written work, he relied on Amida and his Primal Vow only because this was, in his opinion, the teaching of Shakyamuni recorded in the Larger Sutra. He and all the Patriarchs and Masters of our school never doubted that this sutra was the genuine preaching of Shakyamuni. The reason why they had trust in this sutra and other Pure Land sutras was particularly because Shakyamuni himself delivered them.

Furthermore, Shinran considered the Larger Sutra, in which the Primal Vow was revealed, to be the main reason for Shakyamuni’s appearance in this world. He could never have said this if he considered it a later invention of some Buddhist monks, as so called modernist scholars argue. It is clear from his writings that Shinran accepted the Pure Land sutras as genuine teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha.

Shinran stated in his Shoshinge:

“The reason for the Buddha's appearance in the world
Is solely to expound the Primal Vow of Amida, wide and deep as the ocean.
All beings in the evil age of the five defilements
Should believe in the truth of the Buddha's words.”

The words of the Buddha are superior to the teachings of humans, even if those humans might be great Bodhisattvas.  How much more reliable must they necessarily be than the contradictory words of deluded teachers in this Age of Dharma Decline?

“Amida, who attained Buddhahood in the infinite past,
Full of compassion for foolish beings of the five defilements,
Took the form of Sakyamuni Buddha
And appeared in Gaya.”

From this verse in the Jodo Wasan we see that, in Shinran’s view, Shakyamuni Buddha was in reality a manifestation of Amida Buddha. This is an even stronger indication that the path of birth in the Pure Land, presented in the Larger Sutra, is true and completely reliable. This sutra is not only Shakyamuni’s teaching, but Amida’s direct exposition through the mouth of Shakyamuni.

Therefore, it is clear that those who do not accept the Larger Sutra to be an authentic discourse of Shakyamuni are caught in the delusion of divergences from the True Teaching.  These divergences threaten to destroy the foundation of the entire Jodo Shinshu path to salvation for all. In propagating their divergences, they actually are accusing Shinran and all the Patriarchs and Masters of the True Pure Land school to be liars or ignorant.

If we carefully and honestly study Shinran's own words, we see that he faithfully accepted the Larger Sutra and all the Pure Land sutras without ever doubting they were actually taught by Shakyamuni. He could never have imagined that they might be a later invention of some monks.

As Shinran writes in his Kyogyoshinsho (The True Teaching, Chapter I, excerpts):

“The teaching of the Pure Land way is found in the Larger Sutra of the Buddha of Immeasurable Life [….] It reveals that Shakyamuni appeared in this world and expounded the teachings of the way to Enlightenment, seeking to save the multitudes of living beings by blessing them with the benefit that is true and real. Assuredly this sutra is the true teaching for which the Tathagata appeared in the world. It is the [….] It reveals that Shakyamuni appeared in this world and expounded the teachings of the way to Enlightenment, rare and most excellent. It is the conclusive and ultimate exposition of the One Vehicle. It is the right teaching, praised by all the Buddhas throughout the ten quarters. To teach [Amida] Tathagata’s Primal Vow is the true intent of this sutra; the Name of the Buddha is its essence.”

Because this sutra is indeed praised by all Buddhas, as Shinran clearly stated, all Buddhas have done and are doing everything in their power to transmit it to future generations. What honest reader can dispute that this sutra is clearly presented to the world as the genuine teaching of Shakyamuni?

Furthermore, the Buddhas would never praise the ordinary work of any monks, or even a great Bodhisattva, in such an extraordinary way. They all know, as we all know, Primal Vow and nembutsu of faith are presented and contained in this sutra alone.

The modernist view is that this sutra is not authentic, that is, it was not actually taught by Shakyamuni.  If that were so, then the Primal Vow and nembutsu of faith would have no value when it comes to the salvation of us foolish beings in our Age of Dharma Decline.  There would be no reason for us to put our total faith and reliance upon the Vow.

It would also mean that the the writings and teachings of all the Pure Land masters down through the ages who relied on all the Pure Land sutras would not be reliable either.

Shinran quotes Wang Jih-hsiu in Part III of his Kyogyoshinsho:

“The Sutra of Immeasurable Life is truly the shortest path to attainment of birth, the superlative means to liberation from suffering. All people should embrace its teaching.”

In Gutoku’s Notes, Shinran declares:

“The true and real teaching of the easy practice, the Primal Vow of the Pure Land way…is the teaching of the Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life.”

Why do some modern scholars spread false views that Amida Buddha is a fictional character, a myth, a metaphor, symbol, etc.? Why do those same scholars spread false views that the birth in the Pure Land is not something to be attained after death? It is because they do not accept that the Pure Land sutras actually came from Shakyamuni Buddha.   

If the sutras are mere human inventions, then Amida and his Pure Land are human inventions too, and to rely on such inventions in order to escape birth and death would be futile.  But their teaching is false – a divergence from the True Teaching.

The basic principle for all of the Buddha-Dharma is that any teaching by a being who is not a Buddha which contradicts Shakyamuni's direct testimony can never be described as true and authentic Buddha-Dharma.

An important Dharma principle holds that “what one Buddha teaches, all Buddhas give witness to,” which happens especially in the case of Amida’s Dharma through which all beings, without discrimination, are saved (brought to Buddhahood). In the Smaller Amida Sutra, quoted by Shinran in his Kyogyoshinsho, it is said:

“Well does Shakyamuni, in this evil age of the five defilements – in this evil world, among evil sentient beings, evil views, evil passions, and in a time when evil acts and lack of faith prevail – teach and praise the Name of Amida, encouraging sentient beings: ‘If one says the Name, one unfailingly attains birth’.”

Shinran explains and then quotes again from the Smaller Amida Sutra:

“Further, the Buddhas throughout the ten quarters, fearing that sentient beings might not accept the teaching of the one Buddha, Shakyamuni, all together with the same intent […], preach these true and sincere words:

‘Sentient beings, each of you should accept what Shakyamuni has taught, has praised, has given witness to!’”

So, those who deny the Pure Land sutras as being the true exposition of Shakyamuni Buddha also deny the true teaching about Amida and his Primal Vow, which means they regard all Buddhas as liars and their testimony to be fictitious.

This denial is called “Slander of the Dharma” by Shinran. In his view, slander of the Dharma is the most evil of the five great evil karmic acts – worse than fratricide or matricide - because it plants doubts in people’s hearts and closes the gate of birth in the Pure Land. Furthermore, it denies and contradicts the testimony and understanding of all the seven Patriarchs who experienced in their own life the authenticity of the teaching contained in these sutras.

In Kyogyoshinsho Shinran writes at length on slandering the Dharma:

In the Mahayana sutras, the master of the being difficult to save is expounded. The Larger Sutra states:

Excluded are those who commit the five grave offenses and those who slander the right dharma.

And [the Sutra of the Tathagata of Immeasurable Life states]:

Excluded are those who commit evil acts that condemn them to Avici hell and those who slander the right dharma or the sages.

The Contemplation Sutra teaches the attainment of birth of those who commit the five grave offenses, but not of those who slander the dharma, and in the Nirvana Sutra, the beings and the sicknesses difficult to cure are taught. How are these true teachings to be understood?

Answer: The Commentary on the Treatise states:

Question: The Sutra of Immeasurable Life states,

Those who aspire for birth are all brought to attainment. Excluded are those who commit the five grave offenses and those who slander the right dharma.

The Sutra of Contemplation on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life states,

Those who have committed the five grave offenses and the ten transgressions, and who are possessed of various evils also attain birth.

How are these two sutra passages to be reconciled?

Answer: The first sutra speaks of committing two kinds of serious evil act: the five grave offenses and the slander of the right dharma. Because of committing both these two kinds of evil act, a person is unable to attain birth. The other sutra speaks only of committing the evil of the ten transgressions and five grave offenses; nothing is said of slandering the right dharma. Because a person has not slandered the right dharma, he attains birth.

Question: Suppose a person has committed the five grave offenses but has not slandered the right dharma. In the sutra, it is granted that such a person can attain birth. Further, suppose there is a person who has only slandered the right dharma but is free of the five grave offenses and other evil acts; if he aspires for birth, will he attain it or not?

Answer: Although he has only slandered the right dharma and has not committed other evil acts, he will definitely be unable to attain birth. How is this known? A sutra states that the person who has committed the five grave offenses falls into great Avici hell and fully undergoes their recompense for one kalpa. The person who slanders the right dharma falls into great Avici hell, and when that kalpa has run out, he passes on into the great Avici hell of another quarter. In this way he passes through a hundred thousand great Avici hells one after another. The Buddha does not indicate any time when it is possible for him to emerge. This is because slandering the right dharma is an evil act of extreme gravity.

Further, the right dharma is the Buddha-dharma. Such a foolish person has already slandered it; how can it be reasonable to think that he would aspire to be born in the Buddha-land? Suppose the person aspires for birth merely because he craves to be born into happiness; this is like seeking ice that is not water or fire without smoke. How can it be deemed reasonable that he attain it?

Question: What are the characteristics of slandering the right dharma?

Answer: Saying there is no Buddha, no Buddha-dharma, no bodhisattva, no bodhisattva-dharma. Deciding on such views, whether through understanding thus in one's own mind or receiving the ideas from others, is called slandering the right dharma.

Question: Taking such views only concerns the person himself. What pain and suffering does his act inflict on other sentient beings, that it should exceed the evil of the five grave offenses in seriousness?

Answer: If there were no Buddhas and bodhisattvas to expound the mundane and supramundane good paths and to teach and guide sentient beings, how could we know of the existence of benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and sincerity? Such mundane good would all be cut off, and the sages of the supramundane would all perish. You know only the gravity of the five grave offenses, and not that they arise from the absence of the right dharma.

Thus, the person who slanders the right dharma is involved in the gravest karmic evil.

Shinran clearly entrusted himself and relied on the testimony and teaching given by the Pure Land Patriarchs from India, China and Japan who, like him, also accepted this sutra on faith:

“Here I, Gutoku [Shinran], of outlying islands, relying on the treatises from India and the western regions and looking to the explanations of the teachers of China and Japan, reverently entrust myself to the teaching, practice and realization that are the true essence of the Pure Land way.”

None of the seven patriarchs including his own Master, Honen, ever regarded the Pure Land Sutras as being the creation of some monk’s imagination. On the contrary, they all based their explanations on these sutras.

In his Discourse on the Ten Stages, Nagarjuna, the first Indian Patriarch of our school, said, referring to Bodhisattva Dharmakara, who later became Amida Buddha:

“When he was seeking the Path to Buddhahood, he performed
many marvellous practices
as described in various sutras.
So I prostrate myself and worship him.”

It is clear beyond any doubt that Nagarjuna fully accepted the account from the Larger Sutra of Bodhisattva Dharmakara who practiced for many kalpas until he became Amida Buddha. His explanations from the same sutra, his recognition of the innumerable Buddhas in the universe, and his hymns of adoration toward Amida demonstrate that he accepted the words of Shakyamuni in the sutras as authentic and true.

Vasubandhu, the second Indian Patriarch, wrote in his Discourse on the Pure Land:

Depending on the sutra’s exposition
Of the manifestation of true merit,
I compose verses of aspiration in a condensed form,
Thereby conforming to the Buddha Dharma.

Because he was always conforming to the Buddha Dharma, rather than denying it, he was able to successfully visualize Amida and his Pure Land and was always filled with sincere devotion to this Buddha.

Master T’an-luan especially emphasized three key Vows which are to be found in the Larger Sutra: the 18th Vow, which enables the faithful to be born in the Pure Land through nembutsu, the 11th Vow which brings about Nirvana and the 22nd Vow, which makes those born in the Pure Land to act like Bodhisattva Samantabhadra in saving unenlightened sentient beings.  

He also made very important references in his writings to the Contemplation Sutra: For example, at the end of his Commentary on Vasubandhu’s Discourse on the Pure Land, he explains why recitation of the Name ten times at the death of an evildoer is capable of extinguishing his grave karmic evils and assure his birth in the Pure Land of Amida.

Master Tao-ch’o, the fourth (Chinese) Patriarch, was especially devoted to the Contemplation Sutra on which he lectured about two hundred times, but he also talked about the Larger Sutra, on the basis of which he considered the Pure Land as a land of recompense manifested from Amida’s Vows.  

Master Shan-tao, the fifth (Chinese) Patriarch, practiced according to the Contemplation Sutra and also had wonderful visions of Amida Buddha and his Pure Land which were described by him in his Commentary on the Contemplation Sutra. How could he have had such results if the sutras were only some monk’s imagination, rather than the discourse of Shakyamun Buddha?

Shan-tao is also said to have copied the Smaller Amida Sutra hundreds of times and to have made more than three hundred paintings of the Pure Land. He considered  the Pure Land to be the land of Amida as a Sambhogakaya Buddha. He clearly explained that beings can attain birth in the Pure Land because of the Power of Amida’s Primal Vow. He encouraged followers to recite the Contemplation Sutra, the Smaller Sutra and the Larger Sutra, all of which he considered to be the true teaching of Shakyamuni.

In his Parable of the Two Rivers and the White Path, Master Shan-tao clearly explained that the voice from the eastern bank of the river who encourages the traveller to walk the narrow path to the Pure Land represents Shakyamuni’s teaching while the voice from the western bank is Amida’s Call. Thus, there is no doubt that Master Shan-tao entrusted himself to Amida due to Shakyamuni’s encouragement and teaching that can be found in the Pure Land sutras.

Master Genshin, the sixth (Japanese) Patriarch, wrote A Collection of Essential Passages Concerning Birth (Ojoyoshu) in which he quoted 952 passages from various sutras, including the three Pure Land sutras, and from many commentaries. He is also said to have recited the Smaller Amida Sutra ten thousand times.

Master Honen, the seventh (Japanese) Patriarch and teacher of Shinran, an eyewitness of the preaching of the Larger Sutra on Vulture Peak, as shown above, clearly stated in many places in his writings that his entire teaching was based on the sacred scriptures and that he was only a transmitter of the Dharma, not a creator of his own ideas and teachings.  He said in one of his letters:

“I am not telling you this by my own initiative. I just state exactly what the sacred scriptures describe, as if holding the text up to a mirror. Please look over the scriptures.”

Honen also said:

“There is not one word of falsehood in the words uttered by Shakyamuni Buddha. Simply revere and believe them. Also know that if you doubt his teaching, it would be harmful and would be karmically unfortunate. Please have implicit faith in his teaching.”

We clearly see from the above explanations and passages, as well as from other texts not quoted here due to lack of space, that Shinran was not alone in viewing the Pure Land sutras and the teaching about Amida as coming from Shakyamuni Buddha. There is not a single passage in his writings or those of the seven Patriarchs of the Jodo Shinshu school’s texts and commentaries which might contain the idea that the Pure Land sutras were a later invention.

Their works are filled with quotes and passages from the Pure Land sutras, which they always considered to be the channel through which Amida Dharma entered our world. Everything that the patriarchs of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism wrote was proved with words from the Pure Land sutras to such an extent that if we were to quote them properly, we should in fact, quote their entire works – that is, thousands of words and explanations which are based on the Pure Land sutras delivered by Shakyamuni.

Truly, nobody is so wise and spiritually evolved as to probe the Buddha’s mind and the transmission of the most important teaching of his life. Unfortunately, our Jodo Shinshu teaching is so artificially complicated nowadays by many scholars and false teachers whose intent is manifestly to change the Dharma about Amida and even say that this Dharma is not the genuine teaching of Shakyamuni.

Truly, we must ask why such people are accepted and recognized as priests, scholars and teachers in our school and why they are promoted on so many official websites and magazines.

Some of these people argue that even if the Pure Land sutras were not delivered directly by Shakyamuni, this doesn’t make them less valuable because they preserve the spirit of his compassionate teachings. So, in other words, the Pure Land sutras which, in their opinion, were invented by some monks a few hundred years after Shakyamuni, can be considered as if it were his, in their spirit. But this is just a rhetorical tactic in order to assume a free hand to reinterpret their content in a symbolical or metaphorical way.

By deleting from the follower’s minds the truth that Shakyamuni preached the three Pure Land Sutras, today’s false teachers are, in fact, creating a new foundation for their own interpretations. If the Pure Land sutras are something else than Shakyamuni’s own discourses, then everything which is contained in them can be interpreted in any way by anybody because the texts do not have the authority of a Buddha.

Once the authority of the texts is undermined and denied, the gate of false teachings and modern divergences is opened. At that point, these false teachers explain and interpret Amida and his Pure Land in ways completely different from Shakyamuni’s original intent.  

Another argument heard these days is that Shinran lived in the 13th century and could not know the developments of science of later times. But how can a true Shinshu follower think that solely by living in our time, Shinran would embrace the views of such scientists simply because of materialistic ideas that are prevalent today?

And how could Shinran, if he were to live in our times, accept the theories that Amida and his Pure Land are fictional? It is clear he would not, because, if he studied the writings of modernists, he would clearly see that their divergent views were not actually preached by Shakyamuni:  he would see that they also say Amida is a fictional character, a symbol, a metaphor, and that His Pure Land not a real place to be attained after death where we attain supreme Buddhahood.

How far the modernists are from the humble statement of Shinran recorded in the Tannisho:

“If Amida's Primal Vow is true, Shakyamuni's teaching cannot be false. If the Buddha's teaching is true, Shan-tao's commentaries cannot be false. If Shan-tao's commentaries are true can Honen's words be lies? If Honen's words are true, then surely what I say cannot be empty. Such, in the end, is how this foolish person [Shinran] entrusts himself to the Vow.”

Shinran simply started his argument by stating that Amida’s Primal Vow is true. This is the beginning of a genuine spiritual life in Jodo Shinshu and cannot be negated. It is the basis of his faith and life. Without the Primal Vow being true, there is no Amida Dharma. Anyone who is in accord with the intention of the Primal Vow is a true teacher, and the mission of a true teacher is to expound the Primal Vow.

This is the lineage of the True Pure Land path with Amida’s Primal Vow as its origin, and a 21st century Shinran would doubtless be as devoted to the truth of Shakyamuni Buddha’s authorship of the three Pure Land sutras as he was in the 13th century.

There are many people of the same shinjin as Shinran’s today – who are fully aware of both the blessings and the limitations of our scientific knowledge – who recognize that all the transcendental teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, such as karma, rebirth, the existence of other Buddhas and Buddha-lands, are true – even though not subject to scientific verification.  

Furthermore, it is not only people of shinjin who think this way, but also sincere practicers in other schools of Dharma. Theravadan Buddhists, Tibetan Buddhists, and many other Buddhists reject the materialistic undermining of the Dharma, and Shin Buddhists should reject it as well.

The intention of the Primal Vow is to call us all to entrust our karmic destiny entirely to the living Buddha Amida, who actually showed himself to the thousands gathered on Vulture Peak when Shakyamuni gave the sermon we know as the Larger Sutra.  This is the entire basis of Shinran's own life, both as a disciple of Shakyamuni and as a teacher of others.

Anyone who is a true teacher will expound the Dharma message just as Master Shinran did.  A true teacher will not rip the Primal Vow out of context, as these modernist false teachers do.  A true teacher will talk about the Vow, and the Vow maker, and the fulfillment of the Vow that occurred when the Vow maker created His own Pure Land, and took residence there as the greatest of all of the countless Buddhas.

That is what true teachers of the True teaching have always done – and that is what they do today.  Anyone who substitutes his own personal views, or the personal views of another, is introducing false teachings and divergences into the Sangha, and should not be given any opportunity to teach and preach, and thus confuse others.

What proves the truth of the Primal Vow, and the Vow maker Amida, and the good news about the possibility of being born in the Pure Land and immediately becoming a Buddha?  The very words of Shakyamuni Buddha recorded for our supreme benefit in the Larger Sutra, and the other Pure Land sutras.

Thus, if someone denies that these sutras were actually taught by Shakyamuni, he or she automatically denies the authenticity of the Jodo Shinshu Dharma, and the reality of Amida, his Pure Land, the Primal Vow, shinjin and nembutsu.

If Shakyamuni, as a fully Enlightened Buddha, did not actually preach the Pure Land sutras, then nothing in Jodo Shinshu can be trusted anymore, because there is no Buddha to testify to the reality of their existence, whether it be Amida Buddha, the Pure Land, the Primal Vow, the reality of shinjin, or the efficacy of saying the Nembutsu. Such is the tragic consequence of the modern views which deny the authenticity of Shakyamuni’s teachings in the three Pure Land sutras.

Shinran clearly said that he was able to meet with the Primal Vow of Amida only because of the testimony of Shakyamuni Buddha and the seven Patriarchs who based their teachings upon the teachings of Shakyamuni in the three Pure Land sutras. Shinran was able to come to settled faith (shinjin) and entrust himself to the Primal Vow only because he regarded their words to be true. This was the way that he, as “a foolish person” (his words), entrusted himself to the Vow, and this is the way we too should also have faith in it.