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Master Shinran's Grievous Penitence


Question:

Teaching, Practice, Faith, Enlightenment and Hymn of Three Ages contain passages in which Master Shinran expressed grievous penitence.

Write one of such passages from each work.


Answer: How grievous! As I, most foolish Shinran, am swallowed in the vast sea of lust and troubled by the great mountain of [desire for] fame and wealth, I neither rejoice in having become one of the truly settled nor take pleasure in nearing the realization of Buddha’s enlightenment. How shameful! How sad! (Teaching, Practice, Faith, Enlightenment, Chapter on Faith) Unlocking Tannisho page 73】

Blind passions are thick within me. Like dust, they fill my every corner. My love for those who accommodate me, my hate for those who oppose me, are like lofty peaks and high mountains. (Hymns on the Three Ages) You Were Born For a Reason page 116】

_Quote from “Chapter on Faith” in Teaching, Practice, Faith, Enlightenment Master Shinran was saying here, "Oh, how miserable I am! Drowning in the vast sea of lust, at the mercy of my greedy desire for reputation and riches, I am not the least happy that Amida has given me salvation or glad that I am coming closer to Buddha's enlightenment. I am thoroughly numb and unfeeling. How shameful, and how terribly sad."

vast sea of lust: Our minds are only possessed of such thoughts as: “I like her.” “I hate him.” “He is sweet.” “She disgusts me.” Here, Master Shinran compared this desire-filled mind to a vast sea.

[am] swallowed in: Always sinking; have had no chance to float.

the great mountain of [desire for] fame and wealth: Master Shinran compared our desire for fame and wealth to a mountain in order to convey to us how gargantuan they are.

one of the truly settled: To be one who will surely go to Amida’s Pure Land when they die.

realization of Buddha’s enlightenment: Realizing the same level of enlightenment as Amida Buddha.

Becoming “one of the truly settled” is salvation in the present, so Master Shinran used “having become” in reference to it. On the other hand, the “realization of Buddha’s enlightenment” is salvation after death, so Master Shinran used “nearing” for this. Through this choice of words, Master Shinran teaches that Amida Buddha’s salvation occurs twice: once in this world and once at the moment of death.

_Quote from the Hymn on the Three Ages To paraphrase: “Poisonous flames of anger and desire are set off throughout my body. I love and draw near to those who accommodate me, I despise and keep at arm's length those who oppose me. The will to do so is high and vast within me, exactly like soaring mountain peaks.” You Were Born For a Reason page 116】 thick: furious

My love for those who accommodate me, my hate for those who oppose me: We love and draw near to those who accommodate us and we despise and keep at arm's length those who oppose us.

(from the doctrine book, 2-29)

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