Shinran Shonin, at age 85 (1257), wrote the Shozomatsu Wasan, some nine years after he had finished writing the Jōdo & Koso Wasan.
Shozomatsu Wasan comprises the following 5 chapters:
- Wasans on the Dharma-Ages: Verses 1-59
- Wasans on the offence of Doubting the Primal Vow: Verses 60-82
3. Wasan in praise of Prince Shotoku (Shotoku Taishi) : Verses 83-93
4. Wasans of Gutoku’s Lament & Reflection: Verses 94-109
5. Wasans on Zenkoji Temple: Verses 110-116
6. On Jinnen-Honi
7. Concluding Wasans
1. Shozomatsu no Jōdo Wasan
Shozomatsu Wasan 1
In the second year of Kogen – the year of fire serpent – on the ninth day of the second month, during the hour of the tiger, I was told in a dream:
Have faith in the Primal Vow of Amida
Those who have faith in the Primal Vow
Will, through the benefit of being embraced and never forsaken,
Attain the supreme enlightenment.
Shozomatsu Wasan 2
Tathagata Shakyamuni passed from the world
Now two thousand years ago, and more.
Two Dharma-ages – of the Right and the Semblance – have come to an end;
So weep, disciples of the Tathagata!
Shozomatsu Wasan 3
For sentient beings of the Last Dharma Age with the five defilements
Practice and enlightenment are now beyond reach;
And the teachings of Shakyamuni that had remained;
Have all passed into the Dragon Palace.
Shozomatsu Wasan 4
Throughout the three Dharma Ages – Right, Semblance, and Last –
Amida’s Primal Vow has spread.
In this world, at the end of the Semblance Dharma-age,
All goodness has entered the Dragon Palace.
Shozomatsu Wasan 5
The Daiju-kyo teaches that
In this age – the fifth five hundred years –
Because strifes and quarrels flourish,
The Pure Dharma was hidden and stilled.
Shozomatsu Wasan 6
When the tens of thousands of years’ life span of sentient beings,
Because of the gradual decay of their good karma,
Was shortened to twenty-thousand years,
The world was given the name ‘evil world of five
Shozomatsu Wasan 7
In the course of the corrupted Kalpa,
The bodies of sentient beings grow smaller gradually;
As the wickedness of the five defilements prevails,
They become like poisonous snakes and spiteful dragons.
Shozomatsu Wasan 8
Ignorance and afflicting passions grow thick,
And abound everywhere like particles of dust.
Yearning and detesting, becoming at odds or in accord,
Rise up like mountain peaks and high ridges.
Shozomatsu Wasan 9
Sentient beings have false views that rage and spread
Like dense thickets and forests of thorns and brambles;
The slander the followers of the Nembutsu,
And fierce attacks and bitterness prevail everywhere.
Shozomatsu Wasan 10
Due to life-span degeneration with its untimely and momentary life,
The two results – man and his surroundings – both come to an end,
And turning away from the true and clinging to the twisted prevails,
So that, senselessly, beings inflict harm upon each other.
Shozomatsu Wasan 11
Now is the Last Dharma-age, the fifth span of five hundred years,
For all sentient beings in this world –
Lacking faith in the Tathagata’s compassionate Vow –
There can be no liberation at all.
Shozomatsu Wasan 12
The ninety-five teachings defile the world.
The path of the Buddha alone is pure.
Only in the attainment of enlightenment exist
The natural workings to benefit those in the burning house.
Shozomatsu Wasan 13
Coming down to the age of the five defilements and its beings,
Whether of the Way or of the world men clash in turmoil,
And when they see those who are held in the Nembutsu,
Fierce suspicions and attacks break forth and seethe.
Shozomatsu Wasan 14
Those who may never attain enlightenment
Persecute followers of the exclusive practice of the Nembutsu;
The result of destroying the teaching of sudden attainment
Is that the vast ocean of birth-and-death persists without end.
Shozomatsu Wasan 15
Though we may believe this age and ourselves to be of the Right Dharma age
We are fools bottom-deep in afflicting passions,
And utterly without a mind of purity and truth.
How can we waken aspiration for Enlightenment?
Shozomatsu Wasan 16
The aspiration in the Path of Sages for enlightenment through self-power
Is beyond our minds and words;
For us, ignorant beings, ever spun in the rush of waves,
How is it possible to awaken such aspiration?
Shozomatsu Wasan 17
In a myriad of ages directly under Buddhas
Numbering three times the sands of the Ganges,
We awakened the great aspiration for enlightenment,
Our self-power insufficient, we have continued in transmigration.
Shozomatsu Wasan 18
Since the world has entered the Semblance and the Last Dharma-ages with the five defilements,
The teachings left to us by Shakyamuni have become hidden,
But as Amida’s compassionate Vow is spread,
Birth through the Nembutsu flourished.
Shozomatsu Wasan 19
Embracing the peerless beyond the world’s understanding,
Choosing and contemplating them for five kalpas,
The Vows of light and life
Became the source of great compassion.
Shozomatsu Wasan 20
The great aspiration for enlightenment in the Pure Land Gate
Wakens in beings the determination to become enlightened
Which is to say: the determination to become enlightened
Is the determination to save all sentient beings
Shozomatsu Wasan 21
That which is called the determination to save all sentient beings
Is the transference of Amida’s Wisdom-Vow:
Those who attain faith, this transference,
Realise the great nirvana.
Shozomatsu Wasan 22
Those who take refuge in the Tathagata’s transference of merit
Attain the determination to become enlightened
Cast away merit-transference of self-power:
Their benefiting of other sentient beings transcends all bounds.
Shozomatsu Wasan 23
Into the waters of the ocean of Amida’s Wisdom-Vow
The waters of entrusting to that Other Power flow completely,
So that, by the nature of the true recompensed land,
Afflicting passion and enlightenment have one taste.
Shozomatsu Wasan 24
All the people with deep faith
In the Tathagata’s twofold merit transference,
Because they attain the stage of equal to perfect enlightenment,
The mindfulness of Amida never weakens.
Shozomatsu Wasan 25
Those people who truly attain faith
Through the merit-transference of Amida’s Wisdom-Vow,
Through the working of being embraced and never forsaken,
Attain the stage of equal to perfect enlightenment.
Shozomatsu Wasan 26
For Bodhisattva Maitreya
Five billion six-hundred seventy million years will pass,
But those attaining true faith
Achieve enlightenment at this time.
Shozomatsu Wasan 27
Those who reach the stage of ‘equal to perfect enlightenment’,
By means of the Vow of birth through the nembutsu,
Are equal to Bodhisattva Maitreya
In attaining great nirvana.
Shozomatsu Wasan 28
When, immediately upon the attainment of true faith,
One becomes a member of the rightly determined,
He is equal to Maitreya, the Buddha-to-be,
And will realise supreme enlightenment.
Shozomatsu Wasan 29
Even learned masters of the Semblance Dharma-age
Laid aside the many teachings of self-power:
They entered the gate of the Nembutsu,
Because it corresponds to the times and the nature of beings.
Shozomatsu Wasan 30
Those pronouncing the revered Name of Amida
And truly attaining faith
Are constantly mindful of Amida
And desire to return in gratitude the Buddha’s benevolence.
Shozomatsu Wasan 31
When beings of this evil world of the five defilements
Have faith in the Selected Primal Vow,
Immeasurable, inexplicable, and inconceivable
Virtue fills the entire existence of these practicers.
Shozomatsu Wasan 32
The Buddha of unimpeded light declared:
In order to benefit sentient beings of the future
I have invested Mahāsthāmaprāpta Bodhisattva with
The Nembutsu of transcendent wisdom.
Shozomatsu Wasan 33
Out of compassion for the beings of the defiled world
Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva recommends the Nembutsu.
Those who have received faith are embraced
And are granted refuge in the Pure Land.
Shozomatsu Wasan 34
Through the compassion of Shakyamuni and Amida
The determination to become enlightened is awakened in us.
Only by entering the transcendent wisdom of faith,
Can we become one who returns in gratitude the Buddha’s benevolence.
Shozomatsu Wasan 35
Receiving the Nembutsu of transcendent wisdom
Is the work of Dharmakāra’s Vow-power.
Without the transcendent wisdom of faith,
How could we ever realise nirvana?
Shozomatsu Wasan 36
In the long night of ignorance it is the torch:
The wisdom-eye is in darkness, yet do not sorrow.
In the vast sea of birth-and-death it is the raft:
The hindrance of evil karma weights heavy, yet do not grieve.
Shozomatsu Wasan 37
Because the power of the Vow is without limits,
Even our evil karma, so deep and heavy, is not burdensome,
Because the Buddha’s wisdom is without bounds,
Even the bewildered and wayward are not abandoned.
Shozomatsu Wasan 38
About the Tathagata’s making of the Vow:
Without deserting beings in torment
And making it his supreme concern to transfer merit to them,
He consummated the mind of great compassion
Shozomatsu Wasan 39
Since pronouncing the Name with true faith
Is what is transferred by Amida,
It is called non-transference;
Thus reciting the Nembutsu through self-power is detested.
Shozomatsu Wasan 40
When, into the ocean of Amida’s Wisdom-Vow,
The waters of the good and evil hearts of foolish beings
Have entered, then immediately
They change into the heart of great compassion.
Shozomatsu Wasan 41
The perverse views and distractions of my followers
Given to wrong-doing will flourish,
They will destroy my teaching in the last age.
Thus it was told in the Renge-men-kyo.
Shozomatsu Wasan 42
Sentient beings who slander the Nembutsu
Plunge down into Avīchi hell, and
For eighty-thousand kalpas amidst great torment
Without respite they suffer – thus sutras teach.
Shozomatsu Wasan 43
The proper cause for the true recompensed land
Is given in the words of the two Honoured Ones, and,
Becoming one of the assembly of the rightly determined,
Unfailingly we will attain nirvana.
Shozomatsu Wasan 44
The countless Buddhas in the ten directions
Testify to the Nembutsu and protect its followers;
From their words we must recognize that the great aspiration for enlightenment
Cannot be accomplished through self-power.
Shozomatsu Wasan 45
The attainment of true faith is rare
In this defiled world of the Last Dharma-age.
From the testimony of Buddhas countless as the sands of the Ganges
It may be inferred how difficult it is to attain.
Shozomatsu Wasan 46
If we were not to encounter
The merit transference of outgoing and returning,
Our flowing through birth-and-death would be endless.
How should we keep from sinking in the ocean of suffering?
Shozomatsu Wasan 47
Having faith in the inconceivable Buddha-wisdom,
We are in the assembly of the rightly determined.
We, who are to attain the apparitional birth,
Are given excellent wisdom and will realise the supreme enlightenment.
Shozomatsu Wasan 48
Having faith in the inconceivable Buddha-wisdom,
Is taught to be the cause to the recompensed land.
Attaining faith, the right cause,
Is the most difficult among the difficult.
Shozomatsu Wasan 49
Casting aside our anguish of transmigrating from the beginningless past,
To be assured of attaining the supreme nirvana
Is due to the Tathagata’s two-fold merit transference.
Realising gratitude for such benevolence is truly impossible.
Shozomatsu Wasan 50
Followers who are born in the recompensed land are not numerous;
Practicers born in the transformed land are great in number.
Because, through self-power, the attainment of enlightenment is beyond our reach,
We have been transmigrating in samsara since innumerable kalpas ago.
Shozomatsu Wasan 51
The benign virtue of Namu-Amida-Butsu, Amida’s merit-transference,
Is vast and beyond comprehension,
And in the benefit of the outgoing merit-transference
We are led into the benefit of the returning merit-transference.
Shozomatsu Wasan 52
Out of the great compassion of outgoing merit-transference,
The great care of merit-transference of returning is attained.
If it were not for the Tathagata’s merit-transference,
How could we ever attain realisation in the Pure Land?
Shozomatsu Wasan 53
Amida, Kannon, and Dai-seishi,
Sailing on the ship of the great Vow
Upon the sea of birth-and-death,
Call to sentient beings and pull them aboard.
Shozomatsu Wasan 54
In all people with deep faith
In Amida’s Vow of great compassion
Whether they be awake or asleep, no matter where or when,
Namu-Amida-Butsu will naturally be uttered.
Shozomatsu Wasan 55
All the people of the Path of Sages
Depend primarily on the mind of Self-Power.
When they enter completely into the Other Power, which is beyond comprehension,
They realise that no reasoning is the true reasoning.
Shozomatsu Wasan 56
Although Śākyamuni’s teaching still exists,
Because there are no sentient beings who can practice it,
It is taught: there will be no one
Who can attain enlightenment in the Last Dharma-age.
Shozomatsu Wasan 57
O! Great Pure Land masters of three countries,
Receive and hold us in your pity!
Nurture true faith in us, and
Let us be led into the rightly determined state!
Shozomatsu Wasan 58
People to whom faith of the Other Power is endowed,
Since they are in reverence and in a great joy,
Are praised as ‘my good companions’
By the Teacher revered by all the world.
Shozomatsu Wasan 59
The benevolence of the Tathagata’s great compassion,
Even if we must crush our bodies, should be returned in gratitude.
The benevolence of the masters and teachers,
Even if we must break our bones, should be returned in gratitude.
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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!