《Hymn Appreciation 4》
Waking or Sleeping
Wild-passion-bound beings (ki or man) have no power to seek and attain the pure enlightenment of the Buddha, which state is defined as “ki-mu” or “null man.” Compassionating such beings, the Tathagata originated a great vow to save all of them and accomplished it as the Name of Amida, which state is defined as “enjo” or “round completion.” The Name, which is actually Amida’s call, “Entrust yourself to me, and I will surely save you,” is widely presented, which state is defined as “ese” or “presentation.” Accepting these considerations of Amida Buddha single-mindedly in deep gratitude is “shinjin” or Buddhist faith, which state is defined as “jo-ichi” or “one determination.”
Next hymn of Master Genshin shows the above states:
(1) For sentient beings of extreme evil, profound and immense,
There is no other way;
Wholeheartedly saying the Name of Amida,
We will be born into the Pure Land.
(Hymn of the Pure Land Masters)
The first two lines show the “null man” state of us sinful beings and the other two lines show the “round completion” of Amida Buddha’s Vow and the “presentation” of His Name. Speaking of sin, Shoko Asahara, the leader of the subway sarin gas attack in 1995 was an example of profound sin and karma, but not an exceptional case. There seem to be many other such figures around in the political and business circles who are involved in official document tampering in surmise of their boss’s benefit, false testimony, disguising data indications, or who are accused of power or sexual harassment, or who have engaged in making laws for promoting gamble addicts.... Besides, murder by unrelated or grudged persons, even by kin, is often reported. Human karmic phases are on parade in the papers.
Apart from journalism, however, what are our own life phases? Haven’t we ever done what we should not do, said what should not say, or thought what we should not think at all? A nembutsu poet Muso Kimura, having resolved to get rid of such karmic evils at the age of twenty, devoted himself to the practice of Buddhism for thirty odd years, but the result was:
long to be relieved somehow,
I realized myself quite helpless by any means;
Being helpless as I am,
I am in the hand of His relief---!”
“Being helpless” is “kimu or null man”, and “the hand of His relief” is “enjo and ese, or round completion and presentation”, followed by “---!”, which is “joitsu”, or Muso’s single minded gratitude, expressed as “Namuamidabutsu”.
Shinran Shonin expresses his nembutsu in his hymn as follows::
２) Those who deeply entrust themselves
To Amida’s Vow of great compassion
Should all say Namu-amida-butsu constantly,
Whether they are waking or sleeping.
(Hymn of the Dharma Ages)
There are two main points: the first is to entrust oneself deeply to Amida Buddha’s vow of great compassion (“null man” through “presentation”). When I realize how ignorant and self-conceited I am, the sincere call of the Tathagata reaches the bottom of my heart as Namuamidabutsu and makes me say the nembutsu as great joy (“one determination”). Aptly Shinran Shonin states “True shinjin naturally accompanies the nembutsu.” The second point is that since one is deeply imbued with such shinjin and nembutsu, one cannot stop saying the nembutsu whether one is waking or sleeping. Yes, even when one is “sleeping,” the nembutsu may come out as if to talk in sleeping. So deeply Shinran Shonin was one with His Vow and nembutsu.
Here is an episode about an old lady who never stopped saying the nembutsu while hearing Dharma talks. So the preacher asked her why not, and she replied. “When I was three years old, my grandma said, ‘How old are you? Three? Well, then, can you say ‘Namuamidabutsu’ three times before sleeping?’ ‘Yes, I can,’ I said, and since then it has become my routine habit to say the nembutsu before sleeping as many times as my age. The nambutsu has become one with me. What gratitude it is that the Tathagata is always with me!” Probably the seed her grandmother sowed has bloomed as a white lotus in her.