People have a hard time excepting Shinran’s Teaching. Shinjin is meant receiving the blessed gift of Shinjin from Amida Buddha through His transferred merit to all beings who take singleminded refuge in Him. The transferred merit is through the OTHER POWER (Jp. “tariki”) of Amida.
It is through Shinjin that we are guaranteed Birth in Amida’s Pure Land when this life comes to an end. Once born in Amida’s Pure Land, we attain buddhahood, we become buddhas ourselves.However, the Path of Nembutsu Faith – Jodo Shinshu Buddhism – cannot be forced upon anyone. As Master Shinran, who spread Faith in Amida Buddha to countless aspirants and led them to settled Shinjin, said, as recorded in the Tannisho:
If Amida’s Primal Vow is true, Shakyamuni’s teaching cannot be false.
If the Buddha’s teaching is true, Shan-tao’s commentaries cannot be false.
If Shan-tao’s commentaries are true can Honen’s words be lies?
If Honen’s words are true, then surely what I say cannot be empty.
Such, in the end, is how this foolish person [namely Shinran] entrusts himself [to the Vow]. Beyond this, whether you take up the nembutsu or whether you abandon it is for each of you to determine.
No self-power or calculation by the aspirant is necessary to attaining Shinjin. In fact, self-power (Jp. “jiriki”) and calculation only get in the way of Amida’s saving Other Power. To receive Amida’s gift of Shinjin one must acknowledge completely that one is incapable of achieving buddhahood through one’s own self-power, and then one must take singleminded refuge in Amida Buddha.
Concerning these three minds: first is the mind of sincerity; this is the true and real heart and mind. In entering the Buddha path, one must first of all have a sincere mind; if the mind is not sincere, it is impossible to advance. Amida Buddha in the past accomplished the bodhisattva practices and established the Pure Land; in doing this he awakened the sincere mind. Hence, if you desire to be born in that land, you must also awaken a sincere mind. As to this true and real heart and mind, one must abandon that which is untrue and unreal and manifest that which is true and real. Indeed, although we are without profound aspiration for the Pure Land, on meeting others we talk as though we have deep aspirations. While being deeply attached within to fame and gain in this life, our outward show is a rejection of this world. While on the surface we act as though we have a good heart and are noble, we have within an evil heart and a self-indulgent heart. This is called a heart and mind which is empty and transitory, opposite of the true and real heart and mind. You should turn away from this and firmly grasp the true and real heart and mind.
A person who erroneously grasps this, saying that if all things are not as they seem to be they might as well be empty and transitory, exposes to others even what should be matters of reserve and shame, and, contrarily, invites the faults of self-indulgence and shamelessness. Concerning the true and real heart and mind, in seeking the Pure Land, rejecting this defiled world, and entrusting to the Buddha’s Vow, one must have such a heart and mind. It does not necessarily mean to openly manifest shame or to make a show of one’s faults. You should deeply reflect on this in all circumstances and on all occasions. Shan-tao’s commentary states: “Do not express outwardly signs of wisdom, goodness, or diligence, while inwardly possessing falsity.”
Second is deep mind, the mind of trust. You should first know the features of the mind of trust. The mind of trust is to have deep faith in people’s words without doubting them. For example, suppose that a man whom one deeply trusts and of whom one has no cause for suspicion whatever tells you about a place which he knows well at firsthand, saying that there is a mountain here, a river there. You believe deeply what he says, and after you have accepted these words, you meet other people who say it is all false. There is no mountain and no river. Nevertheless, since what you heard was said by a person whom you cannot think would speak a mere fabrication, a hundred thousand people might tell you differently but you would not accept it. Rather, you deeply trust what you heard first. This is called trust. Now, believing in what Sakyamuni taught, entrusting yourself to Amida’s Vow, and being without any doubt should be like this.
There are two aspects concerning this mind of trust: the first is to believe oneself to be a foolish being of defiled karma, subject to birth-and-death, from incalculable kalpas past constantly sinking and constantly turning, without any condition that could lead to liberation. The second is to believe deeply and decisively that, since one does not doubt that Amida’s Forty-eight Vows grasp sentient beings, one rides on the power of that Vow and will without fail attain birth.
People often say: “Not that I don’t believe in Buddha’s Vow, but when I reflect on myself, I see that my karmic hindrances have accumulated greatly and that the appearance of a good heart is rare. My mind is ever distracted and single-mindedness is impossible to achieve. I am forever negligent and lack diligence. Although the Buddha’s Vow is said to be profound, how can the Buddha possibly receive me? Such thoughts appear truly sensible; arrogance is not aroused and self-conceit nonexistent. Yet there is the crime of doubting the inconceivable power of the Buddha. Does one know what power the Buddha possesses, when one says that because of one’s karmic evil it is impossible to be saved? Even those wrongdoers who commit the five grave offenses, because of ten utterances, attain birth in an instant; even more so those who never go so far as to commit the five grave offenses, and in merit far surpass that of ten utterances.
If karmic evil is deep, all the more aspire for the land of bliss. It is said: “Nor rejecting those who break precepts and whose evil karma is profound.” If your good is slight, think even more on Amida. It is said: “[With but] three or five utterances, the Buddha comes to welcome us.” Do not meaninglessly despise yourself, weaken your heart, and doubt the Buddha’s wisdom, which surpasses conceptual understanding.
Suppose that there is a man at the bottom of a tall cliff unable to climb it, but there is a strong man on the cliff above who lowers a rope and, thinking to have the man at the bottom take hold of it, tells him he will draw him up to the top. However, the man at the bottom holds his arms back and refuses to take the rope, doubting the strength of the man pulling and fearing that the rope is weak. Thus it is altogether impossible for him to climb to the top. If he unhesitatingly followed the man’s words, stretched out his hands and grasped the rope, he would be able to climb at once. It is difficult for people who doubt the Buddha’s power and who do not entrust themselves to the power of the Vow to climb the cliff of enlightenment. One should simply put out the hand of trust and take hold of the rope of the Vow.
The Buddha’s power is without limits; even the person deeply burdened with karmic evil is never too heavy. The Buddha’s wisdom is without bounds; even those whose minds are distracted and self-indulgent are never rejected. The mind of trust alone is essential. There is no need to consider anything else. When trust has become settled, the three minds are naturally possessed. When the entrusting to the Primal Vow is true and sincere, there is no heart empty and transitory. When there is no doubt in the anticipation of one’s birth in the Pure Land, there arises the thought of directing merit toward it. Hence, although the three minds seem to differ from each other, they are all included in the mind of trust.
Third is the mind aspiring to be born in the Pure Land through directing merit. The term is self-explanatory; therefore, I need not explain it in detail. It is to turn over the merit of the three modes of action of the past and present and to aspire to be born in the land of bliss.
Next, the text of the Primal Vow reads: “If sentient beings say my Name even ten times but do not attain birth, may I not attain the supreme enlightenment.” Concerning these ten nen, some people have doubts and state: “The person who has one thought (nen) of rejoicing in the Lotus Sutra reaches deeply to the ultimate truth which is neither accommodated nor real. Why are the ‘ten nen’ of the Vow understood to be utterances of the Name?”
To answer this question: in describing the nature of the people of the lowest grade in the lowest rank, the Contemplation Sutra states, “Upon reaching the moment of death, a person guilty of the five grave offenses and the ten transgressions and burdened with all kinds of evil follows, for the first time, the encouragement of a true teacher, barely says the Name ten times and is born at once in the Pure Land.” This does not at all mean quiet contemplation or deep reflection; it is simply saying the Name with the lips. The sutra states: “If you cannot think…” This has the meaning of not thinking deeply. It also states: “Say the Name of the Buddha of immeasurable life.” This encourages us simply to say the Buddha Name. The sutra states: “When you say Namo Amda Butsubecause you say the Buddha’s Name, with each utterance the evil karma of eight billion kalpas of birth-and-death is eliminated.” .