Hymn of True Faith and the Nembutsu

by Hisao Inagaki

For an English translation with the original Japanese script
and Romanized Japanese, refer to Shoshinge (1)

<Revised Feb. 15, 1999>

[1] Kimyo Muryoju Nyorai
I take refuge in the Tathagata of Infinite Life;

Namo Fukashigiko
I take refuge in the Buddha of Inconceivable Light.

Hozo Bosatsu inni ji
Dharmakara, at the outset of his career as a Bodhisattva,

Zai Sejizaio Bussho
Was in the presence of Lokeshvararaja, the Enlightened One.

[2] Token shobutsu jodo in
He saw the pure lands of many Buddhas, observed how they had been established,

Kokudo ninden shi zenmaku
And examined everything, good and bad, about the humans and devas inhabiting them.

Konryu mujo shusho gan
He then brought forth the unsurpassed and most excellent Vows,

Chohotsu keu daiguzei
The Great Vows, immeasurable in scope and depth, which the world had never known.

[3] Goko shiyui shi shoju
Dharmakara chose and cherished his Vows after contemplation for five kalpas.

Ju sei myosho mon jippo
He further vowed that his Name would be heard throughout the ten quarters.

Fu ho muryo muhen ko
Amida sends forth universally the immeasurable and boundless Light,

Muge mutai koenno
The unimpeded, incomparable and majestically flaming Light,

[4] Shojo kangi chie ko
The pure Light, the Light of Joy, the Light of wisdom,

Fudan nanji musho ko
The unceasing, inconceivable and ineffable Light,

Chonichigakko sho jinsetsu
And the Light outshining the sun and the moon; with these Lights he illumines the innumeasurable worlds.

Issai gunjo mu kosho
All sentient beings are shone upon by his Light.

[5] Hongan myogo shojogo
The Name promised in the Primal Vow is the Act of Right Assurance;

Shishin shingyo gan niin
The Vow of Sincere Mind and Joyful Faith provides the cause of our Birth;

Jo togaku sho dainehan
To attain the state next to the Buddha and realize Great Nirvana

Hisshi metsudo gan joju
Is due to the fulfillment of the Vow which assures our unfailing attainment of Nirvana.

[6] Nyorai shoi koshusse
The reason for the Buddha's appearance in the world

Yui setsu Mida hongan kai
Is, above all, to expound the Primal Vow of Amida, wide and deep as the ocean.

Gojoku akuji gunjo kai
All beings in the evil age of the five defilements

O shin nyorai nyojitsu gon
Should believe in the truth of the Buddha's words.

[7] No hotsu ichinen kiai shin
If the single thought of Joy and Gratitude is awakened in us,

Fudan bonno toku nehan
We shall realize Nirvana without severing our blind passions.

Bon sho gyaku ho sai enyu
When ordinary people and sages as well as those who commit the gravest offenses and abusers of the Dharma are taken into the Vow,

Nyo shusui nyu kai ichimi
They become one in spiritual attainment, just as many rivers become of one taste upon entering the sea.

[8] Sesshu shinko jo shogo
The Light of All-embracing Compassion always illumines and protects us;

I no sui ha mumyo an
The darkness of ignorance has already been destroyed by it,

Tonnai shinzo shi unmu
But still the clouds and mists of greed, desire, anger and enmity

Jo fu shinjitsu shinjin ten
Continually cover the sky of True Faith;

[9] Hi nyo nikko fu unmu
Yet, just as the sunlight is obstructed by clouds or mists,

Unmu shi ge myo mu an
Below them it is light and there is no darkness.

Gyaku shin ken kyo daikyoki
When we receive Faith, regard and revere the Dharma, and attain Great Joy,

Soku o chozetsu goakushu
We immediately transcend the five evil realms.

[10] Issai zenmaku bonbunin
@ @If ordinary people, whether good or evil,

Mon shin nyorai guzeigan
Hear the Dharma and trust Amida's Universal Vow,

Butsu gon kodai shoge sha
Shakyamuni praises them as 'men of great and superior understanding';

Ze nin myo fundarike
Such people are called 'white lotus-flowers'.

[11] Mida butsu hongan nembutsu
The Nembutsu promised in the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha

Jaken kyoman aku shujo
Is difficult for evil people who have wrong views and are arrogant

Shingyo juji jin ni nan
To receive and retain with Joyful Faith;

Nan chu shi nan mu ka shi
Of all difficulties nothing is more difficult than that.

[12] Indo saiten shi ronge
The discourse-writers of India, the land in the west,

Chuka jichiiki shi koso
And noble masters of China and Japan

Ken daisho kose shoi
Revealed the true purpose of the Great Sage's appearance

Myo nyorai honzei o ki
And clarified that Amida's Primal Vow responds to our need.

[13] Shaka nyorai Ryogasen
Shakyamuni, the Tathagata, while dwelling on Mount Lanka,

I shu gomyo Nantenjiku
Prophesied to the assembly of monks that in Southern India

Ryuju daishi shutto se
A Great Being named Nagarjuna would appear in the world

Shitsu no zaiha umu ken
And destroy all the wrong views on 'existence' and 'non-existence'.

[14] Senzetsu daijo mujo ho
Proclaiming the unsurpassed teaching of Mahayana;

Sho kangiji sho Anraku
He would reach the Stage of Joy and attain birth in the Land of Peace and Bliss.

Kenji nangyo rokuro ku
He taught that the difficult practices are toilsome like traveling by land,

Shingyo igyo shido raku
And urged us to believe that the Easy Practice is pleasant like sailing on water.

[15] Okunen Midabutsu Hongan
When a thought of mindfulness of Amida's Primal Vow arises,

Jinen sokuji nyu hitsujo
At that instant we spontaneously enter the Stage of Assurance.

Yui no jo sho nyorai go
Always reciting only the Name of the Tathagata,

O ho daihi Guzei on
We should seek to repay our indebtedness to his Great Compassion.

[16] Tenjin bosatsu zo ron setsu
The Bodhisattva Vasubandhu composed a discourse, in which he professed

Kimyo Mugeko nyorai
That he took refuge in the Tathagata of Unhindered Light;

E shutara ken shinjitsu
In accordance with the sutras he expounded the true merits,

Kosen ocho Daiseigan
And clarified that the Great Vow enables us to leap over Samsara crosswise.

[17] Ko yu Honganriki eko
He revealed One Mind in order to emancipate multitudes of beings

I do gunjo sho Isshin
Through Amida's transference of merits by the Power of his Primal Vow.

Kinyu kudoku daihokai
Upon entering the Great Treasure-Ocean of Merits,

Hitsu gyaku nyu daieshu shu
We will unfailingly join the Great Assemblage.

[18] Toku shi Rengezo sekai
Upon reaching the World of Lotus-store,

Soku sho Shinnyo Hosshojin
We will realize True Suchness and attain Dharma- body.

Yu bonno rin gen jinzu
Then, playing in the forests of evil passions, we will display supernatural powers;

Nyu shoji on ji oge
Entering Samsaric states, we will manifest accommodative and transformed bodies to save beings.

[19] Honshi Donran Ryo tenshi
Master T'an-luan was venerated by the King of Liang;

Jo ko Ransho bosatsu rai
Facing toward his place, the king worshiped him as a Bodhisattva.

Sanzo Rushi ju jokyo
When Bodhiruci, the Tripitaka master, gave him a Pure Land scripture,

Bonjo sengyo ki Rakuho
T'an-luan burned his Taoist texts and took refuge in the Land of Bliss.

[20] Tenjin bosatsu ron chuge
He wrote a commentary on the Bodhisattva Vasubandhu's discourse, explaining in it:

Hodo inga ken Seigan
Both the cause and the effect of our birth in the Land of Recompense come from Amida's Vows;

Ogen eko yu Tariki
The karmic energy for our birth and returning to this world originates from the Other-Power.

Shojo shi in yui Shinjin
The cause of attaining the Stage of Right Assurance is Faith alone.

[21] Wakuzen bonbu Shinjin potsu
When Faith is awakened in the minds of deluded and defiled ordinary people,

Shochi shoji soku Nehan
They are made aware that birth-and-death is Nirvana.

Hitsu shi Muryo Komyo do
After they unfailingly reach the Land of Infinite Light,

Shou shujo kai fu ke
They will save sentient beings everywhere, so says T'an-luan.

[22] Doshaku ketsu shodo nan sho
Master Tao-ch'o determined that by the Path of Sages Bodhi is difficult to attain

Yui myo Jodo ka tsunyu
And clearly presented the Pure Land Path as the only way of salvation.

Manzen jiriki hen gonshu
He disparaged practicing thousands of acts of merits with self-power

Enman tokugo kan sen sho
And urged us to recite exclusively the Name of perfect virtues.

[23] Sanpu sanshin ke ongon
He kindly cautioned against imperfect faith, which has three aspects.

Zo matsu hometsu do hiin
He compassionately guided those of the ages of Semblance Dharma, Decadent Dharma and Extinct Dharma alike.

Issho zoaku chi Guzei
Whatever evils we may commit throughout our lives, if we encounter the Universal Vow,

Shi Annyogai sho myoka
We shall reach the Land of Peace and Provision and realize the Supreme Fruition.

[24] Zendo doku myo Busshoi
Shan-tao alone clarified the true intent of the Buddha Sakyamuni.

Koai josan yo gyakuaku
Out of compassion for those who practice meditative or non-meditative good as well as those who commit the five gravest offenses and the ten transgressions,

Komyo Myogo ken innen
He clarified that the Light and the Name are the cause and condition for birth in the Pure Land.

Kainyu Hongan daichikai
When aspirants are led into the Sea of Great Wisdom of the Primal Vow,

[25] Gyoja shoju Kongoshin
They are endowed with Faith, indestructible as diamond;

Kyoki ichinen soo go
After attaining a single thought of Joy of oneness with Amida,

Yo Idai to gyaku sannin
They obtain the three insights, as did Vaidehi,

Soku sho Hossho shijoraku
And will realize the Eternal Bliss of Dharma-nature.

[26] Genshin kokai ichidaikyo
Genshin widely expounded the Buddha's lifetime teachings;

Hen ki Annyo kan issai
While he devoutly sought refuge in the Land of Peace and Provision, he urged all to follow him.

Sen zo shushin han senjin
He distinguished between deep faith in practicing the Nembutsu exclusively and shallow faith in doing miscellaneous acts of merits,

Hoke nido sho benryu
And so clarified the different states of attainment: birth in the Land of Recompense and birth in the Transformed Land.

[27] Gokuju akunin yui sho Butsu
Those with extremely heavy evil karma should only recite Amida's Name.

Ga yaku zai hi sesshu chu
Although I, too, am in his embracing Light,

Bonno sho gen suifu ken
My evil passions hinder me from perceiving it,

Daihi muken jo sho ga
But his Light of Great Comnpassion never ceases to shine on me untiringly.

[28] Honshi Genku myo bukkyo
Honen, the master of our school, was well-versed in Buddhism;

Renmin zenmaku bonbunin
He was compassionately mindful of both good and wicked ordinary people.

Shinshu kyo sho ko henshu
Disseminating the teaching of the True Way throughout Japan,

Senjaku Hongan gu akuse
He spread the selected Primal Vow in this evil world.

[29] Genrai shoji rinden ge
Transmigration in the house of Samsara

Ketsu i gijo i shoshi
Is definitely caused by the fault of doubt;

Soku nyu jakujo mui raku
Quick entry into the Capital of Uncreated Tranquility

Hitsu i Shinjin i nonyu
Is necessarily realized by Faith.

[30] Gukyo daiji shushi to
The bodhisattvas and masters of this school who spread the teaching of the Pure Land sutras

Josai muhen gokujoku aku
Have saved innumerable beings, totally defiled and evil.

Dozoku jishu gu doshin
People of the present age, both priests and laymen, should with one accord

Yui ka shin shi koso setsu
Only accept in faith the teachings of those virtuous masters.

[Source] Chapter on the True Practice (Part 2), Kyogyoshinsho.
[Bibliography]@H. Inagaki, The Way of Nembutsu-Faith: A Commentary on the Shoshinge, Nagata Bunshodo, 1996, pp. 163-183.
[Reference] A different version of Shoshinge, "Nembutsu Shoshin Ge," contained in the Monruijusho.

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