Buddhism Doctrine Updates
Here is a list of the updates made in each doctrine and the date when the updates were made. These updates are also reflected in the doctrine's individual files, which can be found here --> BOOKLETS

 2021 March 22                                                                                                                                            

BUDDHISM DOCTRINE 01

Question 1

Write the titles of five major Buddhist scriptures written by Master Shinran.

Answer 1

  • Teaching, Practice, Faith, Enlightenment

  • Gutoku’s Notes

  • Three Collections of Hymns

  • Lamp for the Latter Age

  • Concerning Single Invocation and Many Invocations

 

Explanation

  • Teaching, Practice, Faith, Enlightenment

Master Shinran’s magnum opus, which contains all of his teachings. It consists of six volumes: Teaching, Practice, Faith, Enlightenment, The True Buddha and Land, and The Provisional Buddha and Land. It is the fundamental text of Pure Land Shin Buddhism. Master Shinran completed his first draft of this work at the age of 52, while he was living in Inada, but up until the end of his life, he kept it with him and made various additions and revisions.

  • Gutoku’s Notes○

A work in which the teachings and faith of Pure Land Shin Buddhism are organised into two volumes. It is also known as Two-Volume Notes. Master Shinran wrote this work when he was 83 years old.

  • Three Collections of Hymns

These hymns praise and extol the Vow of Amida and the teachings about it.
The ‘Three Collections’ that make up the Three Collections of Hymns are:
Hymns on the Pure Land: Hymns in praise of Amida Buddha and his Pure Land.
Hymns on the Masters: Hymns in praise of the seven renowned priests.
Hymns on the Three Ages: Hymns that teach that the only way all humanity can be saved is through Amida Buddha’s Vow.

  • Lamp for the Latter Age

A collection of letters and quotes from Master Shinran.

  • Concerning Single Invocation and Many Invocations

Will we be saved if we say the nembutsu once, or will we be saved if we say the nembutsu many times? This work clarifies the true teachings on this.

Other works by Master Shinran include Passages on the Pure Land Way, In Praise of the Sacred Name and the True Image, and Notes on Essentials of Faith Alone.

 2021 January 31                                                                                                                                         

BUDDHISM DOCTRINE 06

Question 10

“We can attain supreme faith wholly thanks to the benevolent workings of Amida Buddha and Śākyamuni Buddha.” Write out the hymn that states this, and give the source too.

Answer 10

Śākyamuni and Amida,

our compassionate father and mother:
With skilful means of every variety
they raise supreme faith within us.
(Hymns on the Masters)

 

Explanation

It is thanks to the various skilful means of Śākyamuni and Amida that supreme faith is made to arise within us. It does NOT happen through our own power.

* Without the expedient means of Amida and Sakyamuni, there is no way supreme faith could arise within us. There is no way we could attain absolute happiness.
 

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Question 27

Write out the words in which Sakyamuni Buddha taught that all religions other than Buddhism are false teachings that make people fall into hell. Give the source too.

Answer 27

The World-Honoured One instructed, “All the ninety-five non-Buddhist teachings make people fall into the evil realms.”
(Nirvana Sutra)

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Question 32

Write out the hymn in which Master Shinran said that all religions other than Buddhism are false and lead people astray. Give the source too.

Answer 32

Ninety-five varieties pollute the world.

The path of Buddhism alone is pure.

Only true Buddhism can save us from this burning house.
(Hymns on the Three Ages)

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Question 39

Master Rennyo declared that there is absolutely no way for us to be saved other than through the power of the master of all buddhas, Amida Buddha. Give two quotes in which he said this, as well as the source for each.

Answer 39

Apart from relying exclusively on Amida Buddha, there is no way at all for sentient beings in the Age of Dharma Decline to be born in the Land of Utmost Bliss.
(The Letters)

Other than that, whatever teaching they may believe in, there is absolutely no chance they will be saved from the crucial matter of the afterlife.
(The Letters)

 2021 January 11                                                                                                                                         

BUDDHISM DOCTRINE 04

Question 5

The “ichinen of faith” is the vital lynchpin and fountainhead. Give five quotes that teach this from the sutras and scriptures

Answer 5

In Sakyamuni Buddha’s Explanation of the Vow, it says, “When they hear that Name in an ichinen, [they] will gain faith, great joy.”

(Larger Sutra of Infinite Life)

Ichinen indicates the utmost speed of the onset of faith. (Teaching, Practice, Faith, Enlightenment)

Concerning the obtaining of true faith, let the words in the Explanation of the Vow be the sole standard: “[In an ichinen, they will] gain faith, great joy...” I never heard him say anything else. (Notes Rectifying Heresy)

Even if one reads the various scriptures and knows many things, one who has not attained faith in an ichinen will not be saved. (The Letters)

The split-second (ichinen) of having relied thoroughly on Amida Buddha is the vital linchpin and fountainhead. (The Words of Rennyo Heard and Recorded During His Lifetime)

Explanation

The “vital lynchpin and fountainhead” (肝要 kan’yo) is the “most essential of all that is essential.” Though there may be several things that are essential, only one thing can be the “most essential of all that is essential.” That is what is called the “vital lynchpin and fountainhead” (肝要 kan’yo) in Buddhism.

In the quotes above, Sakyamuni Buddha, Master Shinran, Master Kakunyo, and Master Rennyo all taught that the vital lynchpin and fountainhead of Pure Land Shin Buddhism is the “ichinen of faith.”

Quote from Sakyamuni Buddha’s Explanation of the Vow:

“When they hear that Name in an ichinen, [they] will gain faith, great joy.” Here Sakyamuni Buddha clarified, “In the split-second of ichinen of being granted the Name by Amida, one is saved into absolute happiness.”

 

Quote from Master Shinran’s Teaching, Practice, Faith, Enlightenment:
“An ‘ichinen’ is the speed at which one is saved by Amida: in less than
a nanosecond.”

The onset of faith:
The settlement of faith. Salvation by Amida.

The utmost speed:
The very fastest speed; nothing is quicker than this.

 

Quote from Master Kakunyo’s Notes Rectifying Heresy:

“Master Shinran taught that Sakyamuni’s teachings in the Explanation of the Vow are the ultimate teachings on the acquisition of true faith. I, Kakunyo, never heard any teachings other than this Explanation from Master Shinran.”

The obtaining of true faith: Being granted the Name by Amida Buddha; the acquisition of faith.

The words in the Explanation of the Vow: “[In an ichinen, they will] gain faith, great joy…”:
These words express the “ichinen of faith” that is the vital lynchpin; this part represents the whole of the passage.

The sole standard:
Whether or not one’s faith is true is determined by whether or not it is in accordance with what is taught in the Explanation of the Vow. No matter what sort of amazing experiences one might have had, faith that is not in accordance with the Explanation is false, delusional, and wrong, and is absolutely not true faith.

I never heard him say anything else:
“I never heard any teachings other than what is taught in the Explanation of the Vow from Master Shinran.” In Teaching, Practice, Faith, Enlightenment, Master Shinran taught, “The Explanation of the Vow… is the one true teaching that is sublime and all-complete, true Buddhism.” Here he was stating that he never taught anything other than what is taught in Sakyamuni’s Explanation. From this we can see that both Master Shinran’s and Master Kakunyo’s words on this matter are consistent with each other.

 

Quote from Master Rennyo’s The Letters:

“No matter how large a number of scriptures you read, or how many things you know, if you do not attain ‘ichinen faith,’ you will not be saved.”

 

Quote from The Words of Rennyo Heard and Recorded During His Lifetime:

“The ichinen of faith is what is absolutely vital.”

The split-second (ichinen) of having relied thoroughly on Amida Buddha:
The ichinen of believing in Amida. The ichinen of attaining faith.

In this way, all true Buddhist masters emphasise that it is the “ichinen of faith” that is the dividing line between self-power and other-power, the partition between the world of suffering and the Pure Land, the ultimate intent of Amida’s Vow, the purpose of Sakyamuni's appearance in this world, the key to human beings attaining birth (salvation), and the vital lynchpin and fountainhead of Pure Land Shin Buddhism.

 

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Question 6

The term “ichinen of faith” has two meanings. Write these two meanings and give the sources too.

Answer 6

One is the “ichinen of time,” and the other is the “ichinen of the state of faith.”

On the ichinen of time: “The true faith of shingyo has the moment of ichinen. Ichinen indicates the utmost speed of the onset of faith (shingyo) and it also expresses the inconceivably vast joyful mind.”
(Teaching, Practice, Faith, Enlightenment, Chapter on Faith)

On the ichinen of the state of faith: “Ichinen is so called because it does not have a double heart.” 【You Were Born for a Reason P.99】

Explanation

In the Passage Explaining the Primal Vow, Sakyamuni Buddha taught, “in that split second (ichinen) you will gain faith and joy.” Master Shinran clarified that “ichinen” here is the ichinen of faith. He divided this “ichinen of faith” into the “ichinen of time” and the “ichinen of the state of faith”.

Ichinen of time:
This indicates the immeasurable swiftness of Amida’s salvation, which takes place in less than a nanosecond.

Ichinen of the state of faith:
The mind from which the “double heart” has been eliminated through salvation by Amida.

Quote on the “ichinen of time”

To paraphrase: “True faith of shingyo has ichinen. Ichinen indicates the utmost swiftness of salvation by Amida (unfolding of faith of shingyo).
“Unfolding of faith of shingyo” expresses that our doubt in Amida’s Vow has been dispelled. At the same time, we attain settled conviction that birth in the Pure Land is certain and attain vast security and satisfaction.

 

True faith of shingyo: Other-power faith.

True faith (of shingyo) has ichinen without fail. In other words, faith without ichinen is not true faith; instead, that is untrue, deluded, wrong, and false faith.

In Pure Land Shin Buddhism, many people believe that we will be saved gradually. However, it is clear that their belief is false and wrong. Such a belief goes against the teachings of the Passage Explaining the Primal Vow (the criterion).

Quote on the “ichinen of the state of faith”

 

To paraphrase: “Ichinen refers to the mind where no more ‘double heart’ dwells.”

Double heart:
The mind that doubts Amida Buddha’s Vow; the doubting mind. This is the mind that deliberates about Amida’s Vow, wondering whether one will be saved or not be saved. It is also called the “mind that doubts the Vow” and the “the mind of darkness.”

“Ichinen of the state of faith” is the state in which all trace of doubt in Amida’s Vow has vanished.

When the doubt in Amida’s Vow (double heart) has vanished, we are made clearly aware of two things: 1. what “the true nature of the object of salvation” is (revelation of the self), and 2. “the Vow of Amida Buddha, in which Amida pledged to save such people without fail” (revelation of the Vow). These two things become clear simultaneously.

It is also called the “unified twofold revelation of the self and the Vow of Amida,” or the “twofold revelation” for short.

“Ichinen of the state of faith” is the “twofold revelation”.

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Question 8

What is “gokusoku ennyu no shinsen”?

Answer 8

  • Gokusoku means the swiftness of an ichinen.

  • Ennyu means wholly receiving the wisdom of Buddha and gaining perfect, flawless satisfaction.

  • Shinsen means the true teachings.

Explanation

These words describe Amida’s “ichinen salvation.” Master Shinran wrote that salvation is “gokusoku ennyu.” “Gokusoku” means “exceedingly swift” and “ennyu” means “perfect, without flaw.” Salvation that required time to take effect could hardly be “exceedingly swift,” and salvation that was unfinished could hardly be “perfect, without flaw.”

Shinran wrote that salvation is gokusoku ennyu, where gokusoku means "exceedingly swift" and ennyu, "perfect, without flaw." Salvation that required time to take effect could hardly be "exceedingly swift," and salvation that was unfinished could hardly be "perfect, without
flaw." 【RP.185】
(Please refer to You Were Born for a Reason Part 2 Chapter 27.)

There is a false teaching that we are saved gradually. The teaching of “gokusoku ennyu” destroys this error.

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Question 11

Master Tan-luan used a metaphor to describe the swiftness of the ichinen of salvation by Amida Buddha. Write out the words in which he did so, and give the source too.

Answer 11

If light were to enter a room that had been dark for millennia, it would be lit up instantly—it is just like this. By no means did the light take millennia to dispel the darkness.
(Commentary on ‘Discourse on the Pure Land’)

Explanation

“The swiftness of salvation by Amida can be expressed as follows: If light enters a room that has been dark for thousands of years, in an instant it becomes bright. This of course does not mean that removing the darkness from the room took thousands of years; although the ‘darkness of no light’ had caused one to be lost in transmigration since the beginningless past, it didn’t take any time at all for it to be cleared up. In the ichinen of salvation by Amida, this darkness is completely dispelled.”

A room that had been dark for millennia: A metaphor for the ‘darkness of no light’, which is the source of suffering that has kept us transmigrating since the beginningless past.

Instantly: In an ichinen.

The consummate swiftness of ichinen salvation is expressed figuratively in this old Buddhist saying:
“Light comes and darkness goes. Darkness goes and light comes.” Which happens first? Does the light first come and the darkness then leave, or does the darkness first vanish and the light shine afterward? Neither statement is right, or rather both are-but human tongue and pen
cannot comprehend the two simultaneously. 【RP.186】
*Reference
You Were Born for a Reason, Chapter 27

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Question 14

The “acquisition of faith” (shinjin ketsujo) means dying once. Write the words of Master Shinran and Master Kakunyo in which they taught this, and give the sources too.

Answer 14

Quote from Gutoku’s Notes

“The moment when the veracity of Amida’s Vow is clearly revealed is the moment when one’s life of delusion dies.”

 

Revelation of the Primal Vow

To have one’s doubts in Amida’s Vow completely cleared up; to have encountered the Vow of Amida and had its truth revealed. The settlement of faith.

 

The end of life in the former-moment

“Life in the former-moment” is the life of delusion that has been transmigrating for countless kalpas. This refers to the deluded self-power mind, or the mind of darkness. The “end of life” refers to the death of this life of delusion.

 

Quote from Notes on Steadfast Holding

“When, in this life, one attains Amida’s ichinen salvation, having followed the teachings of the true masters, that means the end of this life; the funeral of the mind.”

 

Through the words of a true Buddhist master

Having believed and followed the teachings of a true Buddhist master.

 

The final passing

The death of the mind.

 

“Encountering Amida’s ichinen salvation” refers to the moment when the mind of brightness towards the afterlife is born. Simultaneously, the mind of darkness towards the afterlife dies; this is expressed as "the end, the final passing, of illusion." At the very moment when ichinen salvation occurs, the mind of illusion dies completely.
*Reference
You Were Born For a Reason (Part 2 Chapter 27)

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Question 26

Before Master Shinran, it was commonly believed that “shishin eko” in Sakyamuni’s Explanation of the Vow meant that we transfer the mind of truth to Amida, but Master Shinran clarified that it is Amida Buddha who grants a mind of truth to us with a genuine mind. Why did Master Shinran come to this conclusion? Write two quotes from the sutras that support what he taught.

Answer 26

In the Hymn Affirming the Vows in the first part of the Larger Sutra of Infinite Life, it says, “Over countless kalpas I have vowed to become one who bestows vast merit and thereby saves all those who are poor and afflicted. If I cannot fulfil my vow I will not attain true buddhahood.”

It also says, “I have opened the storehouse of truth for all beings, to distribute widely the treasure of merit.”

 

Explanation

Up until Master Shinran began conveying true Buddhism, “shishin eko” in Sakyamuni’s Explanation of the Vow was commonly interpreted to mean that one polishes one’s mind so that it becomes a mind of truth and one offers this sincere mind to Amida Buddha. However, Master Shinran gave a different interpretation: that it is Amida Buddha who grants the mind of truth to us with a genuine mind. This was completely the opposite of what had been taught until then.

This is certainly a uniquely perceptive interpretation, yet it is not something that Master Shinran simply thought up himself. His assertion is well-grounded in the words of Amida’s Hymn Affirming the Vows.

 

Hymn Affirming the Vows

Amida Buddha promised that he would save all sentient beings by all means, but he knew that they would doubt in this Vow. In order to dispel their doubts, he repeated his promise again in this hymn.

 

Over countless kalpas I have vowed to become one who bestows vast merit and thereby saves all those who are poor and afflicted. If I cannot fulfill my vow I will not attain true buddhahood.”

 

I (Amida) will be the donor of the great virtue that was created through practices carried out over a mind-bendingly long time. By granting the great virtue of Namu Amida Butsu, I will save all beings afflicted with suffering into absolute happiness. If I cannot save them, I will do away with my life.”

 

Paraphrase from Why Do We Live 2:

From the distant past, I have vowed to bestow the great merit of Namu Amida Butsu and save those who are suffering into absolute happiness.

 

Countless kalpas

A mind-bendingly long time.

 

One who bestows vast merit

One who gives great virtue.

 

Those who are poor and afflicted

People in suffering and distress. The poverty of such beings is not to do with money or things, but rather a ‘poverty of the heart’. All human beings completely lack a mind of truth and are constantly afflicted by fear and suffering.

 

“I have opened the storehouse of truth for all beings…”

“For the sake of all people, I will grant them the great virtue of ‘Namu Amida Butsu’ with all sincerity.”

 

All beings

The sentient beings of the ten directions; the poor and the afflicted.

 

The storehouse of truth

The true teachings.

 

Treasure of merit

The supreme virtue that is Namu Amida Butsu.

 

In the Hymn Affirming the Vows, Amida Buddha was saying, “Without fail, I will grant the treasures of merit (Namu Amida Butsu) to all human beings afflicted with suffering.”

 

As is clear from this hymn, the granting is done by Amida; he promised to give the great virtue of the Name. Therefore, Master Shinran taught that one should read “shishin eko” in Sakyamuni’s Explanation as meaning that Amida Buddha grants the mind of truth to us with his genuine mind, and used the highest honorific language to make this clear.

 

Master Shinran clarified Amida’s absolutely other-power salvation, saying, “Amida Buddha, with his genuine mind, gives us the great virtue of Namu Amida Butsu.”

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Question 29

Amida Buddha made his Vow with those who are suffering as his true target. Write out the hymn in which Master Shinran taught this, and give the source too.

Answer 29

When I reflect on the establishment of the Vow,
I find that Amida, unable to abandon sentient beings to their pain,
completed the Name of great compassion
with the sole purpose of bestowing it on them.
(Hymns on the Three Ages)

Explanation

“Why did Amida make his Vow and the Name (myogo; Namu Amida Butsu)? That was because in his great compassion, Amida could not bear to abandon us beings to our suffering and torment, and he saw with all clarity that the only way to save all sentient beings of the ten directions is to grant them great virtue. Thus he made the Name, Namu Amida Butsu.”

Daihishin = The mind of great compassion = Amida Buddha's great
compassion = The Name (Namu Amida Butsu)

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Question 30

When one is saved by Amida Buddha, one becomes a bodhisattva of true settlement. Give two or more quotes that teach this. Write the sources too.

Answer 30

Revelation of the Primal Vow means the end of life in the former-moment. Simultaneously, one enters the number of the truly settled. Gaining immediate salvation means immediate birth in the latter-moment. In that instant, one is truly settled in becoming a buddha. Such a person is also called “a bodhisattva truly settled in attaining buddhahood.”

This is also known as attaining the level of true settlement in a split second of ichinen. 

(The Letters)

Explanation

Quote from Gutoku’s Notes

To paraphrase: “When the truth of Amida’s Vow is revealed, one's life of illusion ends and one enters the stage of true settlement. ‘Gaining immediate salvation’ means that when one's life of illusion ends, simultaneously, one is born into the world of absolute happiness; one becomes a bodhisattva of true settlement in a split second of ichinen.”

 

Revelation of the Primal Vow:

The truth of Amida’s Vow is revealed and all doubt toward the Vow is cleared up.

 

The end of life in the former-moment (zennen myoju):

“Zennen” has two meanings: one, the former-moment; two, the former-life. The former-life is the life of illusion that has been transmigrating for untold aeons. “Myoju” means death. Therefore, “zennen myoju” also means “the former-life dies.”

 

In that instant, one is truly settled in becoming a buddha:

We attain absolute happiness in a split second of ichinen.

 

Gaining immediate salvation:

This refers to the following words of Sakyamuni Buddha in his Explanation of the Vow: “simultaneously they will attain salvation.”

 

Immediate birth in the latter-moment (gonen sokusho):

“Gonen” has two meanings: one, the latter-moment; two, the latter-life. The latter-life is absolute happiness. “Sokusho” means to be born in a split second of ichinen. Therefore, “gonen sokusho” also means to be born into absolute happiness in a split second of ichinen.

 

In that instant:

In the split second of ichinen.

 

Truly settled in becoming a buddha (hitsujo):

The state of being certain to be able to become a buddha. Also expressed as the “stage of true settlement” or the “number of the truly settled” (shojoju).

 

Here, Master Shinran clarified that the meaning of “simultaneously they will attain salvation” (sokutoku ojo) in Sakyamuni Buddha’s Explanation of the Vow is salvation without loss of the body in a split second of ichinen in this life. “Simultaneously they will attain salvation” is the explanation of “If I cannot enable all to be born” in Amida’s Vow. Therefore, what Master Shinran taught through these words from Gutoku’s Notes was this:

“Amida Buddha pledged in his Vow to make us be born without fail, staking his very life on this promise. He pledged to make us to be born into a world of shingyo (absolute peace and joy; true settlement) in this life, which is salvation without loss of the body.”

 

Quote from The Letters (The Essence of Master Shinran’s Lifetime Teaching)

To paraphrase: “Amida’s salvation is also known as attaining the level of true settlement in a split second of ichinen.”

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Question 33

It is said that even Maitreya Bodhisattva will be unable to attain buddhahood for 5.67 billion years to come. However, one who has gained true faith will attain the enlightenment of a buddha immediately upon death. Write out the hymn of Master Shinran in which he taught this, and give the source too.

Answer 33

Miroku Bodhisattva will take
5.67 billion years to become a buddha.
The one who gains true faith now
will attain enlightenment upon death. 
(Hymns on the Three Ages)

Explanation

5.67 billion years will pass
Before Maitreya Bodhisattva attains buddhahood.
But the one who gains true faith now
will attain a buddha’s enlightenment at the time of death.

 

“It will take Maitreya Bodhisattva 5.67 billion years to attain a buddha’s enlightenment, yet one who has been saved by Amida in the now will attain it upon dying, the moment this life ends.”

 

True faith:

Other-power faith. Salvation by Amida.

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