• Luigi

The Afterlife

At the end of Master Rennyo’s Letter On White Bones, he taught as follows: “We should all immediately take to heart the crucial matter of the afterlife.” The “afterlife” is what comes after death. We will all have to die someday. So when we die, what will happen to us? Death is often compared to “going on a journey.” A journey always has a destination. So where will we journey to when we die? Is there a world after death or not? If there is, what kind of place is it? Is it a shining Paradise? Or is it a realm of darkness? Do we know what destination each person’s soul will go to? This is not an issue to do with other people, but our own issue. Yet we don’t even know anything at all about our own destination, or what will happen to us. Being so completely in the dark about our destination is the gravest of all matters. Since there is no issue more serious than this, Buddhism teaches that it is the “crucial matter of the afterlife.” The mind that does not know what will happen after death is called the “mind of darkness” or the “mind ignorant of the afterlife.” Death is 100% certain to happen to all people. However, our afterlife is pitch-black. With this issue left unresolved, there is no way we can feel real cheer or ease in our present lives. If the future is dark, the present will be dark too. Anxiety about the future and anxiety about the present are inseparable. As long as we have this “mind of darkness,” we are unable to attain true peace of mind or satisfaction no matter how convenient, affluent, or long our lives become. Therefore, Buddhism teaches that the “mind of darkness” is the source of suffering. Shakyamuni Buddha taught that the only one who will destroy this “mind of darkness” is Amida Buddha, the master of all buddhas in the universe. No-one other than Amida Buddha can do this. Through the wondrous Vow-power of Amida Buddha, we are granted settlement of birth (certainty of going to Amida’s Pure Land) in the ichinen when our “mind of darkness” is destroyed. Thus, we are saved into a state of knowing what will happen in the afterlife, meaning we are granted a mind of light and certainty about the afterlife. It will become crystal clear to us that in our inevitable future, we will go to Amida Buddha’s Pure Land of Utmost Bliss (Land of Infinite Light). Therefore, we will attain absolute happiness in this life and the answer to the question of “why we live” will become clear. Then we cannot help but shout out, “This is what I was born for!” At the end of the Letter On White Bones, Master Rennyo said, “Deeply rely on Amida Buddha and be saved, and say the nembutsu.” What does this mean? Through the Vow-power of Amida Buddha, our crucial matter of the afterlife is resolved now, in this life, and in our joy we cannot help but say the nembutsu of gratitude. Master Rennyo was urging us to quickly be saved into this happiness.

#Crucialmatter #Darkmind

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