On “The True Disciple of the Buddha”

Major Expositions

KGSS III:84-98


[True Disciple of Buddha]

84 In the term true disciple of Buddha, true contrasts with false and provisional. Disciple indicates a disciple of Sakyamuni and the other Buddhas. This expression refers to the practicer who has realized the diamondlike heart and mind. Through this shinjin and practice, one will without fail transcend and realize great nirvana; hence, one is called true disciple of Buddha.


85 The Larger Sutra states:

When I attain Buddhahood, the sentient beings throughout the countless, incalculable Buddha-realms of the ten quarters, upon receiving my light and having their bodies touched by it, shall become soft and gentle in body and mind, thereby surpassing other men and devas. If it be not so, may I not attain the supreme enlightenment.

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the sentient beings throughout the countless and incalculable Buddha-realms of the ten quarters, upon hearing my Name, do not acquire the bodhisattva’s insight into the nonorigination of all existence and all the profound dharanis, may I not attain the supreme enlightenment.


86 The Sutra of the Tathagata of Immeasurable Life states:

When I attain Buddhahood, the sentient beings of the countless, immeasurable, inconceivable, numberless worlds throughout the ten quarters who receive the Buddha’s majestic light and are touched and illuminated by it shall attain peace and comfort in body and mind, thereby surpassing other human beings and devas. If it be not so, may I not attain enlightenment.


87 Further, [the Larger Sutra] states:

The one who hears and never forgets this dharma,
But sees and reveres it and greatly rejoices in attaining it –
That person is my true companion.


88 Further, it states:

The person who aspires with a sincere mind to be born in the land of happiness shall reach the full illumination of wisdom and acquire virtues unexcelled.


89 Further, [the Sutra of the Tathagata of Immeasurable Life] states:

A person of vast and excellent understanding.


90 Further, it states:

Such a person is one of great, majestic virtue. He or she shall enter the preeminent gateway of the boundless Buddha-dharma.


91 Further, [the Contemplation Sutra] states:

Know that the person who says the nembutsu is a white lotus among people.


92 Passages on the Land of Happiness states:

Through quoting from the various Mahayana scriptures, the method and model for teaching and for listening will be clarified. The Great Assembly states:

The person who teaches the dharma should think of himself as king among physicians and of his work as the elimination of pain. He should think of the dharma that he teaches as sweet nectar (amrta) or milk of the finest taste (manda).

The person who listens to the dharma should think that excellent understanding thereby increases and grows and that his sickness is being cured.

Such a teacher and listener together can make the Buddha-dharma flourish. They dwell always in the presence of the Buddhas…

According to the Nirvana Sutra:

The Buddha said, “If a person just constantly practices the nembutsu-samadhi with a sincere mind, the Buddhas of the ten quarters will always see him, just as if they were actually in front of him.”

Therefore the Nirvana Sutra states:

The Buddha said to Bodhisattva Kasyapa, “If there are good sons or good daughters who always solely practice the nembutsu with a sincere mind, whether they be in mountain forests or in villages, whether it be day or night, whether they be sitting or reclining, the world-honored Buddhas will always see them, as if they were before their eyes. The Buddhas always, for the sake of such people, accept the offerings they make.”…

According to the Commentary on the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra, there are three explanations of this. First, the Buddha is the supreme dharma-king and bodhisattvas are the dharma-vassals. Only the Buddha, the World-honored one, is to be venerated and revered. For this reason we should constantly practice the nembutsu.

Second, the bodhisattvas themselves declare, “For innumerable kalpas we have received the World-honored one’s attention in nurturing our dharma-body, wisdom-body, and body of great compassion. Thanks to the Buddha we have been able to fulfill meditation, wisdom, and innumerable practices and vows. In order to return in gratitude the Buddha’s benevolence, we desire to serve him always. We are like great vassals who, receiving the king’s kindness, are always mindful of him.”

Third, the bodhisattvas speak these words, “In our causal stage, we encountered true teachers, but we maligned wisdom and tumbled into evil paths. Though we passed countless kalpas in performance of other practices, still we could not emerge. Later, by once happening to be near a true teacher, we were taught to practice the nembutsu-samadhi. At that time we were immediately enabled to cast off all our hindrances and to attain emancipation. Because of this immense benefit, we desire never to part from the Buddha.”…

The Larger Sutra states:

If you aspire for birth in the Pure Land, you should unfailingly take as essential the awakening of the mind aspiring for enlightenment; this is the basis [for attaining birth]. Why? Because “enlightenment” is a name for the supreme Buddha-way. If you desire to attain Buddhahood by awakening this mind of aspiration, it will be vast and pervade the dharma-realm; it will be everlasting and continue throughout all the future. This mind is in every respect free of the hindrances of the two vehicles. If you awaken this mind, you will break out of the round of existence that you have been undergoing ever since the beginningless past…

The Sutra of Great Compassion states:

What is “great compassion”? Those who continue solely in the nembutsu without any interruption will thereby be born without fail in the land of happiness at the end of life. If these people encourage each other and bring others to say the Name, they are all called “people who practice great compassion.”


93 The Master of Kuang-ming temple states:

It is regrettable indeed that sentient beings doubt what should not be doubted;
The Pure Land is right before us and never out of harmony with us.
Do not ponder whether Amida will take you in or not;
The question is whether or not you wholeheartedly turn about at heart…

It is said from this moment until the attainment of Buddhahood,
For vast kalpas, we will praise the Buddha out of gratitude for his compassion and benevolence.
Had we not received the power of Amida’s universal Vow,
When – in what kalpa – could we part from this Saha world?…

And how could we now expect to reach that precious land?
It is indeed the power of our Guide, who appeared in the Saha world.
But for the encouragement of our Guide, our true teacher,
How would we be able to enter Amida’s Pure Land?


94 Further, he states:

Extremely difficult is it to encounter an age in which the Buddha appears,
And difficult indeed for a person to realize the wisdom of shinjin.
To come to hear the dharma rarely met with
Is again among all things most difficult.
To realize shinjin oneself and to guide others to shinjin
Is among difficult things yet even more difficult.
To awaken beings everywhere to great compassion
Is truly to respond in gratitude to the Buddha’s benevolence.


95 Further, he states:

The body of Amida is in color like a mountain of gold;
The radiance of his features and marks illumines the ten quarters;
Only people of the nembutsu are grasped by the light;
Know that the Primal Vow is the decisive cause.

The Tathagatas of the ten quarters extend their tongues and give witness:
Persons who solely say the Name attain the West.
Reaching the lotus dais, they hear the excellent dharma;
The vows and practice of the ten stages naturally manifest themselves in them.


96 Further, he states:

There are sentient beings who solely think on Amida Buddha; only these people are constantly illumined by the light of that Buddha’s heart, grasped and protected, never to be abandoned. It is not at all stated that any practicers of various other acts are illumined and embraced. This is being protected in the present life, a manifestation of the decisive cause of birth in the Pure Land.


97 Further, he states:

The words, The heart rejoices and one attains insight, teach that the pure radiance of Amida Buddha’s land suddenly appears before one. How can one keep from leaping with joy? Out of this joy, one immediately attains insight into the nonorigination of all existence. This is also called “insight of joy,” “insight of awakening,” and “insight of confidence.” In suggesting this attainment beforehand, [the Buddha] does not yet reveal at what point it will occur. [These words are spoken here] out of the wish to bring the Queen to aspire wholeheartedly for that benefit. When one courageously and single-mindedly desires in one’s heart to see [Amida Buddha], then one will realize insight. This is mainly insight achieved within the ten stages of faith; it is not the insight realized in or above the stages of understanding and practice.


98 Further, he states:

The passage from The person of the nembutsu to is born in the home of the Buddhas clearly reveals that the virtue of the nembutsu-samadhi is completely transcendent; truly it allows no comparison with sundry good practices. In this, five points are clarified: First, the practice of saying the Name of Amida Buddha alone.

Second, the person who says the Name is singled out and praised.

Third, the person who continues in the nembutsu is a truly rare person; there is nothing that compares with such a one. For this reason, the white lotus is used as an analogy. The white lotus is called “the excellent flower among people,” or “the rare flower,” or “the best among the best,” or “the wondrous excellent flower.” What has traditionally been called the “blossom bearing the white tortoise” is none other than this flower. The person of the nembutsu is the excellent person among people, the wondrous, excellent person, the best among the best, the rare person, the very finest person.

Fourth, the person who practices the saying of the Name of Amida alone is protected by Avalokitesvara and Mahasthamaprapta, who accompany him or her constantly, as shadows do things. They are like close friends and true teachers.

Fifth, already in this life, the person has received this benefit. Thus, when life ends, that person immediately enters the home of all the Buddhas; this is the Pure Land. Attaining that land, that person listens long to the dharma and travels to the lands of the Buddhas to pay homage. Since the cause has been completed, the result will be fulfilled. How could the seat of enlightenment be far distant?