Q: What does the Buddhist term chōmon mean? What is ‘hearing’ (mon)? What is it that we need to hear, and how do we hear? Write the words of Master Shinran explaining this. Give the source too.
A: “Hearing” (mon) means that anyone at all hears the origin, beginning to end, of Amida’s Vow without a trace of doubt in his mind. This is “hearing” (mon).(Teaching, Practice, Faith, Enlightenment, Chapter on Faith) explanation “In the Passage Explaining the Primal Vow, Śākyamuni Buddha taught ‘hear that Name’. The meaning of ‘hear’ is thus: For whom did Amida Buddha make his Vow, and what kind of Vow did he make? To have all doubt in the Vow eliminated is to ‘hear’ (mon).” “Hearing” (mon) means…:“What are we supposed to do to be saved by Amida Buddha?” To this question, Śākyamuni Buddha explained the following in the Passage Explaining the Primal Vow: “hear that Name.” What does it mean to “hear that Name”? That is what Master Shinran taught in this passage.
Anyone at all:All the sentient beings of the ten directions: us.
Origin:For whom did Amida Buddha make his Vow? Who did Amida Buddha promise to make “be born without fail”? The target of his Vow is utterly inert corpses guilty of grave offenses and slandering Buddhism who have been abandoned by the countless buddhas of the three worlds and who have no chance of being saved.
Beginning to end:
It took five long kalpas of contemplation for Amida Buddha to make his Vow. Then, in order to carry out his Vow, he devotedly practiced for countless aeons. As a result of this, he perfected the Name. This is the “beginning to the end” of the Vow.
Refers specifically to the doubting mind—the mind that doubts in the origin, beginning to end, of the Vow.
Without a trace of doubt:
To have had all doubt completely eliminated for all eternity.
“The origin, beginning to end, of Amida’s Vow” means “for whom did Amida Buddha make his Vow, why did he make his Vow, what did he do in order to carry out his Vow, and what was the result?” In other words, it is how the Name (Namu Amida Butsu) came to be created—the origin of the Name.
In a hymn, Master Shinran mentioned “those who have thoroughly acquired the true faith.” How long do we have to listen until we “thoroughly acquire the true faith”? To this question, Master Shinran gave a clear answer: “Until the point when you hear the origin, beginning to end, of Amida’s Vow without a trace of doubt in your mind.” Through this passage, Master Shinran proclaimed the ‘graduation point’ of Buddhism, or the finishing point of listening to Buddhism.
(from doctrine book 3-35)