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2. Wasan on the Three Pure Land Sutras
Jōdo Wasan 51
Venerable Ānanda, rising from his seat,
Beheld the majestic radiance of the World-honoured one;
Amazed, with a rare feeling of wonder emerging in him,
He realized he had never witnessed such radiance before.
Jōdo Wasan 52
Śākyamuni’s splendour was rare and auspicious;
Ananda, rejoicing immensely,
Asked its meaning, whereupon the Buddha revealed
The fundamental intent of his appearance in the world.
Jōdo Wasan 53
Having entered the Samadhi of great tranquillity,
The Buddha’s countenance was wondrous in its radiance;
Observing the depth of Ānanda’s discernment,
He praised him for his insightful question.
Jōdo Wasan 54
The fundamental intent for which the Buddha appeared in the
Was to reveal the truth and reality of the Primal Vow.
He taught that to encounter or behold a Buddha
Is as rare as the blossoming of the Uḍumbara.
Jōdo Wasan 55
It is taught that ten kalpas have now passed
Since Amida attained Buddhahood,
But he seems a Buddha more ancient
Than kalpas countless as particles.
Jōdo Wasan 56
The Buddha of Inconceivable Light, under Lokeśvararāja Buddha,
Selected the best qualities from among
All the pure lands of the ten quarters
To establish the Primal Vow.
Jōdo Wasan 57
The light of the Buddha of Unhindered Light
Harbours the lights of purity, joy, and wisdom;
Its virtuous working surpasses conceptual understanding,
As it benefits the beings throughout the ten quarters.
Jōdo Wasan 58
Encouraging the beings of the ten quarters with the words,
‘With sincere mind entrust yourselves and aspire for birth,’
Amida established the Vow beyond conceptual understanding
And made it the cause of birth in the true and real fulfilled land.
Jōdo Wasan 59
Those who attain true and real shinjin
Immediately join the truly settled;
Thus having entered the stage of non-retrogression,
They necessarily attain nirvana.
Jōdo Wasan 60
So profound is Amida’s great compassion
That, manifesting inconceivable Buddha-wisdom,
The Buddha established the Vow of transformation into men,
Thereby vowing to enable women to attain Buddhahood.
Jōdo Wasan 61
Provisionally guiding sentient beings of the ten quarters
with the words,
‘Aspire with sincere mind and desire to be born,’
Amida revealed the temporary gate of various good acts
And vowed to appear before them [at the time of death].
Jōdo Wasan 62
Based on Amida’s Vow to appear at the time of death,
Śākyamuni presented all the various good acts
In one scripture, the Contemplation Sutra,
To encourage those who perform meditative and
Jōdo Wasan 63
All the good acts and myriad practices,
Because they are performed with a sincere mind and aspiration,
Become, without exception, provisional good
That will lead to birth in the Pure Land.
Jōdo Wasan 64
Provisionally guiding sentient beings of the ten quarters
with the words,
‘Direct your merits with sincere mind, desiring to be born,’
Amida revealed the true gate of the Name,
Vowing to enable beings ultimately to attain birth.
Jōdo Wasan 65
Based on the Vow that beings ultimately attain birth,
Śākyamuni presented, in the Amida Sutra,
The root of good and the root of virtue,
Encouraging those of the One Vehicle.
Jōdo Wasan 66
Those who say the Name in self-power, whether
meditative or non-meditative –
Having indeed taken refuge in the Vow that beings
ultimately attain birth –
Will spontaneously, even without being taught,
Turn about and enter the gate of suchness.
Jōdo Wasan 67
Those who, though aspiring for the Pure Land of happiness,
Do not realize shinjin that is Other Power,
Doubt the Buddha’s inconceivable wisdom and therefore dwell
In the borderland or the realm of indolence and pride.
Jōdo Wasan 68
It is difficult to encounter a time when a Tathagata appears
in the world,
And difficult to hear the teaching of the Buddhas;
It is rare to hear the excellent dharma for bodhisattvas,
Even in a span of countless kalpas.
Jōdo Wasan 69
It is difficult to meet true teachers
And difficult for them to instruct.
It is difficult to hear the teaching well,
And more difficult still to accept it.
Jōdo Wasan 70
More difficult even than trust in the teachings of
Is the true entrusting of the universal Vow,
The sutra teaches that it is ‘the most difficult of all difficulties,’
That ‘nothing surpasses this difficulty.’
Jōdo Wasan 71
Attaining Buddhahood through the Nembutsu is the true
essence of the Pure Land way;
The myriad practices and good acts are the temporary gate.
Unless one distinguishes the accommodated and the real,
the temporary and the true,
One cannot possibly know the Pure Land that
is naturalness (jinen).
Jōdo Wasan 72
Sentient beings, having long followed the Path of Sages –
The accommodated and temporary teachings that are
provisional means –
Have been transmigrating in various forms of existence;
So take refuge in the One Vehicle of the compassionate Vow.
Jōdo Wasan 73
Śākyamuni Buddha, out of vast benevolence,
Instructed Queen Vaidehī, leading her to select,
From among all the lands manifested in the pedestal of light,
Amida’s world of happiness.
Jōdo Wasan 74
King Bimbisāra put the ascetic to death
Without waiting for the time of his rebirth as determined
by past conditions,
And in recompense for this act of murder,
Was imprisoned in a cell seven walls thick.
Jōdo Wasan 75
King Ajātaśatru shouted, in a fit of rage,
My own mother betrays me!
And heinously, to strike her down,
He drew his sword against her.
Jōdo Wasan 76
Jīvaka and Candraprabha earnestly admonished the king,
Saying such acts were those of an outcaste,
And that they could not remain in the castle should he persist;
Thus they tried to quell his lawless impulses.
Jōdo Wasan 77
The minister Jīvaka, with hand on his sword,
Stepped backward and began to take his leave;
Ajātaśatru was thus made to discard his sword,
But he confined Vaidehī within the palace.
Jōdo Wasan 78
Amida and Sakyamuni, employing compassionate means,
And Ananda, Maudgalyayana, Purna, Vaidehi,
Devadatta, King Ajatasatru, Bimbisara,
Jivaka, Candraprabha, Varsakara, and others –
[continues in Wasan 79…]
Jōdo Wasan 79
All of them great sages –
By various means, brought the most foolish and lowest
Of evil people to enter the Vow
That does not neglect people of grave offenses and transgressions.
Jōdo Wasan 80
Since conditions for the Pure Land teaching had matured,
Śākyamuni and Vaidehī, manifesting compassionate means,
Led the minister Varsakara to bear witness
And King Ajātaśatru to commit grave offenses.
Jōdo Wasan 81
Let us overturn the three minds of self-power,
whether meditative or non-meditative,
Which vary with each practicer;
Let us aspire to enter into shinjin
That arises from Amida’s benefiting of others.
Jōdo Wasan 82
Seeing the sentient beings of the Nembutsu
Throughout the worlds, countless as particles, in the ten quarters,
The Buddha grasps and never abandons them,
And therefore is named ‘Amida.’
Jōdo Wasan 83
The Buddhas, countless as the sands of the Ganges or as particles,
Reject the small good of the various practices
And all alike wholeheartedly encourage beings
To realize shinjin that is the inconceivable working of the Name.
Jōdo Wasan 84
The Buddhas of the ten quarters, countless as the sands of
Teach this dharma that is most difficult to accept;
For the sake of the evil world of the five defilements,
They bear witness to the teaching and protect beings who
take refuge in it.
Jōdo Wasan 85
The Buddhas’ protection and witness
Arise from the fulfilment of the Vow of compassion;
So let those who attain the diamond-like mind,
Respond in gratitude to Amida’s great benevolence.
Jōdo Wasan 86
To the evil beings of wrong views
In this evil age of five defilements, in this evil world
The Buddhas, countless as the sands of the Ganges,
Give the Name of Amida, urging [them to entrust themselves to it].
—> Next: 3. Amida Wasan on the Heart of Various Sutras: Verses 87-95
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We would like to thank Rev. Sugahara for his work and dedication to supporting us fools in this life with the Nembutsu teaching.
Namo Amida Butsu!