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When I became aware of the fact that my life was a gift passed down to me by successive generations of my ancestors, I deeply regretted the self-centered way I had been living, just doing as I pleased. (Words of gratitude spoken by a Dharma friend at a Wasan Meeting)




An extract from Rev. Kemmyo Taira Sato's new translation of Rennyo-shonin's 'Letters'

Ofumi III.11

To begin with, the twenty-eighth of this month is the day we commemorate the death of our founder, [Shinran] Shonin. We have been holding this Buddhist ceremony every year without fail in order to fully apprehend everything he has done for us and to show, too, the gratitude we ourselves feel for all his loving kindness. Amongst all the Dharma friends from the various provinces and districts, including the most wretched fellow followers, anyone failing to recognise all they have received from Shinran Shonin is no different from wood or stone.
Old ignoramus that I am, for the past four or five years I have been living in a remote country spot in the Hokuriku district, without really knowing why, surrounded by mountains and sea, and yet, against all expectations, here I am alive and well still, come to this province and attending this year, for the first time, the Hōonko ceremony held here to honour [Shinran] Shonin's anniversary. All this is indeed the inconceivable result of past karmic conditions. It is certainly something to rejoice over time and time again.
Therefore, those who gather together from this and other provinces should first of all fully comprehend the meaning of the precepts laid down by our Founder, [Shinran] Shonin. He told us, “Even if someone brands you a ‘cattle rustler,’ do not react in such a way as to let them know you are a follower of the Buddha dharma or as an aspirant for Rebirth in the Pure Land.” In addition to this, Shinran was kind enough to lay down that we should observe [the five principles of ] human love, justice, politeness, wisdom and fidelity, that we should honour the laws of the state, and that, deep within our hearts, we should take as our bed rock Other Power faith in the Original Vow.
Speaking from my own observation of the way people of today go about pretending they know the Buddha-dharma, such individuals may give the outward appearance of relying on the Buddha dharma, but they show no decisive attainment of peaceful awareness (anjin) which, in our tra¬dition, is the only approach possible. In addition, relying on their own literary abilities, they interpret sacred texts in idiosyncratic ways never learned from the tradition, and propagate false teachings about which they themselves are by no means certain. Strolling around among the followers of our own and other schools, they make up lie after lie and eventually, ostensibly under “orders from the head temple,” they succeed in deceiving people, taking things from them and debasing the essential teaching of our tradition. Is this not truly despicable?
Therefore, unless in the course of the seven-day Hōonko ceremony that commemorates the anniversary of the death of the Founder on the twenty eighth of this month, such individuals repent and confess their evil thoughts, and turn each one to the right teaching, their visit to the temple will be entirely pointless; and if they attend this seven day Hōonko ceremony merely in order to imitate others, though they may profess to do so in response to all Shinran Shonin has done for them and as an expression of their gratitude for his loving kindness, their coming will be of no avail whatsoever. Only those who have attained faith through the working of Amida’s Vow come to thank the Buddha for his benevolence and respond gratefully to their teacher's loving kindness. Only those who thor¬oughly understand this and come to pay respect to [Shinran] Shonin are truly in accord with Amida’s intention. In particular they are possessed of a deep resolve to thank [Shinran Shonin] for what he has done for them and express in the course of the seven days of this month’s anniversary their overriding sense of gratitude for his loving kindness.

Humbly and respectfully.
Written on the 21st of November, the 7th year of Bunmei [1475].



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