“The One and Only Path of Listening to Buddhism” Means “Salvation Through Amida Buddha’s Three Vows”
Amida Buddha, who is the master of all the buddhas, having seen with all clarity that all people are masses of blind passions, vowed to save those masses of worldly passions [all people] into absolute happiness. This is the Eighteenth Vow of Amida Buddha, which is known as the King of all the Vows or the Selected Vow.
Worldly passions are things that trouble and torment us and make us commit evil. Desire, anger, envy, and jealousy represent them.
There were reports of an incident when a Japanese Self-Defense Force official flew into a rage since his wife didn’t pay attention to him, then poured paraffin oil onto the floor in his house and set fire to it, leading to four of his children perishing in the fire. We may think, “What a stupid thing he did!” On the other hand, we cannot brush the incident off as simply being something to do with somebody else because everyone has the same worldly passions as him.
The object of Amida Buddha’s salvation is such masses of blind passions like desire and anger. In other words, it is beings who consist of nothing but worldly passions, and who are committing evil every day—meaning all human beings.
Then how can such beings be saved?
In the Passage on the Completion of the Primal Vow, in which Shakyamuni Buddha explained the true intention of Amida Buddha (the Eighteenth Vow), it is written: “Hear the Name, and in that split second you will gain faith and joy (absolute happiness).” Shakyamuni Buddha teaches us clearly that we will be saved when we hear the Vow in a split second of ichinen. For that reason, both Master Shinran and Master Rennyo instruct us that the most essential in Buddhism is Chomon—listening to Buddhism. The one and only path to the salvation of Amida is the path of listening to Buddhism.
However, no matter how many times we are told that we are masses of worldly passions and people who are deeply stained with evil, we are incapable of listening to this. Since we only have relative wisdom, we can only think in this way: “I’m not a good person compared to that person, but not a bad person compared to this person, I think.”
We are conceited and cannot accept that we are the vilest of sinners. All that fills our minds in response to this truth is resistance. Therefore, it is absolutely impossible for us to hear Amida’s true intention: “I will save you, mass of blind passions, as you are.” We cannot simply accept this obediently.
Having seen our state with full clarity, Amida Buddha contemplated for five kalpas with his irresistible compassion and made the path toward the truth of the Eighteenth Vow. That path is the Nineteenth and Twentieth Vow, which are the expedient vows. He made this path in order to guide us toward the Eighteenth Vow and save us by all means.
Amida Buddha saw clearly that all people are nothing but worldly passions, those who do only evil deeds throughout their lives, and those who are extremely evil, lacking even a particle of goodness. Knowing that full well, he encourages us to do good deeds in the Nineteenth Vow.
Why is that so? Because there was no way other than that. That is why Shakyamuni Buddha, who is a disciple of Amida Buddha, taught about the intention of Amida’s Nineteenth Vow throughout his life. Shakyamuni Buddha teaches the law of cause and effect in the three worlds, which is universal truth, and instructs us earnestly and plainly to discard the bad and practice the good.
However, that is not something that Shakyamuni Buddha decided by himself. He taught this in accordance with the intention of Amida Buddha, who is his teacher.
On this, Master Shinran declares as follows.
All the 84,000 Dharma gates are good deeds, which are Amida Buddha's provisional means.
――Concerning Single Invocation and Many Invocations
To paraphrase: “The teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha throughout his life were the good deeds encouraged in Amida Buddha’s Nineteenth Vow.”
Those who have received the other-power faith
have coincided with Amida Buddha’s Vow.
Because they followed Shakyamuni Buddha’s
teaching and the words of countless Buddhas,
there is nothing that obstructs them. ――Master Shinran
Those who coincided with Amida’s Eighteenth Vow and attained true faith are on the path of no hindrance. Who can have this happen? That is those who followed Shakyamuni Buddha’s teaching and the words of the countless Buddhas. This is what Master Shinran teaches here. Without listening to the teachings, we cannot follow them. Precisely, the “one and only path of listening to Buddhism” is nothing but “salvation through Amida Buddha’s three vows”. Master Shinran clarified this throughout his life.