authenticity_shakyamuni (2023)

Against the view that the Pure LandSutras are not Shakyamuni’s teaching, but a later invention

by Rev. Josho Adrian Cirlea

Common sense dictates that the time when a Buddhist sutra was put intowritten form was not automatically the time of its creation. DuringShakyamuni Buddha’s life and later, upon his physical death, hisdiscourses (sutras) were transmitted orally and sometimes by hisclosest disciples through special states of mind called samadhi forhundreds of years before they were put into written form. The PaliCanon was, in fact, preserved in the artificial language of Pali (whichneither the Buddha nor anyone else ever spoke) while the Mahayanasutras were initially preserved in Sanskrit (a language whichShakyamuni, a highly educated person, may have spoken).

Some make the claim that the Pali Canon of the Theravada school is theoldest and thus the most reliable collection of sutras. Positing thatall the discourses or sutras originated from Shakyamuni, then the factthat some were put into written form earlier than the others is notproof of their exclusive authenticity or superior content. The Mahayanaand Pure Land sutras did exist and were transmitted in the sametimeframe with the sutras of the Pali Canon.

We understand that some monks recognized only the Pali Canon as validbecause they were supposedly the first of the Buddha’s discourses to bewritten down, while others considered the Mahayana and Pure Land sutrasas being genuine as well. Each group put into written form their ownbasket (pitaka) of recognizedsutras, some earlier and some later. But no one can prove bydocumentary evidence that his school’s basket of sutras were actuallypreached by Shakyamuni while the others’ were not.

By the same token, no one can prove that Shakyamuni did not impart somesutras only to a group of special disciples which were open and moreprepared to receive them than others and who, in turn, transmitted suchsutras to their own chosen disciples in an uninterrupted succession,until one day they decided it was time to give them a written form.

No one can check and investigate the Buddha’s mind or the minds of hisclosest disciples and their actions by means of documentary evidence.If we read about the Buddhist councils who first compiled orally thediscourses of the Buddha, soon after his physical death, we see thatthe monks who attended such councils could all recite by heart dozensof those discourses and that all were accomplished Masters. Othersutras, the Mahayana and Pure Land sutras, were transmitted by samadhi and were not written downuntil some time after the Pali Canon.

Also, we know from the first passages of the Sutra on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life(Larger Sutra), that among theassembly gathered on the Vulture Peak, where Shakyamuni delivered it,there were “twelve thousand monks […] all great sages who had alreadyattained supernatural powers.” This aspect is extremely importantbecause it is an indication about who the monks were who heard thatsutra and later transmitted it to further generations. They were monkswho HAD “attained supernatural powers,” and it follows that these monksused their mind power to accurately transmit this sutra by samadhi to further generations.

Among these monks we read the names of Venerable Mahakasyapa, VenerableSariputra, Venerable Mahamaudgalyayana and Ananda. “All of these wereElders”, says the sutra. But monks with supernatural powers were notthe only listeners. Great transcendental Bodhisattvas likeSamantabhadra, Manjusri and Maitreya, the future Buddha, were presenttoo, and they all rejoiced at hearing the Amida Dharma, which can onlymean they had faith in it and later helped in its promotion. More thanthis, Shinran presents the testimony of his own Master, Honen Shonin(Genku), who revealed to him that in a previous life he was presenttoo, on Vulture Peak, when the LargerSutra was preached:

“Genkuhimself said,
‘Formerly, I was among the assemblyon Vulture Peak;
I practiced austerities with othersravakas
And guided beings to the Buddhistpath.”

This stands as proof for us, Shakyamuni’s disciples of modern times,that the event described in the Larger Sutra is a real one. As we know,Shinran never regarded Honen as an ordinary person, but rather as areturner from the Pure Land , thus Shinran took Honen’s revelation veryseriously. We should have no reason for doing otherwise.

It is questioinable as to why many modern scholars believe they canjudge with their limited minds and methods who all those great beingson the Vulture Peak and their further work of spreading this sutrawere. Nobody today can probe the minds of Shakyamuni or his closestdisciples who dedicated themselves to the proper transmission of thePure Land sutras, or to anyone else until the Pure Land sutras werefinally put into written form .

More than this, we clearly see that the transcendent Power ofShakyamuni Buddha lies within the transmission of the Larger Sutra tothe future generations, even after all other sutras would have beendisappeared:

“In the future, the Buddhist scriptures and teachings will perish. But,out of pity and compassion, I will especially preserve this sutra andmaintain it in the world for a hundred years more. Those beings whoencounter it will attain deliverance.”

Here, the words “I will especially preserve this sutra” are extremelyimportant, because Shakyamuni himself vowed to help its transmissionand to never let it disappear. Such a promise is beyond the capacity ofunenlightened people to comprehend, but nevertheless it IS a truepromise upon which we can depend, because it was made by a fullyEnlightened Buddha.

The truth is that we, Buddhist disciples of these times, far removedfrom the physical presence of Shakyamuni, have only two choices:we CAN either accept in faith the Pure Land sutras as being genuine, asdid all the Patriarchs and Masters of our school including Shinran, orwe can discard them.

Shakyamuni himself said at the end of the Larger Sutra on the Buddha ofImmeasurable Life (the Larger Sutra): “Most difficult of alldifficulties is to hear this sutra and accept it in faith. Nothing ismore difficult than this.”

As we clearly see from Shinran’s written work, he relied on Amida andhis Primal Vow only because this was, in his opinion, the teaching ofShakyamuni recorded in the Larger Sutra. He and all the Patriarchs andMasters of our school never doubted that this sutra was the genuinepreaching of Shakyamuni. The reason why they had trust in this sutraand other Pure Land sutras was particularly because Shakyamuni himselfdelivered them.

Furthermore, Shinran considered the Larger Sutra, in which the PrimalVow was revealed, to be the main reason for Shakyamuni’s appearance inthis world. He could never have said this if he considered it a laterinvention of some Buddhist monks, as so called modernist scholarsargue. It is clear from his writings that Shinran accepted the PureLand sutras as genuine teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha.

Shinran stated in his Shoshinge:

“Thereason for the Buddha's appearance in the world
Is solely to expound the Primal Vowof Amida, wide and deep as the ocean.
All beings in the evil age of thefive defilements
Should believe in the truth of theBuddha's words.”

The words of the Buddha are superior to the teachings of humans, evenif those humans might be great Bodhisattvas. How much morereliable must they necessarily be than the contradictory words ofdeluded teachers in this Age of Dharma Decline?

“Amida,who attained Buddhahood in the infinite past,
Full of compassion for foolish beingsof the five defilements,
Took the form of Sakyamuni Buddha
And appeared in Gaya.”

From this verse in the Jodo Wasanwe see that, in Shinran’s view, Shakyamuni Buddha was in reality amanifestation of Amida Buddha. This is an even stronger indication thatthe path of birth in the Pure Land, presented in the Larger Sutra, is true andcompletely reliable. This sutra is not only Shakyamuni’s teaching, butAmida’s direct exposition through the mouth of Shakyamuni.

Therefore, it is clear that those who do not accept the Larger Sutra to be an authenticdiscourse of Shakyamuni are caught in the delusion of divergences fromthe True Teaching. These divergences threaten to destroy thefoundation of the entire Jodo Shinshu path to salvation for all. Inpropagating their divergences, they actually are accusing Shinran andall the Patriarchs and Masters of the True Pure Land school to be liarsor ignorant.

If we carefully and honestly study Shinran's own words, we see that hefaithfully accepted the Larger Sutra and all the Pure Land sutraswithout ever doubting they were actually taught by Shakyamuni. He couldnever have imagined that they might be a later invention of some monks.

As Shinran writes in his Kyogyoshinsho(The True Teaching, Chapter I, excerpts):

“Theteaching of the Pure Land way is found in the Larger Sutra ofthe Buddha of Immeasurable Life [….]It reveals that Shakyamuni appeared in this world and expounded theteachings of the way to Enlightenment, seeking to save the multitudesof living beings by blessing them with the benefit that is true andreal. Assuredly this sutra is the true teaching for which the Tathagataappeared in the world. It is the [….] It reveals that Shakyamuniappeared in this world and expounded the teachings of the way toEnlightenment, rare and most excellent. It is the conclusive andultimate exposition of the One Vehicle. It is the right teaching,praised by all the Buddhas throughout the ten quarters. To teach[Amida] Tathagata’s Primal Vow is the true intent of this sutra; theName of the Buddha is its essence.”

Because this sutra is indeed praised by all Buddhas, as Shinran clearlystated, all Buddhas have done and are doing everything in their powerto transmit it to future generations. What honest reader can disputethat this sutra is clearly presented to the world as the genuineteaching of Shakyamuni?

Furthermore, the Buddhas would never praise the ordinary work of anymonks, or even a great Bodhisattva, in such an extraordinary way. Theyall know, as we all know, Primal Vow and nembutsu of faith arepresented and contained in this sutra alone.

The modernist view is that this sutra is not authentic, that is, it wasnot actually taught by Shakyamuni. If that were so, then thePrimal Vow and nembutsu of faith would have no value when it comes tothe salvation of us foolish beings in our Age of Dharma Decline.There would be no reason for us to put our total faith and relianceupon the Vow.

It would also mean that the the writings and teachings of all the PureLand masters down through the ages who relied on all the Pure Landsutras would not be reliable either.

Shinran quotes Wang Jih-hsiu in Part III of his Kyogyoshinsho:

“TheSutra of Immeasurable Life is truly the shortest path to attainment ofbirth, the superlative means to liberation from suffering. All peopleshould embrace its teaching.”

In Gutoku’s Notes, Shinrandeclares:

“The true and real teaching of the easy practice, the Primal Vow of thePure Land way…is the teaching of the LargerSutra of Immeasurable Life.”

Why do some modern scholars spread false views that Amida Buddha is afictional character, a myth, a metaphor, symbol, etc.? Why do thosesame scholars spread false views that the birth in the Pure Land is notsomething to be attained after death? It is because they do not acceptthat the Pure Land sutras actually came from Shakyamuni Buddha.

If the sutras are mere human inventions, then Amida and his Pure Landare human inventions too, and to rely on such inventions in order toescape birth and death would be futile. But their teaching isfalse – a divergence from the True Teaching.

The basic principle for all of the Buddha-Dharma is that any teachingby a being who is not a Buddha which contradicts Shakyamuni's directtestimony can never be described as true and authentic Buddha-Dharma.

An important Dharma principle holds that “what one Buddha teaches, allBuddhas give witness to,” which happens especially in the case ofAmida’s Dharma through which all beings, without discrimination, aresaved (brought to Buddhahood). In the SmallerAmida Sutra, quoted by Shinran in his Kyogyoshinsho, it is said:

“Welldoes Shakyamuni, in this evil age of the five defilements – in thisevil world, among evil sentient beings, evil views, evil passions, andin a time when evil acts and lack of faith prevail – teach and praisethe Name of Amida, encouraging sentient beings: ‘If one says the Name,one unfailingly attains birth’.”

Shinran explains and then quotes again from the Smaller Amida Sutra:

“Further,the Buddhas throughout the ten quarters, fearing that sentient beingsmight not accept the teaching of the one Buddha, Shakyamuni, alltogether with the same intent […], preach these true and sincere words:

‘Sentient beings, each of you shouldaccept what Shakyamuni has taught, has praised, has given witness to!’”

So, those who deny the Pure Land sutras as being the true exposition ofShakyamuni Buddha also deny the true teaching about Amida and hisPrimal Vow, which means they regard all Buddhas as liars and theirtestimony to be fictitious.

This denial is called “Slander of the Dharma” by Shinran. In his view,slander of the Dharma is the most evil of the five great evil karmicacts – worse than fratricide or matricide - because it plants doubts inpeople’s hearts and closes the gate of birth in the Pure Land.Furthermore, it denies and contradicts the testimony and understandingof all the seven Patriarchs who experienced in their own life theauthenticity of the teaching contained in these sutras.

In Kyogyoshinsho Shinranwrites at length on slandering the Dharma:

Inthe Mahayana sutras, the master of the being difficult to save isexpounded. The Larger Sutrastates:

Excluded are those who commit thefive grave offenses and those who slander the right dharma.

And [the Sutra of theTathagata of Immeasurable Lifestates]:

Excluded are those who commit evilacts that condemn them to Avici hell and those who slander the rightdharma or the sages.

The Contemplation Sutra teaches the attainment of birth of thosewho commit the five grave offenses, but not of those who slander thedharma, and in the Nirvana Sutra, the beings and the sicknesses difficultto cure are taught. How are these true teachings to be understood?

Answer:The Commentary on the Treatise states:

Question: The Sutra ofImmeasurable Life states,

Those who aspire for birth are allbrought to attainment. Excluded are those who commit the five graveoffenses and those who slander the right dharma.

The Sutra of Contemplation onthe Buddha of Immeasurable Lifestates,

Those who have committed the fivegrave offenses and the ten transgressions, and who are possessed ofvarious evils also attain birth.

Howare these two sutra passages to be reconciled?

Answer: The first sutra speaks ofcommitting two kinds of serious evil act: the five grave offenses andthe slander of the right dharma. Because of committing both these twokinds of evil act, a person is unable to attain birth. The other sutraspeaks only of committing the evil of the ten transgressions and fivegrave offenses; nothing is said of slandering the right dharma. Becausea person has not slandered the right dharma, he attains birth.

Question: Suppose a person hascommitted the five grave offenses but has not slandered the rightdharma. In the sutra, it is granted that such a person can attainbirth. Further, suppose there is a person who has only slandered theright dharma but is free of the five grave offenses and other evilacts; if he aspires for birth, will he attain it or not?

Answer: Although he has onlyslandered the right dharma and has not committed other evil acts, hewill definitely be unable to attain birth. How is this known? A sutrastates that the person who has committed the five grave offenses fallsinto great Avici hell and fully undergoes their recompense for onekalpa. The person who slanders the right dharma falls into great Avicihell, and when that kalpa has run out, he passes on into the greatAvici hell of another quarter. In this way he passes through a hundredthousand great Avici hells one after another. The Buddha does notindicate any time when it is possible for him to emerge. This isbecause slandering the right dharma is an evil act of extreme gravity.

Further, the right dharma is theBuddha-dharma. Such a foolish person has already slandered it; how canit be reasonable to think that he would aspire to be born in theBuddha-land? Suppose the person aspires for birth merely because hecraves to be born into happiness; this is like seeking ice that is notwater or fire without smoke. How can it be deemed reasonable that heattain it?

Question: What are thecharacteristics of slandering the right dharma?

Answer: Saying there is no Buddha, noBuddha-dharma, no bodhisattva, no bodhisattva-dharma. Decidingon such views, whether through understanding thus in one's own mind orreceiving the ideas from others, is called slandering the right dharma.

Question: Taking such views onlyconcerns the person himself. What pain and suffering does his actinflict on other sentient beings, that it should exceed the evil of thefive grave offenses in seriousness?

Answer: If there were no Buddhas andbodhisattvas to expound the mundane and supramundane good paths and toteach and guide sentient beings, how could we know of the existence ofbenevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and sincerity? Suchmundane good would all be cut off, and the sages of the supramundanewould all perish. You know only the gravity of the five grave offenses,and not that they arise from the absence of the right dharma.

Thus,the person who slanders the right dharma is involved in the gravestkarmic evil.

Shinran clearly entrusted himself and relied on the testimony andteaching given by the Pure Land Patriarchs from India, China and Japanwho, like him, also accepted this sutra on faith:

“HereI, Gutoku [Shinran], of outlying islands, relying on the treatises fromIndia and the western regions and looking to the explanations of theteachers of China and Japan, reverently entrust myself to the teaching,practice and realization that are the true essence of the Pure Landway.”

None of the seven patriarchs including his own Master, Honen, everregarded the Pure Land Sutras as being the creation of some monk’simagination. On the contrary, they all based their explanations onthese sutras.

In his Discourse on the Ten Stages,Nagarjuna, the first Indian Patriarch of our school, said, referring toBodhisattva Dharmakara, who later became Amida Buddha:

“Whenhe was seeking the Path to Buddhahood, he performed
many marvellous practices
as described in various sutras.
So I prostrate myself and worshiphim.”

It is clear beyond any doubt that Nagarjuna fully accepted the accountfrom the Larger Sutra ofBodhisattva Dharmakara who practiced for many kalpas until he becameAmida Buddha. His explanations from the same sutra, his recognition ofthe innumerable Buddhas in the universe, and his hymns of adorationtoward Amida demonstrate that he accepted the words of Shakyamuni inthe sutras as authentic and true.

Vasubandhu, the second Indian Patriarch, wrote in his Discourse on thePure Land:

Dependingon the sutra’s exposition
Of the manifestation of true merit,
I compose verses of aspiration in acondensed form,
Thereby conforming to the BuddhaDharma.

Because he was always conforming to the Buddha Dharma, rather thandenying it, he was able to successfully visualize Amida and his PureLand and was always filled with sincere devotion to this Buddha.

Master T’an-luan especially emphasized three key Vows which are to befound in the Larger Sutra:the 18th Vow, which enables the faithful to be born in the Pure Landthrough nembutsu, the 11th Vow which brings about Nirvana and the 22ndVow, which makes those born in the Pure Land to act like BodhisattvaSamantabhadra in saving unenlightened sentient beings.

He also made very important references in his writings to the Contemplation Sutra: For example,at the end of his Commentary on Vasubandhu’s Discourse on the PureLand, he explains why recitation of the Name ten times at the death ofan evildoer is capable of extinguishing his grave karmic evils andassure his birth in the Pure Land of Amida.

Master Tao-ch’o, the fourth (Chinese) Patriarch, was especially devotedto the Contemplation Sutra onwhich he lectured about two hundred times, but he also talked about theLarger Sutra, on the basis ofwhich he considered the Pure Land as a land of recompense manifestedfrom Amida’s Vows.

Master Shan-tao, the fifth (Chinese) Patriarch, practiced according tothe Contemplation Sutra andalso had wonderful visions of Amida Buddha and his Pure Land which weredescribed by him in his Commentary on the Contemplation Sutra. Howcould he have had such results if the sutras were only some monk’simagination, rather than the discourse of Shakyamun Buddha?

Shan-tao is also said to have copied the Smaller Amida Sutra hundredsof times and to have made more than three hundred paintings of the PureLand. He considered the Pure Land to be the land of Amida as aSambhogakaya Buddha. He clearly explained that beings can attain birthin the Pure Land because of the Power of Amida’s Primal Vow. Heencouraged followers to recite the ContemplationSutra, the Smaller Sutraand the Larger Sutra, all ofwhich he considered to be the true teaching of Shakyamuni.

In his Parable of the Two Rivers and the White Path, Master Shan-taoclearly explained that the voice from the eastern bank of the river whoencourages the traveller to walk the narrow path to the Pure Landrepresents Shakyamuni’s teaching while the voice from the western bankis Amida’s Call. Thus, there is no doubt that Master Shan-tao entrustedhimself to Amida due to Shakyamuni’s encouragement and teaching thatcan be found in the Pure Land sutras.

Master Genshin, the sixth (Japanese) Patriarch, wrote A Collection of Essential PassagesConcerning Birth (Ojoyoshu)in which he quoted 952 passages from various sutras, including thethree Pure Land sutras, and from many commentaries. He is also said tohave recited the Smaller Amida Sutraten thousand times.

Master Honen, the seventh (Japanese) Patriarch and teacher of Shinran,an eyewitness of the preaching of the LargerSutra on Vulture Peak, as shown above, clearly stated in manyplaces in his writings that his entire teaching was based on the sacredscriptures and that he was only a transmitter of the Dharma, not acreator of his own ideas and teachings. He said in one of hisletters:

“I amnot telling you this by my own initiative. I just state exactly whatthe sacred scriptures describe, as if holding the text up to a mirror.Please look over the scriptures.”

Honen also said:

“Thereis not one word of falsehood in the words uttered by Shakyamuni Buddha.Simply revere and believe them. Also know that if you doubt histeaching, it would be harmful and would be karmically unfortunate.Please have implicit faith in his teaching.”

We clearly see from the above explanations and passages, as well asfrom other texts not quoted here due to lack of space, that Shinran wasnot alone in viewing the Pure Land sutras and the teaching about Amidaas coming from Shakyamuni Buddha. There is not a single passage in hiswritings or those of the seven Patriarchs of the Jodo Shinshu school’stexts and commentaries which might contain the idea that the Pure Landsutras were a later invention.

Their works are filled with quotes and passages from the Pure Landsutras, which they always considered to be the channel through whichAmida Dharma entered our world. Everything that the patriarchs of JodoShinshu Buddhism wrote was proved with words from the Pure Land sutrasto such an extent that if we were to quote them properly, we should infact, quote their entire works – that is, thousands of words andexplanations which are based on the Pure Land sutras delivered byShakyamuni.

Truly, nobody is so wise and spiritually evolved as to probe theBuddha’s mind and the transmission of the most important teaching ofhis life. Unfortunately, our Jodo Shinshu teaching is so artificiallycomplicated nowadays by many scholars and false teachers whose intentis manifestly to change the Dharma about Amida and even say that thisDharma is not the genuine teaching of Shakyamuni.

Truly, we must ask why such people are accepted and recognized aspriests, scholars and teachers in our school and why they are promotedon so many official websites and magazines.

Some of these people argue that even if the Pure Land sutras were notdelivered directly by Shakyamuni, this doesn’t make them less valuablebecause they preserve the spirit of his compassionate teachings. So, inother words, the Pure Land sutras which, in their opinion, wereinvented by some monks a few hundred years after Shakyamuni, can beconsidered as if it were his, in their spirit. But this is just arhetorical tactic in order to assume a free hand to reinterpret theircontent in a symbolical or metaphorical way.

By deleting from the follower’s minds the truth that Shakyamunipreached the three Pure Land Sutras, today’s false teachers are, infact, creating a new foundation for their own interpretations. If thePure Land sutras are something else than Shakyamuni’s own discourses,then everything which is contained in them can be interpreted in anyway by anybody because the texts do not have the authority of a Buddha.

Once the authority of the texts is undermined and denied, the gate offalse teachings and modern divergences is opened. At that point, thesefalse teachers explain and interpret Amida and his Pure Land in wayscompletely different from Shakyamuni’s original intent.

Another argument heard these days is that Shinran lived in the 13thcentury and could not know the developments of science of later times.But how can a true Shinshu follower think that solely by living in ourtime, Shinran would embrace the views of such scientists simply becauseof materialistic ideas that are prevalent today?

And how could Shinran, if he were to live in our times, accept thetheories that Amida and his Pure Land are fictional? It is clear hewould not, because, if he studied the writings of modernists, he wouldclearly see that their divergent views were not actually preached byShakyamuni: he would see that they also say Amida is a fictionalcharacter, a symbol, a metaphor, and that His Pure Land not a realplace to be attained after death where we attain supreme Buddhahood.

How far the modernists are from the humble statement of Shinranrecorded in the Tannisho:

“IfAmida's Primal Vow is true, Shakyamuni's teaching cannot be false. Ifthe 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? IfHonen's words are true, then surely what I say cannot be empty. Such,in the end, is how this foolish person [Shinran] entrusts himself tothe Vow.”

Shinran simply started his argument by stating that Amida’s Primal Vowis true. This is the beginning of a genuine spiritual life in JodoShinshu and cannot be negated. It is the basis of his faith and life.Without the Primal Vow being true, there is no Amida Dharma. Anyone whois in accord with the intention of the Primal Vow is a true teacher,and the mission of a true teacher is to expound the Primal Vow.

This is the lineage of the True Pure Land path with Amida’s Primal Vowas its origin, and a 21st century Shinran would doubtless be as devotedto the truth of Shakyamuni Buddha’s authorship of the three Pure Landsutras as he was in the 13th century.

There are many people of the same shinjin as Shinran’s today – who arefully aware of both the blessings and the limitations of our scientificknowledge – who recognize that all the transcendental teachings ofShakyamuni Buddha, such as karma, rebirth, the existence of otherBuddhas and Buddha-lands, are true – even though not subject toscientific verification.

Furthermore, it is not only people of shinjin who think this way, butalso sincere practicers in other schools of Dharma. TheravadanBuddhists, Tibetan Buddhists, and many other Buddhists reject thematerialistic undermining of the Dharma, and Shin Buddhists shouldreject it as well.

The intention of the Primal Vow is to call us all to entrust our karmicdestiny entirely to the living Buddha Amida, who actually showedhimself to the thousands gathered on Vulture Peak when Shakyamuni gavethe sermon we know as the LargerSutra. This is the entire basis of Shinran's own life,both as a disciple of Shakyamuni and as a teacher of others.

Anyone who is a true teacher will expound the Dharma message just asMaster Shinran did. A true teacher will not rip the Primal Vowout of context, as these modernist false teachers do. A trueteacher will talk about the Vow, and the Vow maker, and the fulfillmentof the Vow that occurred when the Vow maker created His own Pure Land,and took residence there as the greatest of all of the countlessBuddhas.

That is what true teachers of the True teaching have always done – andthat is what they do today. Anyone who substitutes his ownpersonal views, or the personal views of another, is introducing falseteachings and divergences into the Sangha, and should not be given anyopportunity to teach and preach, and thus confuse others.

What proves the truth of the Primal Vow, and the Vow maker Amida, andthe good news about the possibility of being born in the Pure Land andimmediately becoming a Buddha? The very words of ShakyamuniBuddha recorded for our supreme benefit in the Larger Sutra, and the other PureLand sutras.

Thus, if someone denies that these sutras were actually taught byShakyamuni, he or she automatically denies the authenticity of the JodoShinshu Dharma, and the reality of Amida, his Pure Land, the PrimalVow, shinjin and nembutsu.

If Shakyamuni, as a fully Enlightened Buddha, did not actually preachthe Pure Land sutras, then nothing in Jodo Shinshu can be trustedanymore, because there is no Buddha to testify to the reality of theirexistence, whether it be Amida Buddha, the Pure Land, the Primal Vow,the reality of shinjin, or the efficacy of saying the Nembutsu. Such isthe tragic consequence of the modern views which deny the authenticityof Shakyamuni’s teachings in the three Pure Land sutras.

Shinran clearly said that he was able to meet with the Primal Vow ofAmida only because of the testimony of Shakyamuni Buddha and the sevenPatriarchs who based their teachings upon the teachings of Shakyamuniin the three Pure Land sutras. Shinran was able to come to settledfaith (shinjin) and entrust himself to the Primal Vow only because heregarded their words to be true. This was the way that he, as “afoolish person” (his words), entrusted himself to the Vow, and this isthe way we too should also have faith in it.



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