Words of Rennyo II

Another quotation of the famous Jodo Shinshu Buddhist, Rennyo, from the book Buddha’s Wish for the World, which I wanted to share. As with a previous post, this comes from a text of sayings attributed Rennyo, called the goichidai kikigaku (御一代記聞書, “a record of things heard”):

“It is as if you were hearing something for the first time and you were to let it always remain something rare and wonderful, as if hearing it for the first time — that is how it is when you are in a state of faith. You might imagine it as always wanting to be in a state of hearing something rare and wonderful. No matter how many times you hear that one thing, it is so rare and wonderful it is as if you were hearing it for the first time.”

Faith might sound like a funny thing in Buddhism, but consider the words of the Theravada text, the Saddhammapatirupaka Sutta (SN 16.13):

“These five downward-leading qualities tend to the confusion and disappearance of the true Dhamma. Which five? There is the case where the monks, nuns, male lay followers, & female lay followers live without respect, without deference, for the Teacher. They live without respect, without deference, for the Dhamma… for the Sangha… for the Training… for concentration. These are the five downward-leading qualities that tend to the confusion and disappearance of the true Dhamma.

“But these five qualities tend to the stability, the non-confusion, the non-disappearance of the true Dhamma. Which five? There is the case where the monks, nuns, male lay followers, & female lay followers live with respect, with deference, for the Teacher. They live with respect, with deference, for the Dhamma… for the Sangha… for the Training… for concentration. These are the five qualities that tend to the stability, the non-confusion, the non-disappearance of the true Dhamma.”

Or the Alavaka Sutta (SN 10.12):

Then Alavaka addressed the Blessed One in verse:
1. What wealth here is best for man? What well practiced will happiness bring? What taste excels all other tastes? How lived is the life they say is best?

[The Buddha:]
2. Faith is the wealth here best for man; Dhamma well practiced shall happiness bring; Truth indeed all other tastes excels; Life wisely lived they say is best.

Or in the Mahayana tradition, the Lotus Sutra speaks much of faith, as in chapter 2:

This Law cannot be described,
words fall silent before it.
Among the other kinds of living beings
there are none who can comprehend it,
except the many bodhisattvas
who are firm in the power of faith…

There are monks and nuns
who behave with overbearing arrogance,
laymen full of self-esteem,
laywomen who are lacking in faith.
Among the four kinds of believers, the likes of these
number five thousand.
They fail to see their own errors,
are heedless and remiss with regard to the precepts,
clinging to their shortcomings, unwilling to change.

Devotional Buddhism may not sound as cool or modern as some would assert, but faith in the teacher’s instruction, joy at the teachings of the Dharma, and willingness to carry it to fruition are an integral part of the Buddhist path.

Namu Amida Butsu


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