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The Wonderful Power of the Name


Question:

Write Master Shinran’s hymn in which he taught that the Name, Namu Amida Butsu, has the working to remove suffering and impart joy. Give the source too.


Answer:

The Name of the Buddha of Unhindered Light and His Light of Wisdom Destroy the darkness of the long night And fulfill the wish of sentient beings.

Namu Amida Butsu, the Name made by Amida Buddha, has the power to eliminate the darkness of the long night (the dark mind), which is the root cause of suffering, and to make us attain absolute happiness.

Namu Amida Butsu, the Name made by Amida Buddha, has the power to exterminate the darkness of our soul which has been making us suffer since the distant past, and to make us attain everlasting happiness (great peace of mind and satisfaction).

Explanation:

The Name made by the Buddha of Unhindered Light: Namu Amida Butsu, which was made by Amida Buddha.

His Light of Wisdom: Amida Buddha’s light, which refers to the workings of Amida to nurture our minds and guide us in various ways in order to make us receive the Name. “Light” refers to Amida Buddha’s wisdom, which is why it is called his “Light of Wisdom” here.

Destroy the darkness of the long night: To destroy darkness of mind, which is the root cause of suffering. As “darkness of mind” is the root cause of suffering which has been making us suffer since the distant past, Master Shinran refers to it here as the long night. Master Rennyo refers to this as the “dreadful disease of the dark mind since the beginningless past” in The Letters. It is also referred to as “eternal darkness” in The Song of True Pure Land Buddhism.

Fulfill the wish of sentient beings: This means Amida Buddha will fulfill his wish upon sentient beings. That which we human beings aspire to or wish for in life is only the fulfillment of our desires: to eat, to drink, to enjoy leisure, to earn money, to be praised, etc. But if Amida’s workings really only fulfilled such worldly desires, they would not be called “inconceivable blessing.” Amida Buddha’s aspiration is to save us into absolute happiness—a state of being certain to be born into the Pure Land—which is beyond our imagination. It is this wish that he will fulfill upon our beings. Therefore, when this poem is translated in a way that makes this meaning plain, the translation is as follows:

The Name of the Buddha of Unhindered Light and His Light of Wisdom Destroy the darkness of the long night And fulfill Amida's wish upon sentient beings.

The Name's working to eliminate darkness of mind and bestow absolute happiness is called "destroying darkness and fulfilling the wish" (ha'an mangan) or "removing suffering and imparting joy" (bakku yoraku).

(from the doctrine book 3-43)

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