Collected Works of Shinran

“Further, in the expounding of all the various scriptures…”

Further, in the expounding of all the various scriptures, there are not more than five kinds of exposition: first, the Buddha’s exposition; second, the exposition of holy disciples; third, the exposition of heavenly beings and hermit-sages; fourth, the exposition of demi-gods; fifth, the exposition of miraculous spirits. Among these five, take up the Buddha’s exposition and do not rely on the four other kinds. It should be know that the threefold Pure Land sutra is the true exposition of Sakyamuni Tathagata.

The four lands are: first, the land of the dharma-body; second, the land of the fulfilled body; third, the land of the accommodated body; forth, the land of the miraculous body. The present “Pure Land of peace” is a fulfilled land.

The three bodies are: first, the dharma-body; second, the fulfilled body; third, the accommodated body. The present “Amida Tathagata” is a Tathagata of fulfilled body.

The three treasures are: first, the Buddha-treasure; second, the dharma-treasure; third, the sangha-treasure. The present “Pure Land school” belongs to the Buddha-treasure.

The four vehicles are: first, the Buddha vehicle; second, the bodhisattva vehicle; third, the pratyekabuddha vehicle; fourth, the sravaka vehicle. The Pure Land school belongs to the bodhisattva vehicle.

The two teachings are: first, sudden attainment; second, gradual attainment. The present teaching belongs to the sudden.

The two collections of scripture are: first, the bodhisattva-pitaka; second, the sravaka-pitaka. The present teaching belongs to the bodhisattva-pitaka.

The two paths are: first, the path of difficult practice; second, the path of easy practice. The present Pure Land school is the path of easy practice.

The two practices are: first, the right practices; [note] second, the sundry practices. The present Pure Land school is based on the right practices.

The two modes of transcending are: first, transcending lengthwise; second, transcending crosswise. The present Pure Land school is transcending crosswise. Transcending lengthwise is self-power in the Path of Sages.

The two forms of relevance [note] are: first, limited relevance; second, universal relevance. The Pure Land is the teaching of universal relevance.

The two ways concerning abiding are: first, to remain abiding; second, nonabiding. It is taught that the present Pure Land teaching will abide for one hundred years after the age when the dharma has become extinct and benefit sentient beings. The nonabiding are the various good practices of the Path of Sages. The various goods have all entered and remained hidden in the naga’s palace.

Of the conceivable and the inconceivable dharma, the conceivable comprises the 84,000 kinds of good of the Path of Sages. The Pure Land teaching is the inconceivable dharma-teaching.

Thus I record these categories. Please ask about them of any knowledgeable person; it is not possible to present them in detail in this letter. My eyes fail me, and besides being utterly forgetful about everything, whatever it may be, I am hardly the person to clarify these matters for others. Please inquire fully of the Pure Land scholars about them.


Intercalary third month, 2nd day


[Note] The practices leading to birth as defined by Shan-tao: 1) reciting the sutras; 2) contemplating Amida; 3) worshiping Amida; 4) pronouncing Amida’s Name; 5) revering and giving offerings to Amida. (back)

[Note] The capacity of relating people to the teaching. (back)