Notes on the Inscriptions of Sacred Scrolls

It is stated in the Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life:

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the sentient beings of the ten quarters, with sincere mind entrusting themselves, aspiring to be born in my land, and saying my Name perhaps even ten times, should not be born there, may I not attain the supreme enlightenment. Excluded are those who commit the five grave offenses and those who slander the right dharma.

It is stated in the Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life: the sutra that teaches the Tathagata’s Forty-eight Vows.

If, when I attain Buddhahood: “If, when I have attained Buddhahood.”

The sentient beings of the ten quarters: all the beings throughout the ten quarters.

With sincere mind entrusting themselves: Sincere means true and real. “True and real; this is what sincere mind means. From the very beginning sentient beings, who are filled with blind passions, lack a mind true and real, a heart of purity, for they are possessed of defilements, evil, and wrong views. Entrusting is to be free of doubt, believing deeply and without any double-mindedness that the Tathagata’s Primal Vow is true and real. This entrusting with sincere mind, then, is that arising from the Vow in which Amida urges every being throughout the ten quarters, “Entrust yourself to my Vow, which is true and real”; it does not arise from the hearts and minds of foolish beings of self-power.

Aspiring to be born in my land: “Out of the entrusting with sincere mind that is Other Power, aspire to be born in the Pure Land of happiness!”

Saying my Name perhaps even ten times: In encouraging us to say the Name that embodies the Vow, the Tathagata added perhaps even to the words ten times to show that there is no set number of times the Name must be said and to teach sentient beings that there is no determined hour or occasion for saying it. Since we have been given this Vow by the Tathagata, we can take any occasion in daily life for saying the Name and need not wait to recite it at the very end of life; we should simply give ourselves up totally to the entrusting with sincere mind of the Tathagata. When persons realize this true and real shinjin, they enter completely into the compassionate light that grasps, never to abandon, and hence become established in the stage of the truly settled. Thus it is written.

Should not be born there, may I not attain the supreme enlightenment: “If the person who has realized entrusting with sincere mind is not born in my Pure Land, may I not become a Buddha.” This, the essential purport of the Primal Vow, can be found fully explained in the Essentials of Faith Alone. “Faith alone” is the heart that aspires solely to this true and real entrusting.

Excluded are those who commit the five grave offenses and those who slander the right dharma: Excluded means that those who commit the five grave offenses are rejected and reveals how grave the evil of slandering the dharma is. By showing the gravity of these two kinds of wrongdoing, these words make us realize that all the sentient beings throughout the ten quarters, without a single exception, will be born in the Pure Land.

~

It further states:

The power of the Buddha’s Primal Vow is such
That those who, hearing the Name, aspire for birth,
All reach that land –
Their attainment of nonretrogression coming about of itself.

The power of the Buddha’s Primal Vow: the power of the Primal Vow of Amida.

Hearing the Name, aspire for birth: Hearing is to entrust oneself to the Name that embodies the Tathagata’s Vow.

Aspire for birth: “Aspire to be born in the land of purity and happiness!”

All reach that land: Those who entrust themselves to the Name embodying the Vow and desire to be born will all, without exception, reach the Pure Land.

Their attainment of nonretrogression coming about of itself: Of itself (ji) means that the calculation of sentient beings is not involved at all; it being made to become so, one is brought to attainment of the stage of nonretrogression. Of itself expresses jinen.

Attainment is to reach, to take as the essence. Thus: “The persons who entrust themselves to the Name embodying the Tathagata’s Primal Vow are brought to the stage of nonretrogression naturally, by jinen. Realize that you should take this as the essence.”

Nonretrogression is the stage at which a person becomes settled as one who will necessarily attain Buddhahood. With these words, Sakyamuni teaches us to take reaching the stage of the truly settled as the essence.

~

It further states:

Necessarily one achieves the abandoning of this world, transcending and parting from it, and attains birth in the land of peace. One cuts off crosswise the five evil courses and the evil courses close naturally (jinen). Ascending the way is without limit; to go is easy and yet no one is born there. Never at variance with that land, one is drawn by its spontaneous working (jinen).

Necessarily one achieves the abandoning of this world, transcending and parting from it, and attains birth in the land of peace. Necessarily means it has become settled. It further expresses the working of jinen. Parting from: to sever, cast away, and become free of. Abandoning: to cast away, go forth, depart. This passage means that one transcends, becomes free of, and departs from transmigration in birth-and-death, cutting off and abandoning this Saha world; it means that one shall definitely attain birth in the Pure Land of peace. Peace expresses praise of Amida and indicates the Pure Land of happiness.

One cuts off crosswise the five evil courses and the evil courses close naturally (jinen). Crosswise: laterally or transcendently. This means that because persons entrust themselves to the power of Tathagata’s Vow – this is the absence of calculation on the part of the practicer – they cut off and abandon the five evil courses and become free of the four modes of birth naturally, by jinen; it signifies Other Power. This is the meaning of “crosswise leap.” “Crosswise” is used in contrast with lengthwise, “leap” in contrast with going around. “Lengthwise” and “going around” characterize the self-power Path of Sages; the crosswise leap is the fundamental intent of the true teaching of Other Power.

Cuts off means to sever crosswise the bonds of the five evil courses. The evil courses close naturally: When a person takes refuge in the power of the Vow, the five courses of birth-and-death are closed off; hence, close naturally. That is, drawn by the Primal Vow as the karmic cause, one attains birth in the Pure Land naturally, byjinen.

Ascending the way is without limit. Ascending: attaining the supreme nirvana. Way: the enlightenment of great nirvana.

To go is easy and yet no one is born there. To go is easy: When persons allow themselves to be carried by the power of the Primal Vow, they are certain to be born in the land that has been fulfilled through it; hence, it is easy going there. No one is born there: Because people of true and real shinjin are extremely rare, those born in the true fulfilled land are few. Hence, Master Genshin states that those born in the fulfilled Pure Land are extremely few; those born in the transformed Pure Land are many.

Never at variance with that land, one is drawn there by its spontaneous working (jinen). That land is the Pure Land of peace. Never at variance means not upside down, not at variance. Through the karmic power of the great Vow, the person who has realized true and real shinjin naturally is in accord with the cause of birth in the Pure Land and is drawn by the Buddha’s karmic power; hence the going is easy, and ascending to and attaining the supreme great nirvana is without limit. Thus the words, one is drawn there by its spontaneous working (jinen). One is drawn there naturally by the cause of birth, the entrusting with sincere mind that is Other Power; this is the meaning of drawn. Jinen means that there is no calculating on the part of the practicer.