Gobunshō – 御文章 – Fascicle 2-4 – Severing Crosswise the Five Evil Courses – 横截五悪趣章 –

2-4 Severing Crosswise the Five Evil Courses

Question: I understand that the reason why we speak of the all-surpassing Primal Vow of Amida Tathagata is that it is the supreme Vow made for foolish beings like us in the latter age of the five defilements, who commit evil and do not do any good act.

But we have no clear understanding as to in what state of mind we should be and how we should entrust ourselves to Amida in order to attain birth in the Pure Land. Please teach us about this in detail.

Answer: Out of great love and great compassion the Buddha vowed to save us, the beings of the present latter age, however deep our karmic evils may be, who wholly entrust ourselves to Amida Tathagata, taking refuge only in Amida Buddha single-mindedly and unwaveringly, without regard to other Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Since Amida sends forth great light and enfolds us in it, the [Contemplation] Sutra states: “The light shines everywhere throughout the worlds of the ten quarters, embracing and not forsaking sentient beings of the nembutsu.”

As the result, Amida Tathagata, exercising the inconceivable Vow-Power, blocks the path to the five or six evil courses to which we are destined.

The [Larger] Sutra says to the same effect, “One cuts off crosswise the five evil courses and the evil courses close naturally.”

When we entrust ourselves to the Tathagata’s Vow without a single thought of doubt, even though we feel we are to fall into hell, we will be taken in the embracing light of Amida Tathagata, for we are now destined to the land of bliss, despite worries about falling into hell.

It follows then that, since we receive, day and night, morning and evening, the Tathagata’s benevolence of great compassion, which is like the vast sky and lofty mountains, we cannot help but recite the nembutsu out of gratitude for the Buddha’s benevolence, continuously saying “Namo Amida Butsu.”

This is how it is to have attained the true entrusting heart.

Humbly and respectfully.

On the night of the 15th day of the 2nd month, 6th year of Bunmei [1474], reflecting on the bygone days when the Great Sage, the World-honored One, passed into Nirvana. I have written this with a brush under a lamp-stand while rubbing my eyes which are weakened by age.

At the age of 60

2-4 横截五悪趣章

それ、 弥陀みだ如来にょらい*しょう本願ほんがんもうすは、 末代まつだいじょく造悪ぞうあくぜんのわれらごときのぼんのためにおこしたまへるじょう誓願せいがんなるがゆゑなり。

しかれば、 これをなにとやうにこころをももち、 なにとやうに弥陀みだしんじて、 かのじょうへはおうじょうすべきやらん、 さらにその分別ふんべつなし。 くはしくこれををしへたまふべし。

こたへていはく、 末代まつだいいまときしゅじょうは、 ただひとすぢに弥陀みだ如来にょらいをたのみたてまつりて、 ぶつさつとうをもならべてしんぜねども、 一心いっしん一向いっこう弥陀みだ一仏いちぶつみょうするしゅじょうをば、 いかにつみふかくともぶつだいだいをもつてすくはんとちかひたまひて、 だいこうみょうはなちて、 そのこうみょうのうちにおさりましますゆゑに、 このこころを きょう (観経) には、 「こうみょうへんじょう 十方じっぽうかい 念仏ねんぶつしゅじょう 摂取せっしゅしゃ」 ときたまへり。

さればどう六道ろくどうといへる悪趣あくしゅにすでにおもむくべきみちを、 弥陀みだ如来にょらい願力がんりき思議しぎとしてこれをふさぎたまふなり。

このいはれをまた ¬きょう¼ (大経・下) には、 「横截おうぜつ悪趣あくしゅ悪趣あくしゅねんぺい」 とかれたり。

かるがゆゑに、 如来にょらい誓願せいがんしんじて一念いちねんしんなきときは、 いかにごくへおちんとおもふとも、 弥陀みだ如来にょらい摂取せっしゅこうみょうおさられまゐらせたらんは、 わがはからひにてごくへもおちずして極楽ごくらくにまゐるべきなるがゆゑなり。

かやうのどうなるときは、 ちゅうちょうは、 如来にょらいだいおん雨山あめやまにかうぶりたるわれらなれば、 ただくちにつねに称名しょうみょうをとなへて、 かの仏恩ぶっとん報謝ほうしゃのために念仏ねんぶつもうすべきばかりなり。


あなかしこ、 あなかしこ。

文明ぶんめいろく、 がつじゅうにちのひ、 だいしょうそん (釈尊) にゅうめつむかしをおもひいでて、 ともしびもとにおいて老眼ろうがんのごふでめをはりぬ。

満六十 御判

Index of individual letters:

Fascicle 1-2 – Renouncing the World and Awakening the Bodhi-mind – 出家発心章
Fascicle 1-3 – Hunting and Fishing – 猟すなどり章
Fascicle 1-5 – Journey in the Snow – 雪中章
Fascicle 1-6 – Drowsiness – 睡眠章
Fascicle 1-8 – Construction at Yoshizaki – 吉崎建立章
Fascicle 1-13 – A Wrong View Concerning “Ten Kalpas Ago” – 此方十劫邪義章
Fascicle 2-4 – Severing Crosswise the Five Evil Courses – 横截五悪趣章
Fascicle 2-5 – Juzu – 珠数章
Fascicle 2-7 – Going Is Easy, but No One Is Born There – 易往無人章
Fascicle 2-11 – The Fivefold Doctrine – 五重義章
Fascicle 3-4 – The Great Sage, the World-honored One – 大聖世尊章
Fascicle 3-6 – Solely Saying the Name Constantly – 唯能常称章
Fascicle 4-10 – This Present Age – 今の世章
Fascicle 4-11 – The Unity of Beings and the Dharma – 機法一体章
Fascicle 4-12 – The Meetings Twice Every Month – 毎月両度章
Fascicle 4-14 – The Settled Mind of Our Tradition – 一流安心章
Fascicle 4-15 – Construction at Ozaka – 大坂建立章
Fascicle 5-1 – Those Lacking Wisdom in the Latter Age – 末代無智章
Fascicle 5-2 – Eighty Thousand Dharma-teachings – 八万法蔵章
Fascicle 5-3 – Women Remaining in Lay Life – 在家尼入道章
Fascicle 5-4 – Whether Men or Women – 抑男子女人章
Fascicle 5-5 – Attaining the Entrusting Heart – 信心獲得章
Fascicle 5-6 – Singleness of Heart, Great Benefit – 一念大利章
Fascicle 5-9 – All the Sacred Scriptures – 一切聖教章
Fascicle 5-10 – The Tradition of Shinran Shonin -聖人一流章
Fascicle 5-11 – The Annual Memorial Observance for Shinran Shonin – 御正忌章
Fascicle 5-12 – Holding on to Amida’s Sleeves – 御袖章
Fascicle 5-13 – The Unsurpassed, Profound Virtues – 無上甚深章
Fascicle 5-16 – White Ashes -白骨章
Fascicle 5-17 – All Women – 一切女人章
Fascicle 5-18 – The Master of Our Tradition – 当流聖人章
Fascicle 5-21 – Clear Statements in the Scriptures – 経釈明文
Fascicle 5-22 – The Teaching of Our Tradition – 当流勧化章

Other Resources:
Letters of Rennyo: The Essence of Shin Buddhism (essay/talk by Rev. Daien T. Haseo)

Letters of Rennyo – On Youtube (presented by Rev. Sugahara Yuki)

Complete Letters of Rennyo translation by the Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai follow this link to their website to download a copy.

To purchase the book ‘Letters of Rennyo’ , Translated by as part of the Hongwanji Shin Buddhism Translation Series, this is the publication information & link:

  • Title :Letters of Rennyo
  • ¥1,100
  • Author :Shin Buddhism Translation Series
  • Language :English
  • ISBN :4-938490-20-X
  • pages :164

Buy from Hongwanji International Center: https://international.hongwanji.or.jp/html/c3b1p1.html

If you would like a digital copy containing more translated letters than listed above (albeit not translated by Hongwanji), you can download a PDF from the Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai (BDK – Amercia) website here: Link: https://bdkamerica.org/product/tannisho-passages-deploring-deviations-of-faith-and-rennyo-shonin-ofumi-the-letters-of-rennyo/

Credits: The text for the Letters of Rennyo as presented on this and subsequent pages was originally shared on the following site : http://www.yamadera.info/seiten/seiten_index.htm

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