Shinran’s Great Concern: Not Religious Dialogue, but Amida’s Salvation

I promised you I would get to your earlier question/comment, and I just did, below.

I’m not sure if the answer will scratch your itch for intra- and inter-religious dialogue, but I believe it is faithful to what Shinran would have said, if you could ask him directly.

And that’s my objective, in writing this blog.

Why? Because it will give people who are karmically ready the best opportunity (or at least a BETTER opportunity) to listen deeply with more clarity than they might have otherwise - and thus end at last their endless rebirths as suffering beings.

That’s what happened to my beloved daughter Jessie. One moment of thought put her in what Shinran called the “rightly established group” of those “embraced, never to be forsaken“.

Best as ever…



Clara: I would say that the idea of Other Power is common among many religions. Christianism is one of them. In that path, Jesus role is similar to Amida’s one, in terms of Other Power. Also, Bhakti Yoga, one of its more clear examples is Vaisnava Krisnaism, is another Other Power religion. Further, Vajrayana Buddhism proclaims Guru Yoga as a fundamental teaching, which is again rather on the side of Other Power religious approaches. All these paths state that there is salvation through Grace. I don’t see Pure Land alone in that view.

Vajrayana Schools of Buddhism have proclaimed that there have been several totally enlightened teachers among their ranks. Milarepa was one, 1300 years ago. The Karmapa is considered a Buddha too, even his last nirmanakaya, the 16th one (contemporary of us). And also there have been some other seen as realized buddhas, like the late HH Dudjom Rinpoche. However, we can not say that they did not adhere to the Other Power doctrine, present within Vajrayana as mentioned above.

Millions of people in all cultures believe in God and that all happens through God’s will. Even if they do not follow orthodox religious practices, that belief remain. I would say that the Pure Land doctrine is rather universal.

Thanks for your generosity in sharing your thoughts here.


Hi Clara -

Speaking honestly, I don’t have the wisdom needed to respond to ANY of these thoughts from my own personal experience or study.

What I can offer you, and everyone else, are some of Shinran’s thoughts, quoted by his student Yu-ien in The Tannisho (Lamenting Divergences).

Shinran’s thoughts meet my personal need to find a practical answer to the fundamental question that sits before us all: how can we, as plain people, find a path that will reliably WORK to reach the end of our karmic journey through endless lives of suffering, to True Buddhahood, at last.

That was Shinran’s great concern. And I would have to say that is my great concern too.

Here are his words:

Each of you has come to see me, crossing the borders of more than ten provinces at the risk of your life, solely with the intent of asking about the path to birth in the land of bliss.

But if you imagine in me some special knowledge of a path to birth other than the nembutsu or of scriptural writings that teach it, you are greatly mistaken.

If that is the case, since there are many eminent scholars in the southern capital of Nara or on Mount Hiei to the north, you would do better to meet with them and inquire fully about the essentials for birth.

As for me, I simply accept and entrust myself to what my revered teacher (Honen) told me, “Just say the nembutsu and be saved by Amida”; nothing else is involved.

I have no idea whether the nembutsu is truly the seed for my being born in the Pure Land or whether it is the karmic act for which I must fall into hell. Should I have been deceived by Master Honen and, saying the nembutsu, were to fall into hell, even then I would have no regrets.

The reason is, if I could attain Buddhahood by endeavoring in other practices, but said the nembutsu and so fell into hell, then I would feel regret at having been deceived.

But I am incapable of any other practice, so hell is decidedly my abode whatever I do.

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 entrusts himself [to the Vow]. Beyond this, whether you take up the nembutsu or whether you abandon it is for each of you to determine.

Here’s another passage from The Tannisho which may give you some additional insight into Shinran’s thoughts here:

As the late Master (Shinran) once related, in Master Honen’s day, among his many disciples there were few who were of the same SHINJIN (true entrusting) as Honen, and because of this, Shinran became involved in a debate with some fellow practicers. It happened in this way.

Shinran remarked, “My SHINJIN (true entrusting) and the Master’s are one.”

Seikan-bo, Nembutsu-bo, and others among his fellow practicers strongly argued, “How can your SHINJIN and be the same as the Master’s?”

Shinran responded, “The Master possesses vast wisdom and learning, so I would be mistaken if I claimed to be the same in those respects, but in SHINJIN that is the cause of birth, there is no difference whatever. The Master’s SHINJIN and mine are one and the same.”

The others remained skeptical, however, asking how that could be. So finally they all decided that the argument should be brought before Honen to determine which side was right.

When they presented the details of the matter, Master Honen said, “My SHINJIN has been given by Amida; so has that of Zenshin-bo [Shinran]. Therefore they are one and the same. A person with a different SHINJIN will surely not go to the Pure Land to which I will go.

For me, this is the answer. My SHINJIN (true entrusting) has been given to my by Amida Buddha, just as Honen’s has, just as Shinran’s has, just as Yu-ien’s has, just as Eiken Kobai’s has.

Shakyamuni Buddha taught in the Larger Pure Land Sutra that Amida Buddha created his Pure Land and made his Primal Vow for someone just like me, incapable of any practice whatsoever to lead me out of suffering, to True Buddhahood.

That’s why it is my expectation is that Amida’s Pure Land of Bliss is the world system in which I will be born after this life - just as Shakyamuni Buddha taught.

Others who have some kind of other SHINJIN (true entrusting) will be born elsewhere, as best as I can understand from Honen’s teaching to his students, as told by Shinran to Yu-ien - who in turn tells us in The Tannisho.

The details of all that remain out of my reach, for now.

Since I’m already in my fifth decade I’ll have a better, more definitive answer for you shortly - certainly before another five decades have passed - after I finish this life and attain Buddhahood in the next.

That’s one of the marks of True Buddhas - they really can provide full answers to these kinds of questions.

WordPress database error: [Table 'netpaul.wp_comments' doesn't exist]
SELECT * FROM wp_comments WHERE comment_post_ID = '19' AND comment_approved = '1' ORDER BY comment_date

Leave a Reply