Gobunshō – 御文章 – Fascicle 3-4 – The Great Sage, the World-honored One – 大聖世尊章 –

3-4 The Great Sage, the World-honored One

When we carefully consider the transiency of human life, we realize that the living will certainly end in death and that the prosperous will eventually decline. This is how life is in the human world. Even so, we vainly live days and nights, spending months and years to no purpose. Indeed, we may lament about it, but I feel that we could never really comprehend the true extent of this pitifully sad situation.

How true it is that impermanence is difficult to escape for all, from the Great Sage, the World-honored One, at the highest level, to Devadatta, who committed evil acts and grave offenses, at the lowest.

Moreover, to receive life as a human being is indeed rare and difficult, and even more so is it the opportunity to encounter the Buddha Dharma, the way of emancipation from birth-and-death through practices of self-power is difficult to follow at the present time in the latter days. Therefore, our lives would be spent in vain unless we encountered the Primal Vow of Amida Tathagata.

Fortunately, however, we have now been able to meet this unique teaching of the universal Vow. So the only thing we should aspire to is the Pure Land of bliss; the only one we should rely on is Amida Tathagata. For this reason, we should settle our entrusting heart and say the nembutsu.

On the other hand, what people in the world generally conceive in their minds is that if only they recite “Namo Amida Butsu” aloud, they will be born in the land of bliss. But this idea is completely groundless.

What then is the meaning of the six-character Name, “Na-mo-a-mi-da-butsu”? We should understand that when we entrust ourselves unwaveringly to Amida Tathagata, the Buddha fully recognizes this and saves us; this is manifested as the six-character Name, “Na-mo-a-mi-da-butsu.”

How then should we entrust ourselves to Amida Tathagata in order to resolve the matter of the greatest importance of the afterlife? We should rely single-mindedly and unwaveringly on Amida Tathagata, entrusting ourselves to Amida without any qualms and discarding the inclination to perform various practices and miscellaneous acts of virtue. Amida recognizes this, sends forth rays of light and embraces with them the sentient beings who rely on the Buddha.

This is expressed as “receiving the benefit of Amida Tathagata’s embracing light.” It is also referred to as “receiving the benefit of the Vow that never forsakes us.”

Once we have thus been received within Amida Tathagata’s light, we will be born in the true fulfilled land immediately after our life comes to an end. There should not be any doubt about this.

Beyond this, what is the use of relying on other Buddhas or practicing other meritorious good acts? How deeply happy and grateful I feel for the benevolence of Amida Tathagata! How could we express our gratitude for Amida’s benevolence, which is like the vast sky and lofty mountains?

We should bear in mind that we simply say aloud “Namo Amida Butsu, …” to express our deep gratitude for Amida’s benevolence.

Humbly and respectfully.

18th day of the 8th month, 6th year of Bunmei [1474]

3-4 大聖世尊章

それ、 つらつら人間にんげんのあだなるていあんずるに、 しょうあるものはかならずし、 さかんなるものはつひにおとろふるならひなり。 さればただいたづらにあかし、 いたづらにくらして、 年月ねんげつおくるばかりなり。 これまことになげきてもなほかなしむべし。

このゆゑに、 かみだいしょうそん (釈尊) よりはじめて、 しもあくぎゃくだいにいたるまで、 のがれがたきはじょうなり。

しかれば、 まれにもけがたきは人身にんじん、 あひがたきは仏法ぶっぽうなり。 たまたま仏法ぶっぽうにあふことをたりといふとも、 りきしゅぎょうもんは、 末代まつだいなれば、 いまときしゅつしょうのみちはかなひがたきあひだ、 弥陀みだ如来にょらい本願ほんがんにあひたてまつらずはいたづらごとなり。

しかるにいますでにわれらがん一法いっぽうにあふことをたり。 このゆゑに、 ただねがふべきは極楽ごくらくじょう、 ただたのむべきは弥陀みだ如来にょらい、 これによりて信心しんじんけつじょうして念仏ねんぶつもうすべきなり。

しかれば、 のなかにひとのあまねくこころえおきたるとほりは、 ただこえして南無なも弥陀みだぶつとばかりとなふれば、 極楽ごくらくおうじょうすべきやうにおもひはんべり。 それはおほきにおぼつかなきことなり。

されば南無なも弥陀みだぶつもうろくたいはいかなるこころぞといふに、 弥陀みだ如来にょらい一向いっこうにたのめば、 ほとけそのしゅじょうをよくしろしめして、 すくひたまへるおんすがたを、 この南無なも弥陀みだぶつろくにあらはしたまふなりとおもふべきなり。

しかれば、 この弥陀みだ如来にょらいをばいかがしてしんじまゐらせて、 しょういちだいをばたすかるべきぞなれば、 なにのわづらひもなく、 もろもろのぞうぎょう雑善ぞうぜんをなげすてて、 一心いっしん一向いっこう弥陀みだ如来にょらいをたのみまゐらせて、 ふたごころなくしんじたてまつれば、 そのたのむしゅじょうこうみょうはなちてそのひかりのなかにおされおきたまふなり。

これをすなはち弥陀みだ如来にょらい摂取せっしゅ光益こうやくにあづかるとはもうすなり。 または*しゃ誓益せいやくともこれをなづくるなり。

かくのごとく弥陀みだ如来にょらいこうみょうのうちにおさめおかれまゐらせてのうへには、 いちのいのちきなばただちに真実しんじつほうおうじょうすべきこと、 そのうたがいあるべからず。

このほかにはべつぶつをもたのみ、 またどく善根ぜんごんしゅしてもなににかはせん。 あら、 たふとや、 あら、 ありがたの弥陀みだ如来にょらいや。 かやうの雨山あめやまおんをばいかがしてほうじたてまつるべきぞや。

ただ南無なも弥陀みだぶつ、 南無なも弥陀みだぶつこえにとなへて、 その恩徳おんどくをふかく報尽ほうじんもうすばかりなりとこころうべきものなり。

あなかしこ、 あなかしこ。


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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