Formula in Buddhism: the 18th Vow: #1 King of Vows

You see the formula below. These are essential elements when we learn the Teaching of Buddha. It goes as follows:

1. To Learn Buddhism is to learn myself, learn myself is to learn Buddha's Compassion.

3. to learn Compassion is to forget myself,

4. and to forget myself is to throw me into Buddha's World.

The 18th Vow

"If, when I attain Buddhahood, the sentient beings of the 10 quarters who, with sincere and entrusting heart, aspire to be born in my land and say my name even 10 times, should not be born there, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment. excluded are those who commit the five grave offenses and those who slander the right Dharma."


1. Sentient beings of the 10 quarters: Sentient beings = you and me

2. Sincere heart: The heart generated by Wisdom of Buddha.

3. Entrusting heart: the heart generated by Compassion of Buddha.

4. Aspire to be born in my land: The future direction of my life.

5. Five grave offenses: (1) to murder father, (2) to murder mother, (3) to murder Bodhisattvas, (4) to murder Buddha, (5) to destroy harmony in sangha.

6. Slander the right Dharma: False spoken statements related to Mahayana Teaching.

Explanation of the Vow:

The 17th Vow and the 18th Vow make one pair. The 17th Vow indicates that Immeasurable Working (Amida) became the Name. The 18th Vow clarifies the relationship between the Name and myself. Inthe 18th Vow, reciting the Name requires me to have the three minds of: (1) the heart of sincerity, (2) the heart of entrusting, and (3) the heart to be born.

Sincere heart: It is also called "true mind." Shinran confesses that he does not have "true mind" at all. His true mind is not of his own creation but, rather, it is the mind generated by Wisdom of Buddha. For example, when I say that I was very surprised with the beautiful car, my surprise is mine, but it was generated by the beauty of the car. Or, my surprise was given to my by the beauty. Sincere mind is mine, but it is generated and given by Wisdom. However, invoking sincere mind is not enough to live in Amida. Sincere mind alone usually ends as knowledge or understanding. It is not the experience of Amida. It needs to function with the (2) heart of entrusting and the (3) heart aspiring to be born at the same time. 

Mind aspiring to be born: Once sincere mind opens up Amida's World to me, I realize Amida's World and I aspire to be born there. So I simplify the Vow as follows: Sincere mind + aspiration to be born = Heart of entrusting. The heart of entrusting includes my recitation of the Name, even once or many times as long as I am alive.

How do I realize and experience Amida?

I'd like to provide one example here:

There was a woman who had seriously listened to Amida's Teaching for years. But she could not comprehend everything clearly. That was her big problem. So, one day she decided to consult one Nembutsu follower, Osono (1777-1848), and asked what to do. Osono gave her one simple thing to repeat every day for a while. "Try to repeat what I recommend," Osono said to her. He told her to say every day, "It doesn't help me at all, and it doesn't bother me at all."

"Is it all? If so, I can do it," she said to Osono.

The woman repeated these words every day. But nothing happened to her. She still could not understand Amida at all. So she went to Osono again and said, "I don't see any change in my mind. Rather selfish desires came out every day."

"It does not bother you at all," Osono said to her. "But I want to know and realize Amida," she said. "It doesn't help you at all," Osono said.

All of a sudden she clarified and experienced Amida's World. She experienced essense of Buddha: True and real "non-attachment."

Did I puzzle you? One more episode is waiting for you in the next Newsletter.

In Gassho,

Rev E.D. Fujii

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