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Reverently contemplating Amida’s directing of virtue for our going forth to the Pure Land, I find that there is great practice, there is great shinjin. The great practice is to say the Name of the Tathagatha of unhindered light. This practice, embodying all good acts and possessing all roots of virtue, is perfect and most rapid in bringing them to fullness. It is the treasure ocean of virtues that is suchness or true reality. For this reason, it is called great practice.

–Chapter on Practice, CWS vol. 1 pg. 13

These passages reveal that saying the Name breaks through all the ignorance of sentient beings and fulfills all their aspirations. Saying the Name is the right act, supreme, true, and excellent. The right act is the nembutsu. The nembutsu is Namu-amida-butsu. Namu-amida-butsu is right-mindedness.

In the business of everyday life it is difficult if not impossible to contemplate on such matters as Amida’s virtue being directed for our benefit.  It is difficult to think upon the Great Practice of the Tathagatha as we struggle to meet the demands of work, family and life in general. For many of us we may take the time on Sunday morning to contemplate these things, however during the rigors of our normal existence this is not something we do.  We are too busy surviving and living to take time to think of “religion.”

At the end of the day we just want to relax and take a deep breath and stop thinking of work, stop thinking of the responsibilities that family demands of us and stop thinking about all the problems of the world.  The problem is that we cannot stop thinking we cannot stop being who we are, and we cannot stop the virtue of Amida from being extended toward us.

In spite of the fact that we don’t contemplate the workings of Amida and we don’t take time to think about how we are accepted and embraced as we are, the great ocean of compassion engulfs us.

Shinran’s exchange with his disciple Yuen in the Tannisho says, “Even a good person is born in the Pure Land, how much more so is an evil person! However, people in the world usually say, ‘Even an evil person is born in the Pure Land, how much more so is a good person’.  At first sight this view seems to be reasonable, but it is contrary to the purport of the Original Vow of the Other Power. The reason is that, as those who practice good by their self-power lack the mind to rely wholly on the Other Power they are not in accordance with the Original Vow of Amida.”

Amida’s vow is intended for us who cannot stop being who we are, for those who unable to set ourselves free from suffering and sorrow.  For us who are attached to the everyday trappings of life and refuse to see the illusion of our attachments.  We are that evil person who believes in the self and believes that we can on our own attain peace of mind and birth in the Pure Land.  The beauty lies in being accepted just as we are:

YOU ARE JUST RIGHT FOR YOURSELF YOUR FACE, YOUR BODY, YOUR NAME….ARE ALL JUST RIGHT FOR YOU.YOUR SOCIAL POSITION, WEALTH, PARENTS, CHILDREN, DAUGHTER-IN-LAW, AND EVEN GRANDCHILDREN ARE ALL JUST RIGHT FOR YOU. YOUR HAPPINESS AND UNHAPPINESS, JOY AND SORROW ARE JUST RIGHT FOR YOU. YOUR LIFE THAT YOU HAVE LIVED,IS NEITHER GOOD NOR BAD. IT HAS BEEN JUST RIGHT FOR YOU. NO MATTER WHERE YOU GO AFTER YOUR DEATH,THAT PLACE IS JUST RIGHT FOR YOU. THERE IS NO NEED TO THINK HIGHLY OF YOURSELF, BUT DON’T BELITTLE YOURSELF EITHER. THERE IS NEITHER ABOVE NOR BELOW…….EVEN THE TIME OF YOUR PASSING IS JUST RIGHT FOR YOU.HOW CAN IT NOT BE JUST RIGHT? WHEN YOUR LIFE IS ALWAYS TOGETHER WITH ONEMBUTSU.

 

GOROMATSU MAYEKAWA