Major Expositions

KGSS VI : 68-72

§ 68 - 69 - 70 - 71 - 72

68 Thus I, Gutoku Shinran, disciple of Sakyamuni, through reverently accepting the exposition of [Vasubandhu,] author of the Treatise, and depending on the guidance of Master [Shan-tao], departed everlastingly from the temporary gate of the myriad practices and various good acts and left forever the birth attained beneath the twin sala trees. Turning about, I entered the "true" gate of the root of good and the root of virtue, and wholeheartedly awakened the mind leading to the birth that is noncomprehensible.

Nevertheless, I have now decisively departed from the "true" gate of provisional means and, [my self-power] overturned, have entered the ocean of the selected Vow. Having swiftly become free of the mind leading to the birth that is noncomprehensible, I am assured of attaining the birth that is inconceivable. How truly profound in intent is the Vow that beings ultimately attain birth!

Having entered forever the ocean of the Vow, I now realize deeply the Buddha's benevolence. To respond with gratitude for the supreme virtues, I collect the crucial passages expressing the true essence of the Pure Land way, constantly saying, out of mindfulness [the Name that is] the inconceivable ocean of virtues. Ever more greatly rejoicing, I humbly receive it.


69 Truly we know that the teachings of the Path of Sages were intended for the period when the Buddha was in the world and for the right dharma-age; they are altogether inappropriate for the times and beings of the semblance and last dharma-ages and the age when the dharma has become extinct. Already their time has passed; they are no longer in accord with beings.

The true essence of the Pure Land way compassionately draws all of the innumerable evil, defiled beings to enlightenment without discrimination, whether they be of the period when the Buddha was in the world, of the right, semblance, or last dharma-ages, or of the time when the dharma has become extinct.


70 Relying on the teacher of the sutras and turning to the commentaries of the masters, I find that, with regard to the teaching of sutras, there are five kinds, distinguished in terms of their expositors: first, the Buddha's exposition; second, the exposition of holy disciples; third, the exposition of heavenly beings and hermit-sages; fourth, the exposition of demigods; and fifth, the exposition of miraculous spirits. Thus, [the latter] four kinds of exposition are not to be relied upon. The three [Pure Land] sutras are the Great Sage's own exposition.


71 The Commentary on the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra states, explaining the four reliances:

When Sakyamuni was about to enter nirvana, he said to the bhiksus, "From this day on, rely on dharma, not on people who teach it. Rely on the meaning, not on the words. Rely on wisdom, not on the working of the mind. Rely on the sutras that fully express the meaning, not on those that do not.

"As to relying on dharma, dharma refers to the twelve divisions of scripture. Follow this dharma, not people who teach it.

"With regard to relying on the meaning, meaning itself is beyond debate of such matters as, like against dislike, evil against virtue, falsity against truth. Hence, words may indeed have meaning, but the meaning is not the words. Consider, for example, a person instructing us by pointing to the moon with his finger. [To take words to be the meaning] is like looking at the finger and not at the moon. The person would say, 'I am pointing to the moon with my finger in order to show it to you. Why do you look at my finger and not the moon?' Similarly, words are the finger pointing to the meaning; they are not the meaning itself. Hence, do not rely upon words.

"As to relying on wisdom, wisdom is able to distinguish and measure good and evil. The working of mind always seeks pleasure, and does not reach the essential. Hence it is said, 'Do not rely on mind.'

"As to relying on the sutras that fully express the meaning, among all the sages, the Buddha is foremost. Among all the various scriptures, the Buddha-dharma is foremost. Among all human beings, the assemblage of bhiksus is foremost."

The Buddha regarded the sentient beings of an age in which there is no Buddha as possessed of deep karmic evil. They are people who have not cultivated the roots of good that would enable them to see a Buddha.


72 Thus, monks and lay people of the latter age should practice the dharma with clear awareness of the four reliances.


© 1997 copyright Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha