|Chapter Three. The Way to Salvation|
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In contrast, “Listening to the Dharma only in the leisure you have,” makes light of listening because such listening is done at our convenience, and is not listening seriously. That is how important Master Rennyo said we should consider listening to the Dharma to be - that it is more important than any worldly concern.
Again, in Article 193 of “Heard and Recorded,” Master Rennyo is quoted as saying:
If even those without shinjin listen to the teaching of Buddha-dharma from the bottom of their minds/hearts, they will absolutely receive shinjin because of the power of the Buddha’s Great Compassion that is added. All we need do is expend our efforts in listening to the honorable teaching.
Here again, Master Rennyo points out that hearing is the way to receiving shinjin. I believe the phrase, “even those without shinjin” in this passage is extremely important.
I frequently hear people say that because science and technology was not very developed in the past, the people of those days could accept shinjin more easily. But, according to such people, we live in a scientific and technologically advanced world where talk of the Buddha and the Pure Land don’t seem to fit in. But from the above passage in “Heard and Recorded,” we see that even five hundred years ago during Master Rennyo’s time, people did not have shinjin from the very beginning.
Because they listened by making worldly concerns secondary, however, many of Master Rennyo’s direct followers did become settled in their shinjin. But we should also carefully note another important phrase in our Jodo-Shinshu teaching:
Do not seek merit in the act of hearing.
The shinjin that we receive because of “Buddha-centered power” is not because of the merit we gain as a result of dedicating ourselves to “hearing” (chomon). As in the words of Master Rennyo just quoted, we “… receive shinjin because of the power of the Buddha’s Great Compassion that is added.”
In the Chapter on Shinjin of his “Teaching, Practice, Shinjin, Realiztion,” the Venerable Master wrote:
The word hear in the passage from the [Larger] Sutra means that sentient beings, having heard how the Buddha’s Vow arose -its origin and fulfillment - are altogether free of doubt. That is what it means to hear.
“Sentient beings” refers to all living things, and of course includes humans.
“Buddha’s Vow” refers to Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow that seeks to save all living things.
“Its origin” refers to why the Amida Buddha established his Primal Vow, and how it came to be fulfilled. The reason it was established is because we are self-centered beings who are so defiled that it is impossible for us to become Enlightened through our own efforts. The Venerable Master expressed this personally, stating that the Primal Vow was established just for evil persons such as himself, and went so far as to state that the Vow was solely for himself.