|The Essence Of Article One Of "Notes Lamenting Differences"|
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The “Hymns of the Three Periods” contains the wasan:
Great Pure Land teachers of India, China and Japan
This wasan is very much like the ending of the “Hymn of True Faith” already quoted:
The great masters and venerable teachers
Both these passages urge us to accept the teachings of the “Seven Eminent Scholar/Monks” (shichi koso) and receive “settled shinjin,” but as in the phrase, “Guiding us to true and real shinjin/They bring us to join the “group of those assured (of birth in the Pure Land),” the fact that we join the “group of those assured (of birth in the Pure Land)” is emphasized. I believe the Venerable Master Shinran emphasized it as he did because he experienced that benefit himself.
I believe Yuien considered Article One of the “Notes Lamenting Differences,” to be the most important aspect of the Venerable Master Shinran’s teaching. That is why I believe he placed it at the very beginning of his work. As I have repeated many times now, however, all that the passage, “The moment we believe ignorant beings such as we will be born in the Pure Land as a result of Amida Buddha’s ‘marvelously mysterious’ vow and the desire to recite the Nembutsu rises within us, we already share in the benefit of being embraced, never to be abandoned,” says is that we join the “group of those assured (of birth in the Pure Land)” in our “present life.”
What it means to be in the “‘group of those assured (of birth in the Pure Land)’ in our present life” is that when our “shinjin is determined” in the present, we are already among those who are guaranteed to be born in the Pure Land where we will attain the same Enlightenment as a Buddha. This is the world that the Venerable Master Shinran experienced himself. It is the true world of salvation which he said is the world of true benefit. That is why he recommends that world to us.
In the previous chapter I said that I believe those who criticize Master Rennyo for distorting the Venerable Master Shinran’s teaching do not understand the essence of not only Master Rennyo’s teaching, but also of the Venerable Master’s.
I believe that because the shinjin of such critics is not yet settled — not yet determined — they do not have experience about the “‘group of those assured (of birth in the Pure Land’ in our ‘present life,’” that the Venerable Master wished us to know, and that is what gives rise to such misunderstandings about Master Rennyo.