Faith is the fire
On the long journey of human life, faith is the best of companions; it is the best refreshment on the journey; and it is the greatest possession.
Faith is the hand that receives the Dharma; it is the pure hand that receives all the virtues. Faith is the fire that consumes all the impurities of worldly desires, it removes the burden, and it is the guide that leads one’s way.
Faith removes greed, fear and pride; it teaches courtesy and to respect others; it frees one from the bondage of circumstances; it gives one courage to meet hardship; it gives one power to overcome temptations; it enables one to keep one’s deeds bright and pure; and it enriches the mind with wisdom.
Faith is the encouragement when one’s way is long and wearisome, and it leads to Enlightenment.
Faith makes us feel that we are in the presence of Buddha and it brings us to where Buddha’s arm supports us. Faith softens our hard and selfish minds and gives us a friendly spirit and a mind of understanding sympathy.
Faith has three significant aspects
Faith has three significant aspects: repentance, a rejoicing and sincere respect for the virtues of others, and a grateful acceptance of Buddha’s appearance.
People should cultivate these aspects of faith; they should be sensitive to their failings and impurities; they should be ashamed of them and confess them; they should diligently practice the recognition of the good traits and good deeds of others and praise them for their sake; and they should habitually desire to act with Buddha and to live with Buddha.
Faith is a manifestation
Within the forest of the poisonous Eranda trees only Eranda trees are said to grow, but not the fragrant Chandana. It is a miracle if a Chandana tree grows in an Eranda forest. Likewise, it is often a miracle that faith in Buddha grows in the heart of the people.
Therefore, the faith to believe in Buddha is called a “rootless” faith. That is, it has no root by which it can grow in the human mind, but it has a root to grow in the compassionate mind of Buddha.
Faith appears in the sincere mind
The mind of faith is the mind of sincerity; it is a deep mind, a mind that is sincerely glad to be led to Buddha’s Pure Land by His power.
Therefore, Buddha gives a power to faith that leads people to the Pure Land, a power that purifies them, a power that protects them from self-delusion. Even if they
have faith only for a moment, when they hear Buddha’s name praised all over the world, they will be led to His Pure Land.
To find truth is as difficult as for blind men
to try to describe the real form of an
elephant by touch (Fable)
Once upon a time a king gathered some blind men about an elephant and asked them to tell him what an elephant was like. The first man felt a tusk and said an elephant was like a giant carrot; another happened to touch an ear and said it was like a big fan; another touched its trunk and said it was like a pestle; still another, who happened to feel its leg, said it was like a mortar; and another, who grasped its tail said it was like a rope. Not one of them was able to tell the king the elephant’s real form.
In like manner, one might partially describe the nature of man but would not be able to describe the true nature of a human being, the Buddha-nature.
There is only one possible way by which the everlasting nature of man, his Buddha-nature, that can not be disturbed by worldly desires or destroyed by death, can be realized, and that is by the Buddha and the Buddha’s noble teaching.
Where the Buddha-nature exists is shown
by the true teaching of Buddhism (Fable)
There is a story of a wrestler who used to wear an ornament on his forehead of a precious stone. One time when he was wrestling the stone was crushed into the flesh of his forehead. He thought he had lost the gem and went to a surgeon to have the wound dressed. When the surgeon came to dress the wound he found the gem embedded in the flesh and covered over with blood and dirt. He held up a mirror and showed the stone to the
Buddha-nature is like the precious stone of this story: it becomes covered over by the dirt and dust of other interests and people think that they have lost it, but a good teacher recovers it again for them.
Buddha-nature exists in everyone no matter how deeply it may be covered over by greed, anger and foolishness, or buried by his own deeds and retribution. Buddha-nature can not be lost or destroyed; and when all defilements are removed, sooner or later it will reappear.
Like the wrestler in the story who was shown the gem buried in his flesh and blood by means of a mirror, so people are shown their Buddha-nature, buried beneath their worldly desires and passions, by means of the light of Buddha.
Buddha-nature is hidden by passion (Fable)
There is an old story told of a man who fell into a drunken sleep. His friend stayed by him as long as he could but, being compelled to go and fearing that he might be in want, the friend hid a jewel in the drunken man’s garment. When the drunken man recovered, not knowing that his friend had hid a jewel in his garment, he wandered about in poverty and hunger. A long time afterwards the two men met again and the friend told the poor man about the jewel and advised him to look for it.
Like the drunken man of the story, people wander about suffering in this life of birth and death, unconscious of what is hidden away in their inner nature, pure and untarnished, the priceless treasure of Buddhanature.
However unconscious people may be of the fact that everyone has within his possession this supreme nature, and however degraded and ignorant they may be, Buddha never loses faith in them because He knows that even in the least of them there are, potentially, all the virtues of Buddhahood.
So Buddha awakens faith in them who are deceived by ignorance and cannot see their own Buddha-nature, leads them away from their illusions and teaches them that originally there is no difference between themselves and Buddhahood.
Doubts impede faith
Thus faith is fruitful and sacred. But faith is hard to awaken in an idle mind. In particular, there are five doubts that lurk in the shadows of the human mind and tend to discourage faith.
First, there is doubt in the Buddha’s wisdom; second, there is doubt in the Buddha’s teaching; third, there is doubt in the person who explains the Buddha’s teachings; fourth, there is doubt as to whether the ways and methods suggested for following the Noble Path are
reliable; and fifth, there is a person who, because of his arrogant and impatient mind, may doubt the sincerity of others who understand and follow the Buddha’s teachings.
Indeed, there is nothing more dreadful than doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.
Buddha is Father to all the world and
human beings are His children
Buddha is a father to all the world; all human beings are the children of Buddha. Buddha is the most saintly of saints. The world is afire with decrepitude and death; there is suffering everywhere. But people, engrossed in the vain search for worldly pleasure, are not wise enough
to fully realize this.
Buddha saw that this world of delusion was really a burning house, so He turned from it and found refuge and peace in the quiet forest. There, out of His great compassion, he calls to us: “This world of change and suffering belongs to me; all these ignorant, heedless people are my children; I am the only one who can save them from their delusion and misery.
Buddha’s Wisdom is as wide and deep as a
As the stars of heaven are reflected in the calm sea, so people’s thoughts, feelings and circumstances are reflected in the depths of Buddha’s Wisdom. This is why
Buddha is called the Perfectly Enlightened One, the Omniscience
Buddha’s Wisdom refreshes the arid minds of people, enlightens them and teaches them the significance of this world, its causes and its effects, appearings and disappearings. Indeed, without the aid of Buddha’s Wisdom, what aspect of the world is at all comprehensible for people?
Buddha’s Spirit is full of Great Compassion
The Spirit of Buddha is that of great loving kindness and compassion. The great loving kindness is the spirit to save all people by any and all means. The great compassion is the spirit that prompts it to be ill with the illness of people, to suffer with their suffering.
Buddha’s Compassion is eternal
Do not think that the compassion of the Buddha is only for the present life; it is a manifestation of the timeless compassion of the eternal Buddha that has been operative since unknown time, when mankind went astray due to ignorance.
Buddha has no physical body
But the true Buddha is not a human body: — it is Enlightenment. A human body must die, but the Wisdom of Enlightenment will exist forever in the truth of the Dharma, and in the practice of the Dharma. He who sees merely my body does not truly see me. Only he who accepts my teaching truly sees me.
Buddha preached throughout His life
Buddha teaches not only through words, but also through His life. Although His life is endless, in order to awaken greedy people, He uses the expedient of death.
“While a certain physician was away from home, his children accidentally took some poison. When the physician returned, he noticed their sickness and prepared an antidote. Some of the children who were not seriously poisoned accepted the medicine and were cured, but others were so seriously affected that they refused to take the medicine.
The physician, prompted by his paternal love for his children, decided on an extreme method to press the cure upon them. He said to the children: “I must go off on a long journey. I am old and may pass away any day. If I am with you I can care for you, but if I should pass away, you will become worse and worse. If you hear of my death, I implore you to take the antidote and be cured of this subtle poisoning.” Then he went on the long journey. After a time, he sent a messenger to his children to inform them of his death.
The children, receiving the message, were deeply affected by the thought of their father’s death and by the realization that they would no longer have the benefit of his benevolent care. Recalling his parting request, in a feeling of sorrow and helplessness, they took the medicine and recovered.
People must not condemn the deception of this father-physician. Buddha is like that father. He, too, employs the fiction of birth and death to save people who are entangled in the bondage of desires.
Buddha saved people from their sufferings
by using the expedient of fables
“Now I will tell you a parable,” Buddha said. “Once there lived a wealthy man whose house caught on fire. The man was away from home and when he came back, he found that his children were so absorbed in play, had not noticed the fire and were still inside the house. The father screamed, ‘Get out, children! Come out of the house! Hurry!’ But the children did not heed him.
The anxious father shouted again. ‘Children, I have some wonderful toys here; come out of the house and get them!’ Heeding his cry this time, the children ran out of the burning house.”
This world is a burning house. The people, unaware that the house is on fire, are in danger of being burned to death so Buddha in compassion devises ways of saving them.
Buddha said: “I will tell you another parable. Once upon a time the only son of a wealthy man left his home and fell into extreme poverty.
When the father traveled far from home in search of his son, he lost track of him. He did everything he could to find his son, but in vain.
Decades later, his son, now reduced to wretchedness, wandered near where his father was living.
The father quickly recognized his son and sent his servants to bring the wanderer home; who was overcome by the majestic appearance of the mansion. He feared that they were deceiving him and would not go with them. He did not realize it was his own father.
The father again sent his servants to offer him some money to become a servant in their rich master’s household. The son accepted the offer and returned with them to his father’s house and became a servant.
The father gradually advanced him until he was put in charge of all the property and treasures, but still the son did not recognize his own father.
The father was pleased with his son’s faithfulness, and as the end of his life drew near, he called together his relatives and friends and told them: ‘Friends, this is my only son, the son I sought for many years. From now on, all my property and treasures belong to him.’
The son was surprised at his father’s confession and said: ‘Not only have I found my father but all this property and treasure is now mine.’”
The wealthy man in this parable represents Buddha, and the wandering son, all people. Buddha’s compassion embraces all people with the love of a father for his only son. In that love he conceives the wisest methods to lead, teach and enrich them with the treasure of Enlightenment
The world of Enlightenment
Buddha is waiting on the other shore; that is, His world of Enlightenment, wherein there is no greed, no anger, no ignorance, no suffering, no agony, but where there are only the light of wisdom and the rain of compassion.
It is a land of peace, a refuge for those who suffer and who are in sorrow and agony; a place of rest for those who take a break in their spreading of the teachings of the Dharma.
To become devotees to the Buddha,
the Dharma and the Samgha
We speak of Buddhahood, the Dharma and the Brotherhood as though they are three different things, but they are really only one. Buddha is manifested in His Dharma and is realized by the Brotherhood. Therefore, to believe in the Dharma and to cherish the Brotherhood is to have faith in the Buddha, and to have faith in the Buddha means to believe in the Dharma and to cherish the Brotherhood.
To learn the ways of keeping precepts,
practicing the concentration of mind
and acting wisely.
For those who seek Enlightenment there are three ways of practice that must be understood and followed: First, disciplines for practical behavior; second, right concentration
of mind; and third, wisdom.
What are disciplines? Everyone, whether a person is a common person or a way-seeker, should follow the precepts for good behavior. One should control both the mind and body, and guard the gates of one’s five senses. One should be afraid of even a trifling evil and, from
moment to moment, should endeavor to practice only good deeds.
What is meant by the concentration of mind? It means to get quickly away from greedy and evil desires as they arise and to hold the mind pure and tranquil.
What is wisdom? It is the ability to perfectly understand and to patiently accept the Fourfold Noble Truth, to know the fact of suffering and its nature; to know the source of suffering, to know what constitutes the end of suffering, and to know the Noble Path that leads to the end of suffering.
The Eightfold Noble Path
The Noble Eightfold Path refers to Right View, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Behavior, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right
Right View means to thoroughly understand the Fourfold Truth, to believe in the law of cause and effect and not to be deceived by appearances and desires.
Right Thought means the resolution not to cherish, desires, not to be greedy, not to be angry, and not to do any harmful deed.
Right Speech means the avoidance of lying words, idle words, abusive words, and double-tongues.
Right Behavior means not to destroy any life, not to steal, or not to commit adultery.
Right Livelihood means to avoid any life that would bring shame.
Right Effort means to try to do one’s best diligently toward the right direction.
Right Mindfulness means to maintain a pure and thoughtful mind.
Right Concentration means to keep the mind right and tranquil for its concentration, seeking to realize the mind’s pure essence.
The six paths for reaching the other
shore of Enlightenment
The Perfection of Six Practices for reaching the other shore of Enlightenment are: the path of Offering, the path of Keeping Precepts, the path of Endurance, the path of Endeavor, the path of Concentration of mind, and the path of Wisdom. By following these paths, one can surely pass from the shore of delusion over to the shore of Enlightenment.
The practice of Offering gets rid of selfishness; the practice of Precepts keeps one thoughtful of the rights and comforts of others; the practice of Endurance helps one to control a fearful or angry mind; the practice of Endeavor helps one to be diligent and faithful; the practice of Concentration helps one to control a wandering and futile mind; and the practice of Wisdom changes a dark and confused mind into a clear and penetrating insight.
Offering and Keeping Precepts make the foundation necessary to build a great castle on. Endurance and Endeavor are the walls of the castle that protect it against enemies from outside. Concentration and Wisdom are the personal armor that protects one against the assaults of life and death.
The four right procedures
The Four Right Procedures are: First, to prevent any evil from starting; second, to remove any evil as soon as it starts; third, to induce the doing of good deeds; and fourth, to encourage the growth and continuance of good deeds that have already started. One must endeavor to
keep these four procedures.
The four points to be considered
The Four View-points to be considered are: First, to consider the body impure, seeking to remove all attachment to it, second, to consider the senses as a source of suffering, whatever their feelings of pain or pleasure may be; third, to consider the mind to be in a constant state of flux, and fourth, to consider everything in the world as being a consequence of causes and conditions and that nothing remains unchanged forever.
The five faculties of power for the
attainment of Enlightenment
The Five Faculties of Power are: First, the faith to believe; second, the will to make the endeavor; third, the faculty of alertness; fourth, the ability to concentrate one’s mind; and fifth, the ability to maintain clear wisdom. These five faculties are necessary powers to attain
The four unlimited states of mind
There are Four Unlimited States of Mind that the seeker of Enlightenment should cherish. They are Compassion, Tenderness, Gladness and Equanimity. One can remove greed by cherishing Compassion; one can remove anger by Tenderness; one can remove suffering by Gladness, and one can remove the habit of discrimination of enemies and friends by cherishing an Equitable mind.
It is a great compassion that makes people happy and contented; it is a great tenderness that removes everything that does not make people happy and contented; it is a great gladness that makes everyone happy and contented with a mind of joy; there is a great peacefulness when everyone is happy and contented, and then one can have equal feelings toward everybody.
With care one may cherish these Four Unlimited States of Mind and may get rid of greed, anger, suffering, and the minds of love-hate, but it is not an easy thing to do. An evil mind is as hard to get rid of as a watchdog, and a right mind is as easy to lose as a deer in a forest; or an evil mind is as hard to remove as letters carved in stone, and a right mind is as easy to lose as words written in water. Indeed, it is the most difficult thing in life to train oneself for Enlightenment.
Those who understand the Fourfold Noble
All those who are seeking Enlightenment must understand the Fourfold Noble Truth. Without understanding this, they will wander about interminably in the bewildering maze of life’s illusions. Those who understand this Fourfold Noble Truth are called “the people who have acquired the eyes of Enlightenment.”
Therefore, those who wish to follow the Buddha’s teachings should concentrate their minds on this Fourfold Noble Truth and seek to make their understanding of its meaning clear. In all ages, a saint, if he is a true saint, is one who understands it and teaches it to others.
When a person clearly understands the Fourfold Noble Truth, then the Noble Eightfold Path will lead one away from greed; and if a person is free from greed, one will not quarrel with the world, one will not kill, nor steal, nor commit adultery, nor cheat, nor abuse, nor flatter, nor envy, nor lose one’s temper, nor forget the transiency of life nor will one be unjust.
Man’s death and the transiency of life
“My disciples, my end is approaching, our parting is near, but do not lament. Life is ever changing; none can escape the dissolution of the body. This I am now to show by my own death, my body falling apart like a dilapidated cart.
Do not vainly lament, but realize that nothing is permanent and learn from it the emptiness of human life. Do not cherish the unworthy desire that the changeable might become unchanging.
Those who recite Amida Buddha’s name
will be born in His Land of Purity
Therefore, should all people concentrate their minds on His Name and, as they come toward the end of life, even for one day or seven days, recite Amida Buddha’s Name in perfect faith, and they do this with undisturbed mind, they will be born in the Buddha’s Land of Purity, being led by Amida Buddha and many other holy ones who appear at this last moment.
Make of yourself a light, rely upon
“Make of yourself a light. Rely upon yourself: do not depend upon anyone else. Make my teachings your light. Rely upon them: do not depend upon any other teaching.
Consider your body: Think of its impurity. Knowing that both its pain and its delight are alike causes of suffering, how can you indulge in its desires? Consider your‘self’; think of its transiency; how can you fall into delusion about it and cherish pride and selfishness, knowing
that they must all end in inevitable suffering? Consider all substances; can you find among them any enduring ‘self’? Are they not all aggregates that sooner or later will break apart and be scattered? Do not be confused by the universality of suffering, but follow my teaching, even after my death, and you will be rid of pain. Do this and you will indeed be my disciples.”