The Most Difficult Thing In The World To Accept In Faith

(Note: This is cross-posted from the True Shin Buddhism Yahoo! Group.

Master Shinran’s great work - the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho (True Teaching, Practice and Realization of the Pure Land Way) is about 90% quotes from other sources, all held together with Shinran’s own exposition. As such, it is filled with Dharma Gems. Here is a profound passage from Master Yuan-chao, quoted by our Dharma Master Shinran (emphasis in caps is my own):

The Nembutsu teaching does not discriminate between fools and the wise, rich and poor. It does not question the length of your practice, or whether your practice is good or bad.


It is the Dharma by which ordinary and foolish beings bound by evil passions, those in the lower level of society, such as hunters and traders, can INSTANTLY transcend birth and death and attain Buddhahood.

This is called, “The Dharma which is the most difficult think in the world to accept in faith”.

This Dharma teaching was the most difficult thing in the world to accept in the days when Master Honen and Master Shinran walked the earth. Since then, it has been the most difficult thing in the world to accept for the larger Sangha - and today for many people who call themselves Shin Buddhists, too.

But throughout all these years, there have been those who have heard this Dharma clearly - and responded by putting their trust entirely in Amida Buddha. They have believed the words of Shakyamuni Buddha, given to us in the form of the Larger Sutra. They have believed in the words of Master Shinran, and Master Rennyo 200 years later.

All those who have somehow become RESOLUTE - who have become UNWAVERING IN THEIR FAITH - have had this in common:

  • First, somehow they have awakened to their divine aspiration - their aspiration to become True Buddhas after countless ages of transmigration through birth, life and death.
  • Second, somehow they have become aware of their essential inability to accomplish their great and good desire. their divine aspiration.
  • Finally, they have recognized that a True Buddha named Amida had made a way for them, who had no way of their own to depend on.

These are the people of SHINJIN. They are rich…and poor. Wise…and foolish. Learned…and stupid. Vegetarians…and slaughterers of animals.

There is no discrimination between ANY of them. None whatsoever. None of them was good enough in any way to obtain the fruit of non-retrogression by discipline, learning or practices. All of them are made to be good enough by simply entrusting themselves to Amida Buddha - because in the instant that they do, there is a “going forth” of merit from Amida to each and every one.

Without boasting or self-consciousness, I declare that I am such a person: better than some, worse than others, with a little bit of education. I am a plain person - and I have seen, as my life has unfolded, that I could become an evil person at the drop of a hat, if the circumstances went hard against me. It happened before, and I have not doubt it could happen again.

But despite the fact that I am a plain person, an ordinary person - a person of shallow goodness who’s propensity to evil thoughts and evil deeds could be stirred up at any moment - yet I am grasped by Amida Buddha. I am held firmly by him. I will never be abandoned by him. And when I close my eyes for the last time in this life, I will instantly awaken to my NEW life in Amida Buddha’s own Pure Land. As I awaken, I will undergo instantaneous transformation and become - at long last - the full and true Buddha that I was always meant to be.

And there are many others alive on the earth right now who are just as I am, because they share the same simple, diamond-like faith that I have. Apart from that faith, we simply each live our own lives. There is no set pattern for what we do - because we are each individuals, and our Dharma masters encourage us not to put on airs, but simply become our foolish selves as we continue to entrust ourselves to Amida.

Please understand - none of this makes any sense whatsoever to self-powered Buddhists - whether they be Buddhists from other schools - or even Buddhists who call themselves Shin Buddhists, but don’t believe that there is such a transcendental living Buddha called Amida, ruling over a real place called The Pure Land.

That is why - even though I preach and teach this Dharma - I don’t try to debate with anyone who doesn’t have the capacity to listen deeply in this present moment. Each of us has a unique karmic history - and will come to a place of opening to this Dharma when their time is ripe.

My job - and my way of expressing my own gratitude to Amida Buddha - is to be available to any person who really does come to that point of readiness. It is not to AVOID preaching and teaching out of fear, nor is it to FORCE people to listen when they are really not ready to. That is why Master Rennyo, in so many of his letters, tells the Sangha members not to simply dump the Dharma out on people willy-nilly - but rather to probe to see if a person is really in a state of readiness to hear.

This Dharma truly is the most wonderful thing - the most pristine teaching. And yet, at the same time, it is truly the most difficult thing in the world to accept because it goes so directly against all our instincts, and also against all the teachings we might have heard in any of the many schools of Buddhism that are part of the Hinayana, Mahayana or Vajrayana branches.

Eventually - at some point, in some life - ALL those who currently reject this Dharma will come to accept it. Every person will have his or her great epiphany. Nothing will stop all the Buddhas from countless worlds in the ten directions from preaching and teaching this pristine Dharma to each and every being, so as to bring each and every one to the end of suffering at last.


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