Koso Wasan – On Youtube – Part 3: Wasan on Master T’an-luan – Verses 21-54

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3. Master T’an-luan – Verses 21-54

Koso Wasan 21

Our teacher, Master T’an-luan,
Through the guidance of Bodhiruchi,
Burned his scriptures on immortality, discarding them forever,
And deeply took refuge in the Pure Land.

Koso Wasan 22

Putting aside his lectures on the four treatises,
He taught Other Power, the working of the Primal Vow;
Guiding foolish beings bound by their blind passions,
He led them to enter the gate to nirvana.

Koso Wasan 23

The lord of the mundane world came to inquire
Why he aspired for the Pure Land:
‘All Buddha realms throughout the ten quarters are pure;
Why do you turn to the land in the west?’

Koso Wasan 24

Master T’an-luan answered: ‘Since my wisdom is shallow
And I have not yet attained the higher stages of bodhisattva-hood,
I am incapable, with my powers of mindfulness,
Of thinking equally on all lands.’

Koso Wasan 25

Neither monks nor laity
Had any place to turn for refuge;
Master T’an-luan alone resolved
To lead them to aspire for the land of happiness.

Koso Wasan 26

At the behest of the Emperor of Wei,
He lived at Ta-yen temple in Ping-chou.
Later, near the end of his life,
He moved to Fen-chou.

Koso Wasan 27

The Emperor of Wei venerated him,
Giving him the title, ‘Holy Luan’;
The place where he lived came to be known
As Eminent Luan’s Cliff.

Koso Wasan 28

Exerting all his energy to spread
The act for birth in the Pure Land,
He lived at Hsuan-chung temple,
And in 542, moved to Yao-shan temple.

Koso Wasan 29

On reaching the age of sixty-seven, his time come,
He attained birth in the Pure Land;
There were then wondrous, auspicious occurrences,
And monks and laity all venerated and took refuge in him.

Koso Wasan 30

The emperor, wholeheartedly revering him,
Commanded that a tomb be built immediately
At the splendid site of Chin-ling,
In the Fen-chou district of Hen-hsi province.

Koso Wasan 31

Though we had the words of Bodhisattva Vasubandhu,
If Master T’an-luan had not clarified them,
How could we come to know the mind and practice
Of vast, majestic virtues, which are Other Power?

Koso Wasan 32

Knowing truly that the Primal Vow –
The perfect One Vehicle that brings about sudden attainment –
Grasps those who commit grave offences and transgressions,
We are quickly brought to realise that blind passions
    and enlightenment are not two in substance.

Koso Wasan 33

Of the five inconceivabilities taught in the sutras,
The inconceivability of the power of the Buddha-dharma
    is supreme;
The inconceivability of the power of the Buddha-dharma
Refers to Amida’s universal Vow.

Koso Wasan 34

Amida has fulfilled the directing of virtue,
Which has two aspects: that for our going forth
    and that for our return.
Through these aspects of the Buddha’s directing of virtue,
We are brought to realise both mind and practice.

Koso Wasan 35

The directing of virtue for our going forth is such that
When Amida’s active means towards us reaches fulfilment,
We realise the shinjin and practice of the compassionate Vow;
Then birth-and-death is itself nirvana.

Koso Wasan 36

The directing of virtue for our return to this world is such that
We attain the resultant state of benefiting and guiding others;
Immediately re-entering the world of beings,
We engage in the compassionate activity that is the virtue of

Koso Wasan 37

Vasubandhu speaks in his Treatise, of ‘the mind that is single’;
Master T’an-luan, in his commentary, explains that
This is shinjin – itself Other power –
That we who are possesses of blind passions attain.

Koso Wasan 38

The unhindered light filling the ten quarters,
Shines on the beings in the darkness of ignorance,
And unfailingly brings to attainment of nirvana
The person who realises the one thought-moment of joy.

Koso Wasan 39

Through the benefit of the unhindered light,
We realise shinjin of vast, majestic virtues,
And the ice of our blind passions necessarily melts,
Immediately becoming water of enlightenment.

Koso Wasan 40

Obstructions of karmic evil turn into virtues;
It is like the relation of ice and water:
The more the ice, the more the water;
The more the obstructions, the more the virtues.

Koso Wasan 41

The ocean of the inconceivable Name does not hold unchanged
The corpses of the five grave offences and slander of the dharma;
The myriad rivers of evil acts, on entering it,
Become one in taste with the ocean water of virtues.

Koso Wasan 42

Rivers of blind passions, on entering the ocean –
The great, compassionate Vow
Of unhindered light filling the ten quarters –
Become one in taste with that sea of wisdom.

Koso Wasan 43

Being born in the Buddha-land of happiness
Is the path to the ultimate attainment of Buddhahood;
All Buddhas acclaim the Pure Land,
For birth there is the unsurpassed means.

Koso Wasan 44

T’an-luan teaches that the Buddhas adorn their
    three modes of action,
So that they are characterised by ultimate non-discrimination;
This is to heal the bodily, verbal and mental acts of beings,
Which are false and delusional.

Koso Wasan 45

T’an-luan teaches that we reach the Buddha-land of happiness
Solely with the Name – the unsurpassed gem –
And true shinjin,
For those born there follow no other way.

Koso Wasan 46

Although there are initially nine grades of beings,
Because the birth attained through Amida’s pure Primal Vow
Is birth that is no-birth,
The Pure Land is free of such discrimination.

Koso Wasan 47

The Name of the Tathagata of unhindered light
And the light that is the embodiment of wisdom
Dispel the darkness of the long night of ignorance
And fulfil the aspirations of sentient beings.

Koso Wasan 48

Master T’an-luan explains
That failing to practice in accord with reality
Means first, that shinjin is not genuine in that person,
For it appears to exist at times, and not to exist in others.

Koso Wasan 49

Second, shinjin is not single
For it lacks decisiveness;
And third, shinjin is not enduring,
For it is disrupted by other thoughts.

Koso Wasan 50

The practicer should remember that these three aspects of
      [untrue] shinjin
Are established with one leading to another;
Because one’s shinjin is not genuine,
It is not shinjin that is decisive.

Koso Wasan 51

Because it is not shinjin that is decisive,
Mindfulness does not endure;
Because mindfulness does not endure,
One does not realise the shinjin that is decisive.

Koso Wasan 52

Because one does not realise shinjin that is decisive,
It is not genuine; this T’an-luan teaches.
Whether practice is fully in accord with reality
Is determined solely by shinjin.

Koso Wasan 53

Having turned from the little road,
Of a myriad practices and good acts
And entered the great path of the Primal Vow,
      which is true reality,
We will quickly attain the enlightenment of nirvana.

Koso Wasan 54

King Hsiao, the Emperor of Liang,
Always faced in the direction
Of our teacher and paid homage to him,
Calling him Bodhisattva Luan.

-> Next: Master Tao-ch’o: Verses 55-61 

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