[Hymn on the Nembutsu
and True Shinjin]
Honored One in the West, who surpasses all thought!
Bodhisattva Dharmakara, in his causal stage,
Made the Primal Vow, incomparable and all-embracing;
He established his supreme Vow of great compassion.
Five kalpas of profound thought passed in his selection; then,
With the perfect fruit of enlightenment, this Vow was fulfilled;
Ten kalpas have passed since its consummation.
The life of Amida is infinite, no measure can be taken;
The compassion deep and far-reaching, like space;
The wisdom replete, a vast ocean.
Pure, wondrous, without bound is Amida's land,
And possessed of great adornments;
The different virtues all reach fulfillment there -
It excels all Buddha-lands of the ten quarters.
Everywhere the Buddha sends light inconceivable and unhindered,
Breaking the immense night-dark of ignorance.
Wisdom-light in its brilliance wakens wisdom-eyes,
And the Name is heard throughout the ten quarters.
Only Buddhas can fathom the virtue of Amida Tathagata;
Sakyamuni gathers Amida's dharma-treasure to bestow on the foolish.
Amida Buddha is the sun, illuminating all,
And has already broken through the darkness of our ignorance.
Still the clouds and mists of greed and desire, anger and hatred,
Cover as always the sky of pure shinjin.
But even when the sun, moon, and stars in their constellations
Are veiled by smoke, mist, clouds, or fog,
Beneath mist and cloud there is brightness, not dark.
I realize now that Amida's beneficent light surpasses even sun and
Necessarily, then: We will reach the dawn of supreme, pure shinjin,
Whereupon the clouds of birth-and-death in the three realms of existence
Then the pure, unhindered radiance will be luminous,
And the true body of dharma-realm of oneness will become manifest.
When persons awaken shinjin and utter the Name, Amida's light embraces
and protects them,
And in this life they acquire immeasurable virtue.
This light, boundless and inconceivable, never ceases a moment,
Nor does it differentiate by time, or place, or any circumstance.
That the Buddhas protect persons of shinjin is truly beyond doubt:
In all ten quarters alike they joyfully praise them.
The deluded and defiled and those of grave evil all equally attain
Those who slander the dharma or who lack seeds of Buddhahood, when
they turn about at heart, all go to the Pure Land.
In the future, the sutras will all disappear;
The Larger Sutra alone is designed to remain a hundred years thereafter.
How can one vacillate in doubt over the great Vow [expounded in
Simply entrust yourself to Sakyamuni's true words!
The masters of India in the west, who clarified the teaching in
And the eminent monks of China and Japan
Set forth the true intent of the Great Sage, the World-hero,
And revealed that the Tathagata's Primal Vow accords with the nature
Sakyamuni Tathagata, on Mount Lanka,
Prophesied to the multitudes that in south India
Bodhisattva Nagarjuna would appear in this world
To crush the views of being and of non-being;
Proclaiming the unexcelled Mahayana teaching,
He would attain the stage of joy and be born in the land of happiness
Nagarjuna wrote the Commentary on the Ten Bodhisattva Stages,
And particularly sorrowing for those on the steep trails of difficult
Therein reveals for all the great way of easy attainment:
With the mind of reverence, one should keep
And say the Name and quickly attain the stage of non-retrogression.
When shinjin is pure, one immediately sees the Buddha.
Bodhisattva Vasubandhu declares in a treatise that,
Relying on the sutras, he will reveal the true and real virtues.
Casting light on the universal Primal Vow, by which we leap crosswise
He expounds this Vow that surpasses conception;
He discloses the mind that is single so that we, fettered by blind
Be saved by Amida's directing of virtue through the power of the
When persons turn and enter the great treasure-ocean of virtue,
Necessarily they join the Tathagata's great assemblage,
And when they have reached that lotus-held world,
They immediately realize the body of tranquillity and equality.
Then sporting in the forests of blind passion, they manifest transcendent
Entering the garden of birth-and-death, they assume various forms
to guide others.
Turning toward the dwelling of the great teacher T'an-luan, the
ruler Hsiao of Liang
Always paid homage to him as a bodhisattva.
Bodhiruci, master of the Tripitaka, gave T'an-luan the Pure Land
And T'an-luan, burning his scriptures on immortality, took refuge
in the land of bliss.
In his commentary on the treatise of Bodhisattva Vasubandhu
He reveals the Tathagata's Vow at work in our saying of the Name;
Our going and returning, directed to us by Amida, is based on the
When shinjin unfolds in foolish beings possessed of all blind passions,
They immediately attain insight into the non-origination of all
And come to realize that birth-and-death is itself nirvana.
Without fail they reach the land of immeasurable light
And universally guides sentient beings to enlightenment.
Tao-ch'o determined how difficult it is to fulfill the Path of
And reveals that only passage through the Pure Land gate is possible
He criticizes endeavor in the myriad good practices,
And encourages us solely to say the fulfilled Name embodying true
With kind concern he teaches the three characteristics of entrusting
Compassionately guiding all identically, whether they live when
the dharma survives as but form, when in its last stage, or when
it has become extinct.
Though persons have committed evil all their lives, when they encounter
the Primal Vow,
They will reach the world of peace and realize the perfect fruit
Shan-tao alone in his time clarified the Buddha's true intent,
And deeply drawing on the Primal Vow, he established the true teaching.
Sorrowing at the plight of meditative and non-meditative practicers,
and people of grave evil,
He reveals that Amida's light and Name are the cause of birth.
When one enters this gate leading to nirvana and encounters true
Without fail one acquires the insights of confidence, joy, and awakening;
And attaining the birth that surpasses comprehension,
One immediately realizes the eternal bliss of suchness.
Genshin, having broadly elucidated the teachings of Sakyamuni's
Wholeheartedly took refuge in the land of peace and urges all to
In accord with the sutras and treatises, he chooses the teaching
and practice of birth in the Pure Land:
Truly they are eye and limb for us of this defiled world.
Ascertaining the virtue of the single practice and the inadequacy
of diversified practice,
He leads us to turn and enter the nembutsu-gate, which is true and
Solely by distinguishing profound and shallow minds of devotion,
He sets forth truly the difference between the fulfilled land and
the transformed land.
Genku, clearly understanding the sacred scriptures,
Turned compassionately to foolish people, both good and evil;
Establishing in this isolated land the teaching and realization
that are the true essence of the Pure Land way,
He transmits 'the selected Primal Vow" to us of the defiled
Return to this house of transmigration, of birth-and-death,
Is decidedly caused by doubt.
Swift entrance into the city of tranquillity, the non-created,
Is necessarily brought about by shinjin.
Through their treatises and commentaries, these masters, all with
the same mind,
Save the countless beings of utter defilement and evil.
All people of the present, both monk and lay,
Should rely wholly on the teachings of these venerable masters.
Here ends the hymn, 120 lines in sixty verses.