Since those who have realized shinjin necessarily abide in the stage of the truly settled, they are in the stage equal to the perfect enlightenment. In the Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life those who have been grasped, never to be abandoned, are said to be in the stage of the truly settled, and in the Sutra of the Tathagata of Immeasurable Life they are said to have attained the stage equal to perfect enlightenment. Although they differ, the terms “truly settled” and “equal to enlightenment” have the same meaning and indicate the same stage. Equal to the perfect enlightenment is the same stage as that of Maitreya, who is in the rank of succession to Buddhahood. Since persons of shinjin will definitely attain the supreme enlightenment, they are said to be the same as Maitreya.
Now, the Larger Sutra speaks of “[the stage] next [to enlightenment], like Maitreya.” Since Maitreya is already close to Buddhahood, it is the custom in various schools to speak of him as Maitreya Buddha. Since those counted among the truly settled are of the same stage as Maitreya, they are also said to be equal to the Tathagatas. Know that persons of true shinjin can be called the equal of Tathagatas because, even though they themselves are always impure and creating karmic evil, their hearts and minds are already equal to Tathagatas.
Since it is already established that Maitreya will attain the supreme enlightenment, we speak of the “Dawn of the Three Assemblies” when he will preach as a Buddha. The person who lives the truth and reality of the Pure Land should understand this. In theHymns [on the Samadhi] of All Buddhas’ Presence Shan-tao, the Master of Kuang-ming temple, explains that the heart of the person of shinjin already and always resides in the Pure Land. “Resides” means that the heart of the person of shinjin constantly dwells there. This is to say that such a person is the same as Maitreya. Since being of the stage equal to enlightenment is being the same as Maitreya, the person of shinjin is equal to the Tathagatas.
Shoka 1